Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fantasy series

Fantasy is famous for its mult-part series, starting with Tolkien and progressing to the likes of Robert Jordan's seemingly endless Wheel of Time series or Raymond Feist's prolific output, not to mention the 7 part Harry Potter series, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials or Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea quartet in 6 or 7 parts (depending on whether you could the Tales from Earthsea short story collection as part of the series). This is fine, if you enjoy reading about the same group of characters in a specific "world", but what happens if you start a series and you find you can't get into one of the books ? Do you abandon it, unresolved (assuming that the writer was working towards a definite resolution) ? Or do you plough on regardless, because you're committed to the characters ?

This has only happened to me once. I read Lian Hearn's Across the Nightingale Floor (Book 1 of the 'Tales of the Otori'), and I really enjoyed it, so I was eager to read the sequel. But Grass for His Pillow bored me - I couldn't finish it and I never got as far as reading the final book in the series, Brilliance of the Moon. I was disappointed, although I don't blame the author for my inability to finish the series - somehow it just didn't work for me after the first book. I felt bad about abandoning the series part way through reading it, but I just didn't feel I could face making myself finish it.

On the other hand, I've read both The Amulet of Samarkand and its sequel Golem's Eye, by Jonathan Stroud, and I can hardly wait for the publication of the final book in the trilogy, Ptolemy's Gate which comes out in the autumn in the UK. And as anyone who has been reading my Blog lately will know, I'm a big fan of the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix, and April 2006 seems a very long way off before Sir Thursday becomes available in the UK !

For anyone who is interested in a fantasy writer's thoughts on writing trilogies/series, I recommend Juliet E McKenna's article, Deity of Choice, Not Another Bloody Fantasy Trilogy ?, which I found both interesting and thoughtful.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad I can influence your reading choices since you then comment so brilliantly on them! Glad you watched the eminently weird Excalibur too. Anyway, I totally know what you mean about Stroud. Amulet was great, but Golem's Eye was so much better that I look forward to the third one with more than usual anticipation. AND, I swear to send that book tomorrow! (I have no excuses for any day but Sunday and today, but I promise you you WILL get it soon.) Anyway. More to you, privately, tomorrow (my time).

Michele said...

Heh ! I'm always grateful for book recommendations - even if I end up not enjoying the book (although that doesn't often happen). Wait until you hear what I'm going to do with a study of Nix's Keys series !

Interestingly my friend Juliet's reaction to Excalibur when it first came out was much what mine was when I watched it... She's 3 years older than me and despite quite different backgrounds we have a similar taste in both films and fantasy books.

Send the book whenever you can - it's not urgent - I've got a pile of about 8 to read at the present, not to mention essays to write...