Stuck in the series


I was in the bookstore yesterday using book vouchers I got for my birthday to expand the list of books I have under my bedside table which will be read by me sometime in the future. As a fan of fantasy, I concentrated my efforts in the Fantasy and Science Fiction section and found three books I was happy to pick up. It was only when I was on the way home I realised that all the books I received were part of a sweeping series I had been reading for a while or the start of another series.

Admittedly the third book by Brent Weeks is not really the start of a great series but only a trilogy but it is really the exception rather than the rule.

I’m the kind of person who has great difficulty in staying with one book at a time and can read as many as three or four books at the same time. If I look at the books I am currently reading they are:

  1. Small Favour by Jim Butcher
  2. Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson
  3. The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.

Every single one of those books are part of a HUGE series. Small Favour is book ten of a series of so far thirteen novels, Deadhouse Gates is the second of a finished ten book series while The Gathering Storm is book twelve out of a projected fourteen book series. The situation can be expanded when I look at the books I have finished in the last two years where almost every single fiction book I have read have been part of a larger series. Some series’ like The Wheel of Time (which if you have read my blog before is one of my bugbears) feel as though they have been dragged out and expanded to the point where they have story lines and plot which drag slower than a mutant snail/tortoise.

Conversely, after ten novels, the Dresden files still feel fresh and exciting. But I believe the difference between the Dresden Files and The Wheel of Time is that the series hasn’t been stretched out beyond all reason. The Dresden Files novels are a maximum of about four hundred and fifty pages while the Wheel of Time is about a thousand pages. Dresden Files novels always feel to be fast-paced while it feels as though Robert Jordan was writing Days of our Lives in a fantasy novel series.

Sometimes it can be incredibly frustrating because like the Wheel of Time some series’ feel as though the only reason why they have been dragged out as long as they have been going was because the publishing house found the series to be a real money-spinner and they want to milk the cash cow all the way home.

From an outsiders point of view as an aspiring writer is that I want all of my novels and works to be self-contained, so that while you won’t have to have read a dozen other books before the current one, you can pick up my latest novel and read it and enjoy it while other people who have read my other novels can enjoy some cross-pollination between the novels.

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6 thoughts on “Stuck in the series

  1. I find that I am a fan of book series as well, and not just in epic fantasy, per se. For example, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, Harry Potter, The Twilight Saga, Wheel of Time (although I stopped at Book 10), Mistborn Trilogy, et al)

    With fantasy or sci-fi, the worlds and plots are often so large in scope that in takes several books to provide the full story. I agree that Wheel of Time was definitely padded extensively and that is why I switched to other authors.

    Since I enjoy series reading, it is almost obvious that I am writing series fantasy. It sounds like you have the same perspective.

    1. Looking back there are so few books in SF/F I’ve read which are stand-alone.

      Really loved SK’s Dark Tower and his work inspires me in how everything is interconnected. For example, IT is a stand-alone novel and had come out years and years before the end of the series but it was still connected into the whole Dark Tower mythos along with dozens of his other works.

      I think maybe my rant was because of the Wheel of Time, which I am currently listening to Book 12 as an audiobook. It was brilliant when it started but was dragged out too much and lost all of the magic it had in the beginning (in my opinion). I’m not even enjoying it, I’m just slogging through so I can finish the series.

      I’m currently right at the beginning of Erikson’s Malazan series which has just come to a conclusion after ten novels and am really enjoying it but am worried that it might be dragged out like WoT, although the plan always was for ten novels so hopefully it hasn’t been dragged out.

      Maybe WoT has spoiled my perspective of the longer series’ instead limiting a series to three or four novels.

      1. I’m not in a hurry to resume Wheel of Time, even with Brandon Sanderson finishing the series. Book Six, I think, ruined it for me and I still slogged through 7-10. I’m too burnt out and there is too much else out there that I want to read.

        So, a lesson in how to lose a reader, possibly forever. Write an endless series! You are guaranteed to lose many readers along the way.

  2. Guaranteed.

    Think Book 6 also did me in but I just want to finish the series so I’m using audiobooks. That way I get to the end of the series and I don’t have to waste precious reading time on it.

    There is far too much out there. The only thing which has me stumped is how so many people can reread this series again and again.

    1. The only series of any kind that I’ve read more than once is the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’ve read it three times because it is simply hilarious, and I suppose because the books are relatively short

      1. I’ve read quite a few series several times but only when I was younger with a lot more time on my hands. These series include the Dragonlance series and of course, between 1990 and 2001, I read the Lord of the Rings every single year.

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