8 Ridiculously-Good Fantasy Books Like Baldur’s Gate

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Elisa Shoenberger has been building a library since she was 13. She loves writing about all aspects of books from author interviews, antiquarian books, archives, and everything in between. She also writes regularly for Murder & Mayhem and Library Journal. She’s also written articles for Huffington Post, Boston Globe, WIRED, Slate, and many other publications. When she’s not writing about reading, she’s reading and adventuring to find cool new art. She also plays alto saxophone and occasionally stiltwalks. Find out more on her website or follow her on Twitter @vogontroubadour.

It was a hard-won campaign, but you did it. You nurtured a character from the start — made a backstory, rolled the dice, chose your feats, and equipped your character. You met a ragtag group of explorers that journeyed through the continent of Faerûn to defeat evil. And you did it. Victory feels good, plus the treasure is a nice bonus (or the only bonus, depending on your alignment). There may have been laughs and losses along the way, but the world is safe…for now. Putting away your weapons, whether sword and sphere, or offensive magic spells, seems so anticlimactic. What do you do? You could always play the game again and find the special cow level — oh wait, wrong series

The answer is obvious: read more books like Baldur’s Gate. Since its inception, Dungeons and Dragons has generated so many books and games. Right now, it feels like a particularly momentous time for readers who want the feeling of a dungeon crawl, a ragtag team of adventurers, and a big quest. In honor of Baldur’s Gate and the source material it’s based on, here’s a list of books that feel like the video/tabletop game. It’s a healthy mix of more serious campaigns and some books that may lampoon the adventuring worlds we are used to.

Grab your adventuring gear, a chalice of your drink of choice, and one of these fantastic books like Baldur’s Gate!

They Met in a Tavern book cover

They Met in a Tavern by Elijah Menchaca

What if you had all the fame and glory and then lost it all? The Starbreakers were the best adventurers, always saving the world. But when a mistake causes an entire city to die, guilt and recriminations pull the group apart. Members each head their separate ways: some to family life, others to assassins for hire. But then, someone appears to have put a bounty on each of their heads. Can they overcome past hurts to work as a team to stop this threat? This is the first in the Glintchasers series.

Orconomics book coverOrconomics book cover

Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike

Try to imagine if adventuring was an actual industry with corporate interests, including contracts and shareholders. Yes, it’s Baldur’s Gate + Capitalism. But what happens if you aren’t considered hero material? Or more specifically, what if you are limited to what roles you can play? Orcs, goblins, and other “evil” creatures can really only become Noncombatant Paper Carriers (NPCs), never heroes. So what happens if a former hero becomes an NPC? This is the first of the Dark Profit Saga trilogy, which also has two bonus stories.

Book cover of The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon ChakrabortyBook cover of The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty

The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by S. A. Chakraborty

Amina Al-Sarafi had thought she had left pirating life behind her and was enjoying her retirement. But when she’s offered a job that seems straightforward — rescuing a former crew mate for a nice sum of money — she finds herself mixed up with a lot more than a rescue mission. The book is a fun read about what happens after you’ve retired from the adventuring life and what comes next.

Spellslinger coverSpellslinger cover

Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell

So many fantasy books focus on the one special human or creature who is destined to save the world. What if you weren’t The Chosen One? Not even close? That’s the premise of the six book Spellslinger series. Kellen may come from a powerful, magic-wielding family, but it’s clear that he doesn’t have much magic. Not only is that not a great look, it’s worse in a culture that only values magic ability. So Kellen uses trickery to fake magic, which has many unintended consequences. Facing a life of being a second-class citizen, Kellen takes up a stranger’s offer of a different sort of life out in the wider world. Along the way, Kellen and his mentor Ferius Parfax find themselves tracking across the wider world, getting into adventures and scrapes in different towns. It has the feel of a larger campaign of adventurers discovering the world.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf coverBlack Leopard, Red Wolf cover

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

In this fantasy novel drawing on African mythology and oral tradition, a loner joins up with a band of adventurers. Tracker is known for his incredible skill: he can find anyone based on their scent. But when he’s given the task of finding a child who’s been missing for three years, Tracker falls into a band of adventurers, including a mysterious shapeshifter named Leopard. Tracking a person from their scent is one thing; surviving the adventure is another. Told as a series of flashbacks from Tracker, who is in prison, this trilogy gives new life to the adventuring party.

Assistant to the Villian coverAssistant to the Villian cover

Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer

Evie Sage is out of options. After a dispute with her latest boss, she’s not sure how she’s going to support her sister and her disabled father. A literal run-in with the Villain, a man whose violence is legendary, results in a job offer to be his assistant, and Evie decides to take it. While she is surrounded by severed heads and screams from prisoners, Evie realizes that there is much more to the Villain than everyone imagined. Plus, she’s finding herself attracted to the man. When the threat against the Villain becomes stronger, Evie decides she must get to the bottom of it. It’s a fun reversal on the trope of adventurers having to take out the local baddie, where the baddie may not be as nefarious as he seems. This is the first of a trilogy, with book two coming out later this year.

She Who Became the Sun book coverShe Who Became the Sun book cover

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Here’s one for fans of monks in Baldur’s Gate. What if you were given a destiny of nothingness while your younger brother is destined for greatness? What if he dies? If you’re Zhu, you decide to assume your brother’s identity and enter a monastery to learn how to be a monk and escape your fate. But can Zhu assume more than her late brother’s identity? Can she make her own destiny? This is the first book of the Radiant Emperor duology series, drawing on Chinese history and mythology.

Kill the Farm Boy book coverKill the Farm Boy book cover

Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne

Here’s another series playing with fantasy and The Chosen One trope. When a pixie appears and tells Worstley, a farm boy, that he is The Chosen One, he has no idea what to do with that information. So Worstley decides that he must go save a princess from a tower, accompanied by his talking goat, Gustave. Along the way, they meet some unusual characters, like a scaredy cat assassin and a vegetarian fighter. It’s the first of three books in the Tales of Pell series.

Your adventuring days may be over (for now) with Baldur’s Gate, but these books will help fill the time with adventure until the next game comes out. If you are looking for more D&D-inspired reads, check out these essential Dungeons and Dragons books and these must-read books based on your D&D class.

If you want to find more books you love based on other TV shows/games, ask one of the expert Bibliologists of TBR to get recommendations perfectly tailored to your taste!

a gif with the text: Tailored Book Recommendations: Real Book Nerds Making Tailored Recommendations That Are Really, Really Gooda gif with the text: Tailored Book Recommendations: Real Book Nerds Making Tailored Recommendations That Are Really, Really Good

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