Starter Guide to Fantasy Romance
By Anaïs Rucci (@annreads)
Trying to get into reading fantasy may seem a little bit intimidating if you know nothing about the genre. Whether it’s your first time trying to venture out of your comfort zone, or you’re just simply tired of reading the same contemporaries over and over again, there are a lot of fantasy series and trilogies out there, and it can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Well, it’s a good thing you stumbled upon this article because I’m here to guide you throughout the vast sea of fantasy books!
Lost kingdoms, forbidden romance, dragons, princesses, epic battles, fantasy has it all, and the trick is getting to know which one of these tropes, or combination of them you enjoy the most. So today I’ll give you a brief glimpse of some series that follow these tropes, with a little twist in case you like to have a few options: I’ll recommend you a very popular series, an underrated one, a series that’s old, one that has a heavy romance in it, and a standalone!
A popular series: Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas
I couldn’t start this list without recommending one of my favorites, and most popular series out there. Throne of Glass was one of the first fantasy books I read, and in my opinion it’s the perfect place to start exploring the genre, especially now that the series is over. With the right amount of action, adventure and romance, you’ll embark yourself on an epic journey with this series, and probably never go back. Sarah J Maas’s crafting and storytelling is magical beyond compare, and Celaena Sardothien will completely capture your heart from the very first page. Prepare yourself because once you start, you won’t be able to stop until you marathon the entire series!
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her ... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead ... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
An underrated series: The Kiss of Deception by Marie E Pearson
A princess trying to run away from her destiny. A prince and an assassin at her tale, one seeking answers, the other one planning to kill her. And throughout the whole novel, you have no idea who is the prince and who is the assassin.
If that premise alone doesn’t pick your interest, I don’t know what will. Mary E Pearson executes it in a really clever way, while she plays with your mind as a reader and completely entrances you with her beautiful words. If you're in the mood for a good romance read that will probably break your heart a little, but in the best possible way, this one is for you!
The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.
Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.
An old series: Poison Study by Maria V Snyder
This series is considered one of the classics in the genre and with good reason, since Maria V Snyder is one of the pioneers in YA fantasy. She actually inspired many authors that came afterwards, and even though her books have been around for some time now, to me they still have something fresh and different about them. She plays with a lot of well-known tropes, but gives them her own unique twist, and it’s honestly so refreshing to read. With an amazing strong female lead, and a slow burn romance that will make your heart flutter, Poison Study will make you unable to stop turning the pages!
About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.
And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear...
A heavy romance series: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
There are a lot of romance series out there but I think A Court of Thorns and Roses simply takes the cake. As I said before, Sarah J Maas is a mastermind, and she knows really well how to write the most epic slow-burn romances. I cannot explain why, but there’s something about her stories that simply resonates with me in the most magical way. Her characters and their dynamics are so complex and full of life, they literally come alive on the page, and the romance in this series is seriously out of this world. Trust me, Feyre’s journey is one that will sweep you off of your feet, and you won’t be able to forget for a long time!
Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price ...
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jeweled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
A standalone: Sky in The Deep by Adrienne Young
In the mist of series and trilogies is not usual to find a fantasy standalone, least one that actually leaves you on a good note, with the right amount of -satisfied but wish I could have more- at the end. Adrienne Young’s fantastic debut novel takes you to the Viking age, something I’ve personally never read before, and it explores the power dynamics between the different clans, along with the topics of war and family loss in a very unique way. The author’s writing is something I truly can’t get enough of, and the way her words pours emotions all over the page totally blew me away. It's one of those books that you read on a rainy day and devour in one sitting. This beautiful story will make you laugh, cry, and completely fall in love with the characters and the Viking world!
Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.
Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.
She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.
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About the Author
Anaïs Rucci is a reader, blogger and photographer living in Argentina. You can usually find her daydreaming about all the fantasy stories she wishes she could live in, and taking pictures of pretty books over her Instagram.
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