Unfinished series

Here’s a post that caught my eye at By Singing Light: Top ten series I’ve never finished. Of course the reason this post got my attention is that I’ve read so many of the series in question — Chanur! Hambly’s James Asher series! Others, too.

My first impression: my gosh, how can you not finish a series you’ve started?

My second thought: wow, you know, there are a surprising number of series *I* haven’t finished even though I started them. I mean, even if the series is out and finished. Obviously it doesn’t count if the only reason you haven’t finished the series is because it’s not finished yet. But! I’ve left series unfinished more than I thought. I don’t believe I can fill up a top ten list, but maybe a top five:

1. The Pathfinder series by Orson Scott Card. I read the first one; liked it quite a bit — so many different takes on time-related superpowers, it was just fascinating. Then I bought the second one but haven’t read it,and haven’t yet bought the third book.

2. The Dagger and the Coin series by Daniel Abraham. I read The Dragon’s Path; I *really loved* some aspects of the book and some characters, *really loathed* some elements and some other characters, and felt *highly concerned* at where the series might be going. So I never went on, but I didn’t get rid of the first book, either because I can see myself eventually picking the series back up.

3. The Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson. I read Girl of Fire and Thorns when it came out — in 2011, I see — liked it a lot, bought the other two, and have never quite got around to re-reading the first and going on with the others. I think this is 90% feeling like I don’t have time to read longer works and 10% fear that the series will go in a direction I really dislike. It seemed to me there was some potential for that to happen.

4. The Jinx series by Sage Blackwood. I read Jinx and loved it, read Jinx’s Magic and loved it, and haven’t read the third even though it came out in March. In this case, not going on with the series is 100% because I haven’t had time to re-read the earlier books with the attention they deserve.

5. The Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks. His Night Angel series was just a bit too dark for me, but The Black Prism was just that little bit less grim. I liked it very much and bought the second and third books, but I haven’t ever read them.

However, I see from Goodreads that a 4th book is expected to come out next year, so maybe that’s just as well. I hate being stuck with cliffhangers, and I guess this series doesn’t really count as unfinished-by-me since the author himself hasn’t finished it yet. Just-waiting-on-sequels is another and quite different (and larger) category for me.

6. And for something a tiny bit different: the series it took me the longest to complete, so far, is . . . Dorothy Dunnett’s Niccolo series.


Somewhere in the middle, such terrible things pile up on the main character that I couldn’t stand it and just quit. Ages later, I finally came back and finished the series, only because I was sure . . . pretty sure . . . that Dunnett would eventually work her way to a happier ending. Which she did. But, people! Be aware that if you make things too overwhelmingly grim for your protagonist, you are likely to see some series drop off as some readers refuse to follow your protagonist that far down into the abyss.

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6 thoughts on “Unfinished series”

  1. Hmm, I should probably have said that these are all series I FULLY INTEND to finish. But given the number of other books I’m attempting to read, it hasn’t happened yet. (Rather than series I started but don’t intend to ever go back to.)

  2. With Maureen’s stipulation, the only series I can recall not finishing is Brust’s Vlad Taltos series. I do intend to finish it one day.

    I’ve bailed on a lot of series. The most notable example is probably Temeraire. I loved the first book, really liked the second, but started skimming the third. And I never skim books.

    I’m also generally not fond of cliffhanger endings, or series that appear to have no end in sight.

  3. I can’t think of a series I intend to finish but haven’t even though all the books are out. I can’t leave stories in the middle of them!

    But lots of series I dnf because they lose appeal for me. The second book of Card’s Pathfinder series was so disappointing I wondered if he’d hired someone else to write it for him, so I have no interest in the third.

    The second book of Girl of Fire and Thorns I thought was even better than the first, and then the third one was so boring I couldn’t finish it.

    The third Jinx book doesn’t disappoint!

    I petered out after the second Temeraire book, too. Not because the writing got bad, and not that it was boring, necessarily. It just seemed a little predictable, maybe.

    Legend and The False Prince are two series beginnings that I loved, and then was disappointed in the second book so never went to the third.

    Oh! I’ve only read the first Spiritwalker book, and I do want to finish that series.

  4. I’m a bit of a finisher so if I don’t keep reading a series it’s usually because the story/characters didn’t quite grab my interest or I got fed up with something. Janny Wurts’ “Wars of Light and Shadow” is in the “got fed up” category. Neverending peril and it just went on and on and on. I got two thirds of the way through Catherine Asaro’s “Primary Inversion” but was struggling to care even though it was full of action etc. I got through one book in Orson Scott Card’s Alvin Maker stories but it was meh so didn’t read anything else by this author. I know, I know, “Ender’s Game” and all that but he didn’t hook me and I have so many other books by authors whose works I love, so there.

  5. It’s easy to not finish a series you’ve started, you just have to lose interest. Also which type of series? I haven’t finished any long-running mystery series because of my ‘formula’ problem. Serieses that tell one – or a few, as in Discworld – on going stories are harder to bail on. But it’s possible, too. I bailed on Temeraire after finding #2 a yawner. THRONES somewhere in the middle of #2 for going too far down the abyss and not showing signs of coming up. Alvin Maker for .. I forget, I think it was just what was coming out when I realized Card had stopped interesting me.

    Then there’s Dibble’s CIRCLE CRESCENT STAR that I’d like have the opportunity to finish, but can’t because the last two entries were only printed in Holland. That’s irritating!

  6. Maureen, yes, I assumed you planned to finish those series — I intend to finish all the ones I mentioned, too, with the possible exception of The Dagger and the Coin series. Usually I do read all the books in a series promptly, though, and for those, I haven’t.

    Robert, I forgot about the Temeraire series, but I think that’s one that for me does fall into the slightly different category of “probably won’t finish it”. I didn’t exactly skim the third . . . or the fourth . . . but I did lose interest. I had problems with how some things were being handled in the story, but the bigger problem was how looooong all travel took and how beside the point so much of the travel seemed to be. That’s hard to avoid, I guess, if you want to send your main characters back and forth across the Australian desert, but still.

    Shoot, Kim, I guess I won’t buy the third Pathfinder book until I read the second . . . and now it may take even longer for me to pick up the series again. You also make me think of Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire; I COULD NOT believe that was written by the same person who wrote Feed. I still find that really hard to believe.

    I don’t think it ever occurred to me to stop after the first Spiritwalker book!

    Kootch, I hated the Alvin Maker series and probably read only about the first third of the first book. And that was back before I DNF’d books.

    Elaine, yes, Game of Thrones is a special case for me. It just seemed to me that Martin had kind of lost control of it, and I hated what he was doing with some of the characters, trying to present Jamie as a good guy, seriously? I initially stopped just because of the long wait between installments, but I doubt very much I’ll ever read the rest of the series.

    I don’t usually “just lose interest” in a series — no signs of getting bored with Vlad Taltos, for example — and I like formula books sometimes. They’re so non-challenging they can be great when I don’t want to think too much.

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