Of fantasy trilogies & Kindle procrastinatons

So I have finally (about a week ago, to be precise) started reading John A Bonello’s famed Il-Logħba tal-Allat trilogy. I confess to an unreasonable frustration with trilogies. Go ahead, stone me. It’s just that whenever an author comes up with the “this is the first book of a trilogy” statement, I know perfectly well that I’ll read the book, get hooked and then have to wait gold knows how long to get my third fix.

Sadly a lot of my favourite authors seem to go for the trilogy format. When China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station was released I could hardly wait for the following two books. They didn’t deliver on my expectations, but that’s a different story altogether. I have yet to figure out what attracts fantasy writers to the “fuq tlieta toqgħod il-bormla” maxim. I started reading Clive Barker’s The Art Trilogy about eight years ago and had a blast with the first two books. Sadly, part two (Everville) was released in 1994 and so far there is no sign that Barker can be persuaded get a move on and at least start the final chapter.

I could go on about the fickleness of authors towards their loyal fans. Take Robin Hobb and her plethora of literary threesomes; it’s almost like she is incapable of just releasing a good, old-fashioned lonesome novel. At least Barker does deliver single novels on a pretty regular basis. Of course, some other authors go even more overboard than Hobb and wind up with ten books instead of three, written over three decades if you please. I’m referring, of course, to Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber, which nonetheless remains one of my favourite fantasy series ever.

The only international writer who didn’t keep us all on tenterhooks was Jon Courtenay Grimwood with his Arabesk trilogy: Pashazade was released in 2001 and got me hooked immediately. Effendi and Felaheen followed hot on its heels, to the delight of Courtenay Grimwood’s fans. In case you’re waiting for me to mention the definitive fantasy trilogy here – you know, the one featuring one ring to rule them all – I refuse to. My tastes just don’t include hobbits and nasty rings that have a life of their own.

But this is all by the by. The point here is that John A Bonello managed to deliver in record time and I can now start enjoying Il-Logħba tal-Allat. As you will have noticed by now, anything under three years is indeed record time by writers’ standards. Just ask fans of the George R.R. Martin A Song of Ice and Fire series, which you might know better through the first book – A Game of Thrones – which was filmed in Malta last year. It’s not even limited to a trilogy, which means you have to wait longer before getting the conclusion. The running joke amongst George RR Martin geeks is that the burly writer is more likely to pass away from a heart attack than to finish off the series.

Back to John A Bonello: some six chapters into the first book, It-Tielet Qamar, I can say that so far I am enchanted with the characters that I’ve been introduced to. It’s early stages yet but I already have a definite liking towards the three young, male protagonists and the way they come across as this totally believable mix of innocence, craftiness, vulnerability and strength.

The one gripe I had was that these books aren’t available in Kindle format. I’ve become addicted to the ease of reading in this format, particularly as I do most of my reading in bed before I go to sleep. And this is where the brick landed. To quote Merlin publishers, “Kindle e-books are at present limited to six main world languages, and Maltese is obviously not one of them.”

Very weird and short-sighted on the part of Amazon, I thought. I’m no tecchie but – judging by what I’ve seen, this is mere procrastination on their part. Fine, in our case, converting our alphabet to Kindle format might not be as straightforward as it sounds and might require an amount of customising work but I doubt this is anything the Amazon crew can’t deal with.

So deal with it, why don’t you?

This post was published on The TV Guide (The Times of Malta).



  1. Samantha Abela says:

    I must admit I agree with you that trilogies or series of books,, do tend to be quite frustrating but I also find them to be the most fulfilling as well. My fave genre to read is fantasy or historic novels. The books I like tend to be in a trilogy or series format as well but fortunately my reads were shipped quite on time and regularly. A very good author at this is Garth Nix. He is Australian and I love his 2 set of books called ‘ The Keys to the Kingdom series’ and ‘The Old Kingdom Series’. The latter is based on 3 main books and an extra instalment which was added later because fans were asking for more. The former is a series of 7 books, aimed more at young teens than adults but still makes a good fantasy read. Each year between July-Sep a new book would come out. I read the first 2 together way back in 2005, the others I’ve waited for them each year. It was an appointment that I looked forward to and which I missed terribly. Also Christopher Paolini delivered his books quite on time. He expanded the trilogy to a 4 book series and granted the readers a finale in Nov-Dec of 2011. Each year and a half approx he published a new book which grew bigger, lengthier and more awesome instead of regressing.

    I will definitely check out this Maltese author as I’ve personally never read any ‘fantasy’ work in Maltese. I’m a bit sceptic to tell you the truth. The Last book I’ve read in Maltese was by Joseph Sultana called ‘ Kodici Hostis’ in the series ‘Misteru Ark-Anum’. The author gives regular teasers etc.. on facebook between one book an another. He replies to all the messages that readers send him and I found his style quite intriguing even though I’m not usually drawn to the ‘mystery-crime’ genre (my mum is the one who actually got interested in this series first). The second book came out in stores last September and we’re waiting for the third instalment. For those who like ‘mind games’ and to solve ‘puzzles’ this book is ideal even though some ‘games’ can be quite deep and a bit complicated.

    Anyway enough rambling… sorry for the long comment!

    • Oh I’ll still read them even if they’re trilogies. I solved the problem of being too curious by waiting till they’re all issued before starting hehe :) The one exception was Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain trilogy – finally I got the last book some months ago. But worth the wait. Any rambling about books is a good rambling 😀

  2. Chris says:

    Glad you’re liking so far, Ramona :) To clarify, there is no technical issue (language or otherwise) with Kindles as they accept all Unicode characters, including Maltese. In fact our trial ebooks are fully functional on our personal Kindles, Maltese characters and all. We’d also be able to distribute/sell them (as a couple of Maltese authors have done) via non-proprietary channels however there’d be no anti-piracy protection built-in. Selling them through Amazon would allow that kind of protection, and this (selling via Amazon) is what Amazon doesn’t allow. So far. We’ll keep you posted though :)

  3. 4thguy says:

    Just to let you know … any sort of anti-piracy protection can easily be defeated via a print screen button. 😛