Roundups

Lesser-Known Series by 5 Hugely Popular Authors

While there are have been plenty of hugely popular series in recent years—Fifty Shades of Grey, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Divergent come to mindthe series is also a hallmark of literary history. Sherlock Holmes! Nancy Drew! The Hardy Boys! Jeeves and Wooster! Readers just can’t get enough of the same good characters in new situations. Some authors are masters creating the kinds of expansive worlds and characters that can fill an entire series…and many have done it more than once. These five writers have achieved enormous fame thanks to one series in particular—but fans of that particular series should definitely check out their lesser-known but still terrific works.

Out of the Silent Planet (Space Trilogy Series #1)

Out of the Silent Planet (Space Trilogy Series #1)

Paperback $15.49 $17.00

Out of the Silent Planet (Space Trilogy Series #1)

By C. S. Lewis

In Stock Online

Paperback $15.49 $17.00

The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis
Lewis is already known for two separate but similar literary tracks: He wrote the epic, all-time classic, seven-part fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia. But as that was an influential and pioneering work in the genre that would one day include everything from The Lord of the Rings to the Game of Thrones novels, it was also laced with religious allusions; Lewis was deeply religious. To that end, he also wrote apologetics, or academic arguments in favor of the tenets of his Christian faith, including Mere Christianity and The Problem of Pain. But Lewis also had another series that didn’t have much religious content at all. In the 1930s and 1940s, Lewis wrote “The Space Trilogy”: rip-roaring science fiction novels set mostly on other planets. Out of the Silent Planet is about earthling Dr. Elwin Ransom’s trip to Mars, where he learns that there’s life elsewhere in the Solar System, and they’re allied together (against Earth it would seem). Lewis followed it up with Perelandra, in which Ransom explores the wilds of Venus, and That Hideous Strength. It was written in 1945, so you’ll have to forgive the fearful, World War II-era allegory which is a little too on the nose: it’s about the good people of Earth trying to resist the evil beings planning to conquer and destroy the planet.

The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis
Lewis is already known for two separate but similar literary tracks: He wrote the epic, all-time classic, seven-part fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia. But as that was an influential and pioneering work in the genre that would one day include everything from The Lord of the Rings to the Game of Thrones novels, it was also laced with religious allusions; Lewis was deeply religious. To that end, he also wrote apologetics, or academic arguments in favor of the tenets of his Christian faith, including Mere Christianity and The Problem of Pain. But Lewis also had another series that didn’t have much religious content at all. In the 1930s and 1940s, Lewis wrote “The Space Trilogy”: rip-roaring science fiction novels set mostly on other planets. Out of the Silent Planet is about earthling Dr. Elwin Ransom’s trip to Mars, where he learns that there’s life elsewhere in the Solar System, and they’re allied together (against Earth it would seem). Lewis followed it up with Perelandra, in which Ransom explores the wilds of Venus, and That Hideous Strength. It was written in 1945, so you’ll have to forgive the fearful, World War II-era allegory which is a little too on the nose: it’s about the good people of Earth trying to resist the evil beings planning to conquer and destroy the planet.

The Initiation (Secret Circle Series #1)

The Initiation (Secret Circle Series #1)

Paperback $15.25

The Initiation (Secret Circle Series #1)

By L. J. Smith

Paperback $15.25

The Secret Circle, by L.J. Smith
While it’s had its moments of overwhelming cultural dominance, vampire fiction has been popular for more than a century. Before the most recent vampire craze, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, the major bloodsucker books for young readers came from the mind of L.J. Smith. In 1991 and 1992, Smith published four novels in The Vampire Diaries series, focusing on the love between a human girl named Elena and a vampire guy named Stefan. It was the basis for The Vampire Diaries TV series, which premiered on the CW in 2009, the same year Smith began publishing a second, sequel trilogy of novels called The Return. Both the original books and Vampire Diaries TV series spurred renewed interest in other Smith projects. Immediately after writing the first three Vampire novels, Smith started writing a series called The Secret Circle. The books were titled The Initiation, The Captive, and The Power. In these, Smith swapped out the teenage vampires for an exploration of the lives of teenage witches. A TV adaptation aired during the 2011-12 season.

The Secret Circle, by L.J. Smith
While it’s had its moments of overwhelming cultural dominance, vampire fiction has been popular for more than a century. Before the most recent vampire craze, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, the major bloodsucker books for young readers came from the mind of L.J. Smith. In 1991 and 1992, Smith published four novels in The Vampire Diaries series, focusing on the love between a human girl named Elena and a vampire guy named Stefan. It was the basis for The Vampire Diaries TV series, which premiered on the CW in 2009, the same year Smith began publishing a second, sequel trilogy of novels called The Return. Both the original books and Vampire Diaries TV series spurred renewed interest in other Smith projects. Immediately after writing the first three Vampire novels, Smith started writing a series called The Secret Circle. The books were titled The Initiation, The Captive, and The Power. In these, Smith swapped out the teenage vampires for an exploration of the lives of teenage witches. A TV adaptation aired during the 2011-12 season.

Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles Series #1)

Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles Series #1)

Hardcover $18.80

Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles Series #1)

By Suzanne Collins

In Stock Online

Hardcover $18.80

The Underland Chronicles, by Suzanne Collins
Collins is best known for The Hunger Games, a trilogy of massively popular books set in a future American dystopia in which children from around the country fight to the death to atone for the sins of revolutionaries past. But this series was not Collins’ first foray into writing. She’s a former TV writer, who penned scripts for Clarissa Explains It All and Wow! Wow! Wubbzy, along with some other YA sci-fi titles. Published in the 2000s just a few years before The Hunger Games, Collins wrote five entries in The Underland Chronicles. These wildly imaginative sci-fi/fantasy novels are about an 11-year-boy named Gregor who has adventures in a centuries-old subterranean wonderland…that sits below New York City.

The Underland Chronicles, by Suzanne Collins
Collins is best known for The Hunger Games, a trilogy of massively popular books set in a future American dystopia in which children from around the country fight to the death to atone for the sins of revolutionaries past. But this series was not Collins’ first foray into writing. She’s a former TV writer, who penned scripts for Clarissa Explains It All and Wow! Wow! Wubbzy, along with some other YA sci-fi titles. Published in the 2000s just a few years before The Hunger Games, Collins wrote five entries in The Underland Chronicles. These wildly imaginative sci-fi/fantasy novels are about an 11-year-boy named Gregor who has adventures in a centuries-old subterranean wonderland…that sits below New York City.

Blandings Castle

Blandings Castle

Paperback $13.95

Blandings Castle

By P. G. Wodehouse

In Stock Online

Paperback $13.95

The Blandings Castle Saga, by P.G. Wodehouse
Wodehouse was an incredibly prolific author. Between 1915 and 1974 (a stunningly long period of time), he wrote 35 short stories and 11 novels starring his most famous creations: Jeeves and Wooster, the brilliant and crafty butler who oversees the life of his dim-witted and wealthy charge, respectively. They’re classics of comic prose, in that most humor narratives are influenced by Jeeves and Wooster, whether their authors are aware of it or not, as Wodehouse was a master of the form. Somehow, he found time for other work. In addition to scores of crime fiction, Wodehouse created the series of loosely connected characters and situations known as the Blandings Castle Saga. The adventures of the various residents, caretakers, and visitors to the sprawling and silly estate in the Shropshire countryside are recounted in nine short stories and 11 novels. The castle is crumbling, its residents fools—classic Wodehouse, in other words.

The Blandings Castle Saga, by P.G. Wodehouse
Wodehouse was an incredibly prolific author. Between 1915 and 1974 (a stunningly long period of time), he wrote 35 short stories and 11 novels starring his most famous creations: Jeeves and Wooster, the brilliant and crafty butler who oversees the life of his dim-witted and wealthy charge, respectively. They’re classics of comic prose, in that most humor narratives are influenced by Jeeves and Wooster, whether their authors are aware of it or not, as Wodehouse was a master of the form. Somehow, he found time for other work. In addition to scores of crime fiction, Wodehouse created the series of loosely connected characters and situations known as the Blandings Castle Saga. The adventures of the various residents, caretakers, and visitors to the sprawling and silly estate in the Shropshire countryside are recounted in nine short stories and 11 novels. The castle is crumbling, its residents fools—classic Wodehouse, in other words.

Tithe (Modern Faerie Tales Series #1)

Tithe (Modern Faerie Tales Series #1)

Paperback $10.99 $11.99

Tithe (Modern Faerie Tales Series #1)

By Holly Black

Paperback $10.99 $11.99

Modern Faerie Tales, by Holly Black
Amidst the boom of well-written magical fantasy novels for young readers that happened in the wake of the Harry Potter phenomenon was the The Spiderwick Chronicles. Written by Holly Black with art by Toni DiTerlizzi, the five-book series concerns three kids who move into the crumbling Spiderwick Estate in rural Maine…and all of the magical creatures they meet in the house and surrounding wilderness, some good, some evil. But Black is just meant to tell multiple-part epic tales of wonder and whimsy, because she’s written several other series. Just before the first book of The Spiderwick Chronicles was published in 2003, Black began work on Tithe, the first of her Modern Faerie Tales trilogy, what she’s called a “suburban fantasy” about faeries and changelings. Valiant and Ironside soon followed.
How many of these lesser-known series have you read?

Modern Faerie Tales, by Holly Black
Amidst the boom of well-written magical fantasy novels for young readers that happened in the wake of the Harry Potter phenomenon was the The Spiderwick Chronicles. Written by Holly Black with art by Toni DiTerlizzi, the five-book series concerns three kids who move into the crumbling Spiderwick Estate in rural Maine…and all of the magical creatures they meet in the house and surrounding wilderness, some good, some evil. But Black is just meant to tell multiple-part epic tales of wonder and whimsy, because she’s written several other series. Just before the first book of The Spiderwick Chronicles was published in 2003, Black began work on Tithe, the first of her Modern Faerie Tales trilogy, what she’s called a “suburban fantasy” about faeries and changelings. Valiant and Ironside soon followed.
How many of these lesser-known series have you read?