Best Sword and Sorcery Books

Action, Darkness, Antiheroes, and lots of sword fighting and magic
Blades and Spells: Unveiling the Best Sword and Sorcery Fantasy Books

Before I recommend the best sword and sorcery books, it's important that you, the reader, understand exactly what classic sword and sorcery really is. Sword & Sorcery is a complex subgenre and it's hard to firmly categorize. If you are the impatient type and don't want to read my rambling about what makes up the Sword & Sorcery genre, click here for classic sword and sorcery to get to the recommendation list.

What Exactly IS Sword and Sorcery?

Unlike epic fantasy, sword and sorcery does not concern itself with world-endangering events; the stakes, rather, are far more personal. The danger to the hero is usually immediate rather than long term. Sword & Sorcery has a strong preference for fast-paced action tales rather than sweeping story arcs. That means there is (usually) no band of heroes facing off against dark lords that seek to destroy the world, but rather a lone hero on a personal quest of some sort.

Sword and Sorcery often has a much darker feel than some of the other subgenre fantasies; brutality is common and morality is not clearly defined. Ancient myths and legends are often incorporated into the story.

The hero of the story is often brooding and morose, sometimes fatalistic and always troubled in some way. The hero may be the shunned outcast, the perpetual loner, the misunderstood wretch who is pitied. The hero tends to be larger than life, a force of nature who can, at times, defeat more powerful opponents (gods, witches, demons, etc). The hero is not always an unfeeling brute, but might in fact be highly intelligent, though with barbaric traits or uncomfortable habits. In Sword and Sorcery, the end always justifies the means -- even if the means means sacrificing all morality.

When someone mentions Sword and Sorcery, what comes to mind is Conan the Barbarian, arguably the greatest representation of the genre. It’s true that the story of Conan has been more influential than any other genre work. Its been imitated time and time again, but never duplicated. Conan is a figure from pulp fiction that’s transcended into myth, impacting an entire generation of writers and even making a dent in Hollywood as well. Many know Conan from the films and movies, but if you haven’t actually read the source of Conan, Robert Howard's pulp fiction stories, than you’ve never encountered the real Conan. Conan, Howard’s hero, dominates the landscape much in the way the ancient heroes of the Iliad and Odyssey were masters of the Greek domain. Like the primal Greek heroes and gods, Conan is an indestructible force of nature, a pure hurricane gale that obliterates all obstacles. The raw Conan is a character shaped from myth, a figure who’s both a force of nature and a human being. The world of Conan is a landscape not unlike our own past, but it’s a world woven from a patchwork of imagination, history, and legend. Conan is the archetype for an enduring human myth, a raw, primal force of humanity and instant. Conan defines the essence of true Sword and Sorcery. Don't just limit yourself to the stories of Conan -- Howard wrote other non-Conan tales which are also considered Sword and Sorcery classics. Try Kull: Exile of Atlantis and The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane .
Elric is the prince of a dying race, a pale, morose champion of right, despite the cards stacked against him. He's a physical weakling who needs to take drugs and relies on evil magic to survive. This puts him at odds with just about every other standard fantasy hero in the genre. In any other book, Elric would be closer to a villain than a hero. Elric may not be that "popular" these days (as evinced by the limited comments these books get on this website), but Elric has had a lasting influence on the entire fantasy genre.

Books in Elric Series (24)

Leiber helped to pioneer the sword-and-sorcery genre and is widely hailed as one of the most influential fantasy writers ever. Unfortunately, he's never received the credit he deserves for such an influential work. Many people have heard of Conan, but of the Gray Mouser, no. The trappings of fantasy are present in the Gray Mouser stories, -- there are evil wizards, magicians, and barbarians -- but it’s all done in such a way that it’s not “the same old thing.” What’s really refreshing about this series is the strong characterization of the two heroes, who, at the start of the novel are more anti-hero than actually hero.  Leiber does a good job exploring the meaning of relationships as the tale progresses – complicated stuff for a “mere sword and sorcery” tale. True to the classic Sword and Sorcery form, the backdrop, world-building, and mythology of Leiber's world are thin; the focus is on the adventures of the two heroes and not so much the world which they live in. These are small novels (less than 300 pages), but there’s a lot of substance to them and no matter what type of fantasy you enjoy, there’s something for everybody in these great stories.
The Amber Chronicles is a complex blend of genres and plot. It starts like a murder mystery, drawing the reader in, then it moves on to a mixture of sci-fi and fantasy. However, while Zelanzy's tension-building goes a long way, it's the character that keeps the reader invested throughout this ten book series. The book is from the perspective of Corwin, a hospitalized amnesiac trying to remember his true identity. We follow along as he tries to unravel his thoughts with the hard resourcefulness. But then Corwin learns that he's not in his home world but has been banished to shadowland that is earth. More than that, he has a claim to the throne, and his siblings are all too happy to kill him to take it. In an inspiring change, Zelazny details Corwin's growth as he comes to remember little details about himself and his personality changes as a result. It's a subtle beginning, opening to flood as he both realizes himself and is altered by the events of the series. Throughout it all, he remains intensely lovable, human, and eloquent.

Books in Amber Chronicles Series (12)

Jirel of Joiry was a character that featured in a series of short stories in Weird Tales. Ruling her own fictional kingdom somewhere in medieval France, her stories usually revolve around her quests to take revenge on the supernatural forces who would either slight her or threaten her kingdom.Why it's on the list The concept of a strong, female character is nothing new for us enlightened children of the new millennium. Think Lara Croft, Hermione, Xena (Yes, I can't believe I referenced Xena here either!). But in the 30's a heroic woman who doesn't need a man to protect her was groundbreaking. The fact that this woman was always off on adventures in alternate planes of existence and in other realms, made her character just that much more interesting.Jirel was the archetypal undefeatable swordswomen, with her armor, sword and anger-filled clashes with all things paranormal. She was tough, arrogant, attractive, skilled with the sword, but at the same time C.L. Moore created a character that was able to reflect on her actions and learn from failures and mistakes.Any book from the 20's or 30's that features a character who is bad-ass enough to gain the respect of her male fans, yet sentimental and introspective enough to appeal to the ‘fairer sex', deserves to be acknowledged for its contributions to fantasy and speculative fiction.Read if you likeGirl power, sword and sorcery, female characters, female authors.
This author, together with Robert Howard and HP Lovecraft, helped pioneer a whole genre of "weird tales" that the public had never encountered before. Clark blends together different genres: horror, fantasy, and science fiction. In his collection of short stories, there are a number of classic Sword and Sorcery tales: necromantic kingdoms and dark worlds of sorcery among the bunch. The writing is raw and beautiful -- Smith is surely a wordsmith.If you are the sort of person who loves to read about violence dressed up in the prettiest of words, you need to read Smith.

Books in Works By Clark Ashton Smith Series (5)

True to classic Sword and Sorcery, there are plenty of barbarians, wizards, and seductresses lining the pages of this classic work. The story centers on Gath of Baal, a barbarian guarding a realm that borders both a desert empire and a forest kingdom. Gath forms an alliance with a seductive sorceress. Mayhem for all involved results.Fans of true sword and sorcery fiction will love this series with oodles of bloody battle, evil sorcery, and dark demons. There are a lot of similarities between this series and Robert Howard's Conan tales.
You don't normally read about an African hero in fantasy literature, but Saunders creates a compelling episodic Sword & Sorcery tale with Imaro.The titular hero grows up as an outcast from his tribe, born to a mother who was banished from the tribe. He returns to the tribe to train as a warrior and though despised and mistreated as the son of an outcast, grows into the role as the greatest warrior in a tribe famous for great warriors.This work is basically episodic in nature. Readers will see in Imaro the same qualities found in other famous Sword and Sorcery heros (Conan). What makes this hero unique is that he's African and not of European decent.

Books in Imaro Series (3)

In an era when fantasy was about honorable farm boys with magic swords and a noble destiny, Glen Cook said 'fuck that mess; let's have some amoral pricks doing bad deeds in a dark world, that's way cooler'. And you know what? I believe he may just have been right. The Black Company is about the titular band of mercenaries simply doing their jobs and, well, killing people for coin. It just so happens that the person supplying said coin is the sort of dark lord that, in any other story, would be the arch-villain. But why should the Black Company give a shit? They get paid either way. The writing is unremarkable and to the point, which reflects the points of view of the grunts whose stories we follow. None of the characters are nice, and the combat is never glorified. It's all in a day's work for these sorry bastards, and the epic conflicts of the god-like figures they fight for and against are far above their pay-grades. Gritty humour also abounds, and reading the book is entertaining, and fun, even if the characters are having the most miserable times of their lives. The world is dark as hell, and made darker by the exploits of the Black Company and their masters. Read this book if: you're pissed about fantasy heroes always taking down the dark lord and leaving thousands of good, hard-working grunts unemployed.

Books in The Chronicles Of The Black Company Series (10)

Similar Recommendations

Instrumentalities of the Night

If you like Black Company, you should definitely read his other fantasy series, The Instrumentalities of the Night. It combines an ancient evil coming-back-into-the-world plot, a military genius hero, plenty of conflicts between worldly powers, political scheming, all filtered through Cook's military narrative. The closest you'll find to The Black Company in style and form. And duh, it's by the same freaking author. How much closer CAN you get?

Bloodsounder's Arc

Starts with Scourge of the Betrayers. About as close as you are going to get to Cook -- the narrator is even an archivist and the tale is told in first person. There's a LOT of similarities and the Bloodsounder books are gritty gritty grimdark dark. Delicious and some of the best fantasy to come out the past couple years. Do NOT pass this series by if you want something similar to The Black Company. It's the best of the similar recommendations I can give.

Malazan Book of the Fallen

For another "dark" military fantasy, you should read Malazan Book of the Fallen. It's more epic in scope than The Black Company, but there are enough similarities that you'll find yourself right at home. Steven Erikson has even stated that Glen Cook's books were an influence on his own writing, so there you have it.

The Dagger and the Coin

You may want to give Daniel Abraham's The Dagger and the Coin series a good go at it. Books one and two are out and they are seriously good -- some of the best epic fantasy that's come out. Abraham's work is a good mix of epic and military fantasy with some smart writing and a cast of compelling characters (some which are anti-heroes). Both are character driven, though Black Company has a hell of a lot more action and angst while The Dagger and the Coin is far more about the characters. It can be somewhat plodding and slow at times. However, if you like Black Company, and military fantasy with strong characters, you may just like this series. 

The Ten Thousand

Paul Kearney's The Ten Thousand is a superb military fantasy by a much underrated author. If you like Black Company, you'll dig this one hard. 

The Way of Kings

Sanderson's awesome The Way of Kings is also another book you might want to read (it's first in the Stormlight Archive series). The main character (Kaladin) has a few basic similarities to The Black Company main character (Croaker). Both are retired physicians who've given up their profession to become soldiers. Both lead a squad of men (and there is the squad dynamics). Cook's work is more gray and his style more dry, however. The narrator (Croaker), is not a crazy badass super hero, while Sanderson's work is more heroic in nature as is the character. So don't get the idea that The Way of Kings is anything like The Black Company as a whole, but as stated there are some similarities.

Heroes Die

Heroes Die by Mathew Woodring Stoover. Dark and gritty world. Check. An anti-hero character who ends up working for the bad guys most of the time? Check. Explosive and brutal action? Check. Strong characterization. Check and Check. Heroes die is MORE about a singular hero than a company of characters, as is The Black Company, but there's enough that you'll probably love it if you like Glenn Cook's work.

The Darkness That Comes Before

The Darkness that Comes Before. Ah, grimdark epic fantasy at it's best, but not your standard epic fantasy: this shit is deep and philosophical. Lots of wars and grand military battles and dark gods taking over the world. There's nothing else quite like it to be honest, but ignoring all the philosophy sprinkled between the chapters, there's a hell of a lot of bloody action, gratuitous sex, character development, and political intrigue to keep you turning the pages. Oh and there's a world-ending apocalypse coming. 

The Coldfire Trilogy

Black Sun Rising is a different sort of work. But it's a very dark and grim world featuring an anti-hero character and side kick heroes that are all flawed individuals. One of the best fantasy books in the genre. You'll probably like it, even if it's about a couple characters solving a quest rather than a military band caught up in incessant warfare.

The Thousand Names

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler. This is a new series that came out in 2013 with two books out so far (the last one was out a few months ago, mid 2014). If you like large scale battles and the story of a squad/company facing extreme survival odds in a foreign country, you'll love this series. It's one of the better fantasy books to come out the past few years. And it's certainly one of the best military fantasy series since Erikson's Mazalan. If you like Black Company, you'll love this series.


Legend by David Gemmell. A classic, but one all about a hero fighting an endless war against endless odds. There's something of beauty in this heroic treatment of an old washed up hero who's pressured by the need of his people to come back from retirement to kick some ass.

The Red Knight

For a very medieval fantasy with magic and monsters and knights, Miles Cameron's The Red Knight. This was one of my favorite reads of 2013. There's a lot of military battles and squad/company warfare against foes with superior numbers. It's not as dark, on a whole, as The Black Company, but it's a stellar read. If you like might and magic and battles and warfare, this is one for your.

This is a different breed of fantasy fiction than its pulp fiction brethren. However, there are many elements found in the Black Company that have Sword and Sorcery qualities to them.Glen Cook is one of the modern authors who writes what you might call modern Sword and Sorcery. Black Company is not traditional Sword and Sorcery, but there are enough elements to loosely class it as such. Cook, Erickson, Lynch, and Kearney all write fantasy that modernizes some of the older Sword and Sorcery traditions -- instead of the almost serial adventures present in S&S such as Conan, these authors incorporate a more "epic" fantasy style in the the sword and sorcery traditions.The Black Company is a true classic -- a thrilling tale of magic and might, where the characters are neither good nor evil, and evil itself has shades of good. I recommend reading the Books of the North followed by The Books of the South. Many will argue that the series loses some of its appeal after that (in part because the narrator of the story changes to a different character).
I can't say enough good things about this amazing fantasy series except that the author has gone completely AWOL and, as of 2015, looks like she's pretty much abandoned writing at this point.At one point, maybe close to 10 years ago, I considered it one of the best fantasy series out there. These days, the series is still good but against some of the new wave of awesome fantasy that's come out the past 10 years, is only so so. Regardless, Sword of Shadows is a great read for all. And, for some reason, it's not on too many radars, perhaps because J.V. Jones took 5 years between sequels, but I remain firm in my conviction that this series is one of the better 'classic good guy versus bad guy' series (no grey ambiguity with the heroes here, the the setting is gritty). The landscape and setting and different cultures/peoples are unique enough in their own right, but the vicious, dark action, very strong cast of characters, and enticing plot really draw you in.So, pick it up if you find the series on the cheap, just realize that only 4 books are out and the last book doesn't look like it's ever going to be finished. The author recently posted on her almost abandoned blog that she's currently been hard at work on BOOK 5. Finally!

Books in Sword Of Shadows Series (5)

Similar Recommendations

Try George Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga, which features a brutal, gritty world set in an ice-filled milieu. Characters are realistic and Martin holds nothing back. It's a superlative epic fantasy saga. You might also try J.V. Jones's other excellent Book of Words fantasy saga (starts with The Baker's Boy ).

Gemmell specializes in heroic fantasy. His best book is widely regarded as Legend. Legend doesn’t try to be anything but what it is: a heroic adventure with lots of blood, battles, babes, and badass magic. There’s a plot in there somewhere, but in true Sword and Sorcery form, the focus is on the action itself and not so much the plot. Gemmell explores a lot of themes in this book -- the idea of true heroism for instance. And there’s a hell of a lot of action and blood.So if you’re in a mood for a rousing adventure that would put Braveheart to shame, David Gemmell’s Legend is a good pick.

Books in Drenai Tales Series (14)

Paul Kearney's Sea-Beggars series which starts with The Mark of Ran. Kearney reported that these stories were inspired by some of the original Fritz Leiber stories.Sea Beggars would be a modern sword and sorcery by any interpretation: there’s a lot of action present in the series and there’s no world-endangering threat to defeat. You might also want to try his The Ten Thousand novel for another similar sort of tale, though one that focuses even more on action and battle.
Steven Eriksen has been both lauded and criticized for his extreme detail, and that extends to his magic system. In Malazan, magic comes from warrens, a realm from which mages and shamans can draw their power. Some are associated with the world’s various races, locked behind rituals and blood bonds. Humans can draw from those known as paths, as a source of power, opening them to healing, sea, fire, land, light, and mind magic. From them, they can place protective wards, weave the spells of multiple users together, and travel. Though the system doesn’t sound entirely new or complex, the detail the author imbues makes it interesting. Through the course of his ten-book epic, Eriksen dives into far more than can be held in this small description, regaling histories and gods, exceptions and drawbacks. If you can get past his thick pockets of information, he will take you on a journey of magic unlike any you’ve seen.

Books in The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series (11)

Similar Recommendations

A Song of Ice and Fire

George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga also features an epic scope and the grey characterization that Erikson so loves. Martin's work is smaller in scale though and tends to be more focused, plot wise. 

The Darkness That Comes Before

You can also try Scott R. Baker's The Darkness That Comes Before saga, which is an alternative history saga, where the Roman Empire has never fallen and magic works. Oath of Empires is epic, featuring massive magical battles and huge opposing armies (Persian and Roman) clashing so hard you can hear the horses scream. 

The Cry of the Newborn

Also give James Barclay's The Cry of the Newborn a whirl which is similar in style and content (though less epic) to Erikson. It's an example of a Fantasy military fiction done right. Barclay also knows how to write damn good battle scenes, giving even Erikson a run for his money. Also give David Anthony Durham a try. 


His recent novel, Acacia, is a fantastic read -- big on the epic battles and gritty dark realism of Erikson and Martin. At it's core, 

The Black Company

The Malazan Book of the Fallen is a military fantasy; you might want to read Glen Cook's classic Black Company series. It's dark, gritty, and has a hell of a lot of battles. It's the book that has forever defined military fantasy.

The Broken Empire

Mark Lawrence's delicious gritty anti-hero military fantasy. If you like large battles, underdog heroes, and a full scale invasion of the dead into the land of the living, well, The Broken Empire is what you need to read. One of the more interesting heroes in the genre and featuring superbly written prose.

The Bloodsounder's Arc

Starts with Scourge of the Betrayer. Some new 2014 military fantasy in a good grimdark tradition. Reminds me of Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence mixed with The Black Company by Glenn Cook.

The Thousand Names

The Thousand Names came out 2013 with a serious bang. Detailed military campaign and squad tactics/warfare as several companies of foreign colonial soldiers must make their way through an inhospitable desert to escape hostile locals trying to kill them.

The Traitor's Son Cycle

Starts with The Red Knight. Plenty of medieval warfare here - tactics, sieges, and fierce battles against men and monsters.

The Broken Sword explores what happens when a human child is exchanged at birth and taken and raised by the elves. It is a solid bit of writing and a masterful story. This dark fantasy borrows strongly from Nordic Mythology and tells of a time when the Norse gods still walked the earth, and elves still maintained their own corner too. Why it's on the list This is a Viking-themed fantasy story, told by a master storyteller. A favorite in the whole "sword & sorcery" fantasy genre. While there are countless excellent authors who can write heroic fantasy or hard science fiction – there are very few who can write both. Poul Anderson was one of the greatest speculative fiction authors. With a degree in physics and a great depth of knowledge about Nordic mythology and ancient languages, Anderson was able to create a true fantasy classic. Read if you like Nordic Mythology. Released at a similar time as Tolkien's novels. This is an excellent example of how similar, yet completely different a Nordic/Romantic/Dark fantasy type book can be.
The Acts of Caine series takes adventure fantasy and drags it sixteen miles through the mud, and then tortures what's left. In a dystopian future, humanity has discovered a way to travel to parallel dimensions. One of those worlds just happens to be a pretty close approximation of the stereotypical fantasy world, and our protagonist, Caine, is sent there to get into as many cool fights as possible, which is then all broadcast back to Earth as entertainment. Caine is essentially a gladiator, and the book, beyond being a pulse-pounding, adrenaline-fueled adventure filled with violence and testosterone, questions why we are so entertained by depictions of violence. Somehow, the book manages to be both pulpy entertainment and a crash-course in philosophy at the same time. It's insanely dark, and Caine, a bare-knuckles brawler, comes up against armoured, sword-wielding opponents and dismantles them by breaking their bones, tearing their tendons, or just popping a handy knife through an eyeball. He's a fantastic anti-hero, and will discuss the moral implications of violence even as he tears through a contingent of guards. The 'heroes' of the story, on the whole, totally fuck up in their seemingly selfless endeavours to play hero. The fantasy world is completely lacking in any of the idealism or wonder that makes lighter fantasy books so wondrous, and the dystopian sci-fi world Caine comes from is far, far worse. Read this book if: you want your 'elves' running brothels, your 'orcs' figuring out how guns work, and your hero with his hands inch-deep in some poor bastard's chest cavity.

Books in The Acts Of Caine Series (4)

Similar Recommendations

For similar recommendations, I'm give books that fuse action, blood, grittiness, flawed humanity, and anti-heroes. Some books may also feature assassins. All these books also explore the idea of 'the hero.'

Caine Sequels

The sequels of course! There are 3 of them as of 2014 and it's more of the same with Caine's story fleshed out more and more. Each book does something new though. The books are all good, but the first books is the best and the second book nearly as good. There rest may be a dissapointment though, depending. The direct sequel to Heroe's Die is The Blade of Tyshalle.

The Steel Remains

The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan. Some elements of Heroes Die here: you have a dark and unforgiving world with a misunderstood hero who's not afraid of being a serious bad ass to those who fuck him over. This is one of the darkest fantasy books you'll read. But oh so good and something unique in the grim dark genre. It's a trilogy with the final book released by the end of 2014 making this trilogy a complete one.

The Heroes

The Heroes. When all villains are really just misunderstood heroes and heroes turn out to be villains. Abercrombie's best book so far, which is saying a lot since every book he's written is some of the best works in the genre. Tons of action, awesome and compelling characters, and vicious battles. Abercrombie is one of the best writers of violent scenes that just pop out of nowhere. If you love the action and blood of Heroes Die and you like the character of Caine, I think you'll like The Heroes. Note Heroes is more of a subversion of the idea of heroes, politics, and war. Heroes Die is more of a straight bad-ass anti-hero guy murdering everything around him rather than a sly statement about the state of humanity.

The Night Angel Trilogy

If you like the Assassin factor of Heroes Die, read Brent Weeks' The Night Angel Trilogy. It's a good read and Weeks is a rising star in the Fantasy world. The series is much, much lighter reading than the Acts of Caine, and the prose is not half as good. Good for light reading though.

Prince of Thorns

For some compelling anti-hero reading about an assassin king, you should read Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. Right up your alley if you like the violence and amorality of Stover's Caine character. Honorable Jorg Ancraft, the hero villain of Prince of Thorns, is an immoral and vicious bastard. Even so, you can't stop rooting for him to win.

The Farseer Trilogy

Also read Robin Hobb's The Farseer Trilogy -- an epic tale about an assassin-in-training in a fantasy landscape, but with one of the best drawn characters ever to grace the Fantasy scene. As for being bad-ass, Fitz has nothing on Caine though and if you are expecting a heroic amount of violence and kickass-ness on the part of Fitz, expect to be disappointed. The whole kick ass that happens is to Fitz who gets ass whooped over and over. Really, he's kind of a bitch. But fabulous read, nevertheless.

The Folding Knife 

The Folding Knife by KJ Parker's might just be up your alley. Dark, gritty, filled with flawed heroes with realistic motivations. Not everyone appreciate's Parker, but if you want a slower-paced 'rich' fantasy that's all about the characters, man Parker knows how to do it right.

The Red Knight

The Red Knight. Knight heroes, monstrous elves, and damsels in distress all clash in this remarkable book released in 2013. The tale is a different one than your normal fantasy with a highly detailed and realistic medievil world built by the author who is a legit medievil historian. There's a huge cast of characters (though the focus remains on The Red Knight, the titular hero of the story and series) rather than a single one. However, like Heroes Die there's a lot of sizzling energy to this series, with brutal action, action, and lots of war. You'll probably like it if you like gritty violence and lots of fighting.

Talion: Revenant

Talion: Revenant is the best work by prolific fantasy author Michael A Stackpole. Heroic fantasy with a lot of energy. One of the best 'boy becomes a man and then a hero' tales I've read and certainly Stackpool's best work.


Legend, the book that made Gemmell's career and certainly his career defining work about what it means to be a hero. He also explores the same idea in many works -- including a couple books about a bad-ass assassin turned hero (Waylander).

The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss -- just about one of the best fantasy books in the genre. Another sort of heroic fantasy, but a tale that focuses on a character-driven narrative about the life of a hero. This is not a subversion of the heroic tale, but an expansion of it. It's frame story that's told after-the-fact, and we are never sure if the tale of Kvothe, a larger than life hero, is truth or exagerration. The writing is lyrical and gorgeous -- showing itself to be a perfect intersection between a powerful narrative and strong writing.

If you are looking for some classic sword and sorcery that combines action and romance in equal spades, The Sword Dancer series delivers on this. The characters evolve dramatically over the series, there’s a lot of romantic tension between the main character, Tiger, and his companion/ love interest Del. What more can I say? Read it!

Books in Tiger And Del Series (10)

Another modern sword & sorcery tale. There’s a lot of swashbuckling swordplay, adventure, and romance present in this novel. While some might say the series is more high fantasy  than sword and sorcery, there’s enough swashbuckling in the novel to list it here. The plot’s pretty sharp and the Chester does a great job with the characters – they live and breathe as real people, something you don’t normally find in a Sword and Sorcery series.  Chester also takes some of the standard Tolkienesque conventions (elves) and reworks them into a new form. This series is entertaining in a B Action movie sort of way -- you can enjoy it for the fast paced action and the cheap thrills.
A great tale that doesn’t take itself too seriously and one that doesn’t get bogged down with the little details. This fantasy marks the heyday of the 60s and 70s style of fantasy. Because of this, the series is easy to read and harkens back to the pulp classics of the Robert Howard era.You may find Saberhagen's prose a bit off-putting at first, if you are used to the bloated prose common in the epic fantasy of today. But move past the idea that bulk equals quality mind-set that most younger fantasy readers have these days, and you'll find a series with a lot of substance to it.

Books in Books Of Swords Series (2)

Duncan’s managed to make this list with 3 series. King’s Blades are some sword-heavy fantasy for those who like fantasy full of swashbuckling, politics, and raw action. This is not epic fantasy as much as it is an action political fantasy that’s heavy on the heroics.You might think of this something as a fantasy version of The Three Musketeers. Like all Duncan’s books, well plotted, well written, with an interesting world. And of course, always well developed and compelling characters, especially the protagonist. 

Books in King's Blades Series (6)