The order of this list suggests no preference, it is simply how the series landed on the paper. They are all wonderful reads.
1. Avalon Series
The 1983 novel by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Mists of Avalon, has been on my “to be read” list for a long while. I am new to this fantasy series, but I have often been drawn to the mysteries of the women in these stories. It is my understanding that it is the women and their actions that are the focus of these stories. It should be noted that the publication order and chronological order are not the same.
Bradley died in 1999 and the series was taken over by Diana L Paxson.
Canadian writer Margaret Atwood is one of my favourite authors. Her Maddaddam trilogy is a satirical dystopian series that begins with Oryx and Crake (2003), followed by The Year of the Flood (2009), and ends with Maddaddam (2013). Atwood has a brilliant way of satirizing humanity. It is cautionary, questioning, and hopeful.
3. The Song of Ice and Fire Series
I couldn’t put this fantasy series down and I read it from book one all the way through to join George R.R Martin’s other fans in an impatient wait for the next book to be written. It is one great story that follows 3 story lines: A power struggle in Westeros, The Night’s Watch, and the rise of a Dragon ruler in Essos.
- A Game of Thrones 1996
- A Clash of Kings 1998
- A Storm of Swords 2000
- A Feast of Crows 2006
- A Dance with Dragons 2011
- The Winds of Winter, was supposed to be released in 2015 but has been pushed back to an unknown release date
- A Dream of Spring is the current working title for book 7
- Will there book 8?
There is a TV series as well, and it is great. I would recommend reading the books first, but I think most bookish folk would make the same recommendation (however, it is not a necessity).
4. The Wheel of Time Series
James Oliver Rigney Jr., who writes under the pen name Robert Jordan, is another wonderful read. I started reading The Wheel of Time Series late last year, and my only regret is that I didn’t read it sooner. It is another high fantasy series that started in 1990 with the publication of The Eye of the World and finished with book 14, A Memory of Light, in 2013. Jordan began writing book 1 in 1984, but this amazing writer died in 2007 while writing what was going to be the 12th and final novel in the series. Brandon Sanderson was brought in to complete the series from Jordan’s notes. Interestingly, the thickness of book 12 did not allow the story to end; book 12 lead into book 13 & 14. Again, these 3 final books were completed from the notes Jordan left behind. I have not finished the series, but am enjoying the read so far. To paint a picture for you, New York Times is quoted on the cover of book 1 saying, “Jordan has come to dominate the world that Tolkien began to reveal.” I say too true!
- The Eye of the World 1990
- The Great Hunt 1990
- The Dragon Reborn 1991
- The Shadow Rising 1992
- The Fires of Heaven 1993
- Lord of Chaos 1994
- A Crown of Swords 1996
- The Path of Daggers 1998
- Winter’s Heart 2000
- Crossroads & Twilight 2003
- A New Spring 2004
- Knife Dreams 2005
- The Gathering Storm 2009
- A Memory of Light 2013
5. Stephanie Plum Series
Although there are a larger number of novels in the series, 23, this is a lighter read then my previous recommendations. The Stephanie Plum Series is written by Janet Evanovich, and it is hilarious. This series is best summed up as follows: A former lingerie consultant has turn bounty hunter. I would describe her as clueless, but determined. There is some romance mixed into the storyline, and there is a great secondary character who is a former hooker turned bounty hunter sidekick.
- One for the Money
- Two for the Dough
- Three to Get Deadly
- Four to Score
- High Five
- Hot Six
- Seven Up
- Hard Eight
- Visions of Sugar Plums (between-the-numbers holiday novella)
- To the Nines
- Ten Big Ones
- Eleven on Top
- Twelve Sharp
- Plum Lovin’ (between-the-numbers holiday novella)
- Lean Mean Thirteen
- Plum Lucky (between-the-numbers holiday novella)
- Fearless Fourteen
- Plum Spooky (between-the-numbers novel)
- Finger Lickin’ Fifteen
- Sizzling Sixteen
- Smokin’ Seventeen
- Explosive Eighteen
- Notorious Nineteen
- Takedown Twenty
- Top Secret Twenty-One
- Tricky Twenty-Two
- Turbo Twenty-Three
There is a movie made from book one, One for the Money. I was a bit disappointed with the movie, but I will leave that to you to decide on your own.
6. The Earth Children Series
In The Earth Children Series book one of six is called Clan of the Cave Bear. This historical fiction series is set in a time period over 30,000 years ago. The story follows the life of a wonderful character, Ayla, in her struggle for survival. It is a story of humankind: love, danger, remarkable challenges, endurance and more. Book two is called Valley of the Horses, followed by The Mammoth Hunters, The Plains of Passage, The Shelters of Stone, and The land of Painted Caves.
There may one day be a book 7 in this series.
7. The Lord of the Ring’s trilogy
J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Ring’s trilogy is a fantasy series written between 1937-1949. For me, I was never a fantasy reader but these books were a game changer. I would recommend reading them before you see the movies because I think you get more from the movies once you have the books as a background. If you just aren’t sure about reading them, start by reading The Hobbit. You will fall in love with the characters and the adventures that unfold around them. It will leave you craving more, and more you will get in The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and Return of the King.
A series list written by me wouldn’t be complete without mention of Diana Gabaldon and the Outlander Series, I love recommending her books. I was not someone who craved series books before I fell in love with these novels. So here is number 8 on this list:
8. Outlander Series
Outlander is set in 2 different time periods, 1946/1743. This series was inspired by the Scottish landscape. It offers great characters, time travel, love, family, relationships, fighting, war, and more.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t usually re-read anything. However, I have just enjoyable re-reading this whole series, and I will actually do it again at some point because there is just so much. I had decided to re-read because I was waiting on Book 8 to come into mass market and wanted to refresh myself on the story. What I discovered beyond refreshment was a love for characters that I hadn’t given as much notice to on the first read and an attention to tinier details that I had hurried past in that first hungry read.
- Outlander 1991
- Dragonfly in Amber 1992
- Voyager 1993
- Drums of Autumn 1996
- The Fiery Cross 2001
- A Breath of Snow and Ashes 2005
- An Echo in the Bone 2009
- Written in my Heart’s Own Blood 2014
Great news, Diana is writing book 9, Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone. It is currently without a release date.
9. Maze Runner Series (Young Adult Science Fiction Adventure)
James Dashner’s Maze Runner Series is set in a dystopian society. It speaks to family, community, group dynamics, authority, structure, rules and sacrifice. I would argue that if you enjoyed The Hunger Games Series, that you will enjoy this series or vice-versa.
- The Maze Runner
- The Scorch Trials
- The Death Cure
- The Kill Order
- The Fever Code
There are movies as well.
10. Hunger Games Trilogy (Young Adult)
- Hunger Games
- Catching Fire
Suzanne Collins trilogy is a wonderful dystopian adventure. The main character is a strong and brave young girl who defies the odds and becomes a heroine. The hunger games, this tradition of kids killing kids, is horrific but speaks to the dangers of abusive power, unjust social hierarchies, and humanities destructive nature. It is another wonderful read.
Again for the movie buffs out there, the movies are great too.
11. Inheritance Cycle (Young Adults)
I would also recommend Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle. This is a set of 4 thick novels. I must confess that I have not yet read the 4th book; I believe it came out in 2011 and I had finished the 3rd some time before. It is on my “to read” list though because I have to see how it all ends. Anyway, this series is another fantasy series. The main characters are a boy and his dragon.
I did not enjoy the movie, but again I will leave it to you to make your own decision. I had expected something of the wonder found in movies like Harry Potter or The Hobbit, but it isn’t in the movie Eragon, or at least it wasn’t for me.
Hope you enjoy some or all of these wonderful reads!
By Shari Marshall – 2017