When book series don’t run out of steam…

Some book series are long. The longest I’ve read/am reading, is the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child, which is now on it’s twentieth entry. And the Reacher series is proof that there are book series that don’t run out of steam, that have sequels that are as good as, and better than the first books.

Not all series get better as they go along. Some are stretched out needlessly. Some could be duologies instead of trilogies, some could be stand alone. Sometimes a story warrants three or four books, but the way it’s handled could mean the first book is only set-up for the rest of the series. But there are a lot of series that do keep momentum and quality going, and going, and don’t show any signs of flagging.

The Harry Potter series…Hp7

…half makes this list. Half because I didn’t think Order of the Phoenix was as good as Goblet of Fire, and then the series picks up again, and gets better, with Half Blood Prince and then Deathly Hallows. Order of the Phoenix is a great book, but it’s not as tightly plotted or action-packed as Goblet of Fire. But JK Rowling makes up for that ten-fold–hundred-fold with plenty of tension and then plenty of action in Prince and Hallows respectively. The Potter series never disappointed. Still doesn’t.

The Skulduggery Pleasant series…Skulduggery-1-172x263

…is the best example of a series that never runs out of steam. Each book is better than the last (save the second) and delivers more action, more humour and more twists with each installment. To keep that up for nine books is the sign of a true master, and it’s an understatement to call Derek Landy a master writer. I’m currently on the penultimate book (Last Stand of Dead Men) in the series, and though the books are longer (600 pages to the first books 300) they only get better and better.

 The Witchfinder Trilogy…

…is one you might not have heard about. But it’s one that everyone should check out. Each book is packed with more pace, action and horror than the last. It’s set in Britain and sits somewhere between Potter and Skulduggery. The world and characters are cool and original like in Skulduggery and the plot arc that runs through the trilogy is full of twists and turns.

The Edge Chronicles series…

…is still going. I haven’t read the new trilogy, but I can safely say the books that come before it improve with each installment. Beyond the Deepwoods was packed with action and crazy creatures, but it didn’t have much of a plot. Then the intrigue and twists started to develop and each book got better until the ‘final’ installment that blew every one of it’s predecessors out of the water. The Immortals was fast-paced, action packed, with the epic world-building this series does so well. This series is one of the most original  MG/YA high fantasies around. Check it out if you get a chance.

The Legend Trilogy… Legend_Marie_Lu_Book_cover

…by Marie Lu is another great example of a series going from strength to strength. The first book Legend had the tough task of setting up a world, with laws and characters, whilst telling a story and delivering a solid plot. It did most of those things. But the sequels, Prodigy and Champion did all of those things. The Legend series ended with an action-packed final book that wrapped up everything satisfyingly.

half-the-world-uk-hbThe Shattered Sea Trilogy…

…makes most other YA high fantasies seem like picture books. Joe Abercrombie constantly delivers quality writing, great characters, sharp wit and gripping plots with plenty of action. Half A King is one of my favourite books of all time, and the sequel Half the World made sure the series was one of my favourites of all time. I don’t have much doubt that the third and final book, Half a War, will be just as good, if not better than it’s predecessor.

There are a lot of other series that could make this list (Percy Jackson, The John Cleaver series by Dan Wells), and a lot that wouldn’t. It’s not that the sequels are bad books in most cases, just that the first in the series seems to be the best.

Which series have you read that get better with each book? Or which series have you read where the sequels can’t beat the first book?


About Sam Whitehouse

Sam spends most of his time in a different world to other people. If it isn’t one he’s created himself, it’s one he’s reading about. In the rare moments when this isn’t the case, Sam can either be found addicted to a sci-fi or crime show, re-watching Marvel movies, finishing up an assignment for his final year of studying Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University, or trying to get the dozens of ideas for stories in his head under some kind of control. Sam has lived in the same small village in Yorkshire, surrounded by countryside on all sides ever since he could remember. His childhood saw him get into plenty of scrapes climbing trees and crossing rivers and generally believing he was Indiana Jones. Sam gives credit to his Grandad for him wanting to be a writer, and his bedtime stories for keeping Sam’s imagination stoked. But credit must also go to Steven Spielberg, J K Rowling and Stephen King, who have provided plenty of inspiration over the years, too. Sam writes what he reads, and that is pretty much anything—save romance. Fantasy, thrillers, or crime: once an idea takes root, he can’t stop until the world, characters, and plot are on paper. A huge Marvel fan, Sam one day hopes to pen a screenplay for one of their movies, or direct one, or do anything at all related to one. Until then, he’ll stick to his own fantasy worlds and wait for Marvel’s phone call.

Posted on 04/10/2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I LIKE THIS POST. XD And yes! I adore it when series just get better and better as they go on. I’d (personally) add in the Lunar Chronicles, because each book exceeds the predecessor with just pure awesome, and alos the Throne of Glass series! ALthough, tbh, I didn’t love the latest book as much as the first ones, BUT I feel like that was just me and not the writing/plot. ZOMG I LOVE SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT SO BADLY. XD I have a few of the short stories and about the next 3 books to read. ^_^ I’m endlessly excited. Those books are absolutely phenomenal.

    • Sam Whitehouse

      Thanks. I have the first TOG book, but I’ve heard there’s a lot of romance, so I can’t get enough enthusiasm to start it. I was a little disappointed in the latest Skulduggery book. It was 600 pages that could have been 400. Plenty of action– maybe a little too much instead of a solid plot. Still an epic read, though.

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