Top Ten Best & Worst Series Enders

October 8, 2013 Top Ten Tuesday 18


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?

18 Responses to “Top Ten Best & Worst Series Enders”

  1. Greg

    Great list. I saw Enchanter’s Endgame on another blog so there must be some love for the Belgariad out there! I’m going to try and reread that series soon… agree especially with Lord of the Rings and Pooh. I was always sad frodo had to leave too, though as an adult I can understand now he’ll be a lot happier over the sea. And Pooh- yeah thats just makes you want to go back earlier in the book so it doesn’t end.

  2. kimbacaffeinate

    Clearly I need more coffee, somehow I though Potter was on worst ender’s list and I seriously questioned our friendship..LOL I hated when Lord of the Rings ended..sigh.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      LOL! You know me better than that! Nope, the Harry Potter book topped my “best enders” series ,even though my daughter warned me that pick might be controversial. She and I love it, but some folks weren’t happy with parts of it, I guess.

      And yes, I just wanted LOTR to go on forever. Or at least for Frodo to enjoy a nice long retirement in the Shire, like Bilbo did.

  3. nessili

    but sam eventually joins mr. frodo, so it’s more of a “see you later” than a goodbye.

    and I loved the Belgariad. still own it. the following books were a little repetative, but still fun.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      With your interest in mysteries, you should try the Lord Peter Wimsey series. They’re really wonderful — the epitome of Golden Age British mystery. And do go past the first book — he becomes a more and more interesting and complex character as time goes on.

  4. Braine TS

    Familiar with some but not all. Return of the King is awesome, haven’t read it but the movie was good. LOL Sorry, can’t get into the narration, too wordy for me.

    New follower
    My Best & Worst

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I discovered LOTR way back in late elementary/early middle school — 5th or 6th grade, I think. I adored them; they were the first grown-up fantasy I read (though I continued reading Lloyd Alexander and Susan Cooper and anything else I could get my hands on.) That was back in the 1970s, so I had to wait a LONG time for the movies! It was the books or nothing. I do love the movies, too; despite the changes they made, they stayed very true to the spirit of the books as well as the characters and overall plot — and the visuals are just breathtaking, both scenery and art/costumes/makeup.

      Thanks for the follow! I’ll head over to check out your TTT in the morning.

  5. Cheryl @ Tales of the Marvelous

    The end of House at Pooh Corner is SOOO heart-breaking and poignant…but in the best possible way! And I’m with you on Mastiff. I liked the book, overall, but I just didn’t *believe* in that particular betrayal. Actually, I believed the betrayal, but I didn’t believe the casual killing of bystanders as a consequence–that felt completely out of character. But let’s not get started on that one…

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Agreed on all points, except I had a harder time believing the betrayal itself. Even though I know things like really do happen.

      I love Pooh. I wanted a Pooh bear so badly when I was young, but I never had one. Now I have a little tiny classic Pooh stuffy, but my real treasures are the figurines my daughter Robin made me, based on the drawings from the books. Someday, I’ll photograph them for a post. She’s really good. She has made me one for my birthday and Christmas for the last several years. I’m going to be really sad when she runs out of characters!

  6. readerholicnotes

    Great list, Lark. I couldn’t come up with a complete list, because like you say for lots of series there’s no real end so I didn’t participate this week. Harry Potter and LOTR are two very great examples of the best endings.

    I love that you had Pooh on your list. I can still remember crying when my Mom read that last book to me and there weren’t anymore to read.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I love the Pooh books! I have two sets — my mother’s battered hardcover copies of Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner and her name on the inside covers, and a beautiful hardcover omnibus with the colored plates as well as the pen-and-ink illustrations, which I bought so I wouldn’t wear out my mom’s copies any further. (As a child, I had paperback copies.)

  7. Sandy Farmer

    Thanks for stopping by my TTT earlier. I agree that HP is one of the best series enders ever. I honestly never really thought much about how sad it was that Frodo had to leave Middle Earth. (I was still in high school when I read TLOTR.) I just never even thought about it. Great list!

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I think for some people, it’s a hopeful ending, but for me, the joy and hopefulness of the coming age (‘things will be different now that there’s a king in Gondor again and Sauron is no more’) are rendered bittersweet by the losses — not only Frodo but Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond, and many if not most of the elves. The magic is leaving Middle-Earth. Funnily enough, it doesn’t bother me that Bilbo is going, because he is so old, he would die if he remained in Middle-Earth.