Looking for a list of Stieg Larsson books in order? We’re here for you!
Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy became world-famous as both a critical and runaway commercial success. Unfortunately, Stieg Larsson never got to enjoy his phenomenal success.
The original series consists of three books, and all were immediately successful. The protagonists of the trilogy are Lisbeth Salander, a punk computer hacker extraordinaire, and Mikail Blomkvist, a journalist whose history looks very similar to Larsson’s own.
The first book of the Millennium series, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, was published in 2005. The series is now being continued by David Lagercrantz, who has written a further three books to date.
Larsson reputedly had a further seven books planned in the series, with about 75% of a fourth book already completed. Unfortunately, due to complications surrounding Larsson’s unexpected death and that he had not been married to his long-time partner, Eva Gabrielsson, Lagercrantz has not been able to draw on this material.
But before we look at the Stieg Larsson books in order, let’s learn a little more about the man himself.
Who is Stieg Larsson?
Stieg Larsson was a Swedish journalist and writer. He was born on August 15, 1954 in Skelleftehamn, Västerbottens län, Sweden, and died unexpectedly on November 9, 2004 of a heart attack. Stieg grew up in a small wooden house with his grandparents in the tiny village of Bjursele in Västerbotten County.
He loved the countryside and would ski to the village school during the lengthy snowy winters. After his grandfather’s death from a heart attack when he was 50, Stieg moved to the city Umeå to live with his parents. He didn’t like the urban environment much.
As a child, Larsson enjoyed reading authors like Astrid Lindgren and Enid Blyton. He quickly began writing himself, and on his 12th birthday he received a typewriter. His first writing efforts were in the science fiction genre. He retained a life-long interest in it and became very active in the Swedish SF field.
Information about this and many other aspects of Larsson’s life can be found in an interesting book by Larsson’s friend John-Henri Holmberg. The Tattooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson and the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of Our Time is written in conjunction with Dan Burstein and Arne de Keijzer.
When Larsson completed his first manuscript he allegedly presented it to crime publishing house Piratforlag, who would not even look at it. Larsson then approached Norstedts Forlag. They accepted the entire Millennium trilogy for publication.
Stieg Larsson Books In Order
By Stieg Larsson
- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2005, English version 2009)
- The Girl Who Played With Fire (2006, English version 2009)
- The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2007, English version 2009)
By David Lagercrantz
- The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2015)
- The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye (2017)
- The Girl Who Lived Twice (2019)
Who is David Lagercrantz?
Looking at the Stieg Larsson books in order is all well and good, but who is David Lagercrantz? He took up the mantle of continuing the Millennium books so it’s only right that we take a closer look at who he is.
David Lagercrantz was born and grew up in Solna, Stockholm as the son of the literary scholar Olof Lagercrantz and Martina Ruin.
Lagercrantz’s most famous book, before his continuation of the Millennium series, was the award-winning sports biography, I am Zlatan Ibrahimović, about the footballer Zlatan Ibrahimović. Published in 2011, it sold more than 500,000 copies in six weeks, making it the fastest-selling book of all time in Sweden.
So Lagercrantz was the eminently qualified man to continue the life of Stieg Larsson’s memorable characters. His first Millennium book, and the fourth in the series, was The Girl in the Spider’s Web. It was written under ultra-secure conditions with “a ring of steel” around the book, as UK publisher, Christopher MacLehose, puts it. Since then there have been two more books by David Lagercrantz: The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye and The Girl Who Lived Twice.
David Lagercrantz has free reign in writing the sequels to Larsson’s novels. He was chosen as he is considered an accomplished writer skilled at portraying odd characters and complex geniuses. He also covered crime for a Swedish daily newspaper giving him practical experience about the police, intelligence units, and the government.
Who are Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist?
To help us understand the Stieg Larsson books in order a little better, we’ll also take a look at the fictional protagonists of Stieg Larsson’s world.
Lisbeth Salander is a fictional character created by Stieg Larsson. Along with accomplished investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she is one of the two protagonists in the award-winning Millennium series. But that doesn’t come close to describing Lisbeth Salander’s enigmatic, puzzling and intriguing persona!
Lisbeth Salander is assuredly one of the most enigmatic characters to ever emerge from the pages of a book. She was born on Walpurgis Night, a night associated with witchcraft and mysterious goings-on. So it’s no wonder Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, has a painful and mysterious past.
She was declared mentally incompetent as a minor. This made her subject to the will of a guardian, which is how she fell victim to unscrupulous Nils Bjurman. He controlled her and her finances after Holger Palmgren, her first decent guardian, developed health issues.
Despite everything that happened, Lisbeth has emerged as fiercely independent, strong, stubborn, and ferociously intelligent. She has fiendishly effective computer skills. She employs various cyber aliases when she’s hacking and she hovers unseen and anonymous in cyberspace — until she strikes, more often than not with devastating effect.
Her driving motivation is to not just expose people’s secrets, but to exact retribution for crimes. In particular the crimes of violence against women.
In the course of her work as a contract investigator for Milton Securities, she meets Mikael Blomkvist. They develop a close professional and personal relationship that impacts her isolated existence.
As well, Salander’s appearance underlines her uniqueness. Her provocative T-shirts and short skirts, tattoos, spiky hair, body piercings, and mannerisms invite you to stereotype her — at your peril.
In a way Mikael Blomkvist is Stieg Larsson personified and absolutely the perfect foil for Salander. He was born on January 18, 1960 and is blue-eyed, blond and 6 feet tall.
Mikael is an experienced investigative journalist. He is also the publisher, chief writer, and editor of the magazine Millennium. His magazine specializes in researching and exposing economic and social issues.
Do I need to read the Stieg Larsson books in order?
Yes, absolutely! Reading the Stieg Larsson books in order is the best way to go. One’s appreciation of them and of the character development is hugely improved if they are read in order.
The books are complex, and if you don’t read the Stieg Larsson books in order, then you run the very real risk of becoming confused. As well, you may not get the most out of these marvelous and very clever novels.
Summary of Stieg Larsson Books in Order
1. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Stieg Larsson’s complex yet riveting debut Millennium novel, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, is an intriguing mix of murder, mystery, financial intrigue, family saga, and a love story.
Harriet Vanger disappeared more than 40 years ago when she was only 16. She was the heir and successor to one of Sweden’s most prominent, wealthy, and dysfunctional families. Every year on his birthday she had given her uncle a framed wildflower, and after her disappearance, this kept happening. But who is sending the flowers?
Her elderly uncle, Henrik Vanger, still wants the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist to investigate. Blomkvist is an investigative journalist and publisher of the political magazine Millennium. His life is in disarray as he has just lost a libel case against corrupt billionaire industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström.
Unbeknownst to him Vanger has had his history thoroughly researched by the 24-year-old Lisbeth Salander. She is a black-lipsticked computer prodigy, hacker, and brilliant researcher. Skinny and aloof, she hides a deeply troubled past behind an abrupt, sometimes downright rude, manner.
Vanger promises Blomkvist damning evidence against Wennerström in return for establishing what happened to Harriet. Blomkvist agrees and as the investigation proceeds, he and Lisbeth Salander uncover iniquity, cruelty, and appalling corruption. The ending is shocking yet satisfying as very rough justice is doled out on several fronts.
2. The Girl Who Played With Fire
The complex and multilayered The Girl Who Played With Fire satisfies its reader on many levels. It’s a gripping and convincing police procedural, a mesmerizing espionage mystery thriller, and a blistering exposé of social injustice.
Crusading investigative journalist and publisher, Mikael Blomkvist, decides to run an exposé of an extensive sex trafficking operation in his magazine. Then, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered. And, bizarrely, the fingerprints on the murder weapon are those of Blomkvist’s friend, genius hacker extraordinaire and deeply troubled Lisbeth Salander.
However, Blomkvist is sure that Salander is innocent, and begins investigating. Salander herself becomes part of a murderous and lethal cat-and-mouse game, which forces her to confront her murky and traumatic past. Does her history of unpredictable and violent behavior really make her an official danger to society, as projected by the police? The point is somewhat moot as no one knows where Salander is.
But Blomkvist knows Salander can be very dangerous, so he is desperate to find her. As Blomkvist assembles the puzzle, he comes up against terrifying opposition. In his investigations, Blomkvist also unearths some harrowing facts about Salander’s past and the unjust and corrupt system that she fell victim to.
But Lisbeth is Lisbeth, and should never be underestimated. Will she turn the tables and manifest as an avenging angel rather than a helpless victim?
3. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
Lisbeth Salander is in critical condition in the intensive care unit of Sahlgrenska Hospital. She was shot and buried alive by her father, Zalachenko, and her half-brother, Niedermann. But, incredibly, although severely wounded, she managed to dig herself out.
But she is not just fighting for her life. Should she recover she will have to stand trial for three murders. Not only will she have to prove she is innocent, but she will have to identify those in authority who have perpetrated abuse and violence against the vulnerable.
And though Salander was a victim once upon a time, she is now plotting revenge — and now she is far from defenseless. Her revenge will not just be against the man who tried to kill her, but also against the corrupt government institutions that almost destroyed her life.
But sinister forces are massing against her. Amongst other machinations, corrupt Dr. Peter Teleborian, the psychiatrist who shackled and abused her as a child, provides the police with an incorrect psychiatric examination so Salander can be re-institutionalized — ideally without even being brought to trial.
So with the help of journalist Mikael Blomkvist, Salander’s lawyer, Annika Giannini (Blomkvist’s sister), and the researchers at Millennium magazine, Salander and her supporters launch a counter-attack. The gloves are truly off as strategy and counter-strategy play out in an all-out war to expose appalling corruption and bring the guilty to justice.
4. The Girl in the Spider’s Web (By David Lagercrantz)
Salander is still the girl with the dragon tattoo, a genius computer hacker and an unapologetic misfit — but now she’s rich. She’s also no longer vulnerable and legally considered “mentally incompetent.” Mikael Blomkvist is still an uncompromising investigative journalist who champions the truth no matter what. They’ve not had contact for quite some time.
Then Blomkvist gets a phone call one night from a source purporting to have information of crucial importance to the United States. The source claims to have had contact with a young female super hacker and this rings an unmistakable bell with Blomkvist! The implications of the information are staggering, so Blomkvist, who is in somewhat desperate need of a scoop for Millennium, turns to Salander for help.
She agrees, but inevitably has her own hidden agenda as well. And predictably, the secret they are both pursuing soon sees them at the center of a convoluted snarl of government agencies, cybercriminals and spies. And the distinctions between each are not clear. What is soon clear, though, is that someone will kill to protect the secret.
Is Salander, like computer scientist Professor Balder, the target of the ruthless gang of cybercriminals known as the Spider Society?
5. The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye (By David Lagercrantz)
Despite her formidable skills and wealth, Lisbeth Salander has never been able to uncover the whole truth about her traumatic childhood. When she sees a chance to do so, she calls Mikael Blomkvist, committed crusader for social justice and editor of the investigative magazine Millennium. So once again, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist are the driving forces at the heart of a compelling book that confronts some of the worst problems our modern world has to contend with.
And Lisbeth Salander is, as ever, an unstoppable force. She is serving a two-month sentence in Flodberga women’s prison for crimes she committed while saving autistic August Balder’s life. Blomkvist visits her every week.
Then Salander receives news from Holger Palmgren, her old guardian, that she might have been part of an illicit experiment known as The Registry. She asks Mikael Blomkvist to look into it. He hopes it will lead to an important exposé for Millennium. For Salander, it could be the key to unlocking the dark secrets of her childhood.
Salander also discovers that the prison is rife with corruption. She finds out that Bangladeshi prisoner, Faria Kasi, is being tormented by sadistic prison gang leader, Beatrice ‘Benito’ Andersson. Salander stops her and in doing so severely injures her. Now she is the target of Benito and her gang.
So will Salander at long last succeed in uncovering the secrets about her traumatic childhood? It will certainly take a lot to stop her. Not the Islamists enraged by her rescue of Faria, nor the prison gang leader Benito pronouncing a death sentence over her, nor the people who want to ensure the secret experiment of The Registry remains secret will succeed.
But can Salander evade the lethal reach of her long-lost twin, Camilla?
6. The Girl Who Lived Twice (By David Lagercrantz)
Salander says that now she will be the hunter and not the hunted. However, as Salander follows the trail of destruction of her twin-sister Camilla to Moscow, Blomkvist fears greatly for her safety.
But he has reason to fear for himself as well. The murder of a homeless man on a street in Stockholm with Blomkvist’s number in his pocket, has sucked him into a dangerous conspiracy reaching from the heights of Everest to the murky depths of Russia’s troll factories.
So is Salander finally ready to face her nemesis and to confront the only woman who may be her match? Salander is ready. She looks very different. Her hair is different, her piercings hidden, and she looks like just another businesswoman…albeit with a sleek and deadly Beretta Cheetah under her stylish jacket.
Salander has come on a mission. She wants vengeance for recent atrocities, and she has some life-long scores to settle as well.
The Millennium series has been phenomenally successful. Worldwide sales of the books reputedly stand at more than 100 million copies sold. It attests to the formidable talents of both Stieg Larsson and of his very worthy successor, David Lagercrantz.
And it would be hard to think of two characters more worthy of living on than Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. Dare we hope to share in more of their adventures?
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