A list is a very personal evil. It has to be books you've read (otherwise you're cheating), and books you've liked (otherwise you're telling porkies). And it has to offer a selection of varied authors (otherwise you'll be taken outside and shot). Sometimes, it can feel less like a celebration of your favorite books, and more like a minefield.
And I'm in trouble with this one - I don't read as much as I should. (Yes, I know). The days I could lose myself in fantasy epics are sadly long gone; my reading (listening?) is all audiobooks on crammed commuter trains. Hence I've not managed Game of Thrones or The Wheel of Time; I've not finished The Scar, and have never quite got to the second Locke Lamora book. That, and my dislike for Gormenghast is legendary.
Whatever I've missed reading, though, working within the SF/F industry does show you what a wide and wonderful genre fantasy really is, how broad its vision, and just how many talented people it encompasses. I may not have read them all, but if you have authors or books to add, feel free to list them at the bottom. That way, everybody wins.
With all of that in mind, then, my list of eight fantasy sequels.
A Man Rides Through by Stephen Donaldson
The first of the Mordant's Need books lays out many threads of a potentially politically complex narrative, all of them woven in with questions of the world's reality (in this case, the reality of our own world, rather than of the fictional one). In the second book, Donaldson does a flawless job of winding up those threads, and tying them back into a marvellously efficient ending. The two books are a perfectly balanced pair, efficient and tightly-plotted.
Intervention by Julian May
Following from the Many Colored-Land, Intervention
takes us back to the world of the Galactic Milieu, to the Remillards and their early metapsychic powers. It's prologue rather than sequel, but does a glorious job of picking up the world that you've only seen as background. It offers a full history, deepens the narrative as a whole, and gives an incomparable 3D view.
Tombs of Atuan by Ursula Le Guin
One of the earliest fantasy books I ever read, borrowed from the library as a kid. The first book tells a classic tale of boy-becoming-wizard story; in the sequel, we step away from Ged completely, and we join Tenar, the Tombs' High Priestess. It gives us a new view of the world, (as well as shivers to this day), and Ged himself steps in at the end of the story to tie the tales neatly together.
Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
So many fantasy trilogies cover a single narrative arc -- which can be a challenging thing in itself -- but where they can fall down, is that they also have to ensure that each book stands alone, a story within a story. With the added bonus of being a step away from your classic "medieval" fantasy setting, the First Law books all draw you in from the beginning. And sue me, I loved Glokta. The series had a whole Rogues' Gallery of marvelous characters, but the Inquisitor just kept me coming back.
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Sort of a sequel to American Gods
, Anansi Boys illustrates why Gaiman is so skilful -- it's just so marvelously effortless. The story seems to flow from his fingertips; it manages to pick up the threads of American Gods
and weave them in a whole new direction -- yet the pattern is perfectly clear enough to make them familiar. This is a book that draws you in like a warm place to sit; it's a real pleasure to read.
Too many to choose from by Anne McCaffrey!
If you loved fantasy as a teen, you've read at least one of Anne McCaffrey's books. Pern shows us another of the classic tropes of successful fantasy literature -- the literary world that became larger than its stories, the spread of fiction that grew to surround characters, events, history. I haven't read them in years, but no collection would be complete without a dragon or two.
The King Beyond The Gate by David Gemmell
I was lent Legend
as a teen by a slightly disparaging friend; it grabbed me from the outset and I can still quote chunks of it to this day. And a follow-up to something so hugely successful can be the hardest thing of all -- facing so many expectations both from writer and reader. The King Beyond the Gate
made the right choice to leave Legend
as exactly that, and to pick up the story a hundred years later, and with a completely new character.
The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien
Open to argument -- is The Fellowship of the Ring
the sequel to The Hobbit
? Or should I be listing The Two Towers
as the second book in the trilogy? Or maybe I should even offer up The Silmarillion
...? Any which way (and whatever Peter Jackson ends up doing with the Battle of Five Armies), no list would be complete without the Prof.
Ecko Burning, the sequel to Danie Ware's Ecko Rising is out now.