Series: Is There Another Word?

This weekend, Jim came to me and asked: “What’s the next book in the Narnia series?  I mean, in the order things happen, not the order that’s printed on the books.”

Which is a Series?

We Call Both Series…

To clarify why he was asking this, the numbers usually printed on C.S. Lewis’s classic Chronicles of Narnia are based on order of publication.  They begin with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, followed by Prince Caspian, on to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and so forth.

If, like Jim, you’re interested in reading the books in the order that events occur, then you want to start with The Magician’s Nephew, progress to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, then The Horse and His Boy, and only then on to Prince Caspian, This Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, and The Last Battle.

(Actually, I’d skip The Last Battle, but that’s just me.)

Anyhow, this lead to a discussion between us as to what constitutes a “series” proper and what doesn’t…  Arranged by order of publication, the Chronicles of Narnia are only a “series” is the sense that this is the sequence in which the books were published.

This is very different from, for example, Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber or Carrie Vaughn’s “Kitty Norville” books or my own “Breaking the Wall” series or “Firekeeper Saga,” to give just a few examples.  In these books, not only does the order of publication and the order in which events unfold occur in sequence, but the events are closely related in time and usually revolve around the same protagonist or group of protagonists.

Sometimes, as in David Weber’s “Honorverse,” one series generates another that serves to flesh out or enhance the “main” line.  In Weber’s case, two of these are prequels: the “Star Kingdom” YA novels (two of which I wrote with him) and the “Manicore Ascendant” novels written with Timothy Zahn and Thomas Pope.  Two other series flesh out material that wouldn’t have fit into the “main line” Honor” novels:  “Crown of Slaves” with Eric Flint, and “Saganami Island” written by Weber alone.

In all of these cases, however, the books are tied either by order of events, protagonist, or both.

The Chronicles of Narnia are not alone in being widely viewed as a “series,” even though the only thing that holds the books together is that they occur in a shared setting with some overlapping characters.

Andre Norton’s ”Witch World” novels began tightly focused on just a couple of characters (Simon and Jaelithe), but quickly moved on to their children, then left them behind entirely to explore other portions of the world.  When I looked up “Witch World” up on Wikipedia, I found it interesting to note that the listing there did not refer to it as a “series” at all, but as a “project,” with the books within grouped into “cycles” according to location or other elements.

However, most people don’t speak of “Witch World” as a “project,” they call it a “series.”  The same is true with Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Darkover” which not only wasn’t written in order (the first book published could be considered the last) but for which some of the earlier books were later rewritten, so that the same events could be presented in a more detailed fashion or more in line with how the characters had later developed.  Talk about confusing!

So, here’s my question…  Is there a term for these series that aren’t really series?  And what sort do you prefer?  Or do both have appeal?

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16 Responses to “Series: Is There Another Word?”

  1. Alan Robson Says:

    I’m not sure if there’s a term for it, and I’m not sure if it even matters. Mostly I prefer books that stand alone, even if they are part of a “series”. (I read Roger’s Amber books as they were published — sometimes it was a long time to wait between episodes, but I never felt cheated. Each book was satisfying in and of itself and each can be returned to alone. That’s art!)

    I tend to avoid series that have cliffhangers (I’m too old and too impatient). That’s why I like so many of the classic detective novels — I’m currently reading (and in some cases re-reading) the Michael Innes novels about Inspector John Appleby. There are about fifty books in the series, but you can dip into them anywhere. The same is true of Agatha Christie / Ngaio Marsh et al…

    The best example is possibly Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin books. Read in publication order, they do tell a long and ordered tale, each book depending (to a certain extent) on the earlier ones. But each is also easily read as a stand alone. That too is art.

    The nice thing about Narnia is that the books can be read in (almost) any order. I like that.

    To turn it on its head, I don’t like books that depend too much on others. I could name names…


    -Alan

  2. Michelle Says:

    I recently asked about your Firekeeper saga and even went to your publisher and also pleaded with them to get on board with the 7th book, so for me,,I also am not sure if there should be a term per say,,,but a nice wrapping up of all the storylines would be very much appreciated for sure! My daughter brought me into your books (she is a HUGE wolf lover 🙂 ) and it got me hooked. I hope to see more in this series from you in the near future!

    Best wishes,
    Michelle

    • janelindskold Says:

      Sadly, there is no way to “wrap up” a series without any loose ends short of following everyone to their death beds and blowing up the world.

      Oddly enough, readers don’t like this.

      And I wouldn’t either.

  3. Louis Robinson Says:

    Like Alan, I don’t think there is a word for it, nor needs to be. The Witch World stories, or Polesotechnic League, and so on, does the collective-reference job just fine.

    For me, no preference. I can take ’em just fine either way. Or leave ’em, if my eyes start crossing.

  4. Peter Says:

    I stand firmly on both sides of the fence – I enjoy both.

    My personal short-hand for the difference is “world series” vs. “character series” – while obviously Amber, Chaos, and the Shadows between are very important elements, the Amber novels are Corwin’s (and later Merlin’s) story, not Amber’s. The Witch World works the other way around – Simon and Jaelithe never appear or are even name-checked in The Crystal Gryphon (hardly surprising since they live on a different continent that the characters in “Gryphon aren’t aware of) but their actions – or rather the effects of their actions on the wider world – have a definite impact on the story.

    And then there’s Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos cycle, which follows a single protagonist, with a series of stories occurring in sequence…except that the sequence in which the books have been written and published has nothing to do with the internal chronological order of events.

  5. Heteromeles Says:

    The words I most commonly think of for disconnected books set in a common world are “world” and “universe,” often linked with something else or tagged with a well-known term (The Honorverse, Middle Earth, Valdemar, Discworld, etc.). As for order, I don’t particularly care. I’ve seen far too many libraries that have only two random books in any given trilogy, so I’ve gotten used to reading whatever I can get my hands on. Perhaps I’m just a random access person with a short attention span and a good memory?

  6. Jas. Marshall 6 Says:

    I think of “series” as “books that should be read in a certain order to get the best experience”. I’ve found the Albert Campion books to be a “series” in that way … later books give away some of the plot points of earlier books If you DON’T have to read the books in order, like the Nero Wolfe books, then I like the terms suggested above, “universe” or “world” (depending on just how big the story setting is).

    Alan Dean Foster is an interesting case because some books were published out of order in his Flinx series intentionally, and some not intentionally. And the Flinx books take place in the same Humanx Commonwealth galaxy as many other books. Within each main character’s books, you should read them in order, but it doesn’t matter which character’s books you read first.

  7. Paul Says:

    Always an interesting balance between having characters grow and change through a series and yet allowing each book to stand alone for readers who haven’t gotten to the others.

  8. henrietta abeyta Says:

    GRADE SCHOOL BOOKS OF NARNIA ARE THIN. THE ORIGINAL SERIES THAT C S LEWIS WROTE HIMSELF STARTS WITH THE BOOK TITLED (THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW) THAT’S WHEN THIS WHITE WITCH WAS WOKEN UP BY A BOY NAMED DIGORY AND HER FIGHT CONTINUES IN # 2 THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE.

    WE HAVE THIS NARNIA SERIES AT HOME OURSELVES IF ALAN KEEPS WANTING ORDER OF THE BOOKS OR CHARACTER EXPLANATIONS, I JASMINE OLSON AM SURE WILLING TO SHARE THE CLEAREST SCENES WITH HIS CHRONICLES OF NARNIA QUESTIONS.

  9. henrietta abeyta Says:

    COLECTION, SERIES, CHRONICLES, SEQUELS, SET, STACK, PACK, LIBRARY, STUDY IN SCIENCE LIKE THE WORLD BOOKS WRITTEN FOR CHILDREN, MUSIC BOOKS LEVELS 1 TO 5 AT THE BEGINNING, BIOLOGY USUALLY AT LEAST 3 BOOKS ABOUT THE SAME PERSON ON THE SHELF, GUIDANCE ONCE IN A WHILE MORE THAN ONE BOOK TO GUIDE YOU WHILE TRAVELING, PLUS HOW NUMEROUS BIBLES ABOUT ONE PERSON CAN BE WHETHER IT’S AN ANGEL OR THE LORD HIMSELF. VARIOUS PLACES AND VARIOUS TYPES OF BOOKS THESE ARE THE 13 WORDS I CAN THINK OF. OFFICE WOULD BE MY 14TH WORD. OR SOME COLORING BOOKS HAVE A CERTAIN BRAND NAME FROM COMPANIES WHO SELECT ARTISTS’ PICTURES TO COLOR AND THE SAME THING HAPPENS WITH BOOKS FOR DRAWING SKILLS, AND MANDALA ARE OFTEN SELECTED BY STYLE IN BOOKS OR ONLINE.

    JUST TO SHOW YES THERE IS ANOTHER WORD TO CALL A NUMBER OF BOOKS PUT TOGETHER FOR CERTAIN REASONS.

  10. henrietta abeyta Says:

    I JASMINE OLSON SHARE MORE GRATTITUDE AFTER YOU CLICK THE PHOTO OF THESE 2 SERIES JANE. IN SUCCEEDING BLIND SEER’S HELPED SEE HOW NUMEROUS AND TINY THE STEPS FEEL WHILE MOVING ON, HE’S MADE STEADINESS, AND ASSERTIVENESS QUITE CLEAR TOO THANK YOU.

  11. henrietta abeyta Says:

    HARMONY AND JOY WE’LL SHARE FICTIONAL OR REAL I DON’T CARE, I ENTHUSIASTICALLY ADMIRE YOUR PACKS BOTH WAYS SPIRIT AND APPEARANCE, MY WOLF DREAMS AT NIGHT ONCE IN WHILE IN BED OR A WOLF VISUALIZATION DURING THE DAY WHILE READING OR WATCHING A WOLF MOVIE, ECOSYSTEM FACTS, BEING HONEST TO THE LORD, ALSO AS I HEAR YOU HOWL NO I’M NOT SCARED!

    I’M YOUR FRIEND THOUGH I’M IN UT. YOUR STORIES GIVE ME GUIDANCE, YOU GIVE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT, YOU AND YOUR DOMESTIC SLED DOG COUSINS ENTERTAIN ME EQUALLY, I KNOW THE RUDE NAMES SOME PEOPLE CALL YOUR PACKS, HOWEVER HERE’S WHAT’S I’D CONSIDER YOU.

    EXPLORING LOYAL AND VIGILANT SOCIETY, IS WHAT I’D RATHER CALL YOU. YOU WISE WOLVES ARE DEEP ENOUGH WITHIN MY HEART TO SAY I’D EVEN TRY TO RESCUE OR DIE FOR YOU, I HATE HOW GREEDY THE HUNTERS ARE ABOUT YOU THIS IS JASMINE OLSON EXPRESSING THE LEVEL OF HER WOLF LOVE.

    YOU’RE QUICK LIKE THE HERDING DOGS, YOU’RE PLAYFUL LIKE THE MALAMUTES, HUSKIES, ESKIMO DOGS, SAMMOY, PLUS THOSE BEAUTIFUL MIXED BREEDS THAT ARE HERDING BREED MIXED WITH SLED BREED. AND WHEN YOU COMPARE BEHAVIOR THESE ARE MY TWO FAVORITE CLASSES OF YOUR DOMESTIC COUSINS, STILL YOU WOLVES ARE ESSENTIAL TOO. ALSO PURE WOLF OR WOLFDOG I DON’T MIND WHAT KIND I LOOKING AT. IT’S THANKS TO DOGS THAT SOME PEOPLE STAYED ALIVE, AND THAT EARTH IS STILL ALIVE THANKS TO YOU. I JASMINE OLSON REALLY WISH I KNEW A SAFE PLACE TO MEET YOU.

    ADMIRATION, GRATITUDE, AND MY OWN FIRM LOYALTY I’M ON YOUR PACK’S SIDE FOR SEVERAL REASONS. I’LL KEEP HOWLING WITH YOU. PLUS CLEARLY UNDERSTAND THE NEED OF BALANCE.

    INSIGHTS, UNDERSTANDING THE SIMPLEST SCIENCE FACTS, OR COMPREHENSION OF DOG LANGUAGE, I DON’T KNOW WHICH STILL I UNDERSTAND YOU WOLVES QUITE CLEARLY JUST LISTENING AND WATCHING THE REAL ONES PLUS UNDERSTANDING THE CORE OF A FICTION WOLF’S STORY FROM ANIMATED MOVIES AND BOOKS. I BELIEVE THIS IS WHY YOU’RE ABLE TO ACTUALLY SUPPORT ME IN SUCH NUMEROUS WAYS, I USUALLY HAVE VERY FEW QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT YOU WOLVES ARE UP TO, AND I HAVE QUITE A SIMPLE TIME MEMORIZING YOU WHETHER I’M STUDYING HISTORY OR TRUE BEHAVIOR STUFF FROM SCIENCE. YOU’RE UNFORGETABLE BUDDIES, AWWOOO.

    MY DESIRE TO MEET A REAL GENTLE WOLF SOMEWHERE IS AS STRONG AS BELLE’S INTEREST OF A PRINCE IN DISGUISE IN THE MOVIE OF BEAUTY AND THE BEAST MADE BY WALT DISNEY.

    ENTHUSIASM, CONCERN, LOVE, MEMORIZING FACTS OF THEIR LIFESTYLE, DREAMS, REAL COURAGE TO FACE A CALM ALPHA THIS JASMINE OLSON EXPRESSING HER HEART.

  12. henrietta abeyta Says:

    BLIND SEER YOU MADE SUCCESS SO CLEAR THAT I EMOTIONALLY FEEL LIKE PEACE AND PLEASURE WILL BE FOUND REPEATEDLY THROUGH MY DAYS WITH EASE, BECAUSE FAOLAN 9 LESSONS OF SUCCESS AND 50 TO 52 STEPS OF SUCCESS TAUGHT TO ME BY YOU BLIND SEER, EVEN PROBLEM SOLVING FEELS SIMPLE NOW THANKS.

    JASMINE OLSON.

  13. henrietta abeyta Says:

    I’VE GOT THIS WILD WILD LIFE, WE CAN RUN SIDE BY SIDE MEET ME IN THE MEADOW, REACH FOR THE LIGHTS YOU MIGHT TOUCH THE SKY, WE’RE IN HARMONY, BROTHERS ALL, SONG OF THE SEEONEE, PAINT WITH ALL THE COLORS OF THE WIND, WE ARE ALL PART OF THE GRAND DESIGN, SONG AS OLD AS RHYME TALE AS OLD AS TIME BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, WE GO TOGETHER TOGETHER BOOM BOOM BOOM, IN UPENDI, JUDI BESONS SONGS, PHIL COLLINS SONGS, KENNY LOGGINS EASY LISTENING MSUIC, AND THE JAZZ WOLF CD TOO BECAUSE THE HOWLS ARE SOFT. THIS JASMINE OLSON LISTING A FEW FAVORITE SONG PHRASES THAT MAKE HER PICTURE CONNECTION OR QUICKLY VISUALIZE HAPPY WILDERNESS, AND A FEW FAVORITE SINGERS WHO KEEP HER RELAXED.

    NATIONAL PARKS, SANCTARIES, SLED PACKS, SEEING YOU AT ZOOS, WATCHING YOU ON MOUNTAINS, SEEING YOUR HUSKY AND MALAMUTE COUSINS ON TRAILS OR BUSY IN THERAPY, HAVING A WOLF DREAM AT NIGHT EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, SPEAKING UP FOR YOUR PACKS, WISHING TO MOVE HUNTERS AWAY FROM YOUR DENS EXACTLY AS YOUR PACKS WISH TO, I’D EVEN DO MY BEST TO HELP YOU WOLVES AT COURT I LOVE ADMIRE YOU SO MUCH, ENJOYING THE CAMERA PICTURES OF YOUR WILD PACKS MY FRIEND DILLAN WILL TAKE, READING WOLF BOOKS, BALTO’S SOUNDTRACK, CHOOSING THE MOVIES I FIND THE FRIENDLIEST TO YOUR PACKS, I LIKE THE TRUE SPIRIT OF YOUR PACKS ENOUGH TO HELP KEEP THE YOUNGEST PUPS SAVE WHEN WALKING ON HUGE TALL ROCKS OR STEEP HILLS FULL OF BOULDERS, A COLORING BOOK OF WOLVES, A PILLOW OF TWO WOLVES, A NICE COFFEE CUP WITH WALKING WOLVES, A SOFT WARM BLANKET WITH A LARGE RELAXING WOLF, A WOLF NECKLACE, WOLF EARRINGS, A WOLF HAIRDO THING I CAN HOOK OVER A RBBER BAND, A WOLF CALENDER, A WOLF T SHIRT, SOME CANVASES AND TRACED ARTWORK OF WOLVES THAT ARE PERSONAL PICTURES I DID MYSELF INCLUDING MANDALAS WITH TINY WOLVES, A WOLF SPIRAL NOTEBOOK,A CERAMIC WOLF, MATCHING YOUR WOLF TOTEM MORE THAN ANY OTHER TOTEM BY DESCRIPTION AS WELL AS INTEREST, AND WHY THIS SEEMS SO DOUBTLESS IS ALSO BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW MANY PERSONALITY QUIZZES OF AN ANIMAL TOTEM I TAKE THE WOLF TOTEM IS THE ONE RESULT I GET THE MOST REPEATEDLY AT THE END. THIS IS MOST OF THE WOLF MERCHANDISE IN JASMINE OLSON’S LONG LIST

    NOBODY IS REALLY EVERYTHING ANYWAY THAT’S STILL HOW FIRM MY ENJOYMENTS ARE WITH YOUR PACKS DEAR WOLVES. JASMINE OLSON YOUR UT FRIEND SPEAKING.

  14. henrietta abeyta Says:

    THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW
    THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
    THE HORSE AND HIS BOY
    PRINCE CASPIAN
    THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER
    THE SILVER CHAIR
    THE LAST BATTLE

    THE CHRONICNLES OF NARNIA BY C. S. LEWIS THIS IS THE ORDER THEY’RE READ IN JIM I HAVE THESE AT HOME.

  15. henrietta abeyta Says:

    Well we’re serious on protection and politeness, and honesty too, so what I JASMINE OLSON study from fiction books like these 2 or similar SAGAS/ SERIES is personality, and listening to your conscience properly as well as the consequences of each choice of what to do, especially the choices of the smartest characters or those who support each other the most. I study the CORE more than the CAST.

    ENERGY EFFIECIENCY DON’T GET TOO ROUGH, STAY HEALTHY.

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