Fantasy/Sci-Fi Series I’ve Completed

FeaturedFantasy/Sci-Fi Series I’ve Completed
  1. J K Rowling – Harry Potter
  2. Steven Erikson – The Malazan Book of the Fallen [my favorite]
  3. Glen Cook – The Black Company
  4. Joe Abercrombie – The First Law [haven’t read the standalones yet]
  5. Mark Lawrence – The Broken Empire
  6. Daniel Polansky – Low Town
  7. Teresa Frohock – Los Nefilim
  8. Cixin Liu – The Three Body Problem
  9. Douglas Adams – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

It hasn’t been very long since I’ve started reading fantasy books, and except for the Harry Potter series, everything else is stuff I’ve read in the last three years. Please give me some recommendations on some fantasy/sci-fi series I should really read. The length of the series is not an issue at all, I just prefer gritty, dark types though. And only the completed ones; no songs of ice and fire please.

Image : Itkovian by Merlkir, Malazan Art Guild, DeviantArt


Kristin Hannah – Night Road

Kristin Hannah – Night Road

If I stuck to my reading patterns, then Kristin Hannah would be a novelist I would be totally unfamiliar with; being more of a crime/military fantasy reader myself. But then, what’s the point of reading if you stick to well-established patterns, right? Also unavoidable is the fact that Night Road was staring at me from the top among my Goodreads recommendations. Of course, I had to get to it sooner or later.

Night Road begins with a girl, Lexi Baill, an orphaned teenager adopted by her aunt Eva and taken to her place on Pine Island, where Eva lived in a trailer park. Lexi joins the high school and on the very first day, makes friends with Mia Farraday, who is more or less a social outcast in her class. Outwardly, Mia and Lexi couldn’t have been more different; Mia came from a prestigious and wealthy family, and had a loving mother in Jude Farraday, and mischievous and incredibly popular twin brother in Zach. Lexi on the other hand, grew up in seven different families which came forward to adopt her, only to be pulled out of them by her drug addict of a mother who spent most of her time in prison. However, both had similar mentalities, both of them loved reading, and most importantly to Mia, Lexi was the only one who didn’t care if she would be shunned by others for befriending Mia.

When Jude Farraday catches wind of this, she is at first both happy and worried for Mia; something similar had happened before when another girl became friends with Mia, but the girl only used Mia to get close to her brother Zach. But over time, Jude’s worries are alleviated and she comes to treat Lexi as one of the family. Later on, things get more complicated between Mia and Lexi, but the issues get resolved. But one incident that occurs, changes their lives forever; hearts are left broken, never to heal, hopes crushed to the ground, you know the drill. How can they all come out of this and begin to hope for the future again, with renewed life?

Don’t put her in the dark…

At first I thought Night Road would be a cheesy romance novel and was regretting buying the book on an impulse[considering there are many other books on my recommendations list I don’t give a second glance to], but all my doubts were put to rest within 20 minutes of my starting the book. Kristin Hannah writes brilliantly, there is not a shred of doubt about it; the writing flows smoothly, without any disjointedness even when she is switching perspectives from Lexi to Jude to Zach. The story is not very complicated, but her writing makes all the difference in the world. Character development is spot-on; especially with Jude Farraday, and the relationship between her and Miles, her husband. The events and the dialogue really get you emotional, and some of us might need to keep a tissue box in reach; it gets that touching. I must iterate, Night Road has been a real emotional rollercoaster ride for me.

If you are a fan of emotionally draining books and tear-jerkers, just go for Night Road without another thought. I’m not someone who generally reads that kind of books, but Night Road makes me want to change it, even if just for a little while.

RATING : 9.8/10



William Landay – Defending Jacob

William Landay – Defending Jacob

For quite some time, I really wanted to read a good court-room thriller. After seeing Defending Jacob on my Goodreads recommendations, I decided to give it a try. And am I glad I did…

Andy Barber is a respected and well-admired assistant district attorney, and one of the best prosecutors in his county. He leads a peaceful life with his wife, Laurie, and his teenage son Jacob. However, this existence is shattered by the murder of a young boy in the neighborhood. And the prime suspect of this murder is Jacob. Andy, being a father, of course believes completely in Jacob’s innocence, despite the emergence of some damning new evidence, which rocks the family boat and strains the relationship between Andy and Laurie to near-breaking point.. As if this was not enough, Andy has been withholding a secret for more than twenty years, something he hasn’t disclosed to even his wife. How far will Andy go to protect his son?

The plot is pretty solid, with minimal loopholes and plotholes and whatever other holes there may be in a novel; if there were any, I didn’t notice them at the very least. At the outset, the concept is simple, but the plot-progression adds layers of complexity that jsut cannot be ignored. The character development by William Landay was so good it approaches near-perfection. It’s painfully heartbreaking how Laurie changes over the course of the book from an optimist to a wreck; the case takes a toll on Andy too in more ways than one can imagine. Defending Jacob reminds me of A Simple Plan by Scott Smith, in the best way possible.

Just pick up this book, and I’ll guarantee you will not be able to put it down until you get to the end. It’s hard to believe Defending Jacob is only William Landay’s third novel. Okay, let’s stop the posturing; just buy this book already! Doubly so if you are a fan of court-room thrillers like me.

RATING : 9.6/10

Stephen King – The Drawing Of The Three [The Dark Tower #2]

Stephen King – The Drawing Of The Three [The Dark Tower #2]

I found the first entry in the Dark Tower series to be a bit on the unsavory side, although I did enjoy the action sequences in the book. At least the ending of The Gunslinger gave me the much-needed impetus to pick up the second book. So, how is the sequel?

Very good, indeed, if I may say so. Well, even if I may not say so, not many can deny the fact that The Drawing Of The Three is a brilliant piece of writing from Stephen King. The plot picks up from where it left off, with the protagonist, Roland the gunslinger waking up at the shore of what seems to be an endlessly running coast. And he is not alone. He has  “lobstrosities” for company, and very early into the book, Roland has to fight these monstrous creatures off, sustaining grievous injuries in the process. The next day, he finds what is akin to a door at the beach, and opening it leads Roland into the mind of another person who has been destined to accompany Roland in his grim, dark quest for the Dark Tower. Just ka-things.

So, what is ‘Drawing’? It is the act of pulling out a person from his/her world into Roland’s own. And he gets to do it with three people, hence the name of the novel. The people Roland ‘draws out’ are all from New York City, and there seems to be some as-of-yet unknown connection between Roland’s Dark Tower and NYC.

The book has three main parts, each of which is concerned with Roland’s drawing out the destined people, and all of them are unique in their own way. One arc has Roland in the mind of a cocaine smuggler, while another has Roland inside the mind of a woman with split-personality. And the third…well, that’s even more awesome. The action sequences in this book are fabulous indeed, and not only the action, but also the characters are more fleshed out now. We begin to identify ourselves with Roland more than before, and the new characters all have their own motivations in their own worlds.

I had to struggle to finish the first book, but no such experience repeated itself in The Drawing Of The Three. This is Stephen King the way I like him. This is a marvel. I sign off.

RATING : 9/10

Stephen King – The Gunslinger [The Dark Tower #1]

Stephen King – The Gunslinger [The Dark Tower #1]

I’ve had the first book of The Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger, for quite some time. I think about four-odd months easy. At last I’ve picked up the novel. So is the first entry in Stephen King’s magnum opus, as he himself often similarly describes the saga?

The novel starts off with the gunslinger Roland in pursuit of a man dressed in black, who might serve to be of key importance in his quest for the Dark Tower, a tower of which he knows little and understands even less, but seeks it just the same. Roland has left behind his own world and dark past to get to Dark Tower, and along the way he makes acquaintance with people who have led similarly dark lives. The novel is set in a wasteland desert with a touch of the good ol’ Wild West feel in it. At the same time, it also gives us a hint of what could very well turn into an epic fantasy-type.

How’s the book itself? The protagonist, Roland, is not a very likable character(yet), but he is believable with his somewhat archaic notions of duty and honor, coupled with a certain ruthlessness. But the book itself felt a bit patchy in its pacing and the overall feel. Parts of it are outright brilliant, especially the action parts, but at the same time other parts felt slow-ish and just generally a wee bit uninteresting. There were moments where I actually thought of leaving the Dark Tower quest for later, but leaving a book incomplete is an action I consider to be sacrilege, so I stuck with it. At least the book ends strongly, and gave me the impetus to pick up the next book in the series.

Overall, I would say the book is good, but not an especially good one. I have read a few of Stephen King’s works, and while he is undoubtedly a brilliant writer, I feel he does occasionally go a bit bonkers in his writing. The Gunslinger suffers a bit more than usual from this, but the action parts are written in a way that’s beyond great. Anyway, for those who want to start The Dark Tower series, you might get a bit put off by this book, but hold on to the series because there are flashes of brilliance here that may spark the flame for the sequels in the series. You will like the book even more if you are a fan of the revolver-toting Westerns.

RATING : 7.3/10




After reading stuff written by Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie, I’d started to notice Daniel Polansky’s Low Town book creeping into my fantasy recommendations list on Goodreads. The summary of the book seemed pretty interesting, too; an amoral, ruthless protagonist, an unforgiving place. Just my kind of book, I felt. And picked it up.

And did not put it down until I was a couple of hours late to bed each night, for the ten days it took me to finish the series. The protagonist, who is only ever called The Warden, is a drug dealer in Low Town; and not just any ordinary drug dealer, either; he is in fact notorious for being the machinery that runs Low Town. In his own words, he is the one that runs Low Town. He stays with Adolphus, his best friend and war-time buddy, and Adolphus’ wife Adeline at their bar, The Staggering Earl. From here, he makes regular runs to different parts of the town, selling his merchandise, bribing the town guards, the works.

The first book starts off with a series of child-killings in Low Town. The Warden gets embroiled into the matter by being the discoverer of one of the dead bodies. And goaded by Adolphus’ wife Adeline, he begins to carry out his own investigation into the matter. This is how the series starts off. Plot-wise, all the three books are independent enough to give the impression that they could be read in any order whatsoever. But these books are not really about the plot, as such. They are more about character development and the changing relationship dynamic between The Warden and others.

Though the series is labeled as fantasy, you won’t really find much sorcery in these books; you could say that only about 5% of the series would actually have sorcery in it. But whatever sorcery there is, is pretty badass. The series is one of those gritty, dark fantasies which have sort of become the norm these days. But the specialty of this series, is that it feels more like a detective-noir type book than anything else, with its drug dealers, unscrupulous guards, and a world which is in general an unfair place. And the dry, deadpan humor throughout is the best part.

Even if you are new to fantasy, you will most probably like the books if you are a fan of crime-mysteries. And for fantasy veterans, so to speak, Daniel Polansky will be a breath of fresh air, with his witty humor and gritty writing.

RATING : 9.2/10

Daniel Polansky – She Who Waits (Low Town #3)

Daniel Polansky – She Who Waits (Low Town #3)

The first two books in the Low Town series were brilliant depictions of a cruel, unforgiving world of The Warden and his domain, Low Town. So, how does the series get tied off by Polansky in this final entry to the series?

She Who Waits is set about 3-4 years from the events of its predecessor. In this final book, Low Town is getting more and more unstable, to the point that the Warden predicts a full-scale war to erupt between the different crime syndicates in the town. And with the Old Man’s Black House making its own play, The Warden doesn’t expect the place to last longer than a few weeks. The Warden intends to make a clean break from Low Town with Adolphus, Wren and Adeline in tow, to some far-off place where Wren will actually have a future in becoming a competent practitioner of the Arts. Also, a rash of brutal, chilling murders have been recorded in Low Town, with one of The warden’s neighbors also becoming a murderer in the same vein. On top of this, a new drug called red fever[named after the infamous plague which killed off a majority of the inhabitants of the empire during The Warden’s childhood] is making the rounds in Low Town…

While the first two books were gritty and brutal, they feel like starters when placed in front of this book. The first two books build up to this entry, and here is where the emotional payoff hits pay dirt. This book is more emotional than the first two books combined. The Warden is not a good guy, as we all know by now already; he just wants to do right by his best friends and Wren, who he now thinks of as his own son. A remnant of his past returns to Low Town, and The Warden is determined to close the chapter on that matter.

The book is brilliantly written, and is even better than its predecessors, a significant feat as the readers of the Low Town trilogy will recognize. If you’ve started the Low Town series, do not hesitate to finish it, although you probably won’t need my encouragement after being two books in.

RATING : 9.4/10