The Way Of Kings

The Stormlight Archive has for better or worse become the poster-boy for where (classic) epic fantasy is going. It's the evolution of the Tolkien-style fantasy -- a fantasy that was very much expanded and added to by Robert Jordan with The Wheel of Time. And now Brandon Sanderson is rebuilding epic fantasy in his image, updated for modern readers. It's a fantasy very much divergent from the style of Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire which embraces the gritty conceit. Sanderson's style of epic fantasy strides the middle ground between Tolkien and Martin -- a bit of each, but not too much of either. The Stormlight Archive (2 massive books into the whole 10 series) is a hugely epic series that's casting an eye on the Malazan throne for epicness. The first book pulls out all stops and makes a grand statement with the page count alone, being only a mere first 1000+ pages in a purported 10 book series. You can see why The Stormlight Archive is about as epic a fantasy as they come.  But not only epic, but also damn good. This is one of the best fantasy books to come out in the 2000's and certain one of the best fantasy of the past five years, hands down.The Way of Kings does everything right as an epic fantasy. There's a world-ending plot in the backdrop, a cast of interesting characters that are starkly realized, a unique magic system, different races with a lot of tension between them, huge and epic battles, and some of the best action in the fantasy genre.Characterization is also fantastic. Sanderson has done a particularly well job at building up the character of Kaladin, who spend the majority of the novel enduring the fantasy genre's worst Dirty Job ever. Through the nightmare that is Kaladin's life (and various flashbacks to his childhood), Sanderson does a great job explaining the character's motivations and present actions. These flashbacks are also used to great effect as a way to throttle up the dramatic tension as the story progresses. The action, when it happens, explodes and what a ride it is!So if you are a fan of Sanderson's work, you love epic fantasy, or you just want to read one of the best damn fantasy books out there, The Way of Kings blows pretty much every other 'epic fantasy' competition out of the water, with the exception of Martin's works.All in all, a fantastic start to what's looking to be a great epic series (a series that's looking to be far superior to The Wheel of Time). The sequel, Words of Radiance, was a spectacular read that kept the strength of the first book for the most part. I don't feel it was as good, but there were certainly some very strong moments in the book.If you are looking for epic fantasy, I can't recommend any other series over this right now. Start reading if you haven't already. There have been some excellent epic fantasy series (in the style of Martin, Jordan, and Sanderson) released the past couple years (The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne, The Traitor's Son Cycle, The Powder Mage Trilogy, and The Shadow Campaigns of particular note), but so far Sanderson's series still remains at the top of the pile.

Similar Recommendations

For more DETAILED breakdown of epic fat fantasy recommendations, check out the Best Epic Fantasy Recommendation list.

I'm going to go into quite a bit of detail here on recommending the top epic fantasy that's most similar to The Stormlight Archive, or that you may like if you like Sanderson's epic.


Big Battles, Good vs. Evil, Strong Magic System, Standard Epic Fantasy:

The Wheel of Time

For more rolling epics in the high fantasy style of The Way of Kings, The Wheel of Time is probably the closest you'll find in terms of "style" and plot and setting. Keep in mind that Sanderson did write the last 3 books in the Wheel of Time to complete Jordan's massive series, so it should come as no surprise The Stormlight Archive is Sanderson's own version of The Wheel of Time.

The Death Gate Cycle

Lots of magic and action in the Death Gate Cycle. And 7 big big novels in the series. An interesting setting and an interesting magic system. It's an older fantasy (a couple decades old) and not as complex as the more modern epic fantasies to come out in the 2000's, but it's a fun read, even if the final book is a huge letdown.

The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne

Starts with The Emperor's Blades by Brian Stavely. This series was probably my favorite epic fantasy debut last year in 2014. A remarkable release and a true epic fantasy with the word epic. The style of this fantasy is very much in like with Tolkien, Jordan, and The Stormlight Archive with big strange landscapes, a cast of many characters, strange magic, a dark threat coming, powerful heroes with personal stories, etc.

Lord of the Rings

The source from which all epic fantasy is derived. Need I say more here?

If you are looking for more of a Lord of the Rings STYLE of epic fantasy in feeling, writing, magic, and form, then check out our Best of the Tolkien Clones list for books like this.


This four book series is William's latest epic fantasy. More of melding of Lord of the Rings but updated for the 21st century. Strong characters, interesting, mysterious magic system, old gods walking the lands, scheming emperor's, magical kingdoms hidden from man, etc. Some elements like The Stormlight Archive, though, again, it's more in line with Lord of the Rings.

The Lightbringer

Tons of action, tons of magic, a unique magic system, a coming of age story, the battle between good and evil, gods and men, kings and soldiers, The Lightbringer series has it all. Book one was ok, Book two was absolute kick ass, Book three in between. If you want a coming of age epic fantasy with some serious POW, this is it.

The Powder Mage Trilogy

Starts with A Promise of Blood. Flintlock 'Gunpowder with Grit' epic fantasy. Gods, gunpowder mages, and sorcerers all go at it in this one. A heady mix of unique magic, complex troubled heroes, and troubled landscapes.

The Shadow Campaigns 

Starts with The Thousand Names. Colonial military fantasy with a lot of action, squad combat, violence and complex heroes. After two books we are still seeing where this series is going (I preferred book one over book two), but is some of the best new stuff out there in the past couple years. 

The Warded Man

Epic Fantasy, but with a twist -- evil has conquered the world and men are the prey. First book (The Warded Man) was spectacular. The sequels shit. But read the first book for some of the most exciting, heart-pumping epic fantasy. Lots of focus on magic and a unique magic system at that. A coming of age story thrown in with some compelling characters.


Sanderson has written a lot of other good epic fantasy that you should read. The Mistborn Trilogy series is a given. His Elantris stand alone is also great. Warbreaker, I wasn't too fond of. The last three Wheel of Time books have been finished off by him as well.

Codex Alera

Jim Butcher's less famous series, but arguably just as good as his Dresden Files. Codex Alera is epic fantasy with pokemon and set in a Romaneque world. Cool beans indeed. Battles, magic, and stratagems all perfectly blended.  

Darker Epic Fantasy (gritty, grimdark, morally ambiguous heroes, antiheros, etc):

Mazalan Book of the Fallen 

Malazan Book of the Fallen is also another huge epic fantasy series, but the characters are more gray (and there are a lot more of them). Still, it's one of the best epic series out there right now. 

The Black Company

The Black Company is another style of epic fantasy with a twist that you should absolutely read. It's more of a gritty, grimdark style and the characters are all morally ambiguous, the narration is first person, but man once you get into this series, you really really get into it. Some of the most interesting gritty epic fantasy in the genre. It's not at all like The Stormlight Archive though, except for the good vs evil conceits of the epic fantasy tradition and the large scale military battles that include a lot of magic in them. This is more similar to Mazalan Book of the Fallen than Stormlight Archive. 

If you want The Black Company style epic fantasy, look at our Best Grimdark Fantasy list for more books like this. Not all are epic fantasy, but there are some epic gritty/grimdark picks on there.

The First Law Trilogy

Starts with The Blade Itself. A complete subversion of lord of the rings. Not at all like Stormlight Archive in tone or style, but you may just like it anyways.

A Song of Ice and Fire

And for a fantasy series that doesn't focus as much on magic and dark lords but more on character relationships and complex politicking (and some epic sword battles), Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire should be read.

The Traitor's Son Cycle

Starts with The Red Knight. Another epic fantasy series with two books out so far as of 2014. One of my favorite series and a different take on the genre. It merges medieval Arthurian settings and peoples with epic fantasy that's about a grand battle between monsters and men, sorcerers and heroes. There's a lot of zing to it with tons of action, magic, massive battles, military strategy, and an glorious amount of medieval detail. 

More Character driven epic fantasy:

The Wizard of Earthsea

The Wizard of Earthsea. Very much different than the modern epic fantasy that is The Stormlight Archive, but a classic epic fantasy with a compelling story, a deep magic system, and complex characters, and some underlying themes. One of the best classic epic fantasy in the genre and a must read.

The Blood Song

If you like character driven epics, you might just find The Blood Song appealing. It's not so much an epic struggle between good and evil but more of a struggle between factions. And more about martial skills than magic, though magic becomes more important later in the book.

Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn

The Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series by Tad Williams. Another remaking of Lord of the Rings and not really similar to The Stormlight Archive other than there are many different lands, different peoples, and scheming nobles tossed into the story. It's far more character driven and far less action orientated. Yet, it's a rich reworking of The Lord of the Rings and one of the best (slow) coming of age stories in the genre -- even decades after it was first published.

War of Light and Shadows

Complex characters and lyrical prose to the point of this series becomes hard to actually read, Janny Wurtz War of Light and Shadowsseries has not received the due acknowledgement it should have received. It's not at all like Wheel of Time or Stormlight Archive, but absolutely better written and far more character driven. Read if you love slow, simmering plots, deep characters with complex motivation. This is one anei-recommendation I'd say if you have a hard on for The Wheel of Time and The Stormlight Archive type epic fantasy, you WILL NOT LIKE IT.

The Sun Sword Saga

High Fantasy meets Epic fantasy in this massive 7 book series. I'm not even sure how to describe this other than procedural epic/high fantasy. It's slow and completely character driven, but oh so wonderfully written. This is another anti-recommendation just like above; I'd say if you have a hard on for The Wheel of Time and The Stormlight Archive type epic fantasy, you WILL NOT LIKE IT.

For more epic fat fantasy recommendations, check out the Best Epic Fantasy Recommendation list.

Booklists having this book

Top 25 Best Fantasy Books

This is a list of books that are the crème de la crème of the fantasy genre. I've carefully chosen the top 25 fantasy books from hundreds of series and... Read more

Other books by Sanderson, Brandon


This fantasy fiction novel will suck you in. Elantris is one of the best standalone fantasy books in the genre. It's about addictive as chocolate and a whole lot healthier!... Read more


A magnificent series of adventure, magic, and revenge with one of the most unique magic systems in the fantasy genre. Mistborn is the story of a band of wizards fighting... Read more

Well Of Ascension

 Read more

The Hero Of Ages

 Read more

Allow Of Law

 Read more


Though Sanderson's main criticism is a lack of character depth, it's hard to deny the satisfying coming of age stories in Mistborn. The novel describes a classic rags-to-riches story, Vin... Read more

The Stormlight Archive

Understandably, some readers prefer series more epic in their nature, and Sanderson also has that covered. Though it’s magic systemsaren’t quite as compelling as in Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive is... Read more

Words Of Radiance

 Read more

The Way Of Kings

The Stormlight Archive has for better or worse become the poster-boy for where (classic) epic fantasy is going. It's the evolution of the Tolkien-style fantasy -- a fantasy that was... Read more

The Stormlight Archive

If you like your epic fantasy big in the style of Wheel of Time, the closest you'll find to that style is The Storm Light Archive -- written by the... Read more


 Read more


While Sanderson excels at writing âepicâ fantasy, Steelheartwas a pleasant surprise. Sanderson takes on the âsuperheroâ fantasy genre andwrites a uniquely compelling tale about a band of ordinary humans whospecialize... Read more


 Read more


 Read more

Shadows Of Self

 Read more

Bands Of Mourning

 Read more


Brandon Sanderson proves his expertise in magic once more with Warbreaker, a story of two princesses, separated and each trying to prevent a war. In theShardworld of Nathis, every individual... Read more

The Stormlight Archive

Take one part of the Wheel of Time and two-parts Mistborn adding in more character building, an even grander vision of the world, a sophisticated magic system, and you have... Read more

Bands Of Mourning

Yet another Sanderson book. The second book to come out in 2016, and it's only March! Seriously, I don't know how Sanderson can write so prolifically – he writes two,... Read more

The Well Of Ascension

 Read more

Secret History

 Read more

Shadows Of Self

 Read more

The Bands Of Mourning

 Read more

Oathbringer: Book Three Of The Stormlight Archive

The eagerly awaited sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling Words of Radiance, from epic fantasy author Brandon Sanderson at the top of his game.In Oathbringer, the third volume... Read more


Brandon Sanderson is well-known for his magic systems, and Mistborn standshigh above the rest. In the Final Empire, ash falls from the sky, mist moves unnaturally through the night, and... Read more

The Lost Metal

 Read more


 Read more

The Rithamatist

The Rithmatist’s magic system has been likened to a real-time strategy game, if it incorporated chalk, and it was a life or death situation. Rithmastists use their magic to give... Read more

The Hero Of Ages

 Read more


 Read more

Oathbringer: Book Three Of The Stormlight Archive

The #1 New York Times bestseller, Oathbringer is the third volume of Brandon Sanderson\'s Stormlight Archive fantasy epic where humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers,... Read more