The Hunger Games. Divergent. Lord of the Rings. Millennium. 50 Shades of Grey. It seems like every new book or movie nowadays is a trilogy—or at least part of a larger series—and stand-out, standalone books/movies seem to have gone the way of mixtapes and tandem bicycles.
Why is this? What is so compelling about the trilogy format? There are many theories, some more romantic than others. So let’s explore them.
The Rule of Three
Something about the “number three” is just magical. Arguments seem stronger when three examples are given. Triangles are the strongest shape in nature. “Lift on three,” we pump or wrists three times when playing rock, paper, scissors, we assume both good and bad things happen in threes. Somehow, the number three seems to be hard-coded into our DNA, and we are naturally drawn to it.
Some may argue that the rise of the trilogy can be traced back to Aristotle, who divided a story into three parts: set up, conflict, and resolution. Some may trace it even further back, to the Dionysian festivals of ancient Greece, where trilogies of plays were performed. We recognize the tree-part format as it has precedent and has been successful, and thus continue to embrace it.
The theory that is probably the least romantic? That it comes down to money. A wildly popular book or movie that has more room to explore in that world is far more likely to be successful than something new. Plus every time a successive book or movie in a series is released, sales spike on all of the predecessors, especially the series debut.
Which of these theories are true? Maybe none, maybe all. Perhaps we’ll never know. Any which way, trilogies seem to be here to stay, and here at SparkPress, we have a couple trilogies that you’ll love.
The Wendy Darling Trilogy by Colleen Oakes
It this darker adaption of the classic fairytale Peter Pan, Wendy Darling finds that Neverland, a paradise island of freedom, holds some terrible secrets rooted in blood and greed. Over the course of the three books, Wendy feels Peter’s grip on her heart tighten and she starts to forget where she came from. She escapes to the refuge of Sudden Night, Captain Hook’s ship. Ultimately, Hook becomes her ally, and she returns to Peter’s arms to undo his connection to the Shadow, the evil that holds Neverland hostage.
The Legends of Orkney Trilogy by Alane Adams
This trilogy follows the story of Sam Baron and friends as they journey across the mythical land of Orkney. They must save each other from those who wish to harm them or use them for their own gain, save Orkney from the threats it faces, and learn friendship, forgiveness, and sacrifice along the way.