What Books Have The Most Epic Large Scale Battle Scenes?
Posted on 3rd of August, 2018


When people hear "epic" battle scenes it is peculiar to me that their thoughts always jump to fantasy when there are so many science fiction novels with even more epic battle scenes. One that immediately springs to mind is Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. It is a military science fiction novel where humanity is locked into battle with the "buggers" who are an alien race that look like bugs, hence their nickname. A lot of military organizations had this book on their suggested reading list as far as I know, which should tell you everything you need to know about the battles.

For a book that even Robert Heinlein praised seek out The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. It's got the usual humans versus aliens battles, but the vast differences that the soldiers have to travel and the consequences that relativity has on the time scale makes things a lot more interesting.

Speaking of Robert Heinlein, he also wrote a great military science fiction book known as Starship Troopers. It also received the movie treatment, but the first film removed one of my favorite elements of the book, which is the high-tech powered armor that the humans use in order to battle the alien bugs.
One of my favorites is in the Joe Abercrombie book, The Heroes. He has one chapter that is completely dedicated to an epic battle scene, but what makes it truly frightening is that the viewpoint is constantly shifting as a character dies. Even more disturbing is how the perspective shifts from the slain to their slayer, which is something that I haven't encountered before when reading.

Another cool book that does things a little differently is Lord of Light by Robert Zelazny. It's not quite fantasy, and not quite science fiction, but a rather cool blend of these two genres. It was released in 1967, which was before all the different kinds of genre mash-ups that we see today, so it was something totally unique for its time period. There are a lot of cool things that happen in the books, but for me the battle scenes are the real stand out. If you are looking for full-on, almost apocalyptic clashes between armies, then you won't be able to put down this book.
1. A Memory of Light by Brandon Sanderson. A Memory of Light has an epic last battle that is so well described that you feel like you are right there in the thick of the action. In fact, pretty much the entire book is fighting, so it should definitely satisfy your need for action. There is just one small problem and that is that A Memory of Light is the fourteenth book in The Wheel of Time series. If you have the time to read them it is well worth the effort and you'll also encounter a couple of other good battle scenes throughout the series, but nothing as epic as the final battle. Seriously, it's not many books that can hype up a final battle as much as in The Wheel of Time and then actually manage to deliver on everything promised.

2. The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson. Another great series with plenty of awesome battle scenes sprinkled throughout. For me it is hard to pick between Toll the Hounds and Dust of Dreams as they both contain some of my favorite battle scenes. The Bonehunters and The Crippled God also has a few cool battle scenes, so do yourself a big favor and just read the whole series.

3. The Second Apocalypse by Richard Scott Bakker. The Second Apocalypse books are more than deserving of a mention when epic battle scenes are discussed as these books contain some imaginative ones. Start with the first trilogy, Prince of Nothing, to read about the Holy War between kingdoms and heathens over a holy city.

4. The Macht Trilogy by Paul Kearny. Paul Kearny has more than a few books with epic battle scenes, but The Macht trilogy features some of my favorite. You should read The Ten Thousand, Corvus and Kings of Morning as these books have a very similar feel to Game of Thrones. If you want to find out what happens when legendary warriors clash with an invincible empire, then this is the series for you.

5. The Faithful and the Fallen series by John Gwynne. The books that make up The Faithful and The Fallen series, Malice, Valor, Ruin and Wrath has plenty of edge-of-your-seat battles to enjoy. The books tease a "war to end all wars" and you'll read about the skirmishes between humans and giant-clans. In fact, the series is so packed with battles that the author sometimes has to jump between different clashes taking place at the same time!
: The most obvious answer would be the Lord of The Rings trilogy from J. R. R. Tolkien and A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. My favorite battle in the Lord of The Rings trilogy is the one that takes place at Helm's Deep. It's one of the first true battle scenes in the book and Tolkien knocked it out of the park. With the human forces clashing against the overwhelming hordes of Uruk-hai, only for the elves to come charging in, few battle scenes in literature are more involving. The Battle of Pelennor Fields is also pretty epic, but nothing can compare to Helm's Deep.

Then of course in A Song of Ice and Fire there are a couple of nail biting battles. In A Clash of Kings there is the Battle of the Blackwater where the Dragonstone fleet is destroyed by the Iron Throne. Another epic battle is the battles at The Wall that takes place during A Storm of Swords. In my humble opinion the battle in the book is even better than the television show as it actually takes place over a couple of days instead of just a single night. One battle that everyone is looking forward to is the battle of ice that is expected to take place in The Winds of Winter. The television show has shown a number of big battles that has not happened in the books yet, so hopefully mister Martin will be inspired enough to top the shows battles in his books.
I mostly read fantasy, so my vote for most epic battle would go to book four in The Aspect-Emperor series by R. Scott Bakker. It is the final book in the series, titled The Unholy Consult, and features exactly the kind of epic battle that you would expect from the series. Beloved characters can and will do, so expect anything in this one.

Robert Jordan also deserves a mention with his Wheel of Time novels as these contain their fair share of epic battles. Jordan was actually a military historian, so it goes without saying that he injected a lot of his knowledge in the books. For a great example of this just look at the sixth book in the series as it ends with the mother of all battles.

Another author who excels at epic battle scenes is Conn Iggulden. I suggest you read his Emperor books if you are looking for epic battles without the usual fantasy trappings. It's based around Julius Caesar and features some really good stuff. Also very good is his Conqueror series, which focuses on Mongol warlords. You just know that books about Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan is going to be filled with epic battles.

Finally, Christian Cameron always delivers when it com56es to epic battles. Before becoming a novelist, he worked in the Navy and he is also a historian, which means his research is always solid. Some of his best battles can be found in the Traitor Son Cycle, which he wrote under the name "Miles Cameron." Things kick off in a big way in The Red Knight and continues in all of the other books like The Fell Sword, The Dread Wyrm, The Plague of Swords and The Fall of Dragons. The siege that takes place in The Red Knight is epic in every sense of the word and Cameron must have spent ages researching all the intricate details that he has weaved into the story.

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