Do Good Things Come in Threes?

by Denise

I have a friend who refuses to read books in a series.  She’d rather spend the time discovering new wonders. Another friend reads series, but waits until all the books are published so she can delve in and immediately finish. (If you’re eagerly awaiting George R.R. Martin’s “The Winds of Winter,” you likely understand my friend’s wisdom.)

I, on the other hand, have an impatient weakness for trilogies. They are the perfect length to tell a story of compelling characters in new worlds, an escapist’s delight. When the first tempting morsel arrives, I devour it. But, as I wait for the next story, I struggle to remember what happened in the earlier stories.

Here is a list of some of my favorite trilogies, from sure bets (all 3 books published) to those that will keep you (and your recollection) hanging.

No Waiting Required

These trilogies are complete, so jump in knowing that you can finish the story on your own timeline. The downside? When you finish, there is no more to anticipate….


The “Passage” trilogy by Justin Cronin (The Passage, The Twelve, and The City of Mirrors). “The Passage” immediately pulled me in with its story of a military-created virus gone horrifyingly awry. The book is a beguiling mishmash of apocalyptic fiction, literary thriller, western road trip and horrifying vampires. As I was nearing the end, I heard Nancy Pearl interview Justin Cronin and learned that this was the launch of a trilogy. Aghast that the end would not be the end, I hurriedly started keeping my fingers crossed that Mr. Cronin was both incredibly healthy and a swift writer. He did not disappoint.


“The Queen of the Tearling” trilogy by Erika Johansen (The Queen of the Tearling, The Invasion of the Tearling, and The Fate of the Tearling).  Once in awhile, you meet a story that meets your unspoken reading desires. “The Queen of the Tearling” is mine with its post-apocalyptic medieval setting, political intrigue, magic, and an intrepid heroine. Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, the Queen of the Tearling, is one of my favorite literary heroines– plain, slightly overweight, clever, brave, an avid reader who prefers armor to expensive gowns, and an idealist who remains achingly committed to right-minded political leadership in the face of extreme danger.

Some Waiting Required

Past this point, tread with care. Take your time with these gems, because the next book is not yet available. In chronological order of when you can expect to finish the story, here are my other favorite trilogies/series:


The “Diviners” series by Libba Bray. (The Diviners, Lair of Dreams, the third to be released in spring 2017). Exiled from her hometown by her parents, fun-loving, gin-swigging Evie O’Neill is sent to live with her eccentric Uncle Will, curator for the Museum of the Occult. Set in 1920s New York, the series follows Evie, who has supernatural powers, and several other characters with unique abilities, as they help solve some grisly paranormal murders. This is not Scooby-Doo, however. It’s seriously scary, but Bray’s charming characters provide comfort. Prepare to be scared, intrigued, entertained and eager for the final installment. For an extra special experience, listen to the audiobooks!

“Broken Earth” novels by N.K. Jemisin. (The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, with “The Stone Sky” expected in August 2017). Set on an unstable planet vulnerable to geological violence, this series focuses on the fates of “orogenes.” Orogenes can control the planet’s geology, but are oppressed by a society that both fears and enslaves them. We encounter this ruined world through three orogenes: A grieving mother fleeing into a devastated landscape, seeking vengeance after her husband kills their son and kidnaps their daughter. A young girl, imprisoned by her family, whisked away to train at the Fulcrum. And a young woman, nearly partially through her training at the Fulcrum, ordered to travel and mate with a more senior orogene.


“Ember in the Ashes” series by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes, A Torch Against the Night, Book 3 expected in 2018, with book 4 to follow later). Laia is a member of the impoverished Scholar class in the tyrannical Martial Empire. Elias is a soon-to-be graduate of the elite Blackcliff military academy, where he is training to be a Mask (assassin). After Masks invade Laia’s home in the middle of the night, kill her grandparents, and arrest her brother, she agrees to become a spy at Blackcliff for the Resistance…. And that’s where our two main characters meet.  Resistance in the face of brutal oppression, love amidst violence, magic against military might, friendship in the face of despair…. It’s all here. (Yes, this is a bit of a cheat since the series is expected to include four volumes, but trust me, it’s worth including!)

Still Unknown


“The Kingkiller Chronicles” by Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear, and “Doors of Stone,” which does not have a release date.)  I’m warning you now: this trilogy requires serious patience, “Winds of Winter”-level patience. Fans have been waiting more than five years for the final installment. (They can read a novella set in the same world, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, but not the final installment in this enchanting story.)  If you want to curl up in a wayside inn pub on a scary night, and hear an epic story of a legendary wizard who may, or may not, be your barkeep, this is the tale for you.  After all, you can finish what is written, and just start again….

What do you think of trilogies?  Do you love them?  Avoid them?  Wait for them to be finished?  Jump right in?  What are some of your favorites?

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5 responses to “Do Good Things Come in Threes?”

  1. Brian says:

    I’ve always enjoyed the space trilogy by C.S Lewis. And I like it when the 3rd book in the series is the best of the three.

  2. Shannon says:

    I try not to get drawn into trilogies, but there are some excellent ones.
    One of my favorites is the Anazaszi series by:
    W. Michael Gear & Kathleen O’Neal Gear
    The Visitant
    The Summoning God
    Bone Walker

    It’s advertised as a “First Americans” series, but that description just doesn’t even begin to cover the depths and nuances of the series. History, a serial killer, the Southwest, Native Americans, etc… The writing is superb, the historical aspect is accurate, but the main plot is so scary that I tried to read them during the day!

  3. Jackie Parker says:

    I’d add the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. I have some serious obsession for that, and not-so-secretly hope it won’t be just a trilogy (the author firmly refers to it as a trilogy, so I probably shouldn’t hold my breath).

  4. […] I warned in my last post, I have a weakness for trilogies. Or I find an alluring book, fall under its spell and then learn […]

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