Odds and Ends

Permit me a little grumble

I am going to have a little grumble. You don’t have to stick around to read; you can leave me mumbling and grumbling to myself in the corner……

I have been busy lately. Good busy — birthday dinners and birthday lunches, a few shifts of work at the Before School Care, wandering through the Botanical Gardens, meeting friends for coffee, volunteering at the Herbarium, taking a friend to the movies, going to the ballet… get the idea, but still busy.

Too busy to settle to drawing, to read what you have been writing on your blog or to answer comments you made on my blog. Sorry about both of those, as I love finding out what my online friends are up to and I value what you write on mine. Too busy to write anything on my blog.

But that is not the grumble. That’s just [a wonderful] life.

My grumble began on Sunday. It was a day that was pretty free of commitments. “Ahh,” I thought to myself, “A grand day to draw, read blogs, write blogs and catch up.” Instead, I settled into my very comfy red arm chair with a book from the library and spent much of the day immersed in the fantasy world of the novel.

My grumble is not that I spent the day that way. I love to hunker down with a book, to get carried away with the story.

My grumble is about the book. It was a fantasy book. It doesn’t matter which one, because my griping covers many in that genre.

Firstly, did the volume really need to be the weight of a small elephant and 10 cm thick? Surely an editor could have slashed through much of the verbiage. There was a lot there that neither took the story forward nor fleshed out the characters. Having said that, I only surfaced from the world created to have cups of tea and the occasional conversation with the Fella. So there must have been something there that kept me going.

But mainly, why do fantasy novels have to be trilogies? I get that if the book is successful the author has an inbuilt audience waiting for the next instalment. Before I borrowed this from the Library I deliberately checked to see whether it was the first of the trilogy. It was, but the info on the cover didn’t warn me that it was the fourth trilogy in the series! I coped with that and was grateful that the references made to events covered in past novels were handled in a reasonably non-clunky way.

However, I got to the ‘end’ thinking “I enjoyed that, I’ll get the next one from the library”. You know why I wrote ‘end’ in inverted commas. It is the nature of trilogies to end on a cliffhanger. The real end is many, many pages away. I checked online, only to find that volume 2 has not yet been published, maybe not even written.

That’s when my real grumbling started. I spent many hours, quite pleasantly, I have to admit, reading this book. But do I care enough about Bee, being kidnapped by the possible baddies to chase up volume 2, much less volume 3 in however many years time? Will I remember who is who, characters with their weird names? [Who calls a character Riddle or Diligence?] Will I want to become involved in the trauma of Fitz while he deals with Bee’s kidnapping and channels the Wolf Father? Do I wish to invest more time to this series? I suspect the answer is “No”.

The trilogy is an annoyance. I love reading series. The detective genre does this well. I have told you before about Louise Penny’s books. I love following her characters through all their travails and wait eagerly for her next book. The difference is that her books are stand alone; you don’t have to read three of them to find out who done it. You can close the book with a satisfied sigh instead of a grrrr of frustration.

So, unless I know that I can line the three books up on the Library shelf, in their correct order, I will be very wary about fantasy novels.

I wonder how many of you, share my bugbear.

As well, this morning Meeks, from Meek’s Mind pointed me to a fun article published on the Indies Unlimited, which coincidentally was about fantasy writers overuse of the Chosen One plot device. To give you a little taste

To say the chosen one has been done to death is to think hurricanes are a little windy. Not only is it a cliché infesting every genre it touches, it’s also a drama killer. Wrack your brain trying to create believable villains, establish obstacles that no one should survive, place your main character in immediate danger, and it all amounts to nothing. We know he’ll survive; he has to. He’s the chosen one. The spoilers are written right there in an ancient scroll only a wandering transient can read because his order failed to maintain itself before the prophesied times. Maybe they should have hosted more pancake feeds to raise funds.

Check it out!

By anne54

Botanic artist

18 replies on “Permit me a little grumble”

I assume you’re referring to the Robin Hobb series, novels from which are numerous. Some people love that genre and the loooong thick detailed novels. Myself, I’m a fan of Diana Gabaldon and Outlander, also a prolific loooong thick detailed novel writer but not a magician so readers often wait years between books. I can imagine how frustrating it would be to come in at the end.


Oh Anne! I feel your pain but I /am/ a huge Robin Hobb fan, have been for years. You really should have started at the beginning because, although the world is the same through all the trilogies, the stories do not always focus on the same characters, or even the same country.

If you haven’t given up entirely, go back to the beginning and read Assassin’s Apprentice. It’s the first book about Fitz as a young boy. In fact it’s /the/ first book.

That said, the Daughter and I are grumbling too because we’ve read the same book and want to know what happens next. 😀


Yes, you and EllaDee are right — Robin Hobb is the author. I may take your advice and go back to the beginning, as it sounds like she builds up the world, rather than just the character. However, I have just borrowed the first in the Game of Throne series, so I imagine that will tie me up for a good while!


I agree… I too like a book that presents a complete story. I unwittingly started on the ‘Game of Thrones’ series a while back thinking that they had all been written, but then discovered there were more to come. It’s such a complex story I’m sure I will never remember the story so far by the time the next one comes out and George RR Martin is quite old so may never get chance to finish the series.
I have read all the Louise Penny books on your recommendation and loved every single one. I’m currently enjoying Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books (a fantasy series, but each one complete in itself). I can’t abide books with huge amounts of sex in them so the Outlander series are just spoiled by that for me and I gave up after the first one.
Anyway, happy reading… at least you managed to find a day to do it in.


There are some drawbacks to reading Outlander novels in hardcopy. One, they are sizeable. Two, while I started reading the first on the train unawares, a women sitting across from me gave me a knowing look and said “I LOVED that book!” 🙂


I am so glad that you liked Louise Penny. It is my favourite series at the moment, and I am glad that she is still writing them. I think that Terry Prachett did the series thing the best. I love the way he created Discworld by telling its story from the point of view of so many diverse characters. I have just borrowed the first in Game of Thrones. Wish me luck!!


The answer is to get a Kindle, download the whole series and take your time, starting at the beginning! It’s a good series, but by the end of the second trilogy (!) I was getting a bit fed up with Fitz’s whinging about how hard everyone was on him and how hard his life was. That said, I own both the first two trilogies and wouldn’t dream of getting rid of them!


I don’t like sagas of any kind so I stay away from trilogies and anything that looks like a tome. Some of my favourite mysteries are by Hazel Holt, PM Hubbard and Monica Ferris. The only detective stories I’ve enjoyed are some by Peter Turnbull – just a few in his Hennessey and Yellich series. Turnbull used to be a social worker and his books are based around technical police procedure, which I assume he learnt a lot about in his job. I like it when fact and fiction are woven together like this.

The first couple of books in any series usually hold me and that is all. For example I own and enjoy the first in the Melissa Craig mysteries by Betty Rowlands. And the first in the Agatha Raisin series by MC Beaton is hilarious, but after two or three they become tedious. And the same goes for the murder mystery series by Camille Minichino where I am only faithful to two titles.

So I chop and change authors quite a bit, always side-stepping sagas. I like to relax into a book, be able to put it aside, looking forward to the next installment when the opportunity arises. To slow down and have tea and muffins with the characters, rather than always wondering what is going to happen next. I disregard anything that is described as a ‘page turner’.


Oooh Sandi, you have given me the names of so many more to add to my reading list. They are not authors I know. If I can get them from the library I am always will to give new authors a go. My reading pattern is a little different to yours. If I like the book I will usually hunt down others in the series (thank heavens for the online catalogue). Often I can’t be bothered and may just read them if I come across them on the shelves.


Yes, aren’t the online catalogues fabulous. If you try the first couple of books in each series, by these authors, you could strike lucky. Except for Camille Minichino. Her second book is a bit repetitive. Try “The Hydrogen Murder” and “The Boric Acid Murder”. Books are such personal things, so these are just recommendations. Glad to know I have added to your author list 🙂

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I’ve been busy on the library catalogue since reading all of the very interesting posts here. I’ve put a Jim Butcher on hold, and the first title by Louise Penny – she must be good because there are 7 copies of “Still Life” in my local library service and they are all out on loan!

Tacked on the end of the list of books by Penny was a book called “Louisa Atkinson’s Nature Notes”. I put a hold on this book as well. It contains some of her drawings, paintings and nature writing in a sketchbook style. It turns out Louisa Atkinson was the author of the first novel, penned by a native-born woman, to be published in Australia.

Another first by an Australian woman author – born in Adelaide – is, “Beat Not the Bones” by Charlotte Jay. This book won the first Edgar Allan Poe Award. I can highly recommend this book for suspenseful reading. I’ve owned a copy for years and I treasure it.


I have never heard of Atkinson, but will find out more. There are some fascinating women who delved into the natural world, often painting as they went. In Victorian times botany was an acceptable pursuit for women, both scientifically and artistically. I would love to have another woman to add to my list. I think the subject may call for posts all of their own.


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