Series. Love ’em when they’re done, hate ’em when there’s a year in between each book being published. These are my top five favorite series, with my least favorite installment of each. Join the Top Five Wednesday fun here!
Mossflower by Brian Jacques | Redwall #2
I was introduced to the Redwall books by my elementary school friends and was instantly hooked. Almost fifteen years later, I still have 21 of the 22 books on my shelf. I didn’t realize I was only missing one until I looked up a list for this post. I’ll probably buy the last one for the sake of solidarity.
Anywho, when thinking about my least favorite of them, I decided to work from those published in 2002 and earlier (Triss and back), since those are the ones I read fervently, instead of collecting them for the sake of collecting.* The winner (loser?) would have to be Mossflower, simply because of its location. I strongly prefer the books set around Redwall Abbey, sanctuary for woodland creatures, or Salamandastron, epic mountain fortress of the butt-kicking badger lords and Long Patrol hares. Mossflower, set in the woods of the same name and serving as a prequel to the founding of Redwall Abbey, has…neither.
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas | Throne of Glass #3
I looooove these books. Nonstop action. Nonstop intrigue. Nonstop sass. Love love love. What I love less, however, are books set in the wilderness. And if you don’t know, much of Heir of Fire is spent watching Celaena and Rowan train. In the wilderness. I love seeing the court life and intrigue of the glass palace, and the interactions of the Celaena/Dorian/Chaol trio from the prior books, and those are mostly on hiatus (for good reason) in Heir of Fire. I still love it, but I love it the least.
Windjammer Run by Garry Kilworth | Welkin Weasels #3
I don’t know that these books ever landed in US bookstores, but I got them all on the recommendation of friends while visiting them in New Zealand, and do not regret it one bit. Welkin Weasels is basically a more mature Redwall (i.e., anthropomorphic animals, which was a big thing for me growing up).
The original trio of Welkin Weasels follows a gang of outlaw weasels seeking the return of the humans, who long ago abandoned their shared continent and allowed the brutal reign of the stoats to commence. Much of Windjammer Run takes place away from Welkin, so we don’t see weasel Sylver and his friends in the same land we grew to know and love in the first two books. However, something unique about this series is that it actually merges the worlds of humans and talking animals, which is one of the things I do like about this installment.
Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card | Shadow Saga #2
Ender’s Game may be my favorite book of all time, but it’s the series following supporting character Bean that takes the cake for me. Bean is super smart, ultra-rational and hyper-focused, a boy with the brain (and emotional capacity) of a computer. I like Shadow of the Hegemon the least of the Shadow Saga. This doesn’t count Shadows in Flight, since that was published 7 years after the first quartet and follows a markedly different story arc.*
Bean is still coming into his own in this book, transitioning from Battle School prodigy to “regular Earth boy,” a transition made awkward by his unwieldy combination of a genius mind and perpetually childlike body (hence the name “Bean”). He doesn’t yet have the conviction to fully confront foe Achilles, and becomes irritably petulant when things don’t go his way. He may have been hailed as a hero following the events of “Ender’s Shadow,” but that doesn’t mean Earth governments are lining up to give authority to a tiny boy. We begin to see him grow into a man by the end, but this is definitely his “coming of age” piece.
Sorcerer of the North by John Flanagan | Ranger’s Apprentice #5
As far as I’m concerned, John Flanagan can do no wrong. He has held myself, a Brother Unit and the Father Unit captivated over twelve Ranger’s Apprentice books, never flagging in quality. To win over two generations through such a lengthy series is impressive.
My least favorite is Sorcerer of the North, because it was the dawn of a new day in the series. Will is a full-fledged Ranger in this book, and I was reluctant to see the end of the master/apprentice era. Mostly because Will’s banter with former master Halt is ENDLESSLY funny. Fortunately, that engaging dynamic doesn’t go away as their relationship evolves, and this is definitely a solid book and a must-read series. Unlike series such as Harry Potter, where the later books mature to the point where they become less appropriate for the youngest readers, Flanagan ages his characters while maintaining the same level of kid-friendliness, all without sacrificing quality or his trademark dry wit. Win win win and win.
*I’m all about those qualifying statements.