Sequels that are as good as the first book

From Stubby the Rocket at Our Favorite Sequels That Are As Good As the First Book

Great idea for a post! Let’s see which second books are pulled out for this list — gosh, only four! That’s a short list. Here they are:

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey

A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

I’ve read all of those except the one by Hartman. I think I agree that none of them are letdowns from their respective first books. Click through and read the comments to see why each one was chosen for that list.

Now, let’s expand the list because surely there are plenty more sequels that don’t disappoint. For the purposes of this list, I believe I will leave out of consideration various UF series that really take off at Book 3 or later. Let’s stick just to second books.

Oh, and also in the category of things-that-don’t-count, single really long novels that have been broken in half for publication purposes. So things like Black Out / All Clear by Connie Willis don’t count. The second book has to be an actual sequel.

5. The entire Demon’s Lexicon series by Sarah Rees Brennan, including the second book, The Demon’s Covenant, was solid. This is one of those trilogies where every book has a different protagonist. I liked Mae quite a bit as she took the central role in this second book.

6. Doris Egan’s Ivory series is great and I’ve always been sorry she didn’t go on with the series. The second book, Two-Bit Heroes, puts Theodora and Ran into quite a tense situation. The ending is just priceless.

7. Gemina, by Kaufman and Kristoff, was just as good at Illuminae. Same rip-roaring pace, same weird typographic effects, same crazy plotting, different protagonists but tied into the first book; I just can’t wait for Obsidio, which is coming out later this month, I think.

8. The Shadowed Sun is the second book of NK Jemisin’s wonderful Dreamblood duology. I loved the first book, but I really loved the second book.

9. Not books, but I can’t leave this list without mentioning “Terminator II” and “Aliens,” both of which were SO GOOD and much better than their respective first movies.

10. And one more: Land of Burning Sands, the second Griffin Mage book. This is my personal favorite of the trilogy, so as far as I’m concerned, it certainly is not a letdown from the first. It’s one of the sequels where the protagonists are different even though the plot hooks together with the first book. That is a technique that doesn’t work for all readers, but obviously I like it. I remember how much trouble I had starting it — I kept thinking of YA characters and plots — until I finally said, “FINE, the protagonist is 42 years old, let’s move on from there.” That knocked me out of YA mode at last.

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7 thoughts on “Sequels that are as good as the first book”

  1. I HATED Shadow Scale. Too long, sociopath basically gets off scot-free by the end, all the interesting things that were being set up with the interior “garden” and her connection to the other half dragons unused. I went from loving the first book to not wanting to read that author again.

    My picks for sequel better than original would be (in no particular order):

    – Epitaths by Therin Knite was a stronger book than Echoes, which was also good. Both have good mysteries but the character building in the second is superior.

    – Heart of Gold by Michael Pryor is another sequel that outshines its first book. (And the whole series is just so much fun… steampunk with laws of magic replacing some major laws of physics, which means magicians need math and language skills).

    – Skyfire by Jess E. Owen (gryphons!) takes everything that made the first book excellent and ramps it up.

    Other things for sure that just aren’t coming to mind right now, or where book 1 slightly edged out book 2 until book 3 or later.

  2. Always interesting to see how diametrically opposed readers can be about specific books. Shadow Scale remains on my radar, but though I liked the first book, I didn’t love it so much that I moved Shadow Scale up to the top of my TBR pile, so who knows when I might eventually read it?

    That steampuck series sounds interesting! Always glad to see math worked into fantasy worlds.

  3. I thought The Girl in the Tower was much better than The Bear and the Nightingale (which was very very good).
    Leckie’s Ancillary series didn’t let us down with either second or third book (though I wouldn’t say they were better than the first).
    Traitor to the Throne, by Alwyn Hamilton was better than the first book, Rebel of the Sands.
    Blood for Blood was just as good as Wolf by Wolf, by Ryan Graudin.
    The Invisible Library series hasn’t disappointed yet, and it’s on book four.
    Pure Magic is every bit as good as Black Dog (and the short stories are even better!).
    There are lots of sequels as good as the first book! I guess it’s just so disappointing when they aren’t that we get scarred by them.

  4. What about Megan Whalen Turner’s Thief books? The first book has a different target age than the others, so not sure if it counts, but there’s a big leap from book 1 to 2.

  5. PALADIN OF SOULS is as good as THE CURSE OF CHALION — even though it starts out by undercutting the ending of the first volume, which I liked a lot.

    The whole CHANUR’S VENTURE trilogy is really just one long sequel to THE PRIDE OF CHANUR. Similarly, LoTR is technically a sequel to THE HOBBIT, which seems like the place to drop the mike.

  6. Yes, I was thinking of The Two Towers as the sequel, but if you think of the whole LotR as a sequel, then it’s a huge advance over The Hobbit — to me, anyway, because I never much cared for The Hobbit.

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