It's a simple premise, but it's hard to describe how complex and weaving Stavely manages to make it. Each of the children has a feeling of relatability, trapped by their obligations yet likable and down-to-earth. They present an entirely different viewpoint on the same world the view of a soldier, a monk, and a finance minister. With the touch of a true master, Stavely manipulates these plot threads, expanding some, abandoning others, giving glimpses at a grand design.
Then, with sweeping grandeur, he manages to tie them all together in a rush of revelations and satisfaction. It ends with a real sense of development, the characters undeniably shaped by their roles and experiences. Nobody writes coming of age quite like Garth Nix, and this quickly became clear with Sabriel in In this world, the dead refuse to stay that way, and the Abhorsen are needed to keep them in check. With her father missing, that job falls down to Sabriel, and she has a lot to learn.
Nix writes his female protagonist, not as a whiny girl, or ridiculously strong, but somewhere in between. Sabriel is flawed, yet her worries feel real and acceptable.
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Her thoughts and motives feel intensely human, as do her sidekicks a magic bound cat and a royal guard that was frozen in time. Incredible attention to detail transports readers straight into the Old Kingdom, blending zombies, swordplay, and a unique and detailed magic system. Nix is a master of selecting the right information at the right time, forgoing info dumps and forging understanding through action and lyrical prose.
As Sabriel grows into her role, the story reaches a dark crescendo of action and emotion. Though Sanderson's main criticism is a lack of character depth, it's hard to deny the satisfying coming of age stories in Mistborn. The novel describes a classic rags-to-riches story, Vin progressing from street scammer to metal ingesting magician.
However, Vin's development and the scope of the story goes much further than that. Sanderson raises many important questions through the protagonist and lets her grow as she comes to her own conclusions. There's an exploration of class, religion, moral ambiguity, and, most importantly, trust. Rather just presenting a story of powerless to powerful, the author explores how one so exploited can come to form meaningful relationships.
While some would be content to leave it there, this tale contains similar progression in other characters. The latter books focus on the growth of Elend from an intellectual to a leader, while a minor character plot explores the quest to find meaning among powerful friends. These plot arches combine with an incredible magic system, detailed worldbuilding, and intense action sequences to create an easy and entertaining read.
Flewelling's series takes place in the medieval country of Skala and presents a near-perfect sword and sorcery experience. It details the growth of Alec, saved from prison by Seregil, a hired thief and member of a secretive group called 'The Watchers'. Flewelling has always written strong characters, and this series is no exception.
The bond between the two men is the defining feature of these novels, with Seregil acting as both mentor and friend.
Where Alec is naive, Seregil is sharp and witty, creating a perfect contrast in morals and personality. However, at its base level, Nightrunner is a coming of age story. It's about Alec learning to accept his new profession, but also to trust. He's thrown into a tight-knit group, so ready to accept him that it almost feels suspect.
He comes to respect them and believe in himself, meeting wizards, learning, and discovering his sexuality. Flewelling manages to write bisexual characters while keeping it incredibly natural. There's no dwelling, and if there is a clear message in Alec's growth, it's of loyalty and acceptance. Abercrombie kicked off his Shattered Sea series with the award-winning Half a King , but his second novel approaches true mastery.
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Half the World picks up many years after the first, featuring some crossover characters but working perfectly as a standalone. Thorn Bathu is the new protagonist, and she presents a familiar dilemma. She was born to be a warrior, but she was also born female. Though she can train with the rest of the boys, she will never be one of them, and that's only made worse when she's branded a murderer. Abercrombie's foray into YA is a slightly more lighthearted take than his usual taste.
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But only slightly. Thorn's story is one of failure, learning to accept infallibility, accepting she isn't perfect. There's a deep exploration of morals through Brand, a naive warrior who tries not to kill. It's a divergence from the usual gore and killing off main characters, but that somehow makes it feel more intelligent. Together, Thorn and Brand must travel the world, convince allies, and start a war.
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The Deed of Paksenarrion. The Paksenarrion trilogy introduces another female warrior lead, but that doesn't mean its protagonist is ordinary. Paks doesn't start out a strong, brooding hero. She's not particularly intelligent, she doesn't question orders, she doesn't want children. It's loyalty that holds her together, and it's what eventually leads her to change. The pure scope of Moon's trilogy makes the number of books feel warranted, and that's partly thanks to the huge character development. It's not just a case of sheep farmer to paladin Paks changes right down to her very core.
Her morality, psychology, and religion are all influenced by the events in the series, leaving a feeling of real change, rather than an afterthought.
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There's a sense of a classic chronicle to the book, a medieval world complete with elves and dwarves. It's high fantasy, but also very clearly an epic adventure. Its battle scenes are littered with Moon's experience as a marine, complete with gory scenes and the ambiguity of hero or tool. A lot of novels on this list are either children's stories or young adult.
While they make for great stories, there are some great coming of age stories that feature very mature content. Primarily, Phedre's Trilogy is a fantasy series. It features a medieval world in Terre d'Ange, a mirror of France. It's complete with angelic powers, myths, and warriors.
It also contains some BDSM. In the hands of a novice writer, this could become a Fifty Shades sleaze-fest. And though this is Carey's debut, she's far more subtle than that. Sexuality is tied into the very fabric of the world, feeling like an extension of it rather than being thrown in randomly. It's a fantasy book first, and a romance one second. Still, Carey realizes that the discovery of sex is an important role in coming of age.
She doesn't linger on it unnecessarily, but it does tie naturally into the thread of the story. We follow Phedre from her roots as a courtesan, where a red mote in her eye makes her undesirable. However, it's more than just a blemish. According to her new patron, it's a mark from the heavens. What follows is an education surpassing her humble beginning. She learns not just language and history but to observe and influence. It's a telling that's epic in scale, stretching across three large books as Phedre uses her knowledge to combat conspiracies and save the ones she loves.
Her flawless writing skill brings something really special to the YA genre and won her Newbery Honor in McKinley's country of Damar takes readers away from the popular medieval setting and into a sandy world. There's stunning detail here, not just in vivid description but the cultures of each group. When Harry is captured by the nomadic Hillfolk, things only get better. Finding she has kelar in her blood, she slowly comes to terms with her heritage and magical ability. She quickly takes to the Hillfolk, feeling at home for the first time with the horses and language.
But there's a war coming from the north, and Harry has a lot of growing up to do before she can face it. She learns to become unbeholden to the wills of others, control her kelar, and become a hero. While some of the books on this list offer a fresh take on the classics, Jim Butcher creates something entirely new.
It began on a writer's workshop board during an argument, where he was challenged to write a book out of two central ideas the lost roman legion and Pokmon. Despite its source material, the result is surprisingly unique. Butcher details a world in which aggressive races are complemented by elemental creatures called furies. Tavi from the rome-like Alera, and at fifteen years old he still can't furycraft.
Butcher manages to flip expectations by creating a protagonist who doesn't come into great power. In fact, Tavi seems to be the only one without magic, and for once that makes things more interesting. As their next door neighbors prepare to declare war, Tavi has to rely on his wits to survive. As the series progresses, he learns his lack of magic doesn't make him worthless, facing emotional turmoil and coming out a strong, well-trained man. Chronicles of Amber.
The Amber Chronicles is a complex blend of genres and plot. It starts like a murder mystery, drawing the reader in, then it moves on to a mixture of sci-fi and fantasy. However, while Zelanzy's tension-building goes a long way, it's the character that keeps the reader invested throughout this ten book series. The book is from the perspective of Corwin, a hospitalized amnesiac trying to remember his true identity.
We follow along as he tries to unravel his thoughts with the hard resourcefulness. But then Corwin learns that he's not in his home world but has been banished to shadowland that is earth. More than that, he has a claim to the throne, and his siblings are all too happy to kill him to take it. In an inspiring change, Zelazny details Corwin's growth as he comes to remember little details about himself and his personality changes as a result.