Ok the wizard has a confession to make … he likes both dogs and cats. I know I should only like dogs … but I can’t help myself. I think both are new and amazing. So what does this have to do with science? It is simply a metaphorical way to say that I like science fiction/fantasy books that are written for girls/women as much as books that are written for boys/men … at least in this genre. So today I am going to offer you my best fantasy book series (three or more) for XY types. I know I am probably leaving out a lot of great book series, but these are my top ten (with a few honorable mentions). All are modern era (except as noted) and spoiler free. In additional to my top ten list, I am including a Classics list plus a bonus Historical list for your reading pleasure. Book covers and links to the Amazon page for each book are also shown.
MY TOP TEN (plus a few)
- Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss – This is one of the best fantasy series of all times. The author writes extremely slow and so only two books in the main series have been released. However a third side story book is out so this series qualifies for my list. This is like a very dark Harry Potter in that it involves a student going to school to learn magic, but it is way more than that. I would say this is better than Harry Potter and I loved the world of J K Rowling (which is on the XX list). Read this series starting with The Name of the Wind. You will love it.
- The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. For those of you who are fans of the HBO series Game of Thrones, this is the book version (with slightly different plot twists.) My advice to readers of this series is don’t get too attached to the characters you like for the Hitchcockian Mr. Martin is ready to kill them off at a moment’s notice. This series is set in a middle ages type fantasy world which has seasons that last years. “Winter is coming” is the mantra of the books. There are dragons, skin walkers, vampires, and great walls (and no the white walkers and wildlings did not pay for the wall that kept them out.) They are also betrayals galore. It is truly an epic fantasy and it doesn’t get much better than this.
- Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. I believe this to be the best of the Sanderson works (he is quite prolific). He tells of a world constantly shrouded in mist. It is ruled by a tyrant who appears to be immortal (no term limits here). The hero and heroine are able to use metals to enhance their physical abilities. There is great romance, lots of action and a wonderfully depicted world of legends and lore. This is a must read.
- The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Imagine if Harry Potter grew up and moved to Chicago and had to do battle with vampires, werewolves and denizens of a secret world so scary you almost wish that Lord Voldemort was along for comic relief. Throw in a bit of film noire and some love interests, plus lots of gumshoe work and you have the Dresden Files. There are I believe 13 books in the series and each one is fantastic. Harry Dresden is a poor yet determined wizard that always seems to (just barely) come out on top. The first book in the series is Storm Front and there is a TV series based on the books (available on Youtube or Netflix or Amazon, etc). I really enjoyed the TV series and this gives you another way to access this new and amazing world.
- The Iron Druid Series by Kevin Hearne. This is a series about the last of the druids and his attempts to fight the gods from the Norse and Irish legends who are constantly interfering in the ways of the world. Like the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, this is a great way to learn about mythology while enjoying a wonderful adventure and love story. Even the dog is great.
- The Psion Series by Jacob Gowans – Ok, I know you never heard of this one, but it is really great. It’s about a boy with specials powers who is taken by his government to fight against an enemy that is perceived as evil. He is sent to an academy where his power can be fully brought forth, but there he discovers that he has more than just one power. It is another in general genre of books about finding “the one.”
- The Leviathan Series by Scott Westerfield – This is a tough one as it could easily go on the XX list. I include it here because I think XY types should read some “steam punk.” Plus, I can easily include another Westerfield series on the XX list. Steam punk is typically an alternative history that is brought to life with lots of clanking machines. This one is a WWI era series with airships made of living creatures and a whole series of clanking banging machines at war. Really like this one.
- The Rho Agenda by Richard Phillips – This was written about what would have happened if the alien craft rumored to be in Area 51 actually was linked to another alien craft not found until a group of high school students stumble upon it. It is a “second ship.” Great adventure with lots of clever behavior by a group of gifted teens. This is an off the radar set of books that deserves more attention.
- Wheel of Time Series – OK this is one of the truly epic fantasy series of all times and it had the potential to be near the top of the list. However the author became sick around book 7 and the series suffered. The final books were completed by Brandon Sanderson who did a great job wrapping up the series from the authors notes. It was just a bit too discontinuous for the wizard to put it at the top, but it definitely belongs in the top 10.
- Wool – Another hidden treasure that was never a mega hit, but was a truly fascinating series. It’s about someone living in a silo where humanity is making its last stand (unknown to them). There are lots of surprises and it is a cool twist on the dystopian form.
And here are the Honorable Mentions:
11. Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan – This series, written for young readers, is about a hero who is the son of an earth mother and a Greek god (which makes him a demigod.) The adventure is really great and you will learn about Greek mythology almost as a by-product. The author also has cross over characters that operate in the world of the Roman gods. This “Roman” series is also quite good.
12. The Expanse Series by James Corey – I had to get a Space Opera series in here and this one is fairly decent. The first couple of books start out great, but then fade a bit in the final two books. It is a fun read because it writes about a future world where humans have settled the solar system (with colonies even in the asteroid belt.) Lots of science, good and evil and political intrigue here.
13. The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix – This is classic fantasy with legends and fantasy and lots of vivid world building. Many would rate it higher than honorable mention, but for me it was missing the special something that you find in Mistborn or Song of Fire and Ice.
LEGACY XY READS
Here are some more fabulous fantasy sci-fi series in the legacy division. These classics never go out of style and those listed below are the gold standard for this genre.
- Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. – Ok everyone knows about this one as the movies were truly great. The series starts with The Hobbit and just keeps getting better. The writing is rich beyond belief as the legends, songs, poetry and languages of the many races are all brought to life. A product of its time, it was a metaphor for the evils of WWI and WWII.
- The Enders Series by Orson Scott Card – Most have seen the movie and have seen how Ender defeated an alien invasion. The beauty of this series is that the ongoing books are wonderful treatments of morality and philosophy. Very deep if you have the patience for what happens after the great battle. Had a nice use of time travel.
- The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury – Mars as it should be. Read until you grok what is going on. NOTE: The word grok comes from Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land – also a very good read.)
- Foundation Series by Issac Asimov – Voted the best Sci Fi series of all time. Wait no longer.
- John Carter Martian Series by Edgar Rice Burroughs – This is science fiction from the early 20th century. It is very dated, but a great read for a young reader. The first book is A Princess of Mars. The story involves a secret cave capable of teleporting a person to Mars. When a veteran of the Civil War is transported to the red planet he finds great green Tharks, giant white apes and a whole series of fantastical creatures drawn from the very rich imagination of ERB. If evaluated from the standpoint of today’s knowledge of science and of the nature of Mars, it doesn’t pass muster, but if you can suspend disbelief and just take this for the adventure and love story that it is, it is exceptional entertainment. Also, the book gives you a real insight into the values of early 20th century America.
HISTORICAL XY READS
And here are some more great XY reads in the related genre of fictionalized history. These are not exactly fantasy books but they are not exactly real life either.
- Julius Caesar Series by Conn Iggulden. This is historical in general outline, but fictional in delivery and detail. In this series, you follow a young boy whose life is turned upside down by the politics of ancient Rome. Over time he overcomes obstacle after obstacle until he is eventually the most powerful person in Rome. This is the story of one of the most amazing lives ever lived told in a vivid and riveting fashion. The depiction of Julius Ceasr being shown the glass covered body of Alexander the great by Cleopatra was truly mind numbing. (Not sure if it ever happened but it could have.) See also the other great historical series by this author on the life of Ganges Kahn. Both are truly remarkable works.
- Sharpe’s Rifles by Bernard Cromwell – This tells the story of a young British man from London who grew up in grinding poverty and joined the Kings army to have a better life. From the first books in India, to the Battle of Waterloo, virtually ever great battle of the heyday of the British empire are depicted. As the books show Sharp over time, you see him grow in statue as his courage delivers him to heights in the British army normally only reserved for noblemen. This like many on this list was made into a movie or a TV series and I can recommend Sharpe’s Rifles starring Sean Bean. This is available on YouTube and other fine places where videos can be rented or stolen.
- Hornblower Series by C. S. Forester. Follow the career of the young Mr. Hornblower as he fights the good fight at sea against the French in the Napoleonic wars. This is like the navel version of Sharp’s rifles (and in fact there is a crossover at one point in the Sharp Series where he is stationed on a British ship and is forced to fight at Trafalgor.) Again the hero is constantly promoted for his courage and wisdom. A super fun read for adults or young readers. There is also a TV series you can watch that is excellent.
- The Parthian Chronicles by Peter Darman – This tells the story of someone who was a slave and then freed by Spartacus before returning to his home (Parthia) where he eventually defeats the Romans in one of the great battles of history. Great adventure.
NEXT UP – Book Series for XX Creatures – In this list you will see the depth of my depravity as I list Twilight on my top ten series for female readers – which means I have read each and every book. (Because of this, the dark elves weep for my soul.) The truth however, is that there are some truly great series on both lists. “Crossing over” is to be encouraged.