As a reader I’ve been unfortunate enough to see two of my favorite series die recently. They are still being published, and the writers are still packing words between the covers. Unfortunately at some point the core value of the series died, at least for me.

I’ve read both series for the last half decade as they’ve come out. One of the two I’ve read since the beginning. The other I was among that second wave of readers that arrives when a series actually gains traction. It’s sad for me that after the last book in each, I can’t claim I want to go back or even that I look forward to the next entry.

The reason for this is pretty simple. In both cases they series are no longer what I liked about them. That core value to me as a reader is gone. In the case of the series I was a “second waver” to, its been a character driven series with a guy who was very much that “everyman” sort who was just fun to follow around because no matter how much sewage the world poured down his throat, he persevered with an attitude that said “is that the best you can do?” and would often win, eventually, with a less pointed version of Ice-T’s I told you, you should have killed me last year.” as his final rejoinder to whoever the adversary may have been. Before, during and after whatever action was woven into the story, the characters principles were never abandoned or compromised. That changed about two books ago. The first of them was still ok, the last one didn’t even resemble the series i fell in love with.

For the second series, its tougher to say just where it lost me. The most recent book proved there was far more I didn’t care for or about going on. This series made its mark as an action focused series that had good amounts of other stuff around it. The formula for the first half dozen or two books was only apparent when you read them all in a row, in the next handful, in part do to series bloat the formula stood out a bit more, but still held together. Since then the books have had what you can call either a punctuated equilibrium or an extended death throw for several books.

Some of the books after that handful have looked much like the early good books, some of them were much more like the most recent one. It was at one point, damn fine action of the variety that gets people excited and talking about it for days and weeks. Yet, now the series has lost it’s verve. Even the last book I enjoyed wasn’t nearly as much fun as the early books.

In both books theirs been a big change to the secondary characters as well. In one series its the allies that have become corrupted or tainted. They’ve lost a lot of who they are, and possibly more importantly who they aspire to be. For the other series, the opposition has been wrecked upon the shoals of boring. The early heavies in this world were pretty sharp, cunning and devious. The most recent set look fresh out of the halls of some made for tv movie about brats at expensive boarding schools for middle schoolers. They lack any real depth or viability. It makes you wonder how even knowing how things are done in their neck of the woods it is they managed to get into power.

My questions I suppose are:

  • Got any good series to recommend to me?
  • What series have you seen die before your eyes, before they were no longer printed?
  • Is there are series you see as dying now?
  • What can you as a writer do to hold onto that “core value” of a series?

  • Alan Akers’ Scorpio/Kregan/Dray Prescot series is one that I was very fond of when I read it. Sword, Sorcery, and a little Science Fantasy tossed in as well. Didn’t take itself seriously.

    Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series is… Hm. Well, if the core value is soft-core pr0n, it’s doing fine. But the ratio of plot to pr0n to feeeeeeeeeelings is very variable from book to book. But hey, pr0n!!

  • I think Hamilton’s Anita Blake died for me about eight books in.  Her Mercy series only worked for one book, for me.  I own the latest Sooky Stackhouse, but haven’t gotten around to reading it.  I used to read those no matter what I was supposed to be doing.  I read a lot of the Gor books – at least five of which came after the series died.  I lost interest in David Weber’s Honorverse a couple years ago.  I think Piers Anthony’s books lost flavor for me all at one time.  I have nine Xanths, several modes and most or all of the Split Infinity books, but stopped following all of them, even the ones that had definite ends in sight.

    I think that series always die, and it may not be the writer at all.  It might easily be that the readers have moved on.

    • Some series, yes you just move on because you or your life change in some way, and that has no fault for the author or the their editors. For others, like the two I mentioned you have to wonder if the same thing has happened to the writer.