As the first entry in my Fave Five series of posts, I’m sharing my five favourite book series’ at the moment. I was going to go with my five favourite books, but it was too hard for me to choose, so I went with series’ instead. I’ll hopefully come back to my five favourite books at some point, but it will take a lot of careful consideration before I can decide.
- Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Mercy Thompson is one of my favourite urban fantasy protagonists. She is a VW mechanic with a history degree who can shape shift into a coyote. Mercy is a Native American ‘Walker’. Unlike the more well-known skin walker, Mercy doesn’t need to wear the skin of a coyote to change into one, she just does. She can see ghosts, and has a few other seemingly benign abilities that make her really good at killing vampires which is why her kind was mostly killed off by vampires when they arrived from Europe. Mercy’s boss is a grumpy old ‘iron kissed’ fae called Zee, who unlike most fae has no aversion to iron; her next door neighbour is the Alpha of her local werewolf pack; and one of her favourite customers is a vampire who drives a van painted to look like the Mystery Machine. So all in all a pretty normal life. But Mercy has a knack for getting herself into trouble, and even though she always gets herself out again she rarely comes out the other side without a few scratches (or broken bones).
- Do the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett count as a single series? Technically they are all part of the same continuum with characters regularly passing in and out of each others’ stories. But if I had to narrow it down to a specific series with the overall Discworld arc it would have to be the Tiffany Aching Series. During a trip to Thailand when I was 11 or 12 I came across the book Sourcery by Terry Pratchett, and the rest, as they say, is history. Shortly after I began a quest to discover and devour everything the man wrote. Despite my love for all of the Discworld novels, no one has quite captured my mind like Tiffany Aching. Slightly unlikeable, but endless talented, and unconcerned with boys and most of the other things girls are ‘supposed’ to like, I identified with Tiffany in a way that felt quite profound. Her story, as we get to see it, starts in The Wee Free Men with her brother being stolen by the Queen of the Fairies, and Tiffany deciding to save him even though she doesn’t like him very much. It ends in The Shepherd’s Crown with her becoming the ‘first among equals‘ of the witches, fighting a final incursion from Fairyland, and finally settling in as the witch of the Chalk. The Shepherd’s Crown was the last book that Terry Pratchett wrote before he died, and in it a significant character from both the Tiffany Aching series, and the wider Discworld novels, dies, thus I spent a lot of this book with silent tears running down my face as I read.
- The Nightside novels by Simon R Green. If I had to describe a genre for the Nightside novels it would by urban fantasy/horror/sci-fi neo-noir detective novels. The novels follow John Taylor, a Private Investigator who returns to the Nightside after failing to make it in the ‘real world’. The Nightside is the dark mirror of London, where history, future, science, magic, and batshit-insaneness mix together to form a place both horrifying and fascinating in its terrifying familiarness. John is searching for information about his past and keeps himself afloat by helping other find what they are missing. He has a ‘Gift’ which he sometimes uses to help, but every time he does he risks attracting terrifying humanoids called the Harrowing who have been sent back from the future to kill him and prevent him from possibly destroying the world. He is helped along the way by his friends the mercenary extraordinaire Suzie Shooter (A.K.A Shotgun Suzie, and Oh Christ it’s her, RUN!!!), Alex Morrisey (the last living descendant of Merlin Satanspawn), Razor Eddie (The Punk God of the Straight Razor), Dead Boy (returned from the dead to avenge his own murder, now stuck, unable to heal, and held together with staples and duct tape), and of course his plucky secretary Cathy Barrett (he rescued her from a man-eating house so she adopted him and now basically runs his entire business).
- Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. I haven’t actually finished this series yet, but I love the concept so much I just had to add it. When the series kicks off Thursday Next is a Literary Detective employed by the Special Operations Network. Thursday exists in an alternate reality version of our own world where literature plays a far more important role than it does in our world. In the first novel The Eyre Affair Thursday tracks a dangerous criminal through the pages of Jane Eyre. In the second, Lost in a Good Book, Thursday learns how to book jump without the assistance of the Special Operation Network, and ends up joining JurisFiction, the literature policing body within the world of fiction. Mentored by Miss Haversham from Great Expectations, Thursday makes a name for herself at JurisFiction and ends up retreating to ‘BookWorld’ when her life if threatened in the real world. The Thursday NExt series is in fact made up of two series’: The first series is made up of the novels The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, and Something Rotten. The second series is so far made up of First Among Sequels, One of Our Thursdays Is Missing, and The Woman Who Died a Lot. I have read the first three books of the first series (Something Rotten is up next in my ‘to read’ pile). Jasper Fforde has an unparalleled ability to create alternate realities that feel simultaneously close to home, and so uniquely different from our world.
- Percy Jackson Series / Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan. I came to the table a bit late on this one considering the fact that I didn’t start reading these books until after I turned twenty. However the history and mythology nerd in me can’t help but love these books. The Percy Jackson series, as the name suggests, follow the adventures of Percy Jackson, the demigod son of Poseidon. The series follows Percy and his demigod friends as they fight against a resurgence of Titans. The mythology in these books is so rich. Some of the novels mirror ancient Greek texts (The Odyssey, The Iliad), and all of them weave in numerous tales associated with ancient Greek mythology. If the youth of the characters in the Percy Jackson series makes you hesitant to try them, maybe try the Heroes of Olympus series. It picks up a few years after the events of the first series (making the characters in their late teens). The Heroes of Olympus series has an ensemble cast of main characters rather than just focusing on Percy (although he is still in the main cast). The series introduces Roman demigods and mythology to the mix, preventing the concept from becoming stale. The main ensemble consists of Greek Demigods: Percy, Annabeth (Daughter of Athena), Leo (Son of Hephaestus), Piper (Daughter of Aphrodite), and Nico (Son of Hades); and Roman Demigods: Jason (Son of Jupiter), Hazel (Daughter of Pluto), Frank (Son of Mars, descended from Poseidon on his mother’s side), and Reyna (Daughter of Bellona). The nine of them work together in various combinations to prevent Gaea from rising and destroying the world.
Honorable Mentions: The Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich (addictive, funny, relatable), and the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton (addictive, sexy, badass)