Heroic Fantasy / Swords & Sorcery / Dark Fantasy Recommendations?

So with the release of Heroic Fantasy Compendium coming up, does anyone have any recommendations for fantasy books / settings to look up?

I'd recommend Swords & Dark Magic - one of Jon Strahan's collections - as a good set of short stories in the genre. There's a new Elric tale, and a new Black Company short; plus it's got previews of some authors I've mentioned elsewhere - Erikson, Abercrombie, Lynch.

It's a good way to get your feet wet with a few authors to see where you want to explore more.


I'm almost embarassed to suggest Robert Howard's Conan stories and Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories as they go without saying, but if you haven't read them, or if it's been a while, now's the time.

I'm also fond of Howard's Solomon Kane stories, which are (only) slightly less well known.

Virtually anything by David Gemmell.

"In the Realm of the Wolf" is one of his books I will gladly suggest

Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun reads like a strange D&D campaign.

1 Like

Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson is definately on the ACKS appendix N. Especially for heroic fantasy.

1 Like

These.  I re-read the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser story "Lean Times in Lankmar' this spring and it still made me laugh out loud.  

I would also suggest the Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, 'Eyes of the Overworld' (the Dying Earth book from Jack Vance), and the Elric books by Michael Moorcock (expecially the 1st 3). 

If you like a little sci-fi in your fantasy, look at the works of Roger Zelazny (Jack of Shadows, Lord of Light, Dilvish the Damned, the Amber series and the Madwand books).  Of course back in the day they were all classified as science fiction. 

Recommended Books

Anderson, Poul. The Broken Sword; Three Hearts and Three Lions; The High Crusade; The Merman’s Children.

Burroughs, Edgar Rice. “Mars: series; “Tarzan” series; “Venus” series; “Pellucidar” series.

Byock, Jesse L, transl. The Saga of Hrolf Kraki.

Carter, Lin. “Thongor” series; “World’s End” series; Kellory the Warlock.

Cook, Glen. “The Black Company” series; “An Empire Unacquainted with Defeat” series; “Tyranny of the Night” series.

Dunsany, Lord. The King of Elfland’s Daughter.

Fox, Gardner. “Kothar” series. “Kyrik” series.

Gemmell, David. “The Drenai Saga” series; “The Rigante” series.

Heaney, Seamus, transl. Beowulf: A New Translation.

Homer and Hammon, Martin, transl. The Iliad: A New Prose Translation.

Howard, Robert E. “Conan” series; “Kull” series.

Kay, Guy Gavriel. “Fionavar Tapestry” series.

LeGuin, Ursula. A Wizard of Earthsea; The Tomb of Atuan.

Leiber, Fritz. “Fafhrd and Grey Mouser” series.

Lovecraft, H.P. “Mythos” novels and stories.

Lynch, Scott. “The Gentlemen Bastard” series.

Merritt, A. Dwells in the Mirage; The Moon Pool; The Ship of Ishtar.

Moon, Elizabeth. The Deed of Paksenarrion.

Moorcock, Michael. “Elric” series; “Hawkmoon” series.

Offut, Andrew J. “Swords Against Darkness” series.

Smith, Clark Ashton. “Averoigne” stories; “Hyperborea” stories; “Poseidonis” stories; “Zothique” stories.

Tolkien, J.R.R. “The Lord of the Rings” series; The Silmarillion; The Children of Hurin

Vance, Jack. “Dying Earth” stories.

Virgil. Aeneid.  

Recommended Comics


300 (Dark Horse Comics).

Conan (Dark Horse Comics).

Conan (Marvel Comics).

Heavy Metal (HM/Metal Mammoth).

Kull (Marvel Comics).

Marada the She-Wolf (Epic Comics).

Red Sonja (Marvel Comics).

Red Sonja (Dynamite Entertainment).

The Savage Sword of Conan (Curtis Magazines).

Sláine (2000 AD).

Warlord (DC Comics).


Recommended Movies


The 13th Warrior (1999).

300 (2007).

300: Rise of an Empire (2014).

Beastmaster (1982).

Centurion (2010).

Clash of the Titans (1981).

Clash of the Titans (2010).

Conan the Barbarian (1982).

Conan the Barbarian (2011).

Conan the Destroyer (1984).

Dragonslayer (1981).

The Eagle (2011).

Excalibur (1981).

Fellowship of the Ring (XXXX).

Flesh & Blood (2008).

Hammer of the Gods (2013).

Heavy Metal (1981).

Immortals (2011).

Jason and the Argonauts (1963).

John Carter (2012).

Krull (1983).

Kull the Conqueror (1997).

Ladyhawke (1985).

Last Legion (2007).

Legend (1986).

Lord of the Rings (1978).

Outlander (2009).

Pathfinder (2007).

Red Sonja (1985).

Return of the King (XXXX).

The Two Towers (XXXX).

Wrath of the Titans (2012).


Wagner, Karl Edward "Kane" series of novels and short stories

what?  No "Hawk the Slayer" (1980) or "Wizards" (1978)?

Honestly the "John Wick" movies are also great inspiration for any FRPG

"Wizards" (1977) is perfect for BCK inspiration.

Don't forget computer games.

Thief: Dark Project, Thief II: The Metal Age, and Thief III:Deadly Shadows are wonderful urban steampunk variations on the swords & sorcery theme.

Arx Fatalis. Heroic/S&S and with a multiverse which has certain Moorcockian inspirations.

The Elder Scrolls series, especially Morrowind (for BCK) and Skyrim (heroic fantasy).

Darkest Dungeon - Renaissance/Early-Modern dark Lovecraftian dungeon crawling.

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor and its sequels. LotR with a stealthy hero manipulating Orc tribal politics!

Dragon Age: Origins. Perfect heroic fantasy! Its sequels are good but "meh" in the heroic fantasy side compared to the first one.

XCOM/UFO (1994), XCOM2: Terror from the Deep (1995), XCOM Apocalypse (1997), XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012), and XCOM2 (2016). Sci-Fi games but (from my experience) mesh perfectly with gonzo swords & sorcery; these gamnes were one of the sources of inspiration behind BCK.

Here's one most of you probably didn't know even existed:

a soviet-czechoslovakian sword&planet movie "witches' dungeon" (1989)


although it seems there are no english subtitles for it

The Táin: From the Irish Epic Táin Bó Cúailnge by Anonymous, Translated by Thomas Kinsella.

Sláine draws a *lot* from this classic work of visceral Irish mythology.




I have never heard of that! Good recommendation

Sorry for the necro, but I strongly recommend this book:

It’s a reading list and commentary on the entire infamous “Appendix N”. Well worth your time!