Thoughtful Thursday: Celebrating Endings

This week my family is celebrating two endings. My oldest son has been graduated from The University of Florida with a degree in computer science (he’s the one who does this site’s special coding) and we will all attend another son’s high school graduation this afternoon. They are relieved that years of toil are over and we are all excited about the next chapter in their lives.

Graduation represents both an ending and a beginning, but let’s just talk about endings today.

What are some of your favorite endings in speculative fiction? Bill and I recently finished Robin Hobb‘s Assassin’s Fate which concludes her FITZ AND THE FOOL trilogy but also wraps up all the other series set in her REALMS OF THE ELDERLINGS novels. We were amazed (but not surprised) at the way Hobb brought everything together so neatly, gifted us with a gloriously bittersweet ending to our favorite characters in fantasy literature, left us emotionally exhausted yet elated, and hinted that this grand finale also represents the beginning of something new (even if we never see it). As Bill said in our review, “You want those pages at the end to both be done and to just keep going.” It was perfect.

Without spoiling anything for readers, tell us what book or series has your favorite ending and why you thought it was so wonderful. As always, we’ll choose one random commenter to win a book from our stacks.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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  1. sandy ferber /

    Hmm, I’d have to give that a LOT of thought, Kat, but just wanted to express my congratulations to you and the family….

  2. Sethia /

    I thouraly enjoyed City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett.

  3. E. J. Jones /

    Not SFF, but I absolutely love the ending of Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. It’s realistic enough that you buy it but sweet and hopeful enough that you finish the book with a smile. And its sweetness never tends toward sentimentality. As for SFF, the ending of Gerald Morris’s The Squire’s Tales is one of my favorites because it manages the same balance between realism and hope.

  4. John Smith /

    Hm. What book or series has a wonderful ending? Well, I expect each of the first three “Thomas Covenant” books ended quite excitingly in the alternative universe before returning to our mundane world. But I need to re-read those someday. I haven’t read them since middle school.

  5. This is going to be somewhat generic :) :
    Usually, Guy Gavriel Kay writes beautiful endings… Well, he writes beautiful stories, period. But I love his books because they leave the reader with a sad smile and a storm of emotions at the end.
    Also my favorite under-read author, Paul Kearney, writes beautiful endings. If you haven’t tried any of his books, I highly recommend them.

  6. Melita /

    Yes, for Kay. The suck-in-your- breath scene might not be the absolute last scene but near the end. Lions of al-Rassan, here’s looking at you! Megan Whalen Turner has twisty endings where you suddenly get to see the whole story differently.

    I’ve always liked the ending of C.J. Cherryh’s Exile’s Gate. It wrapped up Morgaine’s and Vanye’s story at a stopping point, even if they weren’t “finished” yet. I remember reading some people were unhappy at the ending. That bothered me enough that I had Cherryh sign my copy on the last page rather than the title page.

  7. There are surprisingly few fantasy series whose ultimate climaxes/endings satisfy the moment or momentum the author had built: R. Scott Bakker’s Prince of Nothing, Dan Simmons’ Hyperion, Brian Aldiss’ Helliconia, and George RR Martin’s A Dream of Spring (ha ha!) come to mind, but any others??? Hmmm…. A good ending to a leeeeeengthy story is really difficult to do…

  8. Stuart Starosta /

    Definitely Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings – the greatest fantasy series ending I can think of. I’m really hoping N.K. Jemisin can deliver a fantastic ending to her amazing BROKEN EARTH series this August!

  9. mary henaghen /

    I also think The Lord of the Rings has a great ending. It wraps up so many loose ends, and a lows for characers to fully develop.

  10. Nick /

    Late on the thread, sorry! So endings. So bittersweet (hopefully) most of the time. Currently listening to Assassin’a Fate which was mentioned in the original post. As far as the Fitz series has gone by Robin Hobb, she has thoroughly and conclusively ended each of the three series in a way that desires so much more, but satisfactorily leaves the reader being okay with what they were left with. She is an absolute master of storytelling. This last finale is just as good. And it makes me want to hope for more but know that no more is coming (but that’s how the last two times have been…).

    My book for this response is actually a standalone for a series that is already at an end. Brian Staveley wrote the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne which was concluded in a fantastic way. But his Skullsworn, which was a novel based on an assisting character in his main series both amazed for the beginning (and background) as well as ending (how Pyrre entered into the main story) so extremely well.

    For endings and beginnings combined into one.

  11. John Smith, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks.
    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!


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