I apologize in advance for how long this post is. I have quite a lot to say about some of these book series!
So, as you may or may not know, I’ve been reading quite a bit lately. In the past few months I’ve gone through nearly two dozen novels (some with a word count of over three hundred thousand). I’d estimate that I’ve been reading over one million words a month this year!
But anyways, instead of posting a review of something I did or did not enjoy, I thought I’d write something useful for a change: I’d give a standard reading list with descriptions of each series, so that you can go and pick out something you’d like if you’re ever left wanting for books. This isn’t really a “Best Epic Fantasy Series” list, because I haven’t really been reading any one genre, and some of the books I’ve read this year I certainly wouldn’t recommend to anyone with my tastes. In short, this is simply a list of my favorite book series. So, lets get started.
1. The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher — Urban Fantasy/Mystery (15/23 Books)
The Dresden Files was one of the first long series I jumped into. When I’m describing it to people, my one sentence summary is that it is essentially ‘Harry Potter for adults and also ‘Who done it’ simultaneously”. It is one of my favorite book series, with fifteen published books (sixteenth on the way!), and if my memory serves it’ll end up being twenty-three books total. I’ve heard from several established authors that when you’re writing first person stories, you can ‘brute force’ your way into writing a good book as long as you have an interesting protagonist, and Harry Dresden fits that bill perfectly. The first two books of the series are pretty rocky (they were the first books Jim Butcher ever published), but if you finish the third without having any interest in moving on you can go ahead and stop. This series has a great urban fantasy universe, and I’ve never had any real issues with anything he’s explained with ‘magic’, which is pretty hard to do for somebody as critical as I am.
2. The Mistborn Trilogies, by Brandon Sanderson — Epic Fantasy (6/13? Books)
A couple things about this one. First, Brandon Sanderson is insane. I’ve said this. He’s written over thirty books in ten years. But at the same time he’s working on a dozen different projects simultaneously. So, if somebody wants to get into his style of writing, I would recommend either The Mistborn Trilogy or The Reckoners series, which I’ve reviewed before. I’ll write about that next. So, Sanderson has this universe that he’s working on, called The Cosmere. It has about a dozen different worlds and each are distinctly different (and surprisingly independent!) book series. When explaining it to people I liken it to The Avengers movies, where there is a bunch of individual movies that all tie together in The Avengers. The Cosmere has a series like that too, but that’s for another day. So Mistborn is a great way to get your feet wet in the universe and the general happenings of what he’s doing without drowning in too many character names, wars, and cosmic beings from the beginning. What’s more, Mistborn is actually going to eventually be four different series, each taking place in different eras on the same world. The first is sword and sorcery, the second is sort of wild-west/big city 1930’s, the third will be 1980’s, and the fourth will be a space opera. Only the first two series have been published (the second series having its fourth and last book scheduled for a 2018 release).
3. The Reckoners series, by Brandon Sanderson — Post-apocalyptic Fantasy (3 Books)
This series is a great way to get a dose of Sanderson without entering the Cosmere. The Reckoners books have no attachment to any other books he’s written, but they’re amazing nonetheless. It is essentially a trilogy that considers the question: “What if super powers really did exist, but everybody that had them was evil?” In the comics its always superhero battling super villain, each with powers that make for a virtual battle of the gods. The main characters in the adventure are at a severe disadvantage in that they have no super powers, but it is their job to take down people that do. It’s a great premise, and Sanderson is able to tackle it in a way that feels quite fresh. If you want to know more go check out the review I posted on Steelheart, the first book, a few weeks back.
4. John Cleaver series, by Dan Wells — Thriller/Horror (5/6? Books)
These books are not my usual cup of tea. It is about a sociopath that is, essentially, hunting serial killers. It’s a lot like the anime Death Note and the series Dexter, though I’ve only seen Death Note. I’ve also done a recent review on this, but since then I’ve read the fourth book, which has totally revitalized my love for the series. It is great because using first person in a story is usually used as a device to attach you to the main character and make it more relatable, but in this series, since John has virtually no emotion, its used as a device to detach you from everything. You can’t identify with the main character because he has violent tendencies, yet he’s trying to help people anyway. But beyond that, once you get more in depth with the series, you realize there’s an element of fantasy working as well, and Dan Wells uses this to steer the story into a direction that is easier to keep the reader guessing as to what will happen next.
5. Codex Alera, by Jim Butcher — Epic Fantasy (6 Books)
This series is essentially what got me into reading, because it was the first series I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s a great series that paces very well from small battles to great wars, and is one of my favorite “magic systems” in any series, though I wouldn’t really refer to furycrafting as magic, using my personal definitions. The premise is that the main character is, for some odd reason, the only one of his people that has no ‘magic’ whatsoever, which obviously puts him at an immediate disadvantage. So he compensates for this by becoming the best at everything else, like intelligence. He has to use wit to survive in this world where everybody else was given more than he was, and it the events in the series play out very naturally.
Other recommended series —
6. Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan (and Brandon Sanderson) — Epic Fantasy (14 Books)
Since I’ve only finished the first three so far I can’t quite say a whole lot about it, but its a great series for throwing yourself into a very realistic universe that defines the ‘epic’ aspect of the epic fantasy genre.
7. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien — Epic Fantasy (4 Books)
I mean. Duh.
Regarding Young Adult —
8. Pendragon series, by D.J. MacHale — Sci-fi/Fantasy (10 Books)
Great book series for young kids that love to read. It has my favorite plot twist in any book series I’ve ever read. (I think it happens in Book Eight)
9. Bartimaeus trilogy, by Jonathon Stroud — Urban Fantasy (4 Books)
Almost modern day London with magic and demons. That’s pretty much it. Main character is a sarcastic demon, it’s pretty great.