Three by Three

Three by Three

Awhile back I wrote about my favorite books. I was careful to choose books which stood alone. Books in a series tend to have different qualities. And while they can stand tall on their own, most are stronger if taken in context, with the series treated as a whole. I’ve always intended to write about series I enjoy, though there are so many it’s hard to pick favorites. I decided to start small.

I love trilogies. They offer all the benefits of a series; several books written about the same characters and setting, and a chance to continue a story you really enjoyed, without suffering the pitfalls of long-running series; the story doesn’t tend to drag out too long, get needlessly complex or abandon characters you love in favor of a new generation. Three books tends to be enough to develop an interesting world with complex cultures and a rich history, but short enough that the story still ends while you’re in love with it.

Five favorites might drag a bit this time, so here are my three all-time favorite trilogies (you still get nine books out of the bargain ;).

3. The Myst Trilogy by Rand Miller and David Wingrove (The Book of Atrus, The Book of Ti’ana, The Book of D’ni)
Why I love it:
This trilogy serves, in large part, as back story to the various Myst games. I’ve mentioned my love of Myst before; it was the first computer game I ever fell in love with, in large part because of the story. The first book (The Book of Atrus) explains the events which eventually lead to the first game (Myst) as well as explaining the history behind the second game (Riven). The second book (The Book of Ti’ana) has no direct relation to any of the games, but offers an in-depth explanation of the D’ni and their ability to write worlds into life. The third and final book (The Book of D’ni) is a stand alone story but ties in with the third game in the Myst series (Exile). One of the strong draws of the series is the way it fits with the games, rather than opposing events or lore established inside them. The books enhance the experience of the games, yet they aren’t required reading to enjoy the games either (nor is playing the games a requirement of enjoying the books).

I’ve always loved the D’ni. What writer wouldn’tlove the idea of their work coming to life, stepping through the pages and experiencing a world of your own creation? The possibilities are endless and well explored in the books. As well as the politics and morality of a society which possesses such power.

Favorite Character: Ti’ana (also known as Anna)

Favorite Book: The Book of Ti’ana

Teaser: “It seems there has been a misunderstanding,” he began. “I took the invitation to include our house guest, Ah-na, but it was not meant so.”

“A misunderstanding?” Aitrus tried to keep calm, tried not to let his anger show.

“Yes,” Kahlis said. “Ah-na can stay here, in the house. Veovis has promised that his servants will make sure she has everything she wants. But she cannot go through into Ader Jamat.”

“Why not?”

Kahlis raised a hand, bidding him be silent. “Because she is not D’ni.”

Aitrus felt the anger boil up inside him. Keeping his voice low, he leaned close to Kahlis. “This is not right, Father.”

“Maybe,” Kahlis conceded, “but it is Lord Veovis’s decision who enters his Age, not ours, and we must respect that.”

2. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass)
Why I love it:
I’ve mentioned my love of this series more than once. I first read The Golden Compass in middle school, after a friend recommended it to me. I loved it so much, I devoured the second book. Alas, the trilogy was incomplete at that point and I had to wait well over a year for the third installment. Considering the second book ends with a massive cliffhanger, I was understandably anxious for the final book in the series. When it finally came out, the same friend who recommended the series bought it, read it and lent it to the rest of us. I remember sitting up nights unable to put that book down, reading just one more chapter before I went to bed, knowing I’d be tired at school the next day. I remember finishing the book in class, just after writing a test, bawling my eyes out unabashedly.

I’ve re-read the series as an adult both because I love it and because I’m now aware of all the deep thought behind the story, the themes the author wished to present and the meanings behind many of the events. But even without the heavy philosophy, the books add up to one amazing story. Lyra enchanted me from her first introduction. The draw of her world is perhaps that it is so like ours and yet so different. And the deeper you go into the story, the more the universe unfolds before you, how it looks and how it works. From armored bears to angels to witches, there’s not an uninteresting moment in any of the three books. This is one of the stories I’ve carried with me since my first reading. His Dark Materials is a coming of age story about Lyra, whose attempt to find the famous “gobblers” (child stealers) turns into a multi-world journey during which she attempts to understand Dust and rectify her most grievous mistake, all while trying to avoid the multitude of people out to kill her.

Favorite Character: Lyra Belacqua (aka Lyra Silvertongue) (of course) but Iorek Byrnison is a close second.

Favorite Book: The Golden Compass

Teaser: She didn’t mean to be nosy, but she couldn’t help being curious. She said, “why don’t you just make some more armor out of this metal here, Iorek Byrnison?”

“Because it’s worthless. Look,” he said, and, lifting the engine cover with one paw, he extended a claw on the other hand and ripped right through it like a can opener. “My armor is made of sky iron, made for me. A bear’s armor is his soul, just as your dæmon is your soul. You might as well take him away” -indicating Pantalaimon – “and replace him with a doll full of sawdust. That is the difference. Now, where is my armor?”

“Listen, you got to promise not to take vengeance. They done wrong taking it, but you just got to put up with that.”

“All right. No vengeance afterwards. But no holding back as I take it, either. If they fight, they die.”

“It’s hidden in the cellar of the priest’s house,” she told him. “He thinks there’s a spirit in it, and he’s been a trying to conjure it out. But that’s where it is.”

1. The Coldfire Trilogy by C.S. Friedman (Black Sun Rising, When True Night Falls, Crown of Shadows)
Why I love it:
I’ve raved about this series before too (as well as its author). Everything from the writing to the characters to the story is amazing. If I could chose one writer’s talent to have, it would surely be this one. The story flows from the first word. These books are incredibly difficult to put down. This series also includes the most memorable villain I have ever encountered.

Despite the medieval feel of the setting, the Coldfire trilogy takes place in the far future, when man has colonized the galaxy. Erna, the planet on which the story takes place, is close to the galaxy’s Core and thus rarely experiences what the inhabitants call ‘true night.’ It also includes a powerful sentient force, known as the Fae, which cause the nightmares of humans to become reality. Humans were forced to abandon their technology in order to adapt to life on Erna. The story centers around the sorcerer-priest Damian Vryce, who undertakes a journey to save the woman he loves and stumbles upon more than he bargained for.

Favorite Character: Gerald Tarrant

Favorite Book: Crown of Shadows

Teaser: “Do I read you correctly?” he asked. “Have you never seen the night before?”

“It’s dangerous,” she whispered.

“And very beautiful.”

His eyes were pools of silver, molten, that drew her in. She shivered. “My parents thought it best.”

“Never been outside, when the sun and Core had set. Never! I wasn’t aware the fear had reached such an extreme here. Even now… you don’t look. You won’t see.”

“See what?” she managed.

“The night. The beauty of it. The power. The so-called dark fae, a force so fragile that even the moonlight weakens it – and so strong in the darkness that death itself falls back before it. The tides of night, each with its own color and music. An entire world, child! – filled with things that can’t exist when the light in the heavens is too strong.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *