The Rise of the Mega-Novel

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Serial novels are nothing new, especially in genre fiction designed to keep readers shelling out money for the next phase of a story. But the sudden, rapid success of fantasy genre series like George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones and the adaptation of Tolkien’s hobbit epics to the big screen has meant publishers want to cash in on the double-XL titles. The Guardian looks at how these mega-novels are hurting the genre and need to be reigned in before readers tire of them:

A deluge of multi-volume epics has been published over recent years, each one in turn hailed as the next Game of Thrones, only to disappear within a few months as disappointed readers found reality didn’t match the hype. Some were by excellent writers who don’t quite have the breadth to tackle a full mega-novel, telling stories that would have been better told in a single volume. Most were by debut novelists, often interesting writers with some good short stories under their belt, pushed far beyond their technical abilities by an industry hungry for instant commercial success.


Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →