A Question about Long-Running Series

A question for you, dear readers: what are your favourite long-running series?

Mine is probably Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins series. Because it got better and better with each book. The characters and the world grew. It never felt like Mosley was churning them out for a buck. They more than stand up to rereading.

To define my terms: I consider a series long-running if it has six or more books in it. A series can tell one continuous story like Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond books or have same character(s) but different stories in each book.

So what are your favourites? And why?


  1. Jaya Lakshmi on #

    I love the Sammy Keyes mystery series. It’s hilarious with a thirteen-year old girl who solves mysteries while dealing with junior high enemies. I love it because Sammy is so sassy, smart, and gutsy- if she weren’t so

    YAY! First comment!

  2. Samantha on #

    It may be cliche, but I LOVE Harry Potter! I reread it every other year.

  3. JJ on #

    I suppose my favourite long-running series are the Kushiel books by Jacqueline Carey, although the most recent book has nothing to do with Kushiel (although it’s set in the same world). To date there have been 7 books, but broken into mini-trilogies: Phèdre’s books, Imriel’s books, and now Moirin’s books.

    I’m not a huge fan of long-running series in general, although I do like trilogies and quartets. I like to know there’s an end somewhere, which is why I like how the Kushiel books are set up. As a child, I really loved the Anne of Green Gables books, but only a select number of them. Nos. 1 through 3, then 5, and then Rilla’s book.

  4. dwndrgn on #

    I’m a huge fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files as well as his Codex Alera series. Of course Terry Pratchett’s Discworld as well.

  5. Electric Landlady on #

    Discworld, definitely.

    I’m also very fond of Lindsey Davis’s Falco novels — they have dropped off a bit in recent years but the first 8 or so are wonderful. I love the development of Falco and Helena’s relationship, in particular — it doesn’t always go smoothly but it all works out eventually.

    Lois McMaster Bujold has written 3 series that are all terrific. I love her characters and world-building.

    I also love Sarah Caudwell’s books — unfortunately she died after writing only 4. Not nearly enough! Funny, clever legal mysteries with a lot to say about gender roles.

    Hilary McKay’s Casson Family novels are totally delightful. I love stories about big chaotic families, possibly because I’m an only child.

    I still reread some of the pony books I had as a child: Patricia Leitch’s Jinny series, where the classic girl-and-horse story has some interesting twists (hippies, for starters); Ruby Ferguson’s Jill novels, which are hilarious; and Josephine Pullein-Thompson’s Noel and Henry novels. I think all of these have things you can appreciate as an adult, which I didn’t notice the first time through. And finally, Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons books. I wanted to be those kids! They get to camp and explore and sail and climb mountains with only occasional adult interference.

    Oh dear, I could go on all day, but I have to leave the computer now…

  6. Jesi on #

    I think Tamora Pierce’s books should count, even though they’re divided up into quartets. But the Tortall books have sixteen, I think, and the Circle world has ten. And I do love me my Harry Potter as well.

  7. Sara on #

    I’m not much into series either, in fact I tend to avoid them (for example I like Laura Lippman a lot but only read her stand-alones). However, I do love Raymond Chandler’s books, and the Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo “The Story of Crime” novels. Also, Megan Whalen Turner’s books.

  8. Sandy Shin on #

    Mine is, without a doubt, Harry Potter. That’s what got me reading and writing.

    Another is Megan Whalen Turner’s THE QUEEN’S THIEF series. Though it’s not quite that long yet, the author assures us that it will eventually be at least 6 books.

  9. chaos on #

    The Chronicles of Amber, hands down. Ten books and an assortment of short stories, and a roleplaying game if you like, plus a dubiously authorized prequel series, so yeah, that’s extended.

    It’s my favorite because there’s nothing to liven up fantasy like well-written first-person-smartass narration, because it did awesome things with an unreliable narrator just like Ms. Larbalestier, because calling it “fantasy” is really underselling it, because it goes as deep into all kinds of philosophical territory as the reader cares to follow it, because (on account of that and other things) it has more to give on every re-reading, and because like all great fiction it encodes truth that transcends its fictional nature. Why, yes, I do love it with considerable passion.

  10. Jenny Davidson on #

    Out of current/ongoing ones, I would have to single out Discworld and also Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books…

  11. Brendan Podger on #

    A favourite of mine were the WitchWorld books by Andre Norton and the first six or seven Pern books by Anne McCaffrey

  12. Kilks on #

    My favorite long running series is the Dresden Files by Jim
    Butcher. I love the fact that the story keeps growing more epic, yet without becoming too confusing or overwhelming.

  13. Joe Iriarte on #

    Asimov’s Foundation series and/or his Robot series because of the scope of the vision. David Brin’s Uplift series because it felt to me like I was watching a writer come into control of his chops as the series progressed from the eventful but sometimes sleepy first book to the gripping finale.

  14. Allison on #

    Harry Potter. I mean, Harry Potter is my favorite series EVER. I don’t think I will ever really love anything as much as I love Harry Potter.
    Other than that… I haven’t read very many long-running series. I used to really like Nancy Drew. And The Babysitters Club, when I was younger.

  15. Lauren Elizabeth Morrill on #

    I love Cynthia Voigt’s Tillerman series, which tells the story from multiple perspectives over multiple books. I also really love Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling books, because the books perfectly age with the character. You can really tell the difference between the 16 year old Jessica and the 25 year old Jessica, which, as a writer, is a really difficult thing to do!

  16. the dragonfly on #

    I have to second the Tortall books, even though they’re in quartets, and the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child. I have to add the Sword of Truth books by Terry Goodkind as well.

  17. Diana Peterfreund on #

    Narnia (except the last one), Anne of Green Gables et al. (I really love all of them until Anne of Ingleside, though I pretty much count any “Avonlea” story as part of that series), Harry Potter (though I don’t love the later ones)…

    Hmmm, that’s about it. There are lots of long-running series that I fell out of love with and so didn’t continue (Ender, Pern, Dune, Avalon) and I don’t read a lot of mystery, so I miss out on that. There are a lot of romances that are really long-running series but I tended not to like those as much. Like JOhanna Lindsey has written a dozen Mallory books but I prefer her NON-Mallory books. Everyone tells me JD Robb is spectacular but they are procedurals and I tend to not like procedurals.

  18. Jennifer Woodfin on #

    Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga. Because I’m a short megalomania military man in a fat lesbian pacificist body and I envy him his kick-ass girlfriends. Because Miles has always been in approximately the same place I’m in developmentally. And because Bujold never fails to humanize the enemy and her books are always deeply psychologically astute.

    Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Whimsey novels.
    Laurie King’s Mary Russell novels.
    Cynthia Voigt’s Tillerman saga.
    Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.

    I like series. There are lots and lots more that I read over and over again as a kid. Basically, I like character-driven adventure stories. And if there’s psychological growth that’s even better.

  19. Elizabeth Briggs on #

    Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files! It is the only series I have read that keeps getting better with each book.

  20. Pam Adams on #

    Favorite? What kind of question is that? Along with some of the ones listed above: Discworld, Vorkosigan, Lord Peter,etc., etc. I will add:

    SPQR- Roman mystery series written by John Maddox Roberts
    The Cadfael series by Ellis Peters (medieval mystery)
    Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (children’s literature)
    The Liaden books- Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

  21. Stephanie Leary on #

    The Dresden Files, definitely! I love them for the character development and the funny bits, of course, but it’s also interesting to watch Butcher progress as a writer. Those first few books are pretty rough, and the last few are marvelous.

    Also a huge fan of the Vorkosigan series, but I like Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s Liaden Universe books even more. They’re not as well-known as Bujold’s, but the premise is somewhat similar: Regency vs. modern societies clashing in space opera adventures. (That sounds like it should be the worst of all possible genre mashups, but it’s divine.) The Vorkosigan books can be a little uneven for me, but the Liaden series is a pure joy from start to finish.

    I’m only three books into Patrick O’Brian’s 20-volume Aubrey/Maturin series, but I think it’s going to win a place on my list.

  22. Mike on #

    Witch World by Andre Norton. Read all 30+ books last year. I loved the combination of fantasy and science fiction, particularly in the early books. I also found some of the later books set in High Hallack quite appealing; almost like medieval historical fiction rather than fantasy.

    Harry Potter is great. The Dune series was pretty good, particularly the early books. I still have a few to read in that series.

    I used to love the Tarzan books, but after re-reading a few a couple of summers ago…not so much any more. Syndicated series when I was a kid: Bobbsey Twins, Hardy Boys. I also loved the dog books by Albert Payson Terhune, but I wouldn’t consider them strictly a series.

  23. Andrew Nicholson on #

    I’m going to show my age but they’re all YA books even if they weren’t published that way.

    Discworld, Vorkosigan, Swallows and Amazons, Pern; covered by others to which I would add:
    – anything by Andre Norton who I always thought of as writing a series of books in the same universe.
    – The Dorsai series by Gordon R. Dickson
    – The “Company” novels by Kage Baker.
    – The “Lensman” series Doc E. Smith

    In all of them, they created a rich world over the whole series but each book tended to explore individuals and their relationships to society.

    (I would have included David Eddings series in there but as far as I can tell he’s written the same series three times now just changed the names – and that annoyed me).

  24. Lynn M on #

    My first ever beloved series was (and still is) Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books.

    My current favorite YA series is Harry Potter. Hands down.

    As for adult books, I do have a handful of romance series I really do enjoy. JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood is like crack in that I just can’t stop even though I should given how bad they are for you. And I like the dialogue and characters of Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series.

    I recently picked up the first in both Pratchett’s Discworld and the Dresden files, but I haven’t read them yet. Looking forward to digging into them given the positive buzz I see here.

  25. Hannah on #

    Favourite? I do not have a favourite, there can be no book favourites! It would make the other books sad. Not to mention me.

    BUT I do want to put in a word for the amazing and brilliant A Series of Unfortunate Events which always seems very underrated. I loved it when I was younger and thought it was just some funny, weird stories, I loved it when I got older and started studying hard-core English and got all the awesome little references, and I loved it when I was all grown up about the same time as the series finished, and it was just the best note to end on for me, as I went into the scary real world with no clue what was coming.

    I am just generally madly in love with the whole series and constantly amazed at the intricate plotting and tiny little references from the first book which come into play 12 titles later.

    Although while we’re on the subject of amazing plotting, Megan Whelan Turner’s ‘The Thief’ series is astonishing. I find something new to notice every time I re-read any of those books.

  26. Debbie Barr on #

    Love the Narnia books as well as The Chronicles of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones. There’s just something so great about that Chrestomanci and his assortment of dressing gowns.

  27. Becca on #

    I would have to say my favorite is the House of Night series by P.C. and Kristen Cast. I love them. I also like Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia.

    I also used to be a huge fan of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of unfortunate Events, but not so much anymore.

    Besides those I’m not a huge fan of long running series.I can’t really stand a super long series unless it is very well written, they seem to drag out sometimes. I prefer trilogies. I like knowing an end is coming.

  28. Tansy Rayner Roberts on #

    I have so many, I can’t think of one favourite series! Many of mine have been mentioned already – Discworld, Vorkosigan, Swallows and Amazons, Falco, Harry Potter, Lord Wimsey, Tortall, Jessica Darling…

    Though I do have one hands down, actually, now that I’ve run through all those. It went for at least six books, though the first 3 were the best.


    Man, I love those books. The anti-heroes, the Victorian worldbuilding, the doomed romances, the family melodrama, and the kids growing up to be selfish little bastards. One of the nicest things a friend ever did for me was to grab a matched set of them in hardbacks from his grandmother’s attic while going through her things for sale, and slipped them to me, because I had been raving about those books all year. I even got hold of the black and white tv series because I was so obsessed.

  29. lili wilkinson on #

    Diana Wynne Jones’s Chrestomanci books.

    And when I was younger, Trixie Belden and the Baby Sitter’s Club. And Milly Molly Mandy.

  30. DragonRose on #

    Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books and another vote for Megan Whalen Turner’s Thief books. Also I love John Marsden’s Tomorrow Series! I think it’s finished but there are ten books in total.

  31. imelda on #

    I’m gonna throw a outlier into the mix and say Animorphs! That’s a serious long-running series, and while certainly many were churned out to make a few bucks, there’s a lot of wisdom and depth in those books.

  32. Lizabelle on #

    Ooh, this one brought all the bookworms out of the woodwork!

    I grew up a huge fan of girls’ school series, like the Chalet School and Trebizon, and pony books (the Pullein Thompson sisters and Ruby Ferguson especially). Something about the long-running character development that you get in long series really appeals to my…nosiness? Obsessiveness? That need to know *everything* about a story, anyway.

    As an adult, add me to the list of Bujold and Pratchett fans. I also love Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe books, which (as you say about the Easy Rawlins books) get better and better. There are twenty-four of them now, and the early books are incrementally excellent, but for me, he really hits his stride around no. 14, and books 14-23 (with the exception of the short stories at no. 16) are absolutely brilliant.

  33. Lauren on #

    Some of my favorite long-running series are #1 The Chronicles Of Narnia (7 books) #2 The Harry Potter Series (7 books) #3 The Left Behind Series (13 books) 4# The Complete collection of William Shakespeare (not an actual series, but I love Shakespeare) #5 The Alex Cross series by James Patterson (16 books) #6 The Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz (8 books) #7 The Daughters of the Moon Series by Lynne Ewing (13 books) #8 The Enderverse Series by Orson Scott Card (11 books) #9 The Middle-Earth Series by J.R.R Tolkien (10 books) #10 The Ranger’s Apprentice Series by John Flanagan (8 books) #11 The Weather Warden Series by Rachel Caine (9 books)

    I recommend most of these except for number seven. (It was kinda childish)

    Thanks Justine!

  34. Jude on #

    The Oz book by Baum and Thompson. Any series by R.A. Salvatore.

  35. tess on #

    Embarrassing. Silly. I know. That said: Animorphs.

  36. Victoria on #

    The Chronicles of Narnia and the Alex Rider series. Also the Diary of a Teenage Girl series by Melody Carlson, even though it is broken up into separate sets by viewpoint. I also love her TrueColors series, but I don’t consider that strictly a “series”. Also the Trixie Belden series.

  37. Mac on #

    At this point in my life, Discworld and Narnia (for long-term emotional impact). 🙂

  38. Pam Adams on #


    Starting Aubrey/Maturin? I am so jealous.

  39. Ali on #

    Ok the Discworld series is definitely one of them! YA-wise, I think Cate Tiernan’s Wicca series is really well done – there is great character development, and this leads to some really good twists that you just don’t see coming because you’ve become so used to the way things were that you don’t really question them. Also: The Confessions of Georgia Nicholson. Because they are awesome and hilarious and they made being a teenager easier for so many girls my age.

  40. H Wessells on #

    A question that would have had different answers at different stages of my life. As a child, Doc Savage (Bantam paperback reprints of the pulp novels), don’t think I will go back to them. Other series, read at later times and still prized: P.G. Wodehouse (especially Uncle Fred), Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe, R.H. van Gulik’s Judge Dee, and the novels of Janwillem van de Wetering. When my daughter was six, David Godine gave me the first volume of the Swallows & Amazons he has reprinted: we read them all. The Rex Stout books, precisely because the characters do not change, are dance performances of choreographed language. I have not been reading too many series novels of late.

  41. Alpha Lyra on #

    Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, because it never gets repetitive. One book might be a mystery, another a military action novel, another standard SF, another a romance, yet they all feature the same wonderful cast, and they’re all amazingly well done.

  42. Julie Polk on #

    Has no one mentioned Sherlock Holmes?

  43. Megan on #

    Discworld, Narnia, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and I’m really enjoying Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, although as there are only five books I guess it just misses your criteria…

    And as for series that have gone on far too long but I cannot stop now (if for no other reason than sheer loyaty), the Warriors series by Erin Hunter is up there. (I read a LOT of YA and childrens’ series, haha.)

  44. Meg on #

    Potter of course. But I think that’s sort of expected.

    It’s almost embarrassing, except that I love them so much, but the Warriors novels by Erin Hunter. I’m a good 12 years too old for them and I totally don’t care — I’ll read them until the bitter end.

    Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series. The main series is actually 5 novels, but there are also three mangas in a sort of side series, and I tend to lump them all in as a whole.

    Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville books. I think it’s one of the smartest urban fantasy series out there right now, and Kitty is an awesome kick-butt heroine, but also so very normal and down-to-earth. It’s a lovely combination.

  45. Mo Johnson on #

    Showing my age now, but Enid Blyton’s ‘Five Findouters’ was my thing. I saved my pocket money to buy those books.
    Just read Liar and posted on facebook. (Never done that before about a book I’ve read with no connection to the writer).
    Congrats on the well-deserved short listing in Oz.
    I hated it and loved it. You’re a star.
    Mo Johnson

  46. LaurieA-B on #

    Laurie King’s Mary Russell mystery series–and the newest novel just came out this week! God of the Hive. I am very excited. It’s #10. I especially enjoyed reading #8 Locked Rooms, because it looped back to the original book, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, in a very satisfying way.

  47. Nicola on #

    So many to choose from! Where to start? As a kid I loved Mallory Towers, the Famous Five, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, the Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables and Narnia. Then as a teenager I read my way through every mystery writer I could find, with my favourites being Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler. As an adult I find that I don’t read series like I used to but I want to put in a plug for Gordon R. Dickson’s the Dragon and the George books. They’re fun!

  48. Layli on #

    -Harry Potter (J. K. Rowling)
    -Narnia (C. S. Lewis)
    -Discworld (Terry Pratchett)
    -The Dresden Files (Jim Butcher)
    -The Chronicles of Chrestomanci (Diana Wynne Jones)
    -The Mary Russell series (Laurie R. King)
    -Little House on the Prairie et al. (Laura Ingalls Wilder)

  49. naath on #

    Discworld. Probably. Maybe Wheel of Time. Or M Banks’ Culture novels. Hey, I suck at favorites 🙂

  50. Paige on #

    The Pendragon series by DJ MacHale!

  51. HollyAnn on #

    – Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy Sayers
    – Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr
    – Goldy Schulz culinary mysteries by Diane Mott Davidson
    – Belgarath and Polgara books by David Eddings, especially the early ones

  52. Georgia Alice on #

    I think mine would have to be the How To Train Your Dragon books by Cressida Cowell, the books the movie was based on. I have only read books 3 and 4, but i will soon be aquiring most of them. (or maybe not…)

  53. Georgia Alice on #

    oh, and the Anne of Green Gables books. And I do lurve me some Harry Potter every so often…

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