What kind of reader are you?
I’m a weird one. I can finish the best book I’ve ever read and instead of immediately moving onto the next, I will read a few other books first. I don’t know whether this is just a change of scenery, giving other authors a try or simply because my TBR is so expansive that I want to whittle it down a bit more equally. There’s also a case of not wanting to finish a series too quickly if I really love the first book!
So anyway, here are a list of series I have read at least one book in and am really excited to read the next. Some of them have other books available, some of them I’m fully up to date. Let me know yours!
(If the title of the post is misleading, there is no hard rock theme, though we do have a ‘Poison Song’ in the list!)
War for the Rose Throne – Peter McLean
I loved Priest of Bones and read it within a couple of days, glued to my e-reader. I’ve heard great things about the follow up, Priest of Lies from other bloggers and am eager to get back to the shady world of Tomas Piety. Priest of Bones is a fast paced, fantasy gangster story with Peaky Blinders vibes and grimdark themes. What I especially liked was that the story could have been told without any fantasy elements, but the magic we are introduced to is more of a mysterious sprinkling than a full blown magic system and it works really well. I’ll likely buy the physical copy of Priest of Lies before going back and getting Priest of Bones in physical format at some point, too as it’s a series I definitely want on my shelf.
A Song of Ice and Fire – George R R Martin
It’s become a little trendy amongst some to badmouth ASOIAF, partly because it sparked a popular TV show, partly because the last season of said TV show was awful.
I’m sticking with the predictable however and including it in the list, because when The Winds of Winter is released, I’ll have it on preorder and start it as soon as it arrives. For me, having the TV show produce an underwhelming final season should be more reason to want to finish the story in book format (so here’s hoping the notoriously slow writer George R R Martin surprises us all and gets the last couple of books released pronto!) I personally love all the books in the series, and I credit ASOIAF with getting me back into reading fantasy 2 or 3 years ago after a long hiatus.
Winnowing Flame – Jen Williams
Reviews of The Ninth Rain and The Bitter Twins
This series will always be special for me, The Ninth Rain being my first official review on the blog. It’s a series that is starting to get the recognition it deserves (it was always rated highly – I just encountered a lot of bloggers who hadn’t read/reviewed yet). Having read the first two books, the final instalment, The Poison Song promises to be an all out action packed war. This series has war beasts, witches, giant intelligent bats, a tree God and a mysterious alien race (amongst so much more).
Eidyn – Justin Lee Anderson
The Lost War is awesome. I was fortunate enough to interview Justin Lee Anderson which you can read here if you wish! A really stunning debut, I’m impatiently waiting for book two of the trilogy. I did buy the ebook but I believe it is now on Kindle Unlimited too! Being one of my favourite books (and if you’ve been following my twitter account, I’ve been recommending this book pretty constantly since I read it) – I may wait ’til the trilogy is done and try and cheekily ask Justin if there’s a possibility of buying signed copies of the books! Read my review for why you need to read The Lost War (hint: a clever plot, interesting characters you care about and great worldbuilding, with plenty of Scottish influences!)
Binti – Nnedi Okorafor
Binti was a fun, short read. Especially due to the fact the movie rights have been bought, I’m eager to finish the trilogy. I also thought there were a couple of negatives about the first book largely as a result of the limited scope and am hoping the sequels expand on this! Due to the length of the novellas, I need to read all three before I can make a conclusive opinion on the story as a whole.
The Wildfire Cycle – D P Woolliscroft
Unlike Eidyn, which has one book currently published, this self published series has three. Well, two books and a ‘1.5’ – Tales of Kingshold which is a collection of short stories to bridge the gap between Kingshold and Ioth, City of Lights. Kingshold was such an enjoyable read. Being labelled a political fantasy by some does the book a disservice in my view; it could give the impression that the story could be a bit dry, when it’s the exact opposite. There’s a rich array of characters, fantasy creatures and novel elements that make this really fun and I’m really excited to read book two (I mean 1.5!)
The Kingkiller Chronicles – Patrick Rothfuss
I read the Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear before I started reviewing properly so I don’t have one to link to – I’m kind of glad I didn’t need to write a review because I can’t really describe why exactly I enjoyed these books so much. I’ll try though: the writing style is just so satisfying and I really enjoyed the magic system and overall world as a whole. I did struggle with Kvothe’s ‘lost in the woods’ chapters in The Wise Man’s Fear, but there are too many fantastic elements and expert storytelling not to want to buy book three immediately on release. Both books are relatively big but seemed to take no time at all, they never felt like a slog (except the mentioned chapters) – like ASOIAF though, this is a series fans have been waiting a while for the next book!
The Reborn Empire – Devin Madson
One of my most recent (and favourite) reads, if I remember correctly this will eventually become a SEVEN book series! This was my first Asian-inspired fantasy read and it was top notch in every respect, so especially if you’re looking for a fantasy that isn’t largely influenced by European history, this would be a great place to start! In terms of political twists and turns, it felt very reminiscent of A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, which is certainly high praise from my point of view.
The First Law – Joe Abercrombie
One of the first series on many fantasy recommendations, although it’s important to sometimes forego these lists and make an effort to read diversely, there’s a reason Joe Abercrombie is widely recommended. The Blade Itself is page-turning fantasy that really excels in keeping you enthralled in a character driven novel. This might not always be the case with more character-driven stories which can take a while to get going. The fact that Abercrombie has made thousands of fans feel sympathy for a cynical torturer of the Inquisition is a feat by itself, but the world he builds in this book even without the characters is a joy. I’ve heard it said many times to view the first law as one story split into three books, and I’m inclined to agree this may be the best way to view it – nothing has really happened so far yet it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. Read my review for more, or better yet buy the book, it’s excellent.
Dragonslayer – Duncan M Hamilton
Dragonslayer is a book I was really grateful to discover. I was in the mood for a tradition fantasy tale, it didn’t have to be 100% unique or different. I wanted good old fashioned ‘warrior goes on a quest to slay a dragon.’ I do enjoy looking for deeper meanings and metaphors for aspects of our own society and all that sort of stuff, but being mentally drained from a number of factors outside of reading, I really appreciated an exciting page-turner that almost felt like a “back to basics” read. That doesn’t mean it was simple or completely unoriginal, but the story knows what it is and doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. It was great to get POV chapters from the dragon’s perspective, and the foundations are in place for a much more expansive story in the other two books of the trilogy. Although I mention plenty of things I liked about the book in my review, it’s just one of those that at the end of the day, really just made me feel good about reading and excited to set time aside to come back to.
The Riven Realm – Deck Matthews
I was a little humbled by how much I enjoyed The First of Shadows by Deck Matthews. This will sound negative from someone who likes to support self published authors, but there are literally thousands to choose from, and when you only have limited time, you want to try and make it worth your while. Unfortunately, if I’m being brutally honest a significant proportion of these need a lot of polish, or are just generally lacking in the core components that make up a great fantasy story. That isn’t to say those authors don’t have the potential to achieve great things in future. It may seem like most of my reviews are positive but that’s because I start/don’t finish some books and so don’t review. I feel a little too mean to ever give a SP author a 1 or 2 star, unless there’s something fundamentally awful or disturbing about the work, nor do I give a rating to a book I haven’t read all the way through.
Anyway! When I was alerted to Deck Matthews’ work, I didn’t know what to expect. Was this just another indie author pushing their rushed and unedited work on twitter? There weren’t many reviews to go on. The First of Shadows is novella length, and I read it on my kindle unlimited account, so there was none of the pressure a review request brings. I’d give it a chance, if it didn’t grab me I could stop reading; if it was pretty average then it was only under 200 pages. The more I read, the more guilt I felt. I just kept thinking, this book is really good! Completely polished, the lore and the world building really expansive even within a short page count, great characters and an intriguing plot beneath it all. It’s rare to read something and not be able to even think of an aspect to pick fault with and I really passionately believe The Riven Realm series needs some serious attention from bloggers (and other readers) because it’s really well thought out and really professionally written.
I was thrilled to be able to interview Deck Matthews, in which we spoke a little about the struggles of being an indie author and his plan for the Riven Realm series. You can read it here. He spoke about wanting to almost create an episodic feel to the books, like a TV series. I can’t wait to
watch read episode two!
This rounds up the list. Are you part way through any of these series? Do you have a series or book that you’re excited to read the next one of? Do you agree/disagree with my picks? As always feel free to discuss in the comments or @ me on twitter. Thanks for reading.