Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Trilogies - I hate 'em

When I was younger, you could pick up a book by any author and read a complete story.  What happened to that?  The Hardy Boys, Sherlock Holmes, Pip and Flinx, they all were stories in a continuous universe, with characters that could grow as you read more books.  But they were each stand-alone stories instead of weekly soap operas.  Now it's hard to find any book that doesn't seem to be written from the get-go with the sole purpose of hooking you into buying the next book.

For any one interested, The Pip and Flinx books by Alan Dean Foster are excellent.  Each one is a stand-alone adventure in the life of Flinx and his companion mini-drag, Pip.  There is an overarching story of Flinx searching for his roots and growing as he does, but it doesn't keep any single book from being a good read on its own.  In addition, the Pip and Flinx books are set in Foster's "Humanx Commonwealth" universe.  He has quite a few other books (check wikipedia) written in this universe, giving them all a consistent setting.  I just haven't been finding that in newer authors lately.

It seems like the only books I can just pick up and read are written by author's I was already reading in high school or earlier.  But, I can't say the trend started all that recently; I remember even back then trying to make sure that if I picked up a book from a series, the library had the entire series.  Most of the time, what I really ended up finding and not realizing until I was done was that the library had all of the books up to a certain point in the series.  That point wasn't necessarily the end of the series.  But more often than not, the books were enjoyable and stood alone well enough that it didn't matter.  Not so, anymore.  And I've decided that, simply on principal, I'm not going to buy any books from a series that doesn't let each book stand alone.  A good example would be the Sword of Truth series.  I think there was one book in that series where the entire book as the characters living in the woods and having a baby.  It did absolutely nothing to move the story along, but served to get another set of checks to the author.  Not to mention the chapter-long rants about the horrors of women.  I think the author must have been recently divorced (or still married, as my the case may be).

And then there's the fact that that series and the Wheel of Time series are two that I got burned on back to back with my "make sure the library has the entire series" policy.  So I ended up reading the first several books in both series.  And honestly, the only thing that set them apart was Gratch the Gar (I imagine a furry gargoyle).  They both had a lead male character trying to save the world with entire chapters devoted to the evils of women.  I gave up and haven't even bothered trying to finish either series.

So, to that point, I've been reading quite a few free e-books lately.  I had something I had to go to (don't remember what it was) and knew I would have some time on my hands, so I downloaded several.  I'll be reviewing what I've ready, almost solely from the perspective of whether the stories seem to be stand-alone adventures to me or not.  So, stay tuned.

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