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Like many nerds and geeks out there I read a lot.  Well, I read more than most really, I average about six books a month.  I love finding new authors and series to read.  My big pet peeve is finding a great new author or series, then waiting a year for the next book to come out.  Let’s take a look at The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss as an example.  Great book, I loved it.  Published in 2007 and still waiting for the second book in 2011.  Not that Patrick has been doing nothing since . . . I just hate waiting.  So when I thought about putting together a list of some of my favorite series to read I thought there should be some ground rules.

  1. Book series must have at least six books published.
  2. Must be available or in print.
  3. The series was fun to read, who likes to slog through thick worded, stilted books?

With these rules in mind I went through my books looking for those Science fiction and Fantasy series that were fun to read.  Books are regularly picked back up again to re-read.  Books that have been pressed into the unwilling hands of family, friends, and co-workers, only to have them come back later asking for the rest of the series.

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Drenai Series by David Gemmell
The Series:
  • Waylander
  • Waylander II: In the Realm of the Wolf
  • Hero in the Shadows
  • The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend
  • The Legend of Deathwalker
  • White Wolf
  • Legend
  • The King Beyond the Gate
  • Quest for Lost Heroes
  • Winter Warriors
  • The Swords of Night and Day

Gemmell was fantastic at building characters and sucking you into liking that character, then kill said character a couple of chapters later, sometimes even killing the character in the same chapter.  Legend is Gemmell giving his readers a hefty dose of what he does best; namely epic warfare that is soaked in heroism from both sides.  Druss the Legend lives by a code, “Never violate a woman, nor harm a child. Do not lie, cheat or steal. These are things for lesser men. Protect the weak against the evil strong. And never allow thoughts of gain lead you into the pursuit of evil. Never back away from an enemy. Either fight or surrender. It is not enough to say I will not be evil. Evil must be fought wherever it is found.”  Winter Warriors is my favorite of the series and can be enjoyed without reading the others.  The characterizations, pacing, and descriptions are incredible.  Sadly Gemmell passed in 2006.  My hope is that one day Hollywood will take Legend and turn it into the epic movie it deserves.

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The Sten Chronicles by Chris Bunch and Alan Cole

The Series:
  • Sten
  • The Wolf Worlds
  • The Court of a Thousand Suns
  • Fleet of the Damned
  • Revenge of the Damned
  • The Return of the Emperor
  • Vortex
  • Empire’s End

Sten goes from orphaned space miner/industry worker to Imperial soldier to revolutionary during a wonderful ride, Chris Bunch and Alan Cole really deliver the goods with this series.  This is military-space-saga at it’s best.  It’s not about the big ships or the crazy weapons, although there’s plenty of both, it’s about the men and women using them.  That is what takes this series to the next level for me.  Most other series develop the main characters and go through long drawn out descriptions of ships, weapons, and maneuvers while ignoring the very people that make those happen.  Bonus Nerdbastard points for the person that can tell me the “Spotted Snakes” joke in the comments section below.

BlackCompany

The Black Company: Books of the North by Glen Cook
The Series:
  • The Black Company
  • Shadows Linger
  • The White Rose
  • The Silver Spike
  • Shadow Games
  • Dreams of Steel
  • Bleak Seasons
  • She is the Darkness
  • Water Sleeps
  • Soldiers Live

Glen Cook paints a dark and gritty world with little forgiveness or compassion. The Black Company is a mercenary band at the end of a long road, battered, reduced in numbers and forced to take on new recruits. The Series is full of dark magic, feuds and unforgotten hates, tricks and backstabbing. In other words, the series is great fun. You’ll have trouble figuring out which side is worse, The Black Company or those they fight against and fight for. The names in the series are great, Croakers – the medic, Silent – the non speaking magician, Soulcatcher – one of the Taken, evil wizards controlled by The Lady – Ruler of the Empire. You’ll love all the infighting and doubling dealing.

MidshipmansHope

Seafort Saga by David Feintuch

The Series:

  • Midshipman’s Hope
  • Challenger’s Hope
  • Prisoner’s Hope
  • Fisherman’s Hope
  • Voices of Hope
  • Patriarch’s Hope
  • Children of Hope

Upcoming books in the Series:

Galahad’s Hope (Not yet Published) Shortly before his death, the author announced on his website that an eighth book had been completed and was in the publication stage; its current status is unknown.

Feintuch had a habit of creating characters that are at the same time likable and flawed. They’re usually doing the best they can in the situation, but they’re massively flawed — and all the more endearing for that. Nicholas Seafort develops into a character with an unusually strict moral code. Set in the 22nd century, the Saga is spread over 7 books (and one more in the works) following Seafort from Midshipman to the leader of Earth, usually stuck making horrible no-win situation decisions along the way. The original four novels are probably the strongest, but it’s an incredible body of work, and intriguing in its world building.  I had the most trouble with Voices of Hope because of the “modern slang” style the book is written in, once your past that it’s good stuff.

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Time Wars by Simon Hawke

The Series:
  • The Ivanhoe Gambit
  • The Timekeeper Conspiracy
  • The Pimpernel Plot
  • The Zenda Vendetta
  • The Nautilus Sanction
  • The Khyber Connection
  • The Argonaut Affair
  • The Dracula Caper
  • The Lilliput Legion
  • The Hellfire Rebellion
  • The Cleopatra Crisis
  • The Six-Gun Solution

Born Nicholas Valentin Yermakov, he began writing as Simon Hawke in 1984 and later changed his legal name to Hawke.  This series is lots of fun.  Imagine the wars of the future determined by fighting in the wars of the past.  Then things get complicated and special temporal soldiers have to go back and fix things, or live with the changes brought about by terrorist time travelers.  In the world of the series, many people and events we consider fictional are historical, and vice versa; the action of each book in the series weaves in and out of the events of famous works of literature. In the first book in the series, time travellers contesting the fate of Richard I of England become caught up in Walter Scott’s book Ivanhoe.

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The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold

The Series:
  • Shards of Honor
  • Barrayar
  • The Warrior’s Apprentice
  • Ethan of Athos
  • Falling Free
  • Brothers in Arms
  • Borders of Infinity
  • The Vor Game
  • Mirror Dance
  • Cetaganda
  • Memory
  • Komarr
  • A Civil Campaign
  • Diplomatic Immunity
  • “Winterfair Gifts” (February 2004, in the anthology Irresistible Forces, Catherine Asaro, editor)
  • CryoBurn (October 2010)

This is a great series of books, that can be read multiple times with the same level of enjoyment as a first read.  Bujold has a smooth style of writing, you’ll blow through these books like a hot knife through butter.  Most, though not all, of the stories revolve around Miles Vorkosigan, an aristocrat from the planet Barrayar who is born with major physical disabilities, the result of a failed assassination attempt aimed at his parents.  Barrayar is a planet caught in the middle of change from a feudal to galactic monarchy.  Throw in the manic antics of Miles and you have some great stuff. Honor, dignity, and fealty run through these stories, linking the characters in surprising ways.  You’ll have a lump in your throat when loyalty and love are tested in these books.

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Ender’s Saga by Orson Scott Card

The Series:
    • Ender’s Game

 

  • Speaker for the Dead
  • Xenocide
  • Children of the Mind
  • Ender’s Shadow
  • Shadow of the Hegemon
  • Shadow Puppets
  • First Meetings
  • Shadow of the Giant
  • A War of Gifts
  • Ender in Exile (Reveals plot elements of Shadow Puppets and Shadow of the Giant.)

Upcoming books in the Series:

Shadows in Flight

Like Orson Scott Cards politics or not, the man can write some good books.  Ender’s Game is a classic.  Anyone that can read these books and not feel for these kids is one stone hearted bastard.  The series is set in a future where mankind is facing annihilation by an aggressive alien society, an insect-like race known colloquially as “Buggers” but more formally as “Formics.” The central character, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, is one of many brilliant child soldiers trained at Battle School (and eventually Command School) to be the future leaders of the protection of Earth.  I had a lot of trouble with Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide but Ender’s Shadow brought back that original style that I liked so much in Ender’s Game.

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Honor Harrington Saga by David Weber

The Series:
  • On Basilisk Station
  • The Honor of the Queen
  • The Short Victorious War
  • Field of Dishonor
  • Flag in Exile
  • Honor Among Enemies
  • In Enemy Hands
  • Echoes of Honor
  • Ashes of Victory
  • War of Honor
  • At All Costs
  • Mission of Honor

Upcoming books in the Series:

A Rising Thunder

Think Horatio Hornblower in space.  Honor Harrington is an officer in the space navy of the Star Kingdom of Manticore.  Harrington bears a striking professional resemblance to both real life British naval officer Admiral Lord Nelson and the fictional character Horatio Hornblower.  Like Nelson, she loses an eye and an arm in combat (her eye in “Honor of the Queen” and her arm in “In Enemy Hands”); her initials are the same as Hornblower’s, and like both officers, she has a genius for tactical command throughout the series and becomes a living legend by using those skills in several major engagements.  By the tenth main-line novel (Ashes of Victory) Honor has emerged as a strategist of note as well, and has been promoted to the rank of Admiral in both the Manticoran and Grayson space navies. Author David Weber confirms both the comparison of Honor to Lord Nelson and widespread reports that he had originally planned on having Honor die in the Battle of Manticore, as “like Nelson, Honor had been supposed to fall in battle at the moment of victory in the climactic battle which saved the Star Kingdom of Manticore and ratified her as the Royal Manticoran Navy’s greatest heroine”. However both fan interest has prompted Weber to keep Honor alive, although he also noted that this decision is not necessarily permanent.

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The Farseer Saga by Robin Hobb

The Series:
  • Assassins Apprentice
  • Royal Assassin
  • Assassins Quest
  • Fool’s Errand
  • Golden Fool
  • Fool’s Fate

This series just made the six book rule, yes, there are three more books set in the same world, but they are not about FitzChivalry Farseer.  Robin Hobb is the second pen name of novelist Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden.  From 1983 to 1992, she wrote exclusively under the pseudonym Megan Lindholm. Fiction under that pseudonym tends to be contemporary fantasy. In 1995, she began use of the pseudonym Robin Hobb for works of epic traditional European Medieval Fantasy.  The Farseer Saga follows the life of FitzChivalry Farseer (Fitz), a trained assassin, in a kingdom called The Six Duchies while his uncle, Prince Verity, attempts to wage war on the Red-Ship Raiders from The Outslands who are attacking the shores of the kingdom by turning the people of the Six Duchies into Forged ones; a form of zombification which makes them emotionless husks. Meanwhile younger Prince Regal’s jealousy and the indulgence of his own selfish whims threatens to destroy Six Duchies.  Growing up the bastard son of a disgraced prince of the realm isn’t easy.

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The Vlad Taltos Saga by Steven Brust

The Series:
  • Jhereg
  • Yendi
  • Teckla
  • Taltos
  • Phoenix
  • Athyra
  • Orca
  • Dragon
  • Issola
  • Dzur
  • Jhegaala
  • Iorich

Upcoming books in the Series:

Tiassa

The humor, action, and story telling of the Vlad Series delivers a satisfying read.  Brust has written twelve novels in the series, which is proposed to run to nineteen novels — one named for each of the Great Houses of Dragaera, one named for Vlad himself, and a final novel which Brust has said will be titled The Last Contract.  There is variation in the writing style amongst the Taltos novels, Brust uses a different narrative approach in almost every novel in the series. Some of these approaches are more purely stylistic and have minor effects on the actual story-telling; some are profound and involve the point of view of characters whom the reader never expected to get to know so well.  One book is drafted by the list of things Vlad must do that day, another is told through the different courses of a dinner.  Sword and sorcery tales reach a new level with Brust’s style of story telling.

Well, that’s the list.  There are a lot of series out there that didn’t get included.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like them or think their crap, well maybe not all of them are crap.  So if you have a problem with the list, let us know in the comments below.  I would love to hear any suggestions for series I didn’t list.  Who knows, maybe I’ll have something new to read after checking out your comments.


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