Jacquelyn Smith

Reincarnation in Fantasy & Science Fiction

[“Recycle” by gimSM]

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of reincarnation. There’s a certain clean logic to the idea of life and death recurring in a closed loop, like water evaporating into the atmosphere to return as rain before beginning the process all over again.


Reincarnation plays a role in several sci-fi/fantasy series. It allows the writers to bring back favorite characters to deal with unfinished business, or even put them into entirely new situations with other characters that never lived during their original lifetime.


Reincarnation is also a big part of my World of Lasniniar Series. It makes for some messy family trees, but I enjoy figuring out how it all comes together, like some kind of puzzle. Here are some of the series that have inspired me over the years:


The Deverry Novels by Katharine Kerr


This Celtic fantasy series is entirely based on the reincarnation concept. It’s completely unlike anything else I’ve read. The main characters are doomed to return over and over again, until they can resolve their past issues. Unfortunately, the only character aware of this is forbidden to tell anyone else. None of the other characters have any conscious memories of their previous lives, and are unaware they have been reborn. They only know they are drawn to one another for some reason.


Where to get started: Daggerspell


The Last Herald-Mage Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey


Reincarnation plays a minor role in this fantasy trilogy, but a main character does return to complete some unfinished business. (I don’t want to give anything away…) Also, Mercedes Lackey reveals in her more recent Heralds of Valdemar books that Heralds can come back as Companions, and Sun Priests can return as Firecats.


Where to get started: Magic’s Pawn




The Dune Series by Frank Herbert


OK, this one’s a bit of a cheat because it’s not technically reincarnation, but in the Dune universe, gholas are created using cells of the deceased, allowing a copy of them to be reborn. True gholas can even remember their previous life, if they are stressed into having a mental breakthrough. (Sounds a lot like reincarnation to me!)


Where to get started: Dune




Have you read any of these series? Is there another sci-fi/fantasy series featuring reincarnation you would recommend?


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