Core Best Fantasy Lists
Best Sellers
Best Yearly Lists
Best Decade Lists
Best Thematic Lists
Best Subgenre Lists
Award Winners
Games Guides
Film Guides

Arabian Fantasy Books

Arabian Fantasy is an often romanticized sub-genre that many mediums, including literature, draw upon. For example, music, visual arts, and film all have works portraying elements of Arabian Fantasy. It is an old and traditional sub-genre that has seen a resurgence in the modern era. It is a sub-genre steeped in history and if not always mythic, then at least fable-like—which makes it an incredibly rich sub-genre. Indeed, Arabian Fantasy stories value and employ the use of spectacle, while drawing on the deeply rooted history and mythology of an ancient setting—the Middle East. The balance of history and myth, of magic and religion, of character and setting make-up the richness of the sub-genre.

Other Features of Arabian Fantasy

  • Level of Magic

Variable. Magic is definitely a part of Arabian Fantasy. It is a sub-genre steeped in mysticism and lore. Some authors create recognizable magic systems, while others create a magical atmosphere or a world with a mythos immersed in magic. Magic is important, and it varies from the very specific, genies granting wishes, to just a magical feeling emanating from the page.

  • Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications

Variable. There is plenty of variation in this sub-genre. However, many stories ponder larger questions or offer critiques on social structures. Fate and destiny are often invoked and pondered. Even allegory is sometimes used to contemplate ideas.

  • Level of Characterization

High. Characters are so well done in Arabian Fantasy that they have become cultural icons—Aladdin, Sinbad, Ali Baba, Scheherazade. Authors draw on the rich literary history of these characters, they reinvent them, they use them as a basis for new and heroic characters, and they make readers invested in these characters.

  • Level of Plot Complexity

High. Arabian Fantasy is multi-layered, it is rich, it is varied, it is an adventure, it is romance, and so much more. Arabian Fantasy is remarkable for its use of narrative techniques that subsequent genres and authors have adopted. Techniques like dramatic visualization and frame narratives make the story, and the plot, more complex and engaging.

  • Level of Violence 

Variable. Arabian Fantasy is not an innately violent sub-genre. Fighting and battles often dot the plotlines of an Arabian Fantasy story though, it makes for tense and action-packed stories. Indeed, violence in most of these stories is necessary to the plot.

Popular Arabian Fantasy Books Books

By Howard Andrew Jones. A dark and twisty Sword and Sorcery novel set in 8th century Baghdad.

By Judith Tarr. Credited with starting the new popularity of modern Arabian Fantasy.

By Esther Friesner. A humorous tale that you just might believe belongs in the Arabian Nights cycle.

By Geoffrey Household. Collection of stories that are all inspired by the Arabian Nights.

By Kai Meyer. A German language fantasy trilogy that the author describes as a post-apocalyptic Orient.

By Tahir Shah. A quest for his own story among some of the greatest story tellers.

By Robert Irwin. A twisted version of the Arabian Nights, for those who like the scary side of literature.

By G. Willow Wilson. In this modern novel, the protagonist finds himself in a hidden world of magic and jinn. The jinn have wi-fi

By William Beckford. A combination of gothic and Arabic settings. This novel is the story of a caliph who pursues evil to gain power.

By Ian Dennis. A sequence that is both an adventure and a political satire.