As a fan of science fiction and fantasy I’m no stranger to the series; from the 40 books of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld to the 14-strong Wheel of Time saga, from Black Library’s ever-growing Horus Heresy series to Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, I’ve read and enjoyed a great many books that live within wider ranges. I only really draw the line at Michael Moorcock (I read most, if not all of the Elric series then baulked at the dozens upon dozens of linked books) and George R.R. Martin (I know, I know. I have my reasons…).
Two popular series at the moment are those by Ben Aaronovitch and Patrick Rothfuss, respectively the Rivers of London series featuring Peter Grant, and the Kingkiller Chronicles beginning with The Name of the Wind. With a new novella from Rothfuss and novel from Aaronovitch looming on the horizon, I’m at once genuinely excited and ever so slightly concerned. Why concerned? Well, there’s one big problem that I find when reading series which are still in the process of being written – there tends to be such a gap between books that I often can’t remember what happened in the last book (sometimes books) when I come to start the latest one. It’s a particularly strange feeling to get a chapter or two into a novel and realise that you haven’t the slightest clue who some of the characters are, despite knowing that you’ve read all the rest of the books in the series.
This issue was most pronounced when reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series (subsequently finished by Brandon Sanderson) which suffered from such long gaps between books that I can vividly remember being utterly baffled by what was going on at the start of one particular novel two thirds of the way through the series. It generally isn’t too much of an issue with something like Discworld which features regular characters but doesn’t tend to run sequentially, but a series within which the books follow on from each other can be quite problematic for me. The solution? Re-reads. Lots and lots of re-reads.
With the aforementioned Wheel of Time series I must have read the first nine or ten novels at least three times each, over a period of about ten years. I’ve read the first two of Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards series twice, most of the Thursday Next books two or three times, William King’s Gotrek and Felix books at least twice, and goodness knows how many times I’ve read some of Dan Abnett’s Gaunt’s Ghosts series. I’ve also read most of the Discworld books over and over again, but that’s out of choice rather than necessity, I just like them that much! Luckily I’m both a fast reader and happy to sit reading for hours on end, otherwise I’d be in trouble.
Back to Rothfuss and Aaronovitch though. It’s only been about fifteen months since I read Broken Homes, the last Peter Grant book, and while I’m pretty happy with the series overall (I’ve read the first two or three at least twice, maybe more) I’m still not sure about picking up Foxglove Summer without at least a bit of a recap. As for The Slow Regard of Silent Things (Rothfuss)…I read the second of the Kingkiller books way back in early 2011. Even though it’s not a full novel and is unlikely to be picking up too many story arcs, I haven’t got a chance of being able to remember enough to really make the most of the new novella…without a re-read.
As of this moment I have eight days until the release of The Slow Regard of Silent Things, and then a further two weeks before Foxglove Summer is released. In that time I need to re-read both The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, and Broken Homes. So far this year I’ve steered clear of reading two in a row from the same series, but I don’t have much choice here – all I can say is it’s a really good job I’m a fast reader with plenty of time on my hands. Better get reading!