Best Fantasy Books 2022

Welcome to the premier guide of the most compelling fantasy books that made their mark in 2022. If you’re searching for narratives filled with magic, mysticism, and extraordinary worlds, you’re in the right place.

We’ve assembled a selection of the top 10 fantasy books of the year. Each title has been chosen for its inventive storytelling, richly-drawn settings, and compelling characters. These books, loved by both dedicated fantasy enthusiasts and newcomers to the genre, truly exemplify the broad spectrum of fantasy literature.

Our list spans a variety of subgenres. From high fantasy, with its complex magic systems and grand landscapes, to urban fantasy, rooted in cityscapes humming with supernatural intrigue, the diversity of the genre is fully represented. These books not only deliver captivating tales of sorcery and mythical creatures but also delve into human resilience, intricate politics, and emotional growth.

With each recommendation and review on our list, prepare to journey into new worlds – lush forests teeming with magic, seas navigated by ancient mariners, or hidden dimensions where magic intertwines with reality. Each tale stands as a testament to the power of fantasy to transport us to places beyond our imagination.

Whether you’re a seasoned fantasy reader or a newcomer taking your first steps into the genre, our list has a title to captivate you. Dive in, explore these meticulously crafted worlds, and discover the power of fantasy literature. Your next great read awaits you.

Mark of the Fool by J.M. Clarke

“Mark of the Fool” is a distinctive coming-of-age magic academy fantasy novel that tells the story of Alex Roth, an aspiring wizard, who is instead marked as the ‘Fool’ – the least esteemed among his kingdom’s prophesied heroes. Rejecting this destiny, Alex, accompanied by his younger sister, childhood friend, and her pet Cerberus, flees to the University of Generasi to unravel the mystery of the Ravener, their land’s greatest enemy. The narrative explores Alex’s challenges, including a divine Mark hindering his magical abilities, engaging friendships, encounters with mad wizards, and the struggle to pay his tuition. Laced with elements of D&D-inspired world-building, magic, action, comedy, slice-of-life, and GameLit elements, this narrative explores a weak-to-strong progression.

This book is a fresh take on the magical academy fantasy genre, with its intriguing blend of action, comedy, and slice-of-life elements making it a compelling read. The narrative ingeniously circumvents common fantasy tropes, offering a relatable protagonist in Alex who chooses to defy prophecy and carve his own path. The well-woven setting and fleshed-out characters are the book’s strong points, allowing for interesting dynamics that unfold beautifully throughout the story.

The story does, however, falter occasionally. There are rare instances of references to Earth’s stories and memes that feel incongruous in the meticulously crafted world, creating momentary lapses in immersion. Additionally, the under utilization of Alex’s younger sister is a missed opportunity, as her presence adds a distinctive layer to the narrative.

Despite these minor flaws, the book’s slow-burning enjoyment, combined with its avoidance of overused cliches like school bullying, makes it a refreshing read. The hinted-at romance subplot, which is set to potentially evolve in future sequels, adds another layer of anticipation. The expertly handled revelation in the last third of the book exhibits the author’s deft storytelling skills, making it a memorable moment in the narrative. Overall, “Mark of the Fool” is a delightful fantasy adventure that will appeal to genre enthusiasts and promises an engaging journey.

The Transcendent Green by Mati Ocha

“The Transcendent Green” delves into a world where Earth has been graced with magic, transforming mythology into reality, and compelling humanity to demonstrate their valor. Calum Green, aiming to reunite with his family in Oban, is confronted with an unpleasant companion, Eilidh MacIntosh – his ex-girlfriend’s best friend, who now wields a formidable claymore. Their journey across the Scottish Highlands is not just a physical quest, but also an ascension quest that they accidentally trigger, necessitating them to identify and stop the source of a perilous, corrupt magic threatening humanity’s existence. This GameLit narrative intertwines the author’s Scottish heritage with contemporary elements to craft a unique adventure.

“The Transcendent Green” is a compelling take on the GameLit apocalypse genre that masterfully weaves Scottish heritage into the narrative. The author’s vivid descriptions and adept storytelling set the novel apart, immersing readers in a world brought to life with just the right amount of detail and a thoughtful infusion of Gaelic language. The portrayal of Calum and Eilidh’s antagonistic partnership is refreshingly authentic, and their joint quest introduces an exciting dimension to the plot.

Shadow Slave by Guiltytree

“Shadow Slave” is a narrative that revolves around Sunny, a young man who grew up in poverty and unexpectedly found himself chosen by the Nightmare Spell, granting him supernatural powers and status as one of the Awakened. Suddenly thrust into a ruined magical world, Sunny is forced to confront terrible monsters and other Awakened in a deadly struggle for survival. His shadow powers, however, come with a small but potentially fatal side effect, adding another layer of danger to his predicament.

The narrative uniquely refreshing and engaging with its balanced world-building and well-drawn characters, particularly the protagonist, Sunny. However, the abrupt ending left a somewhat frustrating impression, as the narrative concludes with an unresolved cliffhanger, which was a bit of a letdown after such an immersive reading experience.

The Arcane Academy (The Undying Magician Book 1) by Shane Purdy

“The Arcane Academy” centers on the life of Nathan Fox, an average magician with an extraordinary affliction—immortality. In the world of Aria, magic is the core of military strength and Nathan, due to his magical prowess, is required to attend the Arcane Academy, a training ground for magicians. His immortality, a result of a semi-magical disease, allows any damage to his body to reverse instantly, bringing him back to peak form. However, this gift is also a curse; should his true condition be discovered, the power-hungry magicians could exploit it. Amidst a chaotic uprising by the most potent beings, Nathan must keep his secret safe while navigating the military academy. The series traces his journey through this dystopian world, exploring the loneliness of immortality and the perils of keeping a life-altering secret

I was immediately drawn into the narrative by the author’s improved storytelling and commendable grammar – certainly a leap forward from the Winter Wolf series. Our protagonist, Nathan, is undoubtedly a character one can sympathize with, yet his seeming lack of backbone can make the reader yearn for more resistance on his part. The representation of the academy’s life tends to feel somewhat disconnected, with concepts like magic arcs introduced, but lacking adequate exposition. Despite some lapses in clarifying the plot and character interactions, the book carries its charm and lays a promising groundwork for the rest of the series. I rated it 4 out of 5, hoping the forthcoming sequels will amplify the intriguing elements in this first book.

The Problem With Princesses (Wake of The Ravager Book 1) by Macronomicon

“The Problem With Princesses” by Macronomicon transports readers to Marconen, a world where your initial Break sets your life’s course. The protagonist, Calvin, chooses magic but lacks proper guidance, leading him on an arduous journey across the planet, mastering different magical disciplines. However, his peculiar System continues to converse with him, hinting at a deep-seated secret about his birth and exile. As time elapses, an ominous power grows across the ocean, bringing with it significant challenges for Calvin, his friends, and the two princesses who hold his heart. The narrative weaves intriguing questions about Calvin’s connection to Elliot, the nature of the One, and the destiny of secondary characters, culminating in a story that is both epic and deeply personal.

I found this to be a thrilling mix of traditional fantasy and the System genre. Macronomicon’s world-building is commendable, particularly the unique magic system that is intimately tied to the culture and the unusual blend of humor, intrigue, and mystery. Calvin’s character is enigmatic yet relatable, and his interactions with the system and the other characters, especially Elliot’s snarky comments, contribute significantly to the story’s charm. The complex relationships, especially the emerging polygamous bond between Calvin, Kala, and Ella, are thoughtfully developed and add depth to the narrative. However, the characters’ overt lustfulness can sometimes be distracting. Nonetheless, if you can overlook this minor flaw, the book provides a refreshing take on the System genre with its gripping plot and interesting characters. I’m certainly intrigued to explore what the sequels have in store.

Flames of Mira (The Rift Walker Series Book 1) by Clay Harmon

“Flames of Mira” is an epic fantasy set in a world of ice, magma, and magic, where people like Ig undergo life-threatening trials that bind chemical elements to their bodies. Working as an enforcer for a corrupt Magnate, Ig is burdened with binding magic, which will kill him at any sign of disobedience. When chaos ensues from a coup, he is faced with the dire situation of potentially killing innocents or sacrificing himself. As he navigates this dilemma, he clings to the memories of his old self and the friendships he has made with the magnate’s children​​.

I found “Flames of Mira” to be a deeply immersive read. The combination of a unique setting under the frozen lands of Mira, the inventive and cool magic system, and the intense moral choices Ig faces, all contribute to a thrilling narrative. Harmon’s world-building is masterfully done, creating a setting that is as engaging as the characters themselves. The characters are well-fleshed out and are not overshadowed by the world-building, offering a balance that keeps readers invested​​.

However, potential readers should be aware that this is a brutal dark fantasy. The themes of slavery, toxic relationships, rage, broken families, murder, and war are explored deeply, providing the story with a serious and grim undertone. That said, Harmon handles these heavy themes with care and finesse, offering a thought-provoking exploration of the human condition in extreme circumstances​​.

Overall, “Flames of Mira” is an exciting, dynamic debut with a uniquely inventive world that I believe will make waves in the fantasy genre. I look forward to seeing where Harmon takes the “Rift Walker” series next.

Apocalypse Knights by DB King

“Apocalypse Knights 1” is a thrilling adventure set in a realm where dungeons and monsters pose constant threats. Maximo Strident, an ex-military war veteran and former member of local law enforcement, reluctantly agrees to enter a dungeon at the behest of his squad mates. Having only martial arts techniques to his advantage and no magic to speak of, Max finds himself outmatched against high-level monsters. However, a chance encounter with the legendary hero Artur Brightblade endows him with a unique class, turning him into a Knight. Equipped with new powers, Max is now on a mission to clean up the Knights-Errant, solve the dungeon’s mystery, and prevent the impending apocalypse that threatens to obliterate everything he cherishes​​.

“Apocalypse Knights 1” to be a compelling read that effectively combines elements of martial arts, magic, and dystopian fantasy. DB King’s world-building is meticulous and well-integrated into the narrative, offering readers a nuanced understanding of the Knights-Errant and their role within the broader societal and political landscape. Max Strident is a complex protagonist whose development throughout the story holds the reader’s interest. His transformation from a war-weary veteran to a valiant Knight tasked with saving his world is both dramatic and thoughtfully depicted. The combat scenes are thrilling, showcasing a blend of martial prowess and magical tactics. However, the pacing can be slow at times, particularly in the beginning, but it is recommended to persist as the story gains momentum eventually.

Overall, “Apocalypse Knights 1” offers an engaging journey that will likely appeal to fans of LitRPG and fantasy genres, despite some potential shortcomings. The book’s ability to intertwine elements of magic, dystopia, and action in a cohesive and intriguing narrative is commendable.

The Initialization: A Livestreamed Dungeon Crawl LitRPG (The Rise of the Winter Wolf Book 1) by Shane Purdy

“Initialization: Livestreamed Dungeon LitRPG Winter” follows Wolf Adler’s extraordinary journey, wherein his life—and the lives of every human on Earth—are suddenly disrupted by a strange blue box that appears in their vision. This box warns of an impending shift of every intelligent being to a new planet, triggering the initialization of a mysterious System. The world that Wolf knew is abruptly transformed into an otherworldly landscape filled with monster-infested dungeons and an inexplicable system that talks about abilities and levels. Amidst this chaos, Wolf is one of the thousand individuals forced to participate in a livestreamed competition within a dungeon, with the rank of Administrator as the prize. The fundamental question that looms over Wolf’s head is: will he perish or thrive in this unpredictable new world?.

This book to be a mixed bag. The premise of the story—wherein Earth’s population is transported to a new planet, introducing a fascinating blend of sci-fi and fantasy elements—is intriguing. However, the execution appears to have left many readers dissatisfied. Some found the character development lacking, with responses to the worldwide apocalypse coming off as unrealistic and emotionally hollow. The choice to name the protagonist Wolf, and his family background as trained assassins, has also drawn criticism for being contrived​​. On the other hand, there are readers who appreciated the book’s power fantasy aspect and found the game show element engaging, highlighting the potential of this novel for those who are willing to accept its premise. The book’s chaste approach, avoiding some common and often criticized tropes of the genre, is also commendable​​. Ultimately, “Initialization: Livestreamed Dungeon LitRPG Winter” might appeal to those seeking a power fantasy LitRPG with a unique premise, but it may not resonate with those who crave more depth in character development and plot progression.

The Starless Crown (Moonfall Book 1) by James Rollins

“The Starless Crown” (Book 1 in the Moonfall series) is a riveting and deeply visionary adventure by the renowned thriller-master, James Rollins. The story unfolds with a gifted student who foresees an impending apocalypse and is sentenced to death for her prophecy. As she flees into the unknown, she finds herself in the company of a group of outcasts: a broken soldier who picks up forbidden weapons once more, a drunk prince seeking a purpose, and an imprisoned thief who discovers an artifact that triggers a global power struggle. Together, they must learn to trust one another and uncover ancient secrets in order to survive in a world that has evolved in strange and deadly ways. As they race against time, the question lingers: who will claim the starless crown?​.

Rollins’ transition from thriller to fantasy genre to be smooth and highly engaging. The storytelling is terrific, weaving a world of magic and danger that is as terrifying as it is beautiful. Rollins excels at creating believably unbelievable scenarios that captivate readers from the very beginning and doesn’t let go. “The Starless Crown” showcases complex characters and shifting points of view, adding layers of depth to the narrative. The book is an epic fantasy that rightfully deserves its place as a Business Insider Best of the Year So Far book. This novel will undoubtedly satisfy fans of Rollins and attract newcomers to his work. It’s a bold, brilliant, and masterfully written novel that is a testament to Rollins’ storytelling prowess​.

All the Skills: A Deck Building LitRPG by Honour Rae

“All Skills on Deck: Building a LitRPG” is set in a world where all magic is captured into cards, and those who can construct a deck wield power. The protagonist, Arthur, has modest hopes of earning a basic spell card, but when destiny bestows upon him a Master of Skills card, he is thrust into a world brimming with both opportunities and dangers. To survive and flourish, Arthur must acquire skills – all the skills​.

This book is a delightful fusion of an engaging world, an intriguing main character, and a well-crafted plot. It takes an inherently fanciful premise – that magical cards confer superpowers – and transforms it into the foundation for a captivating tale of defiance against a system engineered to stifle such rebellion​​. It is especially recommended for fans of meticulous world-building where dragons play a key role. The deck-building and skill acquisition aspects offer a unique form of progression, but it is the overall world-building that truly draws the reader in​​. Furthermore, “All Skills on Deck: Building a LitRPG” manages to sidestep the common traps of progression-fantasy novels. The successes of the protagonist feel genuinely earned rather than conveniently handed to him. Yes, Arthur gets a lucky break, but he maximizes it with intelligent strategies, hard work, and a burgeoning sense of personal ambition​. A must-read for LitRPG enthusiasts and fantasy lovers alike.