Okay, when I posted about perfect SFF and pointed to a bunch of short works, a lot of you started suggesting longer works. Now, the fact is, I think it’s much, much harder to point to a trilogy or series and declare that the work is perfect. Given that much room to stretch out, the chances are enormous that the author will at some point do something that you, the reader, dislike or disagree with.
You’ll sit there fuming:
- I can’t believe the author did that.
- Everything works for me except for this.
- I had no trouble suspending disbelief until I tripped over this one feature of the worldbuilding.
- The protagonist seemed generally pretty smart until she did that.
- The pacing seemed good except the story slowed down and dragged through this section here.
In a longer work, it’s rather unlikely that everything will work for a reader. Also, readers won’t agree what feature of the story fails. I mean, in the Tuyo series, I have seen comments from readers who dislike:
- The jackal-headed Lakasha-erra.
- The weird non-realistic astronomical stuff.
- The situation between Ryo and Darra at the end of Tarashana
- Ryo’s extended recovery after the thing that happens between Ryo and Aras in Tarashana.
And so on. All of those things have been particularly picked out by other readers as a feature they especially like. That’s the way it goes with longer, complicated SFF works. This is inevitable, and that is why perfection is much (much) harder to find in long novels, trilogies, and longer series.
But sure! I’m totally up for a challenge! Here is a list of NEARLY perfect longer SFF trilogies (and longer series).
1) Naomi Kritzer’s Freedom’s Gate trilogy:
Here’s my review of this trilogy. This comes first on my list because I literally cannot think of anything I would have done differently if I’d written this trilogy. It’s just fantastic. Is it perfect? I don’t know, probably not. Is it nearly perfect? Absolutely.
2) Sherwood Smith’s Inda series:
Here are my comments about this series. There are specific worldbuilding details that I found unbelievable, so not as perfect as the series above. On the other hand, Sherwood Smith managed those details in a way that prevented me from pausing to roll my eyes. Anyway, great series.
3) Django Wexler’s Shadow Campaigns series.\
Again, not totally perfect, but wow is this a great series. Here are my comments about the first book. In this case, Janus worked SO PERFECTLY when the reader never got to see his point of view; although I understand why Wexler broke that pattern and gave us scenes from his pov late in the series, I wish he has managed not to do that. I didn’t like how various details of how the overall series worked out, but on the other hand, I didn’t detest anything about the ending. That’s crucial, as obviously a horrible landing will retroactively ruin the whole series. Overall, this is a really great series, even if not totally perfect. With the plus that the first book is entirely self-contained!
4) Kate Elliot’s Spiritwalker trilogy.
This is another trilogy I’m finding hard to critique. It’s cluttered and baroque, a zillion disparate elements, yet the story is overall cohesive, which is quite an accomplishment. Here’s my review of the trilogy.
5) Elizabeth Moon’s Paksenarrion trilogy.
Wow, I don’t like the current cover. Here, try this one instead:
It’s not like the other cover is actually misleading, but this quieter image better suits the feel of the trilogy. I read it a long time ago, so I’ve never reviewed it online. But when I was looking at the fifth spot and thinking hmm, what’s another great fantasy trilogy, this one came to mind. Immediately I thought, Of course! Because actually, this is pretty much a perfect trilogy. The overall arc is clear and smooth from beginning to end; the elements of the story all fit together with neat precision. There are difficult moments … okay, if I think hard I can recall details I don’t particularly care for … but overall, this trilogy is very nicely put together. Elizabeth Moon tends to keep going with series, scattering the pov among tons of pov characters until I lose interest. That happened with her later books set in this world. But this trilogy is great.
That’s five! I’m stopping there. I bet you all have a suggestion for this list, so toss ’em in the comments!