Loosely interpreted. That is, some are longer than trilogies, some swagger across that unpoliced border into YA territory and one is for adults.
It occurred to me recently that of all the thousands (and there must be) children’s fantasy trilogies emerging in the post Northern Lights-Harry Potter fantasy boom of the late 90s and early noughties, I have read few, and almost none all the way through. Partly because of time, partly because I hate trilogies where each book ends on a cliffhanger (as seems the modern way) and because there are just so many! Often they arrive over-hyped, with comparisons to she-who-must-not-be-named and fade rapidly into obscurity.
Where to begin? Well, these all come strongly recommended by Those Who Know About This Stuff. Where I’ve begun them, I’ve added my thoughts but full reviews will emerge once I have ploughed my way through The Whole Darn Trilogy (or whatever) and awarded marks for not only Individual Book Excellence but also Satisfying Trilogy-ness.
please note: I have not included Northern Lights, Narnia, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, A Wizard of Earthsea etc because if you haven’t heard of those, really, why are you here?
The Thief Megan Whalen Turner plus sequels (3) actually predates Harry Potter. Set in a kind of alternative Greece after the fall of the Roman Empire, it concerns the fortunes of three neighbouring kingdoms, Sounis, Eddis and Attolia. So far I’ve only read the first, Newbery medal winning volume, told in the first-person voice of the aforementioned thief and it’s absolutely wonderful.
Jaclyn Moriarty is one of those exceptional writers that balance comedy and fantasy (think DWJ) all wrapped up with ace plotting and wonderfully inventive language. The Cracks in the Kingdom is Book 2 of The Colours of Madeline Trilogy, and even better than the first book A Corner of White i.m.o. The third book, A Tangle of Gold is due out later this year (WHEN? JM, WHEN?). Loosely, Madeline, a girl in our world (Cambridge, England) connects with Elliot in Cello ( a sort of magic-realist, small-town America fairyland) and between them try and solve the mystery of where the Cello Royal family have disappeared. Princess Ko, the sole remaining royal is a whirlwind of kick-ass princess awesomeness. Quirky, complex and original.
This is probably my favourite fantasy series of ALL TIME. Funny, original, inventive and detailed in its alternative-California world-building AND in the third there is a love triangle with Flora, PrettyBoy and FurryBoy which is hilarious. Time for a reread.
I’ve only read one of these but they come highly recommended by just about everyone. And I loved the younger, funnier Larklight and sequels by the same author, so I hereby commit to reading the whole thing.
Another one that predates Potter. Haven’t even BEGUN this series yet, so more anon.
I had absolutely zero interest in reading what was billed as ‘Harry Potter for grown-up literati who live in Brooklyn’ until a writer whose middle grade fiction I adore recommended on her blog. Thus, I recant.
So this is pretty much what I’ll be doing for the next
ten years few months. I’m aware that this is a very selective list and welcome recommendations for other absolute must-reads.
An unparalleled guide to all the fantasy tropes, cliches and hackneyed ideas you should RID YOUR BOOK OF RIGHT NOW.