It should be no secret how I feel about books within a series. As soon as I see the likes of “Book One of the Ice Dragon Series” or “Troll Hunters #17” in a novel’s title, I quickly move on to something else. The reason for this aversion? There’s a couple, actually:
First, I like the books I read to be a nice package of beginning, middle, and end. I like a story to conclude. Nothing is more annoying than to get to the end of a novel and find no resolution to the time I’ve invested in reading it; I’m just not into books that are nothing more than very long chapters.
The other reason is I don’t like feeling I’ve been played by marketing, sucked into a ploy to get more of my money. The financial success of the biggest self-publishing authors is soundly built on this business plan of sequels. I hate them with shameless envy!
As with most things, there are exceptions. I’ve enjoyed Le Guin’s Earthsea novels and stories, as well as John Christopher’s Tripods collection. These are exceptions because: neither started out to be a series; and each book in the collection is a novel in itself, able to stand alone without having to read the others in the collection.
I do also enjoy novels with recurring characters, of which there are many examples: Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Hercuel Poirot; John Straley’s Cecil Younger; and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Again, because the novels are stand-alone, not part of a seemingly never-ending series.
All that said, I can’t be too critical. You see, I’ve been developing concepts of my own that will become a “series” of books. One is a follow-up to Gospel for the Damned. It’s been suggested by more than a few readers that it might be interesting to know what happens before and/or after the events of Gospel… So, I’m working on a kind of prequel/sequel, the working title being Legacy of the Damned. (I wouldn’t look for it on bookshelves anytime soon.)
I also have an idea for something epic; a sci-fi/fantasy that spans the rise-and-fall of multiple civilizations on different worlds with a recurring thread tying them together. The greatest challenge, of course, being to make each book its own entity.
Wow. Sounds like a lot of work. Guess I should get busy.