T he setting in fantasy series are important. We want to know about the lands our heroes are galloping around in, the mountains they are climbing and the magical underground gem-covered caves they are fighting to control.
I recently completed a very compelling three-book fantasy series, “The Broken Earth” trilogy by N.K. Jemisin. Jemisin masterfully makes the Earth — the world itself — the setting and a main character in her series. After finishing, I immediately thought of another popular and current series that uses the Earth as a character, “The Stormlight Archive” by Brandon Sanderson.
Both series have a lot going for them if you are a fantasy fan. First, they are still at a point where you can catch up (in the case of the “Stormlight Archive”) or complete the whole series in a relatively quick amount of time (“The Broken Earth”). I always find it daunting to take on a series that goes on for 15 1,000 page books. It would be great to immerse myself, but, sadly, I know I will never make it to the end.
If you’ve ever felt that dread, than these are two great options you can start and complete or easily catch up with now. “The Broken Earth” trilogy is complete at three books and while “The Stormlight Archive” has a 10-book run planned, only three are released.
“The Broken Earth” is a great award-winning starter for fantasy newbies and veterans with each book clocking in at a relatively small page number. The Earth in this series is indeed broken, broken to the point that catastrophic seasons are constantly looming on the horizons that could shut down life as the people know it for 10, 50, or 1,000 years into the future.
They live in constant preparation and fear, guided by a set of rules that might help them survive the next season. Rogas (think earthbenders) are used to keep seismic activity under control but are feared, hated, enslaved and hunted. When the Earth breaks apart in a 10,000 year Season, the main characters have to save the Earth, even if the Earth doesn’t want saving.
Like “The Broken Earth,” “The Stormlight Archive” is filled with an unsettled and angry earth. The battlegrounds much of the fighting (and there is a lot of action packed fighting) takes place on is broken, shattered, and full of mega creatures with a thirst for blood wandering conveniently through the battles. Brandon Sanderson is a master of action and plot driven narratives. Weaving together several storylines that are bound to collide, we tensely follow the heros and anti-heros as the tear their way across the world. These are large, complex books, but Sanderson keeps everything manageable for the reader. If you are ready for an Epic World Building Fantasy Series, start this series.
The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
1. “The Fifth Season”
2. “The Obelisk Gate”
3. “The Stone Sky”
The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
1. “The Way of Kings”
2. “Words of Radiance”
— Graham Fox is a community librarian at the Redmond Library. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org