When 2020 began, I was looking forward to tackling a giant stack of serials that had been on my TBR for an extended period of time, most of which were from the fantasy and science-fiction genres. But then 2020 turned into one hell of a year with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, intense and gruelling heart treatments and surgeries, the Black Lives Matter movement, Palestine getting closer and closer to eradication, and much more. With all of these things happening, my mental health took a colossal fucking shot to the brain. As such, my desire to read had also taken an unforeseeable punch. Forget big bookish series, I couldn’t even finish a single 300-page novel within my normal span of two to three days. Rather, it took about two to three weeks. It’s been quite insufferable to say the least.
Thankfully, this year shall be over in a mere two weeks. All of the horseshit that we have been forced to undergo—some more or less than others—shall be nothing other than a shadow of the past. My goal is not for things to go back to normal, per say, but for things to grow and evolve from the experiences that these past twelve months have wrought upon us. One of the things that I hope I shall learn and cultivate from the chaos are the ways I engage with my hobbies, such as reading.
For 2021, I want to read big books again. Not only that, I want to read huge book serials and consume them with a fiery passion unlike any other. I remember the first time I read through the original Dune saga by Frank Herbert, I read all six volumes in the span of seven days. They are supremely dense and lengthy books, mind you. I miss being able to read like that. With the experiences of how intensely arduous life can become, I’m hoping that I can concoct some new methods of combatting their effects on my self-care practises (like reading) so that I can be better equipped to tackle them head-on, psychologically as well as physically.
Anyhoo, with that prattley little intro, today I wanted to share with you the seven book serials that I had hoped to read in 2020, yet couldn’t. Next year, I’m going to make it my goal to read at least half the stuff on this list. All of them are adult SFF picks, which happens to be one of my favourite genres in existence, so naturally, that brings me a great sense of enthusiasm and joy already. Click on titles for GoodReads pages.
This sword and sorcery epic fantasy series has been on my TBR (to-be read) stack the longest. One of the main reasons that I keep putting it off is because I’ve been hoping the author would drop the third book. However, seeing that it’s taking a godawfully long time for that to happen, I figured I might as well go ahead and read the first two books to see if all the fuss is even worth the wait.
The story is told from the perspective of the hero as he searches for his place in the universe and how that search and overall journey ends up inevitably giving birth to a great legend. There are two books and one novella thus far in this series and they are in order: The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear, The Slow Regard of Silent Things (novella). I own all three of them.
This dark fantasy trilogy is one that found its way to my radar at the beginning of last year (2019). I ordered all three of the books and was keen to begin, but of course, I became distracted with other things and they got placed on the bright red dusty shelves of oblivion in my library. Many, many readers of the fantasy genre have been screaming at me to pick this up because given my specific taste of fantasy, they know I’m going to adore this. So… I will finally read this in 2021. I’ll admit that my expectations for this are a bit high because of said fellow fantasy bibliophiles and I’m keeping my fingers tightly crossed that it won’t disappoint.
The main gist of the story (from what I’ve gathered) is that a young boy ends up training under the realm’s most legendary and feared assassin dude. As he trains and grows and matures, he gets ensnared in treacherous politics, bizarre magics, and badassry. I have a special place in my heart for assassins, so I’m quite intrigued by this kid and his master. All three titles are released, and they are, in order: The Way of Shadows, Shadow’s Edge, and Beyond the Shadows.
This own-voices Chinese epic fantasy series is authored by someone whom I respect above most of the creators in the publishing industry. Not only is Ken Liu a fucking brilliant author, but he has also done so much work and accomplished many feats with translating Chinese speculative fiction and giving it global access. Some of the best science-fiction to have ever been written is coming out of China and I’m so grateful to Mr Liu for all of the long hours and handwork he puts in. He is actually an inspiration to me and one of the reasons I want to become a translator so badly.
I have read the first book in the series, and it is by far one of my favourite fantasy novels ever written. I’m ashamed I haven’t read the second book, but knowing that the third instalment is finally hitting shelves at the end of 2021, well, I have incentive to get off my arse and catch up.
The story follows two men who were fellow rebels and best friends in the bloody fight against a tyrannical realm until they realise that their ideas of justice were too different for coexistence. They end up on opposite sides of the fight and become brutal rivals.
The story is laced with incredibly complex political tension, amazing action, and some of the finest world-building that I have ever read. There are two books currently out with the third hitting shelves in November 2021 and are as follows: The Grace of Kings, The Wall of Storms, and The Veiled Throne (forthcoming).
This steampunk fantasy time travel series is the second longest resident of my never-ending TBR tower. I originally came across this at Barnes and Noble shortly after the second book’s release (it’s out-of-print now, I think) and was mesmerised by the covers. Then I read the premise and knew I had to have it. Then I came home and my blood-red shelves devoured their presence, oops. My cousin loved this trilogy, and he tends to have awesome taste in fantasy. Pressure from him finally made me want to stick my hand into the maw of oblivion and pull ‘em out for a reading.
The story follows a group of scientists and soldiers who discover a mysterious form of radiation and a 300-year-old journal with unbelievable revelations about the complexities of the geological system of Mars. Meanwhile, in the 18th century, Lt. Thomas Weatherby of His Majesty’s Royal Navy takes his frigate and sails into the immense Void between known worlds, treading across the Solar System in search of great splendour, a journey that shall eventually threaten the very fabric of space itself.
The genre-bending series just sounds like it’ll be filled with all sorts of adventure and if there’s anything I love, it’s a grand galactic space opera with a unique twist! The three books in the series are as such: The Daedalus Incident, The Enceladus Crisis, and The Venusian Gambit.
An own-voices Indian Queer epic fantasy duology that has been on my TBR due to all the book bloggers screaming and shouting about it. I have been waiting for both books to become available and that is the main reason why I have held off on reading it. Now that they are released and the series is done, I can dive in without having to worry about being left dangling on any narrative cliff-hangers, which drives me batty.
The tale takes place in a Mughal India-inspired realm and follows a nobleman’s daughter with magic coursing through her veins. When her ability comes to the attention of the Emperor, she must use every ounce of strength that she has in order to resist the cruel agenda before her. There are two books in the series, and they are Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash, respectively.
I’m sure many fellow readers shall recognise this adult Gaslamp fantasy series as it’s an incredibly popular title. The hype is why I have avoided it like a giant, human-eating spider. However, the premise and my pleasant experiences with Ms Schwab’s writing have finally wore me down into irresistibility. Plus, I also got an excellent deal on the Collector’s Edition box set of the first three books (she has confirmed that more instalments are coming either next year or in 2022) so I now own them all and have even fewer excuses to have not read them.
The only thing I know (by choice) about this series is that there are three or four different Londons in the series and each one is very special with their own set of magic and political climates. I also know that the characters are relatively grey in nature, which makes me a bit giddy as I tend to hate self-righteous goody-goody types. The first three books are, in order: A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows, and A Conjuring of Light. There is also a companion graphic novel series that explores one of the character’s lives prior to the events of book one, which I don’t own… yet.
The last set of interconnected reads on my list is my most-anticipated one (second only to the Dandelion Dynasty, of course). It’s an own-voices Chinese military fantasy series. The author is credited with being one of the most popular and greatest wuxia writers ever. With over 100 million copies of his works sold worldwide, I can see why. Couple his adoration with the intricacies of the stories that he writes, particularly with respect to Chinese history, then there’s a brew that I absolutely cannot resist, especially as an avid reader of cultural speculative literatures.
The series takes place in ancient China where Kung Fu is magic, kingdoms fight for power, and the battle to become the ultimate Kung Fu master is a constant existence. Amid the chaos, an unlikely hero is born, one who must navigate the complexities of love and war, honour and betrayal in order to save the realm. There are three currently released titles in the series, with the fourth one hitting shelves (US) in April. They are: A Hero Born, A Bond Undone, A Snake Lies Waiting, and A Heart Divided (forthcoming), respectively.
Those are the seven book serials that I want to devour in 2021. Talking about them here today and being able to get reacquainted with them is already filling me with a great sense of eagerness. The only real problem will be deciding which one I should read first.
Have y’all read any of these? Do any of them sound interesting to you? Please, come chat with me. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Until next time, happy reading.