The Top 10 Best LitRPG Books in 2022
By: Preston Simmons | Updated: January 21, 2022
What is LitRPG?
If you are a fan of fantasy books, more than likely, you’re a fan of video games as well. As more Millenials and Gen Z’s become writers, it’s no surprise that the two hobbies, writing and video games, would inevitably mix. Enter Literary Role Playing Games, or LitRPG, for short. Elements of LitRPG can be dated all the way back to 1982 with Tron by Brian Daley or even to 1981 with Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg. But modern-day LitRPG is a relatively new fantasy genre that is only around 15 years old. What, exactly, is LitRPG?
LitRPG is a book that contains one or more aspects taken from role-playing video games. Typically these aspects include a leveling up system, which involves stat growth. They can include characters and enemies with health, mana, or stamina bars/points. Oftentimes, these books will have quests, guilds, and class roles, including (but not limited to) tank, support, and damage per second. The most obvious tell that a book is a LitRPG is if it literally takes place in a video game. More often than not, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, or MMORPG.
Think World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy 14, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guild Wars, or Phantasy Star Online. Imagine if a book took place in a world that contained the same characteristics as those games. That is essentially what a LitRPG book is.
How To Find The Best LITRPG Books in 2021
So, there is a caveat with LitRPG that I should mention. In a Reddit post by author Blake Arthur Peel, he mentions how writing for LitRPG is easier than writing for traditional fantasy novels. It’s easier to keep track of how many hit points a character has, easier to show progression through experience points, and easier to show how much damage is dealt to enemies through numbers. It’s basically an easier entry point for writing fantasy altogether. Because it is easier to write, you will find thousands of LitRPG on the market online. These will be mainly self-published books that you can find on kindle unlimited or free sites like Royal Road.
Because of this, a good majority of these LitRPG books will not be that good. They will be filled with overdone tropes, contain over-sexualized women, and just plain terrible writing. Finding a well-written, nicely paced, a decent book that happens to be LitRPG is like finding a diamond in the rough. They are extremely rare to find, but they are there nonetheless.
So, how do you find these diamonds in the rough? Well, luckily, you came to the right place, because this list will contain exactly the books you are looking for. But, once you’ve read the books on the list, what then? First, read the process I described in a previous article titled “How to find your next favorite book.” The most important tip I can give specific to LitRPG is, find books written by already established authors. It’s not always the case where someone’s first-ever book is necessarily bad; it’s just more rare to find an author’s first book in LitRPG to be good. An already established author probably has an editor. The biggest improvement to some of these books would be a good editor.
Rules to the List
As LitRPG is a very new subgenre, to some, what defines the genre can be fluid. Some people think LitRPG doesn’t have to contain any of the aspects I mentioned above to be considered LitRPG. Others think that the books must contain all aspects or shouldn’t be considered LitRPG. Personally, I agree that LitRPG should contain at least one of the aspects I mentioned above to be considered part of the genre. For that reason, some books may be left out of the list that some readers may think deserves to be on it. An example would be the Cradle Series by Will Wight or Mother of Learning by Nobody103. Both are incredible books, and both have been argued to be LitRPG, but neither can be considered part of the genre, in my opinion. For that reason, they will not appear on the list.
What will appear on the list are books that will, without a doubt, be considered LitRPG. They all contain one or more of the aspects of LitRPG I mentioned above. To sum up, the books must have at least one of these characteristics:
- Leveling up system, or stat growth
- Characters or enemies with health, mana, or stamina points
- Class Roles
- Party System
- Takes place in a video game
Without further ado, here are the Top 10 BEST LitRPG books in 2022!
#10 – Azarinth Healer by Rhaegar
Taking number 10 on the list is Azarinth Healer by Rhaegar. This LitRPG web serial is ongoing, with 712 chapters as of July 29th, 2021. Each chapter contains around 3,000 words, so think of this as a series with multiple books. This series takes the number 10 spot on the list because it is the author’s first work. Because of that, it contains many grammatical errors and tends to drag on in places that the author could have edited down. However, none of these issues impact the overall story.
This book is an enjoyable, action-packed adventure filled with fast-paced battles, great progression, and most importantly, endlessly entertaining. There is a reason why this is one of the most followed pieces of fiction on Royal Road. It’s been described as a literary hack and slash game, which, in my opinion, is the perfect description. If you want a simple, fun story with not a lot of plot but LOADS of battles and progression, all set in an RPG-like world, you’ve found your next read.
Ilea Spears is your average sarcastic kick-boxing fast-food worker and soon-to-be student. She will be transported to another world rather conventionally and will be confronted with survival in the wild.
A new world with nearly unlimited possibilities. A status, classes, magic, and monsters. Sounds good? Well, for Ilea, it didn’t come quite as expected as for some other protagonists, nor was there a king or god to welcome her.
The grand quest? Well, she might figure that out someday, but for now, a new world with new food is prize enough. Her fists at the ready, she’s prepared to punch and get punched, however long it takes and however many limbs she might have to regrow.
Where to Read: You can read Azarinth Healer by Rhaeger free on Royal Road by clicking here!
#9 – Dungeon Lord by Hugo Huesca
At number 9 on the list is Dungeon Lord by Hugo Huesca. Dungeon Lord, book one in the Wraith’s Haunt series, takes place in Ivalis, a video game world. Ivalis is a world of gods, heroes, monsters, and of course, dungeons. It’s another fun book with a very likable protagonist (something hard to find in LitRPG). A similar story would be the anime/manga Overlord. If you like that, you may enjoy reading Dungeon Lord. This is a quick read that’s well worth your time.
In addition, the audiobook is great. It’s dual read by Jeff Hayes and Annie Ellicott. The book itself is good, but the narration brings it to another level.
Dark forces have extended Edward Wright an offer of incredible power at a terrible cost…
…and Edward has chosen to make them regret it.
When Edward is swept into the world of Ivalis as a Dungeon Lord, the Dark’s most powerful servant, he has no servitude in mind. He’ll oppose the evil plans of the Dark god Murmur, whatever it takes.
Through only his wits and his guts to help him survive a weakened arrival, Edward must rise to power if he is to earn the right to live another day.
But in the battle between Dark and Light, what can Edward choose if both sides are cruel, uncaring monsters?
Cold gods laugh in the distant world of Ivalis. Heroes chase after power and experience, while Kings send their armies to their deaths in the name of the Dark and the Light.
But no one expects the rise of the Dungeon Lord… And in the world of Ivalis, maybe a single man can forge his own path.
Where to Read: You can find Dungeon Lord by Hugo Huesca here!
#8 – Worth the Candle By Alexander Wales
If you read my article for the best web serials in 2021, you may recognize this book. Worth the Candle by Alexander Wales is an incredible rational fiction LitRPG where the main character is put into a world of his own creations. It focuses on the concept of how who you were in the past can shape the person you become in the future. It’s a great ongoing web serial that’s one of the best LitRPG’s out there.
From the age of nine, Juniper Smith began filling notebooks with his worlds, at first places of fantastical imagination, but later with each as an expression of some theme or idea that momentarily grabbed his interest. Over the course of eight years, he shared these worlds with his friends through twice-weekly tabletop gaming sessions. Now at the age of seventeen, he finds himself in Aerb, a world that appears to be an amalgam of those many notebooks, stuck trying to find the answers to why he’s there and what this world is trying to say. The most terrifying answer might be that this world is an expression of the person he was back on Earth.
Where to Read: You can read Worth the Candle free on Royal Road!
#7 – Dragon Heart by Kirill Klevanksi
Some people may say, “Hey, why is Dragon Heart on the list but not Cradle? Both are wuxia-inspired, right?” To that, I say you’re right. Both are wuxia-inspired, but Cradle doesn’t have a LitRPG like interface system for the main character like Dragon Heart does (and no, Dross doesn’t count as one).
Dragon Heart by Kirill Klevanski is a wuxia-inspired, progression fantasy LitRPG that is centered around revenge. This book has some great martial arts action, cliffhangers, and fascinating characters. Unfortunately, this book can be a little slow at times as there is a lot of exposition regarding worldbuilding. All in all, this is a great, well-written series (especially considering it’s translated from Russian) that deserves its place on this list of best LitRPGs.
He was born anew in a world where martial arts were indistinguishable from magic.
He’d only received a neuronet and meaningless desires from his past life.
What lies ahead?
He’d dreamed of adventure and freedom, but those dreams were taken away from him.
The same way his mother, father, and sister had been taken away.
They took his Kingdom; they even took his destiny.
But he is willing to wage war against the whole world if need be to bring everything back.
If a whole army opposes him, his sword won’t waver.
Even if the Emperor sends entire legions against him, his step won’t falter.
Even if demons and gods, heroes and villains alike, unite against him, he won’t bend to their will. His own will is iron itself, unstoppable.
His name is Hadjar, and he heeds the call of the dragon heart within him.
Where to Read: You can find Dragon Heart by clicking here!
#6 – He Who Fights With Monsters by Shirtaloon
He who fights with monsters by Shirtaloon starts as an incredible LitRPG book set in an interesting world filled with so much stuff for the main character, Jason, to discover. It’s also by far one of the most popular LitRPG series in existence. It’s been read by over 13 million people on Royal Road before it officially became published on Amazon and is still read today by millions. By definition, this has all the elements that a LitRPG should have. It takes place in a video game world; it has classes, guilds, parties, loot, quests, and monster hunts.
The first 100 chapters (or the equivalent of one book) are amazing. It will keep your attention and never let go. Unfortunately, the quality doesn’t hold up. This is evident in its characters. After around chapter 130, you’ll start to notice many of the characters will remind you of the main character—even a 12-year-old.
The first 100 chapters are what make it to number six on the list. But who knows, by then, you may be so addicted to the story, you’ll end up reading up to chapter 484! But the first 100 chapters are the equivalent of a full-size book themselves, and those are worth reading.
Jason wakes up in a mysterious world of magic and monsters. He’ll face off against cannibals, cultists, wizards, monsters, and that’s just the first day. He’s going to need courage, he’s going to need wit, and he’s going to need some magic powers of his own. But first, he’s going to need pants.
Follow Jason as he makes a place for himself in a world that is strange yet sometimes strangely familiar. He’ll meet crime lords and aristocrats, gods and monsters on his path from would-be victim to a heroic adventurer. At least, he tries to be heroic. It’s hard to be good when all your powers are evil.
#5 – Ascend Online by Luke Chmilenko
Ascend Online by Luke Chmilenko is probably exactly what you are looking for if you want pure LitRPG. This is popcorn reading at its finest. This is one of those books that you will speed through and keep looking for more. Heavily inspired by EverQuest and Dungeons and Dragons, this book contains all the elements of LitRPG without feeling forced. If you are looking to have fun while reading, you’ll enjoy this book. For that reason, Ascend Online lands at number 5 for the best LitRPG books in 2022!
Diving into a revolutionary new video game, Marcus and his friends escape a stagnant society, entering into a world that defies their wildest imaginations. But from the moment that he logs in, Marcus finds himself separated from his friends and thrown into a remote village under attack by a horde of goblins.
Forced into battle, Marcus rallies the beleaguered villagers and, with their help, manages to drive off the invading creatures. With the village in ruins and their supplies spoiled, the survivors desperately turn to Marcus for help in rebuilding the village.
Realizing that this game is nothing like he’s ever played before, Marcus is swept up into a whirlwind of adventure as he struggles to defend his new home, quickly finding that marauding goblins are the least of his problems.
Where to Read: You can find Ascend Online for Kindle Unlimited here!
#4 – Completionist Chronicles by Dakota Krout
Coming in at number four of the best LitRPG books in 2021 is the Completionist Chronicles by Dakota Krout. Once again, this is another series that completely fits all aspects of what could be considered LitRPG. And this series does everything right. At 4.33 stars with 10,119 reviews on Goodreads, you know you are in for a treat. This book has compelling characters, an interesting plot, incredible worldbuilding, a cool magic system, great references (look for the royal road shoutout). Really, any of the top 5 could have been number 1 on the list, and this is no different. The only reason why this series is at number 4 and not higher is that, at times, the book may feel a little too wish fulfillment. Still, I believe this series is some of the best LitRPG has to offer.
A game that puts all others to shame. Magic that has been banned from the world. A man willing to learn no matter the cost.
The decision to start a new life is never an easy one, but for Joe, the transition was far from figurative. Becoming a permanent addition to a game world, it doesn’t take long to learn that people with his abilities are actively hunted. In fact, if the wrong people gained knowledge of what he was capable of, assassins would appear in droves.
In his pursuit of power, Joe fights alongside his team, completes quests, and delves into the mysteries of his class, which he quickly discovers can only be practiced in secret. Ultimately, his goal is to complete every mission, master every ability, and learn all of the world’s secrets.
All he has to do is survive long enough to make that happen.
Where to Read: You can read the Completionist Chronicles on Kindle Unlimited here!
#3 – Iron Prince by Bryce O’Connor and Luke Chmilenko
If you read my Top 5 Progression Fantasy Recommendation list, you may recognize this one. You may also remember one of the authors, Luke Chmilenko, as appearing on this list a little up above. The Iron Prince by Bryce O’Connor and Luke Chmilenko is one of my favorite books still in 2022, full stop. It’s hard to describe why I loved this book so much.
Maybe because I wasn’t expecting much when I first picked it up, but by the end of the book, I was blown away? Or maybe it was because I loved the progression mixed with the ever-increasing stat chart throughout the book? Or maybe it was because the main character Rei, under the weight of so many disadvantages, manages not only to make the best of things but do so with such a positive attitude?
There’s so much to love about Iron Prince that you really should read this book even if you aren’t interested in the LitRPG aspects in it. This is one of the best LitRPG books and best progression fantasy books you will read! It’s that good.
Reidon Ward will become a god.
He doesn’t know it yet, of course. Reidon was born weak, sickly, and small. Afflicted with a painful disease and abandoned by his parents because of it, he has had to fight tooth and nail for every minor advantage life has allowed him.
His perseverance has not gone unnoticed, however, and when the most powerful artificial intelligence in human history takes an interest in him, things began to change quickly. Granted a CAD—a Combat Assistance Device—with awful specs but an infinite potential for growth, Reidon finds himself at the bottom of his class at the Galens Institute, one of the top military academies in the Collective. Along with his best friend, Viviana Arada, Reidon will have to start his long climb through the school rankings and on to the combat tournament circuits that have become humanity’s greatest source of excitement and entertainment.
So begins the rise of a god. So begins the ascent of the Stormweaver.
Where to Read: You can read Iron Prince with Kindle Unlimited here!
#2 – The WanderinG Inn by PirateAba
Number one and number two on my list are probably going to be my most controversial choices. Not because either series is actually controversial, but because each series is so good that both deserve the number one spot. Unfortunately, that’s not the way the world works, so one series had to take the runner-up position, and this time it’s the Wandering Inn.
The Wandering Inn is not only one of the best web serials you can read in 2022; it’s by far one of the best LitRPG books of all time. That’s a pretty loaded statement, but it is the truth. This web serial is many things at once, all done exceptionally well. Most of the time, it’s a slice-of-life book focused on Erin, as she learns how to be an Inn Keeper in a fantasy world. Other times it tells a tragic story that is sure to bring tears to your eyes. Then again, at times, it’s also as insane as the most memorable parts of Game of Thrones (you know which ones I mean).
This series is, in a single word, incredible. On its own, this series could last you years. Long is an understatement. This series is gargantuan. It currently has seven volumes with approximately 24,000 pages total. The latest volume, seven, has over 8,000 pages alone! It’s insane how long these books are.
I highly recommend checking out the audiobook for the series. It absolutely brings the world to life and will make the time it takes to read the book go by much faster. Truly, this is one of the best LitRPG books you will ever read.
“No killing Goblins.”
So reads the sign outside of The Wandering Inn, a small building run by a young woman named Erin Solstice. She serves pasta with sausage, blue fruit juice, and dead acid flies on request. And she comes from another world. Ours.
It’s a bad day when Erin finds herself transported to a fantastical world and nearly gets eaten by a Dragon. She doesn’t belong in a place where monster attacks are a fact of life and where Humans are one species among many. But she must adapt to her new life. Or die.
In a dangerous world where magic is real, and people can level up and gain classes, Erin Solstice must battle somewhat evil Goblins, deadly Rock Crabs, and hungry [Necromancers]. She is no warrior, no mage. Erin Solstice runs an inn.
She’s an [Innkeeper].
Where to Read: You can read the Wandering Inn for free at wanderinginn.com!
#1 – Dungeon Crawler Carl by Matt Dinniman
Those who have read this series are probably nodding their head in agreement as to why this is the number one spot on the list. Interestingly enough, many LitRPG fans caution others NOT to read this series first as their introduction to the genre. Why? Because it doesn’t get any better than this. This is the peak of what the genre has to offer (so far). The audiobook is one of the greatest performances you will ever hear. This is the pièce de résistance of LitRPG. This is still one of the best LitRPG books you will read in 2022.
And you probably shouldn’t read it first because it only goes downhill from here. But, if you could only read one series on the list, this is the one to choose.
It’s the most-watched game show in the galaxy!
In a flash, every human-erected construction on Earth–from Buckingham Palace to the tiniest of sheds to all the trucks and cars–collapses in a heap, sinking into the ground.
The buildings and all the people inside, they’ve all been atomized and transformed into the dungeon: an 18-level labyrinth filled with traps, monsters, and loot. A dungeon so enormous, it circles the entire globe.
Only a few dare venture inside. But once you’re in, you can’t get out. And what’s worse, each level has a time limit. You have but days to find a staircase to the next level down, or it’s game over. In this game, it’s not about your strength or your dexterity. It’s about your views and your followers. It’s about building an audience and killing those goblins with style.
And you can’t just survive here; you gotta survive big.
You gotta fight with vigor, with excitement. Make them stand up and cheer. And if you do have that “it” factor, you may just find yourself with a following. That’s the only way to truly survive in this game, with the help of the loot boxes dropped upon you by the generous benefactors watching from across the galaxy.
They call it Dungeon Crawler World. But for Carl, it’s anything but a game.
Where to Read: You can read Dungeon Crawler Carl on Kindle Unlimited here!
These are the best LitRPG books you can read in 2022. What would you choose as the best LitRPG books out this year? Let me know in the comments below!