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Chronological or publication order??

Location: Upstate New York

Chronological or publication order??

Postby traveldog » Tue February 23rd, 2010, 5:00 pm

I'm new to the forum -- and, more important, new to SKP's books. Kindle gets the credit, btw, because you can download and read (at leisure, not while standing in a bookstore and being shoved aside every few minutes) a free sample of a chapter or two. That's all it took - the first chapter of Here Be Dragons - and I now know that I'll be reading them all.

But ..... in what order? I know that some authors who write out of chronological order greatly prefer that the reader follow the same path they did in writing the books. (Anne McCaffrey and her Dragonrider series comes to mind, and it does make for a richer experience to go back and forth and shift perspective with those books.)

This may have been discussed on this forum or on her web site previously. I tried to look for the information but was running into far too many things I don't want to know *yet*. So I decided to simply ask.

As I understand it, the publication order of her books is:
The Sunne In Splendour (1982)
Here Be Dragons (1985)
Falls The Shadow (1988)
The Reckoning (1991)
When Christ And His Saints Slept (1995)
* The Queen's Man (1996)
* Cruel As The Grave (1998)
Time And Chance (2002)
* Dragon's Lair (2003)
* Prince of Darkness (2005)
Devil's Brood (2008)

*Justin de Quincey books

But - at least according to someone commenting on the Amazon site, the chronological ('as it happened') order would be:
1101-1154 When Christ And His Saints Slept (Vol 1 of Trilogy)
1156-1171 Time And Space (Vol 2 of Trilogy)
12th Cent Devil's Brood (Vol 3 of Trilogy)- not yet released
*1192-1193 The Queen's Man
*1193 Cruel As The Grave
1183-1232 Here Be Dragons (Vol 1 of Welsh Trilogy)
1231-1267 Falls The Shadow (Vol 2 of Welsh Trilogy)
1271-1283 The Reckoning (Vol 3 of Welsh Trilogy)
1459-1492 The Sunne In Splendour
(and I'm assuming the other two de Quincey books would follow right after the first two)

So -- now that I have all this richness spread out before me (I'm sure some of you are envious!), how best to approach it? Most important, has SKP herself ever indicated how she wishes a reader would go about it?

Thank you for any thoughts and suggestions.

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Postby Margaret » Tue February 23rd, 2010, 5:56 pm

I haven't read all of these, but I'll throw in my 2 cents. I would read the series books in order - those would be the mysteries, the Welsh trilogy, and the Plantagenet series beginning with When Christ and His Saints Slept. The Sunne in Splendour is a stand-alone, and could be read at any time.

I started with Sunne, which is an absorbing novel with very sympathetic central characters. WCHSS did not engage me as much until the future Henry II strode onto the scene, at which point I became riveted. It's not that there's anything wrong with Penman's writing in that novel, it's just that Stephen and Maude were rather exasperating people, and she presents them very much the way they must really have been. Penman's great strength is the historical authenticity of her work, so I really wouldn't have wanted her to write that novel in any other way. However, if I were embarking on her collected works, I would start with Sunne or one of the mysteries rather than WCCHSS, lest I feel too daunted at the start. I do envy you - after reading WCHSS, I'd love to dive into the other Plantagenet novels and not come out for awhile!

I've reviewed both The Sunne in Splendour and When Christ and His Saints Slept at HistoricalNovels.info.
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Postby annis » Tue February 23rd, 2010, 7:42 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with Margaret- SKP's books are best read as series rather than trying to separate them out in chronological order. Btw, I think you'll find that "The Devil's Brood" is already out, though given the size of SKP's books, it may be a while before you get there! The "Justin de Quincy" historical mysteries are a much lighter read than the Welsh trilogy and the Plantagenet series, so f you want to ease in, I'd start there. "Sunne in Splendour" is a stand-alone novel - in chronological order it comes after all the others.

List of books here in series order:

Edit- you might also find it fun to visit SKP's website. She's currently working on a novel about Richard the Lionheart and makes interesting posts on her blog about that and other subjects
Last edited by annis on Wed February 24th, 2010, 12:18 am, edited 6 times in total.

Location: Upstate New York

Postby traveldog » Tue February 23rd, 2010, 11:39 pm

Thank you both -- and you've helped me reach a decision.

First, The Sunne in Splendor (both 1st published and not enmeshed, timewise, with the others), then probably the de Quincey books ...... and *then* I'll have to decide whether to go with the happening-earlier-but-written-later trilogy or the happening-later-but-written-earlier Welsh trilogy.

Wouldn't it be nice of all life's dilemmas were this pleasurable and filled with anticipation?!!

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Miss Moppet
Location: North London

Postby Miss Moppet » Wed February 24th, 2010, 12:52 am

"traveldog" wrote:Thank you both -- and you've helped me reach a decision.

First, The Sunne in Splendor (both 1st published and not enmeshed, timewise, with the others), then probably the de Quincey books ...... and *then* I'll have to decide whether to go with the happening-earlier-but-written-later trilogy or the happening-later-but-written-earlier Welsh trilogy.

Wouldn't it be nice of all life's dilemmas were this pleasurable and filled with anticipation?!!

I read Sunne last year then wanted to move on to the trilogies this year and had to decide, like you, whether to go with published or chronological order! I decided on chronological and am currently reading When Christ and His Saints Slept. The mysteries will be a slightly different kettle of fish so I'll probably leave them to the end.

Enjoy your reading!

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Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Wed February 24th, 2010, 12:59 am

I agree with everyone else. I've not read the myteries but I've read the others and they should be read in series order, except for Sunne in Splendour which stands alone. I believe that was the first one I'd read as well.
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
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Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Wed February 24th, 2010, 5:53 am

I started with the Welsh trilogy, which got me hooked. When Christ and His Saints Slept was rather a slog for me; kept losing the thing and not caring if I found it again. I may be the only one on the forum who was bored to tears by Time and Chance, although I did grind through it to the bitter end. (In all fairness, this frequently happens with a book where I know the history well already.) And yet I loved Sunne in Splendor, even though I know what happens there, too. I suppose that Richard, both Llewellyns and Simon de Montfort were so darn likeable I wanted to spend more time in their company, whereas I could hardly wait to be shut of Maude, Stephen, Eleanor, Henry and Beckett.
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Postby Ash » Wed February 24th, 2010, 12:47 pm

Oh you are in for a treat; I wish I could go back and read all these for the first time! I read them in order of publication, only because after getting hooked on There Be Dragons soon after it appeared, I grabbed the books as soon as they came out! Thinking about it, I'm not sure I would have been hooked as well if I'd started with the Civil War book (When Christ etc). The Welsh books while taking place later, gave me a sense of the whole picture when I read about the Plantagenets; Im glad I read them first. Actually what I think is interesting is that with the new book coming out, we go full circle! I don't think you'll lose either way you go, since it worked for me to go publishing date order. But I can see starting from WCSS and moving forward.
Last edited by Ash on Wed February 24th, 2010, 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Location: New York

Postby Chatterbox » Thu February 25th, 2010, 5:49 pm

Personally, I'd leave Sunne for later on. It's her first book, and has a lot of those stylized conversational tricks, like inserting the word "do" in every sentence, presumably to give you the sense of being in a long-ago era. "Now Dickon, do you fetch yourself a goblet of that wine..." etc... That particular tic vanishes over time.

I'm one of the only people I know who prefers the Angevin books to the Welsh trilogy, although the latter is very good. I also read them pretty much as they were published, with Falls the Shadow being the turning point in my need to buy books in hardcover. (I remember doing a small dance of joy when I found The Reckoning for sale at National Airport in DC in '91... This was before the days of Amazon, when it was a lot harder to find out what was coming & when!)

You could read the de Quincey novels in between the trilogies, perhaps? There's an element of both series contained in them -- characters from the Angevin books, and some involve the Welsh, I seem to recall. Time for me to re-read, obviously...

Location: Upstate New York

Postby traveldog » Thu February 25th, 2010, 9:48 pm

Probably good advice, Chatterbox -- but too late. <g> I'm several chapters into Sunne now (stayed up far too late last night) and would probably fight anyone who wanted me to put it down! It's going to be quite a journey, I can tell.

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