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Authors are often (well, sometimes) praised, ridiculed, or loathed for the morals inherent in their books.

As I mentioned, I’ve been reading about Sookie Stackhouse.  In the series, there are many types of were-animals, and they have an interesting genetic problem.

Only the firstborn child of any pure-bred were couple is a were.

So, if all of the weres were monogamous, the population would very quickly decline to the point of extinction.  To get around this, the weres, especially packmasters, consider it their duty to procreate with as many different purebloods as possible.

Sookie, having been brought up as a Good Girl (and a Methodist), has a slight problem with this, but she comes to the conclusion that she doesn’t have the right to judge them.  Charlaine Harris has had her heroine consider the matter, so it’s clear that she’s thought about it.  No matter what conclusion Sookie came to, the fact that she’s thought about it is no doubt a good thing.

I’m also thinking about aliens.  Aliens, coming from different social structures, often have different morals to humans.  But usually, at least in the books that capture my attention, they have morals of some sort.  They may not be recognisable at first glance, but once you learn how they think they make sense.

People worry about violence on television causing children to become more prone to violence, and occasionally the same is said about a book (“Harry Potter lies and cheats, and defies his teachers!”, for example, although, really, he’s a teenager, what do you expect?).

All of this rambling is leading up to this question: how much do the type of morals pictured in a book matter, versus the fact that the morals exist at all?

I’ve been reading the Sookie Stackhouse books, by Charlaine Harris.  A friend leant me the first nine as a box set, so I had plenty of reading to be going on with.

For those who don’t know, Sookie is a human barmaid living in Louisiana.  She has been blessed (cursed?) with the gift of telepathy, and finds it hard to get along with people when she knows what they’re thinking.  A few years ago, after the invention of a synthetic blood called TrueBlood, vampires came “out of the coffin” and announced their existence to the world.  When Sookie meets one, she is delighted to find that she can’t read his mind, and thus begins her adventures in the world of the supernatural.

The books are a fun romp, for the most part – chick lit with vampires as it were.  No heavy thinking required.  Each one is a self-contained adventure, unlike some other series I’ve come across, so it’s possible to stop any time you want.

And yet, there is always some nagging question at the end, something to make you wonder if the explanation will be forthcoming in the next book.  And in the next book, your question is answered, but you’re left with another question.  It’s a brilliant example of teasing the reader just enough to keep them reading.

Having said that, it’s getting a bit frustrating now.  I want closure.  I want to be able to put the series away and say “that was really good, and now I’ll read something completely different for a while”.

So my question is this:  when is enough enough?  When should an author give up on a series?  Is it when they run out of fresh ideas for problems their characters can have?  Is it when the readers get bored and stop buying the books?  Is it when they run out of sensible titles with the word “dead” in them?

What do you think?

The Author

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something martial artist who runs two Brownie packs and works full time. She somehow still finds time to write.

Her favourite genres are near-future and alternate world science fiction and fantasy.

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