Bandwagon Jumper R' Me
April 21, 2008 7:22 AM   Subscribe

What epic fantasy/sci-fi series (think Wheel of Time, Song of Ice and Fire) are only just starting out?

So the Wheel of Time is coming to an end, George R R Martin continues his Song of Ice and Fire and Steven Erikson is only a couple of books away from finishing the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

So what epic series are only just starting out? What bandwagon should I jump on and earn those oh-so-important bragging rights about 'liking them first'. :)

I know most fantasy is in a series of 2-3 books, and that it can often be hard to gauge whether a series is going to be epic or not (Remember when A Song of Ice and Fire was only going to be a trilogy?).

But I really want to know what series are starting out now.. and will be continuing for the next 5+ years. Ideally they should only be 1-3 books in, with enough plot lines to carry them on through to the long term.

My tastes are pretty broad. but I do have a soft spot for wars and battles.. whether they be in a magical land.. or in outer space. I am a guy.. (obviously from the nick).. so fantasy authors like Anita Blake and Jacqueline Carey is not really my cup of tea. (sorry ladies). As are fantasy frachises like Dragonlance and such..

Thanks in advance
posted by TheOtherGuy to Writing & Language (15 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
Here's a lady who doesn't even know what you mean with Anita Blake and Jacqueline Carey (so much for your assumption), but who is going to recommend to you:

- The gentleman bastards series by Scott Lynch (2 books in, supposed to be a 7 book series, and about thieves, not war, but insanely good)
- The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik (4 books in but it looks like it might go on for a bit, Napoleonic war, with added dragons)!

I'm also going to say that if you take this approach, you will invariably end up with the cheap pockets of the first few books and then the expensive hardcover/big softcovers when you catch up with the newly written ones and you will CURSE THE PUBLISHERS for ignoring the fact that some people (gasp) do not buy expensive first edition of fantasy books of debuting authors and only get to the series when the first books have generated enough buzz and then have to jump through hoops to both read the books as soon as they come out AND have matching editions in their bookcases.

Sorry for the pet peeve derail but I really hate that.
posted by Skyanth at 7:45 AM on April 21, 2008 [3 favorites]

A lot of potential epic series, or even potential trilogies, don't become series or trilogies because the first book doesn't sell well enough. Or the first book sells well enough, but the second book doesn't sell quite as well (Sometimes bookstores will give up on a series if book #2 sells even a little less than book #1). Often you'll see books advertised as book 1 of a "planned series," or "planned trilogy," but you have to allow for things not going as planned.

That said, Kate Elliott's Crossroads series (starting with Spirit Gate) is planned as a seven-book series, and book #2 just came out, and she has enough readers that I think her publishers probably won't drop the series for poor sales before it's over. I'm not sure whether you're ruling out female authors entirely, or just the ones who write fantasy with a lot of romance or sex, but Elliott has more in common with Robert Jordan than Laurell K. Hamilton or Jacqueline Carey.
posted by Jeanne at 7:51 AM on April 21, 2008

Oh, and I'll second Scott Lynch's series.
posted by Jeanne at 7:52 AM on April 21, 2008

David Weber - Off Armageddon Reef

The first book is out in paperback, and the second book (By Schism Rent Asunder) comes out in hardcover this summer. Great stuff, very epic, and it will go on for many more books.
posted by Lokheed at 8:01 AM on April 21, 2008

Hmm, if you didn't like Kushiel's Dart (the aforementioned master first novel of Jacqueline Carey) you're unlikely to like Novik's Temeraire series. I loved both series and really liked George R R Martin's series (have you read the new chapter(s) up on his website? Snow is back) and of course the Wheel of Time is an obvious favorite.

I won't quibble with you about Hamilton, but what about giving Carey another shot? If you like your books without any sex, she is obviously not your author of choice, but I think her world-building is masterful, on a par with any I've read.

David Weber does great space opera- his heroine is on her, what, 7th book?

Elizabeth Moon wrote the seven book Serrano legacy which ranges from great to pretty good and is eminantly readable and whose world continues in Vatta's War, which is on book four (or is it five?) and going strong, increasingly excellant as the series goes on.

Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet (book 1: Dauntless)looks like it is here to stay- another great series that looks like it might keep going.
posted by arnicae at 8:32 AM on April 21, 2008

R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing series might be cool to get into as he has finished the first trilogy but is working on the second. So you get the best of both worlds.
posted by selfnoise at 8:33 AM on April 21, 2008

I'm a pretty voracious sf/f reader and I'm an inveterate book buyer so I'll chime in:
- Patrick Rothfuss is being pimped pretty heavy by DAW: the first book in his series is The Name of the Wind. It just got released in paperback and there was big spread in the NYTimes this weekend. The first book was really good so I'll be buying the rest of the series in hardcover too. Apparently the books are already written, but book 2 got postponed because it needed editing and the author's mom died.
-Daniel Abraham is halfway through his 4 book series that started with A Shadow in Summer. He's a bit of GRRM's protege (or secured a blurb for his first book and they collaborated with Dozois together on Hunter's Run). Magic-lite, battles-lite, but intrigue/macroeconomics-dense. The first book was good, I have the second on the TBR pile.
-nthing Scott Lynch's series. It's good.
-Richard K Morgan (of Altered Carbon ass-kicking fame) is starting a fantasy trilogy this summer (A Land fit For Heroes) with The Steel Remains. It's about what happens after the band of heroes fights the great war and vanquishes the Dark Lord, etc. Easily the book I'm looking forward to most this year.
-You mentioned Erikson, but Ian Cameron Esslemont who developed Malazan with Erikson is starting his work in their shared world. He's writing stories about a different area of the empire than Erikson. The first book is Night of Knives which is out, and Return of the Crimson Guard is expected in Aug/Sep 08. I don't know if he's being published in the states, so you may have to order from the UK.
-You should definitely check out Joe Abercrombie. His First Law trilogy just wrapped up (releasing the final book in the US sometime soon). He's planning on writing more in that world soon.
-Brandon Sanderson is finished Wheel of Time (you probably already know). His Mistborn trilogy is pretty good reading too (2/3 books out).
-Novik's Temeraire series is pretty good. They're entertaining at any rate. The fourth book was not as good as the first three, but I still enjoyed it. Her next book is getting a hardcover release in the states.
-Stephen Hunt used to run SF Crowsnest. Now he has a series coming out. Apparently he got a big advance. The first book is Court of the Air which comes out in June in the US. Already released in the UK last year. It's good.
-An older series by Glen Cook is/has been released by Night Shade Books in 2 omnibuses so far. I had only read his Black Company series, but I may like this series even more.
-The Red Wolf Conspiracy is the first book in a new series that is supposed to be pretty good.
-Scott Bakker is writing a follow-up series to his kick-ass Prince of Nothing series (a must-read if you like Erikson and GRRM). January 2009
-China Mieville has a new book coming out: Kraken supposedly this fall.
-Neal Stephenson's new book is Anathem and I haven't heard if it's the first in a series or a stand-alone.
-Come hang out on the 'Other Literature' subforum at the GRRM forums. There are a lot of knowledgeable readers and reviewers there who really keep abreast of all the new things coming out.
-If you feel the need to import any UK editions to the US use The Book Depository for FREE international shipping to the US (and only take the punishment of a weak dollar).
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 8:44 AM on April 21, 2008 [5 favorites]

I came back to also mention Kay Kenyon's The Entire and the Rose series which is 2/4 books in. It's really really good (and it has awesome cover art).
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:55 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

There's Harry Turtledove's Videssos series. Decently written; most of the appeal is in the detail he goes into regarding how a Roman legion operated, and logically extending that to how they would operate in another world. Drop it after the first few books, though; Krispos of Videssos, for example, was particularly awful.

Melanie Rawn's Skybowl and Dragon Star series were quite good. Not epic on the level of Jordan, but I think that's a strength; she sticks to the central story and fleshes it out only as much as required.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:14 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Good gods yes, R. Scott Bakker. Best fantasy I have ever read, period. The Prince of Nothing is a trilogy that completes its own story arc but does not complete the "world arc," if you follow me. The Aspect-Emperor is supposed to be a duology starting this year which will comprise (if I understand correctly), the middle of the world arc. Maybe the end. Information is scarce, but you really must read it.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:49 AM on April 21, 2008

This series is already finished (and therefore not really answering your question) but have you read Peter F. Hamilton's The Night's Dawn Trilogy? It is an amazing series involving space and battle and utopian societies and all sorts of other awesome goodies...I can't resist telling almost everyone i know about this series.
posted by schyler523 at 11:16 AM on April 21, 2008

-If you feel the need to import any UK editions to the US use The Book Depository for FREE international shipping to the US

Though their service was mediocre the one time I ordered.

posted by ersatz at 11:17 AM on April 21, 2008

Though their service was mediocre the one time I ordered.

I've had really good luck with them. Probably 10-12 orders to the East Coast US, most within 1 week of placing the order. The only thing that I find mildly annoying is that if you place an order with multiple book, each book gets shipped in a separate package. That happened on the first order that I placed and I was worried that somehow my order had gotten screwed up (and that I would have a hell of a time with customer service; me being in the US and all). I fired off a quick email and they responded in <24 hours about their shipping policy (which arguably could have been clearer on their website).
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 11:33 AM on April 21, 2008

It's really tough to predict when a series is going to become 'epic' early on. I'm always pleasantly surprised if a series I read from day 1 does become big - but it doesn't happen often. I think the last unexpected series I read that vaguely fits the description are Robin Hobb's books.

Anyway, I've heard a bit of buzz (and am currently reading) Scar Night by Alan Campbell. It's good. It's a bit different. Certainly has potential.

Will it be the next big epic? I guess we'll know in 10 years.

But, I think jumping on with new authors is the only way to catch the next big one before it's on everyone's shelf.
posted by ChrisManley at 11:43 AM on April 21, 2008

Way after the fact here (stumbled in looking for some good summer fantasy reads, looks like Scott Lynch will be getting some of my dollars), but avoid the Temeraire series. It's big selling point, "Napoleonic War with Dragons!" only really applies for the first book. The other three are set in China, Turkey, and Africa with mainly Chinese, Turkish, and African antagonists, so the big English/French battles promised by the first book never really materialize.

Plus the books completely fail to be internally consistent with their own established setting.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:10 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

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