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!