Riyria - 7+ books of fantasy goodness
The Riyria series has an interesting publishing history that is not very typical. Michael J Sullivan self-published 6 books in this series on his own and they were successful enough to land him a publishing deal with Orbit Books. These 6 books were then re-packaged into a trilogy containing 2 original books each and known as the Riyria Revelations. This is a great trilogy that has a strong story arc containing well written and entertaining characters and it all wraps itself up nicely at the end. What more could you want?
Post publication these books were so popular that the fans wanted more, including Sullivan's wife, and eventually Sullivan caved in to the pressure and wrote more. Since Sullivan was very satisfied with his ending he did not want to continue the story so he instead opted to write the Riyria Chronicles which is a prequel series to Revelations. The books are so well written that you as a reader can choose to read in the original publishing order or opt for chronological order and either will work. I personally have read them in publishing order as I started with the Riyria Revelations.
The series centers around two main characters: Royce Melborn, an assassin who always puts himself first and trusts nobody, and Hadrian Blackwater, an un-rivaled soldier who is honest and optimistic to a fault. This unlikely duo and the interactions between them make this series extremely entertaining. Although they are both thieves who take jobs for morally ambiguous individuals, they maintain their own moral code so it is easy to root for them to succeed when things go awry. At times it can be hard to tell if they are one step ahead of everyone else or one step behind but that's all part of the fun.
Royce and Hadrian are the main reason why the fans keep demanding more but the supporting cast also contains a slew of good characters throughout. The next book in the Riyria Chronicles, The Death of Dulgath, is due out later this year and is being offered on Kickstarter.
For Audiobook fans the series is narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds and he is outstanding. Some narrators are merely readers but Reynolds is a true story teller and he really brings the series to life. You can't go wrong with this series in either format and I don't hesitate to recommend it - even to people who don't typically read fantasy novels. After 5 books I feel like Royce and Hadrian are old friends and I can't wait until I get to spend more time with them.
Riyria Revelations: Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, Heir of Novron