Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! This is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where a new top ten list hits the web every week!
Our list this week is going to include some recent novels and some oldies but goodies, so here goes.
SOPHOMORE NOVELS I LOVED AS MUCH AS THE AUTHOR’S DEBUT!
Mr. Preston really ratchets up the swashbuckling action and steampunk thrills in this second installment of his Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin series, and I for one found myself loving all the daring-do and zeppelin battles even more the second time around!
Mark T. Barnes’ Echoes of Empire series started off with the complex, detailed world-building of The Garden of Stones, but when this follow-up came out, it was all about the fantasy action and intrigue. Reading this one turned me from a lukewarm reader into a hardcore fan!
This second novel from the very prolific Canadian writer Dave Duncan was a genre-blender of fantasy and scifi themes that found a way to mix dwarves with technology, giant spiders with climatic changes. And after finishing this wild romp across an alien world, I became a follower of Mr. Duncan, faithfully reading his books for many years.
Okay, I know Raymond E. Feist wrote Magician as a single novel before it was split into two books for publication reasons, but when I was a teenager, I read it as two, separate volumes, so that is the way I view Magician. With that reasoning in mind, this sophomore novel was what turned a fairly generic fantasy series into one of my favorites back in the day.
A grimdark delight which built upon the vicious, dark and brutal first volume as well as continuing to surprise with its wit and humor. Nope, Mr. Scull had no sophomore slump with this one, just wetted his fans appetite for more of this group of despicable (Okay, one or two aren’t that bad.) characters and their ongoing exploits in a world that is slowing dying.
While I was a huge fan of The Jackal of Nar, I couldn’t disagree too strongly with my friends who argued that the novel was a bit formulaic with many standard fantasy tropes, but after reading this second book, I felt able to tell them to just shut up, because several of the traditional bad guys came alive here. Yeah, I’m looking at you Count Biagio.
People either love or hate Thomas Covenant. After reading book one of this classic trilogy, I was firmly in the hate group. The guy made me sick to my stomach, but I decided to continue on because I always finished series back then. And The Illearth War made me glad I did, as I discovered other characters to rout for and fell completely in love with the Land.
Now, I love this Barbara Hambly series; it is one of my favorites of all times, up there with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Back in the day though, I started this one with doubt that Ms. Hambly could top book one, but Walls was so good, so filled with ancient mysteries and brutal horrors that it was the final push that sealed my fate as a Darwath fan.
Book one of Greatcoats was a mixture of three musketeer camaraderie and grimdark plotlines; the former outshining the latter. In his sophomore novel however, Sebastien de Castell turns the whole series on its head, transforming it into a grimdark fantasy closer to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire rather than Dumas’ Three Musketeers. And I for one am hooked on it.
My favorite sophomore novel is this stunning tour de force by Jeff Salyards. I’ll admit book one moved fairly slow, taking its time introducing people and characters, but this story comes out of the gate like a grimdark hurricane, pummeling a reader with its realistic action, realistic people, and realistic tone. Best damn sophomore book I’ve read!