Players know that storytelling is of utmost importance in Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs), but alas, we can’t play games all the time. That’s why I’ve pulled together this list of 10 fantasy book series for Final Fantasy fans: so you can enjoy a fantastic narrative while giving your eyes a much-needed break from screen time.
Final Fantasy has been the premier JRPG franchise for the last 35 years, ever since Square’s release of Final Fantasy on the NES in 1987. The award-winning franchise now spans dozens of main-series titles, spin-offs, and rereleases spread across more than one-dozen gaming platforms. With more than 168 million units sold, it’s nothing short of a global phenomenon.
Although every title is different from the last, there are a few elements that come part and parcel of any Final Fantasy game. Heroes you want to root for, villains you love to hate, scenes that stick with you long after you’ve finished — if it makes for a compelling fantasy book, you can find it in Final Fantasy. That remains true whether the game skews toward science fiction, steampunk, urban fantasy, or high fantasy — all genres the series has tackled in the past.
Keep scrolling to check out 10 amazing fantasy book series perfect for Final Fantasy fans.
Three religions — an indigenous faith, a powerful church with five deities, and a heretical sect that worships only four of those gods — vie for legitimacy and power against a backdrop of court intrigue and international politics. The winner of the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Series, this 14-book saga is perfect for those who love JRPGs with religious themes — such as Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII — and the installments may be read in any order.
In this steampunk fantasy series, two orphans — one the target of a killer, the other cursed and framed for crimes he did not commit — must band together to survive when their friends and loved ones are murdered. Joined by a sympathetic officer of the law, the teens outwit and outrun their pursuers through a harsh world of magic and mayhem. Fans of steampunk-inspired JRPGs, such as Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy IX, would do well to stop here first.
The Stillness is plagued by Fifth Seasons: seismic calamities that change mundane creatures into monsters and transform the continent into a post-apocalyptic hazard zone. When her husband kills their son and kidnaps their daughter, Essun — an orogene, whose ability to control seismic activity marks her for government-sanctioned bondage or death — follows after him in pursuit of vengeance. With its cli-fi-adjacent themes and reflections on what makes a person human, this Hugo and Nebula Award-winning fantasy series is perfect for Final Fantasy fans.
In a country still rebuilding from wars against a nation that once occupied its lands, a young orphan discovers she possesses a latent aptitude for a rare and powerful form of magic. With war brewing on the horizon, Rin may be the only person capable of saving Nikan — but at what cost? Based largely on China’s recent history, this trilogy will appeal to gamers who love the Final Fantasy series’ most massive military conflicts and broodiest protagonists.
In this World Fantasy Award-winning series, Kekon — an island nation that’s the world’s only producer of a powerful, magical jade — breaks out into civil war when two crime families take their rivalry to the streets. But trouble is also brewing within the Kaul family, which finds itself on shifting ground when faith in its crime boss falters. If you loved Final Fantasy Tactics or the inner-workings of Shinra in Final Fantasy VII, you’ll fall head over heels for the Green Bone Saga.
If Midgardsormr and the other dragons are your favorite part of Final Fantasy XIV, you need to pick up this long-running series. With two dozen novels and counting, it’s safe to say that Anne McCaffrey’s Pern chronicles have staying power. The original trilogy, contained here in a single volume, is an excellent in-road to these delightful adventures. Here, telepathic humans living on a colonized exoplanet form lifelong bonds with the world’s endemic dragons. In the past, the dragonriders protected Pern from the deadly Thread that rained down upon the land, but the dragons’ numbers have dwindled — which may spell trouble for all life on Pern.
With six main-series entries as of 2021, Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom begins with Sabriel. The story of a young student who must journey across a dangerous landscape to find her missing father, Sabriel follows its eponymous heroine into the Old Kingdom, where magic is still potent and the Dead walk the earth. There, she wields her necromancer father’s sword and Bells in her quest to uncover what has happened to dear old dad. With broad similarities to Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy X, there’s a lot for JRPG fans to love here.
Another lengthy fantasy book series Final Fantasy fans will enjoy, Naomi Novik’s Temeraire reimagines the Napoleonic Wars… with dragons. When an English sea captain unwittingly bonds with a hatchling taken from a French ship, both man and dragon are whisked away to train in the Aerial Corps. So begins an adventure that will take this dynamic duo around the world and back again. Fans of urban-fantasy JRPGs, such as Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy Type-0, will love this series.
Magical chosen ones dragged into international politics? Sounds like a Final Fantasy story to me. When the magical veil separating Lagrimar from Elsira loses some of its potency, the two nations find themselves on the brink of war — a war only Lagrimar, the aggressor, knows is coming. After a chance run-in with a Lagrimari outfit, Jasminda, an Elsiran outcast with a magical gift, realizes she may be the only person capable of stopping the onslaught.
Connected only by the city they share in common, four very different Londons — White, Black, Red, and Grey — collide in this fantasy trilogy. After he accidentally smuggles a dangerous artifact out of the wreckage of Black London, the magician Kell flees to the totally mundane world of Grey London, where he’s promptly mugged by a cocky pirate named Lila. Magical shenanigans ensue… but you figured that out already, didn’t you?