One of my favorite type of book to fall into include series of epic proportions. I love stories that pull you into the long-standing battle of good verses evil along with tales of sacrifice, courage and doing hard things.
There are a few obvious books that come to mind in this category. The Chronicles of Narnia is one of my all-time favorite series. The Lord of the Rings is another. Hidden within the pages of these books are moments of profound insight and wisdom that have shaped my life. They hold scenes that I think of when I need a dose of courage in my real-life decisions.
Of course, Harry Potter also falls into this category. This series is fully entertaining and so hard to put down. If your child gets lost in the first one, chances are he or she will want to keep reading to see how the saga ends.
One thing I love even more than getting lost in an epic saga is watching a story pull my kids in hard. It is even better when that story leads to a request for the next book from the library ASAP.
If your kids love to get lost inside of an epic adventure or have never tried, this list is for you. Below are five series my kids and I have loved that might be good fits for your kids too. Some of them have profound insight and wisdom sprinkled inside (if you look for it), all of them are epic in nature with excellent stories at their heart.
From Amazon on Book #1, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness:
Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.
I have only read the first one so far, but it was excellent, funny and full of heart. I fully intend to finish the series (My oldest won’t let me rest until I do. She loved these books, especially the last one.). However, I have to get in line. My 13-year olds are currently hogging the second book.
I love the family dynamics in this book. The brothers struggle with each other, let each other down and ultimately stand together. The characters are relatable and endearing, the humor is entertaining, and the story keeps the pages turning.
Readers 8 and up
From Amazon on Book #1, 100 Cupboards:
What dangers are locked behind the cupboard doors? Henry isn’t brave, but when he hears a thumping and scratching on the other side of his bedroom wall, he can’t ignore it. He scrapes off the plaster and discovers mysterious doors—cupboards of all different shapes and sizes. Through one he sees a glowing room and a man strolling back and forth. Through another he sees only darkness and feels the cold sense that something isn’t right. When his cousin Henrietta boldly travels into the worlds beyond the cupboards, it’s up to Henry to follow her. Now that he’s opened the doors, can he keep the evil inside from coming through?
The 100 Cupboards Trilogy by N.D. Wilson is creative, epic and hard to put down. It also has a darker tone than I expected. There is a smattering of mild cursing in this series and at times moments of intensity that left me a little queasy. BUT there is also a depth of story and character that make this series well worth the read. The theme of standing up for what’s right in the face of death is always a good one. And, I loved the way the flawed characters change and grow throughout these books.
If your child loves this series, N.D. Wilson has written others that might be of interest. My twins have a copy of his book Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle, that is waiting to be read on their bookshelf right now.
“Sometimes standing against evil is more important than defeating it. The greatest heroes stand because it is right to do so, not because they believe they will walk away with their lives. Such selfless courage is a victory itself.”
-Taken from Dandelion Fire, book #2 in the series, by N.D. Wilson
Readers 10 and up
From Amazon on Book #1, The Emerald Atlas:
Siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.
Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.
Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey through time to dangerous and secret corners of the world . . . a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And—if an ancient prophesy is true—what they do can change history, and it's up to them to set things right.
This is a series that does not get as much attention as I think it should. The first book is almost impossible to put down. The themes of family, loyalty and sacrifice are strong and the pace is quick and exciting. The Emerald Atlas and the books that follow are really good stories that I heartily recommend.
(And on a fun little side note, at least for me, the author John Stephens was a writer for Gilmore Girls, so there is that.)
Readers 8 and up
From Amazon on Book #1, The False Prince:
Choose to lie...or choose to die.
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.
As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
Two of my kids have read this series so far and loved it. I feel redundant in saying this, but they couldn’t put them down. These books have a fun storyline with a good dose of humor thrown in making them an excellent choice for any tween or teen reader.
Readers 10 and up
From Amazon on Book #1, The Ruins of Gorlan:
They have always scared him in the past—the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger's apprentice. What he doesn't yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied. . . .
If your kids get hooked on this series, they will have ample reading material for a good long while. I personally have not read them, but my daughter flew through them in 5th grade and will still talk about how much she loved them. If your kids like adventure and medieval times, this would be a great series to try.
Readers 10 and up
Let’s keep the list going! What are some of your kids’ favorite epic adventure stories/series? Leave your recommendations in the comments.