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Saturday Conversions: Saying Farewell to a Series

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SaturdayConversations


Saying Goodbye


In the past two weeks I’ve had to say farewell to two of my favorite series. Meljean Brook capped of her marvelous Guardian series with the eighth title, Guardian Demon, and Philippa Ballantine ended her epic fantasy Book of the Order series with the fourth book, Harbinger. While I was in the midst of reading these books back-to-back, I came across THIS POST by Suzanne Johnson, which asked how a series should end. What an appropriate question as I was reading two series finales.

That got me thinking… What makes a good end to a series? And furthermore, how do you say goodbye to a series?

Most importantly… if and when an author makes the decision to end a series on their own terms (I understand sometimes series are “cancelled” by publishers, low sales, or other such circumstance), first and foremost I expect definite conclusion to all open story lines. I don’t have to agree with the direction a story takes, but I do need closure. If there has been a battle brewing… it needs to be fought. If there has been a question left open… it needs to be answered. If there is a bad guy not yet identified… tell me who it is. I do not want anything left opened. I want the overall story arc resolved. That doesn’t mean there cannot be a little nugget left open for the future, but don’t leave big issues open (AND don’t start a new chapter!).

Now, added bonus for series finales… bring back all of the favorite characters in meaningful ways. Find a way to involve all the main players I’ve come to care about over the course of three, ten, twenty books. Let me know that they are all good and happy, or that they didn’t make it and what happened. I also would love to have an emotionally-fulfilling story line. Yes, it is important to put the final point on the series, but please don’t just wrap it up in a neat little bow. Make that last book work up until the end! This way I say farewell in a good place, feeling fulfilled by a wonderful series.

Sometimes, however, I’ve had to say goodbye to a series before it is over. This has only happened a couple of times, but when a series keeps going and loses its way, I’ve said farewell. I hate when that happens. It makes me sad because usually I love the series, and then I notice that the books have lost the edge, become repetitive, or become scattered and hard to follow. I will usually give a series that I adore a run of three “lesser” books, but then, I say goodbye.

So how about you… what makes a good final book in a series? How do you say goodbye to series? Have you had to say goodbye before the end?

Thanks for stopping by to chat!

Happy Reading!

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  • Wow. I’ve also been wondering about this topic. I’m currently working on the 4th book of a planned 6 book series. I keep coming back around to question of, how to end it? I’m worried it may be lame or not answer everyone’s questions – along with a hundred other worries 😉 Thank you for sharing!

    • I think it’s good when you know ahead of time that a series will be wrapping up in so many books… that allows me to be mentally and emotionally prepared. Of course it backfires massively when an author decides to extend the series after saying it would finish in a certain number of books, so I can see why authors stay mum about it. Thanks for stopping by!

  • It is important for an author to finish off a series before it becomes stale and starts stagnating – I just finished In Too Deep, book #10 in JAK’s Arcane series and although I enjoyed it, the series doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

    The best series endings are ones that have closure and wrap up any and all lose ends. I know that many were disappointed in the way HP ended but for me it was perfect, even the epilogue.

    • I LOVED the ending of HP! I felt it was perfect. All of the characters were present, questions answered, and we had hope that everything was going to be okay. As much as I loved reading that series, I’m glad she ended it when and how she did! Thanks for stopping by!

  • I have left a couple series because I felt they left me. The storyline either got very convoluted (the mythology suffered tremendous change), an excessive overload of new character introductions, a poorly done spinoff to fix current storyline issues, or they became formulaic (not that a write will have a formula or style to their writing but that the formula became so dominate that you feel as if you aren’t in a new story but feeling like you are rereading the novel as a deja-vu thing..).

    A series I loved, the Allie Beckstrom series by Devon Monk just ended this year. I was bereft to have it end. However, I am completely satisfied…the overall story arc was resolved, all the questions that flitted through the books were answered. It felt right…Allie had her run. What softens the blow is that the world and mythology will continue with two other characters. I feel Ms. Monk did it right – as a fan I do not feel cheated or let down…I am satisfied.

    HP, I wasn’t happy with the Epilogue only because I felt it was rushed (too much in too short a time span). However, I think Ms. Rawlings did it justice, the story had ended. I have read a few trilogies that ended just as they should – no regrets, the major story arc was resolved. Could they go back and spin off or do another story in the world, sure, but it isn’t necessary because the major conflicts were resolved (maybe not all permanently if you get my meaning but for the overall story arc, resolved).

    I don’t know if you say goodbye to a series. I know there are a few that I felt satisfied and that is all. I walked away satisfied. However, the ones that still linger with me, the stories that I am still invested in the characters, the worlds that I am still linked to…I simply do not say goodbye. That, my dears, is what rereads are for. They are how I revisit beloved characters again and again.

    • Great point about re-reads. Favorite series will always have a home in our hearts!

  • Oh, this is a topic near and dear to my heart! Amanda – 6 books? Yay!!! These are the things, as a reader, that I like to know.

    Now, whether an author says ‘trilogy’ or leaves the number of titles open-ended, I’m okay with that. As long as they stick to their plan, if they’ve stated a number of titles to a series. It’s emotionally taxing to be a reader. I set myself up to be patient for just a *little* while longer, and it wreaks havoc with my mojo when I find out a series has been extended. Especially when I can’t see where the other two books are headed. Can’t see what’s unresolved.

    I’m with Una on this point though: re-reads keep a favorite series alive forever! I have some ‘comfort read’ series saved in a special folder on my Kindle. I’ve collected them over time, since I originally read the early books in paperback. I know my beloved characters will be there for me when I need to visit them. I know they’re handy, should I need them in a hurry, as well.

    • I think what can be equally distressing is when an author doesn’t plan out the ending, and they still end it in X number of books – so the ending becomes rushed or contrived. But honestly, I’ve only seen that when a series gets cut short and an author doesn’t have time to finish on her/his terms.

  • I honestly haven’t had to say goodbye to many series yet. I do agree that the final installment has to have a good wrap up of all of the story lines. I also don’t want to be left with any huge unanswered questions. I also haven’t had to say goodbye to a series before it was over by my own decision or by a cancellation (although I’m fearful that might happen to 2 series that I’m reading at the moment…I’m sure you can guess which 2 I’m speaking of). If I do decide to give up on a series, I’m sure it will be because I just can’t get into it like I thought I would…or because the books are becoming very repetitive and I can spend my time reading a book that is different and fresh. I’m also sure that if a series I enjoy is canceled before the end, it will leave a hole in my book heart. One that I will think about a lot and one that I will never get over. 🙁

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