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Old 10-17-2017, 10:26 AM   #31
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Old 10-17-2017, 10:46 AM   #32
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I would agree with the majority of posts here that suggest most series are stretched too long, presumably as cash cows. They also tend to have ever greater enemies so that the eventual denouement has to really stretch credibility.

I am surprised no one has mentioned the greatest problem, unfinished series (not just game of thrones) but the worst example of all Melanie Rawn's "exiles" series, where after two great books, the second in 1997 we are still waiting the concluding book, "The Captals Tower"

then there is also Patrick Rothfuss


I have seen post by people who never start series until all books are written
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Old 10-17-2017, 11:28 AM   #33
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I'm not much of a series person in general. I don't like genre fiction and frankly, most of the series I see referenced sound pretty terrible, with endless cycling of situations and characters with no resolution.

As with most things, there are exceptions! The Sharpe series was mentioned upthread; I think kind of the point of them is that all the books are exactly the same. When you're in the mood for one, they hit the spot. All are self-contained, so then you can let it go until the next time.

With some reluctance, I'm wondering if my current favorite of all series, the Aubrey/Maturin books by Patrick O'Brian, have finally hit the wall insofar as my own pursuit of the series goes. I've strictly rationed myself on these wonderful books, but when I recently finished the thirteenth of twenty books and a bit, I thought that even he might finally be running out of steam.

The Sharpe and Aubrey/Maturin books, both historical fiction set during the Napoleonic Wars, had a similar problem which the authors resolved differently, namely, that they ran out of war before they were through with the series. In the Sharpe instance, Bernard Cornwell decided on infilling, which means that if you read the stories in historical chronological order and not by publishing order, the backstories are inconsistent; it also strictly limits any effect of the action that hasn't already been established. O'Brian instead decided on a time suspended approach, where the characters' personal stories continue to advance, but the historical action is no longer rooted in real time and becomes increasingly fantastical. Both have their drawbacks.
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Old 10-17-2017, 11:50 AM   #34
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It depends on the genre. I usually like mystery series, because even though there's often some continuing unresolved story arc, each novel does tend to wrap up a specific case. I like that the characters are familiar and comfortable, and that the wrong will be righted.

On the other hand, with suspense and thrillers, I much prefer stand-alones. I like the idea that the protagonist might turn out to be the villain, that the narrator might be unreliable, that the good guys might not carry the day. Sometimes I don't want comfort; I want to feel unsettled and to be surprised.
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Old 10-17-2017, 12:32 PM   #35
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Sometimes I don't want comfort; I want to feel unsettled and to be surprised.
This. Except that I'm actually getting to the point where I very rarely crave comfort in my fiction.
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Old 10-17-2017, 12:40 PM   #36
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One kind of series I like is the one where you can stop reading and pick up later when the mood strikes. The kind of series where the story is wrapped up and you aren't asking so what happens next with the characters because of something that happened that wasn't resolved. Where you have a good stopping point.

Also, there's the kind of series where the first book could be standalone and you don't have to read more unless you want to or you'd rather wit for the series to be finished.
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Old 10-17-2017, 12:45 PM   #37
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I'll differentiate; there are series of indeterminate length where the stories are stand-alones, which is fine. Have at it as long as interest can be sustained. But I think with a series with one over-arcing storyline, that three books, as Jon said, is ideal. Any longer and there's too much wheel-spinning in the intermediate books and insufficient forward movement.
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Old 10-17-2017, 01:16 PM   #38
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I enjoy series, but if they go on too long I get burned out on them. I do like an eventual end to the entire arc.
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Old 10-17-2017, 04:21 PM   #39
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One aspect of a multi-book series I don't like is realizing that whatever unbelievable situation the main character finds himself or herself in, he or she always escapes because you know there is another book coming.

An exception to that rule seems to be George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire", as he's been pretty liberal with killing off main characters. However, Martin taking forever to finish the series is one reason why I don't like to read incomplete series. I do worry he is going to die before he ever finishes books six and seven.
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Old 10-17-2017, 11:54 PM   #40
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It depends on the genre. I usually like mystery series, because even though there's often some continuing unresolved story arc, each novel does tend to wrap up a specific case. I like that the characters are familiar and comfortable, and that the wrong will be righted.

On the other hand, with suspense and thrillers, I much prefer stand-alones. I like the idea that the protagonist might turn out to be the villain, that the narrator might be unreliable, that the good guys might not carry the day. Sometimes I don't want comfort; I want to feel unsettled and to be surprised.
I am definitely a creature of habit and a comfort-seeker - probably why I like series
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Old 10-18-2017, 12:47 AM   #41
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I like to have a good balance between series and stand alone novels. You aren't going to change what authors are currently doing because their choices and market forces make it so. As a result, I found it very helpful to just switch occasionally to an older book/author where stand alone novels were the norm. It's easy to find standalone novels in past decades if you set your mind to look for them with the possible except of medical thrillers (since Robin Cook originated that genre).

A really good series novel doesn't require you to read the rest of the series in order to enjoy it. That is why many authors remain popular and vibrant. You can pick up book #22 and read it, having never read a thing before by that author, and enjoy it! Of course the disadvantage is if you picked up book #18 and it was one of the more disappointing books in the series, you aren't likely to pick up another one for that series. But, that's how it goes.
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Old 10-18-2017, 03:06 AM   #42
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My idea of a good series is, say, the Travis McGee series by John D MacDonald. I first stumbled over a late book in the series, then gradually acquired the others as they turned up in my favourite second-hand bookshops, and read them in no order at all. There were passing references to earlier events, but only in passing; or if they were relevant to this book, a brief fill-in was provided. A series, but every book stand-alone as well.

To me, a series that drones on and on makes me think of of soap operas, and if there's anything I don't like it's soap operas. Or a serial, and I'm not overly fond of endless serials, either.

Some authors sneak in recurring characters so you might think of them as series: eg Skink in Carl Hiaasen's Florida books. Or two (count 'em, two) appearances of Mick Stranahan as lead character (Skin Tight; and years later Skinny Dip). But you can read them in any order you like. No cliff-hangers.

Detective series using the same detectives investigating different cases each book is, as everyone seems to agree, really just a collection of standalones with a common character.

Give me stand-alone any day.
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Old 10-18-2017, 05:28 AM   #43
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A really good series novel doesn't require you to read the rest of the series in order to enjoy it. That is why many authors remain popular and vibrant. You can pick up book #22 and read it, having never read a thing before by that author, and enjoy it! Of course the disadvantage is if you picked up book #18 and it was one of the more disappointing books in the series, you aren't likely to pick up another one for that series. But, that's how it goes.
That's not going to happen. Picking up #22 is going to spoil the series. There is no series that I know of where you can pick up a book in the series where absolutely nothing will be spoiled. That just isn't how it's done.
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Old 10-18-2017, 06:25 AM   #44
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That's not going to happen. Picking up #22 is going to spoil the series. There is no series that I know of where you can pick up a book in the series where absolutely nothing will be spoiled. That just isn't how it's done.
I don't think that's true, Jon. There are many detective series that one can happily read the books in any order. You may get slightly more from them if you do read them in publication order in terms of ongoing character development, but not everybody has the luxury (or the desire) of doing that. If you borrow books from a library, for example, you'll just borrow what happens to be there at the time.
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Old 10-18-2017, 07:12 AM   #45
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I don't think that's true, Jon. There are many detective series that one can happily read the books in any order. You may get slightly more from them if you do read them in publication order in terms of ongoing character development, but not everybody has the luxury (or the desire) of doing that. If you borrow books from a library, for example, you'll just borrow what happens to be there at the time.
But you don't know what happened in previous books that led up to what happened in #22 and reading #22 could spoil all of that. so no thank you. I'll either read in order or not at all.
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