Bingeing on a book series is the perfect activity for December — it makes for a great escape from the crush of social obligations, and when the weather turns cold, it is an ideal indoor diversion. Here are three suggestions for series that you can step into this month — or any.
K.B. Wagers’s After the Crown (Orbit), the second novel in her Indranan War series, continues the story of Hail Bristol, galactic gunrunner-turned-empress, as she wards off dastardly plots to take her throne. (One can’t help but wonder why so many people want the throne.) Hail had no choice but to take the throne after the deaths of her sisters, and in this novel, she works to prevent war by entering peace talks with her planetary allies. These negotiations turn violent, and Hail finds a traitor in her midst. With her loyal Bodyguards at her side and the help of some old criminal friends, Hail fights to protect her empire and her throne. Like its predecessor “Behind the Throne,” “Crown” is fast paced, and its focus on a female action heroine defined by her decisions rather than romance is refreshing and fun.
The Dreamweaver series is something of a departure for C.S. Friedman, best known for “This Alien Shore” and “The Madness Season.” The books follow Jessica Drake as she travels into a parallel world called Terra Prime, where society is centered on classes of people with special gifts and access to other worlds. Jessica has spent the past two novels coming to terms with her status as a Dreamwalker, a person who can manipulate and travel through dreams (an ability long thought gone after a genocidal campaign by a class of necromancers). In Dreamweaver (DAW), Jessica finds herself and her family haunted by Reapers, wraithlike creatures tasked with killing Dreamwalkers. She must cross into Terra Prime one more time to seek a landmark that holds the key to what happened to the Dreamwalkers and how to save herself and her family. The book may be a young adult title, but its premise has broad appeal: What would happen if you could steal the gifts and resources of other worlds? This is an America where African slavery never happened because Americans imported sub-humans from other universes. That world has endless possibilities that tickle at the brain long after the book is put away.
The Fate of the Tearling (Harper) concludes Erika Johansen’s genre-bending series. In this book, Queen Kelsea Glynn is in the hands of the enemy that was haunting her for the past several novels. But now Kelsea realizes that there is a much greater evil at play — one that she herself released. Kelsea continues to use her powers to spy on the past, learning how humanity left the Earth as we know it for a new world and how William Tear’s utopia rotted from within. In this book, Kelsea is much more self-assured, the growing pains of being a teenager behind her. Kelsea flourishes alongside the other female characters at the center of the novel: These are powerful, determined women who work hard to accomplish their goals even as their mistakes haunt them. Johansen doesn’t punish them for these mistakes; she allows them to grow, leading to a well-earned ending.
Everdeen Mason reviews science fiction and fantasy every month for The Washington Post.