Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Anything leap to your mind for Best Sequel Ever? (Updated)

This post by Angie at Angieville caught my eye.

I know that second books are frequently considered not as good as the first in the series. Angie provides a set of exceptions. Of the ones I’m familiar with, I agree most fervently with The Queen of Attolia, which to me seemed like a pretty huge step up from the first book — which I liked, but didn’t think was all that and a bag of chips.

Not sure I agree about Speaker for the Dead. I liked it very much but it’s hard to match Ender’s Game.

Other sequels that match or outdo the first book: The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper! The first book was quite forgettable compared to the actual The Dark is Rising, which was the second book.

What else?

Of EON / EONA, I thought the second book was much better, but I admit it is really all one story.

I don’t think Ilona Andrews hit their stride till the third Kate Daniels book, but Angie was restricting herself to second books only, so I guess that doesn’t count.

Okay, one more, though: I will say, my opinions about my own books are highly changeable, but I do think the second Griffin Mage book is my favorite.

Update: Good comments below, and wait, there was a sequel to The Wolves of Willoughby Chase? I had no idea.

But after spending a few minutes perusing my library, I do have a couple more contenders for Sequel Beats First Book:

I preferred Sharon Shinn’s Truth-Teller’s Tale to the first book in this loosely-linked trilogy, which starts with Safe-Keeper’s Secret. It doesn’t hurt that a pair of twins are at the center of the second book, since I’m a twin, but in fact I just prefer it in general — though I really enjoyed the whole trilogy.

Moving to Big SF Epics, I strongly preferred KSR’s Green Mars to the first book, Red Mars. One reason: I disliked most of the pov characters in the first book, but liked most of the pov characters in the second book. Naturally that made a big difference. Also: a revolution against tyranny that succeeds is just a lot more appealing to read about than the same kind of thing that fails. Also: for me, a partially terraformed Mars is more fun to read about than the initial settlement.

Usually I like the initial development of the world and the characters, but in Varley’s Titan, Wizard, Demon trilogy, I preferred the second (and third) books to the first. Maybe that’s just me. I will say that I have re-read this series several times, whereas KSR does not write books I revisit often.

Okay! As far as sequels that beat their first books, I’m out.

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8 Comments Anything leap to your mind for Best Sequel Ever? (Updated)

  1. Craig

    Great topic!

    I agree about QUEEN and DARK both. I can’t name any (other) examples offhand, though I can feel them niggling at the underside of my memory.

    Technically, George Allen & Unwin were expecting a sequel to THE HOBBIT when Tolkien eventually delivered a new work to them. But I just can’t see LOTR as a sequel, and I don’t suppose anyone else can either.

  2. Elaine T

    Maybe Lloyd Alexander’s THE BLACK CAULDRON?

    I don’t mind HEIR OF SEA AND FIRE, but it’s not a huge leap in quality or anything, it simply continues on the level RIDDLEMASTER set.

    As for SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD…. well…. I sort of liked it when it came out, but I really couldn’t believe in a lot of the relationships. Or if I did, they badly needed improving.

  3. Cheryl L

    Despite the hype surrounding Joan Aiken’s THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE, I found it a fairly predictable children vs. evil governess story. However, I think the series really took off with the second book, BLACK HEARTS IN BATTERSEA.

  4. Craig

    If you count David Brin’s Uplift universe books as a series, the first one _Sundiver_ is pretty good, but the second one _Startide Rising_ is the best of the lot and one of the best SF novels of its decade.

  5. Elaine T

    I totally agree about BLACK HEARTS in BATTERSEA. i love that book. I read it before I found WOLVES, and it is so much better that WOLVES.

    Has anyone but me read the whole series to the end? What did you think of it? I thought it went more than a little weird and awry at the end.

    But I love BHIB, and CUCKOO TREE.

  6. Cheryl L

    I’ve also read the entire series. I gave up expecting continuity from book to book (especially towards the end) and just went with the flow of the writing. Can anyone else think of a series written over a period of more than 40 years? I agree that the middle books are the most satisfying.

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