Confessional Classic: I Love Your Books, But…
Oh, how I love me some fantasy novels. They are a pleasure without the guilt because when they’re good, they’re really good. And there’s so many sub genres to choose from: Urban Fantasy (The Dresden Files and The Iron Druid Chronicles), Epic Fantasy (The Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire), Coming-of-Age Fantasy (Harry Potter and His Dark Materials), High Fantasy (Farseer and Lord of the Rings), and various others with genres within genres and cross genres abound.
That being said, there is one little, irksome thing that some fantasy writers do that gets under my skin, and in one case had me stop reading a series all together. The books I read, all the books I read, need to have an ending. This only becomes irksome for me when the book is truly enjoyable.
Time for me to name names.
With the second season of Game of Thrones recently wrapping up, George R. R. Martin is in a well-deserved spotlight. His books have in equal parts intrigued me, captivated me, and had me wanting to throw the book across the room (all for the right reasons). This sweeping epic has so much going on, I’m honestly not surprised that a single book can’t encapsulate your typical story arc. The last page feels more like a chapter break than an epilogue.
Now for a newer author. Patrick Rothfus is currently writing a series called the Kingkiller Chronicle. The first, The Name of the Wind, I’ve read, and the second is in the mail as I type this. The way this man writes prose is almost more magical than the tale itself. It’s a book I lost sleep over because I couldn’t put it down. Two-thirds through the book I realized I wasn’t going to get a clean ending by the last page, too much had happened without any resolution. Irked, yes, but I couldn’t stop. I’m going to read the next one, The Wise Man’s Fear, as soon as I can tear the Amazon.com box off in full knowledge that the third novel isn’t even published yet.
The series I put down? Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series. I got tired of not seeing any forward momentum in the overall story arc. I’ve tried to go back to it several times, but couldn’t get more than a chapter or two into it. I know a lot of fans of the books out there are hating on me right now, but there it is. Like Jordan himself, I will never finish the series.
This could offend some authors that write in this style. Please know that even though this gets under my skin, if your prose make me forget I’m reading or your story has me thinking on it well after I’ve put it down, I’m going to continue picking up your books. A good story is a good story. My quirks shouldn’t stop you from creating your brilliance.