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:
- Small Favour by Jim Butcher
- Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson
- 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.