It’s the old question: read the books as they are published, one at a time, or wait until the trilogy, quartet, or whatever is complete, then read them all?
“I get the urge to read a fantasy epic now and then, but I’ve learned my lesson. No more starting a series until it’s DONE. I’ve been waiting 3 years for George RR Martin’s next Ice and Fire, and by the time it comes out I’ll have to reread all the all the others to remember what’s going on.”
Yes, Evan, I feel your pain. Every time I buy some fantasy, I’m faced with that question. We all are.
I recently bought these fantasy books, based on reviews by trusted reviewers and /or recommendations from friends:
The Emerald Storm by Michael J. Sullivan is the 4th book in the very highly praised Books of the Riyria Revelations series, comprised of, so far, The Crown Conspiracy (October, 2008), Avempartha (April, 2009), Nyphron Rising (October, 2009), The Emerald Storm (April 2010). The final two books in the series are scheduled to be published as follows: Wintertide (October 2010) and Percepliquis (April 2011). I read somewhere that these last two books are written, though if that means they are ready to be published, in draft form or somewhere in between I can’t say, and of course publishing schedules are always estimates.
Lord of the Changing Winds by Rachel Neumeier is the 1st book in The Griffin Mage trilogy.
Swords of the Six by Scott Appleton is a prelude to, or possibly the first book of, a trilogy (or series) titled The Sword of the Dragon.
Years ago, I would go to the book store, browse the fantasy section, and if somehting caught my eye I’d buy it. If the book was part of a trilogy, as was so often the case, I’d find the first one and buy that. Then I’d read it, and if I liked it I’d go back and get the others. Simple, easy, everything was fine. But then came a problem. I was buying more books than I could keep up with in my reading, so a backlog was developing. This was already the case with other books; general fiction, mystery, science fiction, non-fiction and so on, but that hadn’t been much of a problem. Mostly those books weren’t part of a series, or if they were, almost never part of a trilogy, which seemed then and still does to be a format primarily in fantasy.
But if I didn’t read a fantasy book right away – again, often the case – it got shuffled to one side. Later when I did read it, perhaps even a few years later, id I liked it and wanted the rest of the books I often found they had gone out of print. This was before the relatively easy used book buying on the web, and sometimes I never found the rest of the books. This happened often enough I changed my strategy. I “wised up” and started buying the books as complete sets, reading none until the last one came out, then I read them all.
Well, that didn’t always work too well either. As book stores started shrinking their stock, they often only had the latest or maybe the last two in stock. If it was available, I often had to order the missing book(s) to have the set. Okay, now I had lots of fantasy trilogies, unread, in the house. The problem was, when I got around to reading one of them sometimes I didn’t like the first book. What had looked interesting at the time I bought it had now paled in the reading, and there I was with two more books which I didn’t want to read. What a waste of money!
So, another change of plans. Here’s what I usually what I do now:
- Make sure I’m really interested. I have a ton of books here waiting to be read or – in some cases – reread, and I don’t need a lot more books just to decorate the already-bulging shelves.
- If I’m sure, I buy the first book and I read it, it goes to the short stack of the TBR and stays there until it’s read. If I like it, I’ll buy the others – but not read them – until the series is complete .
- When I have them all I may or may not (depending on how long it’s been) go back and re-read the first one. I can usually pick up a lot from the second book. I may have to skim here and there, but that’s no big deal. Then I read the rest. Not always back-to-back, but pretty close together so I know what’s going on.
I do still, rarely, buy some books in a series without reading the first one, and continue to buy them until I have them all before I read them. It’s rare, I do it, only with series I’m pretty darn sure I’m going to like, such as things by authors whose works I’ve enjoyed or books raved about by trusted reviewers. As I said, I don’t do it very often. I am doing that with the Books of the Riyria Revelations series.
But most of the time I follow my process. It’s what I did with Paolini’s Eragon books, I read the first, have bought the rest as they have come out and now am waiting – somewhat impatiently – for the last one. I’m doing the same thing with the other two fantasy books shown above that I just bought. They are the first in a trilogy, I’ll read them soon and if I like them I’ll buy more, otherwise I cut my losses, donate the book and that’s it. I figure even if a book is part of a trilogy or series, I should be able to enjoy it by itself, and if I can’t I doubt I want to read any further in that series.
So, what do YOU do?