from the desk etc.

It has only been out for two weeks today, but LINES OF DEPARTURE has over a hundred Amazon reviews already, which is pretty cool. There are some head-scratcher one-stars, but in general it seems to be rather well received, and reader consensus appears to be that it’s better than the first novel by a fair bit.

I’m currently hard at work on ANGLES OF ATTACK, and without dropping any spoilers, I can tell you that the fireworks in the first two were just a mild preview of the stuff I have laid out for you in this one. When it’s out, it will hopefully be received at least as well as the first two.

There are quite a few series that lost steam by the third or fifth or seventh novel and eventually read like the author was just phoning it in for the paychecks. I want to avoid that particular phenomenon. What are some of your favorite novel series where there was a steady progression of craft and quality evident as the series went along?


30 thoughts on “from the desk etc.

  1. Brandon Sanderson’s mist born trilogy is of the best series that I’ve read in years that kept me mezmorized with each book until the last word. I’d second rothfuss but he’s not done yet.

  2. I’ll second the Mistborn series, really enjoyed it. I loved Brent Weeks Night Angel trilogy because not only were they well written but all books were available shortly after each other, like within a one month period for each. On the science fiction side, I quite liked the Dire Earth Cycle by Jason Hough.

    Notice all of the above are trilogies, I’d prefer keeping things to a trilogy or no more then 4 books with a proper ending. If this is going to become one of those never ending things I’d think I would get off the train. While the author may have the best of intentions I think ongoing series rarely work out well over the long haul.

    A classic example of this for me was Jack Campbell’s series, that’s one where after the third book I felt the author was just milking things and had enough given the plot was moving at a snails pace from book to book. Robert Jordan was another one I hated, great first book and then downhill from there with each successive book becoming less and less interesting.

  3. I’m in the third of the three “omnibus” collections of Hugh Howey’s Silo Saga (Dust), and each one has gotten better. I’m not sure if it’s because he got me to invest in the characters, or that the writing has gotten even better, or a combination of both. I’m not much of a regular sci-fi reader anymore (read all the greats in a HS sci-fi/fantasy course, then read a lot of slop).

  4. The Flashman novels held up well through the series. Hornblower and Aubrey–Maturin did too. I thought the four main books of The Legacy of the Aldenata, by Ringo held up well, although the spinoffs got a little iffy. (I still enjoyed them, I just don’t think they’re as good as the first four.)

  5. For a writer that grew in his craft, Terry Pratchett is a splendid example. His first adult fantasies, like Strata or The Colour of Magic read like the funniest guy in your D&D group recounting the group’s inside jokes. By the late Nineties he was turning out genre-transcending masterpieces like Hogfather and Men At Arms. I think his turning point was ’91, when Reaper Man and Witches Abroad came out.

  6. I keep reading that as “Angels of Attack”, which could be a cool book, but probably not as part of your current series. 😀

    Sadly, I have a hard time coming up with series whose author didn’t eventually jump the shark *cough*Anita Blake*cough*.

    Love Harry Dresden, and Patricia Briggs’ Mercedes Thompson series is a favorite, too.

  7. I really enjoyed the book.

    My favorite Series are

    Empire of Man series by Weber and Ringo

    Mercedes Thompson series by Briggs

    Honorverse by Weber

    Harry Dresden series by Butcher

  8. I’m up to the fifth book in Iain Banks’ Culture series, and have already read the last (Hydrogen Sonata). I think it’s a good example of a series that hasn’t lost steam.

  9. (1) Bujold’s Vorkosigan series
    (2) Tom Kratman’s “A Desert Called Peace” series
    (3) WEB Griffin’s “The Corps” – not SF, but pretty gripping all the same….

  10. Alan Dean Foster’s The Dammed trilogy.

    At least as far as the original trilogy of books (because that’s all I’ve read), I would say that about Asimov’s Foundation trilogy.

    Greg Keyes’ Saga of Psi Corps trilogy.

    John Ringo’s Troy Rising series

  11. Another vote for Sanderson’s “Mistborn”. And, I have a special place in my heart for Jim Butcher’s “Alera” series. Legend has it he wrote it when dared to combine two extraordinarily incompatible ideas: The Lost Roman Legion and Pokemon.

    Also, Stephen Hunt’s trippy steampunk novels, starting with “The Court of the Air”.

  12. Mr. Jordan’s Wheel of Time Series is still one of my all time favorite. I realize it isn’t Sci-Fi but Fantasy. But as the series progresses there are some Sci-Fi elements to it. and it always kept me interesting.

    Please just don’t do what Donal Clayton Porter did with his White Indian series. It got to the point I couldn’t keep track of the characters and the writing and action seemed forced.

  13. While not quite a series and highly unlikely to become a trilogy, I thoroughly enjoyed Larry Niven’s The Integral Trees and The Smoke Ring. I would welcome a third novel because some threads were left hanging, but it’s not needed to complete the experience.

    At 4 novels, I thought the Ringworld series didn’t quite wear out its welcome by the time it concluded. Looks like there are some more recent companion books with a co-author that I may never read.

  14. Depending on how you play it I think there is scope for a “World” as much as a series. You have created a bunch of interesting people that could be used in a host of only slightly related stories.

  15. I’ll toss in another agreement on the Dresden Files (Although Ghost Story… was a mess. He salvaged and carried hard with Cold Days though, so I’m looking forward to Skingame.) Honestly, I think even if its not ‘paycheckitis’ at some point, even a great writer has an off day. (Book, series whatever). Weather its because they need to get it out the door, or just because the idea in their head looks more awesome then what ends up on page. Good Authors just keep churning, hoping to get back the brilliance of earlier, and often failing after that point. Great Authors see where they screwed up, and make it right, going forward (assuming they don’t fix the book in editing)

  16. The Vorkosigan saga and CS Forester’s Hornblower books actually hold steady or improve in quality throughout the series. Butcher’s Dresden Files and Harrison’s the Hollows’s series have stayed good though individual books have been so so.
    But a series can digress while still staying interesting. I’d argue that the Aubrey Maturin series, which I own in Kindle and hardcover, changes for the worse as we get out into the later books as Jack Aubrey becomes less interesting and less of a partner to Stephen Maturin. I am also a big fan of David Weber but I think that the last couple of books in the Honor saga have been subpar. But I still read him. Robert Jordan stayed interesting though his books slowed down to a glacially slow pace towards the end. A bad book or two in a series is almost inevitable.

  17. I am also a big fan of David Weber but I think that the last couple of books in the Honor saga have been subpar.

    I read through the first several books in a matter of a week or so, and then kept up with the series until… At All Costs?

    I found it of note that, when I went to re-read them a few years ago, I lost interest halfway through Flag In Exile.

  18. My favorites for longer running current series:

    Terry Pratchett – Discworld books – I have most of them in hardback and it’s only 5 weeks until Raising Steam comes out!

    Lois McMaster Bujold – Vorkosigan Saga – Interesting to see her branch out with Ivan’s story in the last book.

    Miller and Lee – Liaden Universe books – I have an original PB of Agent of Change and Plan B from Meisha Merlin, so I’ve been a fan from the beginning

    I’m reading the side/back story books in the Honorverse on and off, waiting for the next mainline book.

    Others that held my interest
    Garrett and Heydron – Gandalara Cycle

    Rick Cook – Wizardry series – the tech discussions in the early books hasn’t aged well (uunet, !paths for mail, modems, etc.) but the stories are fun

    Glen Cook – Garrett P.I series

  19. The Legacy of the Aldenata series by John Ringo is pretty darn good.

    John Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” series was excellent and inventive until “Zoe’s Tale”, which was only pretty good.

    The Honorverse series is getting really looooooonnnng, with not enough action per book anymore. By the way, I happen to LIKE women who may be smarter than me and might be able to take me 1-on-1.

    Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga is awesome, and not just because she’s signed a couple of them for me.

    Jack Campbell’s “Lost Fleet” series doesn’t get enough credit. I think it is stellar.

    The “Starfist” series from Sherman/Cragg is excellent.

    And last – but certainly not least – I’ve now read/re-read the Empire of Man series (Weber/Ringo) six times. I know exactly what’s going to happen, and I still can’t put them down.

  20. Another good military series is Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe books. They hold up very well and never lose the plot. Griffin’s Corps series is as mentioned, a very good read.

    The word on Weber is that he meant to kill off Honor in At All Costs, but he was convinced otherwise by his publishers, which is why he has lost the thread in the latter books.

  21. I thought F. Paul Wilson put together a really strong series streak with the Repairman Jack series. The progression of story line is strong, and the weaving in of threads from different books (that are not even a part of the Jack series) is very deft. The concepts in the “Secret History of the World” are original. The libertarian themes are strong but not preachy (like you see with L. Neil Smith). Wilson’s LaNague Federation series is very enjoyable and worth the read, but lacks the flow of the Jack series. j

  22. I’ll throw in another enthusiastic vote for Bujold’s Vorkosigan series. At this point, I’ll read a telephone book if she writes it.

    I’ll also recommend S.M. Stirling’s The General series, written from an outline by David Drake – The Forge, The Hammer, The Anvil, The Steel and The Sword. It’s been re-released twice as a two-volume set.

    I really want to read the Sharpe’s Rifles series.

  23. I’ve enjoyed reading the “Sten” series by Chris Bunch and Allan Cole. Also, the “Bounty” series by William C. Dietz.