Top 5 Friday | Favourite Fantasy Trilogies

They say bad things come in threes, but some novels are proof that very good things can as well. Book trilogies are quite commonplace these days, especially in fantasy. It seems like a three-book arc is simply what’s needed to cover the scope of world-building and character development. Yet, this is not always the case… sometimes they can suffer from ‘Middle Book Syndrome’, which means the second book has no real story of its own and merely serves as a link between the first book and the last.

Well, here are my top 5, which I believe are solid gold the whole way through…

tawny-man-trilogy-new

THE TAWNY MAN

AUTHOR: Robin Hobb

GENRE: Adult Fantasy

PLOT: Years have passed since Fitz was tortured by Prince Regal. Now he lives in self-imposed exile far from the court. Even his beloved Molly believes him dead. It is safer that way. But safety remains an illusion. Even though war is over dangerous undercurrents still swirl around the Six Duchies and suddenly young Prince Dutiful disappears just before his crucial diplomatic wedding to shore up the peace. The Fools brings Fitz a secret mission. He and his bonded companion, the wolf Nighteyes, must find Dutiful and bring him back to be wed. For if the Outislanders are snubbed, war will surely resume. But what if the prince does not wish to be found?

VERDICT: Obviously, you’ll need to read the Assassin’s Trilogy before you sink your teeth into this one. But once you have? You’ll bawl like a baby and then beg for more. I’m not kidding – I was in floods at several points through this series. 

ShadesMagic-US

SHADES OF
MAGIC

AUTHOR: V.E. Schwab

GENRE: Adult Fantasy

PLOT: Kell is one of the last Travelers – magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons. There’s Grey London, dirty and crowded and without magic, home to the mad king George III. There’s Red London, where life and magic are revered. Then, White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. But once upon a time, there was Black London…

VERDICT: No matter what London you live in (or even if you don’t live in London at all), you’ll love this series. Unique, sharply written and terribly intense, your book hangover is absolutely guaranteed. The characters are fully formed people you’ll care about, rant about, dream about and cry about.

windsinger

WIND
ON
FIRE

AUTHOR: William Nicholson

GENRE: Children’s Fantasy

PLOT:  In the walled city state of Aramanth, rules are everything. When Kestrel Hath dares to rebel, the Chief Examiner humiliates her father and sentences the whole family to the harshest punishment. Desperate to save them, Kestrel learns the secret of the wind singer and she and her twin brother, Bowman, set out on a terrifying journey to the true source of evil that grips Aramanth.

VERDICT: Imaginative and gripping, with characters you’ll truly love. One of the most vividly remembered stories of my youth, these books have so much to them, from comments about class and government, to the nature of attraction, all wrapped up in a high fantasy package. It’s been too long since I last turned these pages – I guess I know what’s next on my TBR!

his-dark-materials

HIS
DARK
MATERIALS

AUTHOR: Philip Pullman

GENRE: Children’s Fantasy

PLOT: When Lyra’s friend Roger disappears, she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him. The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies – and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about. Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her – something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights…

VERDICT: An absolute classic, beautifully written and masterfully told. This series marked the first time I was truly blown away by a book and offers so much to a reader. There is a new story being added to this trilogy, decades later, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

liveship

THE LIVESHIP TRADERS

AUTHOR: Robin Hobb

GENRE: Adult Fantasy

PLOT: Set in a land bordering the Six Duchies, Robin Hobb begins her epic tale of pirates, talking ships, magic, sea serpents, slave revolts, dashing heroes and bloody battles. Wizardwood, the most precious commodity in the world, comes only from the Rain Wilds. But only a liveship can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain Wild River, and liveships are hard to come by. They quicken only when three family members from successive generations have died upon their deck. The liveship Vivacia is about to undergo her quickening: Althea Vestrit waits for the ship that she loves more than anything in the world to awaken. But her dream of taking her father’s place at Vivacia’s helm is not to be, for her family have other plans…And the dark, charming pirate Kennit also lusts after such a ship: he well knows the power of wizardwood and has plans of his own …

VERDICT: Words cannot express how utterly dismal my life would be if I had not discovered this book series and Robin Hobb in general. Ambitious, vivid and at times heart-wrenching, this book series is dizzying in its complexity, scope and execution. This trilogy made me into the (avid) reader and (despairing) writer I am today, because Hobb sets a lofty example to live up to. In George R R Martin’s words, this series is “Fantasy as it should be written.”

WITH A SPECIAL MENTION TO…

the-mortal-instruments-covers

THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS

(BOOKS 1-3)

AUTHOR: Cassandra Clare

GENRE: Young Adult Fantasy

PLOT: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air.

VERDICT: I include this as a special mention as ‘The Mortal Instruments’ is not truly a trilogy – there are 6 books in the series, but the first three have their own distinct story arc. It would be perfectly possible (and, personally, recommended) to just read the first three books and end your incredibly enjoyable experience there. And you will enjoy it. It’s not great literature but it is just so, so much fun.

What are your favourite trilogies?

One thought on “Top 5 Friday | Favourite Fantasy Trilogies

  1. Basically, I agree with all of the above, although I disagree as to whether or not the Wind On Fire trilogy was “solid gold the whole way through”. I seem to remember hating the final book in the trilogy, ‘Firesong’ and can barely remember what happens in it. Maybe I should read them all again.

    Hugh Howey’s WOOL omnibus was published traditionally as a trilogy, so I would probably include that in my favourites as well, although technically it is not a trilogy, just several stories bound up together in three books, kinda like Lord of the Rings was originally written as six books but is now thought of as three.

    Special mention also to the Necromancer trilogy within the Skulduggery Pleasant series i.e. Books 4-6 (again, not truly a trilogy as it’s part of a series, but Derek Landy splits them up into 3 very distinct story arcs).

    Liked by 1 person

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