Book Talk: Series stand outs

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

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims two more lives of Sunnybank Retirement Centre residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Okanagan Clinical Trials is looking at gut bacteria as a way of slowing down the development of Alzheimer’s. (Alzheimer Society of B.C. photo)
Okanagan study looking for volunteers of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

The study is looking at how gut bacteria may help slow the disease

Penticton City Hall. (File photo)
City of Penticton seeking grants to fund public washroom improvements

The grant would fund washrooms at Gyro Park and Riverside Park

Oliver Elementary School
Former Oliver PAC treasurer charged with fraud returns to court

Belinda Yorke will be in court to fix a date for trial in February

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to reports of a structure fire on Valleyview Place Jan. 26, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
Fire snuffed in Vernon home

No visible smoke, flames from area of reported structure fire

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Kevin Lee Barrett pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault of his mother Eleanor Holmes on Tuesday, Jan. 26. (File)
West Kelowna man who beat his mom could be sentenced up to 9 years

Kevin Barrett entered a surprise guilty plea to the lesser charge of aggravated assault on Tuesday morning

Vernon now has an approved 13 cannabis shops in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon, the ‘Pot capital of B.C.’ greenlights two new stores downtown

Two more shops, within 240 metres, approved, despite neighbouring businesses opposition

11 more cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a cluster on Big White Mountain. Pictured above is TELUS park at Big White Ski Resort, Jan. 26. (Big White Ski Resort)
11 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

This brings the total case count to 225, according to health authorities in a Tuesday update

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

Two fibreglass bees were stolen from Vernon’s Planet Bee Honey Farm Nov. 22, 2020. (Facebook)
Stolen bee returned to Vernon honey farm

Two months after thieves buzzed off with two bee sculptures, public tips led police one of them

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Most Read