I am one of those readers who is reluctant to start reading unfinished book series, just because I hate having to wait to read the whole thing. But I end up reading my share of series in progress anyway, usually because I’ve heard good things about them from reliable sources.
So here are five series that I am reading whose next entries can’t come fast enough. For the purposes of this post, I’m only looking at novels–I don’t think I could choose just five if I had to figure in manga and other sequential art as well!
- Elemental Logic Series by Laurie J. Marks (Fire Logic; Earth Logic; Water Logic; and Air Logic, which is forthcoming)
This series tells the story of Shaftal–a land invaded a generation ago by exiles from Sainna and now virtually conquered–through the eyes of several characters, including an outsider from a neighboring culture, a soldier-scholar, a metalsmith, a seer, a general, and a cook. It offers the high stakes of traditional fantasy epics, but resists the easy answers about war that those epics so often provide. Marks does an excellent job of making all of the point-of-view characters compelling, and each book in the series offers moments of revelation where several threads of the narrative come together and all you can do as a reader is go, “Oh!”
- The Steerswoman books by Rosemary Kirstein (The Steerswoman; The Outskirter’s Secret; The Lost Steersman; The Language of Power; next book as yet TBA)
A lot of libraries and bookstores mistakenly categorize these as fantasy novels, but they’re really science fiction novels and very smart ones at that. The first book starts a bit slowly, but once the series finds its feet, it offers some really intelligent and original worldbuilding. Best of all, at the heart of this series is a truly memorable female friendship, between the steerswoman Rowan and the outskirter Bel, something that’s all too rare in fiction. (Note: The Steerswoman and The Outskirter’s Secret have been published together in the collection The Steerswoman’s Road.)
- The Arthurian/Aksum books by Elizabeth Wein (The Winter Prince; A Coalition of Lions; The Sunbird; The Lion Hunter; The Empty Kingdom; next book as yet TBA)
Okay, here I cheat, because I’m not really sure if more books are planned in this series. I hope there are, as there seems like there’s room for more stories to be told! Anyway, this first book in this YA fantasy sequence is a retelling of the King Arthur legend from Mordred’s point of view, where the traditional legend becomes a tense family drama. In subsequent books, the story moves from Britain to Aksum (modern day Ethiopia), home of Mordred’s son, Telemakos. Telemakos is a very appealing protagonist: quiet but proud, brave in extraordinary circumstances, and always resourceful. I hope Wein decides to tell more stories about him because I, for one, would really like to read them.
- Stars Trilogy by Michaela Roessner (The Stars Dispose; The Stars Compel)
Historical fantasy about Catherine de Medici, told from the perspective of the servants (mostly chefs) of Florence’s most important families. These books have a very interesting premise, mouth-watering descriptions of food, and great descriptions of art and craft. Sadly, it seems likely that this series will never be completed. References on the author’s web site suggest that at third book was planned, but it’s been nine years since The Stars Compel was published; also, I think the first two books are out of print. The only possible response to this situation is, well, woe. I’ll keep my fingers crossed, I guess.
- The Melusine books by Sarah Monette (Melusine; The Virtu; The Mirador; and Corambis, coming in 2009)
A dark, lush fantasy series about a wizard and a thief caught up in a web of very complicated politics. Its chief charms are Monette’s prose (her mastery of narrative voice is amazing) and the appeal of certain key characters. That said, though I am very fond of one of the two protagonists, I spend most of my time wanting to smack the other one upside the head, which is a rather frustrating reader experience. But I guess I’m willing to put up with Felix if that means I can have a few more chapters with Mildmay.
Honorable mentions goes to Tobias Buckell’s Nanaganda books, which has steampunk and space pirates. I believe the next book in that series is due out sometime this month.
As always, share your own top five in the comments!