Book Talk: Series stand outs

Novels in a great series can stand on their own

Peter Critchley/Special to The Morning Star

The novels in a great series stand on their own. Each volume is a work unto itself and can be read out of hand in the chronological order you choose.

The Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian, acclaimed by the London Times as the “greatest historical novelist of all time,” is a sterling example. Each volume in the series is as complete as the world the author invents, a world set in the Napoleonic wars that we recognize as our own and not our own.

Captain Aubrey and his surgeon, Stephen Maturin, are the kind of complicated, three-dimensional character pairs that have inspired thrilling stories since The Iliad. It is this relationship that lies at the heart of each tale, conveyed in prose that is elegant, civilized and humorous. And if this is not enough, the author possesses a superb sense of place and weaves the kind of narrative that is impossible to put down.

Related: Book Talk – Teleportation through literature

Related: Book Talk – Praise for the novella

James Lee Burke’s great mystery series, featuring Detective Dave Robicheaux, often transcends the genre. It is intelligent, even literary, and taken as a whole, it is a body of work unsurpassed by any other contemporary American author. The author’s prose is lyrical and evocative, the plots are meticulously crafted and the characterization, even with the secondary characters, is outstanding.

What sets this work apart is the seamless transition from character to action. The action flows naturally from the complex characters, particularly the protagonist and best friend and sometimes partner Cletus Purcel, to drive the narrative and imbue the work with a rare verisimilitude.

Much of the work of Connie Willis, a multiple Hugo and Nebula winner, cannot be strictly defined as a series. Yet various titles feature many of the same characters—a group of young time-travelling historians based in Oxford 2060—and comprise a singular body of work that in a sense can be defined as a series.

Doomsday Book (1993), To Say Nothing of the Dog, Or, How We Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump (1998), Blackout (2010) and All Clear (2010), the four novels with recurring characters, are all remarkable in their own right.

Willis is an extraordinary writer of broad imagination and range, with the ability to create well-rounded characters, intriguing narratives and a keen sense of place and time. And her rigorous research, crucial in setting the stage, is evident in each of these titles.

These titles are all available through your Okanagan Regional Library www.orl.bc.ca.


@VernonNews
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon police search for owner of lost iPhone

Concerned citizen turns phone into RCMP

British Columbians worried as end of COVID-19 rental supplement looms

Single mom struggles as supplement was her saving grace

Here are Vernon’s top 10 worst intersections for crashes

Two intersections top the list with 28 crashes apiece

Morning Start: Water can freeze and boil at the same time

Your morning start for Thursday, August 6, 2020

Water draws Vernon artists together for exhibit

Gallery Vertigo open house Saturday for Spirit of Water

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Mitchell’s Musings: Hockey’s comeback begins in earnest in August

Sports is back. Well, at least sports in a bubble is back.… Continue reading

South Okanagan sees increase in real estate activity

More single family homes sold at higher prices when compared with a year ago

Search crews en route to vehicle over Coquihalla Highway embankment

Incident on northbound side of highway near Great Bear Snowshed: SAR

Fire causes significant damage to West Kelowna home

The fire was first reported at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 6.

Walmart to make face masks mandatory for customers across Canada

Requirement goes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 12 across Canada

Community Foundation of South Okanagan Similkameen presents bursaries worth more than $40,000

Nine endowment funds provided bursaries to 20 students within region

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Most Read