Fantastic Fantasy Series

This post modified from a version that originally ran in Shelf Awareness for Readers. Reprinted here with permission.



Game of Thrones (book and television show) is on hiatus, which means there's an opportunity to explore new fantasy series while you wait (and wait, and wait, and wait) for the next volume in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series.

I've written before about my long-time love of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, which began with The Eye of the World (1990) and concluded in 2013 with A Memory of Light, written by Brandon Sanderson based on Jordan's notes (Jordan died before completing the series). The series is the definition of epic: 14 volumes, 11,916 pages, 4,410,036 words. Jordan's world-building is grandiose, his characters distinctive, and his magic believable--if sometimes a tad convenient. Readers willing to power through to the final volumes will be rewarded by a story of good vs. evil in a land filled with spellcraft and strange creatures.

Brandon Sanderson has also proved skilled at creating worlds of his own. The Stormlight Archive series began with The Way of Kings in 2010 and continued with Words of Radiance in 2014--the first two in a planned 10-volume series about war, magical weapons, grand battles and more characters than one can possibly track. Buckle in for what promises to be an epic that could rival the worlds of the Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire.

Kameron Hurley kicked off her Worldbreaker Saga this year with The Mirror Empire, a novel that sets an imagined world on the brink of total war, rife with violence and destruction. Hurley shies away from nothing: mixing horror with fantasy, creating a world ruled by women, complicating her world-building with everything from parallel worlds to tenuous and ever-changing alliances. The Mirror Empire requires keen attention, but ultimately proves worth it, and will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next volume.

13 comments

  1. I definitely want to try out Brandon Sanderson. In the meantime, I need to get on with The Wise Man's Fear because I know I'll love it.

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  2. I read the first book of the Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin. It's quite different from other fantasy books in that there isn't an epic battle scene. The battle is more of an interior one. The writing is also quite beautiful, on par with that of The Lord of the Rings.

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  3. You've included books from four of my favourite series! I cannot wait for the next books from Hurley, Martin and Sanderson. While waiting for the next Ice and Fire book, I read the two Stormlight Archive books. I found them very enjoyable. I haven't made it all the way through The Wheel of Time yet, so I'll have to get on that.

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  4. It took me years to get through all of WoT the first time (well, all of it that was published at the time), and three tries to get through the last book--not because it wasn't good (it was great) but because I didn't want it to end!


    Admittedly, it's a long series, and books 7-9 lag a bit, but if you can power through, the final volumes are well worth it.

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  5. I've never read Ursula K. LeGuin, but she's been on my list ever since I first read Among Others and the main character in that book talked about her writing all the time. I keep scanning used bookstores near me to score some of her older works, but may need to scan harder. Or just buy new or check the library...

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  6. I HAVEN'T READ IT YET. What is wrong with me!? I loved The Name of the Wind, but somehow never picked up the second. Maybe I'll add it to my readathon stack.

    Speaking of Rothfuss, did you know he has a novella coming out this fall set in the same world?

    http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780756410438

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  7. I did the same with the fifth Ice and Fire book. I took forever to read it because I didn't want to wait too long between books and because I didn't want to have nothing left to read in the series.

    I am currently on book 6 of the WOT series, so I'll mentally prepare for books 7-9 and push through them. Thanks for the advice.

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  8. I had trouble finding copies of her books as well, but it was well worth the search. I haven't yet read her Earthsea series, but I have read some of the Hainish Cycle.

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  9. I paused on the Ice & Fire series after book 4. I got frustrated with waiting (he can write at whatever speed he wants, but that means I can read at whatever speed I want), and started losing track of characters between volumes, so decided to just wait a bit and then re-start it sometime in a few years.


    Hope you enjoy the second half of the WoT series!

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  10. Glad it's not just me, then. I was starting to think I was just losing my touch. I haven't read Hainish Cycle, either, but also have never been sure where to start, so I'll keep these two top-of-list.

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  11. I need to dive into the Wheel of Time series, I've been so curious about it. I read the first three books in the GOT series before my husband decided I wasn't allowed to read ahead of the TV show anymore. I couldn't help myself, I kept ruining parts of the story for him because I was so excited about what had just happened in the book.

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  12. Wheel of Time is so fun. I've read most of them twice (the exception being the last book, though I did read the first 250 pages three times because I kept starting it, putting it down, and then having to go back and start it again). The middle of the series lags a bit, but it's worth it to push through to the end books.


    If it makes you feel better about GoT, I was firing through them myself and then I got to book 4 and got SO MAD AT IT that I stopped reading. So now I just watch the TV show, which is really incredibly well done, I think.

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