Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. While the official topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday required participants to list the 10 characters they would love an update on, I have decided to do something a little different, and instead will be listening my favourite literary trilogies.
Trilogies in literature are a long-running and deeply fun tradition that packs an epic connected tale, into three consecutive novels. There are some truly amazing trilogies out there, from the classics, like The Lord of the Rings, to some recent trilogies that I have been deeply enjoying. Indeed, 2021 alone has seen the end of several epic and outstanding literary trilogies. I just finished one particularly incredible trilogy, and it got me thinking about some of the other amazing three-book series I have read. That inspired me and I thought I would take this opportunity to try and list my 10 favourite novel trilogies of all time. I have had the great pleasure of reading some truly awesome and exciting trilogies over the years, and I feel this is the perfect time to highlight them, especially if anyone is looking for a new trilogy/series to get addicted to.
This proved to be a fun list to pull together, especially as I had a great wealth of potential trilogies to feature on this list. To be eligible for this list, the proposed trilogy must consist of three, inter-connected novels. I only included series that were intended to end after three novels, rather than by happenstance, so that means that series like The Gentleman Bastards will not be featured (it technically has a fourth novel on the way). I also excluded trilogies that I have not yet completed, even if I have already read and deeply enjoyed the first two novels. This is because I really need to see how the third book turns out, as a bad third entry can easily spoil a trilogy that starts out with some fantastic novels.
Even with these restrictions, I ended up with a descent list of trilogies, which took me a little while to cull down and which resulted in a good honourable mentions section. I am judging these trilogies on several factors, including how complete their story is, how well connected the novels are, and whether the component novels provide good introductions, conclusions and connections to the other books in the trilogy. I am pretty happy with how this latest Top Ten Tuesday turned out, and I think that perfectly represents the best trilogies that I have so far finished.
The Wounded Kingdom trilogy by R. J. Barker
A fun and awesome dark fantasy trilogy that follows an assassin as he finds himself fighting for the future of a kingdom. Featuring a great first novel (Age of Assassins), a powerful middle entry (Blood of Assassins) and an epic ending (King of Assassins), this debut series from R. J. Barker was pretty damn awesome and really worth a read.
Discworld – Moist von Lipwig trilogy by Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett’s exceptional Discworld series featured several interconnected sub-series and standalone reads, but only the Moist von Lipwig books can really be considered a trilogy. Made up of Going Postal, Making Money and Raising Steam, these are some of Pratchett’s final books, and have a different, but still entertaining, writing stye to them. While I love these three novels, I have decided to leave this trilogy as an honourable mention due to its potential premature ending and its complex status within the larger Discworld series.
Royal Bastards trilogy by Andrew Shvarts
A fantastic and clever young adult fantasy series that followed the illegitimate children of treacherous nobles as they try to right the wrongs of their parents. Consisting of Royal Bastards, City of Bastards and War of the Bastards, this is an impressive and captivating trilogy with some dark storylines and complex characters.
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
I had to include the iconic Hunger Games novels by Suzanne Collins on this list. Made up of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, this is a great and fast-paced dystopian series that I have read a few times now. All three novels are a lot of fun, although the first book is probably the best. A recent prequel novel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes came out last year and is also worth a read.
Top Ten List:
The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie
Let us start this list off with the dark fantasy masterpiece that is Joe Abercrombie’s epic and exceptional The First Law trilogy. Consisting of The Blade Itself, Before they are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings, this amazing trilogy follows a group of extremely complex and damaged characters as they attempt to navigate a dark world filled with betrayal, uncontrolled ambition, and all manner of monsters. All three books are pretty incredible, with The Blade Itself providing an outstanding introduction, while Last Argument of Kings wraps everything up perfectly and leaves the reader with a troubling but memorable conclusion. I powered through this trilogy in a very short time, and it remains one of my all-time favourite pieces of fantasy fiction.
Star Wars: Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn
Next, we have an amazing and complex Star Wars series by the legendary Timothy Zahn, who brings back his iconic extended universe character, Grand Admiral Thrawn. Based in the new Disney canon, the Thrawn trilogy seeks to expand on the character’s appearances in Star Wars: Rebels and presents a complex and intriguing picture of this master tactician. Featuring Thrawn, Alliances and Treason, this is a very well balanced and fascinating trilogy that is a must read for all Star Wars fans and is probably worth checking out before the character’s live action debut next year. I was also tempted to include Zahn’s Thrawn Ascendancy novels (made up of Chaos Rising, Greater Good and Lesser Evil), but I am only halfway through the final book, and I really want to see how it concludes first.
The Icewind Dale trilogy by R. A. Salvatore
Iconic fantasy author, R. A. Salvatore, has made a career out of writing trilogies, and there were several I could have included, especially his Dark Elf trilogy. However, I think that his debut Icewind Dale series, is his most consistently impressive trilogy. While the first novel, The Crystal Shard is a tad rough, the second and third books, Streams of Silver and The Halfling’s Gem, more than make up for it, and produce a brilliant overall story. This series expertly introduces several of Salvatore’s key protagonists (who he is still writing about to this day) and sets up some outstanding plot points. High fantasy at its very best, The Icewind Dale trilogy is an intense, classic trilogy that I can read again and again.
The Century trilogy by Ken Follett
Another author with some big series under his belt is talented thriller and historical fiction author Ken Follett. My personal favourite Follett series is The Century trilogy, a massive and comprehensive historical fiction trilogy, made up of Fall of Giants, Winter of the World and Edge of Eternity. This book takes place throughout the 20th century and follows three generations of several families as they navigate the century’s big historical events, including two world wars and the Cold War. Some of the best historical fiction writing you are ever likely to see; this is a powerful and captivating series.
The Tide Child trilogy by R. J. Barker
The trilogy that inspired me to write this list was the exceptional The Tide Child trilogy by rising fantasy fiction start R. J. Barker. Barker did some incredible work here producing an intense and addictive dark fantasy series that takes place primarily on a naval vessel made from dragon bones. With some exceptional character work, beautifully written scenes, and some truly unique fantasy features, The Tide Child series is one of the absolute best fantasy trilogies out there. All three novels, The Bone Ships (one of the best books and audiobooks of 2019), Call of the Bone Ships, and The Bone Ship’s Wake, are exceptional and enchanting reads, which come together to form a brilliant and highly recommend trilogy.
Planetside trilogy by Michael Mammay
Another great trilogy I finished this year was Michael Mammay’s outstanding Planetside science fiction thriller trilogy. Consisting of Planetside (one of the best books of 2018), Spaceside and Colonyside (one of the best books and audiobooks from the first half of this year), this epic trilogy follows a cynical military veteran who is dragged in to investigate a series of conspiracies, which continually forces him to commit genocide. One of the cleverest series I have read in recent years, Mammay is an exceptional author, and I had a lot of fun getting through this trilogy.
The Age of Madness trilogy by Joe Abercrombie
Not content with only having one exceptional fantasy trilogy, Joe Abercrombie had to double down and write the epic sequel trilogy, The Age of Madness. Set a generation after The First Law trilogy, the three Age of Madness novels, A Little Hatred, The Trouble with Peace and The Wisdom of Crowds, contains another outstanding dark fantasy tale following a whole new group of complex and troubled protagonists. This brilliant trilogy has only just come to an end and featured three outstanding five-star reads. These amazing novels form a deeply thrilling and powerful trilogy, and The Age of Madness books are some of the best pieces of fantasy fiction of the last three years.
I was spoiled for choice when it came to Raymond E. Feist and his multitude of great trilogies, from his iconic Riftwar Saga to his current The Fireman Saga (King of Ashes and Queen of Storms). However, I think his most consistent and impressive trilogy was The Empire trilogy he cowrote with Janny Wurts. Set at the same time as the Riftwar Saga, this trilogy explored an alien fantasy world with some major Japanese influences. An intense and action-packed fantasy trilogy loaded with political intrigue, family feuds and a female ruler battling for control in a male-dominated world, The Empire books, Daughter of the Empire, Servant of the Empire and Mistress of the Empire, form an exceptional trilogy that is really worth reading.
Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron trilogy by Alexander Freed
Another exceptional trilogy that finished this year was the amazing Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron series by Alexander Freed. Made up of Alphabet Squadron, Shadow Fall and Victory’s Price, this trilogy followed a group of pilots in the immediate aftermath of Return of the Jedi, as they continue to fight the brutal war to claim the universe. This trilogy combined a gritty and complex war story with the iconic Star Wars universe to create three impressive novels that work brilliantly as an overarching series. All three books are really good, although Victory’s Price proved to be an exceptional conclusion that brought everything together perfectly. A great read for Star Wars fans looking for some darker tie-in content.
Swords and Fire trilogy by Melissa Caruso
The final entry on this list is the debut trilogy from talented fantasy author Melissa Caruso. Featuring The Tethered Mage, The Defiant Heir, and The Unbound Empire, the Swords and Fire trilogy tells the tale of the unlikely partnership of an ambitious noble and a reckless, ultra-powerful mage, whose fates are literally bound together. This is an amazing and inventive fantasy trilogy that pits this duo against conspiracies, a nation of terrifying magical users, and their own substantial personal issues. I deeply enjoyed this cool trilogy and I really need to start reading the sequel series Caruso is currently working on.
Well, that’s the end of this list. As you can see, I have read some awesome trilogies over the years, and I think this list does a great job highlighting them all. I will probably end up coming back to this list at some point in the future, especially as there are some outstanding trilogies, I am currently in the middle of that will easy make this list in the future. In the meantime, let me know what your favourite trilogies are in the comments below.