An Open Letter To An Extended Book Series

steven erikson gardens of the moonDear Malazan Book of the Fallen,

It’s been a while, huh? How you doing? You look like you haven’t aged a day. How long has it been since we’ve seen each other? Six months? Wow, it’s been that long? I apologize, sincerely. Yes, I really am sorry. Was it intentional? Well, sort of. Let me explain.

See, it wasn’t you, it was me. Yes, I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true. Look, it’s like this: you’re a series that’s approximately ten books long, with each book clocking in at more than 200,000 words. You top out at more than three million words. Over 8,500 pages in total. Again, that’s no slight to you–I’m just explaining myself. The first million or so words were a joy to read. I enjoyed them so much because they revolutionized the way I think about fantasy literature and about building believable, diverse worlds. I fell in love with the elite, grizzled Bridgeburner troop, and lost myself while diving into the history of the various Tiste races. Your pantheon of fickle deities was excellent, and your battle scenes were truly magnificent. You were–you are–everything that I wanted in a huge series of epic fantasy novels. If I had to choose, I think that my favorite would be Memories of Ice. There were a couple of parts that made me cringe, but you and I were really clicking at that point. Good times.

Now…? Well, I’ll be honest here, Malazan Book of the Fallen. Things changed for me in a major way over the past six months. Before, I could leisurely luxuriate in your world, marvel at the mysterious magical abilities of your elder races, and dedicate myself to long rereads of feats of strength and strategy. I could pick you apart piece by piece if I chose, or hurry through the parts that I felt stood in the way of the juicier nuggets of sweet story development. I can’t do that anymore. You’re just…you were just a lot for me then, and if I’m honest with myself, you’re still a lot for me right now.

I knew that you could tell that my mind was elsewhere, okay? I kept starting Midnight Tides, but I was distracted by everything. Remember that month where I just had to read Storm Front? And then after I finished that, I just had to read King’s Dragon? Then Half-Resurrection Blues was released and, well…look, I said it wasn’t you. I’ll own that, no problem. Yes, I am a fickle reader. Should I have mentioned this to you before I started reading you? Perhaps. But that’s my prerogative. I’m allowed to put books down for a while, aren’t I? Aren’t I allowed to live my life?

The Fifth Season by N. K. JemisinI’m sorry for yelling. But you have to see my side of things. There were so many other books out there and I always thought that I could come back to you later. I knew that you would be here for me, so I went this way and that. I’m still visiting some other books right now (have you read The Fifth Season? Of course you haven’t, but you should when you get a chance) but that’s basically over. I haven’t forgotten about you.

There are just some considerations that have to be made when you’re entering into a relationship with an extended book series, and I wasn’t ready for those. Before you, I was mostly into trilogies, with the occasional foray into a four or five book series. I wasn’t ready for the commitment, but I was a lot younger then. I didn’t really know what it meant to stick with a series through the highs and the lows. I was with you at your best, but couldn’t handle you when you introduced some new characters and changed the setting. I’m so sorry about that.

I’m ready to try again now, if you’ll have me. I know that I wasn’t fair or right before, but I’ll make things up to you now. I’m in this for the long haul, okay? I mean that.

What? What’d you say? Wheel of Time? Oh no, you don’t have to worry. I won’t be going back there for a long while. It’s just you and me from here on out. You have my word.

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