Today, the guys in the Goodreads Top 5 Wednesday group have an interesting topic, one which is kind of sad from a reading perspective but does happen: Second Is Best!  “We’ve talked about series that went downhill, and series that are worth it, but which series were best in the middle?”

I really thought this would be an easy selection process.  I mean, I immediately thought of several books which became worse the longer the series progressed, but once I started examining my ratings I found they did not quite fit the description, because they had strong concluding volumes.  And so the splitting of hairs began.

Finally, I found five picks which I believe are as close to the topic as I can come, though in fairness to several the middle of the series was only slightly better than the beginning/ending.

5. The Histories of King Kelson by Katherine Kurtz 

This old school fantasy featured young King Kelson dealing with rebellion and betrayal.  It was fun stuff, especially when I read it back as a teenager.  But while The Bishops’ Heir was a good, solid introduction to the plot, The King’s Justice was the high point of the series: The Quest for Saint Camber not really to my liking.

4. The Powder Mage by Brian McClellan

The Powder Mage Trilogy is one of my recent favorites.  I love the world, the magic, and all the characters Brian McClellan introduces me to throughout General Tamas’ revolution.  It all starts with the very exciting Promise of Blood, gets even better with The Crimson Campaign, then, sort of, coasts to the finish line with The Autumn Republic.  Don’t take that to mean I didn’t like book three; it just means I didn’t like it as much as book two, which was the best of the trio.

3. Bloodsounder’s Arc by Jeff Salyards

Another of my recent favorites where book two was just so damn good that it made the beginning and ending of the trilogy pale in comparison.

2. Grim Company by Luke Scull

This is one of those series which you either really like or can’t stand.  Not sure why, but from the reviews on Goodreads that is my take on it.  As for me, I really enjoyed this less serious (though still bloody and grim) fantasy trilogy.  The Grim Company was good fun, and Sword was a damn entertaining grimdark romp, but Dead Man’s Steel was just . . . just okay.  Yet another bell curve series.

1.   The Dark Tower by Stephen King

This is a series which generates strong feeling among its lovers and haters.  No doubt, it is a masterpiece of genre blending storytelling by its author; a series which will probably be viewed by some as his masterpiece.  As for myself, I really enjoyed the first book, hated the second, then felt that the third, fourth, and fifth book were the pinnacles of The Dark Tower.  After The Wind Through the Keyhole, the whole saga just began to slip badly until the ending was (for me) absolutely horrible.  Perfect fit for this topic, right?

Agree?  Disagree?  Tell us why.  And what series would you put on your list?  Let us all know.


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  1. Bookstooge says:

    Kurtz put out a final King Kelson book, kind of a standalone but wrapped things up a bit more happily. I’m trying to remember the name of it, but can’t.


  2. Now, I’m really curious about the Dark Tower. I read the first one, which was okay. Didn’t make me want to go rushing for the second one though. Heard a lot of people say what you said about the middle too. Didn’t King have trouble writing this or something? I remember there was something going on in the middle. Maybe it was when he got hit by that van.


  3. Bob Milne says:

    I think Bloodsounder’s Arc was a saga that just got better with each book, but #2 was heads-and-shoulders above #1. I had the same experience with The Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookwraiths says:

      Greatcoats really did get better and better. Don’t get me wrong: I liked book 3 of Bloodsounder’s Arc, but book two was just so damn exciting CHIANS didn’t stand a chance of surpassing it in my eyes. 🙂


  4. Since I already have The Crimson Campaign in my e-reader’s reading queue, I must get to it soon, because now that I’ve learned it’s better than book 1, I’m beyond curious! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great topic! While I haven’t read the third book in Marc Turner’s series yet, I would probably put Dragon Hunters on this list. He even wrote a guest post for us one time about book 2s that were better than the first 😀


  6. The only one of your choices I’ve read is The Dark Tower which I loved…except for the ending!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jim Poore says:

    Reading tour article bloodsounders and grim company popped right into my head before I saw the list. Another one like this but its not finished yet so we ll see how book 5 goes is the traitor son cycle by miles Cameron. The latest book plague of swords was really disappointing but it was still great in comparison to the majority of fantasy today!

    Liked by 1 person

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