First of all I’d like to congratulate the winners of Frank Luke’s giveaway! A hearty congratulations to Sarah and Paul! Your ebooks should be arriving shortly!
Today I want to talk about series length in the fantasy genre. It’s interesting to me that the things people tend to complain about when it comes to fantasy are usually thing things I like most about the genre.
Another one I happen across fairly often is the complaint that fantasy stories are rarely stand-alone books, that they always come in at least a trilogy, and often in even larger numbers of books.
To which I reply, as did Bastian to the bookstore keeper in The Neverending Story: “But that’s what I LIKE about them!”
It is with great joy that I leap into a new book. It is with great sadness that I turn the last page on a story that has held me captivated. When a book touches my heart and soul and the characters reach out to me and I enjoy spending time alongside them as they face their various trials… all I ever want is to spend MORE time with them. The fact that I can spend the time of multiple books with the same characters, learning more about them, adventuring with them, watching them grow and change and mature… that is definitely one of my favorite things about the fantasy genre. I also enjoy authors who change characters (though I’ll admit to some heart-wrenching that happens to me every time this happens) but continue writing in the same world, because I also love exploring the various worlds and realms that fantasy authors create.
The Shannara Series by Terry Brooks. I don’t even know how many books are in this series, but I own a lot of them! This is one where many of the books are written in trilogies or quadrilogies, where each “set” contains different characters, but overall the entire series occurs in the same realm.
As a fantasy author, creating a world is hard work. There are tons of details that you need to address: what does the map look like? What are the politics like between countries? What sort of government is there in each kingdom or country? What is the currency? Are weeks and months and years calculated the same way or in a different way? And those are just the basic questions that need answering. There are hundred of other little nit-picky details to be ironed out… so to spend that amount of time and effort for a single, stand-alone book? Please understand, fantasy authors want to make money at their craft, certainly. But writing books in a series is not just a money-making venture. Nor is it laziness. So much effort goes into creating that realm, I can very easily understand the desire to continue writing and exploring that realm that the author already knows so well rather than create a whole new one for a different story.
The EU (Star Wars Extended Universe) is one of my favorite long series. Written by different authors, some with slightly different characters, but all in the same universe and many with the characters you know and love from the original Star Wars trilogy… *hugs them all* this picture right here should tell you all you need to know about why I have a hard time with Ep. 7 (review coming later)
Now, personally, I don’t like series where it feels like there is no “break” between where one book ends and the next begins. I prefer series where each book is at least somewhat self-contained, but has a larger story arc that carries across the entire series of books, but I don’t mind a certain amount of cliff-hanger type endings as long as they’re not just a stopping point in the middle of the action.
Of course I can’t write about long fantasy series without showing a picture of the Wheel of Time series!