The Fantastic School Book List

I’m known for creating lists of books. But the secret is that I don’t actually make them up myself: I ask for help. Just like anyone who really wants to learn, asking is the best way to find answers to your question. And a single question can gather many answers! So for this list, I asked in a few places on social media, and gathered the recommendations of lots of people who had read the books and loved them. Hopefully this will give our readers new series and authors to enjoy, along with old favorites brought back to mind again.

What I was looking for were books about magical (or fantastical) education. Schools, apprenticeships, on-the-job learning that might have left a character or three with scorched eyebrows…

The list is in no particular order, and I’m sure some good ones are missing. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!

Author Title (Series) Notable Quote
Diane Duane The Young Wizards series ” I like the Young Wizards FAR more than Harry Potter. Much better world-building.” AM MIller
Ben Aaronovitch Rivers of London series Follows an apprentice wizard through on-the-job training
Chris Nuttall Schooled in Magic
Jim Butcher Academ’s Fury
Diana Wynne Jones Magicians of Caprona
Raymond Feist Magician
Pat Wrede Across the Great Barrier
Jill Murphy The Worst Witch series
Craig Shaw Gardener The Ebenezum Trilogy
Ursula K LeGuin Earthsea Trilogy
Mercedes Lackey The Fairy Gomother series
Pam Uphoff
The Directorate School series
Tyler Whitesides Janitors the Janitors are magic!
Kenneth C Flint Finn MacCumhal books
Andrea Pearson Mosaic Chronicles series
Seanan McGuire
The Wayward Children series
Anne McCaffrey Harper Hall Trilogy
Poul Anderson Operation Chaos deals with a university with an Applied Magic department
Edward Eager’s Half Magic
Terry Pratchett Unseen University
Robert Heinlein Lost Legacy A novelette
L Jagi Lamplighter Rachel Griffin series
Mary Stewart The Little Broomstick
Mercedes Lackey Arrows series
Lev Grossman The Magicians
Zilpha Kearney Snyder The Witches of Worm
Christopher Stasheff Warlock series
Robert Asprin E Godz
Patricia McKillip Riddle-Master of Hed
Caroline Stevermer A Scholar of Magics
Rachel E Carter The Black Mage series
Pio McDonnell The Way of the Wizard “It was three kinds of awful. Very disppointing.”
Victor Kloss Royal Institute of Magic
Paul Gallico The Man who was Magic
Chris Nuttall Zero Element
Shelby Bach The Ever Afters
Alan Dean Foster Spellsinger
Keith Baker Thorn of Breland series
Taran Matharu The Summoner Trilogy
Jane Yolen Wizard’s Hall
Rick Riordan Percy Jackson
Joseph Delaney The Last Apprentice series
Jonathan Stroud The Bartimaeus series
Suzanne Collins The Underland Chronicles
John Flanagan Ranger’s Apprentice series
David Eddings the Belgariad
Holmberg Paper Magician series
Manly Wade Wellman The Deep School


  1. Shameless plug for Roberta Broussard’s book The Strings of Fate (my wife). Her series starts in a Bardic Collegium with a fair amount of detail on classes, rankings, magical training, and organization. There is more in book two which will be published very soon.

    • L. Jagi Lamplighter March 21, 2018 at 10:02 pm

      Eventually, I hope to turn this list into a permanent page feature with links to posts we’ve done. I will add her.

      Also, I’ll add Christine Norris’s Knightsbridge. She’s guest posted her, but I forgot to mention her.

  2. Great list! This will fill out my summer reading nicely…

    I have a series set in the Department of Demonology at the Royal Academy of the Arcane Arts and Sciences, for folks who want to find out what magicians do in a modern university. Links and info are at my website,

  3. Ack! I should have read this page first! And I forgot Patricia McKillip’s *wonderful* first trilogy, Riddlemaster of Hed.

  4. Really, Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of The Wind should be here as well. It may be a bit overblown (A bit, Rich?), but it fits the qualifications.
    Now I have to read Cedar’s books. I just finished the Zero series and enjoyed it immensely. I am looking forward to the next Rachel book, and I am sure there’s more Schooled in Magic books in the pipeline. Lots of good reading!

  5. A series I remember enjoying, though I recall almost nothing else about it, is the Magickers series (The Magickers, The Curse of Arkady, The Dragon Guard, & The Gate of Bones) by Emily Drake (Rhondi A. Vilott Salsitz).

  6. I just noticed the published list, and realized that John C. Wright’s Chronicles of Chaos is missing from it.

  7. Since I read both yours and Chris’s series, I was hoping to find some more. I did find a couple to sample.
    I’m not sure what you mean by “fantastical” anything unusual perhaps? Not just magical?

    I love the Harper Hall Trilogy by McCarthy but does it really apply? The Pern series really isn’t magical other than telepathic dragons.
    John Flanagan has a new trilogy, the apprentice in the first series, now has his own apprentice. Ranger\’s Apprentice: The Royal Ranger, again, great series but not magical.

    Perhaps you should have two lists, Magical schools/apprentices and Fantasy schools/apprentices?

    Corrections –
    Chris’s 2nd series should be Christopher Nuttall The Zero Enigma Series
    After reading the newest one, I had to go back and reread the original 3 books. I hope he does another Cat book soon, one set in her new school perhaps? Or setting up her school? How are they going about looking for more zeros? I was thinking that they need to look for young children 7 to 10, before they are picked on to much so become bitter …

    Pat Wrede’s series should be
    Patricia C. Wrede (Frontier Magic) Series – it’s been awhile since I read it but I am not sure it applies? Maybe I need to reread it as I only recall a vague education component to it. It is an excellent and unusual magical series though.
    Here are some more – I went through my Goodreads, Read list to see what else I might have read that would work for your list

    Mercedes Lackey – The Lark and the Wren (Bardic Voices Book 1) – apprenticeship and OJT
    Annabel Chase has several series that apply …. Spellbound Paranormal Cozy Mystery – that is the first Spellbound series. The main character stumbles into a magical community unaware that she is magical, and is put in a class of very young witches. Also, there are the Spellslingers Academy series. Warden of the West, Keeper of the North, Enforcer of the East and Sentry of the South. I only read the Warden of the West series that one at least is set in a school and I think the rest are too.
    Melanie Cellier – The Spoken Mage (books 1 – 4) this is a fairly new series. Excellent magical fantasy, set in a magical school. Appropriate for young readers, but written well enough for adults.
    Michael Anderle – Witch of the Federation (Federal Histories #1) – I think this series would work for magical learning, she is the first one on earth to have magic and she has to figure it out.
    Terry Mancour Hawkmaiden (Spellmonger Cadet 1 – 3) the first book “Hawkmaiden” is about a young girl teaching herself falconry and how her beastmaster magic works, the 2nd one “Hawklady” is her apprenticeship and the third one “Sky Rider” includes using magic to create giant falcons and hawks that can be ridden. It’s a subset of a larger series from her Master’s POV, but this series can be read stand alone for YA’s, the main series is for more mature readers.

    Changeling (Sorcery and Society #1) by Molly Harper. Just the first two are published.

    There are a lot of magical academy series out, but most of them I just sampled and found them lacking in world building or in taste or in interest. There are a few fantasy school situation’s that are non-magical or a slight amount of magic. Tamora Pierce’s series set in Tortall may or may not work for you, but her Circle series does concentrate more on magic. It’s been awhile since I read them, but it appears that she is going to have a new Circle series set with one of the character’s going to a Magical University.

  8. L. Jagi Lamplighter January 4, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    Thanks! Just found this. I will work on updating. I update as I go along, so there are more here than they were, but I really appreciate your comments!

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