Never-Ending Stories: High Fantasy Epic Sagas

By Amanda Pagan, Children's Librarian
May 27, 2020
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL)
He stood there holding the magic sword in his hand

"He stood there holding the magic sword in his hand." The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection NYPL. NYPL Digital Collections, 1906. Image ID: 1704149

Don't adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story.” 

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Greetings weary warriors and rogues! 

Are you in search of adventure? Are standard trilogies just not enough anymore? Are you finding yourself saying “Gee that book was great, but I wish there was MORE”?

If your answer to all of the above is a resounding YES!, then you’ve come to the right place. 

Here we have gathered some of our favorite high fantasy epic sagas.  (For more High Fantasy titles, check out Here Be Dragons: A Beginner's Guide to Fantasy)

These are novels that follow the same characters or related characters within the same universe over the course of multiple novels. These sagas may span multiple generations or simply multiple volumes. In any case, these will be more than your standard trilogy. 

If you are looking for a lengthy fantasy series to really sink your teeth into, then find a comfy chair, pour yourself a hot mug of your favorite brew, and get ready to get lost in worlds unknown! Adventure awaits!

Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle #1) by Ursula K. Le Guin

(e-book available through SimplyE and Overdrive; e-audiobook available through Overdrive )

Volumes: 6

A boy grows to manhood while attempting to subdue the evil he unleashed on the world as an apprentice to the Master Wizard.



Legend (The Drenai Saga #1) by David Gemmell

(e-book available through SimplyE and  Overdrive)

Volumes: 11

He is DRUSS the Legend. His skill in battle has earned him a fearsome reputation throughout the world and the stories of his life are told everywhere. But the grizzled veteran has spurned a life of fame and fortune and has retreated to the solitude of his mountain lair to await his old enemy, Death. Meanwhile, barbarian hordes of the Nadir are on the march, conquering all before them. All that stands before them and victory is the legendary six-walled fortress of the Drenai empire, Dros Delnoch. If the fortress falls, so do the Drenai. Druss reluctantly agrees to come out of retirement. But can even Druss live up to his own legends?

Eye of the World

The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time #1)by Robert Jordan

(e-book available through SimplyE and  Cloud Library; e-audiobook available through Overdrive)

Volumes: 14 volumes plus 1 prequel

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs―a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts― five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.

Cast in shadow

Cast in Shadow (Chronicles of Elantra #1) by Michelle Sagara

(e-book available through SimplyE and Overdrive)

Volumes: 15

Seven years ago Kaylin fled the crime-riddled streets of Nightshade. Children were being murdered—and all had the same odd markings that mysteriously appeared on her own skin... Since then, she's learned to read, she's learned to fight and she's become one of the vaunted Hawks who patrol and police the City of Elantra. But children are once again dying. Kaylin is ordered back into Nightshade. Her task is simple—find the killer, stop the murders...and survive the attentions of those who claim to be her allies!


Assassin's Apprentice

Assassin's Apprentice (Realm of the Elderlings #1) by Robin Hobb

(e-book available through SimplyE and  Overdrive, a-audiobook available through Overdrive

Volumes: 16

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma. Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals—the old art known as the Wit—gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility. So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

Hobbit, Or, There and Back Again

The Hobbit, Or There and Back Again (Middle-earth Universe Series #1) by J.R.R. Tolkien

(e-book available through SimplyE and  Overdrive; e-audiobook available through Overdrive

Volumes: 20+

Bilbo Baggins, a respectable, well-to-do hobbit, lives comfortably in his hobbit-hole until the day the wandering wizard Gandalf chooses him to take part in an adventure from which he may never return.

 Librarian’s Note: The Lord of the Rings is a trilogy that was written as a sequel to The Hobbit. After Tolkien’s death, his son Christopher Tolkien edited and published some of his father’s unfinished manuscripts that expanded the Middle-earth universe as The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth, etc.. These have been published both separately and as multi-volume collections bringing the final number of works up to at least 20, depending on how many volumes they were split into.

Magic of Recluce

The Magic of Recluce (Saga of Recluce #1) by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

(e-book available through SimplyE and Cloud Library

Volumes: 21

Young Lerris is dissatisfied with his life and trade, and yearns to find a place in the world better suited to his skills and temperament. But in Recluce a change in circumstances means taking one of two options: permanent exile from Recluce or the dangergeld, a complex, rule-laden wanderjahr in the lands beyond Recluce, with the aim of learning how the world works and what his place in it might be. Many do not survive. Lerris chooses dangergeld. When Lerris is sent into intensive training for his quest, it becomes clear that he has a natural talent for magic. Though it goes against all of his instincts, Lerris must learn to use his powers in an orderly way before his wanderjahr, or fall prey to Chaos. 

Wizard's First Rule

Wizard's First Rule (The Sword of Truth #1) by Terry Goodkind

(e-book available through SimplyE and  Overdrive

Volumes: 22

The hero is Richard-the-Seeker, a woodsman with a magic sword. One day in his forest he rescues a woman pursued by assassins. She turns out to be Kahlan Amnell from the neighboring kingdom of Midlands who is seeking a wizard named Zedd to help her destroy the tyrant ruling her kingdom. Richard takes her to him and the novel is the story of their joint adventure.

A Novel of Discworld

The Color of Magic: A Novel of Discworld by Terry Pratchett

(e-book available through SimplyE and Overdrive)

Volumes: 41

Terry Pratchett has invented a phantasmagorical universe in which a blissfully naive interplanetary tourist called Two-flower joins up with a drop-out wizard whose spells only seem to work half of the time. Together they undertake a chaotic voyage through a crazy world filled with monsters and dragons, heroes and knaves. Pratchett has taken the sword and sorcery fantasy tradition and turned it in its ear to create an entertaining and bizarre spoof.

Spell for Chameleon

A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth #1) by Piers Anthony

(e-book available through SimplyE and Overdrive

Volumes: 43

Xanth was the enchanted land where magic ruled—where every citizen had a special spell only he could cast. It was a land of centaurs and dragons and basilisks. For Bink of North Village, however, Xanth was no fairy tale. He alone had no magic. And unless he got some—and got some fast!—he would be exiled. Forever. But the Good Magician Humfrey was convinced that Bink did indeed have magic but no one could fathom the nature of Bink's very special magic. Bink was in despair. This was even worse than having no magic at all...and he would still be exiled! Thus begins Piers Anthony's enthralling Xanth series.

Arrows of the Queen

Arrows of the Queen (The Valdemar Saga #1) by Mercedes Lackey

(e-book available through SimplyEOverdrive and Cloud Library; e-audiobook available through Overdrive)

Volumes: 44

Chosen by the Companion Rolan, a mystical horse-like being with powers beyond imagining, Talia, once a runaway, has now become a trainee Herald, destined to become one of the Queen's own elite guards. For Talia has certain awakening talents of the mind that only a Companion like Rolan can truly sense. But as Talia struggles to master her unique abilities, time is running out. For conspiracy is brewing in Valdemar, a deadly treason that could destroy the Queen and kingdom. Opposed by unknown enemies capable of both diabolical magic and treacherous assassination, the Queen must turn to Talia and the Heralds for aid in protecting the realm and insuring the future of the Queen's heir, a child already in danger of becoming bespelled by the Queen's own foes.

Honorable Mention:

Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

(e-books available through SimplyEOverdrive and Cloud Library; e-audiobook available through Overdrive

After a cyclone transports her to the land of Oz, Dorothy must seek out the great wizard in order to return to Kansas.

Librarian’s Note: Although this series straddles the line between high and low fantasy, we felt it deserved an honorable mention for the following reasons. Did you know that L. Frank Baum wrote 14 Oz books in total before his death? An additional 26 books were published by new authors following his death as well as short story collections, plays, etc. that have been accepted by the L. Frank Baum Family Trust as canon. Oz books have been periodically published at least once a decade since the publication of the first novel in 1900. That’s 120 years of novels! If that’s not a saga worth considering, we don’t know what is.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!