Life After Harry Potter

Life After Harry Potter Life After Harry Potter

The website that helps you choose books
to read after you’ve read Harry Potter!

The (Other) Best Sorcery Fantasy Books of All Time

Grade Reading Level for Harry Potter books ranges from 5-8.  See details.
Title Grade Reading Level 1 Gender Focus Author Review Adult Content
The Hobbit
6-8 All Male Tolkien, J. R. R. The best fantasy book of all time.  Younger readers will easily relate to the humorous characters in this story. None. (1 instance of mild swearing.)
The Lord of the Rings
5-6 Mostly Male Tolkien, J. R. R. This sequel to The Hobbit uses a more adult writing style with more serious characters and scenarios. None.
The Sword in the Stone
9+ All Male White, T. H.
With descriptive ability in the same league as Tolkien, loads of laugh-out-loud humor, an Arthurian setting, and some of the most exciting adventures ever told, this book currently ranks as my 2nd favorite fantasy book of all time.  Younger readers will relate easily to the main character, a foster child sharing a room with an older, unadopted brother.  The “grade reading level” seems much too high to me (I would expect the average 12-year-old to enjoy this immensely), and I am working on a glossary to address this difficulty.  This is a sort of prequel to Arthurian romances, and in my opinion should be read prior to any other Arthurian story.
Infrequent very mild swearing.  A link to a complete listing of the adult content can be found in the full review.
The Once and Future King
8-9 Mostly Male White, T. H. This “complete” Arthurian Fantasy begins with a very poorly re-worked version of The Sword in the Stone.  As a result, I recommend that The Sword in the Stone always be read under separate cover before reading this larger work.  Nevertheless, this is also a wonderful Arthurian Fantasy which, for the most part, has a more serious and adult bent than The Sword in the Stone. Adultery & 1 instance of incest, nothing explicit.
The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights
6-7 Balanced Steinbeck, John The best serious King Arthur book ever.  Now I know why the John Steinbeck is considered to be such a great writer. Adultery & 1 instance of incest, nothing explicit.
The Last Unicorn
Unrated (5+) Balanced Beagle, Peter S. This darkly-humorous gritty story is a true classic of fantasy.  Very young readers may not pick up on some of the subtle humor. Sexual topics, nothing explicit.
The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night Unrated. (7+) Varies Burton, Sir Richard Francis This classic translation of ancient classic fantasy is a wonder to read.  The tales of adventure, magic and magical creatures are simply amazing, as is the setting of a woman in imminent danger of her life telling stories within stories within stories in order to delay her execution.  Don’t settle for those abridged and edited-for-youth versions in print unless you have no choice.  Try to find the real thing at your local library, as an e-book online, or purchase a complete scanned version as a CD. Considerable explicit content — but never gratuitous.
Tales of the Dying Earth
Unrated. (5+) Varies Vance, Jack Including an excellent magic “system” and a world full of some of the most devious characters ever known to fiction, Vance tells a range of stories set in a future dark age when technology has been lost and magic rules.  Although most stories have a Mostly Male gender focus, a few have a Mostly Female focus and others are Balanced.  Two rapes, slavery, but absolutely nothing explicit.
A Spell for Chameleon
4-5 Mostly Male Anthony, Piers Don’t let the reading level fool you, this book was written with more adult audiences in mind.  Humorous and serious at the same time, as well as very original.  The main character is an older teen on the verge of adulthood and marriage. The next two books in the “Xanth” series are also very good to excellent — but don’t bother getting the later ones. Some sexual topics but nothing explicit.
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever
Unrated. (7+) Mostly Male Donaldson, Stephen R. This is a true trilogy, and the entire first series is excellent.  The author’s unique writing style of overdosing on simile provides a really interesting read.  Many of the characters seem to be a dark twist on Tolkien’s, and the main character is most definitely an “anti-hero”.  This is definitely intended for more mature readers.  Note that the second series was a real let-down. 1 rape, bordering on explicit, and adult language.
Seventh Son
5-6 Balanced Card, Orson Scott This is the first, and best, in a series.  A very original magic “system” and a setting in early 19th century America make it one of this renowned author’s best works.  The book covers the life of the main character from infancy to young adulthood, and so will appeal to younger readers.  The gender focus is slanted slightly toward the male side.  Later books in the series fall off in quality more quickly than average.  Fortunately, this first book stands quite well on its own. None.
Thieves’ World
Unrated (5+) Balanced Anthology This is an anthology series with stories written by famous fantasy authors all set in the same city.  Each book stands alone, and each book seems of lower quality than the last. Especially good are the “Shadowspawn” stories (all excellent with little or no decline in quality).  Even if the other stories were of mediocre quality, it would be worth buying this book just for this one tale. Fortunately, most of the stories in this first book are very good or better, getting an overall rating of “excellent”.  The next two are at least “very good” (both with excellent Shadowspawn stories). Considerable, with adult language, but nothing explicit in the early books.
Nine Princes in Amber
3-6 Mostly Male Zelazny, Roger Truly original, the earlier books lean toward scifi while the later ones emphasize magic.  As with most series, later books trail off in quality, but the first few are well worth reading.  The first book can stand alone, but Zelazny tends to leave cliff-hanger endings and you will probably also want to read at least the second in the series, The Guns of Avalon. Considerable, nothing explicit with minimal adult language.

Grade Reading Level — I have derived this value using the Lexile Framework score.  The numbers provided are those specified by this system for the grade at which a young person should be able to read the book.  In other words, this is merely a guide that measures reading difficulty, not suitability!  Those marked “Unrated” include my estimate of the grade reading level in parentheses. The “Adult Content” should be used in concert with the “Grade Reading Level” to arrive at a measure of suitability.

Coming Soon

  • Glossary for The Sword in the Stone so that younger readers will be able to enjoy this classic.
  • Full reviews of the complete Harry Potter series.
  • Unique Harry Potter fan fiction.
  • Evaluation of Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
  • Evaluation of The Sword of Shanarra by Terry Brooks
  • Full review of Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny
  • Links to Amazon for all books in the charts


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