December 13, 2017, 07:26:37 AM

Author Topic: Cliffhanger endings in books  (Read 1529 times)

Online Eclipse

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Cliffhanger endings in books
« on: September 22, 2017, 07:12:35 AM »
Do you mind them or should all books be self-contained.

I read a lot of reviews of book one of a trilogy or a series when a review says there really dislike cliffhanger endings.

I think the Demon cycle suffers from this for me.
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Offline CameronJohnston

Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2017, 07:22:15 AM »
I much prefer a book 1 of a series that is essentially self-contained in many respects, but also contains a prompt for book 2. There are books that just stop, and don't have any satisfying conclusion and when you have to wait a year for the next to drop that is just not fun.
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2017, 08:28:34 AM »
essentially self-contained in many respects, but also contains a prompt for book 2. There are books that just stop, and don't have any satisfying conclusion
This for me too.
I've read some books where the ending could be just the end of a chapter, and that's the most frustrating.

I don't mind cliffhangers per se, if they make sense within the global story.
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Offline DrNefario

Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2017, 01:11:18 PM »
Yes, I agree with the previous answers.

If the book is dramatically complete, and tells a whole story, I don't really mind if there's a "But..." at the end to set up the next book. If it just ends without resolving the questions it has asked then I'm much less happy. (Unless I know going in that it is a split work, and don't expect it to be resolved.)

Offline cupiscent

Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2017, 11:21:39 PM »
I feel like I've read some really annoying cliffhangers in the last few years--YA fantasy in particular is getting into the habit of series, and assuming you're on board for reading them. Sometimes they work, because they're cliffhanging a lesser plot that clearly leads onwards to bigger things, while having provided closure on the main plot of this book. That closure is the key thing: I want to have had resolution of at least some significant things. (Some, but not all. I still remember getting to the end of Wizard's First Rule, and then finding out there were more books. "But the hero killed the villain and got the girl," I said. "What do I care?")

Offline Yora

Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2017, 09:48:05 AM »
I think a story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. There's no problem of printing the story in multiple volumes so you can hold in your hands, but it should be written and published in one go.

However, a cliffhanger can be a good thing if it is the proper and final ending of the story. Just not "Trust me, I'm going to finish it later. At least I currently intend to. Eventually."
We're in a strange situation with A Song of Ice and Fire. The writer is not making progress and admits that he's not really feeling it. (right now? anymore?) And now someone else is making an ending for the story. I can't imagine that doing anything to increase his motivation to write his own. Which reminds me of the videogame series Half-Life in which the second, third, and especially fourth part all ended on big cliffhangers. That was 10 years ago and the developers stated that they no longer have any motivation to continue it and are much more happy doing completely different things. And it's not like the fans stopped caring. But I assume by this point the developers realized that the expectations are so high and the market has changed so much since then that it seems impossible to do it well. So they simply don't.

Not sure how common this is, but in an age of mega-series I could very much see this being something we'll be dealing with more often.

Even if the writer does complete it, when the first parts have already been published before the story is completed, it's too late for a second draft. If you release parts before finishing the story, you're basically publishing a an incomplete draft.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2017, 09:57:37 AM by Yora »
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Offline ultamentkiller

Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2017, 02:09:33 PM »
There are two examples I have of cliffhangers. One is the end of the Daylight War by Peter V. Brett. That one was absolutely annoying. I thought there was at least 5 more pages to go. but then, if you give me a cliffhanger like the Blinding Knife or The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks... That's a cliffhanger I want all my books to end with. it gives me motivation to start reading the next one as soon as it comes out. I feel like in the Light Bringer examples, the main story had ended for that book, but he gave us a taste of how the next one would begin and left us there.

Online Eclipse

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Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2017, 02:52:22 PM »
There are two examples I have of cliffhangers. One is the end of the Daylight War by Peter V. Brett. That one was absolutely annoying.

That was the one I was thinking of so annoying!
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2017, 02:53:25 PM »
There are two examples I have of cliffhangers. One is the end of the Daylight War by Peter V. Brett. That one was absolutely annoying.

That was the one I was thinking of so annoying!
For me it was exponentially annoying because I read that book to the end thinking that it was the last of a trilogy ::) >:(
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Online Eclipse

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Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2017, 02:57:31 PM »
That one for me misfired on me because I didn't bother with the forth book and also I had enough of the  Jerry Springer style demon fantasy story  ;D
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2017, 04:28:37 PM »
Funnily enough, book 4 was my favourite after number 1.
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Offline Lanko

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Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2017, 04:31:32 PM »
I don't mind even the first book not being self-contained - see ASOIAF, First Law, Way of Shadows, possibly many others. In TV series, I think the 1st season of Lost ended when they opened a hatch (I never watched past season 2, so no spoilers!), and I think Breaking Bad 1st ends in a similar manner.

Last Argument of Kings by Abercrombie ends in a cliffhanger, which was supposed to be the end of a trilogy, but it was just the beginning of something much greater. But the series is overall so good that I didn't care, even knowing that character who jumped into a river is too major to die from something like that.

If a story is good and enjoyable, it's good and enjoyable, cliffhanger or not.

What I'm really having trouble for quite some time are with good endings for a whole series. Whether poor execution, extremely rushed, Deus Exes, or questionable authorial choices.

Harry Potter's book 7, Assassin's Quest by Robin Hobb, Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks, The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon, Soldiers Live by Glen Cook (has a really good ending but before that has some pretty rushed, passed by moments that were supposed to be key and memorable), Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, Hannibal by Thomas Harris, Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, Morning Star by Pierce Brown (the ending moments of this one almost killed the entire series for me).
« Last Edit: September 23, 2017, 04:47:31 PM by Lanko »
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Offline ultamentkiller

Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2017, 01:00:00 AM »
Interesting. Emperor of Thorns was my favorite of the three, and same with Beyond The Shadows. Hell, same with Deathly Hallows, but I recognize I'm in the minority with that one for some reason.

Offline Lanko

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Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2017, 01:25:54 AM »
Overall I really liked them as well, and they did pack a punch in the final moments too, but just some details at the end that quite distracted me, stuff like:

Emperor of Thorns
Spoiler for Hiden:
Jorg is gonna battle the Dead King and they just end up choking each other for a few moments.
Before that he beat to death a lot of competition. Those were supposed to be candidates for the whole Empire's throne, guys supposedly as tough, cunning and ruthless as Jorg, yet they are all beaten to death one by one in the odds of a dozen or twenty against one. While Jorg is ruthless and cunning to achieve what he wants, the final competition looked so weak and powerless that it was kinda of anti-climactic.

And finally, at the end when his kid is talking to the hologram, apparently five or six years had passed and... people just accepted the boy as their emperor via inheritance? The Broken Empire was said to have dozens or hundreds of players like Sageous, the Red Queen, Ferrakind, etc all ruthlessly fighting and scheming for the throne and all that simply ended?

In Beyond the Shadows:
Spoiler for Hiden:
This book packed a punch overall, but the ending... First, how Elene willingly lets herself get captured to die, but specially when every character suddenly start singing a song that wasn't mentioned anywhere else in some language never heard of either and that magical song simply stops the resurrection of a dark god and the end of the world.

Harry Potter:
Spoiler for Hiden:
Well, just how he was just playing dead and the villains simply bought it.
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Re: Cliffhanger endings in books
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2017, 05:43:31 AM »
As much as it pained me to say it (I totally love the Night Angel trilogy as a whole), the ending in Beyond the Shadows felt quite unsatisfactory for me. The grand battlescene at the end felt rushed, some characters' actions and motives seemed quite confusing and seemed to came out of nowhere. I felt that the finale could have been explained in much better detail and depth should the book be at least 100-200 pages more than it is.