Writing is highly subjective, however, there is something to be said for the author who spends time crafting their work. There are books filled with quotable verses, that paint vivid pictures with their words, and flow like the most elegant prose.
Here are ten of the most beautifully written fantasy novels. As well as an honorable mention.
1. "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss:
Synopsis: Kvothe, a renowned musician and magician, tells the story of his life as he searches for the truth behind mythical beings and his own tragic past.
Beautiful Writing: Rothfuss' prose is lyrical and evocative, with a poetic quality that brings the world and characters to life, creating a mesmerizing reading experience.
Quote: "Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts."
2. "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern:
Synopsis: A mysterious circus, open only at night, becomes the stage for a magical competition between two young illusionists bound by a powerful enchantment.
Beautiful Writing: Morgenstern's enchanting descriptions, vivid imagery, and elegant metaphors create an ethereal atmosphere, immersing readers in a captivating and dreamlike setting.
Quote: "You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it."
3. "The Golem and the Jinni" by Helene Wecker:
Synopsis: A golem and a jinni, two mythical creatures from different cultural backgrounds, navigate the vibrant streets of early 20th-century New York City.
Beautiful Writing: Wecker's rich prose captures the essence of the diverse cultural milieu of New York, intertwining folklore, historical detail, and emotional depth with grace and elegance.
Quote: "He marveled at the softness of her skin, the way her mouth moved under his."
4. "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman:
Synopsis: A middle-aged man revisits his childhood memories, recounting a haunting and magical encounter with a mysterious family of women and the otherworldly Hempstock pond.
Beautiful Writing: Gaiman's storytelling is imbued with a sense of wonder and nostalgia, blending the ordinary and the fantastical in a way that evokes both a childlike innocence and a profound understanding of the human experience.
Quote: "I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else."
5. "The Last Unicorn" by Peter S. Beagle:
Synopsis: A unicorn, believing she is the last of her kind, sets out on a quest to discover the truth and rescue her fellow unicorns from an evil king.
Beautiful Writing: Beagle's prose is graceful and enchanting, combining whimsy, melancholy, and philosophical musings to create a timeless and poignant tale that reads like a modern fairy tale.
Quote: "The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone."
6. "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell" by Susanna Clarke:
Synopsis: Set in an alternate 19th-century England, the book follows two magicians who revive the practice of magic, leading to a clash between reason and enchantment.
Beautiful Writing: Clarke's meticulous attention to detail, immersive historical backdrop, and mastery of the writing style reminiscent of classic literature make this a rich and immersive reading experience.
Quote: "Can a magician kill a man by magic?" Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. "I suppose a magician might," he admitted, "but a gentleman never could."
7. "The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender" by Leslye Walton:
Synopsis: Ava Lavender, born with wings, explores her family's extraordinary history and grapples with love, loss, and self-discovery.
Beautiful Writing: Walton's prose is enchanting and poetic, weaving a tapestry of magical realism, heartache, and beauty, with vivid descriptions that evoke a sense of wonder and emotional resonance.
Quote: "Love makes us such fools."
8. "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón:
Synopsis: Set in post-war Barcelona, a young boy named Daniel is led on a journey to uncover the mystery behind an elusive author and the fate of his books.
Beautiful Writing: Zafón's atmospheric and lyrical prose captures the allure of literature, infusing the story with a sense of romance, mystery, and gothic ambiance that lingers long after the final page.
Quote: "Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it."
9. "The Bear and the Nightingale" by Katherine Arden:
Synopsis: In medieval Russia, a young girl named Vasilisa defies societal expectations and embraces her connection with the magical creatures of the wilderness.
Beautiful Writing: Arden's writing is immersive and evocative, seamlessly blending folklore, history, and fairy tale elements, while vividly depicting the wintry landscapes and the clash between old traditions and a changing world.
Quote: "All my life, I have been told to ‘go’ and ‘come.’ I am told how I will live, and I am told how I must die. I must be a man’s servant and a mare for his pleasure, or I must hide myself behind walls and surrender my flesh to a cold, silent god."
10. "The Lions of Al-Rassan" by Guy Gavriel Kay:
Synopsis: Inspired by the conflicts between the Moors, Christians, and Jews in medieval Spain, the novel follows three individuals whose lives intertwine amidst political and religious strife.
Beautiful Writing: Kay's prose is eloquent and poetic, infused with themes of love, honor, and the complexities of human relationships, offering a poignant and profound exploration of the human condition.
Quote: "The problem is, of course, that not only is economics bankrupt but it has always been nothing more than politics in disguise... economics is a form of brain damage."
11. (Honorable mention) “Tears of a Heart” by Chase Blackwood:
Synopsis: Set in the mythical world of Verold, one man must track down the Kan Savasci hoping to convince him to stop the Old Gods.
Beautiful Writing: The beauty of Blackwood's writing lies in his ability to craft vivid and immersive descriptions, drawing readers into the richly detailed world he has created. The prose is lyrical and evocative, painting a tapestry of emotions and sensations that resonate with readers. Blackwood's writing style balances action and introspection, capturing both the intensity of battle scenes and the introspective moments of his characters' inner struggles.
Quote: “Fear is but the crucifixion of man upon the planks of past and future.”
Choosing the best beautifully written fantasy novel is subjective and depends on personal taste. However, "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss is often regarded as a masterpiece of lyrical storytelling, with its poetic prose, immersive world-building, and emotionally resonant narrative. Chase Blackwood’s writing has been often compared to Patrick Rothfuss.