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

Flooding has become a reality for many communities in the Okanagan Valley as the region faces more extreme weather storms, blamed on the impact of climate change. (File photo)
Okanagan high target for spring flooding

Higher snowpack and mild winter precipitation levels raise concerns for Canada’s insurance industry

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Expect cold weather and snow over the weekend. (Submitted photo)
Prepare for subzero weekend in South Okanagan

Expect some snow to start falling Saturday night and into Sunday

Send your letter to the editor via email to news@summerlandreview.com. Please included your first and last name, address, and phone number.
LETTER: Thanks for supporting Summerland Food Bank

Generous donations benefited the community

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Auldin Maxwell stacks the 693rd block on the top of record-breaking Jenga tower on Nov. 29 2020. (Submitted)
Salmon Arm boy rests world-record attempt on single Jenga brick

Auldin Maxwell, 12, is now officially a Guinness world record holder.

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

(Hal Brindley - Dreamstime)
Enderby farmers caught between coyotes and bylaw tickets

The Smith family is stuck in a Catch-22 between protecting their livestock and incurring noise complaints

A COVID-19 exposure has been confirmed at Black Mountain Elementary in Kelowna Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Google Image)
Another COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Kelowna school

Interior Health confirmed an exposure at Black Mountain Elementary School Saturday

Members of BCEHS Station 343 in Lake Country receive a donation of treats and wine from the community in December. (Contributed)
‘Unexpected and heartwarming’: Okanagan community supports paramedics

Cards, discounts, treats, more given to Lake Country paramedics in sign of support

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

The North Okanagan Naturalists' Club completed its annual swan and eagle counts Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (Claude Rioux - NONC photo)
North Okanagan bird count shows decrease in swan and eagle numbers

Trumpeter swans were down 61 per cent from last year’s count; eagles down 14 per cent

Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis has served as the band’s chief since his first of six electoral wins in 1991. (File photo)
Okanagan Indian Band seeks nominations for upcoming election

A new OKIB chief and council will be elected March 30, 2021

Most Read