Just out of curiosity. Has anybody else ever felt like a series of novels went on long enough? In my opinion I think The Shannara series has gone on way to long. I counted like thirteen novels. That may be just me though.
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You DID NOT throw down the Wheel of Time gauntlet.
In all seriousness, I'd agree, except the last two installments (the ones that Sanderson wrote) are the best of the series, IMHO.
But yeah . . . after #6, it kinda turned into a slog!
Ah, well, one more and it's all done!
And I'd weigh in on the Shannara series, except I could only just BARELY stomach the first one, and ended up throwing #2 across the room in disgust and boredom about 3 chapters in, so I decided it was too long after book one. That series nearly turned me off the fantasy genre altogether. Even today, I'm still more of a hard core sci-fi guy. Give me Asimov, Niven, Clark and Heinlein any day over Brooks or Goodkind.
[This message has been edited by Corin224 (edited April 23, 2011).]
quote:Give me Asimov, Niven, Clark and Heinlein any day over Brooks or Goodkind.
I tried reading reading Robot Dreams by asimov and I thought he was a lazy writer after that. Does anyone else think that? How is he at writing writing novels? Robot Dreams was a short story collection btw.
Sword of Truth, Shannara, and Wheel of Time are all great examples of dragged-out series.
But I have to say the all time best example for a series gone on too long is Brian Jaques' Redwall books. Talk about repetitive. Pretty much if you've read one book you've read them all. I'd definitely recommend reading that one book of his, but don't expect anything new.
Couldn't agree more on the Shannara series going on too long. I also thought Koontz's Odd Thomas series should have stopped after the third novel. Generally, trilogies seem to be the appropriate size for most series I've read.
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I always feel cheated when I pick up a book and find out it's the first of a never-ending series...and I feel especially cheated when I find out it's something-other-than-the-first in a never-ending series.
The Lord of the Rings was one novel published in three volumes...there is no reason other than greed for a commercial writer to try to duplicate this. Can't anybody say what they want to say within the covers of a single volume?
I can't name a specific series that's gone on too long...but there are lots that I read for awhile and then lost interest in. Katherine Kerr's "Deverry" series comes to mind...I gather it's concluded, but who knows?...and, either way, I never picked up the last few volumes...
That's not the only example. I never had any interest in reading Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series after the first four...in retrospect, I feel badly burned that the only parts I remember after all these years are the "leper" scenes...
I'm thinking the late Brian Jacques made an effort with post-Redwall books...changing the characters and scene, expanding the world created...but, too, I lost interest after, I think, the ninth or tenth book...
Oh...if you're starting with Asimov, don't start with Robot Dreams...start with the Foundation series or I, Robot or The Caves of Steel...any novel he wrote in the fifties, for that matter...avoid the later novels until (and unless) you're hooked.
A series has gone on too long when I'm done reading it but the author isn't done writing it.
Conversely, a series needs to be extended when I'm not done reading it, but the author is done writing it.
Shannara lost me as of the second book (and I read it way back when it was hot off the press). It was identical in tone, pacing, and basic objectives to the first (which was a little suspect already as, yes, a YA-style straight-up retelling of LOTR, albeit rather more readable).
As to Foundation, that's the set that cured me of Asimov (and I'd read just about all his other fiction up to that point, including the Lucky Starr stuff -- this was back about 1980ish). Maybe because it was drawn out so much longer thus brought the flaws to the fore, but it made me realise that Asimov had only one plot, and he KNEW he had only one plot, but thought readers are too stupid to notice this. I could deal with the "only one plot" part, but not that he evidently thought he was pulling a fine scam on all of us.
There are series that go on too long and books that are too long in and of themselves.
I've read plenty of fantasies that are difficult to get through, but I do and at the end the book doesn't end! Like those who have read Shannara and tossed the second book, there are legions of series out there that bring true meaning to the word 'tossable'.
There is also the writer of the book series that takes too long to get the series out. (GRR) I'll never read another book of his again after what I consider 'reader abuse'. Also there were plot lines that I wanted to see worked on and he just ignored them and pursued plot lines that I had zero interest in. (the princess in the desert stuff.)
The wonderful thing about it is the market will just keep sending this stuff out to us. Maybe it's good exercise for our throwing arm.
quote:...it made me realise that Asimov had only one plot, and he KNEW he had only one plot...
I'm at a loss here...the individual stories that make up the original Foundation series seem different enough from each other, much less the Lucky Starr series or the other Asimov books.
I tell everybody that I'll read George Railroad Martin's A Game of Thrones and its successor volumes when it's done, not before. But I said the same thing about Harry Potter, and they still sit there in my library, oppressing me.
quote:I tell everybody that I'll read George Railroad Martin's A Game of Thrones and its successor volumes when it's done, not before. But I said the same thing about Harry Potter, and they still sit there in my library, oppressing me.
There's no comparison between the Harry Potter series and a story that just goes on and on and on without resolution. Other than the last two books, each Harry Potter book had it's own completed story arc within the framework of the larger story.
There are some things about the series that bother me--particularly that last book THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, but you have to admit there are plenty of things JKR did right and very right.
I was just thinking of one this morning. I was thinking how I haven't enjoyed the second book of Rothfuss' CHRONICLES OF THE KING KILLER as much as I did the first. I think, particularly in fantasy, that the second book of a trilogy or the middle books of a series often fall a bit short. You don't have the wonder of the discovering the world you had in the first book and you don't have the excitement of the climax that you'll get in the third or last book.
Then I thought about series that hadn't sagged in the middle. Harry Potter is one becuase JKR keeps (fairly seamlessly) introducing new things to keep the sense of wonder up for the first four or five books.
WHEEL OF TIME killed it for me. I'm very reluctant to start an incomplete series UNLESS each book of the series has some kind of resolution.
I gotta say that one series that is NOT feeling like a drag to me is the Dresden Files. Again, each book is nicely self-contained, even as it carries on a nice long story arc. Personally, I've never seen a long running series that did it quite as well. I even enjoy rereading it multiple times still.
Oh, and Foundation is a terrible place to start reading Asimov. It's an intriguing concept, but a bit inaccessible for first time readers.
IMHO, start with the robot series. Spectacular, and just a well told series of sci-fi murder mysteries, too. Caves of Steel is still a fun read for me.
And make sure to read the short stories in as close to chronological order as possible. I LOVE watching the progression of Susan Calvin's quirky character through all those great Robot shorts. Great stuff.
OSC's Ender series worked well for me. It came full circle and I was captivated by each installment. However, I wish that the Bean saga would continue. I'm hoping he's still out in space somewhere and will reappear when Card is ready to tell the tale!
You would have a tough time finding a bigger Niven fan than I but the Ringworld saga went one book too many with the last, Ringworld's Children.
One that ran out of steam quick was Harry Harrisons Bill the Galactic Hero. The first one and is sequel were side splitting funny but he had to franchise it out to a couple of without-a-clue when it comes to humor authors. So disappointed when I bought Sheckly's attempt at a Bill novel.
I don't mind series books, the biggest thing I hate is waiting for the next book to come out in a good series. In some cases I have already moved on and forgot about the story by the time the next book comes out.
quote:OSC's Ender series worked well for me. It came full circle and I was captivated by each installment. However, I wish that the Bean saga would continue. I'm hoping he's still out in space somewhere and will reappear when Card is ready to tell the tale!
I had hoped to see Shadows in Flight in 2011. Judging by the lack of any mention on it in sometime, I doubt it. I too am eager to see what happens next.
Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber series did it for me. I swore after that that I'd never read an incomplete series because those book REALLY took a long time to come out.
I changed my mind with the Harry Potter series because of the completed story arc in each one. I really REALLY REALLY! hate cliff-hangers.
So now, while I may be willing to read an incomplete series, it is only if I know there is some kind of resolution at the end of each book. I read HUNGER GAMES, and that was okay, but I did not read CATCHING FIRE because I heard it had a cliff-hanger.
I also think McCaffrey's Pern series went on too long (I stopped reading them when I couldn't get into DRAGONDAWN--too much maid and butler dialog, if I remember correctly).
The Shannara series I have enjoyed. While it does fall down to the same formula for most of the trilogies in it, the way the characters handle the situations has always been interesting to me. I liked the way he brought together two different stories in the Word and the Void and Shannara. That to me was very cool.
The sword of truth series did go on too long. How many times did the mc have to do things right to get back with the girl only to have her pulled from him again and again? I enjoyed it up until the eighth or ninth book, then just stopped.
The PERN series by Anne McCaffrey has been one of my favorites for a long time. I've read almost every book in the series, and they still continue to make me want to read them again.
The dragonlance books have also been one of my favorites. all of the dirk pitt, numa, oregon, and other by clive cussler all follow the same formula, but they still hold my attention when i read or listen to them.
I just wonder how some of the thicker books i've read over the years would have fared if broken up. Namely, Battlefied Earth and The Stand, as both of those are on the order of 1k pages in paperback form.
When it comes to Rothfuss's Wise Man's Fear I think his problem was that he didn't end it where he should have. Even he admitted it in saying he was trying to resolve the series in three books. The last quarter of his book felt disjointed and rushed. Sometimes it's not a bad thing to split a book where it needs it.
Which isn't to say I don't love both of his books, but the first was definitely the better of the two.
Time I get to this thread. I may repeat what some have said but these are my thoughts.
quote: A friend of mine once said that Shannara is a watered down Lord of the Rings with a different author and characters lol
Even though I agree that Shannara has run too long, except that it seems like people are still buying them, I disagree with this statement. I can see how the friend may think so though but it has enough of it's own stuff to make it unique enough.
I haven't read any in the The Wheel of Time but I suspect its the same there. There's a lot of books evidently.
Personally I like most series to go if I love the characters, if the writer can keep it fresh but at the same time they do have to end some time.
One is a Dray Precott, I forget the writer's true name--he used a pen name--something like 39 books. It only ended when the writer died.
And on a side note the last three came out only as e-books and that was something like ten years ago... or more. They were still using floppies.
quote: ...it made me realise that Asimov had only one plot, and he KNEW he had only one plot...
quote: I'm at a loss here...the individual stories that make up the original Foundation series seem different enough from each other, much less the Lucky Starr series or the other Asimov books.
To add to this discussion,
Not to mention his detective-SF fusions and the series of short stories about the Professor who didn't like to travel.
He may have gotten lazy at times, he turned out quite a few stories in at least three genre. One day he wrote one during a short broadcast interview. A nice little story about communication. Actually, he cheated a bit since he had the outline done already but he actually wrote it on the air. Short but not flash.
As to him doing only one plot, as far as I can recall there are only three to six basic plots. I forget for sure how many at the moment. So I can see how a writer could concentrate on one of those. But it would seem like his Foundation series is different from most of his stuff.
[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited April 24, 2011).]
[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited April 24, 2011).]
I love Pern, wouldn't mind writing my own story in that universe but there are a lot of Pern books. I'm not sure if a couple where really needed. I could go either way right now about how many there are.
quote: You would have a tough time finding a bigger Niven fan than I but the Ringworld saga went one book too many with the last, Ringworld's Children.
I don't think I have seen that one but I think I will agree with snapper on this.
Oh and The Flinx and Pip series by Alan Dean Foster is a bit on the long-ish side but it does end. There is a last book. I love the first few books-I would recommend them- but Foster added a component later that changed it.
[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited April 24, 2011).]
I thing KDW has parts of the issue nailed. The cliff hanger. I think there is a big difference between books with the same characters, but no cliff hangers and just a thread to link the stories. There are lots of books in the thriller books like that. Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan books come to mind and of course the noted Clive Cussler series of NUMA files and Dirk Pitt, etc.
However strong story threads that meander through books and remain unresolved without warning the reader that there are a lot more coming are, as I said before, reader abuse.
Another two that I forgot about in my earlier post are the Star Trek and Star Wars series of novels. While the Star Wars series has followed the characters from the movies, the plots of the books have all been the same. New crisis, who's gonna save the galaxy, Jedi to the rescue, all's well til the next crisis. Now, I have to say that I love Star Wars, so that series will never get old to me, but is has taken on a life of its own.
Star Trek, I'm not sure of. I like the tv shows and movies, but have been unable to get into the books.
One of my favorite series is the Dune books. I love the whole series. But, hopefully it has finally come to an end. Herbert's son did a good job with Kevin J. Anderson on explaining the backstory that is implied in the original books, and the ending of the original series he did was very good.
quote: Star Trek, I'm not sure of. I like the tv shows and movies, but have been unable to get into the books.
You may have a point about Star Trek and I would include Star Wars. Because Star Trek has three to five new series never seen on TV or movies. A couple of them are good reading and you can almost forget the are Star Trek. No characters from TV, none of the ships are the same.
I can't believe I didn't think to mention this series before as an excellent example of one that CANNOT go too long. Each book is a standalone set in the same world, often with the same characters at different periods, with the entire world evolving as time progresses.
While I suppose it's not technically a series, Terry Pratchett has written dozens and dozens of books for Diskworld and each one is absolutely wonderful. I don't know if it's possible to mimic his way of doing it, but it certainly stands out as one of the most successful continuing milieus out there.
I thought the Ringworld series went on one book too long after the first book---I read, I think, two of them, but they didn't please me at all...
I haven't read the other Bill the Galactic Hero books...but I think I see a common problem with both series. Both were conceived and written as a single book...the other books were afterthoughts.
The only time I ever attempted to write a series was in my Internet Fan Fiction days. (This reflects my lack of success in more traditional forms of writing, as much as wanting to try my hand at a series. More, probably.) Taking my likes and dislikes of series writing, I focused on trying to make each part of the series completely independent---it might be nice if someone read all the parts, and I guess most people who read one did read the others, but I didn't want to make it obligatory for someone's understanding of my series to need to read all the parts.
When proper books enter into it, when cash purchases enter into it...I feel even more cheated when series go on and on, when one has to buy multiple books to figure things out, when one just can't enjoy one book of a series. And I suspect a lot of other readers feel the same.
I have the entire series for Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith, but only because they were free on border's website for my e-reader. If it weren't for that I would've never got the books. I tend to shy away from shared universes.
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The "Star Trek" novels I've read were generally self-contained---of course, you had to know "Star Trek" to understand some of it, but they were more like individual episodes of the series. You could watch [read] one of 'em without needing to do the same with others. Even a couple of direct sequels were distinctly single.
I gather some of the books I haven't read are big multi-volume story arcs where you need all to understand one.
(I retain a sneaking fondness for some of 'em---particularly Barbara Hambly's Ishmael, for the plot and the near-fanfic-level in-joke of it.)
I remember, in my fanfic days, that I beta-read / critiqued parts of several series put out by others...I tried to put out my theories on series, but with little success.
One series critique I remember in particular involved the characters spending endless time rehashing things-that-came-before in their lives---I argued against it, on the grounds that it slowed the long-time reader's experience, took up space that might be better used with newer stuff, and that in real life people don't spend that much time rehashing things with others.
It didn't take in that case---but, if you ever get the opportunity to write a series, keep it in mind.
Despite being an original first-run SW immersive fanatic, I have not liked ANY of the Star Wars books, other than some parts of Tim Zahn's series, and the one about the building of the original Death Star. The rest that I've tried have been ... pap. Not even good pap. Badly written pap.
However, I've read arseloads of Star Trek books, all TOS and TOS-related (for some unknown reason the other-series ST books haven't crossed my eyes) and yes, they're all like TV episodes. Whoever's been editor for the series knows the right FEEL, and sticks to it. In those books I can drop right back into that universe without effort, and I think that's why they work -- at least if you're as ST-trained as I was. (I hail from the generation where any ST fan could ID any episode from any still or any 3 words of dialog. It's all we had, so we lived it.)
Lots of people inexplicably value, or more rationally, question Rez's opinion <g> Sadly, Rez has nothing to add worth hearing.
The answer is... By now I don't know. Likely there are some good SW novels, and some bad ST novels, that I haven't seen. I don't even try to keep track of which ones I've looked at or read. But such above has been my experience to date.
Actually I was curious if any Star Trek fans, even if just sort of, read any of those ten books. They are different from the usual Star Trek fare. If you like good writing and interesting stories than I would suggest reading them even if you don't like the other Star Trek stuff.
Oh, one of those new series is Corps of Engineering. Or something similar to that. Novellas written by different people about a crew of engineers. Scotty is in it but he is in the background and only shows up every so often for a cameo. The ship they use has a nice Jewish Captain.
Wheel of Time, definately. Raymond E Feist's Midkemia books were brilliant but the new installments are leaving a bit to be desired. It seems that the longer the series goes on the worse the writing gets.
One series that I could have read a few more of was Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels (20 odd plus a few shorts), though they came to a timely end because he simply ran out of history I do wish he'd finish his Starbuck Chronices too. I was just getting into the American Civil War when it suddenly stopped.
Like you I have a couple of series I wished continued. One I already mention Dray Prescott . 39 or maybe 40 books, most are short, and it only ended because the writer died. I learned something, evidently while the series kinda of faded here for a few years they loved it in Germany. In fact the German covers were better than the original English covers.
But there are two other series that I wish would go on and both are rather short, make that three. One has five or six books. John Levitt's Dog Days Series. Great UF. This one might go on at a later date.
The second one I'm not sure if it actually ended. Everything is wrapped up, all the loose ends taken care of it, the conclusion of the book sounds like and end, the writer added an acknowledgment at the end of the book instead of the beginning and it sounds like it could mean that's it. But no place does it say this is it.
Anyway, its the Hound series by Margaret Ronald..three books. If I could find an E-mail for her I would ask, I've tried find one on her site twice before. But come to think of it she is working on another book, maybe I can find the title someplace.
The third series is The Retriever series by laura anne gilman. She stated the last book, number five or six would be it...but she also gave some hope she might do some more later.
Of course I have one hope. There is another series that stated at the end of number two that number three would be it but not so fast. At the end of number three there is something that shows there might be another. I guess I will see.
Rereading some of this reminded me that I didn't put my oft-shared opinion of Star Trek as a TV series...Gene Roddenberry, early on, said that Star Trek could run for twenty years...but, by my calculations of all the permutations of the different branches of series, I figure it ran at least six seasons too long...
There's been a certain amount of media attention over a recent plot development in the Superman comic book. Now, I'm not a big fan...but it's plain that this comic book has gone on too long, if they have to resort to such a drastic and inconsistent change in the character just to get a little press ink...obviously Superman has long since passed out of the hands of its creators and original developers, and (I suspect) into the hands of people who don't have much respect for their material or their predecessors...