Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
Say what you will about epic fantasy: after finishing the first volume of a seven-book series, you know what to look for next.
Though the crime fiction and romance genres are also known for their serial narratives, when most people think about stories and characters whose exploits span multiple volumes, they think of fantasy. Lord of the Rings is the trilogy of trilogies, a template on which a multide of stories have been subsequently based, and whose three-act structure has become as much a defining characteristic of the genre as have elves and dark lords. Given that individual volumes within any number of lengthy fantasy series already outbulk their non-magical counterparts, the prospect of reading two or more additional volumes can be understandably intimidating, especially for first-time fantasists. But for a solid decade of my reading life, the seeking out of sequels was a definitive pattern: a source of both comfort and enjoyment.
Sometime in 1995, my grandmother presented me with a copy of Redwall by Brian Jacques, unaware that, rather than being a stand-alone novel, it was the first volume of a children’s fantasy series that is still ongoing today. I read it, and was utterly hooked, devouring the next seven volumes with an eagerness that, even for my bookish child-self, was unprecedented. But then, calamity! (more…)