Epic reads: 5 sci-fi and fantasy sagas perfect for 2020

Adrian Liang on February 06, 2020
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With so many fantastic sci-fi and fantasy series out there, how to choose which one to start next? It’s definitely a problem… of the very best kind.

We took a look at what 2020 has in store for us and matched five strong series to the year. Some authors are returning with new books in a beloved and long-running series. One is starting a new trilogy that will knock your socks off. One is finishing a 40-year-long series, for reals. And then, of course, there are the sandworms. Never forget the sandworms.

The Shannara series by Terry Brooks

If you haven’t started the Shannara books—or if you want to jump back into Terry Brooks’ epic fantasy world—2020 is an excellent year to do it, when Brooks concludes not only the current four-book arc but the entire Shannara series with The Last Druid in June. Forty-plus years of Shannara means a lot of druids, half-humans, magic stones, and elves. Dive right in, folks.

The Broken Earth Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

It’s hard to come up with another modern author who has won so many awards—and, at the same time, so many devoted readers—than N. K. Jemisin. That’s one reason why her upcoming trilogy-starter, The City We Became, is generating a lot of excitement even though it doesn’t release until March. While you wait (and, trust me, the book is not only excellent but a heck of a lot of fun), pick up Jemisin’s Broken Earth series. At some point in the far future, Earth is regularly riven by catastrophic events dubbed “the fifth season.” But a select few have the power to control tectonic activity, making them both revered and feared by the rest of the population. A mix of science fiction and fantasy, Jemisin’s trilogy is a perfect match for those who like engrossing characters and original world-building set in a complicated (and often not nice) society.

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Hooray, hooray! It’s been a long six years since the release of Skin Game, but 2020 brings readers a new full-length novel in the extensive Harry Dresden series. In Peace Talks (July), the Chicago-based PI/wizard/Winter Knight is back just in time to try to negotiate peace between warring supernatural factions. If you haven’t done so yet, start Dresden’s adventures with Storm Front, and see how the only wizard who advertises in the Yellow Pages (remember those?) gets enmeshed in far more supernatural shenanigans than he ever expected to.

The Hollows by Kim Harrison

I didn’t think the urban fantasy lineup for 2020 could get any better until I heard that Kim Harrison was returning to her Hollows series after a few years’ hiatus. Start the Hallows with Dead Witch Walking, and get caught up on the adventures of bounty hunter witch Rachel Morgan by the time American Demon (June) lands on shelves or in your favorite reading device. (I don’t judge.)

Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune is coming to the big screen (again!), scheduled to release in theaters on December 18, 2020. Frank Herbert’s fascinating and complex saga has enough politics to satisfy lovers of Game of Thrones and enough sandworms to satisfy, well, sandworm lovers. (I know you’re out there!) In the film, Timothee Chalamet is Paul Atreides, with Rebecca Furgeson, Jason Momoa, Zendaya, Dave Bautista, and Oscar Isaac also joining the cast. Like the best books, there’s a whole lot inside Dune that can’t possibly be encapsulated in two or three hours. Frank Herbert’s series continues for five more books after Dune itself, and if you want more, you can continue reading in that universe with the novels written by (son) Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.


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