Next up in Short Looks at Long Series are a well-beloved fantasy series and a fun cozy mystery series set in Alabama.
The Wheel of Time
by Robert Jordan (and finished by Brandon Sanderson)
Series Run: 15 big, big books. Eye of the World, the Great Hunt, the Dragon Reborn, The Shadow Rising, The Fires of Heaven, Lord of Chaos, The Path of Daggers, The Crown of Swords, Winter’s Heart, Crossroads of Twilight, New Spring, Knife of Dreams, The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight, A Memory of Light
Where To Start: Eye of the World
One of the most popular fantasy epics of the 90s and 2000s, the Wheel of Time is a major work that was the First Big Series many people read. The underlying premise is that history is cyclical, with people and events and figures reborn to enact new iterations of their old stories. The wheel has turned again, and now destiny has demands on people who must become the heroes they’re meant to be.
It’s a well-known fact of the series that the author died before it could be completed, but he left extensive notes about plot and events and the world for another author to finish the work. That author ended up being Brandon Sanderson, someone I’ll talk about in his own right later.
The series is being adapted for TV right now, so if you want to get a jump on everyone else (and get the real deal), here’s your chance.
Upsides: Those who love it, love it wholeheartedly. Interesting ideas and takes on some classic fantasy, and Jordan definitely tried to invent a lot of his own mythology and world.
Downsides: Definitely a little old-school fantasy and there’s a point along the middle of the series where the books slow down.
by Anne George
Series Run: 8 books. Murder on a Girls’ Night Out, Murder on a Bad Hair Day, Murder Runs in the Family, Murder Makes Waves, Murder Gets a Life, Murder Shoots the Bull, Murder Carries a Torch, Murder Boogies with Elvis
Where to start: Either Murder on a Girls’ Night Out or Murder Gets A Life
This cozy mystery series is a great favorite and a frequent recommendation of mine. Written by someone who lived in Birmingham, Alabama, it’s set in Birmingham, and features two 60-plus year old sisters as its central characters.
It’s like this: Patricia Anne Hallowell (the narrator) is a retired schoolteacher and she’s been married for forty years to good old reliable Fred–she’s a sane, stable grandmother.
Her five-years-older sister, Mary Alice Tate Sullivan Nachman Crane has been married three times–each husband gave her one child, left her richer than the preceding one, and died a neat, tidy death. Patricia Anne says by now Mary Alice has more money than she has sense. The first one tumped over in the shower; the second one pulled up in the driveway, parked the car, and died (and she said that was a good move because their driveway was on a hill); and the third passed away of a heart attack on a transatlantic flight (his demise did cause some trouble because she said the life insurance company kept wanting to know why, exactly, his place of death was listed in longitude and latitude). Mary Alice, as you may guess, has lived an eventful life full of ups and downs and she takes many things in stride. Together, the pair of them keep tripping over dead bodies and murder plots, and it’s funny. If you grew up in the South, you’ll recognize many of the personality types and dynamics on display here.
Upsides: Funny and relaxing, these books are a great stress-breaker. And it IS a series, with developments and characters being introduced along the way, but the stories themselves are very self-contained and you can start reading anywhere. In fact, I often recommend people start with one of the middle books–Murder Gets A Life.
Downsides: In all honesty, you just want more when you’re done. There’s eight books but they’re pretty short. They make great rereads, though, as you notice zingers and quips that missed you earlier. Normally, I’d say not to read them in public because people think you’re crazy if you’re laughing your fool head off, but that’s not so much an issue these days, is it?
How to Purchase
Most of the books mentioned above are linked directly to our website where you can purchase for curbside, delivery or shipping. However, if we’re sold out, or you live out of town and would like them shipped, you can use our 3rd party supplier who will ship them to you (but will give us a commission)