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Old 02-08-2020, 06:28 PM   #1
hobnail
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series quality decreasing?

Does anyone else often find that the quality or enjoyment of the books in a series decreases after the first book? For me it seems to mainly be fantasy series but not exclusively so. I think that part of my problem is that the first book has the world and character building and then subsequent books are more or less just recycling that stuff with a new plot.

An obvious case where this isn't so is Lord of the Rings where it's as if he wrote one big book and then chopped it into 3 books.
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Old 02-08-2020, 06:46 PM   #2
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Old 02-08-2020, 06:48 PM   #3
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Does anyone else often find that the quality or enjoyment of the books in a series decreases after the first book? For me it seems to mainly be fantasy series but not exclusively so. I think that part of my problem is that the first book has the world and character building and then subsequent books are more or less just recycling that stuff with a new plot.

An obvious case where this isn't so is Lord of the Rings where it's as if he wrote one big book and then chopped it into 3 books.
Tolkien did not chop The Lord of the Rings into three books. The publisher did that.

As for the enjoyment of the second book in a series, the reason you might not get the same enjoyment of the second book is that you don't feel the same high as the discovery of the characters and the setting.

The thing is, there can be new characters or maybe the second book is a continuation of the first book. But sometimes you can find that the second book goes off in a completely different direction. Or maybe you like the storyline better.
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Old 02-08-2020, 07:12 PM   #4
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In many cases #2 got better, but it is rare that a series (NOVEL length) stays fresh enough for me to continue past #4.

Straight forward Police Mysteries might be the exception. But These are usually more about the CASE, than a continuing story. OTOH the cozy ones cuteness becomes worn.
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Old 02-08-2020, 07:51 PM   #5
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As for the enjoyment of the second book in a series, the reason you might not get the same enjoyment of the second book is that you don't feel the same high as the discovery of the characters and the setting.
Right, that's what I meant when I said, "I think that part of my problem is that the first book has the world and character building and then subsequent books are more or less just recycling that stuff with a new plot."

Two series that I can think of that don't fall into that category are ones where they use the same world but create new characters; the World of Five Gods series by Lois McMaster Bujold and the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix.

One that did reuse the characters and world but stayed good is the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik.
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Old 02-08-2020, 08:15 PM   #6
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I've read series where I thought all the books were good and series where the quality dropped quite a bit after the first book. More normal for me is series where the first several are very good, but then the quality starts to fall off. I've noticed that sometimes, an author simply tries to milk a series too far or can't figure out when it's time to move on. Sometimes an author needs to remember the old adage, keep them wanting more. For me, both the Wheel of Time and Honor Harrington series fall into this category. IMPO, the best long lasting series tend to be books with recurring characters rather than an ongoing story, if that makes sense.
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Old 02-08-2020, 08:34 PM   #7
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In many cases #2 got better, but it is rare that a series (NOVEL length) stays fresh enough for me to continue past #4.

Straight forward Police Mysteries might be the exception. But These are usually more about the CASE, than a continuing story. OTOH the cozy ones cuteness becomes worn.
I agree. Many times the second book is superior to the first book in a series.
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Old 02-08-2020, 08:52 PM   #8
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Does anyone else often find that the quality or enjoyment of the books in a series decreases after the first book? For me it seems to mainly be fantasy series but not exclusively so. I think that part of my problem is that the first book has the world and character building and then subsequent books are more or less just recycling that stuff with a new plot.

An obvious case where this isn't so is Lord of the Rings where it's as if he wrote one big book and then chopped it into 3 books.
Yep The Lord of the Rings was not a series. The publishers originally chopped it up so they could decrease the runs each time and save money on paper because they thought it wasn't going to sell well. I completely agree with you about the quality of series these days. And it's not just fantasy — writers (or their publishers) seem to be "padding" the series to make it longer (and more boring). Most recent example (for me) was the Dean Koontz "Jane Hawk" series. I could see it work as a trilogy, but as a series of five books it seemed to take forever before it eventually plodded to its obvious conclusion.

I'm honestly getting tired of every book (or at least a lot of them) being part of a series. I think it's the same reason we keep getting sequels or reboots of movies. The studios and publishers only want to put their money into a known commodity. They don't want to take chances on something new and original anymore.
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Old 02-08-2020, 10:17 PM   #9
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What about Harry Potter? First 3 were good, the remaining were better once the author had more freedom?

But yeah, lots of great books had sequels that didnt measure up to expectations. Sometimes the best was expressed in the first book, and what wasnt is not enough for a second.

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Old 02-09-2020, 10:39 AM   #10
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Sometimes it takes the author a book or two to get into his/her stride.
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Old 02-09-2020, 12:56 PM   #11
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Sometimes it takes the author a book or two to get into his/her stride.

And the fans begging for More, when the new idea well is low leads to the decline.
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Old 02-09-2020, 05:46 PM   #12
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And the fans begging for More, when the new idea well is low leads to the decline.
Sometimes a book in a series can be not so good but the next book is good and worth reading. For example, I've read most of the In Death series by J.D. Robb and there is one book that wasn't so good. But the pace picked up after that and it's been good since and before.
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Old 02-09-2020, 06:58 PM   #13
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Beyond the discussed sense of discovery that is lost after the first contact with the work, it's true that in many cases the author may believe that their research/preparation has economies of scale and they may be less careful in introducing new elements in the next parts of the story, regardless of whether they make sense in the context of what has been created. If you've established a character in one way in the first novel, it may be easy for you to have the character not stay true to themselves later on, because they have a "reputation" for being what they were and readers accept it.

An example I'm used to is how romance writers tend to have the "sequel hook" characters behave completely differently when they are not the protagonists than when they are. Sure, in romance novels it's par for the course that love "changes" the protagonist, but sometimes it feels that the character is made to fit a mold rather than being in love.
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Old 02-10-2020, 10:48 AM   #14
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In my experience, if a series goes on long enough there's bound to be some variance in quality. However, judging by Goodreads reviews, not all readers of a series always agree on which books are the good or bad ones in the series.
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Old 02-10-2020, 12:14 PM   #15
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In my experience, if a series goes on long enough there's bound to be some variance in quality. However, judging by Goodreads reviews, not all readers of a series always agree on which books are the good or bad ones in the series.
That is probably because we each want something slightly different in our reading experience. The Author IS TRYING to chang tings up, and not become stale. Sometimes they miss. Sometimes their life changes (and it shows through). And sometimes the books are Now ghost written (or almost solely by the second name on the cover) And the flip (eg Eddings), and now they are not.
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