Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Leery of series?

I started reading the last leg of Stephen King's 'Dark Tower' series and was reminded of how much I've forgotten from the previous six books. I don't think I've actually read the series from beginning to end yet, and this got me thinking. As wonderful as a series of books can be (familiarity with characters and plot), there are some series out there that can really get on my nerves. 'Dark Tower' is King's only long-running series out there, as far as I know, and he has gone years between books before putting fingers to keyboard again, which probably frustrates more than a few of his fans. This doesn't get me all that much - just the knowledge that I need to start out, from the beginning, to get things in order is a mild inconvenience.
Another author I could have a bone to pick with (but don't) is Robert Jordan. His 'Wheel of Time' series caused me no end of frustration because it's so damn long and each book is chock-full of details (some I thought unnecessary, but that's me). Unfortunately, Death robbed Jordan's fans of a complete and total resolution for this series about a year ago, and although I cursed Jordan every chance I had while he lived, I can do this no longer. One author's works I encountered and enjoyed is Terry Goodkind. His 'Sword of Truth' series, while bleak at times, had a mostly satisfying and honest resolution. I admire his resolve and plan to revisit this series after a while.
Then there are the authors who have written several series (Piers Anthony, Anthony Trollope, Isaac Asimov, I can go on). Good books for the most part, but it's easy to lose track of which book is from which series. I'm of the school that feels that if I am to enjoy one book in a series, I need to revisit all the books in the series. That is what I'm planning to do with a series by Anthony Trollope very soon. I am trying to keep track of about a half dozen series right now. That's the real thing about series. A person could start with 'Spongebob Squarepants' or 'Captain Underpants' as a child and read nothing but series after series for the better part of forty years. You get comfortable with a certain set of characters and want nothing more but the same. I'd rather not live like that. I like to keep my horizons as broad as possible.
A final note before I close this post down. My real pet peeve is with those authors who insist that people read their series from beginning to end, although each book works as a stand-alone. Hear that, Anne McCaffrey?! BYE.

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