â€¦is when youâ€™re reading 3,000 pages of novel (or in the case of the Wheel of Time series, more like 7,000 pages so far), spread out over between 5 and 15 years, itâ€™s pretty easy to forget some of the details of the stories youâ€™re reading. I guess this is why so much epic fantasy in particular gets slammed for poor, simplistic writing: it just needs to be. The multi-layered plots, post-modern story telling style is just hard to keep up with over that volume of book.
Alistair Reynolds approach, as with Iain M Banks, is to create an intricate universe but only rarely come back to the same characters. This gives huge depth to the stories without requiring multi-volume sequences, and letâ€™s them flex a more refined storytelling style. Peter F Hamilton, however, is happy with the epic space opera, and the Commonwealth saga â€“ which Iâ€™m 95% of the way through, has been a wonderful 6,000 odd pages of fiction over the last few years. But I do sometimes forget, over a thousand years of history, two separate trilogies and, in the Void trilogy, two separate universesâ€¦ exactly who and where everyone is, how they relate to each other, and why some of them are so terrified by others amongst them.
At least for the first couple of hundred pages. After a while you start to get the hang of things and then the wonder of it all soaks in. And/or you check the Wikipedia article for a quick prÃ©cisâ€¦!