Popular 2000s Fantasy Novels

So at long last I’ve come to the final decade I’ll cover in this series: the 00s! This period saw a surge in fantasy films and television shows, with adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and The Chronicles of Narnia bringing the genre and its classics to new audiences. The “Noughties” were also crucial for paranormal romance and young adult fantasy – sales grew exponentially, in no small part due to the success of Twilight.  Many series from this decade are still being added to today.

Below I’ve listed what I believe to be the 12 most popular or influential fantasy novels published between 2000 and 2010. I’ve tried to use the original cover from that year where possible. Series titles are included in brackets:

(To enlarge a cover simply click on it and the image gallery will open)

 

It’s hard to discuss the popularity of fantasy books in this decade without also looking at film and television adaptations. Both The Fellowship of the Ring and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were released in cinemas in 2001, followed in the years after by their sequels and by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 2005.

TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and (1997-2003) and Charmed (1998-2006) at the turn of the century potentially helped whet the appetite for more paranormal romance and urban fantasy, and by the end of the decade popular paranormal series were also being adapted for the screen, for example the first seasons of True Blood (2008) and The Vampire Diaries (2009), and the first Twilight film (2008).

Sub-genres like grimdark fantasy (e.g. The Lies of Locke Lamora, The Blade Itself) and flintlock fantasy / alternative history fantasy (e.g. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, His Majesty’s Dragon) emerged, as did more examples of high fantasy romance and erotic fantasy (e.g. Graceling, Kushiel’s Dart), continuing a trend from the end of the 90s.

This was also a strong decade for children’s fantasy: the final four books of the Harry Potter series were released, and Artemis Fowl, The Lightning Thief and Eragon all became best-sellers. While not technically fantasy, it’s worth noting that the related genre of young adult dystopian fiction thrived too, sparked by the popularity of The Hunger Games (2008).

A Few Interesting Facts

  • Brandon Sanderson had written 12 unpublished novels by the time his first novel, Elantris, was published. The Final Empire came out the following year.
  • Sanderson popularised the idea of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ magic systems with his Laws of Magic.
  • Christopher Paolini wrote Eragon while in his teens and self-published it with the help of his parents. He travelled around the US to promote it until it was discovered by writer Carl Hiaasen and re-published by Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Charlaine Harris published over a dozen mystery novels before venturing into the realm of paranormal fantasy and creating the Sookie Stackhouse series. The TV show True Blood is based on this series.
  • The Lightning Thief began as bedtime stories that Rick Riordan told his son Haley, who had been studying Greek mythology at school and wanted to hear myth-inspires stories. The stories involved the character Percy Jackson, and Haley asked his father to turn them into a book.
  • Irish author Eoin Colfer was a fan of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and, following Adams’s death, was commissioned in 2008 to write the sixth and final book in the series. Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series had already sold millions of copies by that time.
  • Stephanie Meyer wrote Twilight for her own enjoyment and was not initially thinking of publishing the work, but her sister encouraged her to send the manuscript to literary agencies. The series as a whole has sold more than 100 million copies.
  • The first drafts of Twilight were titled Forks but the publisher requested a title change.
  • Scott Lynch said in an interview that the book he was originally trying to write covered the events of what will be the 4th book of his Gentleman Bastard series, but decided he didn’t know the characters well enough to throw them into that situation. He backed up a few years in their lives to the events that became The Lies of Locke Lamora.
  • Patrick Rothfuss’s dedication in the The Name of the Wind reads: “To my mother, who taught me to love books. Who opened the door to Narnia, Pern and Middle Earth.” He worked on the book for at least 10 years while he was studying.
  • In City of Bones, Cassandra Clare references the work of friend and fellow author Holly Black: the character Clary is listening to a band called Stepping Razor, which is the name of Ellen Fierch’s band in Holly Black’s book Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale (2002). She also references the works of Philip Reeve, whose steampunk novels Mortal Engines and Infernal Devices she drew inspiration from.

Other 00s Works and Authors

There were many other noteworthy fantasy books in the Noughties, which made it very hard to select a top 12 for this decade – especially because I wanted to include a broad spectrum of styles in spite of the fact certain types have been selling particularly well (e.g. paranormal YA). In the end I tried to strike a balance by selecting popular books from a range of sub-genres. The ones that got left out (a few very narrowly!) are included here:

  • Perdido Street Station (New Corobuzon) by China Miéville (2000)
  • Kushiel’s Dart (Phèdre’s Trilogy) by Jacqueline Carey (2001)
  • The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next) by Jasper Fforde (2001)
  • The Magician’s Guild (The Black Magician Trilogy) by Trudi Canavan (2001)
  • Fantasy Lover (Hunter Legends) by Sherrilyn Kenyon (2002)
  • Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore (2002)
  • The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus) by Jonathan Stroud (2003)
  • Inkheart / Tintenherz (Inkworld / Tintenwelt) by Cornelia Funke (2003)
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle) by Libba Bray (2003)
  • Into the Wild (Warriors) by Erin Hunter (2003)
  • Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows) by Kim Harrison (2004)
  • The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger’s Apprentice), by John Flanagan (2004)
  • Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood) by J.R. Ward (2005)
  • Poison Study (Poison Study) by Maria V. Snyder (2005)
  • The Blade Itself (The First Law), by Joe Abercrombie (2006)
  • His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire) by Naomi Novik (2006)
  • Moon Called (Mercy Thompson) by Patricia Briggs (2006)
  • Darkfever (Fever) by Karen Marie Moning (2006)
  • Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy) by Richelle Mead (2007)
  • Magic Bites (Kate Daniels) by Ilona Andrews (2007)
  • Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress) by Jeaniene Frost (2007)
  • Marked (House of Night) by P.C. Cast (2007)
  • The Way of Shadows (Night Angel) by Brent Weeks (2008)
  • Graceling (Graceling) by Kristin Cashore (2008)
  • The Painted Man (Demon Cycle), by Peter V. Brett (2008)
  • Bitten (Women of the Other World) and The Summoning (Darkest Powers) by Kelley Armstrong (2001, 2008)
  • The Magicians (The Magicians) by Lev Grossman (2009)
  • Fallen (Fallen) by Lauren Kate (2009)
  • Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia (2009)
  • Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush) by Becca Fitzpatrick (2009)
  • Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls) by Maggie Stiefvater (2009)

A lot of popular series that started in the 90s were continued in the 00s, but I haven’t included sequels in my lists to avoid things getting too long. I also haven’t always mentioned a book if I’ve already included a more popular book by the same author in this or a previous decade, or if it was more science fiction than fantasy.

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Are any of these books a favourite? Or would you add another important novel to the list? Feel free to give it a mention in the comments.

< Popular 1990s Fantasy Novels

37 thoughts on “Popular 2000s Fantasy Novels

  1. Interesting to see how few of these I have read. Scott Lynch, brilliant writer, and I loved the title for his first novel; I went on to read his subsequent novels. And Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files (read all through and also his Alera Codex, which to my mind is lightyears better).
    As to the others … seen them on bookshelves, yea, but not been tempted in. Which leaves me to wonder what I was reading during this time. Anne Rice, her vampire stories, mostly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love Scott Lynch’s writing too! I’ve read all the books in the series so far (well, listened to the audiobooks – the narrator is fantastic). I liked the first book of the Dresden files, but wasn’t excited enough to continue the series. I think I’ll try Alera Codex though now you recommend it, it sounds like it might be more up my alley.

      And that makes sense, I noticed Anne Rice was consistently publishing new Vampire Chronicles books in this decade and previous ones (only not included due to my no-sequels rule!).

      Personally my hands-down favourite from the above top 12 (of the ones I’ve read) is The Final Empire – so if you ever get tempted by any I’d suggest being tempted by that one 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 1. HOW did I not know American Gods was published 2001? I thought it was a 90s novel. *shrug*
    2. I had genuinely forgotten Sookie Stackhouse!
    3. I am soooooo glad we are over Paranormal Romance. If you were just covering YA Fantasy, it would have totally dominated this post and I just didn’t care about it at all.
    4. I was completely obsessed with Eragon, and now I’m just not really sure why? The first book is great, but the rest of the series is kind of meh.
    5. It’s so funny that every single book on this list I have either read or is on my tbr. I guess 2000s fantasy is my jam, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha it definitely sounds like the 2000s is your decade! There was a time when I couldn’t get enough YA paranormal romance, probably helped by the fact I was a teen for the first part of this decade, but the market got saturated with it (as did I!) and now I’m a LOT more selective about which ones I do pick up.
      I only read Eragon for the first time a few years ago and wasn’t into it, but I wonder if it would have been different if I’d discovered it when it first came out. I know many people list it as a childhood favourite!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was in high school when Eragon came out, which I think is a big part of why it appealed to me so much. Target audience, and all. Also, the less than stellar 3rd and 4th books hadn’t been released yet, so my opinion was formed exclusively by the first book, which I still really enjoy.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. MANY of these books are on my TBR. I just finished Brent Weeks’s Night Angel series and really enjoyed it. Now I’m looking forward to the Lightbringer books.
    Btw, thanks so much for this series. Really enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love Brent Weeks’s Lightbringer series!! (Am eagerly awaiting the final instalment). And I haven’t actually read his Night Angel series but am keen to… so I suppose I’ll be doing it the other way around 🙂
      I’m really glad you enjoyed it! And thanks for all your comments – it made it a lot more fun to hear other opinions on the books, particularly ones I hadn’t read yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Now we’re in a decade where I’ve read the majority of them! What made you include Kelley Armstrong’s “The Summoning”, part of a YA trilogy, rather than “Bitten” (2001), the first novel in her adult series Women of the Otherworld? Darkest Powers is set in that same world, but I think the Women of Otherworld series is much better. It’s one of the only long-running series that I never lost interest in, perhaps because the books switch between different main characters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can relate – for this decade and the last I also noticed I’d read a lot more!
      I haven’t actually read any of Kelley Armstrong’s books (though I want to), so I included ‘The Summoning’ because I got the impression that series was more popular due to it making the NYT best-seller list and also having higher numbers of ratings on Goodreads (and also maybe the fact I’d seen the cover in bookstores and online more often) – but GR does tend to be skewed toward YA fiction, and given Bitten is her earlier work that launched her career, it’s very possible its been more influential and popular and sold more copies… so actually now that you’ve mentioned it and praised it, if you don’t mind I’m going to add it into the list as well 🙂 Also good to know that when I read her work I should start with that series!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, that makes sense! Never looked at the GR for her early stuff since I read it before I joined. It’s true the site definitely skews YA-heavy. I think they tried to make a TV series out of “Bitten” but it wasn’t great. If I remember correctly, the first 2 books are the same perspective, and then it shifts in book 3 to a totally different story and MC. The people all eventually know each other, and there are all sorts of supernaturals in the world. There are two YA trilogy spinoffs, and while they were enjoyable, I think the main series is superior. And it’s not SF/Fantasy, but she has a terrific mystery series set in a small town in the Yukon.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes and actually now you mention joining, I don’t think GR was launched until quite late (2007, Wikipedia tells me) so maybe earlier books don’t fare as well for that reason too! I noticed there’d been a Bitten TV series when I looked it up, but never saw it. She sounds like she writes prolifically across several genres – I’m definitely keen to read her work. It’s interesting to notice paranormal/urban fantasy writers are often also mystery writers or have detective characters (e.g. Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher… and Laurell Hamilton said she wrote Anita Blake in the 90s as a response to a lack of female heroes in detective fiction). I always thought of paranormal as a mix of fantasy and horror but I think it’s more often a mix of horror and mystery! Not sure why that never occurred to me before…

          Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I haven’t heard of the Edge Chronicles before but I’ll check them out, and I’m keen to read Reeve’s Mortal Engines quartet. I included His Dark Materials in the previous post since the first two came out 90s, but the third came out in 2000 so it does bridge the decades – such great books!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yes – I remember now, The Amber Spyglass is a 2000s book but the others aren’t. I was really hyped to read it as soon as it was published. The Edge Chronicles is a YA series which was perhaps better known in the early 2000s 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. OMG the nostalgia! These were truly the golden years of literature for me xD Though it’s funny how most of the books published around this time I actually ended up reading much, much later on (possibly a decade later, and some I’ve just discovered a couple of years ago). However, I do remember hearing about these titles and seeing them in bookstores a lot back in the day, not to mention having friends raving about them, so it does bring me very fond memories.

    I’m basically rediscovering a whole trend that died a while back and that everyone seems to have enjoyed and dropped, yet here I am xD That seems to happen a lot with a lot of things for some reason… Probably because I hide away from the hype and only came back after it’s died down, and everyone’s tired of talking about it *shrugs*

    I used to enjoy paranormals a lot when I was a teenager, though I only delved into actual fantasy much later. HP was, of course, one of my starting points but a lot of books from the 90s helped shaped my literary tastes. Those are always changing, though, so I don’t mind revisiting old genres or trends every once in a while, even if some of they are, in the words of 00’s girls, “so last season”.

    Amazing post, as always! Love these, Nicola ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sophie! Funnily enough I also only read many of these years later. I don’t think I was avoiding the hype though, I just took ages to finally get around to reading them 🙂 (there was a period in the 00s when I didn’t read much fiction since I was studying and had so much non-fiction I was assigned to read… fortunately that has since changed!). It’s hard if you want to discuss an old book and everyone else is tired of talking about it, but being late to the party probably has its benefits too, e.g. seeing which books stand the test of time. I think there are a few that get really hyped around their release dates but don’t remain enduringly of interest to people.

      That’s interesting you got into paranormals first! I was the reverse – I got into more traditional fantasy (mostly portal fantasy – e.g. Narnia) and later discovered paranormal romance, but I liked both. HP was a big early influence on my tastes too, as well as other 90s and 00s authors (eg I loved Artemis Fowl, and a few Australian authors that were popular locally). My taste has definitely changed too, and I’m not sure I would love all the books I read back then as much if I read them now, but like you I’m also not averse to revisiting some of those “last season” genres or books 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah that’s understandable… I feel like I had a period like that too and it sucked :/

        I might have read a few paranormals that were a bit too mature for my age… Oops xD But at least they prepared me for life!

        I’m scared to try some of the most famous ones and find they’re nothing special to me now, and that I might have missed that experience by not reading them when I should have. However, I try to tell myself it would have been impossible to read all of them and I’ll just have to find books that are equally enjoyable and moving and leave a lasting mark in me now 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Haha yes, stumbling on too-mature books as a young reader can certainly be an education 🙂 I did that with a few too!

          And yeah I understand that: with some I do worry I missed the boat and won’t find them as special if I read them now, because that happened to me with a few famous ones I read too late. Occasionally I’m positively surprised, but it’s always a risk with an older book that was very much part of a trend or suited to a particular time or reader age. As you said though, it would’ve been impossible to read them all! And the main thing is to find books you enjoy now, be they old or new 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Let’s Rewind: May 2019 | #WyrdandWonder Wrap Up | Zezee with Books

  7. I remember when I first read City of Bones! I literally begged my mom to get her some yogurt because it was right beside Barnes and Noble, so I could get the second book. I’ve read almost every book from that author. She’s one of my favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I love that a yogurt errand was your excuse 🙂 For some reason I didn’t find out about City of Bones till several years later when Clockwork Princess came out and it was all over bookstores (with that beautiful cover!), which made me finally look up the author.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah. I felt like everyone bought City of Bones and loved it without telling anyone. I didn’t know the series until at least the third or fourth book came out. I remember that I never had to wait long for the next book.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah! Some authors do that, but I notice that the books are usually better when artists make us wait. Some books just seem to have been put out too early.

          I’m not sure how Cassandra Clare does it though. I feel like she’s five books ahead of us and she’s just not saying it. Cause they’re all well thought out and good, but she puts them out so fast.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Yes true many are definitely worth waiting for when they do finally come out. I’m just always impressed by authors who manage to bring them out every year and still keep the quality high – maybe like you said the secret is being five books ahead 🙂 Who knows!

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Gosh it’s even more interesting reading about noughties fantasy after the rest of this series! It’s fascinating to see how the paranormal and fantasy trend was influenced by what came before. Also this is a fun decade to read about because I’ve read most of the books (well at least the ones you mentioned as the main ones- there are a lot of books! 😉 ) I find that out about Sanderson recently and I just think it should give all aspiring writers hope, because he’s such a powerhouse of the genre now (and is just getting bigger and better by the sounds of it! And also judging by how incredible skyward was as well! 😀 ) I didn’t know about the lightning thief- that’s cool! I had no idea about that Meyer’s story, which is surprising given how famous it is (though I knew it came from a dream). That is so, so cool about the overlap between Cassandra Clare and Holly Black! I didn’t know that. Wonderful post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I also found it really interesting to see how these recent books and authors were influenced by the ones that came before them! And Sanderson is definitely a great example of why unpublished writers should persevere, even if they have 12 manuscripts lying about. He’s such a great writer! I haven’t read Skyward yet, but I’m still due to read many of his books, including the Stormlight Archive. I’ll get to them eventually 🙂 Surprisingly I also didn’t know those Meyer facts before I looked into it – but I did know about the dream so I guess that must have been widely publicised. And I love cool overlaps and references like that so I had to mention it!! Thanks!

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