My Favorite Fantasy Sequels
Today’s review is all about my favorite Fantasy sequels. All five of these books also happen to be my favorite book in the series. I am a self confessed world building junky. There’s nothing like that new series high to get me going. I love learning about new worlds and especially new magic systems. For the sequel to be my favorite I have to really find it to be something special.
What makes a sequel special to me? Most of the time it means that the world building has continued and characters have continued to develop. I also want to really see that magic system in action if we didn’t in the first book. I want to see the characters struggle but also have some successes. It feels like often book two is where the characters often have the hardest go of things. I can be turned off by a book where it is one setback after another.
My top 5 List
5. King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
King of Thorns is the sequel to Prince of Thorns. Prince of Thorns is the first book that Lawrence wrote and the improvement in the writing skill between Prince and King is easy to see and reason enough for the sequel to be my favorite. Some of Lawrence’s later books have sold better and are much more loved than the Broken Empire Trilogy but this series will always have a soft spot for me for introducing me to Indie and to Grimdark.
This series is set a thousand years after an extinction level event. In the first book we are introduced to a murderous bastard of a 13 year old names Jorg. Jorg is the son of a count and the leader of a band of murderous thugs. In book 2 our MC Jorg is still a real bastard of a human but he is striving towards a real goal. He shows a little bit of compassion as well as some real ambition and cunning. Jorg is always going to be a controversial character but I think he’s at his best in book 2.
4. The Great Hunt/Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan
Yeah I know, I listed two books here not one… But I’m writing this article so I’m gonna cheat. The Great Hunt and Dragon Reborn are the 2nd and 3rd books in the Wheel of Time series. The Wheel of Time has been my favorite series since the mid 1990’s. A teacher introduced me to it in order to get me to stop talking in class.
The first book got me hooked but in books 2 and 3 we really start to get into the meat of the story. The Eye of the World introduced us to the Emond’s Field Five but they were all wide eyed kids. Moraine and Lan were really the stars of book one. The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn really set the tone for the rest of the series. I still loved Perrin as a character and Mat was dealing with the Shadar Logath dagger and its aftermath. My favorite scene in the entire series is Mat fighting Galad and Gawyn with a quarter staff. Egwene has a rough go of it at the hands of the Seanchan. Otherwise though there’s still a hopeful feel to our Emond’s Field group and they’re beginning to come into their own.
3. Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb
This book is simply amazing. The Farseer Trilogy is the first trilogy in the Realm of the Elderlings series. Published between 1995 and 1997 it is a classical Epic Fantasy series. The series follows Fitz. Fitz is a royal bastard and will be trained as an assassin. In the first book, Assassin’s Apprentice, Fitz is a 6 year old boy when the series starts. His maternal grandfather drops him off at a castle and tells the steward he’s now his father’s responsibility. His father was the King in Waiting for the Throne of the Six Duchies and Fit’s arrival throws that into disarray.
I absolutely loved book 1 and it will be on my favorite books of 2024 list but it is a little bit slower than book 2. Even an advanced 6 year old isn’t carrying out a whole lot of assassinations… In Royal Assassin Fitz is in his teens and beginning to take on missions for his grandfather King Shrewd. We really get to see some of the magic in the world as well as get to the meat of the plot lines. This series also puts off that standard epic quest until book 3. This means that there is no lull in book 2 and it is action packed from start to finish.
2. Kings of Ash by Richard Nell
The Ash and Sand Trilogy by Richard Nell is a masterpiece of the Grimdark genre that I wish was more well known. The first book in the series, Kings of Paradise, opens with our MC Ruka eating a child. Cannibalism doesn’t seem like the strongest start to a series, and I actually asked the author if maybe he wanted to lighten things up, but I was glad he didn’t as I read on. Half of the series takes place in a land that reminds me of Siberia. Ruka is born an outcast who is shunned by everyone but his mother. He is a genius with magical ability and does what he must to survive.
Kings of Ash was my favorite fantasy sequel for years. It is where we really get to see Ruka and his powers in full bloom. He manages to go from outcast to a war leader. His abilities are so cool and Nell’s writing actually had me jumping up and yelling, “Hell Yeah!”, out loud while reading. The end of book 1 introduces us to some new lands but most of the time is spent in that cold and dreary setting. I read the book in winter and it did affect my mood at times. In book 2 we get to spend more time in the tropical setting as well as the subarctic original setting. This split made the setting seem less oppressive than in book 1. I loved every minute of Kings of Ash. The Ash and Sand series is one of my top 10 series of all time.
1. A Blight of Blackwings by Kevin Hearne
A Blight of Blackwings is the 2nd book in the Seven Kennings Trilogy. It is also my favorite fantasy sequel. This trilogy was completed in late 2023 and is now an easy fit in my top 5 series of all time. I am a world building and magic system nerd and this series delivers on both. If you want a magic system where magic takes a toll on its users and is perilous to obtain then this is your series. Each of the seven countries in the series have their own magical ability(kenning) and it makes each country unique.
With the incredible magic system and world building the first book was still pretty awesome. It was in my top 5 favorites list back in 2018 when it came out. A Plague of Giants is great but it does have to spend time setting up the world and the magic system. A Blight of Blackwings is non stop action while still giving us a ton of world building. We have met most of the characters already so we hit the ground running from the first page. The writing is superb and both of the big plot lines fully unfold. Book 3 is still great but it does begin to wrap things up around ¾ of the way through the book and that knocks it off of a perfect 10/10 like I scored the first two books.