The Ruffled Crow

Animation, Art, and Other Shiny Things

The Curse of Book 1

Whatever the subject matter or genre – if I read book 1 of a series, the rest will fall, in order. Perhaps I should qualify that; if I can complete book 1, then I am compelled to read the rest of the series.

Discworld; flat, on the backs of 4 Elephants, riding the back of the Great A'tuin through space.

This is a terribly important trait in what otherwise is a compulsive idiosyncrasy as it saves me from plowing my way through encyclopedias and Harlequin romance series.

I have suffered through some atrocious monstrosities disguised as paperback entertainment because I held the vain hope that the story would get better. And then book 1 ends and I’m committed…

Working at a library only feeds the problem: even before book 1 is complete, book 2 either on the reserve shelf with my name on it, or on it’s way. Most often, though, I already have it checked out, providing me further inducement to complete book 1.

It can be vicious.

I still shudder when I recall that sci-fi quadrilogy whose books averaged over 600 pages each.

When you begin to despise a character for their blinding stupidity and begin to harbor a vain hope they get “removed” in a story-line-appropriate manner (or at least injured) then you’re generally in for continued disappointment until you can close the back cover of the book. (there is a potential for ‘lingering disappointment’ reserved for the exceedingly pin-headed character’s continued existence… Need I make reference to Jar-Jar Binks? No, I thought not…)

"Garden of Earthly Delights" (ca 1503) by Hieronymus Bosch - Yes, there is a reason it's in this post. Two of them, actually. Figure it out for yourself.

Most series, though, tend to be engaging, mildly formulaic-with-a-twist. Entertaining without alot of mental gymnastics.

Now before you get all bent out of shape and petulantly expound on how much your little gray cells work out during the perusal of a Spenser or Bosch tale, let me note that a mystery novel is still merely a relatively small set of clues couched in a large number of semi-associated ideas.

If were much more than that it would be a textbook, or at least be so convoluted as to be unreadable for entertainment. Having to take notes just to keep the story straight really kinda takes the fun out of reading a novel. But I digress…

Xanth, Book 1. One of the most evil books in the world.

Amidst the mountain of potentially unfortunate reading material I occasionally do luck out and dive into an exceptional series of books – despite the generally trashy genres I tend to enjoy. Xanth and Discworld are two places I love visiting. As a kid I visited and revisited Narnia alot.

And that is a snapshot of the problem; Xanth is contained in over 30 novels, Discworld in near 40 (Spenser too), Harry Bosch in over a dozen. All other reading materials are forsaken in favor of another world clothed in a character of words until the last page of the last book.

Worse still, I can’t read multiple books during a series. If I am pondering Seldon’s psychohistory, then walking into a Bene Gesserit Chapter House could induce a stroke. I know this because I tried once. Was out of sorts for several days.

Common Wisdom says that if you know you have a problem then you’re on your way to solving it. The corollary is that if someone else knows about that problem, they can use it against you.

And that’s what happened…

Book 1 of the Warriors multi-series. Some of the books in this series cause actual pain when read by anyone who has been a parent.

I’ve know Merc for over two decades, we’ve played many a game together – on the same side and against each other. Of anyone, Merc knows my strengths and weaknesses and knows how to lever either of them.

With full knowledge, and malice aforethought, he brought me a book 1.

The Warriors series is up to somewhere around 3 dozen books including prequels, guides, and mangas. Into the Wild is the first of a 6 book sub-series set in the Warriors world. Written to the pre-teen and young teen audience, it follows ‘clans’ of cats as they struggle to survive. It idealizes and anthropomorphizes cat culture a bit, but the underlying themes of loyalty, trust, and achievement are good ones. Watching the characters work their way through worry and self-doubt shows the young reader that they aren’t alone. It’s engaging, and a lifetime of Disney helps me to suspend my disbelief in favor of my new friends in Thunderclan.

It took me about 3 books to realize I was reading the books like a parent. An affliction that continues to plague me as I’m beginning book 1 of the 3rd series. (multiple book 1’s in a single series is particularly malevolent, by the way) It’s like watching the kids go through middle school all over again. Painful…

In an off-handed way, though, being in the middle of a large series is somewhat comforting; I know the next book I will be reading.

And best of all? I am protected from the other book 1’s out there.

For now.

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