Tuesday, May 13, 2014

4 Fantasy Series to Check Out

With the growing popularity of Game of Thrones, the Fantasy genre has seen a resurgence in popularity of late. Even the Young Adult market is not immune to the considerable influx of new and enticing series being released each week. With the genre being flooded by the latest offerings, it's easy to overlook some of the slightly older series and that would be a tragedy. With that in mind, here is a look at 4 series that every fan of the genre should give a chance, whose first novels were released prior to 2010.

The Healing Wars Trilogy
While the title may call to mind a different kind of shifter, The Shifter is about a magical group of people who have the power of healing people by taking away their pain. Once a Taker pulls the pain from you, they transfer the pain from that person to themselves and then into these special ores called pynvium. The Healing Wars Trilogy follows Nya, a young orphan who has discovered that her own ability as a Taker is not quite right. Instead of shifting into the pynvium, Nya can only shift the pain into another human being. This is an aberration and she fears that if The League discovers her gift they will make her do horrible things.

When the threat of war starts to threaten the lives of her people, Nya realizes she has stayed hidden in the shadows for too long and that she must rise up in order to save her sister from the Healer's League at all costs.

The second book in the trilogy, Blue Fire and the third book, Darkfall, continue on with Nya's adventures as she tries to help set things right in her city and restore order to the lives of the people that she loves. Nya must learn how to justify the use of her powers for the greater good versus what she thinks to be the right thing to do.

Dragonfly Companion Novels
As a poor goat herder on the tiny Island of Kai, Taoshira never imagined that she would be called to become one of the Princesses of the Blue Crescent Islands. The Four Princesses are all devoted in their daily rituals to the Mother Goddess and Taoshira is finally becoming more comfortable in her role as a Princess. Over on the mainland in Gerfal, the King wants to solidify an alliance between his country and the Crescent Isles with their formidable Navy. In order to ensure both sides will keep to the agreements, Tashi is engaged to the Prince of Gerfal, Ramil.

Ramil is a spoiled boy, he only cares for his own desires and is cruel to Tashi when she arrives in the strange country. Deciding to break off the engagement, the two leave on a last ride and disaster strikes. Kidnapped by a traveling circus, the two find themselves chucked into a wagon and forced on the road towards the Spearthrower’s lands. The Spearthrower has set his eyes on Gerfal, and hopes to add their land to his own ever-increasing holdings. He hopes to use Tashi and Ramil to his advantage in negotiations.

As a common enemy helps bring the two together, Ramil and Tashi must figure out a way to get back to Gerfal and put a halt to the Spearthrower’s nefarious plans. Dragonfly showcases a ton of character growth. Spoiled and selfish at the outset, Ramil must quickly learn how to maneuver through delicate situations in order to save the Princess’ life and keep his own people from becoming embroiled in a civil war. Tashi faces more adversarial forces while captured, as her entire way of life is called into question by the Spearthrower and his sister. They want Tashi to renounce her beliefs and swear allegiance to the War God. Unsure of what she believes any more, she must learn to trust Ramil and learn how to trust in herself again. 

The Glass Swallow, the companion novel to Dragonfly, features an extremely talented Glassmaker, Rain. In her Kingdom, women are not allowed to join the Glassmaker's guild, so she leaves her own country and travels to Magharna in order to pursue her dream. There she meets Peri, an untouchable who saves her life and captures her heart.

The Study Series
In Poison Study, sentenced to execution for committing murder, the one crime that is always punished by death, no matter the reason or justification, Yelena finds herself standing inside the office of the Commander’s head assassin and sneak, Valek. His offer is simple: she can become the taste tester for the Commander’s meals, or she can head to her execution as scheduled. It was the choice of a quick, painless death or the agonizing uncertainty of never knowing when a poison could kill you. For Yelena, that choice was easy. She agrees to sign on as food-tester, planning to bide her time until she could escape.

Always two steps ahead of her, Valek had her unknowingly take a poison call Butterfly’s Dust. If she doesn’t report in for the antidote every morning, she will die an extremely painful death. Odd things start to happen around Yelena and she has to wonder if she isn’t the cause of them. After being found a by a Magician from Sitia, Yelena discovers that she has a deeper power that she never knew even existed.

Before she can start to plan her escape, darker forces start to move in on Ixia, and Yelena is pulled into their web. With Valek at her side, she has to decide if she is willing to risk her life for her country or if running away to Sitia is the better option.

Poison Study is an exciting, fast-paced story that will keep you enthralled from the first page. It is full of mystery; from the reason Yelena killed the son of the man who raised her to who is plotting to over-throw the Commander, there is always something to wonder about. The characters are well-written and you will find yourself sympathizing with Yelena as she tries to piece together some semblance of a life, and falling in love with Valek as he tries to understand more about his young apprentice.

Yelena’s story continues on in Magic Study and FireStudy, all previously released. Three new novels featuring Yelena and Valek will be released starting this year with Shadow Study in January of 2015.

The Kingdom of Tortall
Saving the best for last, Tamora Pierce writes stories featuring strong women who completely kick ass in situations where women are usually told to sit down, have babies and embroider things. The first series in the Kingdom of Tortall, Song of the Lioness features Alanna of Trebond, a young woman who knew from a young age that the life that was expected of her was not the life that she was meant to lead. Urging her twin to switch places with her, she cuts her hair and heads to the Palace to learn how to be a knight. With the help of her manservant, Coram, she manages to pass detection and begins her training to become a knight of the Kingdom.

Coram isn't her only help, though. She quickly makes friends with an amazing cast of characters that are sure to delight. Jon, the prince who wants to be treated like the rest of the boys quickly becomes her closest ally. George, a dashing thief, instantly takes a liking to Alanna and her odd purple eyes. Sir Myles, one of the teachers at the palace, becomes one of her most steadfast mentors. But not all is as it seems at the palace and a sweeping sickness comes that leaves many residents of castle dead in its wake. The rumor is that it isn't a normal sickness, that a powerful sorcerer sent it in order to weaken the royal family's hold on the monarchy. Alanna has her suspicions on who is responsible, and she knows that she has to stop him before he can claim Jon's life in his next step to take over the realm.

Thus far, there are four other series set in the world of Tortall, all of them interconnected in some way. The Immortals follows Daine, a young woman cast out from her own country and forced to settle into Tortall. She has always had an affinity with animals and through the tutelage of her mentor, Numair, she is able to control her wild magic and help save the Kingdom. In Protector of the Small, Keladry of Mindelan is the first girl to openly train as a Page in the palace. Much like its title would suggest,Daughter of the Lioness follows Alanna's daughter Alianne, as she is swept up into the politics of the Copper Isles and the whims of the Trickster God, Kyprioth. Legend of Beka Cooper, the most recent series released in the Tortall world, is a prequel series that follows George Cooper's ancestor Beka Cooper. Much unlike her descendent, who at one time was the head Rogue in the Court of the Thieves, Beka is training to become one of Lord Provost's dogs, the people tasked with upholding the law in Tortall.

Each of Tamora Pierce's series is full of kick ass women doing kick ass things. There is more than a hint of romance in most of the stories, and plenty of adventure and heroism. Any reader who enjoys strong women characters absolutely should not miss out on Tamora Pierce's inventions.


  1. Yay, I've read them all except The Healing Trilogy! Have to check that one out :)

    1. It is definitely worth checking out! Nya is a fantastic character :)