The trend toward series instead of standalone books make it harder for me to experience the works of as many authors as I can discover. Instead of reading a single novel, my imagination is caught up in two or three installments. The King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo seemed like the first book of a new series when I purchased it. But it had so many references to things that happened in the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology that I felt compelled to read the earlier books.
When you build a whole world – a form of government, a religion, a magic system, the landscape, the people – it can be hard to leave it after 60,000 words. So, I do understand why authors want to stay in the world they’ve built. A trilogy enables us to explore more aspects of the world because the second and third book can shine a light on other aspects of the world previously unexplored. Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse was developed long before she wrote King of Scars, but the many references to past books filled in gaps in my understanding.
Trilogies often involve a lot of main characters. One of the author’s most important task is to develop the characters’ story arc and to endear them to the readers. I have gotten attached to my share of main characters, not all of them created by me. Nikolai, King of Scars, can appear in as many books as Ms. Bardugo can write as far as I’m concerned.
Complicated or Multiple Plots
Epic fantasies, especially, have two or more story lines going on at the same time. King of Scars had two main ones with three different points of view. The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson, that will be a collection of ten books, has a story line for each Knight Radiant. And yet, when plotted really well can conclude beautifully in each series installment.
One of my only complain is all the unresolved plot lines in books that are part of a series. I understand that having a cliffhanger for an ending is probably a marketing ploy to make sure readers buy the next book. But it is cruel to leave readers hanging for years before it is resolved. If there was a logical conclusion to events that happened, the reader would still come away satisfied. Now, not resolving anything after all the time and emotions the reader invested in your book is not fair.
I have loved many trilogies like Mistborn, Riyria – and even longer series like Lightbringer or Stormlight Archive. But I prefer standalone books with a solid plot that resolves everything in 60,000 to 100,000 words. I’m not a fan of cliffhangers, but I love exploring different authors’ works. If you tie up my reading hours with a book series, I have less time to find other works I’d enjoy. Although if you’re really good – I will forgive you.
I do recommend The King of Scars, readers should probably read the earlier books in the Grishaverse beforehand. It’s a great adventure with loveable characters. I would recommend this to all my friends.