Most of the books I read tend to be part of one series or another. I become attached to characters. I like to read more about them. I must know how their story turns out. I have to see the transformation; the redemption; the union of the love interest (which we will know will happen, but not exactly how).
In a lot of cases, it is truly not the goal but the journey. If a story is good, we know that everyone will live happily ever after or be okay enough at the end to leave the reader with a sense of fulfillment from the culmination of the journey.
But there is very little that bugs me as much as a book that ends in the middle of an active plotline, and the reader doesn’t get that fulfillment until the next book, or in the worst cases, the end of the series. Back in college I read a story about a side-character by a Wizards of the Coast author. The trilogy was basically one book chopped into three parts. There was no resolution until the end.
More recently, book 4 in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series ends very abruptly with very little resolved until the end of book 5. Don’t get me wrong. I love the ASOIAF books. But I also have higher expectations of authors that I like.
The best example I’ve read of a series with a satisfying feeling of resolution at the end of each book is Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series. There is a series plotline and a book plotline. Most of these books resolve the book’s goal in the single book and move a little closer to wrapping up the hanging threads of the series plotline. I find this series unique in that each book begins right where the previous book ended. You could almost say the whole series is about the same thing. Yet the characters’ goal in each individual book is quite clear and resolving that goal leaves the reader feeling satisfied at the end of the books.
Do you know of any series of books that have a good feeling of resolution or satisfaction at the end of each book in the series? What about books that chop a series in pieces and are really best read altogether because you will not reach any resolution by only reading one book in the series?