My Top 5 (or so) Sci-Fi/Fi Fantasy Series

This is in no particular order, although I will say that A Song of Ice and Fire is number one, with The Chronicles of Narnia as a very close number two. (Talk about polar opposites!)

  1. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin I’ve been reading this series since almost day one. I began A Game of Thrones when it was in paperback, just before A Clash of Kings was published. Re-reading and discussing theories with other fans was a new and wonderful experience for me. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the fan community back then, and even got to meet and hang out with George a tiny bit. A great life experience that I’ll never forget! Waiting patiently for The Winds of Winter
  2. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan This is an interesting one because it introduced me to online fandom. I picked up The Great Hunt, which is the second book in the series, and thought it was okay, but I felt like I was missing something. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I had skipped the first book! So I bought The Eye of the World, and was hooked. I went online to find out when the next one was coming out. That’s when I discovered websites like wotmania.com (which is no longer active). People were discussing theories and characters, and I had no idea what they were talking about! So I re-read the books and the rest is history! Another farm boy who becomes a king…a savior…a devil? Depends on who you ask!
  3. The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weiss and Tracey Hickman Wow. DRAGONS!! This was my first real “grown up” fantasy series. Again, I read the second book in the trilogy (this seems to be a habit) and thought it was amazing! Years later, I had the pleasure of meeting Margaret Weiss and Tracey Hickman at a con. It was great to be able to tell them in person how much this series influenced my love of fantasy. This is more of the questing type story. A rag tag group of people thrown together to defeat evil. Its got elves AND dragons! Yes!
  4. Dragon Prince/Dragon Star by Melanie Rawn This story was one of my favorites because it had so many characters and everyone seemed to be related! It was like a soap opera in some ways. And I mean that as a compliment. I loved the idea of sunlight as a source for magic. Its got everything- dragons and jewels, and pretty people and romance!
  5. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis This one is near and dear to my heart. I used to read this series as a child over and over again. I spent a lot of time by myself and this series was my trusted companion. To this day, I still read this series at least a couple times a year, or I’ll listen to it on audiobook. The images and lessons from this series have stayed with me all my life. Further up and further in!
  6. Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams I’ve been talking about this series quite a bit recently since there are new Osten Ard books being published. I won’t repeat everything here, but I still gravitate towards stories similar to this one. I mean, its got elf like people! And the scullery boy who’s really a king! Classic.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

These are series that one day may creep into my top 5, but they are not quite ready yet…

  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling Loved the series, but haven’t had an interest to re-read them. If I ever do, then it may creep up on the list.
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins I adore this series, even though I tend to not like first person narratives. However, I inhaled this trilogy in just a couple days. I loved the movies as well.
  • The Expanse by James S. A. Corey I typically don’t read science fiction, but I will watch it. However, this series got my hooked from day one, as I have talked about before. I will definitely need to re-read it.
  • African Immortals by Tananarive Due I want to say that this was my first introduction to African American speculative fiction, even though I had read Octavia Butler before this. However, this series was something new and unique for me. To this day I still think this series would make a fantastic movie or TV show. Immortal Africans? The blood of Jesus? You can’t miss with that!
  • The Belgariad and The Mallorean by David Eddings Looking back, The Belgariad series was not all that great , but I gobbled it up at the time. Another farm boy who becomes king! I like series with multiple countries and cultures and this one fit the bill. For my young self, it was so epic and sprawling! I used to spend almost my whole weekly allowance buying the books. Now, it’s more nostalgia that makes me add this as an honorable mention.

What are some of your favorites?

The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne Trilogy by Brian Staveley

I had been looking for a good epic fantasy, and someone mentioned this on Goodreads, so I gave it a try. I’m glad I did!

The three books in the series are:

  1. The Emperor’s Blades (TEB)
  2. The Providence of Fire (TPoF)
  3. The Last Mortal Bond (TLMB)

This is the story of 3 siblings who are the children of the Emperor of Annur. The children are raised in different places; Valyn is on an island training to become a member of an elite military group; Kaden (the heir to the throne) is studying with monks and Adare is raised at home in Annur. It’s not much of a spoiler to say that the emperor dies, and since the heir to the throne is off studying with monks, you can image that the empire of Annur is in a very precarious situation. That’s pretty much where the story takes off.

I am not a big fan of long and detailed descriptions of battles, so for the first book (TEB) at least, that was a plus. The battle descriptions were general enough so that you get a sense of what is happening, without the excruciating detail of every knife, punch or sword thrust. There was some of that, but not too much. If you are looking for a sweeping romance to carry you through the trilogy, well, you won’t get that. I like a good romance, but I will admit that it was refreshing to not have that angst.

You have a wide range of characters. There’s an immortal race of beings, gods (both young and old), regular humans and fantastical creatures. Not too much, but just enough. That seems to be my running commentary- not too much of this, not too much of that. However, once you get into the second (TPoF) and third (TLMB) books, the violence is on the uptick and you get a new point of view character. In the third book (TLMB), there is a confusing section in the middle of the story that can be hard to make heads or tails of. Stick with it because it does resolve itself before the end of the book. More astute readers may be able to catch on sooner. There are also some time jumps which you can miss if you are not reading carefully. I did notice in the third book (TLMB) that there were a few events that happened off screen, and you only learn about them when a character is describing the events either to another character or in their own thoughts. I wish some of that could have happened in “real time” but the last book goes through quite a bit of plot, so that may have been a good thing. I’m still not completely sure that I liked it.

Anyway, it was a great adventure with good world building and characters that you can really root for- or against.

Also, if you read the series and want more, there is a standalone novel called Skullsworn. It is the backstory for one of the characters in the trilogy.

Lilypad Rating: LilyPadLilyPadLilyPad1/2 More than just “pretty good”, but not quite at the top of your “to read list”

 

The Heart of What Was Lost by Tad Williams

Happy 2017!

As I mentioned in my Memory, Sorrow and Thorn post, this is a bridge novel between the last events of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn (MST), and the beginning of the new trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard. More specifically, this book details the events between the end of To Green Angel  Tower (the third book in MST) and its epilogue. For those who don’t want MST spoiled, I will say that this book is clearly a set up for the new trilogy, and is probably a necessary read before you dive into The Last King of Osten Ard (LKOA).

SPOILERS FOR MEMORY, SORROW and THORN ahead!

After the Storm King was defeated, Duke Isgrimnur is tasked with destroying the remaining Norns, who were still terrorizing parts of Osten Ard. We get view points of Isgrimnur, a couple of common soldiers, and the Norns themselves. With the Norn point of view, we get to see more of their society and how it works. We see the conflicts that arise when the ultimate fate of their entire race is hangs in the balance.  What some of them propose to do is actually quite shocking, and seems to go against everything they believe, about themselves and about the world, but it makes for a fascinating dilemma. What would you do if you are facing the complete annihilation of your race? I became very invested in their story, and it’s pretty clear that what happens in the final battle between the Norns and the humans if Osten Ard will have ramifications for generations to come.

I was not as invested in the point of view of the common soldiers. While the change of perspective was good for pacing, the characters didn’t resonate with me. I tend to like fantasy that focuses more on the upper classes, royalty, etc. as opposed to the common folk. I get why its there, its just not as compelling to me.

There are certainly events in this book that are foreshadowing of events to come in LKOA, including some good old fashioned prophetic ramblings from immortal creatures!

The Heart of What Was Lost is a great throwback to the epic fantasy of the 90’s. When I first read MST, I was reading it along with The Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire, etc. which were clearly influenced by MST. Its nice to get back into high adventure, and a nice break from the graphic violence and long detailed depiction of battles that are depicted in the more “grim/dark” fantasy that is popular now.

This is absolutely a set up for the new trilogy. For fans of MST, this relatively short novel is a nice way to reacquaint yourself with the world of Osten Ard, and prepare you for the new adventure to come.

Lilypad Rating:LilyPadLilyPadLilyPadLilyPad out of 5

Memory, Sorrow and Thorn

This is one of my favorite series of all time. I have apparently been under a rock, because I recently discovered that there will be a new trilogy set in Osten Ard, the world of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn! A “bridge” story will be published January 3, 2017 entitled The Heart of What Was Lost, which will cover the year between the end of the third book in MS&T and the beginning of the new trilogy. Thus, I have begun my re-read of Memory Sorrow and Thorn! Here are all the stats:

Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams (www.tadwilliams.com)

  • The Dragonbone Chair
  • Stone of Farewell
  • To Green Angel Tower

The Heart of What Was Lost (publishing January 3, 2017)

The Last King of Osten Ard Trilogy

  • The Witchwood Crown (publishing June, 2017)
  • Empire of Grass
  • The Navigator’s Children

I won’t be posting updates on my re-read, but I will post my reviews of The Heart of What Was Lost and the Last King of Osten Ard Trilogy. Can’t wait! Is it 2017 yet?