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Authors and committments

A friend of mine told me today that she was starting to read a book series again for something like the 3rd time.  These books are pretty long.  The series so far is 4 books and  5000 pages or so.  It's pretty good.  I hear HBO is supposed to pick up the series.

The problem with this author is that he takes way too long to write his books.  In 2000 he published the 3rd book in the series.  It was a winner.  Probably the best of the series so far.  Then his writing schedule seems to have fallen apart.

The 4th book was published in 2005.  It was interesting because it only contained some of the normal cast of characters.  The 5th book is supposed to contain the rest of the character's experiences during the same time frame.  I like the idea, but it turns out that the 4th book only contained characters that I either don't particularly like or just don't care about at all.  It was a slog for me. 

The 5th book still hasn't been published, and it doesn't look like he's in any hurry.  His personal webpage lists several appearances that he's scheduled for and the "update" page for this book series hasn't been updated since 1/2008.  It suggests that we all leave him alone about writing the book and that we read some other series that he's been working on with another author. 

The major problem that I have with him is that when you start writing an epic series you need to finish the dang thing.  At the least you should be concerned that your fans have been waiting for years to read your next work.  You should have a sense of urgency.  You should be ashamed that we've been waiting nearly 5 years.

Now, I'm not usually one to gripe because someone hasn't been working hard enough, but I regard an epic series as a promise from the author to the (prospective) fans.  "I'll write these books and tell you a story and you'll pay for it even though some of the books might not be stellar." 

If you write one-off books and one of them is a stinker only your most hard core fans will buy it.  If you're writing epic series then you can write one or two good books, throw in a stinker or three (Goodkind, I'm lookin' at you), and people will keep reading them because people want to know what happens and can overlook a couple of weak books. 

{  In thinking about it, I don't know why I read these epic series.  I think I've been let down every time I've tried it.  Robert Jordan died before he wrapped up the Wheel of Time, but I'm not sure that he ever would have.  I stopped reading it in 1996 (after 7 books) when things stopped happening and the books were all looking pretty much the same.  Terry Goodkind became insufferable around 2003 after 8 books, I think.   Even Tolkien's Return of the King was a disappointment.  There's only so much Frodo-whinging I can take. }

Am I being reasonable here?
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