On Finishing a Trilogy

Last year I managed to start something like three trilogies where the third book had yet to be released. Let me tell you a little bit about how this played out.

Picking up Book #1: Hmm, this looks interesting. I’ll give it a try.

Finishing Book #1: OMG must read more. There’s a sequel?!? YES. PLEASE.

Reading Book #2: Leave me alone don’t talk to me can’t you see I’m reading?!?

Finishing Book #2: NO! Yes, but NO! I must find out what happens next!!!!!

Searching for Book #3: …WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE’S NO BOOK #3??????

Basically, I’ve spent a lot of time this past year refreshing my Goodreads “to-read” list hoping that the release dates of these desperately awaited books has magically been pushed up. But now, a year later, the final books in these series are finally starting to come out. And as excited as I am about experiencing the conclusions to these wonderful stories, I can’t help also approaching these finales with some degree of trepidation.

Because finishing a series can be an emotional thing, especially after waiting months and months for the final book. As a reader, you’ve spent hours with these characters, investing your time, energy, and emotions into their stories and experiences. You’ve explored their worlds alongside them, faced trials by their sides, and celebrated victories with them. And now, eager as you are to discover how their stories end….you also have to find a way to say goodbye.

This past week I burned through the first on my list of trilogy conclusions. And let me just say, I loved it. The important plot arcs found their natural endings, and the characters all got the endings they deserved. The conclusion was thrilling, unexpected, and poignant.

And yet. Even though the writer and logical reader in me knew it was the perfect ending to a fantastic series, and how could I ask for more? ….I couldn’t help but feel a little bit sad. Even though the characters ended up where they ought to be, they didn’t get there without trials, and now, the story was over. As the pages counted down to that final sentence, I braced myself for the inevitable farewell.

It happens. I’ve said goodbye to more characters, worlds, and stories than I can count. And when I’m being honest, I’d tell you that the inevitable goodbye is part of the continuing joy of reading. Every character’s story has an ending…and every ending paves the way for a new story. I will read more books and fall in love with more characters; I will start new series and finish old series and begin all over again.

In fact, I think there’s another series conclusion coming out next month.

And maybe someday, I’ll get the chance to re-read this trilogy, and experience the joys, the sadnesses, and the inevitable goodbye once again.

Do you look forward to (or dread) finishing a trilogy? How do you manage to say goodbye? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!