The phrase is one I’ve seen a few times in the last week or two, and is an ongoing preoccupation with lots of reviewers. As someone who’s had it thrown out by some for either books 2 or 3, I’m wondering whether book 4 will be seen as part of the middle or the end, but mainly I’m wondering what people are looking for from those novels. Do people have some sort of venn diagram in their head with self-contained plots on one side and pieces of an ongoing series plot on the other? You’d hope not, but there must be some sort of value judgement in what they’re looking for.
My memories of George Martin’s books are a little vague these days, but while the plot of each book blurs into the other in my mind, I don’t care about that at all – they’re good books, but is that a permissible exception if you’re just really good at what you do? For preference I’d say Steven Erikson’s books could be less disjointed/separate, sequential books often bearing no relation to each other whatsoever, but I think it’s one of the most stunning projects in any style of fiction so std rules might not apply here!
My question is – can anyone think of who does the middle novel well? And which ones did it badly and why?