Tragedy fantasy books are plentiful even though no category for tragic fantasy. Destruction. Distress. Suffering. All of these themes can be found in these stories, generally eliciting pity or terror on those involved. If you enjoy darker tales with little hope or devilish characters with few morals, these novels might be right up your alley.
“The stories here are the raw heart of Michael Moorcock. They are the spells that first drew me and all the numerous admirers of his work with whom I am acquainted into Moorcock’s luminous and captivating web.”
–from the Foreword by Alan Moore, creator of V for Vendetta
“Elric of Melnibone is an interesting character. Michael Moorcock’s antihero is a different sort of literary character, truly unlike any traditional fantasy hero I’ve encountered so far. He is a study of a contradictory character. He behaves in ways thatsets him apart from the ordinary and it is his intent to always go against the grain. He is a physically weak albino who needs drugs to sustain him, yet he rules a nation without peer. He elects to show mercy to a traitor, if only to go against his and his people’s more bloodthirsty tendencies. He wields and masters dark magicks, yet he is a vassal to his patron Chaos Lord. He wields a magical runeblade as much as it wields him. He values friends, but he is often so quick to betray them.” – Goodreads Reviewer
It begins simply. Shen Tai, son of an illustrious general serving the Emperor of Kitai, has spent two years honoring the memory of his late father by burying the bones of the dead from both armies at the site of one of his father’s last great battles. In recognition of his labors and his filial piety, an unlikely source has sent him a dangerous gift: 250 Sardian horses.
You give a man one of the famed Sardian horses to reward him greatly. You give him four or five to exalt him above his fellows, propel him towards rank, and earn him jealousy, possibly mortal jealousy. Two hundred and fifty is an unthinkable gift, a gift to overwhelm an emperor.
Wisely, the gift comes with the stipulation that Tai must claim the horses in person. Otherwise he would probably be dead already…
Long before the One Ring was forged in the fires of Mount Doom, one man—Húrin—dared to defy Morgoth, the first and greatest of the dark lords to plague Middle-earth. Thus did he and his children, Túrin and Niënor, earn the enmity of a merciless foe that would shape the destiny of all the ages to come.
Only J.R.R. Tolkien, the undisputed master of the fantastic, could have conceived this magical tale of Elves and Men united against a brutal foe. And only Christopher Tolkien, the master’s son and literary heir, could have fit the pieces of his father’s unfinished work together with such deep understanding and consummate artistry. With an introduction and appendiCes by Christopher Tolkien, who has also contributed maps and genealogy tables, and eight stunning paintings and twenty-five pencil drawings by Oscar-winning artist Alan Lee, The Children of Húrin at last takes its proper place as the very cornerstone of J.R.R. Tolkien’s immortal achievement.
Strikingly original in its conception, ambitious in scope, with characters engrossingly and vividly drawn, the first book in R. Scott Bakker’s Prince of Nothing series creates a remarkable world from whole cloth-its language and classes of people, its cities, religions, mysteries, taboos, and rituals-the kind of all-embracing universe Tolkien and Herbert created unforgettably in the epic fantasies The Lord of the Rings and Dune. It’s a world scarred by an apocalyptic past, evoking a time both two thousand years past and two thousand years into the future, as untold thousands gather for a crusade. Among them, two men and two women are ensnared by a mysterious traveler, Anasurimbor Kellhus—part warrior, part philosopher, part sorcerous, charismatic presence—from lands long thought dead. The Darkness That Comes Before is a history of this great holy war, and like all histories, the survivors write its conclusion.
Published the same year as The Fellowship of the Ring, Poul Anderson’s novel The Broken Sword draws on similar Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon sources. In his greed for land and power, Orm the Strong slays the family of a Saxon witch—and for his sins, the Northman must pay with his newborn son. Stolen by elves and replaced by a changeling, Skafloc is raised to manhood unaware of his true heritage and treasured for his ability to handle the iron that the elven dare not touch. Meanwhile, the being who supplanted him as Orm’s son grows up angry and embittered by the humanity he has been denied. A pawn in a witch’s vengeance, the creature Valgard will never know love, and consumed by rage, he will commit a murderous act of unspeakable vileness.
It is their destiny to finally meet on the field of battle—the man-elf and his dark twin, the monster—when the long-simmering war between elves and trolls finally erupts with a devastating fury. And only the mighty sword Tyrfing, broken by Thor and presented to Skafloc in infancy, can turn the tide in a terrible clashing of faerie folk that will ultimately determine the fate of the old gods. This edition contains the author’s original text.
Along with such notables as Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winner Poul Anderson is considered one of the masters of speculative fiction.
Here are a couple of honorable mentions, including Joshua Robertson’s and J.C. Boyd’s award-winning novel, Anaerfell.
“Prince of Thorns deserves attention as the work of an iconoclast who seems determined to turn that familiar thing, Medievalesque Fantasy Trilogy, entirely on its head.”—Locus
When he was nine, he watched as his mother and brother were killed before him. By the time he was thirteen, he was the leader of a band of bloodthirsty thugs. By fifteen, he intends to be king…
It’s time for Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath to return to the castle he turned his back on, to take what’s rightfully his. Since the day he hung pinned on the thorns of a briar patch and watched Count Renar’s men slaughter his mother and young brother, Jorg has been driven to vent his rage. Life and death are no more than a game to him—and he has nothing left to lose.
But treachery awaits him in his father’s castle. Treachery and dark magic. No matter how fierce his will, can one young man conquer enemies with power beyond his imagining?
The Blood of Dragons: Book 1
2017 International Award-Winning Novel in Epic Fantasy
Drast and Tyran might be considered a bit black-hearted, or even immoral. Drast is cunning but reckless, hunting for admiration. Tyran is calculating but tactless, searching for affection. When the two brothers set aside their ambitions to fulfill their father’s desire for immortality, they readily discover many opportunities for redemption. Now, while wielding a powerful magic that drains their life, Drast and Tyran will embark on a maddening quest, facing skin-switchers, dragons, and the God of the Dead.