I was a tad pressed for time this week, so here’s another top 10 list. This time the subject is my 10 favorite book series! These selections exclude nonfiction, short stories, picture or poetry books, sagas, etc. (The numbers in parentheses indicate how many novel-length books are in each series. All book titles are listed below with my favorite asterisked.) For once, they are in order.
10) Inheritance Cycle (4) by Christopher Paolini
I have mixed feelings about this one. It took me four attempts in as many years to get through the whole thing, and that was without starting over from the beginning! It took a great deal of perseverance to finish the first two books (he supposedly wrote them starting at 15 and I can believe it–it looks like my writing when I was that age!). However, the third was not bad, and the fourth was admittedly excellent. It left some loose threads, but that’s typical in this genre–always got to keep that back door open, just in case!
Eragon; Eldest; Brisingr; Inheritance*
9) Wolves of the Beyond (6) by Kathryn Lasky
If she’d stopped sooner, it would rank higher. I really liked the new dynamic of this book series taking place in the same world as Guardians of Ga’Hoole, yet not relying too heavily on name-dropping or referencing the other series as some authors would do. The first three stories were really great and compelling, but it started to take a bizarre, almost sci-fi turn with the latter three that was a little hard to follow at times.
Lone Wolf; Shadow Wolf; Watch Wolf*; Frost Wolf; Spirit Wolf; Star Wolf
8) The Animals of Farthing Wood (8) by Colin Dann
A neat little gem I discovered, again, through Redwall. It’s not really the same, in that it follows ‘real’ animals living like animals. I have yet to meet another person here in the U. S. who’s heard of it, but it really is neat if you’re into allegorical plots like Watership Down. The concept of a diverse band of animals (herbivores and carnivores) travelling together to work toward a common goal is a tad bizarre, but makes for interesting storytelling once you get past that point: It is fantasy lit, after all.
The Animals of Farthing Wood*; In the Grip of Winter; Fox’s Feud; The Fox Cub Bold; Siege of White Deer Park; In the Path of the Storm; The Battle for the Park; The Adventure Begins
7) Age of Fire (6) by E. E. Knight
My first foray into the world of dragon literature, and a pretty good one. A heavy LOTR influence is present, but that doesn’t stop it from being highly original. For one thing, I really like the dark tone the whole series maintains throughout. Between all the plot twists, you never can tell if things are going to work out favorably or not until the last moment. I also find its approach of telling three separate stories that meld together into one at the end a very neat plot device. Only with the ending volume did I feel a tad disappointed.
Dragon Champion*; Dragon Avenger; Dragon Outcast; Dragon Strike; Dragon Rule; Dragon Fate
6) The Chronicles of Narnia (7) by C. S. Lewis
Another great name in the genre, and again with good reason. True, most folks nowadays probably know of it because of Disney, but if it hadn’t been a big deal before that, Disney would have never picked it up. The blend of human interaction with anthropomorphic creatures (both real and mythical) with a not-so-subtle Biblical overtone forms an interesting niche in the genre.
The Magician’s Nephew; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Horse and His Boy; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader*; The Silver Chair; The Last Battle
5) Guardians of Ga’Hoole (16) by Kathryn Lasky
The first book series I ever read, and the reason I bothered to read all the rest. I admit, the idea of owls caught up in Medieval warfare is a little outlandish at first. But it was enough for me, at 10 years old, to want to try it out. And I was not disappointed! Again, if she’d stopped sooner, it might rank higher. It was originally supposed to be 6 books, and those first 6 are still excellent. The legends (books 9, 10, & 11) were also a neat idea. But Lasky once more began to roam into the realm of bizarre, almost sci-fi plots from 12 onward that really didn’t have the same inspiration, and that’s why it doesn’t rank higher on the list.
The Capture; The Journey; The Rescue; The Siege; The Shattering; The Burning*; The Hatchling; The Outcast; The First Collier; The Coming of Hoole; To Be a King; The Golden Tree; The River of Wind; Exile!; The War of the Ember; The Rise of a Legend
4) The Lord of the Rings (3) by J. R. R. Tolkien
The fantasy series that started it all. I don’t know if there’s an author on this list besides Dumas who didn’t read Tolkien’s masterpiece and draw at least some inspiration from it. The film renditions are gems unto themselves (especially the extended editions), but as usual, the books (originally written as one single volume) beat all.
The Fellowship of the Ring; The Two Towers*; The Return of the King
3) The D’Artagnan Romances (5) by Alexandre Dumas
A series that I reckon many don’t know is a series. The Three Musketeers is where it starts and The Man in the Iron Mask is where it ends. But most have probably never heard of Twenty Years After, Le Vicomte de Bragelonne, or Louise de la Vallière that take place in between because no one has seen fit to make major screen adaptations of them (the 1989 Return of the Musketeers is about the only one I know of in English, and it’s not great). Admittedly, they are very literary in style, and can at times seem very lengthy with the endless intrigues and relationship issues. But hey: They are romances, after all (though the musketeers themselves do not always play a big part in them). And if I could get through them all at age 17 (no, they were not assigned reading at school), then so can you!
The Three Musketeers*; Twenty Years After; Ten Years Later (consisting of Le Vicomte de Bragelonne; Louise de la Vallière; The Man in the Iron Mask)
2) Redwall (22) by Brian Jacques
The most epic saga in the annals of Furry literature, I dare say this is the series that set the precedent and even inspired many more recent books in the genre. From its first eponymous volume about the simple novice mouse at the peaceful abbey who discovers his destiny as a warrior to the rather spectacular finale in The Rogue Crew, this series never ceases to deliver on the action or wonder. And given how many novels there are, one can make the enjoyment last a very long time.
Redwall; Mossflower; Mattimeo; Mariel of Redwall; Salamandastron; Martin the Warrior*; The Bellmaker; Outcast of Redwall; Pearls of Lutra; The Long Patrol; Marlfox; The Legend of Luke; Lord Brocktree; (The) Taggerung; Triss; Loamhedge; Rakkety Tam; High Rhulain; Eulalia!; Doomwyte; The Sable Quean; The Rogue Crew
1) The Mistmantle Chronicles (5) by M. I. McAllister
This series about a young squirrel named Urchin wins out by a hair’s breadth for several reasons. For one, it follows a continuous storyline with the same main characters throughout, enabling the reader to connect more with their world and personal problems. While there is action in it, there is also plenty of contemplation and intrigue, which I think adds depth to the plot. On a more personal note, it subtly advocates what’s called a ‘Christian worldview’–a rare thing in contemporary YA fantasy. I highly recommend it to any fans of Redwall. Not for comparison: just for something different.
Urchin of the Riding Stars*; Urchin and the Heartstone; The Heir of Mistmantle; Urchin and the Raven War; Urchin and the Rage Tide
There you are, folks! Which series do you like best? Are there any you would include on your list that I haven’t on mine? Feel free to share your thoughts or lists with me down below, or else via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next Monday…