The Great Unread: Series I Never Finished But Want To (Part 2)

Updates

Last week I wrote a post about some of the fantastic SFF series I’d started, but never completed. Surprisingly, it quickly became one of my most popular posts, which I didn’t expect at all. Success flows from the least expected fountains I guess. Anyway, in that post I promised a follow up, because obviously I’m a literary savage and have numerous unfinished series languishing on my shelf. In this post, I treat you to a series from each of the main branches of of speculative fiction; one each from horror, science fiction and fantasy. So bookwyrms, without further ado, here is part two of The Great Unread.


LOCKE & KEY by Joe Hill

If you weren’t already familiar with the LOCKE & KEY graphic novels, many more of you will now know about it from the recent Netflix adaptation. I haven’t watched it yet because my brain won’t allow me to watch film or TV adaptations without finishing the books first. It’s the same reason I haven’t got round to watching The Witcher yet and, to be honest, I like it that way. I like formulating my own images and interpretations of characters and settings before having someone else’s vision painted over my own because, no matter how hard I try, if I do it the other way around I just can’t get the film or TV version out of my head while reading. Graphic novels don’t have that problem to the same extent but even so, I just like to read the print stuff first.

I’ve only read the first trade paperback issue of LOCKE & KEY, the collection called WELCOME TO LOVECRAFT, but I finished it in one sitting and it had me so simultaneously intrigued, creeped out and engrossed that I know I’m in this one for the long haul. This first issue introduces us to Tyler, Kinsey and Bode Locke, who relocate to their uncle’s home in the small town of Lovecraft after their father is murdered by a disturbed teen called Sam Lesser. Before long, young Bode discovers a supernatural door in the house that has a disturbing but alluring power that allows him to communicate with a malevolent being that resides within the house.

It’s difficult to say what really makes this such a great story without getting too far into spoiler territory, but both as a graphic novel and a horror story it had me hooked on so many levels. Above all it’s a story about loss and grief and how people process the senseless loss of loved ones, but the horror element is still front and centre. I’m still fairly new to the horror genre, but WELCOME TO LOVECRAFT does what I think horror does best, by using the genre as a tool to explore the darkest inner workings of us as imperfect and contradictory human beings.


REMEMBRANCE OF EARTH’S PAST by Liu Cixin

THE THREE BODY PROBLEM is set against the backdrop of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and is the story of a secret military project attempting to make contact with extra-terrestrial life. Ye Wenjie is a physicist who, after being denounced as a traitor to the revolution, is forcibly recruited to work on a scientific project called ‘Red Coast’, nominally a secret government initiative to utilise high-powered radio waves to damage foreign spy satellites. As the truth becomes apparent and Ye makes great leaps forward in interstellar communications, she is faced with a choice that will change the course of human civilisation forever and perhaps threaten its very existence.

I’ll be reviewing this book fully at some point but, in short, what I loved about it wasn’t necessarily the science involved in explaining how a lot of the technology works (though I did actually enjoy that a lot and want more of it), it was the complex relationships between the characters and the various factional struggles that take place, both within the various power groups in Chinese society and the microcosm of those struggles on a personal level that drives the story forward. There’s a lot of physics in this book, from the importance of orbital mechanics to the details of amplifying radio waves but, if you’re a bit of a geek like me, then I think this will only enhance your enjoyment of the story because, far from getting in the way of the narrative, Liu does a great job of allowing it to enrich the story.

REMEMBRANCE OF EARTH’S PAST is a sub-genre of science fiction I don’t ordinarily read. It’s hard sci-fi which, prior to reading the first book in this series, I had no meaningful experience of whatsoever. After reading THE THREE BODY PROBLEM though, it’s definitely a genre I plan to explore more thoroughly and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.


THE FIRST LAW by Joe Abercrombie

I really enjoyed THE BLADE ITSELF, the first book in Joe Abercrombie’s FIRST LAW series. Yes it’s grimdark, but it’s also just great fun to read. I have a full review of THE BLADE ITSELF, which you should check out for all my thoughts, but the tl;dr version is it’s a fantastically-written story with vivid characters and a setting ripe with social upheaval and a world seemingly about to be torn apart by arcane power, war and underhanded political subterfuge.

I’ve already reviewed the first book fully so go check that out, but what excited me the most about continuing with this series is the tantalising sense that the first book ended at the point where the status quo of the world we’ve spent 500 pages growing accustomed to is about to be shattered forever. I’ve seen a lot of writing advice say the best place a book is at the point where everything changes, where the status quo is broken; this book is hard proof that doesn’t have to be true and that prescriptive writing advice should always be taken with a pinch of salt.


The more discerning among you who also read last week’s post may recall I promised four unfinished series in part two. However, in true book lover fashion, I’ve since started another two series that I want to talk about so, lucky for you, there’s actually going to be a PART THREE of The Great Unread, featuring the final three unfinished series I have on the go. I can’t promise I won’t start a few more in the meantime but hey, the blessing of the TBR means it will never be complete and there’ll always be more awesome stuff to read.

So that’s all for now bookwyrms. Let me know if you’ve read any of these series, what you thought of them and what are some of your own unfinished series you really want to get to?

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The Great Unread: Series I Never Finished But Want To

Updates

One of the weird by-products of having a TBR so extensive it’s gained sentience is the number of fantastic series I’ve started, but never finished. I’m generally a canny laser-focused reader; a lot of the time I’ll start a series and just binge it through to the end with very little in between. But since falling through the looking-glass that is Book Twitter and the reading/blogging community in general, the sheer number of books bursting onto my radar has been over-fucking-whelming. In the best possible way of course, but it has resulted in me being distracted by a shiny new discovery on more than one occasion and the number of unfinished series is mounting. So, in an attempt to get the list under control, here is Part One of The Great Unread.


SWORDS AND FIRE by Melissa Caruso

This series is so so good. I discovered Melissa Caruso on Twitter and picked up THE TETHERED MAGE without knowing a great deal about it other than I liked the author and it was set in a Venetian-inspired world with FIRE WARLOCKS! So I mean, instant buy-in from me, but beyond that I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. And hoooo boi I got in very deep, very quick.

In the Serene Empire of Raverra, magic is tightly-controlled and all those born with the mage mark are seized by the government as children and raised in The Mews as ‘Falcons’, to be trained and used as weapons of war. Zaira is a warlock who has evaded conscription by living as a street urchin for most of her life, flying under the radar of the Falconers who would seek to capture her and draft her into the military. Lady Amalia Cornaro was never meant to be a Falconer. Born into a world of political machinations and court intrigue, she is a scholar and heiress to one of the most influential political positions on the Raverran council. Their lives change forever when a chance encounter binds these two young women together, and as war looms in the empire and Zaira is unwillingly turned into a weapon, a single spark of her balefire could turn their city into a pyre.

I actually plan on re-reading the first two books before finishing up the series with THE UNBOUND EMPIRE, primarily because I want to review the full series and want them to be fresh in my mind, but also ’cause I loved the first two books so much I’m just excited to relive them again!


THE SACRED THRONE by Myke Cole

This is another series I’ll be re-reading in order to fully review for the blog. And with THE ARMORED SAINT and THE QUEEN OF CROWS totalling 456 pages between them, these are shorter reads that pack a whole lot of emotionally wrecking story into their small page count.

Myke Cole is another author I discovered on Twitter, through his frequent humorous interactions with Sam Sykes and Chuck Wendig, so when I came to read his fiction I almost had the expectation it would be similarly light in tone. I was very, very wrong. Myke is a writer who is not kind to his characters. Not at all. THE ARMORED SAINT tells the story of Heloise, a village girl living in a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, where the ruthless Order exist to prevent the practice of magic by any means necessary, and are willing to slaughter as many innocent people as they must in order to prevent this greater evil. After she witnesses the Order brutally massacre the population of a neighbouring village, Heloise is spurred into action against the Order and risks bringing down their wrath not only on herself, but on her family and her entire village.

I devoured the first two books in one sitting each. The books are short, the pace is frantic and the stories utterly compelling. THE KILLING LIGHT only released in November, so this one at least hasn’t been languishing on my TBR for too long. Seriously excited and nervous to find out how Heloise’s brave resistance to the Order ends, because having read the first two books, I now know how brutal and unforgiving Myke Cole can be to his characters…


EMBERS OF WAR by Gareth L. Powell

The first two EMBERS OF WAR books are literally some of my favourite space opera novels of all time. Gareth L. Powell has been compared to Iain M. Banks and the Culture novels but I honestly think these books are even better. Gareth has succeeded in elevating the traditional pulp setting of space opera and giving it serious depth. EMBERS OF WAR and FLEET OF KNIVES are packed full of perilous space adventure, while simultaneously having some of the best-written characters of any novel of any genre I’ve ever read.

The first book begins with the final moments of the galaxy-spanning Archipelago War and follows several former combatants as they come to terms with the horrors they experienced in the fighting and try to make new lives for themselves in the aftermath of the conflict, while rushing headlong towards the locus of the next big interstellar war.

LIGHT OF IMPOSSIBLE STARS is set for release in late February 2020 and is one of my most anticipated books in a long long while. So if you haven’t read the first two yet, now is a great time to jump in and, if you need any more convincing, check out my reviews of EMBERS OF WAR here and FLEET OF KNIVES here.


Thus concludes Part One of The Great Unread. I’ll be back next week with four more (yes, FOUR MORE!) unfinished series I hope to finish sooner rather than later. And no doubt there’ll be many more iterations of this format in the future when the TBR starts taking its relentless toll again, but for now I wish you all very Happy Reading.

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