Best Trilogies: Top 7 Book Series Most Recommended By Experts

There’s something undeniably magical about trilogies. They’re not just books – they’re journeys. Readers dive into meticulously crafted worlds, meet characters who feel like family, and embark on adventures that twist and turn like rollercoaster tracks. They offer the satisfaction of a complete story arc with the delicious slow burn of anticipation, each book a stepping stone leading to the heart-stopping finale. Our list of the top seven best book trilogies is a collection of some great additions to a reading list.

Why are three-part book series such a common narrative structure? What gives the three-act story its appeal? Here are a few of the most often cited reasons:

  • Epic Scope: Trilogies offer the perfect canvas for sprawling narratives. With three acts to play with, authors can weave complex plots, build expansive worlds, and introduce a vibrant cast of characters without feeling rushed. It’s like binge-watching a season of a TV show, but with the added literary depth and bonus of turning actual pages (sorry, Netflix).
  • Suspense: Each book ratchets up the tension, leaving you desperate to unravel the mysteries and witness the ultimate showdown. It’s a masterclass in pacing, building anticipation like a slow-burning flame that culminates in a breathtaking finale that leaves you reaching for the next book.
  • Character Development: Three books mean more time to truly inhabit the minds and hearts of protagonists. Readers will witness their growth, celebrate their triumphs, and weep alongside their failures.
  • World-Building: With a trilogy, authors can craft intricate, multi-layered worlds that feel richer and more lived-in than a single book ever could.

Trilogies are like literary power chords – the first book strikes a resonant note, the second builds the tension, and the third explodes in a satisfying conclusion. So, put down those stand-alone novels and step into the waiting arms of a trilogy. Trust our expert sources, the best trilogies are worth the dive. Let us know your favorite book series in the comments below!

Open books in a pile photo by Gülfer ERGİN on Unsplash
Open books in a pile (Photo by Gülfer ERGİN on Unsplash)

The List: Best Book Trilogies, According to Readers


1. “The Lord of The Rings” Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

This is the book series that sets the gold standard for three-act storytelling. Other authors struggle to achieve Tolkien’s mastery of storytelling with a beginning, middle, and end. Book Riot raves, “In the world of fantasy novels, few have been as influential as J.R.R. Tokein’s ‘The Lord of the Rings Trilogy’ and his other books about Middle Earth. The world is so vivid in his mind, and each new character that appears has an incredible backstory that only he knows. But once you’ve read some of the additional material in his other books, you begin to see how layered Tolkein’s Middle Earth really is.”

“The Lord of The Rings" Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954)
“The Lord of The Rings” Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

Penguin praises, “One trilogy to rule them all… This, really, is the trilogy of all trilogies, the series of books that effectively dragged the fantasy genre out of the literary ghetto and into the ‘mainstream.’ Before J. R. R. Tolkien published ‘The Fellowship of the Ring,’ ‘The Two Towers’ and ‘The Return of the King’ (between 1954 and 1955) fantasy books were mostly seen as children’s [books]. Not ‘The Lord of the Rings.’”

The Tattooed Book Geek exclaims, “Well, it’s the Granddaddy of all fantasy trilogies!!!! The old-timer that is ‘The Lord of The Rings.’ If you haven’t read the books then I am guessing that you will at least have watched the films, so it’s a name that you all should be well aware of! Anyone out there not heard of ‘The Lord of The Rings??’ Hands in the air?? Nope, didn’t think so!”

2. “The Broken Earth” Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

“The Broken Earth Trilogy” is a wildly creative work of high fantasy. Stepping away from the tropes of orcs and elves, Jemisin instead takes a deep dive into dangerous magic. Bustle says, “Every few centuries, the Stillness erupts into lengthy Seasons filled with fire, ash, and death. Individuals known as orogenes can control the seismic activity that leads to Seasons, but their powers are so terrifying and misunderstood that ignorant villages drown them at birth.”

"The Broken Earth" Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin (2015)
“The Broken Earth” Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

The Portalist describes, “In Jemisin’s award-winning science-fantasy trilogy, an apocalypse ravages the world. Multiple apocalypses, in fact. They happen with enough frequency that they’ve become known as a fifth season.”

Book Riot elaborates, “The trilogy begins when a woman’s husband kills their son and kidnaps their daughter. From there, Jemisin’s masterpiece unfolds, each book better than the last. ‘The Broken Earth’ series was the first trilogy where each novel won the Hugo award for best novel.”

3. “The Hunger Games” Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

“The Hunger Games” kicked off a huge surge in young adult fiction. The series also helped to make Jennifer Lawrence a household name thanks to her iconic portrayal of protagonist Katniss Everdeen. Unseen Library comments, “I had to include the iconic ‘Hunger Games’ novels by Suzanne Collins on this list.  Made up of ‘The Hunger Games,’ ‘Catching Fire’ and ‘Mockingjay,’ this is a great and fast-paced dystopian series that I have read a few times now.  All three novels are a lot of fun, although the first book is probably the best.”

"The Hunger Games" Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
“The Hunger Games” Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Romper adds, “You may have already seen ‘The Hunger Games’ movies, but like most book-to-movie sequences, the books are well worth a read, too. ‘Mockingjay,’ ‘Catching Fire,’ and ‘The Hunger Games’ will keep you busy with tales of protagonist Katniss Everdeen and her trials at the futuristic survival games.”

Medium details, “I loved the world-building in these books. Panem became a place we all thought we knew. Readers would debate which district they would like to visit if they visited this fantasy land. For me, it wasn’t just this element; it was the characters that Collins wrote. Katniss was the perfect protagonist, flawed but willing to fight and grow.”

4. “Shadow and Bone” Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Though “Shadow and Bone” is young adult fiction, the series is highly praised. This award-winning series has deeply resonated with its fandom. The Espresso Addition explains, “Hello, favorite series of all time. These books have my entire heart, no lie. If you grew up with books like ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ or ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ you’ll enjoy this trilogy because it really has the feel of those ‘classic’ fantasies. It’s primarily plot-based but still has phenomenal characters (including my favorite fictional character ever). I could talk forever about this world.”

"Shadow and Bone" Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
“Shadow and Bone” Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Hash#ag India offers, “‘Grishaverse’ written by Leigh Bardugo is a fun trilogy series to read and is also a [cancelled] Netflix series. The trilogy series includes ‘Shadow and Bone,’ ‘Siege and Storm,’ ‘Ruin and Rising.’ The writing style is easy and engaging and it is a highly enjoyable book, set in a magical world with amazing characters.”

Bustle states, “Orphans Alina and Mal join the military when they come of age and are assigned to protect Ravka from the monsters that dwell in the Shadow Fold. When Mal is critically injured, a latent power awakens in Alina, revealing her to be the only one capable of saving her homeland from the encroaching darkness.”

5. “His Dark Materials” Trilogy by Philip Pullman

This engrossing series has been the subject of two middling screen adaptations. The original books are easily the best way to enjoy these stories by Phillip Pullman. Medium relates, “The trilogy delves into themes of power, destiny, and the essence of humanity, all wrapped up in a spellbinding adventure. From the first book, I was addicted and ploughed through the books at lightning speed.”

"His Dark Materials" Trilogy by Philip Pullman
“His Dark Materials” Trilogy by Philip Pullman

Penguin claims, “Widely regarded not just as the greatest fantasy work of our age but perhaps the greatest achievement in British fiction over the past few decades, Pullman’s trilogy works on many levels: a trumpet-blast against the power of the Catholic Church (reimagined here in the guise of the sinister Magisterium), a joyful interrogation of many of the classic tropes of children’s fantasy literature, and an ingenious exploration of the notion of parallel worlds.”

Romper reviews, “‘His Dark Materials’ encompasses three epic fantasy novels by Philip Pullman: ‘The Golden Compass,’ ‘The Subtle Knife,’ and ‘The Amber Spyglass.’ The books follow two friends in their coming of age while they navigate parallel universes, complete with witches and armored polar bears.”

6. “The First Law” Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

Joe Abercrombie is the grandmaster of the grimdark genre. His mastery of violent dark fantasy has resulted in several visceral best-sellers. According to The Portalist, “While Abercrombie has since expanded the First Law world into a series with two trilogies, multiple standalones, and several short stories, it all began with the original trilogy: ‘The Blade Itself,’ ‘Before They Are Hanged,’ and ‘Last Argument of Kings.'”

"The First Law" Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie
“The First Law” Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

The Tattooed Book Geek asserts, “Complex, morally flawed and highly memorable characters, great storytelling, droll and sardonic humor, a gritty and grim world that feels real and lived in, fast-paced and action-packed. This is the quintessential Grimdark trilogy for fans and a must-read! After a long break away from reading ‘The Blade Itself’ was one of the first grimdark books that I picked up and it, along with the following two books in ‘The First Law Trilogy’ firmly cemented my love for the genre.”

Unseen Library evaluates, “This amazing trilogy follows a group of extremely complex and damaged characters as they attempt to navigate a dark world filled with betrayal, uncontrolled ambition, and all manner of monsters.  All three books are pretty incredible, with ‘The Blade Itself’ providing an outstanding introduction.”

7. “Crazy Rich Asians” Trilogy by Kevin Kwan

The Espresso Addition compliments, “Would you believe me if I told you this series was my introduction to audiobooks? Years ago, when I was finding my way back into the wonderful world of reading, I did an Audible trial and flew through this trilogy. It’s so entertaining, dramatic, and fun. The adaptation is also so beautiful!”

"Crazy Rich Asians" Trilogy by Kevin Kwan
“Crazy Rich Asians” Trilogy by Kevin Kwan

Penguin assures, “It was realizing that there was a dearth of fiction about contemporary Asia and the consequences of its 21st-century economic boom that, in 2013, prompted Kevin Kwan to embark on a satirical dissection of Singaporean high society in his debut novel ‘Crazy Rich Asians.'”

Book Riot articulates, “In one of the most epic series of rich people problems, Kevin Kwan introduces us to a wild trilogy full of incredible characters. Rachel Chu, a Chinese American woman, loves her boyfriend Nick, who is from Singapore. But on their way to visit his family, he finally reveals that he’s from a rich family. So begins the trilogy full of over-the-top characters who are seriously ridiculously rich.”

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  1. While you have listed some wonderful trilogies well worth reading, there is one (highly regarded and popular) that has been omitted. I am talking of Deborah Harkness’s All Soul’s Trilogy, which is a wonderful mix of fantasy, romance and history. It is a wonderful read and highly recommended!

  2. I really enjoyed The Wicked Kingdom trilogy. Seeing Amelia solve the mystery through the series was definitely one of the things that kept my interest piqued.

  3. The beginning of this article that gives the reasons why books are best made in sets of 3 is really general and vague. None of it has any specific significance to groups of 3 and could be used to describe any amount of books in a series. That being said, my favorite trilogy of books is the Star Wars Thrawn Trilogy: “Heir to the Empire” “Dark Force Rising” and “The Last Command”

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