Fantasy is chock full of royalty, some of the are amazing and others… not so much. Honestly it’s actually kind of difficult to find a fantasy book or series that doesn’t have a least one royal character in it. I definitely love reading about royalty in fantasy, some of them are actually some of my favourite characters. Some of them get up to some pretty crazy stuff, while trying lead/defend a country or learning how to. All while being disasters, absolutely amazing, clever, charming, witty, incapable of listening to other people, self-sacrificing…
But digress. This list is just 8 of my favourite royals (there are many, many more but I didn’t want this list to go on forever) from fantasy books. The first one I’m going to talk about is…
Kell from A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy
This list is starting with Kell mainly because he’s royal but also technically he’s not (he’s adopted). He was brought up by the royal family of Arnes, many call him a prince and him and Rhy are brothers (not by blood though). So he’s basically royalty just without the actual title and it’s a pretty pivotal part of his characterisation.
I really love this trilogy and I think that Kell is brilliant. He’s probably my second favourite character in the A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy, the first being Lila Bard.
Nikolai from the Grishaverse
Nikolai Lantsov is one of my favourite royals and I’m so glad that Leigh Bardugo didn’t kill him off like she originally intended to do. He is my favourite character in the Grishaverse and he’s one of the characters that made the Shadow and Bone trilogy worth it. A part of me wishes that he had turned up earlier in the books. Rather than the second book maybe he could have appeared in the first book?
I really like how ambitious he is and how much he cares about his country. I like that there’s two sides to him; the rakish, partying young royal and the serious, innovative, leader. His life is a balancing act of showing his pupil persona and his actual self and love reading about him.
Lira from To Kill A Kingdom
Lira is a siren princess that has a heart for each of her birthdays. She’s introduced as being dangerous from the get go and never once did I doubt that she wouldn’t kill someone at any given moment. I really like that she’s deadly and bloodthirsty with kindness and compassion buried very, very far down and reserved for only a small selection of people.
Which is why I like Lira so much.
Khalid from The Wrath and the Dawn
So, Khalid is a character that I didn’t know how to feel about initially. Mainly because of how secretive he is. Also there’s the fact that every bride he married died the next morning. So, yeah I was a little conflicted to start off with. But because I knew the story of 1001 Nights I had a feeling that Khalid wouldn’t be what he seemed. Especially as this is a YA retelling and he was the main love interest.
But here’s why he’s one of my favourite fantasy royals: he’s a good ruler, he’s kind and compassionate but also willing to do anything to save his country. Even sacrificing his own happiness, reputation, and health to keep his people alive and save. He ends up being a force to be reckoned with over the course of the duology and I loved it.
Cardan from The Folk of the Air series
I will easily admit that Cardan is a bit of a disaster and is definitely a pretty terrible guy in the first book (I think he does begin to show some redemption towards the end). I mean there’s a reason why it’s call The Cruel Prince. But I still think he’s a great character. He’s not perfect in the slightest but he’s such an interesting character!
Also I’m looking forward to Holly Black’s new book How The King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories that’s from Cardan’s point of view, that’s coming out in November 2020.
Aelin from the Throne of Glass series
I think if I didn’t mention Aelin from the Throne of Glass series I would be making a mistake! I really liked her as a character from the start. She was smart, snarky, compassionate and dangerous throughout the whole series. She’s possibly one of my favourite characters in a book.
I felt like she was a very fleshed out and interesting character. I really liked reading about her and getting to see her character develop and grow throughout the series.
Some Honourable Mentions:
- Asha from The Last Namsara series
- Talyien from The Wolf of Oren-Yaro series
- Dorian from the Throne of Glass series
- Serafin from Wicked Saints/Something Dark and Holy trilogy
- Rowan from the Throne of Glass series
- Nasir from We Hunt the Flame duology
- Alosa from The Daughter of the Pirate King duology
- Winter from The Lunar Chronicles
- Emporer Kair from The Lunar Chronicles
- Bitterblue from the Graceling series