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Starting Off Strong: 8 of the Best Series-Starters in SFF

If you're looking to get into sci-fi and fantasy, start here. 

this collage of series-starters includes the way of kings and the failures by benjamin liar

Whether you're just dipping your toes into the sci-fi and fantasy world or you're looking for a classic series to get lost in, a great strategy for either situation is to pick up a whole series. But in order to do that, and stick with it, the first book has to be really good. You can (and eventually should) read the classics, like The Fellowship of the Ring or The Hunger Games, but today we're here to deliver a list of the best series-starters we've read in the SFF realm thus far that maybe you haven't. 

The Failures (WANDERLANDS Book 1)

The Failures (WANDERLANDS Book 1)

By Benjamin Liar

This first-in-series novel from debut author Benjamin Liar is a genre-bending blend of apocalyptic sci-fi and epic fantasy that features intriguing characters and an atmospheric setting. In it, we meet the Failures, a random group of adventurers, degenerates, and children who are all drawn to the underground Keep following the same strange dream. 

They live in the Wanderlands, a (now broken) mechanical planet that no one knows the origins of; but the planet's permanent end is drawing near, and it will be up to the Failures and an ancient group of monsters to decide whether it survives or perishes. 


The Way of Kings

By Brandon Sanderson

A true example of fantasy with excellent displays of world-building, The Way of Kings is set on the stormy planet Roshar. Though it has been centuries since the 10 consecrated orders , the Knights Radiant, have fallen, their mystical swords and suits of armor still inspire wars between kingdoms. 

One of those wars wages on the Shattered Plains, where Kaladin has lost everything and been cast into slavery to protect his little brother and his men. Brightlord Dalinar Kholin, one of of the army commanders that Kaladin despises, begins to lose his sanity over an ancient text called The Way of Kings

And across the ocean, young Shallan apprentices under Dalinar's niece, Jasnah, but her motives are more self-interested. In the midst of the theft Shallan is planning, the research she's doing for Jasnah may uncover the mystery of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the senseless war. 

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Old Man's War

By John Scalzi

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday that people don't normally do together: He visited his wife's grave, and then he enlisted in the army. The difference between our army and the army John joined is that we fight other humans, and John signed up to battle other alien races for planetary real estate. 

This is a long-fought war, and Earth itself has turned into a sort of warehouse of resources for the Colonial Defense Force (CDF). When you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF; you'll serve two years on the front lines of the war, and if you survive, you'll be given a generous homestead on one of the colony planets. 

John Perry didn't have a clue what he was getting himself into, and what he becomes is nothing close to what he expected. 


The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastards, Book 1)

By Scott Lynch

Locke Lamora from the Gentleman Bastards series seems to have almost nothing to lose. This works for young Locke, an orphan in the mysterious island city of Camorr, as he weasels his way out of death and slavery under the watchful eye of his con artist caretaker. 

Soon, Locke's thieving skills and leadership position in the Gentleman Bastards aid him in fooling even the most-feared ruler of the underworld. But there's someone even more ambitious and sinister lurking in the shadows, and if Locke wants to protect the very few things in his life that he holds dear, he'll have to beat the enemy at his own game. 

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The Mote in God's Eye

By Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

Hailed by many as a perfect science fiction novel, The Mote in God's Eye features incredibly thorough character- and world-building, and for that reason is more philosophical and thought-provoking than your typical sci-fi novel. It's set in the year 3016, where the Second Empire of Man has reached thousands of star systems thanks to Alderson Drive. 

They are surprised to find other intelligent beings, especially considering how ancient and isolated the civilization they find been. Over one million years old, they prove to be welcoming and kind, though evasive, and they harbor a dark problem that's gone unsolved for over a million years. 

Hyperion Dan Simmons


By Dan Simmons

The entire galaxy is at war, and it's the eve of Armageddon when seven desperate pilgrims journey to the planet Hyperion looking for the unsolved riddles of their lives. The Shrike waits for them there, in the Valley of the Time Tombs, where enormous structures move backward through time. Whether you worship, fear, or have vowed to destroy the Shrike, the creature waits for you. 

But still, the pilgrims journey there. Each is armed with a desperate hope, but also with a terrible secret. And one of them may just hold the fate of humanity in his hands. 

books like The Magicians

Storm Front

By Jim Butcher

When most people think of urban fantasy, they think of something like Storm Front by Jim Butcher. In it, we meet Harry Dresden, the magical representative of of the Chicago P.D.; essentially, when a fantastical being is the one causing chaos, they give Harry a call. 

Harry is stoked when they bring him in to consult them on a black magic double murder, as there's not a whole lot of money in his industry and he could use the cash. But where there's magic, there's a wielder, and now they know Harry's name. 

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By Brian Jacques

Redwall is often credited for getting people into reading in the first place, so it had to be included on this list. Redwall Abbey is the warm and inviting home to a community of peaceful mice…which makes it an ideal target for savage bilge rat Cluny the Scourge and his brutal army. But the mice of Redwall and their loyal woodland friends band together and use their courage and strength to protect their home.