Sunday, September 8, 2013

Discussion: Beyond the Trilogy: When is a Series Too Long?

A common occurrence in the bookish world is the use of the series.  Often times the story is too long to write in single book without it being bigger than an encyclopedia. Besides, if the first book is a hit, the author might figure that the readers will enjoy more of the story (sometimes rightly so), and extend the series.

However, at some point we must ask: When is it enough? Are readers willing to invest YEARS reading these series?

Series that went beyond the trilogy and work:

  • ·         Vampire Academy Richelle Mead (six books)
  • ·         Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (seven books)
  • ·         The Bridgerton series Julia Quinn (seven books)

Over the years I have lost track or interest (or frankly I lack the time) in some series that I started and invested a considerable amount of time in.   One prime example is the House of Night series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast.  I read the first six books and something happened at the end of Tempted that pissed me off (pardon my language).  I lost all interest in the series that is now on its 12th book.  I am not saying that the series is bad, not at all, just not for me. 

Another long series is Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires.  I’ve read the first 8 books of the series (the grand total is 15 books) and I fully intend to finish it because it is a great series, in this case life, and many other books, got in the way.

At this moment I’m overwhelmed with all the series that I’ve started and might not finished and probably never will.  I’m hesitant to start a new series because of my track record.  I can handle a trilogy much better than the ones that keep going on and on (and on); especially when I sometimes read a book and I don’t know that it’s the first in a series until I finish it!  Don’t ask me how I do it, but I always manage to get ‘tricked’ into doing exactly that. 

How do you feel about series? Do you enjoy them all?  Do you feel compelled to finish it after you start?  Or do you quit while you’re ahead?


  1. I feel exactly the same way! I am in the middle of so many series that I'm certain I will never finish and it's just a little sad. Some series just need to stop, because it's better to be over with all your fans then to continue with so few. And it is also daunting as a new reader to start the series when you know there's 15-20 books already in the series!

    Great post Liza. :D


  2. This is a great post!

    I think, as a younger reader, I had a lot more patience for very long series. I excitedly waited for the release of each no Harry Potter book, and I absolutely adored The Princess Diaries series, too.

    Since then, the only longer series that I've read right through was Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series, and that's only because I loved those books so much. Aside from that I've read 8 books in Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series, and haven't really touched anything much longer than a trilogy.

    I must say, I've lost the excitement that I used to have for sequels. That's not to say that I don't look forward to finding out what happens in a story, but I'm getting very fed up of cliffhangers and switched POV novels.

    I don't go out of my way to read a series any more. A sequel, I guess, is more like a nice bonus to a book I enjoyed very much..

    Sorry if that makes no sense!

    Shaunna @ Scarlet Letters

    1. It makes perfect sense to me! That's why I'm so hesitant to start series that go on for more than three books.

  3. I definitely understand what you mean! Trilogies seem much more easier to tackle for me, and I think it's because that I could probably read the three books back to back in a week, but I can't do that with series that have so many books in them! There are some series who I feel need to be longer than a trilogy, but it can be so intimidating to go into those books if I haven't been following them from the start, as knowing there's another 7+ books following the one I'm reading is actually a kind of scary thought!

    I'm a fan of series if I think they work - I hate series that could have been so much better if they'd just stayed at one book, or possibly just two books. At the moment, a standalone feels like a real treat amongst a sea of series and trilogies!

    1. I think so too, it's rare to see standalones that really work (the ones that do usually leave me craving for more, so go figure!)

  4. I have't read any of those. But Games of Thrones is up to book five, and I would't mind if new characters weren't kept being introduced....I cant remember who is who any more!

    1. I started watching that series on TV and didn't get past the first season. It's confusing on TV so I imagine it's the same on paper. It's so good though :)

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  6. I feel exactly the same way! I used to love long series, but now I just feel like it's too much.

    I had actually made a similar post on my blog! Here's the link if you're interested:

  7. I like trilogies but I think sometimes it's fun to read a longer series too. I wouldn't want them all to be long though. I'd never get to read anything else if I was trying to keep up with all those series books.

    Nora Roberts (written as JD Robb) In Death series is over 35 books plus novellas and short stories now! I got behind and am somewhere around book 30.

  8. Hm, seven is a nice number for series. More than 10 books are too much, imo :)

  9. I don't like long series, and it's often because the series was never intended to be a long series. If it was originally intended to be a trilogy (or even a stand-alone novel), and the author/publisher has decided that they can milk the success of the first book... I'm not okay with that. Harry Potter was always intended as a seven-book series, so it works. Tacking on extra books after the fact is often obvious; the padding is showing!

  10. Great topic! I am very sick of series. I feel like too often it's a money-making ploy...or at least a more obvious one. I will only keep up with a series if the first one is strong and isn't so obviously just a third of the whole story. I want a book to be a book with a real ending and not just a stop to wait for the next book. I also forget about series as I read more books between them.


I love comments! Please leave me one and I will try to reply as soon as I can. Liza


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