One of the things I try to do when blogging about a series I want to suggest, is to start with the first book in the series. The problem with that is, if I like the series, then I want to read the next book, and the next, and that gets time consuming. In addition to reading a book a week (or more) for my blog, I am writing and editing my next book in my own series…
Which brings me to another dilemma.
When someone asks me to tell them what book they should read first, I hesitate on what to suggest.
Of course, it should be the first in the series…which I like…but the first one is a very different book from some of the others. The first is a time travel romance with adventure. Fun stuff…but…
The second one is a young adult with flavors of fantasy while the third is espionage and mystery and takes place at Sunpointe Space Academy. And because it’s time travel, you can start with this book also.
In the fourth, all action is on a space ship and is more hard science, Star Trek and first contact while book five is genetic manipulation and alien invasion. Six is apocalypse and alien crystals with some romance.
See what I mean?
They are all science fiction, but they’re all very different, and yet they deal with the same characters along a timeline on the planet, Alysia.
And that may change too.
I’m thinking of going out to other worlds with my guys.
Meet new people, er, aliens, er whatever.
The second part of this dilemma is that over time, and through much work, I hope that I have improved in my writing.
Shouldn’t an author get better as he or she writes? If you care about what you are putting out to the public, then hopefully you are improving. (Although where to put commas still drives me crazy)
My writers group says this last one is the best one so far. Someone’s Clone is a mystery thriller with transhumanism. Starts off with a murder and the main character is hunted down and he doesn’t know why. To disguise himself, he undergoes a dramatic operation that equips him with an implanted computer and superhuman abilities. Think the bionic man. Then he is caught up in the middle of a conflict between the invading Terrans and the native Alysians for control of the planet.
So it’s hard to know what to say when they ask what they should read first. It depends on what their science fiction hot button is. This is the dilemma of the series writer. What is the best book to offer first so as to hook your reader?
Sometimes, sequels don’t have the same dramatic impact as the original. Here I’m thinking of the Dune Series by a Frank Herbert. His son Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson have continued adding prequels and sequels to the original series and, for the most part, have done a good job. But the first book, Dune, is the best in my opinion. But now, it’s no longer the beginning in the series of their timeline, but more in the middle.
However, Lois Bujold has kept up the quality in her Vorsigan Series and her last one, Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance was unexpectedly good. The same could be said for Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Liadon series. However, Lois has kept going forward along her timeline while Lee and Miller have hopped all around, offering earlier stories and later ones. It can be confusing except they’re stand alones with complete stories. Still.
So after a reluctant review of The First Blade by Joe Abercrombie, I found myself drawn into reading the second book of The First Law Trilogy. With a trilogy, you have to start with the first one to make any sense of what you’re reading. The action is one continuous story.
It wasn’t the writing as much as the subject matter and what the characters did that put me off the first book…like cutting off fingers and staggering bloody through mud, etc. One character reminded me of Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, only instead of a dwarf, he is a crippled who was tortured by the enemy and now serves as Inquisitor for the king. Each step Glatko takes, each move he makes, brings pain, and the reader winces along with him.
However, the second book was quite good. I found myself becoming invested in the characters. I grew to look forward to the biting wit of Glatko, the Inquisitor, and the evolution of his character as he actually shows courage, intelligence and selected compassion along with his torturing.
Each of the characters goes through a dramatic evolution. Jezel, the shallow, silly dandy of a Lieutenant becomes disfigured and assumes some humility and compassion. Logan, an ugly, scary, brute of a Northman, proves to be the most capable when the chips are down. Lieutenant West, the solid loyal self-made man, loses control after a devastating battle and commits the unspeakable crime. As each one struggles to meet what life throws at them, they change, adapt and as Logan constantly reassures himself with, “I’m still alive,” the reader is amazed along with him at the fact.
In this case, I’m glad I continued in the series and recommend it. Now, let’s see how it all ends with the final book.
Before I leave, I want to let anyone know that isn’t aware that we’ll have a total eclipse of the moon April 15 (some celestial comment about my taxes?)
The good news is that a full eclipse will appear in the western hemisphere. The bad news is that it starts at 2:00 a.m. for you night owls and goes to 4:00 a.m. or so. Here’s the link that gives all the details.