Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Best/Worst Series Enders.
One challenge of this week’s topic is that a lot of the series I read don’t exactly end, especially the mysteries. They may stop, either because the publisher stopped publishing or the author died, but they don’t always have a designated ending as such. The other drawback of the topic is that I can’t tell you why the ending was good or bad without spoilers. So read on at your own risk!
Best Series Enders:
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J. K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series) An awesome conclusion to an awesome series. I loved it despite the the deaths of characters I really liked.
- Lady Knight (Tamora Pierce, the Protector of the Small quartet) Lady Knight doesn’t go in the direction you might expect after Squire, but what happens, and how Kel reacts, are quintessentially Kel. And the end, when Kel’s former training master acknowledges he was wrong and then honors Kel as a true knight? That moment is pure gold.
- Busman’s Honeymoon (Dorothy L. Sayers, the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries) As much an exploration of a marriage as a detective novel. Watching Harriet and Peter working out the delicate balancing act of their relationship makes this a satisfying ending to the series. (Yes, I know there are several more Lord Peter books now, finished or written by Jill Paton Walsh. But there weren’t for the first three decades I was reading Sayers, so Busman’s Honeymoon was the last one. Well, unless you count two short stories.)
- Enchanter’s End Game (David Eddings, the Belgariad) A really good ending to a wonderful fantasy series: satisfying and with just enough of the unexpected (even if you can see a lot of things coming.)
Great Series Endings that still leave me a little sad:
- The Return of the King (J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings) I love this trilogy (if you can call it that; it’s really one very long book broken into sections.) But I’ve always felt just a little sad that Frodo has to leave Middle-Earth — and that Sam can’t go with him.
- The High King (Lloyd Alexander, The Prydain Chronicles) Like Tolkien’s classic work, Alexander’s Prydain novels end with the House of Don and magic-users leaving Prydain forever. So while there is much to rejoice at — a great evil has been conquered, and Taran and Eilonwy are finally together — there is also the sadness of final partings. . . and Prydain’s loss of magic always felt analogous to growing up and leaving behind the magic of childhood.
- The House at Pooh Corner (A. A. Milne, the Winnie the Pooh books) Speaking of leaving behind the magic of childhood. . . “But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.” Gets me every time.
Worst Series Enders:
- The Last Battle (C. S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia) Seriously? They’re all dead, except for Susan, and that’s a happy ending? I love the series, and I understand what Lewis was saying, but this ending really bummed me out as a child. All the characters I loved were dead — and I always felt bad for Susan, left behind by herself.
- Mastiff (Tamora Pierce, the Beka Cooper/Provost’s Dogs series) I’ve got absolutely nothing against the writing or storytelling in this book; if you read my blog, you know that Pierce is one of my favorite fantasy authors. But this book’s solution hangs on one character’s betrayal of everything he stood for, and it just left me shaking my head. There’s an explanation, and I know people do this sort of thing in real life, but I just don’t believe it.
- Magic’s Price (Mercedes Lackey, The Last Herald Mage trilogy) To be fair, if you’ve read any of the other Valdemar books, you know going into Magic’s Price that Vanyel isn’t going to survive. But I wasn’t expecting an ending like this. Horrible things happen before the end; you don’t see Vanyel’s heroic last stand at all; and poor Stefan is left to go on without him, 50 years or more. Not the book to read if you prefer happy endings… yet I’ve read it four or five times, so obviously it’s got something going for it!
Now before any of you get mad at me — I’m not saying my “worst series enders” books are bad books. The second two, at least, are pretty darn good. But they are not satisfying endings in any way, shape, or form.
So there you have it! What’s on your list for best or worst ending to a series?