Friday Coffee Chat (11) – When a series drags on for far too long…

Friday Coffee Chat-4
Have you ever burned out on a book series?

Last week on Friday Coffee Chat we talked about books that you thought were so bad, you couldn’t pass it on to anyone else. It generated good discussion and people were, shall I say, VERY forthcoming about the books they abhorred.


This week, I want to talk about those books you love and are part of a series, but somehow seemed to drag on for so long that the story has become stale and you just can’t wait for it to end.

Jennifer from Girls Gone Reading is talking about a similar topic this week in her portion of Friday Coffee Chat. She wants to know if a book can still be interesting when there is very little action and the characters don’t seem to do anything. Head over to her blog to post your thoughts!

I’m going to admit it. I love a good series. I get so connected with the characters that they end up feeling like family to me. I love it when and author makes their story and characters so rich and full of life that I sit away and pine for more while they work on their next book. Anne McCaffrey did this with her Pern series. Masterharper Robinton became like a father to me and Menolly was my best friend for many years. I dreamed of having a fire lizard as a pet, a dragon as a companion, and life on a planet that while unfriendly at times (I mean, spores that ate anything organic did fall from the sky) was so wonderful that I just wanted to move there.

Not every series does this for me. There are some that I love but now just feel like I’m in it for the long haul or I’ve just decided that I’m tired of feeling like the author is trying to milk their series for every last penny. You know…there are the books that seemingly have an end, but then you find out there’s a prequel. Or a prequel to that prequel. Or better yet, a few hundred years have passed and now you’re reading about the characters’ great, great, great grandchildren.

Terry Brooks’ Shannara series is kind of like this for me. Oh make no mistake…I’m in it for the long haul. I didn’t even like the first book in the series, but it was a trilogy so I reluctantly read the second book, The Elfstones of Shannara and ended up really liking it. I devoured just about all the books in the series and thought I was through, but no, I found out there was a prequel. I read the prequel and liked it, but then I found out that there were books that took place in the future and…well, you get the point. I’m finally toward the “end” of the series, but I just found out that he just released a new Shanarra book, Bearers of the Black Staff, in an apparently new series called Legends of Shanarra. Sometime along the way, the books just stopped being super fun and now I feel like I’m watching an episode of ER. I’m so connected to the world that I HAVE to finish the series, but the story has kind of fizzled and the characters don’t have the draw that they used to. The cover of the book even features the series name larger than the title of the book. I just can’t help but feel like Terry Brooks is wringing that pile o’ cash out to see if a few more pennies will fall out. That being said, despite my lamenting that this series has gone on too long, I’ll most likely be at the bookstore picking up a copy of Bearers of the Black Staff at some point in the future!

I’ve also heard people say similar things about Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s series, and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I’ll even begrudgingly admit that I’ve felt that way about my beloved Pern. Anne McCaffrey passed the series on to her son after the books came to a good and satisfying conclusion (the last book I might add, sat on my shelf for 3 years before I read it because I was SO sad that the series was ending). Granted, there is history on Pern that Todd McCaffrey is now writing about, but the first book was kind of rough. They’ve since gotten better and of course I won’t give up my Pern but I would also be completely ok if they decided to let Pern only live on in the heads of its fans.

I have to give props to writers like J.K. Rowling who had a story in her head, wrote it all out on paper, and ended the series once her story was told (although don’t get me started on the Epilogue to Harry Potter). Why don’t some authors realize that all the compelling storytelling has passed when the conflict in the story has been resolved? Why do I keep buying books for series that should have ended long ago? A part of me feels like a sucker.

 My questions for you this week are:
  • What series’ do you wish would just end so that life can go on as normal?
  • Do you think authors still have stories to tell in their series, or do you think that publishers are trying to ride a wave of success and they push the author to write more?
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