Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. The official topic for this week’s list required participants to list their favourite book-related online resource. However, I once again went in a different direction and instead decided to focus on a different topic, sequels.
The idea of sequels has been around for a very long time, however, recently it is becoming increasingly hard to avoid them. From television shows to films, sequels are everywhere, and to be fair, there is something great about seeing how a fantastic story continues after a first beloved instalment. Sequels in the novel world are also nothing new, and in fact, nearly every modern novelist has written some sort of sequel throughout their career. So many great novels have featured intriguing sequels over the years, some of which led even more novels, or even massive series. I’m sure we can all name some awesome sequels that we have read, and in some cases many sequel novels are just as good, if not better, than the books they followed. I personally have enjoyed some incredible sequels over the years, and I thought that this would be a good opportunity to highlight them on a list, especially as I have read some particularly amazing sequels recently.
To complete this list, I pulled together some of the best sequels I have ever read, to see what I wanted to feature. I primarily focused on second novels in series that I felt were outstanding follow ups to impressive first entries that set up overarching storylines. In many cases, these books followed on from an author’s debut novel, and it is rather cool to see how an author improved on their initial work. I ended up with quite a big collection of amazing sequel novels to work with, and it took me a little while to condense it down to a manageable list. I was eventually able to cull it to my 10 absolute favourite books, as well as a decent Honourable Mentions section.
Usagi Yojimbo: Volume 2: Samurai by Stan Sakai
A cool comic that improves upon the art style and story from the first volume, The Ronin, as well as featuring the backstory for the series’ titular character.
Dark Forge by Miles Cameron
One of the best books and audiobooks of 2019, Dark Forge followed up the first book in the Masters & Mages series, Cold Iron, perfectly, with an impressive focus on war and world building
The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik
An outstanding follow-up to last year’s fantastic book, A Deadly Education. The Last Graduate is an outstanding novel and I hope to have a very complimentary review of it up soon.
Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
With a great story about murderous werewolves in Chicago, I felt that this second novel from Jim Butcher was even better than his debut, Storm Front.
Top Ten List:
The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry
I have a lot of love for Jonathan Maberry’s incredible Joe Ledger series, especially the first entry Patient Zero, which featured a great modern reimagining of zombies. However, I don’t think that the series truly hit its stride until the second novel, The Dragon Factory. The Dragon Factory, which featured two rival groups of antagonists experimenting with genetic engineering, was incredible and had an outstanding and captivating narrative. I honestly think it was a stronger novel than Patient Zero, and it did a great job setting the tone for the later entries in the series.
The Two-Faced Queen by Nick Martell
Last year I was blown away by Nick Martell’s first fantasy novel, The Kingdom of Liars, which was easily one of the best debuts of 2020. I deeply enjoyed the compelling and elaborate fantasy tale contained within, and I was eager to see how Martell would continue it this year. I was in no way disappointed as Martell ended up producing a truly epic read, that perfectly added a vengeful queen, magical serial killers, and a range of competing immortals, to an already elaborate narrative. This ended up being one of the best books (and audiobooks) I have so far read this year and it is a highly recommended sequel to read.
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
There was no way that I could exclude the The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss from this list. The sequel to his iconic first book, The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear continued the complex tale of Rothfuss’s protagonist in incredible fashion, and this second novel goes in some deeply captivating directions. It provides a really good continuation of the overarching storylines, while also introducing some intriguing new additions. Unfortunately, it also opens a lot of questions, that readers have been waiting to see answered for quite some time.
Streams of Silver by R. A. Salvatore
The next sequel takes us back to 1989, with the second book in The Icewind Dale trilogy by fantasy icon R. A. Salvatore, Streams of Silver. Streams of Silver serves as the sequel to Salvatore’s debut novel, The Crystal Shard, and contains an impressive story. While I enjoyed The Crystal Shard, especially as it does a great job introducing Salvatore’s best characters, I think that Streams of Silver had the stronger story. Featuring an epic fantasy quest, Salvatore subtlety moves the focus more towards the overarching series’ more distinctive protagonist, while also featuring some excellent storylines, epic scenes, and an outstanding new antagonist. I deeply enjoyed this novel, and it was a fantastic continuation of a fun first book.
Starsight by Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson has written quite a few impressive sequels throughout his career, however, my favourite so far is Starsight. Starsight follows on from Skyward, a brilliant young adult science fiction novel that follows a class of starship fighter pilots, forced to defend their planet from aliens. This sequel does a beautiful job of continuing this story by massively expanding the universe and taking the protagonist on an epic journey to a whole new world. I loved this outstanding second series, and I cannot wait to see what happens in the third book, Cytonic, later this year.
How to Rule an Empire and Get Away With It by K. J. Parker
Back in 2019 I had the great pleasure of reading the fantasy comedy, Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City by K. J. Parker that told an amusing story about a conman engineer using all his tricks to win a siege. While this was an outstanding standalone read, Parker followed it up the next year with the wildly entertaining How to Rule an Empire and Get Away With It. Set in the same city as the first book, this outrageous sequel followed a new protagonist, a professional impersonator, who manages to become emperor. Bold, funny, and very clever (especially the meta jokes about the first book), this was an amazing sequel, which ended up being one of the best reads of 2020.
Howling Dark by Christopher Ruocchio
Back in 2018, debuting author Christopher Ruocchio had one of the best books of the year with the outstanding Empire of Silence, an ambitious and inventive gothic science fiction epic. After setting up his massive universe in Empire of Silence, Ruocchio than proceeded to continue the narrative in the second book, Howling Dark. This sequel had an amazing story, as Ruocchio expanded out his series in some very bold ways. This sequel was a truly captivating and powerful piece of science fiction, especially the last epic extended sequence, and I had a fantastic time reading it.
Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
What’s a list on the Unseen Library without at least one Discworld book by Terry Pratchett, in this case, Men at Arms, the second book in the City Watch sub-series. Men at Arms is a very clever and hilarious fantasy murder mystery novel that serves as a sequel to Guards! Guards!. Guards! Guards! was an outstanding read that followed a small group of city watchmen as they attempted to solve a murder committed using a dragon. This was one of the best books in entire Discworld collection, and it was a truly impressive feat that Pratchett was able to one-up-it with Men at Arms. This sequel contained an amazing story that sees the invention of the Discworld’s first gun, which immediately leads to chaos and bloodshed. Featuring an extremely clever mystery, as well as some great and iconic new characters, Men at Arms is one of Pratchett’s best books, and it helped to really elevate the City Watch novels in the Discworld hierarchy.
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
Back in 2006, author Scott Lynch blew away fantasy fans with his outstanding debut, The Lies of Locke Lamora, a complex and powerful fantasy heist novel that was a lot of fun to read. Lynch soon followed this amazing debut with an excellent second book, Red Seas Under Red Skies. This served as a very clever continuation of the original story and contained another elaborate heist, as well as a fascinating focus on the nautical arts and piracy. I deeply enjoyed this second novel, especially with the great twist at the end, and it was a very worthy follow up to Lynch’s incredible debut.
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
The final book on this list is Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, an exceptional novel I had the great pleasure of enjoying on audiobook last year. Harrow the Ninth served as the very clever sequel to Muir’s debut, Gideon the Ninth, which followed a group of space-faring necromancers. While the first book was really fun, I think that Muir greatly surpassed it with the sequel. Focusing on a different protagonist, Harrow the Ninth has a very elaborate narrative to it, including a reimagined version of the first book that excludes the original protagonist for very clever reasons. One of the most unique books I have ever read, I have a great appreciation for what Muir did with this sequel, and it is a fantastic and brilliant follow-up to Gideon the Ninth.
Well, that is the end of this latest list. As you can see, there are some impressive sequels out there, and I have had a lot of fun with some of them. Each of the above entries on this list are exceptional reads, and all come highly recommended, although in most cases you will also need to check out their preceding novels first. This might be a list I come back to I the future, especially with some great sequels coming out in the next couple of years, and I look forward to seeing what second book could potentially make the cut in the future.