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winter 2013-14 075

There are times when I am really grateful to read a stand alone book.  It is gratifying to have the whole story in one place; beginning, middle, and end all tied up with no loose ends and no cliff hangers.  But my heart remains with series books that really develop the characters into friends.

Mystery authors sometimes have such a strong story arc that a reader really needs to begin with the first book.  Science fiction and fantasy authors often have a series of books so the reader has to pay attention and keep up with each new book despite a year or more of waiting.  I don’t mind this too much because I am used to it.  I make notes to keep an eye out for the next story.  I wait eagerly to meet up again with the characters that have grabbed on to my heart.

Four years have passed in my life and there have been many changes for me, but when I picked up Words of Radiance by Sanderson, I found Kaladin still working to protect his bridge group and still trying to figure out his skills and talents and luck.  I immediately fell into companionship with him hoping for good things for him as I had done in the first book, Way of Kings.

Coming out in a week is a new Robin Hobb book, Fool’s Assassin, which I will buy and enter into communication again with FitzChivalry Farseer and the Fool.  It has been a long time since I first met these characters.  The first books came out twenty years ago and it has been several years since I last read about them.  Yet, as with a long lost college friend, I will start up again with them as if we had just talked to each other yesterday.  I hope the author does not try to fill me in on all the back story I already know.  I suppose for the sake of new readers or old readers who have forgotten a lot, it is necessary to set the scene a bit, but I will be disappointed if it goes on and on.

With some series, it is easier to stay in touch with the main character as the books come out closer together as with Bren Cameron in Cherryh’s Foreigner series or Aral in McCullough’s Fallen Blade series.  

Another reason that a series is fun is that the reader knows the world setting and can just slip back into it without having to learn about it.  As a child, I knew what the Land of Oz was like.  There were new additions that kept the books interesting, but there was an understanding that animals talked and magic happened and the Gnome King was really evil and scary.

Several times I was fortunate to buy a book with four or five stories all in one so I didn’t have to try to find the individual stories in order or worry that they were out of print.  It was fun to read the whole story without waiting in between.

I did that with McKillip’s Riddle-master of Hed.  I found the Chronicles of Prydain by Alexander in one book to give to my sons.  My first three stories of Novik’s dragon books with Temeraire were in one book.  White’s Tales of Sector General and Saberhagen’s Sword books were also put in compilations as were Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber.

I enjoy finding a series that is already done so I don't have to wait between books.  I only had to wait for one of Dorothy Dunnett's books. After reading the complete Lymond Chronicles, I had to wait for the last book in The House of Niccolo.

Some series have so many characters that it is hard to remember them all with years in between the stories, and I noticed that my favorite books have one or two really central characters that I hang on to and want to know about such as Quinn’s Chet and Bernie.  Sometimes the story may not be that great, but being with the characters is worth it.  

I have often wished for a sequel to a stand alone book and my wish has not been granted.  Sometimes it is for a good reason.  Could there really be a sequel to Shane or To Kill a Mockingbird?

Sometimes a sequel is not good at all.  

As I have said before, I will sometimes quit a series and be happy with the last book I chose to read.  Sometimes a series just goes on too long.

What series of stories do you keep watching for new books in?

Is there one favorite character that you feel is a friend or do you just like the world setting and don’t mind having new characters placed in it to follow?

If you expect to meet a character who is an old friend and he or she is missing in the story are you disappointed?  

Are you glad if someone you thought had died returns to the story?

Are you waiting for a new book in a particular series?

I am about to order Child’s newest Jack Reacher story and I am waiting eagerly for Louise Penny’s new book The Long Way Home coming this month.  Quinn’s Paw and Order is on the way, too.

One problem has just turned up.  I had read Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (James S.A. Corey is the pen name used by collaborators Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck).  I liked it so I bought Cibola Burn, but I discovered that there are two books in between that while they may be stand alones have the same main character and are part of a series called The Expanse so I will have to order and read those, first.  I could maybe skip them, but I would rather not.

Off topic:  My youngest grandbaby just turned two and for the first time last week he sat on my lap long enough for me to read him a short version of a favorite story.  I am always so pleased when the little one listens to my version of The Three Bears at breakfast which he did, too.  I have learned to tell it pretty fast, though.  

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Attn. Mr. William R. Browning, Volunteer Coordinator
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Robert Fuller says:

Here's The Rowan Tree again, now back in China:

Here's the link to the (still free on Kindle) novel:  

My memoir Belonging on Smashwords:

Also, get my father's memoir: The Making of a Scientist free while you can:

The goal is to make all of these free on Kindle - so if you want a Kindle version, please request a price match with Kobo, iTunes, B&N, etc.

NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.


Who are your favorite series characters?

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