T: If you've visited me before, you know I write epic fantasy. Epic fantasy and many other types of fantasy, usually means a multi-book series. Science fiction often is delivered in a series of novels set in the same world and involving the same characters. Mystery, romance, suspense and other genres tend to come in series also. And why not?
If a reader falls in love with the world and the mythology created, they'll come back again and again to the adventures and intrigues the author composes. But how long will the reader return? At what point does the series drag on too long? It depends.
The author must keep the storyline from getting repetitive. TV series face the same challenge. Is there a bad guy of the week or of the novel? Many mystery series are like that. Is the new criminal, the new threat to world peace, interesting with new quirks and higher stakes? If there is a continuing story arc, does each novel move it forward? Are more and more questions asked and are some old mysteries solved and explained? Is the tension rising from novel to novel?
I used to think all fantasy series were best if kept to a trilogy. Perhaps Tolkien taught me that. Then I started reading authors like Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind who spin their epic fantasy out over more than a dozen books. Some of the books in each series were better than others, but I intend to keep reading them as long as they keep going. So three is no longer a magic number in my opinion.
Have you ever read a book series you thought went on too long? Do you enjoy reading series or do you prefer stand alone novels?