Cliffhangers in Series books!

Silver Owl

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I really don't like it when the books plot isn't resolved and there is a massive cliffhanger between two books in a series. Obviously if there is a series there is going to be an overarching story and I don't mind that, I just like some sort of closure at the end of a book.

I like a book (even in a series) to be its own entity and to have plot threads specific to that individual book that are resolved at the end.

Does anyone agree with me?
Does what I'm saying make sense? (I'm not entirely sure it does):D
 
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HareBrain

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Absolutely. Rowling did that very well with Harry Potter (though she had the convenient structure of the school year to work with) and it's something I'm aiming for in my own series.

I'd be interested in other examples of series where this is done well -- each volume with a self-contained arc but also an overarching story that progresses in each one. Apart from HP, I'm not sure I can think of any. But that's probably just my memory.
 

Mouse

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YA books do it all the time. I did it in my own YA books without even considering it was a 'thing.'

But no, can't think of any adult books off the top of my head, but it has been a while since I've read a series.
 

Silver Owl

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I really don't like it when the books plot isn't resolved and there is a massive cliffhanger between two books in a series. Obviously if there is a series there is going to be an overarching story and I don't mind that, I just like some sort of closure at the end of a book.

I like a book (even in a series) to be its own entity and to have plot threads specific to that individual book that are resolved at the end.

Does anyone agree with me?
Does what I'm saying make sense? (I'm not entirely sure it does):D

Absolutely. Rowling did that very well with Harry Potter (though she had the convenient structure of the school year to work with) and it's something I'm aiming for in my own series.

I'd be interested in other examples of series where this is done well -- each volume with a self-contained arc but also an overarching story that progresses in each one. Apart from HP, I'm not sure I can think of any. But that's probably just my memory.

The Narnia books are another good example.
 

HareBrain

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The Narnia books are another good example.

I'm not sure I'd count those -- there's no real sense of a progressing story, with overall goals and antagonist, say, of which each volume is part. Each is self-contained, and there's continuity of characters, who age and change between volumes, but to me that's not quite enough.

To me, it's about having an unresolved plot building between volumes (though not cliffhangers) as well as the self-contained arc. Neither the Narnia books, nor even The Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper, really have these. (The latter has it more because of the gradual collection of sacred objects, but the Dark doesn't particularly seem to get stronger between books, nor to have an overall plan of action.)
 

Juliana

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I get most annoyed when a book breaks off at a cliffhanger. Off the top of my head, Scott Lynch's second Locke Lamora book. Luckily for me, I read it just before the third came out, but it was frustrating.

I think Jim Butcher does the self-contained x extended arc thing very well in his Harry Dresden books. There's the larger story to follow but each book is neatly resolved (well, except for Changes!).
 

Parson

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I don't think that this is to rare in S.F. I think the original Foundation trilogy would qualify; Jack Chalker's the "Four Lords of the Diamond" is a clear example. Fredrick Pohl's HeChee Chronicles probably qualifies. Many of C. J. Cherryth's series would fit. Presently I am reading "The Synchronicity War" by Dietmar Wehr which does this very well.

As to the question: I do not care for the cliff hangers at the end of a novel. A novel might, could, and sometimes should, carry on the story but each novel should resolve the main struggle of the book.
 

Jo Zebedee

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blah - flags. So many flags.
The Ender series are all self-contained but continue the character arc.

I am thinking it's a damned if you do/damned if you don't

If they're standalone books as opposed to a single series - like Vorkosigan - they don't count despite the books following a character's growth arc, if they're linked and thereby having an unresolved element, they're damned for that integral thing?

Anyhow, THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO ended on such a blatant cliffhanger after about a million small ones I put it down never to return to the series. I felt too manipulated and had to eat cake to recover my self-awareness. (I'm fickle like that....)
 

SFG33k

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I'd rather have a cliffhanger than the type of series book that wraps up nearly every single loose end, and you have to start from scratch at the beginning of the next book almost. I prefer like in the Night Angel trilogy where the next book picks up where the last one left off without a hitch.
 

Wendigo

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I think it is definitely possible to get the best of both if you know what you're doing. A good ending will wrap up the main storyline of the book itself but can still leave the overarching story arc of the series with room to continue. The war might go on, but the battle should be over by the end of the book. :)

One thing I hate is having to wait a year for a cliffhanger to be resolved- to me this is pretty much the same has having to stop reading the book halfway through, and then finally get back to it 6 months later. Again, sure, if it's good enough I'll want to read on to find out what happened after the story, but I shouldn't have to wait to read on just to finish the story.
 

HareBrain

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Some don't end with any resolution OR a cliffhanger. Peter Higgins's Wolfhound Century (in many other ways a really good book) does this, and bloody annoying it is.

I await the first author daring/lazy enough to stop a series book mid-sentence.
 

ratsy

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The second Peter Brett book is literally a cliff hanger...or a cliff faller. Hero is falling down a cliff, holding onto enemy.
 

Parson

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The second Peter Brett book is literally a cliff hanger...or a cliff faller. Hero is falling down a cliff, holding onto enemy.

Oh, I would be sooo! angry at an ending like that!!
 

Silver Owl

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I don't mind a The Empire Strikes Back type cliffhanger. There's still more to be done and perhaps not everyone is safe but the immediate battles are over and the protagonist is safe for the time being.
 

ratsy

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Oh, I would be sooo! angry at an ending like that!!

The thing about it that really bugged me, was the book was not really that great. The dialogue was so bad and it didn't draw me in like the first book. Then the ending happened and I really needed to see what happened so I got the third book which underwhelmed me from the start. Ugh
 

Juliana

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I'd forgotten about the Peter Brett cliffhanging cliffhanger, ratsy! Yes, I was annoyed about that too. I was sitting there going: c'mon, Peat, don't leave us, um, hanging! :D

At least, to be fair, he did warn his readers that the book ended in a cliffhanger.

I suppose you could say that Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy ENDS with a cliffhanger (cliffdive?). It was a cool ending but I couldn't help going nooooooo!
 

vanye

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I suppose you could say that Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy ENDS with a cliffhanger (cliffdive?). It was a cool ending but I couldn't help going nooooooo!
And we had to wait until Red Country to see that one resolved. No matter how good the book in the end - waiting on that one really sucked!
 

tinkerdan

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A lot depends on how you want to define a cliffhanger.

A novel can end on a good and mild note yet have a few threads just hanging there which means that the author has left you hanging even if the story of the first book has run it course and everyone that's still alive seems happy and somewhat fit.

If you are left not knowing whether the Main Character is alive or going to live (while full well guessing they will for at least one or two of the next books) then that could become annoying.

Still when a writer leave any threads unfinished they leave themselves open to someone being disgusted with them for leaving them hanging.

Yet I've read a few novels where it's just the one novel and the author decided to leave it up to the reader to imagine what's going to happen next.
So-there you go-and there you are.
 
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