In the comments on my State of the Writing post, a couple of questions have come up, in part because I mentioned my hope of writing a small afterward to House Name which essentially says: And now, please read The Sun Sword.
Carol Duffy said: I guess my question would be: *is* it actually necessary, as opposed to desirable? Or, put another way, “Are you giving yourself enough credit?” While I read the Hunters books before reading The Sun Sword, and they certainly added a lot to the latter books, I wouldn’t say they were necessary to understanding them. You did a wonderful job of keeping “new” readers up to speed if they hadn’t read the first two.
I think it’s necessary, in part because the book takes place on the time-line heels of, and actually during the final novel of the six. I’d initially thought that if I kept viewpoints to the den and the people who did not, in fact, head through the Stone Deepings to the heart of the Voyani encampment, I would be able to fill in what had happened during those missing months, in a way that would make it relevant to the den. While this can work, it can’t work for everything that occurred, and some of what did occur in the South has become relevant now. In part because of Adam, in part because of Celleriant and the Winter King, and in part because of some of the events that occur.
Genna Warner said: I just recently started reading the West novels. I started with the advice on this website and read Hidden City, City of Night, then read Hunters Oath and Hunters Death. Then got all 6 Sun Sword books to read (Im starting the third book now), but wondered if I should have waited until after reading House Name to actually read the Sun Sword books. Now Im sort-of wishing I had waited. Some people say read the books in the order the author wrote them, but I’m not really one of them. I like (if at all possible) to read a story in chronological order. Bouncing back and forth in time can give me a bit of a headache. But since I have started the series, I can’t put it down. It has made working a bit hard actually, I would rather be reading. :)
First: Thank you :). I’m never quite sure that people who like the West books will like the Sagara books, and vice versa — because I’ve heard from West readers who haven’t cared for the Cast books, and also Sagara readers who haven’t been able to get through the West ones.
House Name and Hunter’s Death cover the same period, from different viewpoints. Much of HD is missing from HN because the Hunters are only barely present as far as either Jewel or the den is concerned. Much of HN deals with Teller, Finch, Arann, Angel (significant Angel things), Carver. The order that you read those in isn’t as important — but reading Hunter’s Death before City of Night might have been. I often read the endings of books before I’ve finished, so I’m not perhaps as sensitive to spoiler and surprise as other readers are, which used to really annoy my first editor :D. (“Michelle, if you were meant to read that first, don’t you think it would have been called CHAPTER ONE?”)
But Sun Sword will give you everything you need to know before you start Skirmish. In some ways, it will give you more. There are events scattered throughout the South, from Shining Court onward, that come into play. Those events in the contexts of the novels in which they appeared were part of the story or arc of the novel without being the whole novel; they might have seemed amusing or important but not entirely significant.
But even the prologue of Skirmish makes reference to the last part of the Averalaan thread in Sun Sword, although admittedly, that’s one thing that I don’t think a new reader would founder on.
And last, Aaron said: I think Michelle is just saying that she wants you to read the Sun Sword series before ‘Skirmish’, because there will be plot spoilers for Sun Sword in the conclusion of the House war. I don’t think this will be a major issue, any more than Rath’s storyline was an issue between ‘Hunter’s Death’ and ‘City of Night’ – but everyone is different.
Sadly, while I wish this were entirely accurate, it’s isn’t quite. Or at least, I think it’s not — the jury is, of course, out until you’ve all read Skirmish. There are no plot spoilers for Sun Sword yet that would, I think, spoil Sun Sword, but there’s one discussion of import that has no relevance — or makes no sense — if you haven’t (I think) read them (I’m trying hard to avoid being specific about which book in the Sun Sword because people are spoiler sensitive). Yes, the end of Sun Sword is likely to be spoiled before House War, the final book, is done, because by that point, the time-lines should be even again.