How do you feel about having multiple points of view (POVs) in a book? Do you expect the number of POVs to remain the same across a series?
I read A Feast for Crows a few weeks ago, and this book got me thinking about POVs. A Feast for Crows has 13 POV characters. About half of these characters have multiple chapters, and half have only one or two chapters. I found myself being annoyed that I had to keep track of so many POV characters and that some of these POV characters are only around for one or two chapters. I found myself rolling my eyes when the next chapter would indicate that I was face-to-face with yet another new character who was only going to be around for a few pages. I was planning on complaining about some books having too many POV characters; however, after some contemplation, I realized that it wasn't the number of POV characters that bothered me but how the POV characters worked in this series had changed. In the first three books, there was typically one POV character who only had a chapter but this was usually the first chapter in the book. I considered these one-off characters to be a prologue to the book. I realized that this change in how POV characters worked in this series was frustrating me, not the number of POV characters.
I have noticed that this happens in other series that I have read too. For example, in The Expanse series by James SA Corey, the first book has two POV characters (and a prologue POV character) and the second book has four or so POV characters. Although the reason for the increase in POV characters was understandable, I had gotten used to the two POV system in the first book. I have noticed that trilogies and short series will also increase the number of POV characters in the final book. Even if the author had a good reason for it, it always feels a bit shocking, at least to me.
I guess it comes down to the fact that I emotionally commit to my POV characters. Having new POV characters sprung on me who either (1) don't matter or (2) were not introduced earlier as potential POV characters is uncomfortable. For example, in the Song of Ice and Fire books by GRR Martin, POV characters die. The reason that their deaths affect readers so much is because readers emotionally commit to these people. Having Martin suddenly introduce a bunch of POV characters that only have a few chapters makes me instinctively decide not to care about these characters and not let myself be open to these characters. Maybe if Martin had always had this POV style, it wouldn't be bothering me as much.
What do you think? Do you have a limit of how many POV characters you can tolerate in a book? Do you have expectations on how POV characters work across a series?