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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Favorite series of books and why

   
Author Topic: Favorite series of books and why
Matt.Simpson01
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What is your favorite series of books? It needs to be more than one trilogy, whether by the same author or by different ones in the same universe setting, ex. Star Wars. Also, tell us why you like it.

I would have to say my favorite series of books are the ones in the Dune universe. Frank Herbert's original six books are fantastic. Although the jumping of time in those books can be somewhat confusing, once you read them all, everything makes sense. It's ashame that he couldn't have finished them the way he wanted to before he died.

Then, his son came in and finished off the series and provided the backstories that are so important to the original six books. Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson did a good job of finishing the Dune storyline that Frank started. The two trilogies that provide information about how things came to be at the starting point of the first Dune book are really good. The ending they created from Frank Herbert's notes about how he was going to end things was masterfully done.

Anyways, now on to the rest of you.

[This message has been edited by Matt.Simpson01 (edited January 09, 2010).]


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tchernabyelo
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Roger Zelazny's first Amber series, for the sheer bravura of his writing, the concept of the one true world and all its shadows, and the riotously chaotic family at the heart of it all.

The second series, sadly, is not as good, in that he basically just keeps upping the power levels an breaks the suspension of disbelief.

But Nine Princes in amber; The Guns of Avalon; Sign of the Unicorn; The Hand of Oberon; and The Courts of Chaos - these are books I can re-read and enjoy again and again.


Regarding Dune - the first book is a masterpiece but I felt the seres went steadily downhill after that. Not that long ago I tried to read Chapter House Dune (the one book I had never got to) and found it so internalised and character-heavy, so utterly lacking in actual event or drama, that I honestly could not finish it.


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Robert Nowall
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If one excludes The Lord of the Rings as representing one single book in three volumes...and one excludes series on the order of Heinlein's juveniles, which don't share characters or a common background very much beyond being directed at the same audience...

Probably my favorite series would be Burroughs's "Martian" series. Maybe a pretty old choice, but it had a lot of influence on me as a youngster, and every few years or so, I reread it.

That's SF (kind of---see our discussion of definitions elsewhere). In fantasy, I like the work of Niel Hancock. He started with the Circle of Light tetralogy---that's four books---and continued through a couple more sets-of-four for awhile. His work might seem crude compared to either Tolkien or some of the stuff that came later, but I keep coming around to this: I like it better than most of what came later. (I have a certain regret that he stopped publishing (or the publishers stopped publishing him) as he seemed to get better as a writer.)


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Dark Warrior
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I think the dearest to me would be Piers Anthony's Xanth series, simply because that is what started it all. As a 13 year old AD&D fanatic I was at a flea market looking for fantasy books and I saw one with a great cover of an unassuming boy confronting a chimera. I've read 30 + in the series since then, even if I have outgrown his puns.

My true favorite of all time would be Stephen R. Donaldson's The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant Very heavy on milieu, much like LOTR and Shannara but I think the characters are a little deeper and the giants just rock!

My favorite unread series is Anne McCaffrey's Brain and Brawn because I was told by a critter that my WOTF entry had similar elements and if I planned on turning into a novel it would be good to read what she has done first. I have read her Petaybee and Pern series but hadnt even heard of Brain and Brawn. In fact I am having trouble finding hard cover copies to purchase.

[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited December 30, 2009).]


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Meredith
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quote:
My favorite undread series is Anne McCaffrey's Brain and Brawn because I was told by a critter that my WOTF entry had similar elements and if I planned on turning into a novel it would be good to read what she has done first. I have read her Petaybee and Pern series but hadnt even heard of Brain and Brawn. In fact I am having trouble finding hard cover copies to purchase.

Hmm. The Brain and Brawn books may never have been in hardcover. Or only as book club selections. I've read a couple of them, though I never found them all. Also, check out the Crystal Singer series if you're looking for some of her older work.

Favorite series. That's tough. There are so many that started well and then just ran out of steam for me. I'll have to give that some thought.


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Kitti
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I know some of the latter Brain & Brawn books were in hardcover, like The City Who Fought. But I only collect in paperback, so I'm not sure about the early ones.

I'd have to say my absolute favorite series is either Robin Hobb's 9-volume Elderling series (comprised of the Farseer Trilogy, the Liveship Traders trilogy and the Tawny Man Trilogy) or Jim Butcher's Dresden Files.


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ChrisOwens
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* I second Roger Zelanzy's Amber series--but I loved the whole series. I might even like the second to the first--I could relate to Merlin more than Corwin. As I was young when I read these, I never saw any of the twist endings coming. I loved the mystery, the scope of the millieu, the hard fantasy concepts. In the first book, Corwin's transformation from an ambitious prince to who he became, as well as how he reevaluated his brothers at the end was well done.

* I second Robin Hobb's Elderling series. In fact, I consider this series, especially the Liveship trilogy, the peak of perfection. Kennit is probably one of the most well done antogonists I've ever. Take warning--it's hard to go from reading this series, to something far less in quality. And after read this series, everything seems that way...


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D2
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I'll second the Xanth vote, for the exact same reason. One of the first -- maybe the first -- fantasy books I read was a tome that combined A Spell For Chameleon, The Source of Magic, and Castle Roogna. I was immediately hooked on the genre and have been a big fan of the series since.

If I had to pick something based not off nostalgia but off who I am now, it'd have to be Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. There's just something about his works -- they're filled with little tidbits of truth, as if he knows everything there is to know and is kind enough to share. They're a riot sometimes, to boot.


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Dark Warrior
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quote:
I'll second the Xanth vote, for the exact same reason. One of the first -- maybe the first -- fantasy books I read was a tome that combined A Spell For Chameleon, The Source of Magic, and Castle Roogna. I was immediately hooked on the genre and have been a big fan of the series since.

I still believe that the way he handled time travel in Castle Roogna is one of the most original that I have seen yet.


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dee_boncci
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Even though it is incomplete at present, at the top is Gearge R R Martin's Song of Fire and Ice. Martin writes with his sleeves rolled up and so you truly never know what's going to happen next. The series has vast scope in a world that feels similar to a Tolkein creation in depth.

A close second to Robin Hobb and her Assassin/Tawny Man stories. A geat set of stories with some interesting and well-done characters.

Honorable Mention to Stephen Kings Dark Tower. King is King and many love him or hate him before the first page is turned. As usual he comes up with fun characters and even though the plot got a little wild at the end, overall it was such a strange story it kept me interested.


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Doc Brown
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No question it's Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series which started with The Hunt for Red October.

IMO the weakest book in the series is Patriot Games, but even that has more juicy technical details than any five other books.


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InarticulateBabbler
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Robin Hobb is awesome, and she only writes in series(es?).

The Ender's Shadow (Beanverse?) is up there. For Bean.

Kevin J. Anderson's Saga of Seven Suns. For his amazing plotting, the societal diverities, and the Green Priests.

Lord of the Rings by Professor Tolkien. Milieu. 'Nuff said.

The Oathsworn trilogy by Robert Low. For everything.

The Necroscope Series by Brian Lumley. For the originality of his vampires, his scenery and characters.

The Matador Series, by Steve Perry. For brilliant plotting, action and his characters.

Bernard Cornwell's Grail Quest series for character, milieu and adventure.

Conn Iggulden's Conqueror series for milieu, characters and historical texture.

David Gemmell's Troy trilogy (though he died during the last book) for characters, humor, adventure, milieu and historical texture. Of course, I like all of David Gemmell's books--most for the reasons listed above. They're always good people doing good through hard or evil situations.

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson for his magic system, characters, and milieu.

That'll do for now.


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Dark Warrior
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quote:
No question it's Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series which started with The Hunt for Red October.
IMO the weakest book in the series is Patriot Games, but even that has more juicy technical details than any five other books.

Red Storm Rising was my favorite. But considering I was actually on an aircraft carrier when I read that certainly gave it additional emphasis.


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babooher
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I've never re-read a series as much as I re-read Stephen King's Dark Tower. With the new Marvel graphic novels, the online Discordia, and a new novel supposedly coming, I'm ever so happy.

Still, the "final" Dark Tower book had an ending that I could only say was both the best and worst ending ever. It was too delicious.


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Owasm
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Such a shallow man, am I.

Jack Vance - Demon Princes
I have always gotten a kick out of his wacked out cultures. These were written at the peak of his style.

Keith Laumer - Retief series, both novels and short stories
I suppose foreign services the world over (and beyond...) still operate in the same manner

Patrick O'Brien - Aubrey-Maturin
I liked C.S. Forester's Hornblower, but O'Brien's protagonists are more complex.

Honorable Mentions:
Cornwell - any of his.
Asimov - Foundation (although the initial trilogy is best)
Modessitt - Recluse
Flynn - Mitch Rapp
Pearce - Mamur Zapt


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Ben Trovato
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Thirding Zelazny's Amber. This was one of the first fantasy series I ever read.

Seconding Vance's Demon Princes, and also his Planet of Adventure cycle, and Gaean Reach cycle. The cultures really are a gem to read.

The Dresden Files (Jim Butcher). The best urban fantasy series I've read. Solid world-building, character growth, and good writing.

The Oecumene trilogy (John C. Wright).--I like this one for being an explicit homage to the Golden Age sci-fi, weird, well-thought out, magnificent.

The Orphans of Chaos trilogy (same author). Likable lead female character, really clever world-building. (It's about GREEK GODS! Running a boarding school! And it's a homage/reversal of the Chronicles of Amber! How cool can you get?!)

Discworld.--needs no explanation.

Redwall (Brian Jacques). I find the simplistic plots...really refreshing, actually. Good guys fight bad guys, they win, and then they have a feast.

The Hoka cycle (short stories by Gordon Dickson). What's not to love about alien teddy bears acting out stories from human literature?


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NoTimeToThink
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I can only judge by how often I have read a series:

1) LOTR (which I will call a series, and I include The Hobbit): 10 times
2) Harry Potter: 3 times

Dune never did it for me as a series. I loved the first book, which stood completely on its own, but gave up on the series part way through God Emperor.

I enjoyed The Thieve's World series (edited by Robert Lynn Asprin) in my youth, particularly because you see the universe and events from the varied perpectives of different authors and characters.


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Tiergan
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John Carter of Mars, the Martain series by Edgar Rice B. (well pretty much any series by him(Pelucidar, Tarzan) Sorry for my spelling. His stories jsut blew me away when I was younger, and have me looking for old hardback versions to this day, i want to be able to create those worlds, those characters.

The Executioner - Don Pendleton (Sorry, guilty pleasure, I love the quick action reads) And yes I know he long since passed and only wrote like 37 of the first 38,I can't remember off hand, hope it doenst bother so much I have to go look, But I have read a ton,and I am only missing like 7 out of the first 400.

Dirk Pitt - Clive Cussler, Have begun losing a little interest as his son has begun helping with the writing, its not becuase of that but, now Dirk is playing second fiddle to his son, and duaghter in the books, kind of throws me off a little.

Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis - Still reread them every now and then.

I bet there are more, I have forgotten.

yes,

Magician - Raymond Feist- Probably my all time favorite.

[This message has been edited by Tiergan (edited December 30, 2009).]


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ScardeyDog
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I have exactly the same opinion as D2. I read Xanth early, though now I find it cringe-inducing to re-read.

Discworld is my main love. Every book in the series is better than the last.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Well, if you won't allow LORD OF THE RINGS because it's only a trilogy, then I'll have to go with the Harry Potter books and the Twilight books, and then probably Anne Perry's two Victorian mystery series, Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone series, and Tony Hillerman's Navajo detective series.

Zelazny's first Amber series caused me to swear off of fantasy series for years and years because I had to wait so long between books, and I've never really gotten back into any of them. I like Ilona Andrews MAGIC series (though the 4th one isn't out yet), and Patricia Briggs' books look interesting (haven't read enough of them yet). And I've read all of the Ender and Shadow books and liked them a lot, too.

Why? Because in every one of the above I care about the characters and enjoy the stories.


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Pyre Dynasty
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Dude Lord of the Rings isn't just a trillogy, if you add the Hobbit, the Similarion (sp?), The Children of Hurin, et al. it qualifies. (And by the way I want to apologize about my overuse of dude recently, I've just been in the dude mood.)

That said my favorite series is DragonLance. It is one of the roundest worlds in all fiction. I don't know anyone who has read all of the novels, I do know one who tried, it nearly drove him mad. The best books outside the Weis/Hickman main books are, (among others there are a ton) The Siege of Mt. NeverMind which is one of my most favorite book, Tales of Uncle Trapsringer, The Elven Nations Trillogy, and the Legend of Huma. I really want to read Lord Soth, if I ever get my hands on a copy.


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KayTi
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Harry Potter, definitely.

A Wrinkle in Time, et al - hugely influential in my preference for speculative fiction as a genre.

My recent addition is the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, by Riordan. I read them all in a week or two, then spent the summer listening to them on audio cd with my kids, who loved them so much my then 5-yr old dressed up like Annabeth Chase for Halloween, very cool costume (though she did have to explain to everyone she saw what her orange camp half-blood t-shirt meant.)

I've always enjoyed Spider Robinson's Callahan's series books, but have to be in a certain mood to read them. I also cut my teeth on Asimov's Foundation and Heinlein's Lazarus Long books. They were influential in my life as well.

I'm not so into fantasy, though am reading a lot of it because that's what's out there these days (particularly in mid-grade and YA) and finding much to like (e.g., Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl, etc.) and some to not care much for (The Children of the Lamp series.) I'm only just starting to read The Assassin's Apprentice, and am enjoying it, but can't speak to any specifics yet. Wish there were more sci-fi writers writing better sci-fi.

Oh, which reminds me, I've read the Vatta's War series by Elizabeth Moon. Great stuff, but I've only just read them in the last year, no idea if they're the kinds of books I'll want to keep going back to, though I did find myself puzzling over some of the plot points recently as I was reading a book on writing.


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dougsguitar
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I personally liked the Terry Goodkind - Sword of Truth series - except for the last chapter in the last book - a common grievance amongst those of us who read the whole 11 book series. He never loses sight of the relationship between the two main characters even though the story goes deeeeep.

I own and have read an entire 13 book collection of Rudyard Kipling. Buried in them are a few connected series such as The Jungle Books (nothing like the Disney movie). I really enjoy the character portraits and how he provides SOOOO much scenery/detail with so few lines.

I also loved the John Carter Martian action by ERB...

Question; Where does RA Salvatore generally rank in the larger Fantasy world? I have read a great number of his earlier works and really liked them a lot.

DUNE! Awesome first book, dwindling interest following God Emperor. I also read several of Herberts other works... excellent stuff.

LOVED Clancy for the first four books... loved Red Storm Rising most of all. And I read each Bourne book as they were being released... more greatness.


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Pyre Dynasty
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I always hear Salvator's name said with the utmost respect. He is quite a stud.
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Robert Nowall
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A note about series: I'm not overly fond of the idea of writing one myself. A lot of series seem to shift in tone and emphasis---sometimes massively---and despite characters having the same names and such, they seem like the writer is writing about different people than at the beginning---and not because the characters learned anything. (Alvin Maker, for one. I'd like to see another volume, but the tone of the last ones was entirely different than the tone of the first ones.)

I think I'd much rather write a series where each volume dealt with different characters, with maybe one or two characters from earlier books popping up in later ones, or minor characters becoming major ones. (I'm drawn to the notion of a villain in one book becoming a hero in another...I've seen a couple of attempts at that.)


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pdh
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How about Clarke's 2001 series?

Along with E. E. Knight, Heinlein, Drake and many others.

pdh


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TaoArtGuy
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I'll break mine down by mood

Pratchet's Discworld for light-hearted moods

Zelazny's Amber for more serious moods.

and The Gotrek and Felix series by William King and Nathan Long for guilty pleasure. (It's fantasy buddy adventures for the uninitiated.)


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JenniferHicks
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1) David Eddings, Belgariad and Malloreon. These 10 books were my first experience with fantasy not found in the children's section, and I've read them several times. I never got into Eddings' other series quite the same way I did with the adventures of Garion.

2) Zelazny's first Amber series, definitely.

3) Harry Potter. I was hooked from the first chapter.

4) Lloyd Alexander, Chronicles of Prydain. I read these as a kid and loved them (and hated what Disney did with "The Black Cauldron.") My favorite was "Taran Wanderer," which I read many times when I was young.


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LlessurNire
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C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia - when I was a kid, first experience with a fantasy world that I got lost in!

Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time - Classic, Epic, Unforgettable - Just got the new book for Christmas and am so excited to start it and see how Brandon Sanderson continues it!!!

Ender's Game series including Ender's Shadow books - A universe I have been completely lost in, would love to live there someday

C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner series - great series dealing with alien human interaction and told primarily from the alien side of things, through a human POV living with the aliens

[This message has been edited by LlessurNire (edited January 01, 2010).]


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posulliv
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I read a lot of series fiction. Here are the ones I'll re-read again.

Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series
Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer series
Andre Norton's Free Trader series
C. J. Cherryh's Compact Space series (Pride of Chanur, etc.)
Lois McMasters Bujold's Myles Vorkosigan series
Miller and Lee's Liaden series

I like them because they're good stories well told.

[This message has been edited by posulliv (edited January 01, 2010).]


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shimiqua
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It makes me so happy that so many of you love Pratchett.

My favorite series of his by far though is the Bromeliad trilogy. So brilliant. Exactly the kind of book I wish I could write. My favorite series of all time.

I've read I've read the Enderverse, and Beanverse a billion times and still love em. The rock wall idea Virlomi comes up with is so clever. So number two.

I also started in fantasy with the Xanth series. Read them all, outgrown them a bit, but still love them nostalgically thought not enough to list them in my top five.

I've read Wheel of Time five times through book 6, 789+ only once a piece. I'll say third favorite.

Diane Duane's Support your Local Wizard has, in my opinion, the most believable magic system I've ever read, and I would be lying if I told you I hadn't read the oath aloud just in case it was real. Deep Wizardry is my favorite, though be all means start with So You Want to be a Wizard. Solid four.

Harry Potter, I guess, for five.

Yes I am a dork, thanks for noticing.
~Sheena


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snapper
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Gald to see a vote for Retief. Not in my class of favorites but enjoyable.

Saberhagen - Book of Swords and Lost Swords

Although the final book, Shieldbreakers Story, read as if it were a term paper written the night before it was due.

Turtledove - In The Balance series.

Aliens invade Earth in 1942 ending WWII and starting something nastier

And

North vs South alternate history series.

South wins civil war and starts a chain of events that leaves North America a battlefield for the next 80 years. His character Jake Featherstone surpases Hitler on the evil scale.

Others...

Nivens Known Space Universe

Resnicks Republic-Democracy-Oligarchy-Monarchy Universe


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Sunshine
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Some favorites from my childhood include:

Chronicles of Narnia (Lewis)
Wrinkle in Time series (L'Engle)
The Dark is Rising sequence (Cooper)
*Alice in Wonderland / Through the Looking Glass (Carroll)

*I realize the Alice stories aren't series, but I re-read them dozens of times and I think the worlds are remarkable enough to be mentioned.

Some favorites from teenage / young adult years include:

Xanth (Anthony)
The series with two worlds, one magic and one science (Anthony)
Valdemar series (Lackey)

There are others, but I suppose this will do for now.


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Robert Nowall
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I forgot to mention I was fond of Asimov's Foundation trilogy---the original collected stories from the forties in three volumes (or one, depending on your edition), not the later books Asimov added in the eighties.
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Lyrajean
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I'm going to second or third or fourth...whatever... Zelazny's Amber series (the first one). And LOTR for all the obvious reasons that have been mentioned already.

I also liked the Narnia books and the Tripods series by John Christopher as a child.

More recently I read CJ Cherryh's Morgaine Series. I love the motifs and combination of high technnology with a fantasy setting, and the fact that since they were her first books you can see her develop as a writer as the series progresses by leaps and bounds. Yet they are good enough not to be painful to read.


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