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READING ORDER discussion for SUN SWORD and HOUSE WAR it does what it says on the label

#1 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 16 May 2023 - 03:37 PM

Below are some reading order posts - feel free to add to the discussion.
Me, i'm going in order of publication, because i'm crazy that way.




View PostTiste Simeon, on 20 April 2023 - 07:30 PM, said:

From QT in the other thread:

THE HIDDEN CITY (House War #1)
CITY OF NIGHT (House War #2)
HOUSE NAME (House War #3) & THE SACRED HUNT (Duology that covers much of the same events as HOUSE NAME, but from other character angles)
THE BROKEN CROWN (Sun Sword #1)
THE UNCROWNED KING (Sun Sword #2)
THE SHINING COURT (Sun Sword #3)
SEA OF SORROWS (Sun Sword #4)
THE RIVEN SHIELD (Sun Sword #5)
THE SUN SWORD (Sun Sword #6)
SKIRMISH (House War #4)
BATTLE (House War #5)
ORACLE (House War #6)
FIRSTBORN (House War #7)
WAR (House War #8)

Not released yet
HUNTER'S REDOUBT (The Burning Crown #1)
UNTITLED (The Burning Crown #2)
UNTITLED (The Burning Crown #3)

From what I understand you can jump in at the beginning of any series, which is good as I am only going to do Sun Sword, and am a few hours into book 1.



View PostWhisperzzzzzzz, on 21 April 2023 - 05:17 PM, said:

I would absolutely recommend reading the first 3 books of House War first! They give a depth and background to the world and central characters — Jewel and her misfit family — that is important to fully appreciate everything that comes later. I also like the gradual build of scale and scope across the entire thematic universe that you get from starting with the House War books. Starting with Jewel as a nobody orphan, who gets adopted by Rath by happenstance, who finds mythical histories by happenstance, who builds a family by happenstance, who then flips the script and stops being buffetted by chance and instead starts making things happen, all the way up to the class-spanning, world-spanning events in the more recent series. And they're just good books!

Spoiler


The Sacred Hunt duology, on the other hand, are stilted, detached, and not as well written. I think most people would be better served by reading the House War books and then skipping the Sacred Hunt books entirely.

When I did my read-through, I didn't skip the Sacred Hunt books, but I did skim them.


Here's my recommendation:

Start here – The House War, Part One
The Hidden City (2008)
City of Night (2009)
House Name (2011)

Skip or Skim - The Sacred Hunt
Hunter's Oath (1995)
Hunter's Death (1996)

The Sun Sword
The Broken Crown (1997)
The Uncrowned King (1998)
The Shining Court (1999)
Sea of Sorrows (2001)
The Riven Shield (2003)
The Sun Sword (2004)

The House War, Part Two
Skirmish (2012)
Battle (2013)
Oracle (2015)
Firstborn (2019)
War (2019)




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#2 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 16 May 2023 - 03:56 PM

Started with The Broken Crown and I'm now reading the final volume, The Sun Sword.

Whatever I've missed about Jewel and her den and the rest of the characters seen in the first 3 House War books, it hasn't impacted my reading experience in any way thus far. Granted, won't know how much it could have until I read those books. But since West wrote them in that order, I'm satisfied to give her the benefit of the doubt.
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#3 User is offline   Tiste Simeon 

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Posted 16 May 2023 - 07:23 PM

Can we also get the map and the Dramatis Personae in a thread for easy reference for us audio users?

In a related to the thread point, I'm not feeling like I've missed vast amounts of info in relation to Jewel etc.
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Posted 16 May 2023 - 07:57 PM

 Tiste Simeon, on 16 May 2023 - 07:23 PM, said:


In a related to the thread point, I'm not feeling like I've missed vast amounts of info in relation to Jewel etc.


Same. She was a relatively minor part of TBC and i didn't feel like i was missing a chunk of story. Seer, comes from the streets, does seer things, go.
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#5 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 16 May 2023 - 08:35 PM

Well, to be fair, her importance will increase dramatically as the series progresses. But I'm not feeling that the fleshing out her back story provides is at all necessary to fully enjoy the Sun Sword series. I'm sure it provides more depth to her character and that of every member of her den. But in and of itself, I'm not sure it's important. West provided all that we need to understand/enjoy the tale that is the Sun Sword. In every book you realize yet again that there is more to Jewel and the others, but that series doesn't require an additional 2000+ pages of what happened before to make sense of what's going on.

As I said elsewhere, Jewel is just one part of the Sun Sword series. And not the most important, at least up until where I'm at at the moment.
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#6 User is offline   champ 

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Posted 16 May 2023 - 08:45 PM

 Abyss, on 16 May 2023 - 07:57 PM, said:

 Tiste Simeon, on 16 May 2023 - 07:23 PM, said:

In a related to the thread point, I'm not feeling like I've missed vast amounts of info in relation to Jewel etc.


Same. She was a relatively minor part of TBC and i didn't feel like i was missing a chunk of story. Seer, comes from the streets, does seer things, go.




Aye, I don't think it is a series you HAVE to read before the Sun Sword series...

But you've kinda answered why it could be read first. By reading after, it is now just an accompanying series to fill in some gaps but you'll ultimately know where key characters end up...

By reading it first, it becomes it's own unique, fresh story bringing you into a brand new world... with gut punches thrown about as you do not know characters fates...

But that's just my opinion, I might read the Sun Sword series and 180 that...

This post has been edited by champ: 16 May 2023 - 08:48 PM

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#7 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 16 May 2023 - 10:07 PM

I don't think there's a right answer to the reading order question. West's fandom is clearly divided, almost 50-50.

Personally, I was looking for something epic and the Sun Sword is exactly that. Anyone looking for character-driven novels on a much smaller scale would likely prefer the first 3 House War books. Hence, your mileage will vary.

Reading related posts online definitely won't help, as readers contradict each other as to where to begin. The fact that Michelle West's preferred reading order is the one that begins with the House War novels doesn't help.

Potential readers being told that, in order to fully appreciate the entire saga, must start with the first 3 House War books, then the 6 Sun Sword books, than maybe the Sacred Hunt duology, and finally the 5 next House War books, will, understandably, show reticence to give West a shot. 16 books is a HUGE commitment, both in time and money. With 6 volumes, the Sun Sword is already a big series, its length alone probably a dissuasive factor for many would-be readers. The House War is worse, what with the fact that the first 3 occur before the events of the Sun Sword and the last 5 after.

With such a screwed-up timeline and fans who can't agree on where to begin, is it any wonder that Michelle West is not better known?

Hopefully we'll help change that, regardless of where we start! :)
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Posted 17 May 2023 - 04:03 AM

 pat5150, on 16 May 2023 - 10:07 PM, said:

...With such a screwed-up timeline and fans who can't agree on where to begin, is it any wonder that Michelle West is not better known?


It's not exactly a shiny selling point for a series that went more or less under the radar when it was being actively published..
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#9 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 17 May 2023 - 05:33 PM

As you know, ever since I started this series I've been wondering why, given its quality, it isn't more popular. The only reasons I came up with are the screwed-up timeline and the delays between books.

The six volumes of the SunSword were published between 1997 and 2004. It appears that sales were good enough to warrant giving the next series the hardcover treatment.

From what I understand (and I haven't dug too deep for fear of being spoiled), Michelle West was planning to write Jewel's back story and then resume writing the aftermath of the Sun Sword and the Terafin House War. But as has happened frequently in West's career, the tale grew in the telling and what was meant to be a single novel turned into 3. Hence, not only did it take 4 years for The Hidden City to be published, but it took an additional 3 years for the next 2 installments to be released.

Which means that those people who enjoyed the Sun Sword and wanted to know what came next had to wait 8 years for Skirmish to come out. That's an extremely long time, especially for a midlist author. According to West's post explaining how she was dropped by Daw last summer, it appears that sales for each new House War installment continued to go down. So it seems that only a portion of the Sun Sword readers returned to read about its aftermath. It's important to note that the SFF market was changing at the time, with new names like Erikson, Rothfuss, Abercrombie, Lynch, Novik, etc, coming into their own. With dwindling sales even then, it might explain why Michelle West's works were not marketed more agressively. I mean, at the time the Hotlist was the most popular book-reviewing blog on the planet and I don't recall receiving press releases, etc, about the House War novels. I think that, like many SFF midlist authors of the time, West was sort of forgotten, her books published without fanfare, and then only appreciated by her fans. Delays and another story that grew into the telling resulted in an extra 8 years to see the House War series reach its end.

The good thing for late-bloomers like us is that we can read the books whenever we want, in whatever order we want. Given that West's worldbuilding is on par with Erikson's and her characterization on par with Hobb's, these books should be more widely read and appreciated. Hopefully we can help raise awareness and spread the word.

Given the timeline and the reading order, there's not much we can do to help.
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#10 User is offline   QuickTidal 

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Posted 17 May 2023 - 05:57 PM

 pat5150, on 17 May 2023 - 05:33 PM, said:

As you know, ever since I started this series I've been wondering why, given its quality, it isn't more popular. The only reasons I came up with are the screwed-up timeline and the delays between books.

The six volumes of the SunSword were published between 1997 and 2004. It appears that sales were good enough to warrant giving the next series the hardcover treatment.

From what I understand (and I haven't dug too deep for fear of being spoiled), Michelle West was planning to write Jewel's back story and then resume writing the aftermath of the Sun Sword and the Terafin House War. But as has happened frequently in West's career, the tale grew in the telling and what was meant to be a single novel turned into 3. Hence, not only did it take 4 years for The Hidden City to be published, but it took an additional 3 years for the next 2 installments to be released.

Which means that those people who enjoyed the Sun Sword and wanted to know what came next had to wait 8 years for Skirmish to come out. That's an extremely long time, especially for a midlist author. According to West's post explaining how she was dropped by Daw last summer, it appears that sales for each new House War installment continued to go down. So it seems that only a portion of the Sun Sword readers returned to read about its aftermath. It's important to note that the SFF market was changing at the time, with new names like Erikson, Rothfuss, Abercrombie, Lynch, Novik, etc, coming into their own. With dwindling sales even then, it might explain why Michelle West's works were not marketed more agressively. I mean, at the time the Hotlist was the most popular book-reviewing blog on the planet and I don't recall receiving press releases, etc, about the House War novels. I think that, like many SFF midlist authors of the time, West was sort of forgotten, her books published without fanfare, and then only appreciated by her fans. Delays and another story that grew into the telling resulted in an extra 8 years to see the House War series reach its end.

The good thing for late-bloomers like us is that we can read the books whenever we want, in whatever order we want. Given that West's worldbuilding is on par with Erikson's and her characterization on par with Hobb's, these books should be more widely read and appreciated. Hopefully we can help raise awareness and spread the word.

Given the timeline and the reading order, there's not much we can do to help.


The Good news is that her Patreon gives her more than enough to make ends meet while finishing the final trilogy (Quadrology?), and I happily have supported her since its inception after DAW dropped her.

Also, I hate that DAW dropped her, but hangs on to a fucking useless, scamming, layabout like Pat Rothfuss simply because he delivered a single money-maker, and a followup that only sold due to the strength of the first novel.

Funnily enough, if you mention her name over on Reddit Fantasy, it's all glowing reviews top down and a lot of "She deserves more recognition!" comments. I'm tempted to tell her about this thread and show her that at the very least this smallish fantasy community is taking a journey with her and happy to have her fiction.

I have about half of her Chronicles of Elantra books on my Kindle ToRead pile too once I'm done with Essalieyan. It sounds like they are a different vibe, but no less entertaining.
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#11 User is offline   Tiste Simeon 

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Posted 17 May 2023 - 06:04 PM

I mean I am definitely in for all 6 of the Sun Sword books at the very least and I'll probably end up reading her other stuff after that. Next time you see her QT tell her a random Yorkshire bloke is a fan and says "Hey up!"
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Posted 17 May 2023 - 06:07 PM

 Tiste Simeon, on 17 May 2023 - 06:04 PM, said:

I mean I am definitely in for all 6 of the Sun Sword books at the very least and I'll probably end up reading her other stuff after that. Next time you see her QT tell her a random Yorkshire bloke is a fan and says "Hey up!"


I've not been to the bookstore in a while that she works at and I only met her the once when she was working, but she was super nice and humble. I can tell her on the Patreon about this thread though!
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#13 User is offline   pat5150 

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Posted 17 May 2023 - 06:40 PM

Wasn't there a read-along on Reddit a few months back?

That, plus my reviews, plus whatever we started here is great.

Because I figure that most people who get through The Broken Crown are going to be in for the entire Sun Sword series. And then, like me, chances are they'll be giving the House War books a shot.

With 16 books in this saga, plus a slew of others written as Michelle Sagara, if people like us get the ball rolling, that could mean heaps of books sold for the author.

It's not perfect, but better late than never! :)
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Posted 17 May 2023 - 06:47 PM

 QuickTidal, on 17 May 2023 - 06:07 PM, said:

 Tiste Simeon, on 17 May 2023 - 06:04 PM, said:

I mean I am definitely in for all 6 of the Sun Sword books at the very least and I'll probably end up reading her other stuff after that. Next time you see her QT tell her a random Yorkshire bloke is a fan and says "Hey up!"


I've not been to the bookstore in a while that she works at and I only met her the once when she was working, but she was super nice and humble. I can tell her on the Patreon about this thread though!


Interesting. I did not know that know that she was Patreon and self-pub for the Essalien books.
Her Patreon has an impressive level of support, even more impressive when that's in addition to her Michelle Sagara books which she does have a publisher for.




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Posted 19 December 2023 - 07:00 PM

I have gotten through Hidden City, City of Night, and House Name and am going to Broken Crown (Sun Sword).

Broken Crown's beginning is rather clunky in a very 1997 fantasy way.

I'll report back after I finish both series in a couple months to get a "I've read all the books involved" perspective.

In my view, Pat doesn't really get to be definitive here as he hasn't gotten through them all.
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Posted 20 January 2024 - 04:00 PM

Uh oh...one of my favorite topics ^^

And i disagree with pat. The screwed up timeline can not be the reason why she is not more popular. Her first two series (Sacred Hunt and Sunsword) have come loooong before she continued with House War. And she was even relatively unknown back then.
I guess it is a similar reason as with Erikson. There are probably a lot of readers who can't or don't want to follow such an intricate plot and story. Which is a shame, of course. Sure, it doesn't help that the series is going on for like forever in real-life. But hey, that's how it works out sometimes.

And I think there IS a "right order" to read any and all bookseries: publishing order. Why? Because apparently, that's how the author (who should know best, right?!) intended. Case closed :D ;)

As for my reasoning (the more serious one, although i am not truly joking with my statement above) : House War has sooo much more impact and details if you already know Sunsword. If your first three books are HW, there is no context and nuance to the story. And it makes for a poorer overall read, imo.

Very glad to see that there is such a subforum for her here on Malazan. West's Essalieyan cycle is one of my favorite series of all time. West, Erikson/Esslemont are my top tier authors in fantasy.
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