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View Poll Results: Which order should a series of novels be read in?
Published order. 14 82.35%
Order of setting 3 17.65%
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Old 02-19-2018, 11:08 PM
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Alert Should you read a series in story order or published order?

Answer the poll. :yup: This refers to a series of novels where the later books in published order are prequels (or in-quels?) set at earlier times in the fictional story arc.

I will not prejudice the jury with my opinion.
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Old 02-19-2018, 11:35 PM
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Default Re: Should you read a series in story order or published order?

Unless it was planned that way, published order. Most authors dont have the ability to prevent influences from their previous novels or their own personal life to keep it from feeling jarring and infect the prequels. It also ruins surprises. Like watching starwars chronologically ruins both the mystery of Obi wan and the whole "Im your father" bit.
I wonder how many current generation kids get to the I'm your father line and are like "yeah duh!"
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Old 02-20-2018, 12:17 AM
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Default Re: Should you read a series in story order or published order?

I agree with Ari, for the most part. I suspect there are some series that would come off as well if read in setting order, but the only one that comes to mind is the Narnia books, which I read completely out of any order and a very long time ago anyway.

Published order isn't necessarily the same as written order though, so that's another consideration.

There's also a question of what to do about in-world shorter works that sometimes exist apart from the main sequence, e.g. the Dunc and Egg stories from the Ice and Fire world.
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Old 02-20-2018, 02:03 AM
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Default Re: Should you read a series in story order or published order?

I would say "should" is too strong a word. I think the most benefit will probably be derived from a book series by reading it in publication order. Some book series won't make any sense if you read out of the published order, but some probably don't matter so much. The Discworld series benefits from being read in publication order, but there's no reason why you couldn't jump around.

I hated the omnibus edition of The Chronicles of Narnia because they ordered it by Narnia history. The first book in the omnibus has references to other stories which we haven't read yet, and it's clear that the narrator assumes you've read the other stories before. Plus, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is vastly superior to the other story, why would you start your omnibus with a mediocre story from near the end of the series?

However, I've accidentally picked up a book from the middle or end of a series, and not really lost a lot of enjoyment if it's well done. I've read most of Asimov's Robot series completely out of order.

Still, if I had a choice, I'd go with publication order, unless the author chimes in with a compelling reason.
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Old 02-20-2018, 05:53 AM
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Default Re: Should you read a series in story order or published order?

There can be exceptions where reading books in storyline chronological order makes sense, or even completely alternative orderings. But you need some justification and, of course, it's harder to know whether it's a good order unless you've already read the whole series yourself. If the author him or herself suggests going out of publication order, that would be pretty good reason. But if the author thought storyline chronological order was important, they'd probably publish in that order unless they say otherwise.

The same applies to movies. There are some alternative orders suggested for the Star Wars series, for example. And you have some flexibility in ordering MCU movies, since some of the storylines only intersect at certain points. There isn't an especially strong reason to watch Iron Man before Thor, for example.

For television shows, you would think it would be more rare since they are generally very linear and don't jump around the timeline as much (and flashbacks to events from earlier are often framed within the running storyline). However, networks often mess with the ordering of episodes within a season. This has occasionally messed with the continuity of some shows as episodes were aired out of order. In these cases, production order is usually the ordering you want, rather than order of airing. In shows with little in the way of running storylines, or even much use of callbacks, on the other hand, there can be less reason to watch strictly in order (although production order or order of airing is probably still preferable).

Also, of course, some series with more standalone installments may benefit from simply cutting out entire books/movies/TV episodes. And in exceptional cases, even series with a lot of continuity may benefit from cutting out entire installments and reading the Wikipedia summary, cuz sometimes things get really dumb before recovering.
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Old 02-20-2018, 11:40 AM
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Default Re: Should you read a series in story order or published order?

Just like I like to watch Star Wars: IV, V, VI, VIII, pretending I, II, and III don't exist.
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Old 02-20-2018, 12:21 PM
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Default Re: Should you read a series in story order or published order?

The correct answer is both. In that order.
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Old 02-20-2018, 04:05 PM
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Default Re: Should you read a series in story order or published order?

I have to go with...it depends, but erimir has a good point that the only way you'd know is if you've read the series yourself.

Cases in point, both Malazan Book of the Fallen and Pratchett's Discworld series. One is easier if read by certain characters' storylines, and the other..well it doesn't matter. You'll get the gist of Discworld pretty much anywhere you start. But I'm not sure if Discworld counts as a series, thinking about it.
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Old 02-20-2018, 05:36 PM
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Default Re: Should you read a series in story order or published order?

'Depends' is my firm answer, too.

'Discworld' was my example of 'it doesn't matter'.

I don't know if you can put a 'story order' to Le Guin's 'Hainish Tales', and I haven't read enough of the 'Wizard of Earthsea' to know.

'Dune' should be read in the order published and all after the second or third jettisoned entirely.

Robertson Davies' sets of trilogies are each a better read in order, but it is not really necessary, as they work fine as stand-alone novels, and it matters not which triology you start with.

Asimov's 'Foundation Trilogy' should most definitely be read in story order, but I think that is the same as published order.

I'd say Tolkien's works should be read in story order and a great deal of the early stuff ignored entirely.
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Old 02-20-2018, 09:54 PM
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Default Re: Should you read a series in story order or published order?

Quote:
Originally Posted by curses View Post
You'll get the gist of Discworld pretty much anywhere you start. But I'm not sure if Discworld counts as a series, thinking about it.
With Discworld I usually recommend starting with one of the better early books. Probably Guards! Guards! or Small Gods. Later books do stand alone, but I reckon you get more out of them if you are already familiar with the settings and characters. Definitely not published order, anyway, as I think the earliest books are some of the weakest.
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Old 02-21-2018, 01:00 AM
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Default Re: Should you read a series in story order or published order?

I just suggested to my step brother to pick up the Witches series in Discworld, and I suggested he read those books starting with Wyrd Sisters, then going in published order (Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Maskerade, Carpe Jugulum), but he won't miss anything if he hasn't read the other Discworld books in between. He could read Equal Rites, but it didn't matter except for introducing Granny Weatherwax and other characters.
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Old 02-21-2018, 02:28 AM
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Default Re: Should you read a series in story order or published order?

This is a nice illustration on Discworld reading order, wish there was a larger size.
It's missing Raising Steam and Shepherd's Crown.
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Old 02-21-2018, 03:43 PM
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Default Re: Should you read a series in story order or published order?

Quote:
Originally Posted by specious_reasons View Post
I just suggested to my step brother to pick up the Witches series in Discworld, and I suggested he read those books starting with Wyrd Sisters, then going in published order (Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Maskerade, Carpe Jugulum), but he won't miss anything if he hasn't read the other Discworld books in between. He could read Equal Rites, but it didn't matter except for introducing Granny Weatherwax and other characters.
I'm a big fan of the Tiffany Aching series, so I tend to recommend starting with Wee Free Men and note that there is an extensive backstory regarding the mentoring witches....and, there is a return to the primary character of Equal Rites, Eskarina Smith, for a cameo.

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