someone recommend me some good fantasy books that aren’t centred on a war, please, my crops are dying
The Greta Helsing novels by Vivian Shaw - practical doctor to the undead defeats mildly ominous interdimensional threats with the aid of domestic vampires and a demon accountant.
Sunshine by Robin McKinley - practical baker is captured by vampires, escapes, reluctantly teams up with better vampire to kill the bad one.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones - young hat maker ages 60 years overnight, proceeds to upend the life of a disaster wizard while learning self-confidence.
the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett - hard to encapsulate, but equally funny and hard-hitting, tackling race and gender and corruption and other forms of inequality while also, like, making fun of post offices and Hollywood and Shakespeare. Three or four tackle war, true, but there’s something like 35 others to choose from.
the Accidental Turn series by J.M. Frey - recent Ph.D of colour lands in the Fantasyland™ she did her thesis on, goes off about agency and diversity while recovering from the Dark Lord’s attentions and learning the truth about her fictional crush.
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire - evil alchemist creates superpowered children to assist world takeover; children just want to be a family; family is complicated.
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik - young woman takes over family business, must outwit fairies with a love of gold.
the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede - princess runs away to become a dragon’s housekeeper, fights off rescuers, solves problems large and small, melts wizards.
the October Daye novels by Seanan Mcguire - Half-fae detective solves murders, finds missing persons, develops found family, can’t stop self from upending the social order.
The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker - A quiet golem, a tempestuous djinn, Gilded Age New York. Immigrants, identity, friendship, hope, and self-discovery.
An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard - A witch from an outsider House enters New York’s magical Hunger Games, to prove a point. The problems of magic were not intended.
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes - Part-time con artist gets hired to find two missing pop stars, with the help of the magical sloth on her back. Noir ensues.
Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica - Nature photographer lands on water-world, discovers lost family, tries to convince self magic is impossible.
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips - Greek gods, washed up in North London, curse Apollo to fall for the cleaner. Existential crisis, meet rom-com.
Among Others by Jo Walton - Loner teen sent to boarding school, discovers science fiction, might know fairies and do magic.
Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton - Austenesque story except all the characters are dragons.
Every Heart a Doorway (and sequels) by Seanan McGuire - the children of portal fantasy end up in boarding school coping with being kicked out of their various worlds, then some of them start getting murdered.
The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan - the world is flooded, there’s a lady who works with a bear at a circus that sails to different places to perform, and a lady who is sort of an undertaker, and they fall in love
Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees - there are fairies but no one talks about them anymore because That’s Just Not How We Are except this state of affairs cannot possibly last and people start getting lured to fairyland
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison - fifth son of emperor who’s lived his whole life away from court abruptly becomes emperor when his father and older brothers are killed in an accident, spends entire book trying to make friends and figure how the fuck to do a) confidence and b) ruling ethically
The Various by Steven Augarde - girl spends summer at uncle’s farm, finds the group of “various” (no direct parallel, but think somewhere between gnomes and pixies) that live in the woods, mysterious history, flying horse, The Cat Is Evil (this is technically middle grade but it’s so good I can’t even)
Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan - working on the translation of an ancient text is complicated when it might have a huge impact on the public perception of a highly stigmatised group; subterfuge, found family, mythology, and the rejection of men who steal other people’s work.
The Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold - Fighting monsters and bandits, yes, but also fighting prejudice, intercultural communications breakdowns, in-laws, outdated traditions, and chores
Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeanette Ng - a gently reared young lady goes to fairyland to find her missionary brother, instead finds a crazy gothic mansion full of mysteries
Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier - lush high fantasy retelling of the Seven Swans
Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman - murder, intrigue, and music in a world where humans maintain an uneasy peace with shapeshifting dragons
Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho - brilliant but marginalized sorcerer and brilliant but marginalized social climber take on Regency England
Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo - Fantasy heist starring ragtag band of teenaged delinquents armed with magic and trauma
Vessel, by Sarah Beth Durst - a girl raised to be a vessel for a goddess tries to figure out why her goddess failed to show and also save the world
Stardust, by Neil Gaiman - Guy goes to fairyland to catch a star to impress his True Love, what could possibly go wrong
The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner - Marvelous swashbuckling middle grade quest story and first in a series of complex and political and twisty books, beware of spoilers
Penric’s Progress, by Lois McMaster Bujold - A collection of the first three Penric and Desdemona novellas, which follow a mild-mannered accidental sorcerer and his centuries-old snarky demon as they go on quests, solve mysteries, dabble in intrigues, and generally sow chaos wherever they go
The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien - There is one major battle and the POV character misses ALL of it because Jirt thinks war is stupid
A Face Like Glass, by Frances Hardinge - amazingly lush and imaginative underground world and the girl who fell down into it, was raised by cheeses, and is about to cause a whole lot of trouble
Deeplight, by Frances Hardinge - the terrifying Lovecraftian ocean gods are dead but their secrets live on
(look I’m just trying to avoid the temptation to link to all of Frances Hardinge but maybe check out all of Frances Hardinge)
Sorcery of Thorns, by Margaret Rogerson - Sword wielding librarian fights demons and the patriarchy
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin - An unlikely heir competes for the most powerful job in a world where captured gods are weapons
The Squire’s Tales by Gerald Morris - Laugh-out-loud funny and also magical and source-material-level weird MG series on Arthurian romance, some battles but mostly quests and complaining about how stupid knights can be, shading darker towards the end of the series for obvious reasons
Starless, by Jacqueline Carey - kind of war but more of a coming of age and quest book with a big battle at the end? A child fated from birth to be companion to a princess is trained by warrior monks and dropped headfirst into a scheming court of near-immortal royals
The Earthsea Cycle, by Ursula K LeGuin - the education of a wizard in primal magic and ancient secrets
A note: I tried to stick with high fantasy or close to it, as that’s generally what people are looking for when they get stuck in War Is Hell for two thousand pages