Whenever I have to write one of these list articles, I’m always stumped. I can never figure out what to write about, but this time I just realised that even though I read a lot, I barely write about books here. So I figured I’d write about some book series I love that I think you should read RIGHT NOW. Or, you know, as soon as you can.
I read a bit of everything, but I tend to gravitate between noir and fantasy/sci-fi most of the time. For this list, I’m going to focus on the latter.
The Expanse by James S.A. Corey
Ok, we have talked a lot about The Expanse here. Mostly through Mary because she’s as obsessed with it as I am. So there isn’t really a point in explaining the overarching plot other than to say it’s the most compelling space opera series I’ve ever read. And when it comes to these things, it’s always better to approach them knowing very little.
A friend recommended it to me a year ago back when the fifth novel, Nemesis Games, was about to come out. I ended up reading the first four novels in a couple of months and now I spend most of my time waiting for the next one to come out.
Book seven, titled Persepolis Rising, will come out this year and the series will finish with its ninth novel in 2019. There are also several short stories set in the same universe, and when they have a considerable number of them they will collect them in a book. Meanwhile, they’re available as Kindle Singles. And the TV series has a third season confirmed, so it’s a good time to pick it up.
Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (the authors behind the James S.A. Corey name) have created a series that will stay with me forever. The crew of the Rocinante are some of my favourite characters and I’m not sure how I’ll cope when the series is over.
Temeraire by Naomi Novik
This series is interesting because it’s a hybrid of alternate history and fantasy. It’s set during the Napoleonic wars, but with dragons!
The series begins when Captain William Laurence and his ship seizing a French ship carrying a dragon egg of an unknown type. When the egg hatches, Laurence ends up becoming his companion and calls him Temeraire. This ends up prompting his move from the Navy to the Aerial Corps which causes several clashes, especially because people don’t find the Aerial Corps reputable.
While I’ve only read the first two novels (out of nine), I liked them quite a lot. The idea of a world that’s pretty much the same, except with dragons (who talk!) is cool. Especially because the concept of aerial warfare in the 19th Century sounds intriguing.
At some point I will go back to this series, I just have lots of piles of books to read before I get there.
The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone
This one is also a hybrid; it’s a fantasy novel set in the modern world, but with magic. And gods. And a lot more of other stuff.
The person who recommended this series to me said “The first novel starts when this guy realizes his God is dead because he isn’t answering his prayers” and that sold me so I bought the first novel in the series Three Parts Dead.
I found something I never expected; a cross between a lawyer thriller and a fantasy novel. It’s a strange mix but it works quite well. The series has five novels for now (a sixth will be published this year). These novels are pretty much stand-alone but they follow a chronology of sorts, though they were published in a different order. This eschewed chronology makes the world even more interesting.
There are also two text games set in this universe; Choice of the Deathless and Deathless: The City’s Thirst.
Takeshi Kovacs Trilogy by Richard Morgan
This series is set in the 26th Century, where technology has evolved to the point that people can store their consciousness in a cortical implant (called ‘stack’).This essentially means that people can download their consciousness into new bodies (called ‘sleeves’ in the books).
The novels follow a man called Takeshi Kovacs, a former Envoy from a planet called Harlan’s World. Envoys are a special branch of UN soldiers who are trained to be, essentially, killing machines. They can adapt to new sleeves with ease, control their emotions really well and other similar stuff. In the first novel, Broken Angels, Takeshi is working as a mercenary after leaving the envoys. He gets imprisoned (prison for people with stacks is just being put in cold storage without a body, so to speak) until he’s downloaded into a new body to investigate why a man tried to kill himself. This novel is essentially a cyberpunk noir novel, which combines two of my favourite things.
After Broken Angels, Morgan wrote two more novels with Kovacs as a protagonist, but he has no plans for more Takeshi Kovacs novels. However, Netflix is making an adaptation of Altered Carbon that’s supposed to premiere this year. Woo!
Parable Series by Octavia E. Butler
This series is made out of two novels, Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. There were plans for a third, but Octavia Butler got a bad case of writer’s block so she gave up on it, wrote a final novel, and died shortly afterwards.
This series is set in a not too distant future where society has mostly collapsed. The novels follow Lauren Oya Olamina as she attempts to survive in what is a dog-eat-dog world taken to the extreme. If things weren’t already complicated enough, it’s even worse for her because she has hyperempathy (she feels the pain and sensations of others as if they were her own) and she’s also developing her own religion, which she calls Earthseed. Earthseed is based mostly on two tenets, that God is Change and that the destiny of Earthseed is to take roots among the stars.
This description doesn’t do the series justice, but that’s because Octavia Butler was a terrific writer.
That’s pretty much it for now. Have you read any of these series? What are your favourite book series that you’ve got into recently? Let us know in the comments.
Angry Spaniard, adoptive Irishman. Writer, reader, tea drinker and video game player/designer.