Fantasy Series

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.IMG_1109

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.IMG_1111

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.IMG_1110

Of course I can’t write about long fantasy series without showing a picture of the Wheel of Time series!

What about you, dear Reader? What’s the longest series you’ve ever read? Do you enjoy stand-alones, trilogies, or longer series more? Why?

~ jenelle

9 Comments

DJ Edwardson (@djedwardson)

I believe in the Appendices or Afterword of The Lord of the Rings Tolkien stated that the chief complaint he received about the work was that it was too short. I would whole-heartedly agree. That’s one of the reasons I love The Silmarillion so much, it’s like a long tea-bag soak in the world he created. I think at the end of Return of the King I was so taken with the tale I could have read chapters about Sam just deciding which seeds to plant in his garden.

I really hadn’t considered this as one of the defining characteristics of the genre, but now that you mention it, I am struggling to recall any fantasy story I’ve read that wasn’t part of a series. We get to write longer books and we get to write more of them! No wonder so many seem to despise the genre. It’s out of sheer envy, I tell you, sheer envy!

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jenelle

I would love to read about Sam gardening, and about his kids – and I’d love to see more of Rosie. Maybe there’s a Lost Tales about that somewhere… we can hope, right?

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Serena

Oh I agree, I love series! It’s such a wonderful thing to finish a good book and know that there are several more to follow. I don’t think an author should write a trilogy just for the sake of writing a trilogy, though (as seems to be the current trend) — there’s nothing wrong with a two- or four-book series (or five or six…), or even a stand-alone novel.

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jenelle

There is a fine line between writing for the sake of continuing the series and writing a series because the story calls for it.

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madelinejrose

I love series/trilogies! It gives you so much more character development, world-building, and such than you would get in just a stand-alone. Plus, as you said, I love spending time with characters, getting to know them, and becoming friends with them. :)

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Abbey

(I have that exact copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! :P)
I can’t decide if I like long series or not. If the plot, characters, and writing are wonderful, I have no trouble continuing, but if my favorite character is killed, I tend to lose interest. It happened with Mistborn and Inkheart and a few others, too. Your posts about fantasy books are making me realize that I haven’t read very many, haha. I definitely enjoy standalones in any genre the best.
The longest series I have ever read is the Warriors Series by Erin Hunter. It’s about cats that live in clans in the woods. Currently, it has about 50 books in it, though I’ve only read 30 or so. Maybe I’ll do a blog post on it someday, because it really shaped my reading, writing, and imagination when I was a young teen.

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jenelle

Yeah, if my favorite character gets killed I have trouble, as well (I had the same difficulty with Mistborn!)

The Warrior’s Series sounds interesting, I’d love to read a blog post about them!!

I like a stand alone if it’s done well. But something about fantasy always leaves me wanting more… the scope of the story is often just… bigger. Or something. :)

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I love hearing from you, dear Reader!