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7 Thrilling Tetralogies in Science Fiction and Fantasy

These quartets and tetralogies offer compelling storylines and character relationships.

Collage of tetralogies from Katherine Addison's Melusine

Trilogies are all the rage in science fiction and especially fantasy, but sometimes you just need more time with a world, a character, or a storyline.  That's where tetralogies come in. A tetralogy, which is sometimes called a quartet, refers to a four-book series. 

Some of these series revolve around a particular setting. Others follow their main character from the beginning all the way to the thrilling end. Regardless of their themes, however, all of these series offer readers a chance to dive into a special new story.

Read on to see seven of our favorite tetralogies.



By Christopher Paolini

Originally designed as a trilogy, The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini eventually blossomed into a four-book series. 

The story begins with Eragon and the eponymous hero's discovery of what he thinks is a blue stone. When it turns out to be a dragon egg—one of the last of its kind—Eragon falls into the sights of the evil King Galbatorix. While Paolini does plan to continue the story with Murtagh and more stories beyond, Inheritance concluded this arc by offering the final showdown between Eragon and Galbatorix.



By Katherine Addison

Katherine Addison's tetralogy, The Doctrine of Labyrinths, begins with Mélusine. The title refers to the wondrous city where two unlikely accomplices begin their relationship. The first is Felix Harrowgate, a well-respected wizard and darling of the court. The other is the assassin-turned-thief Mildmay the Fox. 

After Felix's dark past sees him thrown from polite society, the two must travel through strange lands and face down powerful demons. Together, they find truths and challenges that threaten themselves, their sanity, and all of Mélusine.


The Giver

By Lois Lowry

While many tetralogies unfold a protagonist's story over four books, Lois Lowry and The Giver Quartet spreads the love around. The Giver is the best-known of the four books. Published in 1993, the children's novel one the Newbery Medal and has sold millions of copies. It follows Jonas, a 12-year-old boy who is chosen to inherit the position of Receiver of Memory in a futuristic era. 

Gathering Blue takes place in the same era and centers around Kira, a girl with a deformed leg who struggles to survive in an unforgiving society. The Messenger follows message-bearer Matty, while Son tells the story of 14-year-old expectant mother Claire.


The City of Ember

By Jeanne DuPrau

The first in its series, Jeanne DuPrau's The City of Ember has drawn comparisons to Gathering Blue, the second installment of Lois Lowry's The Giver Quartet. Ember is an underground city built near the time of an apocalyptic-level threat called the Disaster. Sheltered from the disasters outside, Ember begins with just 100 adults and 100 children.

In the 241 years since, however, Ember has grown and its supplies have begun to diminish. Born into this world, Lina and her friend Doon race against time to find a new source of energy for Ember before the lights go out for good.


The Once and Future King

By T.H. White

Some may not even realize that T. H. White's classic, The Once and Future King (detailing the life and death of King Arthur), was originally published as four shorter novels. Today, these original stories are sometimes bundled into one volume. Originally, however, they were distinct entities.

The Sword in the Stone was the first entry. Published in 1938, this told the story of Arthur's childhood. In 1939 came The Witch in the Wood, which was then replaced by The Queen of Air and Darkness. Both of these shared a structure, detailing Arthur's life after he becomes king. After that came 1940's The Ill-Made Knight, which told the adventures of Lancelot, and then The Candle in the Wind in 1958. This last tells the final few weeks of Arthur's reign.

alanna the first adventure female warriors

Alanna: The First Adventure

By Tamora Pierce

Fans of Mulan will love the Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. The story follows a girl named Alanna, who has always dreamed of being a knight in the realm of Tortall. The only problem? Girls are forbidden to be warriors. 

However, Alanna decides to tempt fate by switching places with her brother and calling herself Alan of Trebond. The tetralogy follows her trials and triumphs in achieving that ultimate goal while maintaining the secrecy of her identity.


The Raven Boys

By Maggie Stiefvater

Born from Manx, Irish, and Scottish legends, The Raven Boys follows Blue Sargent, whose mother is clairvoyant and can see the soon-to-be dead. The titular Raven Boys are students of Aglionby, a local private school, and they known to be trouble. As such, Blue knows she should stay away from Gansey. 

But the mysteries that surround the Raven Boys and the truth Gansey pursues will consume Gansey's life and risks tempting a dangerous prophecy that Blue never believed in ... until now.