The End (And I Like It That Way)

My roommate and I in college once had a big argument about books.

We both loved the “Apprentice Adept” trilogy by Piers Anthony. We bonded over those books, which was good because we didn’t always have a whole lot else in common.

Apprentice Adept Series Collection
Apprentice Adept Series Collection

But then, the unthinkable happened. Piers Anthony wrote a sequel.

My roommate was ecstatic. He raced out to the bookstore and brought it home. Held it before me like he’d claimed the grail. He cleared his calendar, scampered to the top of the loft, and buried himself in his sleeping bag and the book.

For me, it was like he’d just brought home a copy of the Venus de Milo, but with groovy arms cemented on, and painted to look realistic.

“That series…it was over. There was an ending,” I said to him, and he looked up from his book, startled.

“Yes! And now there’s more!” And he plunged back into the book, nestling deeper into his sleeping bag.

Over the ongoing days of his reading the book, it ate away at me. But the ending was beautiful. The entire reason for the story disappeared, closed, done forever. No possibility of sequel. The story was over. Everything was tied up in exactly the way that life truly and exactly never is. Happily ever after achieved, check the box and close the curtains.

All of this I argued at him, on and off as he read it.

And all he would say was, “You have to read it, though.”

Eventually, I did. At least the first 50 pages or so. But every word was like a slap in the face to your fairy godmother. I mean, come on…you told me everything worked out the way it worked on. And now, you’re saying, “Oops, I was wrong?”

I think Anthony even had an author’s note at the end of his book, where he said something like, “Hey, the fans wanted more.” I know an artist has to please the audience, but really, writing more Xanth, or something new, probably would have achieved the same thing.

I never finished the book. I sold it at a used bookstore some months later. Probably bought more Xanth novels with it.

I still have the original Apprentice Adept books. To me, they’re the only ones that exist in that series.

I guess I just like to believe in the “ever” in happily ever after. What about you?