#BookReviews Completed SciFi and Fantasy Series
Looking for complete science fiction and fantasy series?
Today, I review two recently completed series, a space opera and an urban fantasy. Fair warning, mild spoilers ahead.
Hands-down, this is the best work by Scalzi I've read since the Old Man's War series. All the books are fast-paced and chock-full of snarky dialogue. The premise, a human mercantile empire dependent upon a system of wormholes for travel, is intriguing and easy to grasp.
The basis for the stories is the wormholes are collapsing, slowly but surely. At first, no one knows the wormhole network, known in these novels as the flow, is on the brink of failure. When this fact is discovered and publicized, few people believe it at first. Then, once it becomes clear the flow is falling apart, people argue about whether or not it will be such a bad thing in the end. There will be money to be made, and perhaps new openings in the flow will make for a brand-new empire with a different locus of power. Eventually, most people decide the best thing is to do nothing. It's a slow-moving disaster; the next generation will handle it. In The Last Emperox, the series's final installment, the fabulously wealthy have decided to save themselves and doom the rest of humanity to slow but inevitable death.
This whole setup reminds me of the climate crisis of today. As stated on the back of the book: ...denial is a hell of a drug.
You might be wondering why the collapse of the flow dooms humanity. Scalzi has an answer for this if a bit eyebrow-raising. You see, the vast majority of society lives on space stations that specialize in a particular kind of good or service. Hence, it's the trade between these stations that make them viable. This, I take, as a not so subtle dig at those who claim one-day humanity will be free of Earth and any other planet, living on self-sustaining space stations.
I thoroughly enjoyed the entire series. Scalzi has populated the world of The Interdependency with numerous unsavory characters ready to save themselves and earn outrageous profits doing so. In Emperox Grayland II, we have an unlikely and entirely likable protagonist striving to save humanity quite literally from extinction. Scalzi doesn't pull any punches in the series, and when you think the story is becoming predictable, he produces excellent plot twists. He ends the series with a melody of hopefulness backed by a bleak harmony that strikes precisely the right chord.
This excellent urban fantasy series takes place in a mystical port city reminiscent of modern-day Hong Kong. The setting is a wonderful backdrop for the warring clans of warriors powered by magical jade. The setting and Lee's fascinating take on magic got me through Jade City, the first book in the series. For me, Jade City wasn't the most auspicious start to a fantasy trilogy. The only character I found likable was killed about a third of the way through the novel, leaving characters much harder to identify with to pick up the pieces. I finished the book but only found it so-so and was skeptical about continuing the series.
On a lark, I listened to the audiobook version of Jade War, the second book in the series, on Libby. Boy, am I glad I did. Hilo and his family become compelling characters in this book. They're not always likable or easy to identify with, but they are all interesting, as is the plot about the two dominant clans in the city battling it out to be number one.
After reading Jade War, I eagerly awaited Jade Legacy, the conclusion to the series. I expected the final book to be good, but I didn't expect it to be supremely great. The Green Bone Saga is a series that gets better with each installment. The amount of character growth in the primary characters is terrific. For example, Hilo, an unlikable, bull-headed punk in Jade City, has grown into a strong leader for his clan and country, and a man capable of forgiveness and understanding. These are not all qualities he possessed in the first two books, but by the end of the third book, he has changed, and that transformation is utterly believable.
Taken as a whole, even with a rocky start, The Green Bone Saga is one of the best and most memorable fantasy series I've read in a long time. Jade Legacy will likely remain one of the best books I've read this year.
Readers hungry for complete speculative fiction series won't go wrong by reading these trilogies. I highly recommend both for adult audiences. Younger readers will find Lee's EXO an exciting, age-appropriate read.