15 Essential LitRPG Books You Should Read

Since youth, one of the talking points of stressing reading was that books hold the power to takes us to all sorts of places. Literary Role Playing Game has the power to take you to a whole new world of great fantasy and science fiction. It’s a grand escape for those who want a break from the mundanity of domestic life and indulge in worlds of dragons, goblins, and fantastical quests worthy of inspiring heroes. This subgenre need not be bound to Tolkein style family though. RPG stands for Role Playing Game after all and has an appeal for those who really dig a long game of Dungeons and Dragons or partakes in winding away the hours in World of Warcraft. If you don’t feel like firing up your computer or setting up the board, these books can be a quick and pleasing divergence to get lost in fantasy adventures for a bit. Here are some of the best LitRPG books out there.

City of Golden Shadow

written by Tad Williams
Published in 1996
780 pages

In futuristic South Africa, the teacher Renie Sulaweyo makes a shocking discovery about the virtual world of the internet. Numerous children have logged into this environment but once they get inside, they can’t find their way back out. This becomes a deeply personal matter for Renie as her Stephen is locked inside this network as well. Seeking answers, she traces a series of clues that will eventually lead her to the mysterious city of Otherland, shining bright with its golden allure. She’ll have to be careful in her investigation, however, as those who have gotten too close to the truth about Otherland are never heard from again. This is the first entry in the Otherland book series.

Awaken Online: Catharsis

written by Travis Bagwell
Published in 2016
527 pages

For being wealthy and attending a private school on scholarship, Jason’s life seems to be ideal. But his personal life is not so pleasant as he grapples with a school that hates him and parents that are not present. Trying to get away from it all, he retreats into video games where he has a new sense of freedom and control within the first immersive virtual reality game. Seeking to get out his aggression, Jason takes on the role of the game’s villain, invoking all manner of evil deeds. But the more he plays, the more Jason suspects there’s more to this game that is deeply sinister. This is the first entry in the Awaken book series.


written by Will Wight
Published in 2017
294 pages

The natural world is one that is easy enough to control for the sacred artists. Drawing upon their very souls, they tap into a thousand Paths to power to reshape the world in their vision. Lindon is not so lucky. Being dubbed Unsouled, Lindon cannot wield such power as he has been banned from learning such ancient and mind-bending techniques. But he may just have to break those rules and go against the wishes of his family when he finds that he must choose his own path as fate has more in store for him than missing out as an artist. This is the first entry in the Cradle book series.

The Trapped Mind Project

written by Michael Chatfield
Published in 2017
595 pages

CEO Austin Zane was once the head of RB Corp but decides to put that position behind him to indulge in the virtual reality game of Emerilia, an MMORPG with future technology infused into the game. In this game, he assumes the role of Dave, a half-dwarf. It seems like a fun escape until Austin makes a shocking discovery that will shake his worldview. Emerilia is reality and the modern world is the virtual reality simulation. It’s quite the reveal for someone who just wanted to play a relaxing game of fantasy allure, not prepared to learn the shocking truth about which reality is the true one. This is the first entry in the Emerilia book series.

The Land: Founding

written by Aleron Kong
Published in 2015
252 pages

Richter finds himself trapped in the fantastical world known as The Land. It is a place of many fantasy creatures including demons, goblins, sprites, and perhaps even gods. Not only must Richter find a way to survive in this chaotic landscape but he must also find a way to build a kingdom and establish his dominance. To ensure he won’t be consumed so easily by the beasts out for his blood, he must try to craft allegiances to rise to power. But will he be powerful enough to defeat the most difficult of foes? And how can he be sure he’s not the villain of this story? This is the first entry in the Chaos Seeds book series.


written by Conor Kostick
Published in 2006
384 pages

A New Earth has been formed where violence is a thing of the past, having been outlawed and quelled ages ago. This is accomplished by having all manner of conflict resolved within the digital walls of the online video game, Epic. It’s a game that all of society now plays, as a victory in the game can lead to great things in reality, such as scholarships and career opportunities. But Erik is seeking to turn the world of Epic upside down as he thirsts for revenge in his quest to avenge his parents who were mistreated. Teaming up with friends, he may just cripple the grip that Epic has on New Earth. This is the first entry in the Epic book series.


written by Neven Iliev
Published in 2018
252 pages

In this more adult take on LitRPG, Morningwood takes place in a fantasy land of adventure as large as the chest of the women. The hero of this tale is Himmel, a boy with a dream of being the strongest warrior in all the land, brandishing his family’s longsword. He starts off slow when trying to up his game reach a level more worthy of a warrior. That may be an even tougher task when he becomes distracted by the visual of exposed breasts, turning his goals in a much more wild direction. This is the first entry in the Everybody Loves Large Chests book series.

Dungeon Born

written by Dakota Krout
Published in 2016
326 pages

Cal is a very unusual person in that he’s not much a person at all. His soul has been forced into the role of a Dungeon Core, occupying magical stone. It’s not all bad though. He has a friend who is willing to help Cal build himself up into the best dungeon he can be, bringing in sources of power that can keep him going. However, many adventurers venture inside his dungeon, leading to Cal consuming these souls to remain, lest he becomes defeated by mighty bands of heroes seeking treasure. This is the first entry in The Divine Dungeon book series.

One More Last Time

written by Eric Ugland
Published in 2019
300 pages

A man with a life in tatters finds himself sucked into the video game world of iNcarn8. In this virtual land, he is now Montana, a large and looming tank warrior. Lured into the game by a friend, he seeks to start over and see if this digital realm can hold a second chance to convince him that life is worth living, even if it’s a virtual one of magic and battles. Developed with Dungeons and Dragons campaigns in mind, it’s the geekiest of LitRPG for those heavily engrossed in fantasy games. This is the first entry in The Good Guys book series.

Tamer: King of Dinosaurs

written by Michael-Scott Earle
Published in 2017
659 pages

There doesn’t seem to be much going in the life of Victor Shelby. With his parents dead and his bank account dwindling away to nothing, he wastes his time cleaning cages at an animal shelter to make rent. But his entire life turns upside down when he is abducted by aliens and transported back in time. He soon finds himself fighting for survival in a prehistoric past of dinosaurs that want him for dinner. Victor will have to rely on his abilities with animals to not only prevent himself from ending up in the belly of beasts but also protect some alien women. This is the first novel in the Tamer: King of Dinosaurs book series.

Ready Player One

written by Ernest Cline
Published in 2011
374 pages

Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One plays like the ultimate of pop culture fan-fiction. It takes place in a dystopian future where humanity has all but retreated to the virtual reality open-world known as the Oasis. When the creator of the Oasis dies, he leaves clues about where to find the keys to his fortune strewn throughout the game, where only the geekiest of players will be able to solve. Wade Watts is the teen underdog who may have the obsessed mindset to win that honor but he’ll also have to contend with the evil Innovative Online Industries who wants to take control of the Oasis and overload it with ads. Before Ready Player One had even released, the movie rights were gobbled up quickly and Steven Spielberg directed the theatrical adaptation in 2018. Cline also released the sequel novel, Ready Player Two, in 2020.

Sufficiently Advanced Magic

written by Andrew Rowe
Published in 2017
621 pages

In a fantastical land, the Serpent Spire is considered one of the most dangerous towers. With its many traps and monsters, it is a tower that only the most brave and courageous of adventurers would dare to trek through for the prize of having their wishes granted by magical powers that lay atop the tower’s edge. Corin Cadence lost his brother to the Serpent Spire many years ago. Seeking to avenge his death, Corin now takes it upon himself to scale the tower for the power to bring his brother back to him. This is the first entry in the Arcane Ascension book series.

Survival Quest

written by Vasily Mahanenko
Published in 2015
270 pages

The virtual fantasy realm of Barliona is one that is brimming with all manner of monsters, magic, and quest to fulfill. Players engage in combat and spoils of world so sublime that many have opted to remain logged on for many months, shirking the outside world. Just about anything can be experienced within the game except the sensation of pain. But that all may change when prisoners are sentenced to serve time in Barilona, changing the game world into more of hellish landscape than a fantastical escape. This is the first entry in The Way of the Shaman book series.


written by Paul Bellow
Published in 2018
348 pages

Tower of Gates is the hottest upcoming virtual MMOPRG on the market and Sarah, Eric and Josh are lucky enough to sneak into the game before it’s release. They’re initially amazed at the game’s level of depth with its exciting sword and sorcery elements. They thought they’d only be logged into the game for a few hours. They were wrong. Now they have to fight their way out of the game by relying on their wits and knowledge of all things Dungeons and Dragons. This is the first entry in the Tower of Gates book series.

Stuff and Nonsense

written by Andrew Seiple
Published in 2017
240 pages

Threadbare is the most unlikely of heroes given that he’s a fluffy teddy bear that isn’t very tall. Having come to life thanks to a magic spell, he was abandoned by his creator before being saved by a little girl. The girl has problems and it may not seem like Threadbare is the hero to save her. But he summons the courage to tackle any of the dangers and enemies that may be headed his way in this unorthodox and tongue-in-cheek fantasy. This is the first entry in the Threadbare book series.

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