I seem to have a love/hate relationship, or, rather a love/meh relationship, with fantasy. Not so much the stand alone books, as with series.
I love starting a new fantasy series, where a new world and characters are introduced. I love the first book and can’t wait to read the next. But I’ve become apprehensive of starting the next in the series. Afraid to be disappointed, again. It isn’t that the other books in a series are bad, they just don’t live up to my expectation.
It isn’t just with young adult fantasy, such as the Mortal Instruments series (by Cassandra Clare). But also fantasy written for adults, such as Lev Grossman’s The Magician series. Of course, there are some exceptions; Lockwood & Co. by Jonathan Stroud and Peter Grant/Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch amongst them.
But I’ve become apprehensive of starting a new fantasy series. At the moment I have the Paper Magician series and it’s been over a year since I’ve read the second book in the series. Again, it wasn’t a bad book, but as usual my expectations seem to have been too high.
Earlier this year I started the Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I’ve had it on my TBR for a while and seeing some promo material for the Netflix series peaked my interest. As usual I was apprehensive. The series started with two short stories, short stories in a series are never my favourite, but they were okay. I really enjoyed the first book. Soon I decided to put aside my reservations and read the second book. And…I liked it, almost as much as the first book. I now have another couple of short stories to read before I can start with the third and final book in the trilogy. Which I plan to do after finishing my current book, so hopefully tomorrow or Monday.
I never can put my finger on it why a fantasy series disappoints me or why I love it. Maybe it’s because the excitement of discovering a new world and characters is gone after reading the first book. Sure, the world will be explored further and there should be character development, but that isn’t as exiting as stepping into a new world.
It is interesting that I don’t have this with crime and/or thriller series. There the problem is, especially with long running series, that there will come a point when the stories for the main character(s) have run it’s course but the author continues writing books. Sometimes an author is able to pull it together again, but there are series where I give up. One of the series that was able to pull it together was Guido Brunetti’s series by Donna Leon. There were a couple of books that I didn’t like as much as the previous ones (they weren’t bad, just not as good) but the books after those couple I liked better, again. And there are series that although I’m not abandoning them I don’t want to read the latest release right away. One of those series is the Agent Pendergast series (Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston) and recently the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. I’m always sad when I notice it’s happening, usually it’s a slower decline, it feels like you’re starting to say goodbye to an old friend.
I do have another bunch of first-in-fantasy-series book on my TBR list. Though I do want to finish some current series before starting a new one. I’m a both a bit apprehensive and a bit hopeful that the next series will also work out for me.