Best Audiobook Trilogies to Listen to Right Now

These popular audiobook trilogies are must listens for series lovers. Here's why good things come in threes!

Everyone knows the famous expression "Three's a crowd!”—but that sentiment doesn't ring true when it comes to audiobooks. Over the past decade or so, the popularity of trilogies has exploded, and a few stories that are part of trilogies have become some of the best-selling books of all time. The Hunger Games trilogy from Suzanne Collins and the Twilight trilogy by Stephanie Meyers are two of the most successful examples. Or consider Fifty Shades of Grey, the first installment of E.L. James's Fifty Shades trilogy, which was the best-selling book of the last decade.

A trilogy, by definition, is a group of three related works. Audiobooks in trilogies are three separate installments that tell one overarching story. While many authors have their whole trilogies planned out ahead of time, some choose to write them as they go along. Other authors might hesitate to call a book the first in a trilogy, because they are not sure how many books they want to write featuring that story. For example, Douglas Adams famously wrote what was called the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy but then continued on, and added two more books to the series. So now the series is jokingly referred to as "a trilogy in five parts."

And sometimes, an author might write a trilogy, but then also write other works featuring the same characters or the same universe. To use Suzanne Collins as an example again, her Hunger Games trilogy was considered completed for many years; but this year, she released a prequel about one of the characters called The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

The word "series" is usually used to describe three or more things. So while three audiobooks doesn't sound like a lot—especially considered against prolific series authors such as J.D. Robb, who has more than 50 listens in her Eve Dallas series!—a trilogy does indeed qualify as a series. And while there certainly seem to be more trilogies in genre fiction such as sci-fi and mystery, wonderful trilogies are found in just about every genre.

What are the best trilogies of all time? With thousands of amazing trilogies out there, it's hard to narrow it down. But we’ve compiled some audiobook trilogies that represent the best of the best—and don’t worry about spoilers; we’ve only described the first of the series in each entry.

MaddAddam

The MaddAddam Trilogy

Book 1: Oryx and Crake; Book 2: The Year of the Flood; Book 3: MaddAddam

Atwood already had more than 30 published works under her belt when she released the first installment of the MaddAddam series in 2003. The trilogy details a future Earth, where man-made disaster has changed the landscape and genetic modification and corporate evil are prevalent throughout the world. Listeners are invited to follow characters who are not quite human as they navigate this new terrain. The first audiobook is narrated by actor Campbell Scott, while the second and third audiobooks feature multiple voice actors.

Shadow and Bone

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh....

City of Stairs

The Divine Cities Trilogy

Book 1: City of Stairs; Book 2: City of Blades; Book 3: City of Miracles

This is an amazing fantasy series, with meticulous world-building and fabulous characters. It's about the city-state of Bulikov, where gods and magic were once prevalent, until the gods were killed off and magic was outlawed. Decades later, Ashara Komayd is sent to investigate the murder of a historian who was researching the gods, and winds up uncovering something so much bigger. All the audiobooks in the series have the same narrator, which makes for smooth listening.

Dawn

Xenogenesis Trilogy

Book 1: Dawn; Book 2: Adulthood Rites; Book 3: Imago

Butler has a few series to her name, but this trilogy is my favorite. In this science fiction trilogy, Lilith Iyapo awakens in a prison cell with no memory of how she got there. She knows there was a nuclear war and that she lost her family in a car accident, but doesn't remember much else. Lilith has been in slumber aboard a space ship for 250 years—and once she opens her eyes, she’s immediately thrust into a thrilling, unforgettable journey.

Sea of Poppies

Ibis Trilogy

Book 1: Sea of Poppies; Book 2: River of Smoke; Book 3: Flood of Fire

And here's a fine example of an amazing trilogy that isn't genre fiction. The first book, Sea of Poppies, was even short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. The trilogy is a beautifully written look at the historical damages of imperialism and colonialism. Three different narrators help listeners make clear distinctions between the different time periods of each audiobook.

The Fifth Season

The Broken Earth Trilogy

Book 1: The Fifth Season; Book 2: The Obelisk Gate; Book 3: The Stone Sky

Not only is this trilogy amazing-it is an important part of literary history. The Fifth Season won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2016, making Jemisin the first African American writer to win a Hugo Award in that category. And the last two installments in the series also won that award, making her both the first woman and the first African American, to win for a trilogy. This is a complex, riveting series about a supercontinent called the Stillness in a time of catastrophic climate change.

The Three-Body Problem

The Three Body Trilogy

Book 1: The Three-Body Problem; Book 2: The Dark Forest; Book 3: Death's End

This science fiction trilogy won both a Hugo and a Locus, and was nominated for many other awards. The story was translated by Ken Liu, another prestigious science fiction writer. It's about a secret attempt by the government to make contact with aliens in space during China's Cultural Revolution. The aliens receive the message…and decide to invade Earth.

Wolf Hall

The Wolf Hall Trilogy

Book 1: Wolf Hall; Book 2: Bring Up the Bodies; Book 3: The Mirror & the Light

This is an award-winning historical fiction trilogy following the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, the minister of King Henry VIII's court. The first two entries in this trilogy each won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. The third book, The Mirror & the Light, was just released in March—will Mantel win it again?

Some Luck

The Last Hundred Years Trilogy

Book 1: Some Luck; Book 2: Early Warning; Book 3: Golden Age

Although Smiley is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, much of her work is underappreciated—like this trilogy, for instance. It's about the Langdon family, who live on a farm in Denby, Iowa and their struggles, triumphs, and losses. Each chapter follows a year in the life of Walter and Rosanna Langdon and their five children, telling a century's worth of a story all together.

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Book 1: The Fellowship of the Ring; Book 2: The Two Towers; Book 3: The Return of the King

One of the most famous literary trilogies of all time, this is an intricate high-fantasy adventure set in Middle-earth. The story follows a group of four loveable, humble Hobbits who have left their home in the Shire to team up with a band of adventurers—including elven prince Legolas and wizened wizard Gandalf—and stop the evil Sauron from obtaining the powerful One Ring and ruling all the lands. All three audiobooks—and The Hobbit, which begins Tolkien’s tale—are narrated by the wonderful voice actor Rob Inglis.

MaddAddam

The MaddAddam Trilogy

Book 1: Oryx and Crake; Book 2: The Year of the Flood; Book 3: MaddAddam

Atwood already had more than 30 published works under her belt when she released the first installment of the MaddAddam series in 2003. The trilogy details a future Earth, where man-made disaster has changed the landscape and genetic modification and corporate evil are prevalent throughout the world. Listeners are invited to follow characters who are not quite human as they navigate this new terrain. The first audiobook is narrated by actor Campbell Scott, while the second and third audiobooks feature multiple voice actors.

Shadow and Bone

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh....

City of Stairs

The Divine Cities Trilogy

Book 1: City of Stairs; Book 2: City of Blades; Book 3: City of Miracles

This is an amazing fantasy series, with meticulous world-building and fabulous characters. It's about the city-state of Bulikov, where gods and magic were once prevalent, until the gods were killed off and magic was outlawed. Decades later, Ashara Komayd is sent to investigate the murder of a historian who was researching the gods, and winds up uncovering something so much bigger. All the audiobooks in the series have the same narrator, which makes for smooth listening.

Dawn

Xenogenesis Trilogy

Book 1: Dawn; Book 2: Adulthood Rites; Book 3: Imago

Butler has a few series to her name, but this trilogy is my favorite. In this science fiction trilogy, Lilith Iyapo awakens in a prison cell with no memory of how she got there. She knows there was a nuclear war and that she lost her family in a car accident, but doesn't remember much else. Lilith has been in slumber aboard a space ship for 250 years—and once she opens her eyes, she’s immediately thrust into a thrilling, unforgettable journey.

Sea of Poppies

Ibis Trilogy

Book 1: Sea of Poppies; Book 2: River of Smoke; Book 3: Flood of Fire

And here's a fine example of an amazing trilogy that isn't genre fiction. The first book, Sea of Poppies, was even short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. The trilogy is a beautifully written look at the historical damages of imperialism and colonialism. Three different narrators help listeners make clear distinctions between the different time periods of each audiobook.

The Fifth Season

The Broken Earth Trilogy

Book 1: The Fifth Season; Book 2: The Obelisk Gate; Book 3: The Stone Sky

Not only is this trilogy amazing-it is an important part of literary history. The Fifth Season won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2016, making Jemisin the first African American writer to win a Hugo Award in that category. And the last two installments in the series also won that award, making her both the first woman and the first African American, to win for a trilogy. This is a complex, riveting series about a supercontinent called the Stillness in a time of catastrophic climate change.

The Three-Body Problem

The Three Body Trilogy

Book 1: The Three-Body Problem; Book 2: The Dark Forest; Book 3: Death's End

This science fiction trilogy won both a Hugo and a Locus, and was nominated for many other awards. The story was translated by Ken Liu, another prestigious science fiction writer. It's about a secret attempt by the government to make contact with aliens in space during China's Cultural Revolution. The aliens receive the message…and decide to invade Earth.

Wolf Hall

The Wolf Hall Trilogy

Book 1: Wolf Hall; Book 2: Bring Up the Bodies; Book 3: The Mirror & the Light

This is an award-winning historical fiction trilogy following the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, the minister of King Henry VIII's court. The first two entries in this trilogy each won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. The third book, The Mirror & the Light, was just released in March—will Mantel win it again?

Some Luck

The Last Hundred Years Trilogy

Book 1: Some Luck; Book 2: Early Warning; Book 3: Golden Age

Although Smiley is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, much of her work is underappreciated—like this trilogy, for instance. It's about the Langdon family, who live on a farm in Denby, Iowa and their struggles, triumphs, and losses. Each chapter follows a year in the life of Walter and Rosanna Langdon and their five children, telling a century's worth of a story all together.

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Book 1: The Fellowship of the Ring; Book 2: The Two Towers; Book 3: The Return of the King

One of the most famous literary trilogies of all time, this is an intricate high-fantasy adventure set in Middle-earth. The story follows a group of four loveable, humble Hobbits who have left their home in the Shire to team up with a band of adventurers—including elven prince Legolas and wizened wizard Gandalf—and stop the evil Sauron from obtaining the powerful One Ring and ruling all the lands. All three audiobooks—and The Hobbit, which begins Tolkien’s tale—are narrated by the wonderful voice actor Rob Inglis.

Liberty Hardy is a Book Riot senior contributing editor and velocireader living in the great state of Maine with her trilogy of cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, who hate to read.

Tags

Up Next

The Greatest, Most Notable American Writers of All Time

From Hemingway to Harper Lee, these famous American authors are all worthy of enduring recognition—and definitely a fresh listen!