Five movie adaptations, a bunch of awards, and over a hundred million copies sold. So if you’re looking to get the full experience by reading Stieg Larsson’s Millennium books in order, you’re doing the right thing.
Is the Millennium series really that good? That’s an easy yes. Especially if you love mystery and thriller books that have you turning the pages faster than you can read.
The first Millennium book hit shelves in 2005 and the most recent book came out in 2019.
Over this 14-year span, six Millennium books have been published.
Thankfully, reading them in the right order isn’t all that complicated. Find out how to read the books in the correct order below, complete with a short spoiler-free description of each book.
About The Millennium Series
The Millennium series, also known as “The Girl with the/in the” series (just joking, it’s not known as that), has been topping bestseller lists since the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, hit Swedish bookshelves in 2005.
The first release introduced the series’ two central characters, Lisbeth Salander, a socially awkward cyber hacker with an eidetic memory and muddy past, and Mikael Blomkvist, a down-in-the-dumps, but talented, journalist who’s just lost a high-profile libel case.
Each book in the series follows these two unique protagonists as they investigate a different case. Not without putting themselves in danger, of course, but that doesn’t stop them.
Combining their talents—Blomkvist’s investigative skills and Salander’s limitless computer hacking abilities—each book definitely makes for a fast-paced read with tons of mystery, tension, and unexpected twists.
And the pair make a great team, in all honesty. The best thing is that most readers will find themselves relating to both Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist in separate ways.
There are a handful of interesting themes the Millennium books touch on, as well. These include corruption, trust, friendship, family, love, perseverance, and overcoming one’s past.
Due to the books’ immense success in Sweden (where they were first released), the first trilogy was translated into English in 2009 – the same year the Swedish miniseries adaptations were released.
Two more adaptations came after, this time in movie format for Western audiences, based on the first and fourth books.
Stieg Larsson Books In Order
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was first published in 2005. Due to its success, it was later translated for English audiences (by Reg Keeland, pen name of translator Steven T. Murray), and was released in 2009.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book in the Millennium series. It introduces the main characters, Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander (the first chapter starts with the former), before launching into a complex cold case mystery involving the disappearance of a young girl named Harriet Vanger.
So what’s the setting? A small, isolated island home to the wealthy Vanger family, headed by Henrik Vanger.
Henrik enlists Blomkvist on the case because each year he’s been receiving a framed wildflower in the post – the same gift Harriet used to give him.
The catch? Harriet disappeared on a day when the island was closed off. There’s no way she could have left, and none of the other Vanger family members saw her leave. Because of this, Henrik tells Blomkvist that he suspects it was one of his own relations.
Throw in suspicious family members, a blurred photo with someone who looks like Harriet, and a journal of Harriet’s with cryptic dates written in it, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo presents a ton of questions that will have you flying through the pages.
And that’s without mentioning why Henrik Vanger chose to task Mikael Blomkvist with solving the mystery – something that places Blomkvist much closer to the case than he realizes.
Stieg Larsson also fleshes out Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist early on, which makes the leading characters both relatable and fascinating to follow from start to finish.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo won multiple book awards and was later adapted into a Swedish miniseries in 2009 and an American film for English-speaking audiences in 2012.
- Widely hailed as the best book in the series
- Introduces the two famous protagonists
- Features a gripping mystery with unexpected twists
- Presents a colorful cast of characters who are all equally untrustworthy
- Touches on heavy topics such as violence and abuse
The Girl Who Played with Fire picks up not long after the events of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Lisbeth is rich and enjoying a well-earned vacation in Grenada, and Blomkvist is back as the publisher of the Millennium magazine.
All is good until the Millennium is contacted about a sex trafficking ring supposedly involving several high-profile figures.
Que Lisbeth Salander’s expert computer hacking and Mikael Blomkvist’s investigative journalism.
One clue leads to another, and soon enough the pair find themselves in deep water – with one of them framed as the prime suspect in a double murder.
This leaves one of our star characters on their own, attempting to crack the mystery while trying to find a way to free the other person from the crime.
Unfortunately, the search for evidence leads to a few harrowing facts being unearthed, prompting doubt and suspicion.
The Girl Who Played with Fire digs deeper into Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist’s pasts, providing new and interesting character development as well as twists and turns that are just as good as twists in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
The Girl Who Played with Fire was first published in 2006, one year after the first book in the Millennium series, and released with an English translation in 2009.
The Swedish miniseries adapted the book’s events for television in 2009.
Despite the success of the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie released in 2011, The Girl Who Played with Fire was not adapted into a sequel movie. That doesn’t mean the book isn’t worth reading though!
- Has a crime-centered mystery with much more at stake than the first book
- Continues to provide interesting character development for both Lisbeth and Blomkvist
- The book starts off slowly, with excessive description that doesn’t move the plot forward
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest is the third book in the Millennium series, first published in 2007 before getting an English translation in 2009 (yep, all the English translations of the first Millennium trilogy were released in the same year!).
It’s the last Millennium book published by Stieg Larsson, which was also translated by Steven T. Murray under the pen name of Reg Keeland.
In The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, the story follows on from the final scene (a cliffhanger) of The Girl Who Played with Fire. Lisbeth’s close to death, and a nearby hospital is her only hope of surviving. Thankfully, Mikael Blomkvist has already made the emergency call.
But that’s not the end of their problems, as Lisbeth is still a wanted figure and the institutions behind it (the veritable “hornets’ nest” that Lisbeth Salander “kicked”) are still out there.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest sets the scene for all-out revenge, which definitely makes it stand out from the previous two books in the Millennium series.
Lisbeth is angrier than ever, and it’s here that we see her go further than she has before as an antihero, using her computer hacking skills to masterly track down those responsible.
But the stakes have been higher, so her desire for vengeance doesn’t come without grave danger from all angles.
For readers who love a classic David and Goliath story—in this case, Lisbeth rising from being a victim to being an aggressor—The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest won’t disappoint.
- Picks up right after the events of the previous book
- The characters face a turn of events not seen before in the series
- Shows Lisbeth Salander’s true strength as a female antihero
- Wraps up the first trilogy in the series written by original author Stieg Larsson
- The plot is arguably the most complicated to follow of the first three Millennium books
The Girl in the Spider’s Web, published in 2015, kicks off the “second trilogy” of the Millennium series due to the fact David Lagercrantz, not Stieg Larsson, wrote the books.
Lagercrantz is a Swedish journalist and crime novelist himself, who wrote a handful of novels before gaining recognition as the author of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s autobiography.
I know what you’re thinking: Is it worth continuing? And did David Lagercrantz do the bestselling first trilogy justice?
While he didn’t have any of Stieg Larsson’s unpublished material to work with, Lagercrantz does well to continue the legacy of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist – who both arguably had more stories to tell.
Lagercrantz doesn’t fully deliver the same “feel” as Larsson (an impossible task, after all) but The Girl in the Spider’s Web, and the two Millennium books that followed, are far from being classed as fan fiction!
In The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Blomkvist receives an anonymous call about a fragile secret, with hints suggesting Lisbeth is also involved.
Blomkvist contacts her for help, and what ensues is a dangerous pursuit of secretive information that worldwide governments, spies, and cyber hackers are willing to kill to protect.
Like the other Millennium books, The Girl in the Spider’s Web reads at breakneck speed with plenty of twists and turns that will keep you fully invested until the final page.
The famous duo are also just as captivating and interesting to follow as the previous books, which makes The Girl in the Spider’s Web well worth reading, despite being written by a different author, if you end up enjoying the first trilogy.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web was adapted into an American film in 2018, considered a “reboot” of, and sequel to, the first movie adaptation, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2012), which wasn’t followed by movie adaptations of the second and third books.
- David Lagercrantz does justice to the two star protagonists, who don’t feel any different from the previous three books
- Weaves a page-turning mystery that’s as good as the mystery plots of the first two books in the series
- Many fans of the Millennium series couldn’t finish the book, citing that it wasn’t as well-written as the first three books by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye is the fifth book in the Millennium series and the second Millennium book written by David Lagercrantz. It was published in 2017, two years after The Girl in the Spider’s Web.
Mirroring the second book in the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye begins with Lisbeth Salander in prison.
She’s a victim (once again), but it’s nothing her super-hacker skills and way-above-average intellect can’t handle.
The pair are then pulled together, in the usual way, by a lead about a dark experiment that could reveal the history behind Lisbeth Salander’s childhood.
Lisbeth’s eager to investigate, and Blomkvist is happy to help (as well as get a new breaking story for the Millennium magazine).
So The Girl Who Takes an Eye for Eye digs deep into Lisbeth Salander’s past like none of the previous books have done so far.
There’s also a strong recurring theme of revenge in this book, which gives it a lot of qualities similar to the third book in the series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.
But, as a lot of Millennium book fans will argue, Lisbeth is most exciting when she’s hellbent on bringing down her abusers and the opponents who stand in her way.
She has a troubled past, after all (and to say the least), which makes The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye one of the more explorative books in the Millennium series when it comes to Lisbeth’s backstory.
Despite that, Lisbeth Salander doesn’t have as much of an active role in The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye as she does in other books – something readers and mainstream reviews made a point of.
It’s still a riveting read, however, especially for readers who have invested time into the first four books.
- Dives deeper into Lisbeth Salander’s mysterious and troubled past
- Features an action-packed revenge plot similar to The Girl Who Played with Fire
- Lisbeth Salander isn’t as prominent in the story as she is in the first four books of the series
Released in 2019, The Girl Who Lived Twice is the sixth, and most recent, book in the Millennium series, also written by David Lagercrantz.
In The Girl Who Lived Twice, we see Lisbeth Salander at her most powerful and at her most unstoppable so far in the series.
Her hacking skills leave no limitations, she knows more about her past than ever before, and she’s on the vengeful hunt for a target who, in many ways, is her direct match.
At the same time, Mikael Blomkvist is more desperate than he’s ever been to track her down and protect her – putting himself in danger in the process. The only one who can save him? Who else but Lisbeth?
The Girl Who Lived Twice is similar to the previous book in the Millennium series, The Girl Who Takes an Eye for Eye, in that Lisbeth is not as much of a present force as she is in earlier books.
Blomkvist tracks her down to get her help as he carries out his own investigations, with much of the story’s narrative leaning in favor of the journalist.
That’s not a bad thing for Blomkvist fans, however, and the story itself remains a fast-paced, mystery-driven read that touches on plenty of the strong themes that underlie the previous books in the series, such as revenge, trust, and dealing with a troubled past.
The Girl Who Lived Twice is the last book in the Millennium series written by David Lagercrantz, marking the end of the series’ “second” trilogy.
- Features Lisbeth Salander at her strongest and most dangerous in the series
- Touches on strong themes such as revenge, trust, and overcoming one’s past
- Wraps up the second trilogy in the series written by David Lagercrantz
- Like The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye, the story follows Mikael Blomkvist more than Lisbeth Salander
- Considered the weakest book in the Millennium series
There you have it: how to read all Stieg Larsson books in order!
Unlike some other series that have books that jump timelines, each book in the Millennium series was released in chronological order – so simply read the books from oldest and newest and you’ll follow the story with no problems.
Just remember: the Millennium series is made up of two trilogies, each written by a different author.
The first trilogy—which includes The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest—was written by Stieg Larsson – the original author of the Millennium books.
The second trilogy—The Girl in the Spider’s Web, The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye, and The Girl Who Lived Twice—was written by David Lagercrantz.
Stieg Larsson sadly passed away in 2004. The first trilogy was published posthumously. While Larsson had more material for future books, Lagercrantz wasn’t granted access to it, so the second trilogy was written using his own ideas.
Despite that, all the books in the Millennium series share one thing in common: they’re guaranteed page-turners, with complex mysteries, high-stakes plots, and two iconic characters that have been fascinating to follow from the start of the series.
So now that you know which order to read them in, what are you waiting for? Add all six books to your TBR list!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Need To Read The Stieg Larsson Books In Order?
Yes – Stieg Larsson’s Millennium books should be read in order as the story won’t make sense otherwise! Thankfully, the story happens in chronological order as the books were released.
Is The Millennium Series A Trilogy?
The Millennium series comprises two trilogies: the first trilogy was written by Stieg Larsson and the second series was written by David Lagercrantz. Both trilogies follow the main characters Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.
Why Are Stieg Larsson’s Books Called The Millennium Series?
Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, which follows hacker Lisbeth Salader and journalist Mikael Blomkvist, gets its name from a magazine that Blomkvist works as a publisher for in the books: Millennium magazine.
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