I am currently developing a series of fantasy novels, and have discovered that I will likely be adding a second point of view in the second or third book (five books total in the series). Up until that point, I have only had one PoV character, the protagonist.

This new PoV character has been around since book one and has been important. She just hasn't been the PoV. I'm wondering if adding a new PoV after at least book one will be jarring to the reader, since he expects the series to follow the style of book one (I would imagine). Is this the case?

I know that Christopher Paolini added a PoV character half-way through his series; but I also know that many here consider Paolini slightly less than a literary genius. :) So I will not use that example.

Question: Can I add a new PoV in book two or three after book one only had one PoV?

  • 2
    Philip Pullman did this in his series His dark Materials. I remember being surprised when I read the second book, but I was not put off, on the contrary. Similarly, Lost gave us a new POV every episode for about, what, 15 episodes? I think expectations for series are different from stand-alone works. While both need to have a clear structure, series allow you to spend much more time on the interplay of characters and, hence, a number of well-developed individual characters. As long as the books of your series work well as individual books -- go for it.
    – Filip
    Apr 8, 2016 at 7:58
  • @Filip You should make that ^ an answer. Apr 8, 2016 at 10:28
  • Also, Christopher Paolini didn't go from one POV to two, he went from one POV to multiple, which was quite a drastic change. Apr 8, 2016 at 15:41

5 Answers 5


I always answer these kinds of questions from my own experiences as a reader. For me as a writer it is irrelevant, how many other authors have done this or that; the deciding factor is how I feel about it as a reader.

So my first suggestion would be that you find examples of what you want to do, read them, and see how you feel about them. I can't really give you a lot of examples, one (Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials) was mentioned in a comment by @Filip, another one is Ally Condie's Matched trilogy.

I think that it is important that you come to your own conclusion regarding this, because readers are just as different as writers, and if you like reading trilogies where the second volume adds a second POV, then others will, too, and you should write it that way.

But I want to give you my own opinion, and try to explain it. Maybe it will give you some useful insights.

When I read, I very strongly identify with the main protagonist. For that reason, I generally don't like books with multiple POVs as much as books with a single POV, but I will read a multi-POV book, if it is really good. I have written elsewhere on this site, that when I read George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, I used to read all the chapters of one character, and then all the chapter of another character, instead of in printed sequence. I did this, because when I came to the end of a chapter and was forced to switch to another POV, I was so engrossed in this character's experience that I simply couldn't care about the other character.

The same happened to me, when I read Ally Condie's Matched. To me, the first volume was a really great read. I enjoyed "being" the protagonist, and living her life. The reason I picked up the second volume was that I wanted to live that life a bit longer. But then the second volume had two POVs, that of the first book's protagnoist, and that of her love interest. This was a major disappointment for me, because I simply did not care about the other character at all. I cared about him as the love interest of "myself", of course, but wasn't really interested in "being" him.

So, while the book (as well as the third volume) turned out to be quite okay, I never got into them as much as into the first volume.

I'm sure there are other readers like me, who get into their protagonists so much that they hate being forced to switch POVs. Your book will fail these kinds of readers. But I have no idea what their percentage is, and how much other readers love to switch. Maybe there are those people, too.


First of all, I think that there is no definitive answer to a question like this. Stories are different, and a mechanism that worked fine in one story might fail in another. You will have to try out what works best for your story.

That being said I don't see a reason why introducing a new POV in the second book of your series should not work out. Think of the following examples:

  • His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman introduced a never-before-heard-of POV in his second book. When I read the book as a teenager, I was surprised by this, but not taken aback. On the contrary, I enjoyed the surprise and was very curious about how Will's story would be merged with Lyra's. By introducing a new POV, Pullman created additional suspense that worked out very well for me.
  • Speaking of suspense, the TV series The Affair uses an interesting concept to create curiosity in the viewer: The series follows the affair between the two main characters. While this is not terribly interesting on its own, the first episode shows the same events twice: From his perspective first, then from hers. The suspense for me in this approach lay in the fact that these two viewpoints were not congruent: They depicted the same events, but they interpreted them in radically different ways. That hooked me so thoroughly that I watched the entire first season within a few days.
  • A similar approch is used in the excellent Norwegian movie Troubled Water: Instead of switching frequently between the two POVs, we see Jan's perspective first. Only after this story is fully told, Agnes takes over and tells her story.

Coming back to your question, considers as well that series generally work differently from stand-alone works. While both need to follow a clear structure, series allow you - and the readers - to spend much more time with your characters. Hence, when your new POV is interesting and adds to your overall story - go for it.

Additionally, long series need to keep surprising their readers. An example for this would be Lost: In the first season, Lost keeps throwing new POVs at us. At the end of the season, we are hooked by the mystery of the island and the various stories of the characters and have well understood the basic mechanism of the show: Continue the island-based storyline of the show, while thoroughly developing the individual characters. That is fine and works out for the next two seasons. By the end of third season, however, a certain weariness kreeps up on the viewer: We feel that we know the characters well, interest in their past fades. Lost does a very clever thing now: It replaces its well-working mechanism of seasons 1-3 by a new one. Instead of showing the past of the characters, they show their future. The trick is: At the beginning of the season, the audience doesn't know that. Suddenly, new mysteries are amassing and a whole range of new questions is brought up. Curiosity in the audience is re-invigorated.

So overall, I think that

  • Introducing a new POV is a risk. You attached your readers to your main characters (or what they think is the main characters) and risk surprising them unpleasantly or even angering them by directing their attention away from the character they love.
  • However, introducing a new POV is also a natural way to create curiosity. Especially in long series, this is very necessary to keep your readers interested. Consider as well that in a long series, you have the opportunity to present your readers not with one but with a number of characters they can identify with. From a series, I actually expect that it presents me different viewpoints and a nuanced interpretation of the plot itself.

In general, keep in mind that your series as well as the individual parts of the series need to have a well-defined structure: If you switch POVs, it should be for a reason, and at the end of the second book, the reader should either be aware of this reason or be so madly in love with the new POV that he simply doesn't care why it is there at all. Mind, however, that readers are different from each other and there is a good chance that your new POV will not enchant every single one of them. In this case, the structure of your work must appease your readers.


I think it is dangerous to switch POVs. It is difficult enough to succeed as a writer, so why stack more obstacles if you do not have to.

I agree with @What. The reader will like the character or the world. If the reader identifies with the POV character, switching POV would be detrimental.

Multiple POVs are more adapted to very detail led epic worlds, and are generally embedded there from the start. Else, there are long series with different POVs for each book. A good illustration of switching POVs from one book to another are the Discworld and Xanth series. However, you will note that in these and other example given there are many POVs. So, it seems that what normally works is one POV or many POV.

For just a few POV look at the Chalion “trilogy” by LMM Bujold, each book has a very different POV and story. Readers respond very differently to each book. Many do not consider it a series but 3 independent books in the same world.

  • I'm not switching PoV entirely. There are scenes that the protagonist is not present for, but the reader still needs to know. For these scenes, I plan on using the second PoV. The vast majority of the trilogy is still from the original PoV. Apr 15, 2016 at 21:52

You can most definitely add POVs.

As a reader, I don't remember ever being bothered by multiple POVs (other than in a suspense sort of way, as in I'm interested in what POV A has going on right now, then it switches to POV B, but it's a good way to get pages turning), and it could be an excellent tool for adding information you think is necessary about multiple characters without an info dump or having to carefully work in backstory.

Diana Gabaldon is a master at this in the Outlander series- Book 1 was first-person POV, and only one person. The remaining novels so far switch between TP POV and first-person POV (always the same original POV in first-person. Everyone else in third person), and each person is distinct. It adds so much depth to each person.

Veronica Roth is another example that I think pulled this off well - first 2 books in one POV, and the last one in 2 POVs.

  • Yeah Veronica Roth! Gotta love her
    – Tasch
    Jan 20, 2020 at 21:18

To answer this question, if you have the time and the will to read five very long novels, read the series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. There is a different POV in each chapter, and the chapters are titled by whose viewpoint is being trotted out. Sometimes the chapters are even about characters who have undergone a transformation, and their transformation name and POV are used. One would would have to say the series, with all its viewpoint switching, is a success, at least commercially.

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