Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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How are you doing now? Checking in with your favorite characters.

Brandy at Random Musings has a post up today on characters that she’d like to just check in with. What a great topic! I totally agree that there are ANY NUMBER of books where you get really attached to the characters and you’d really like to know how it all worked out for them, even after the series has ended.

In fact, I suppose that is probably a pretty universal desire, if the series is good.

Of Brandy’s choices, the ones I most agree with are the Melina Marchetta titles. Her characters go through A LOT, and sure, they wind up in a better place than they started, but it would be great to be able to check on them in a year or a decade and make sure their lives actually turned out well.

But this also made me think about series were we DO get to check in with our characters. Two books spring to mind, very different titles:

1. The Touchstone trilogy. The “Gratuitous Epilogue” is a fantastic bonus. It is all about getting to see how everyone’s life works out. I love it. Everyone should do a long epilogue like that.

Well, except me, I guess, since I never have been inclined to let anybody know what happened with Timou and Jonas and everybody in CITY. Not that I even know. You have to make you your own mind about where that was going. Or Bertaud in the Griffin Mage trilogy. I wanted to get his life in order, maybe hand him a romance that would work out well for him, but it never happened on screen. Though he was in an okay place at the end, I think. But still. I’ve always felt a little bad about that.

Anyway,

2. I’ve been re-reading books recently because if I pick the right books to re-read, I can just dip into them now and then and they don’t interfere with my own work. So I just re-read Regenesis by CJ Cherryh. As far as I’m concerned, the whole POINT of the book is to watch Justin, Grant, and even Ari get their lives into shape. Frankly, I do not care about the broader political plot, which I just skim. Although the vote at the end when all the Councillors wind up at Reseune is exciting, I guess. But my favorite part by a mile is watching Ari walk through the new apartment complex while it’s under construction, and then watching Justin and Grant move into their new apartment when it’s finished. It’s so satisfying just to see them get set to have good lives. It’s a bit like the housebuilding scenes in the Gratuitous Epilogue. It’s just a pleasure to read about that kind of thing.

Are there any other titles you can think of where we get to go back into a world simply (or mostly) to peek in on the happily-ever-after part of the story?

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6 Comments How are you doing now? Checking in with your favorite characters.

  1. elaine t

    I’m pleased we get a HOUSE OF SHADOWS sequel, so I get to find out some of that. I would like Bertaud from GRIFFIN to be happy and hope he finds an understanding woman off screen.

    Most of GGK I wouldn’t mind more, or an epilogue of the twenty years in 2 parapgraphs sort. The books work without it, I just hate to let go of the characters. He did give us a look at the surviving returnees from Fionavar in YSABEL, which I appreciated.

    CJC’s FORTRESS of ICE may have been an attempt at that, but I prefer to pretend the book was never published. The atevi books could have stopped after the first trilogy and let us wonder, but they didn’t.

    Most of the others I can think of are actual serieses.
    Does Pratchett’s, say Nightwatch subseries count as letting us see the ‘ever after’? Or the late Vorkosiverse novels?

    You know it used to be a thing in the romance genre, when I read it much more regularly than I do now, to have a group of characters and spend a book each focusing on one or two out of the bunch. But each also included appearances by the protaganists of the previous books, so we got a look at how they’re doing. Isn’t Florand doing that with the Chocolate books?

  2. Rachel

    I think the Vimes series is a really good example — and really, yes, the Vorkosigan books, too. And if there were another Sharing Knife book, I’m sure it would do something of the same kind. At least I hope it would.

    Yes, that’s exactly what Florand is doing, and it’s definitely part of the charm and a good reason to read the books in order.

    And . . . sorry, but everyone is kind of plunged into Situations right away in the House of Shadows sequel, so there is really no feeling like that at all. I’m setting it up for a potential third book, though, so who knows? (That’s just a faint thought at the moment.)

  3. Hanneke

    Julia Quinn, The Bridgertons: happily ever after (lighthearted ‘Regency’ romance, of the modern kind in which people do not behave according to real Regency manners); it’s a collection of 8 second epilogues to her 8 books about all the members of the Bridgerton family.
    The elder couples have walk-on appearances in the books about their younger siblings; but this one is specifically written to tell those people who liked that series about what happened afterwards.

    Except for the Gratuitous Epilogue, which I loved very much and helps make Touchstone one of my favorite reads, this is the only complete book written just to keep in touch with our beloved characters, without putting them through the wringer of a whole new adventure.

    Which, by the way, is the reason why I’m ambivalent about another Sharing Knife book, though I loved those: I think Dag and Fawn deserve some ordinary happy family life, and not another even bigger and scarier menace-threat (as those have grown with each book).

    With series like the Vimes books each book is primarily about its new adventure, and the further vrowth of the main characters; it’s not just about catching up with our favorite characters just going ahead with living their lives after the adventure ends. This feels different to me than the Gratuitous Epilogue, even though the main attraction may still be catching up with the characters and watching how they continue developing.
    Romance books do more of that, especially in the series about linked charaters; but it’s almost always as cameos in other characters’ main adventure. The Bridgerton one is the only one I know where a whole book was dedicated to catching up with the known characters. I haven’t read much romance, so there may be more. Collections of novellas appear to be a place where known characters can get follow-up stories, at least in the romance genre.

  4. Rachel

    Thanks, Hanneke! I agree that the Gratuitous Epilogue feels different than a book where the author feels compelled to put in A Menace so the characters can have An Adventure. I would actually really appreciate a Sharing Knife book where there was no huge malice outbreak. Although I really enjoyed the giant bats.

  5. Cheryl L

    I’m enjoying catching up with the characters from Martha Wells’ Raksura series through the follow-up collections of short stories. :-)

  6. Rachel

    YES. I’m so glad she’s writing those. They’re not exactly a peek in on a peaceful happily-ever-after, but I love them. I was surprised at how much I loved the story of Indigo and Cloud. I didn’t think I was that interested in a historical novella, but I really enjoyed it.

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