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Series with Staying Power
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Lynn M



Joined: 09 Apr 2007
Posts: 60

PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:20 pm    Post subject: Series with Staying Power Reply with quote

I was wondering if there were any series out there that managed to avoid what seems to be the inevitable decline in quality. There is nothing more disappointing than falling in love with a particular series or world or group of characters only to find the whole thing jumping the shark after Book 4 or 5 or 6.

So I was wondering - other than J.D. Robb's "In Death" series (which seems to be universally regarded as always great) - are there any series out there that have consistently maintained greatness? Even if there has been a less-than-stellar title here or there, overall people seem to be content with the quality even as the number of titles creeps up?

And when, exactly, do most series seem to head off the rails? In my experience, it seems somewhere between Books 3-5. Which leads me to wonder if a strong trilogy is the best any author can really hope for.
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are a couple of series that I'm following that are still fairly interesting to me, Lynn M.

One is Tess Gerritsen's Jane Rizolli series, which numbers six to this point. I have yet to be disappointed in any of those.

Debbie Macomber has a women's fiction series out titled Cedar Cove and book No. 8 will be out this Sep. There have been a couple that have not been as interesting as others; but all in all, I have enjoyed the stories.

I don't know how many books are in Karin Slaughter's series with Sara Linton and Jeffery Tolliver; but with the exception of the most recent one, they all have been good. I suspect she may go on with it, but time will tell because of the outcome of the last one.

I do know what you're saying, though, with series. Many times they outrun their own good after about 3 or 4. Perhaps that's why most authors end with a trilogy. I've never followed thru on the Robb books, but most people enjoy them, as you do. I think there may be more successful series outside of the romance genre. I know my husband used to read several authors that maintained the same character throughout most of their books.


Last edited by Tee on Tue Jun 10, 2008 9:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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LinnieGayl



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 824

PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tee wrote:
I think there may be more successful series outside of the romance genre. I know my husband used to read several authors that maintained the same character throughout most of their books.


Other than the In Death series by JD Robb, my longest series have been mystery series, such as the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters, and Laurie King's Mary Russell and S. holmes series. Even in these series there have been some less than stellar entrants. But, I have followed quite a few, long mystery series.
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RichMissTallant



Joined: 06 Jun 2008
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Location: Washington, DC

PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure if you meant this to be around a series currently running or series in general; I'm going to answer assuming the latter.

The first series that popped into my mind is Patricia Veryan's Golden Chronicles. It's strong all the way through. Not only are the books still good toward the end, but the 6th and final book in the series, The Dedicated Villain, is pretty widely regarded as the best book in the series, mostly because Roly undergoes a successful and moving transition from villain to hero. I also feel the same way about her other 6-book series Tales of the Jewelled Men. She builds up to August Falcon's story, and it's not disappointing.

I also think JQ's Bridgerton series is pretty strong. If we go by your observation that the series weakens around 3-5, this series escapes that trap; people disagree over An Offer From A Gentlemen (it's certainly not my favourite), but Romancing Mister Bridgerton is probably the best in the series, and I think To Sir Philip, With Love is pretty good. Though admittedly not as good as, say, the first book, I found the plot rather refreshing, which counts in its favour, as many series (Cynsters, I'm looking at you!) suffer from too many recycled plotlines and characters. My personal favourite is the 6th, When He Was Wicked; the angst turns some people off, but I thought it was sexy and great.

Nora's written some great ones; I haven't read any of the MacGregor books in years, but I remember thinking most of them were pretty damn good.


Edited - I forgot about Jo Bev's Malloren series. What do y'all think? If I remember correctly, the review for Devilish was pretty low (C+), but I really liked it, and I also enjoyed the others (the 3rd perhaps the least - Fort wasn't my favourite hero).
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LinnieGayl



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, good point, RichMissTallant. The Bridgerton series definitely worked for me...as do many of Nora Roberts' trilogies.
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Tinabelle



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I enjoy series/connected books but I agree that sometimes they go on too long. And I do agree that in a lengthy series, some books are going to be better than others. My favorites are trilogies or quartets, preferably published close together. There are too many to name but Nora Roberts is a favorite author in this category.

Some longer series ( more than 4 books) that I have enjoyed include Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody mysteries, Christina Skye's Draycott Abbey series, Lynn Kurland's MacLeod/de Piaget time travel series, Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series, Mary Jo Putney's Fallen Angels series, Kasey Michaels' Romney Marsh series, Mary Balogh's Slightly series, and Catherine Coulter's FBI Thrillers. One of my favorites is an old Loveswept series from the 1980's by Kay Hooper - Hagen Strikes Again.
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Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RichMissTallant wrote:
I also think JQ's Bridgerton series is pretty strong. If we go by your observation that the series weakens around 3-5, this series escapes that trap; people disagree over An Offer From A Gentlemen (it's certainly not my favourite), but Romancing Mister Bridgerton is probably the best in the series, and I think To Sir Philip, With Love is pretty good.


My favourite is also Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. Very Happy I adored the first four Bridgerton books!

To Sir Philip with Love was just okay for me. (I was disappointed after the first reading, but had to reason: What can top Penelope's story???) I cried at the end of When He Was Wicked. Laughing It's in His Kiss was, however, a huge let down. It seemed very so-so, not just in comparison to the rest of the series, but also by itself. Confused

I haven't read Gregory's book yet.

Quote:
Edited - I forgot about Jo Bev's Malloren series. What do y'all think? If I remember correctly, the review for Devilish was pretty low (C+), but I really liked it, and I also enjoyed the others (the 3rd perhaps the least - Fort wasn't my favourite hero).


I've read everything but My Lady Notorious and the latest book (if you count A Lady's Secret, that is).

Devilish is also my favourite. In fact, I think it's the best thing Beverley has ever written! Very Happy

I think that she did a good job of giving the different Malloren personalities his (or her) own adventure and special someone.
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RichMissTallant



Joined: 06 Jun 2008
Posts: 148
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
To Sir Philip with Love was just okay for me. (I was disappointed after the first reading, but had to reason: What can top Penelope's story???)


LOL that's exactly how I felt. Poor Eloise. If you literally read them one right after the other, it's even more jarring; you finish like, the most romantic speech ever (I love the 'stale champagne' bit), and then you launch into a not-so-romantic first beginning to Eloise's story. That being said, I actually liked JQ's take on the story, the way the hero and heroine don't connect at first.


Quote:
It's in His Kiss was, however, a huge let down. It seemed very so-so, not just in comparison to the rest of the series, but also by itself.


I thought it was okay, not the best. Now, Gregory's story on the other hand... I know I've read it, but I can't remember it at all!


Quote:
Devilish is also my favourite. In fact, I think it's the best thing Beverley has ever written!


Who doesn't love to see someone like Rothgar brought to his knees by a woman?? Talk about female fantasy...
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Yulie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Schola wrote:
My favourite is also Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. Very Happy I adored the first four Bridgerton books!

To Sir Philip with Love was just okay for me. (I was disappointed after the first reading, but had to reason: What can top Penelope's story???) I cried at the end of When He Was Wicked. Laughing It's in His Kiss was, however, a huge let down. It seemed very so-so, not just in comparison to the rest of the series, but also by itself. Confused

Devilish is also my favourite. In fact, I think it's the best thing Beverley has ever written! Very Happy

I think that she did a good job of giving the different Malloren personalities his (or her) own adventure and special someone.

I think the Bridgertons were a good series through When He was Wicked, though I'd rank RMB near the bottom of the first six (ahead only of To Sir Phillip With Love. Penelope bored me).

Devilish was the first and only Jo Beverley book I ever read. I came across it in a USB and thought I'd give her a try. It was a DNF for me and I haven't read her since.

I actually like the idea of a more loosely connected series, like what Liz Carlyle did with her earlier books. The Chicago Stars books were also generally good. And I think Outlander has been pretty consistently great (except for The Fiery Cross).
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 7:35 am    Post subject: Re: Series with Staying Power Reply with quote

So I was wondering - other than J.D. Robb's "In Death" series (which seems to be universally regarded as always great) - are there any series out there that have consistently maintained greatness? Even if there has been a less-than-stellar title here or there, overall people seem to be content with the quality even as the number of titles creeps up?

And when, exactly, do most series seem to head off the rails? In my experience, it seems somewhere between Books 3-5. Which leads me to wonder if a strong trilogy is the best any author can really hope for.[/quote]




I read the first 3 books of the Robb series and wasn't impressed, but I am in the minority judging from the frequence these books are on bestseller lists. As for running off the rails, I found the Anita Blake series by Hamilton to seriously run off the rails. It seemed like the author's plans for the characters changed drastically around book 4 or 5. Loved those books until that happened, and I think it's a shame, but those books sell well too, so go figure.
A few series I enjoy....The Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn. Loved them all and can remember where I was reading each book. Very well written. Also, Dana Stabenow's series...the Liam Campbell series is a favorite of mine. I wish she would continue that series soon. I have started her Kate Shugak books and I'm enjoying those too. More....Jennifer Ashley's Nvengaria series is very good so far. Also, her writing as Ashley Gardner...the Captain Gabriel Lacey books are nice historical mysteries. I think there are 7 or 8 books so far. I also love the Robyn Carr series, and wish she would write one after the other.... Very Happy One thing with following a series is the waiting...it's so hard to do! xina
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:09 am    Post subject: Re: Series with Staying Power Reply with quote

xina wrote:
I also love the Robyn Carr series, and wish she would write one after the other.... Very Happy One thing with following a series is the waiting...it's so hard to do! xina

Ah, yes. I've forgotten about the Carr series, xina. She wrote them in threes, but they're definitely connected to one another. I didn't recognize them as an ongoing connection. So that makes six in the series, so far? On another thread, I've also written that her heroines could be almost considered ideal for me, with their obvious flaws and all.

I also agree with you that the waiting for the next book (especially when the series is an exciting one for you) is the pits. Worse yet, is when the interval is so long that you kind of forget the previous one with all its nuances. Laughing
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lauraleekitty



Joined: 07 Feb 2008
Posts: 16
Location: Orlando

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What about Anne Stuart's ICE books? I didn't care for ICE BLUE but loved the others in the series. Has anyone read the newest ICE book, FIRE AND ICE?? It got mixed reviews on Amazon.
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MMcA



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if some people are just series readers, and other people aren't.

The longest series I'm currently following is not romance - Pratchett's Discworld - and it must contain a good thirty books, and I'm still entranced.

I think the J.D.Robb books are a special case, because they contain a mystery element as well as the romance - I don't think you could sustain a series based on a single couple without that element. I probably read 15-20 Robb's before I burnt out on the series.

Other series I've followed for more than five books - Evanovich's Stephanie Plum, Elizabeth Peters, Julia Quinn, Jo Beverley, Stephanie Laurens, Rachel Lee, Suzanne Brockmann, Justine Davis - and I know there are lots more. I'd include Judith Duncan, Elizabeth Lowell, and Linda Howard, but they may have been four book series...

I'm not sure about the decline in quality question. To give a specific example, I burnt out on Stephanie Plum on Book 11. Book 10 was disliked on these boards - but I had loved it as much as ever. Book 11 was well received, but I'd read enough.
Was that a failure of the writer, or the reader? If I hadn't read books 1-10, and had picked up 11, would I have enjoyed it?

Sometimes I'd stop reading a series because I perceive a decline in quality - I found Elizabeth Peters became confusing, for example. But other times, I don't think the author has changed, just that I've read enough of their work for the time being.
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:56 am    Post subject: Re: Series with Staying Power Reply with quote

I also agree with you that the waiting for the next book (especially when the series is an exciting one for you) is the pits. Worse yet, is when the interval is so long that you kind of forget the previous one with all its nuances. Laughing[/quote]


Yes, I hate when an author writes a book a year in a series. I used to panic when I couldn't remember characters thinking that I should remember who this person was, but now, I just let it go and hope that something rings a bell. There's an advantage to discovering a good series late. All the books, or most are available and it's sort of like reading a really long book when reading one right after the other. I had some fun with many series when I first started reading romance. Ah, those were the days. Very Happy
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Niftybergin



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I also agree with you that the waiting for the next book (especially when the series is an exciting one for you) is the pits. Worse yet, is when the interval is so long that you kind of forget the previous one with all its nuances.


Oh, God...story of my life since the Outlander series is my favorite series of books, bar none. The first one was published in 1991, which was when I read it. That was 17 years ago. So I've been waiting almost half my life for the NEXT book in this series. And while most authors manage to put a new book out in a year or so, Gabaldon takes about 4 years! (Or that's been the interval for the last few books.)
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