A couple of weeks ago, I finished reading The Crippled God by Steven Erikson, the final volume of his lengthy series. I remember saying "After 3 million 300 thousand words, I can't actually believe that it's over but I'm also glad for it." and "And even though you might struggle in some passages, you'll probably end up being quite satisfied that you went through the ten books.". So, as you can observe, as sporadic as it may seems for series (long lasting, not trilogies), I actually found at least one occurrence where the ending was satisfying enough for my taste. I know that many (and I should probably say quite a lot) of threads where not present at the ending but not all of them were necessary and few of them ended in cliffhangers. Though I would probably like some side stories with a couple of the characters from the books.
But, the Malazan book of the Fallen is one of those huge Fantasy series that is actually finished. Moreover, it was planned from almost the beginning as a 'decalogy' (I could not confirm this 100%, any help on this?), while many other long running series were planned as trilogy or something close to it and ended up being much more (lets chose as examples... hum... the obvious? the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and a Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin).
For these two titles however, the tale is a continuous thread (with a clear ending more often than not in each novel) instead of a series of adventures with a "meta" thread in the background, a la Gentlemen Bastard sequence by Scott Lynch. This last example won't open too many sidestories to eventually get somewhat out of control, at least I hope so.
As for myself, if your a regular of the blog, you may know that I kind of love starting new series. Some time ago I posted the list of series I was actually reading and since then, the list is always increasing. And also, it seems that I'm not alone in being a 'series lover' (I hope that doesn't sound weird) if we take a look back at this poll where I asked you readers whether you prefer a stand-alone or series (92% of the answers went that way...). However, in that case, the difference between a trilogy and a ten novels series was not evident. Moreover, you're also more tempted by sequels than new ideas.... in a 44% vs 13 % proportion (even though 41% of the respondents didn't care...).
Why am I talking about this? Because it's one of the subject I stumbled upon a couple of times since the release of A Dance with Dragons (and maybe the Game of Thrones TV series). Readers are asking themselves whether or not they will pick up the series depending on the finished status of it. Another side of the question is influenced by the time factor. I know that many readers will wait because they don't want to read a sequel when the previous book was read too long ago and it's not fresh in your memory.
An interesting article about these long lasting, several volume spanning sagas is available at the A.V. Club. It's titled "The perils and pleasures of long-running fantasy series". Different aspects of this reality are analysed in the post, for example the authors obligation to deliver and the difficulty of putting all the threads together toward a grandiose conclusion that was planned form the start. As for that part, I'm actually thinking in pretty much the same lines as the author of the piece but with some nuances. However, I'll stick with one subject for now and keep the rest for later polls/discussions.
So my question is simple : "Do you wait for series to be completed before starting one?"