In case you didn’t know, I am a huge fan of the fantasy genre. Not so much science fiction, and believe me, there is a difference. It seems like if you were to go to a bookstore, peruse the fantasy shelves, and pick a book at random, the odds of it being part of a series are very high. What is my favorite series? Well, I think before I can answer that, I need to tackle what I believe to constitute a series.
For me, a series needs to be at least four books, and that is a bare minimum. Three books is a trilogy, plain and simple. Two books seems like an odd thing to do, so we won’t even talk about that. The number of novels also helps to define what they are as a collective. A trilogy has a completely different feel from a series. A trilogy focuses on a main plot and theme. These are then carried through each of the three novels, perpetually moving forward toward the goal. It is, simply put, the beginning, middle, and end. Let me mention a couple trilogies to put it in perspective. Lord of the Rings, for example, is
a the classic trilogy. We follow Frodo and friends as they journey to Mordor to destroy the One Ring. There is little deviation from this path. The Hunger Games carries the same theme of “sticking it” to the Capital, and moves at a natural progression to this end goal.
A series, on the other hand, can take lots of little forks in the road. Why? Because they have all the time in the world. Sure, they are also moving through a progression to get to the goal at the end, but how they get there is far from a straight path. They can go back in time, jump forward, and the like. They are more free to tell you about EVERYTHING.
I decided I don’t want to choose just yet. I want to tell you about several really good series.
I know what you are thinking right now… that picture on the left looks like three books… didn’t I just say that would be a trilogy? And that ONE on the right? Yes, yes I did. BUT, when I think of the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, I think of the all encompassing novels of Dragonlance that come with the Chronicles, like Legends for example (another three books). And the Legends of the Dragonrealm by Richard Knaak was originally seven novels that were out of print for some time, and have since been re-released into a set. The reason I wanted to mention them is because these are the books that got me into the fantasy genre. All three of these authors are ones I am very grateful to and very fond of. I will check out a novel by any of them, simply for the fact that they have taught me so much by making me explore new worlds.
In Firedrake, the first novel of Knaak’s series, Cabe Bedlam is hunted by the Dragon Kings, who rule the world. With the help of the witch Gwen, he works to put an end to the tyrants. The Dragonlance series follows many characters, most notably Raistlin Majere, a mage of high sorcery. In the original set beginning with Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Raistlin and his group must set out to discover the Discs of Mishakal, attack dragons, and deal with each other on the quest to become the Heroes of the Lance.
If Dragonlance and Dragonrealm got me into the genre, it was series like the Malazan Books of the Fallen by Steven Erikson that kept me there. I have talked about one of these books before. You can read more about it here. It is definitely a different type of series, and I am sadly only about halfway through the entire thing. There are ten books in all, and I do not think the author has plans to continue further. I have finished up to book five, and I am eager to complete the series.
The series continues after the first novel following most of the same characters. I think one reason I love them so much is the complex pantheon he created. There are Gods, immortals, houses, etc, and there is nothing stopping a regular joe from climbing the ladder. There are a lot of characters to follow, but somehow Erikson makes you care about every single one, maybe even some of the “bad guys.”
Erikson’s series is one of those that does the jumping around through time thing, as well as hopping across different lands. Book three took place in one part of the world, with certain characters. Book four took place at the same time, across the world with mostly different characters. It’s a fascinating read, and he finds ways to keep you constantly interested.
I have recently convinced James to start the series. He is already pretty far into the first novel and tells me that he loves it. I know. It’s amazing.
I feel like I should still give a nod to A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. I became addicted after reading the first novel, A Game of Thrones. It is disheartening that the author doesn’t seem to share the same love as some of his fans, because the quality started to drop off after book three. Book five has been recently released, and I have yet to read it. I have plans to pick it up when it comes out in paperback (so that it matches the rest of my set). I have heard not such great things, but I am hoping that he will take the time to finish out the series right. He has two more chances. Maybe he should try and make them more like the HBO special!
Aside from this, I think this is still one of my favorite series. The way the Martin takes you on a ride is mesmerizing. His books are real. No “good guy prevails, bad guy gets his comeuppance.” It’s an all out war.
And honestly, what kind of person would I be if I didn’t mention it. You know the series I am talking about. Within this list of series I have given you, it is the only one that I have fully completed so far and/or have re-read. It is also the only series that, to my knowledge, I like to talk about in a terrible, fake British accent.
After writing this post, I have come to the decision that this is probably my favorite series. I wanted to avoid it, since I just wrote about them in my last book meme post, but I just can’t help it. The re-reading factor helps it attain that top spot, but it is also the entire culture that Harry Potter brings to life. A generation grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I was a little too old for that, but I still felt a special connection to those characters, particularly with the addition of the movies. Not sure I should admit this, but I just had a bridal shower tonight and someone got me a Harry Potter poster book, and I loved it!
I hope it wasn’t a cop out to make a post be about several different series. If so, too bad, it’s my blog, I’ll write what I want! And what I wanted to write about was some really great series in the fantasy genre. If you haven’t read some of these (because let’s face it, we should all have read Harry Potter), I implore you to give them a try. Even if the genre isn’t your thing, test the waters with Erikson or Martin.
What are some of your favorite books series?