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Monday, September 23, 2019

Epic reads: 5 potent sci-fi and fantasy series

Do you know what’s better than walking face-first into a spiderweb and having the resident spider cling to your nose—as happened to me this morning? Reading a loooong book series! (And, really, most other things.)

From Sir Terry Pratchett’s famous Discworld series (20+ books!) to Robert Bennett Jackson’s Divine Cities trilogy, here are five sci-fi and fantasy series you’ll be happy to sink your teeth into.

Discworld by Terry Pratchett

If you’ve only heard Sir Terry Pratchett’s name but never got around to reading him, why wait any longer? Viewers of this year’s TV adaptation of Good Omens got to see his humorous handiwork on the little screen (along with Neil Gaiman's), but readers of his Discworld books are in for a real treat. Witches, Death, the City Watch, and wizards run amok while Pratchett lampoons them and, by extension, us. Get ready to giggle even as Pratchett sucks you into a series spanning dozens and dozens of books.

Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs

Shapeshifter Mercy Thompson isn’t a werewolf, though she was raised by them. Always on the outside of the pack, and often preferring it that way, Thompson runs a mechanics shop when she’s not helping other paranormal people with their problems. And, man, they have a lot of problems. While urban fantasy series with kickass heroines have come and gone, Thompson has stayed strong through a dozen books (helped no doubt by her amazing abs showcased on 7 of the 12 covers; happily, her face is the focus of the last few books). Briggs' books are a good match for readers of Ilona Andrews, Faith Hunter, and Jim Butcher. Start with Moon Called.

The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker

One of Lindsay Buroker’s strengths is her charismatic, scounderly characters. This nine-book fantasy series stars former Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon and her band of outlaws, who settle justice in their own fashion even as Amaranthe keeps trying to get back into the emperor’s good graces. Assassin Sicarius—sometimes helpful, sometimes deadly—keeps Amaranthe on her toes just as much as she keeps him on his. Lots of action plus hefty doses of humor have made this series a crowd-pleaser, winning high customer ratings.

The Divine Cities by Robert Jackson Bennett

Bennett’s magnificent, hard-hitting fantasy books mix divinity, magic, spying, and politics into a combustible storytelling epic. I hate when people describe stories as “smart fantasy,” but really, that’s what this is. Bennett trusts the reader to keep up as his unspools his strange, kind-of-like-ours world, even as his own characters are running like hell to get ahead of the various dooms that dog their steps. Pick these up. You’ll be glad your reading life includes them.

Forgotten Colony by M.R. Forbes

The only straight-up sci-fi series on this list, Forbes’ Forgotten Colony books deliver military action and blistering pacing as humanity flees an alien-held Earth. Former Marine Raider Caleb is one of the last to board the ark departing Earth, but unfortunately for Caleb, the battle hasn’t been left behind. Because something else is on the ship…. Alien meets Battlestar Galactica in the first book, and the series keeps the action hot all the way through. Start with Deliverance.

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