Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Welshman's Been Reading My Amazon List

I just finished Thursday Next: First Among Sequels. It's the fifth entry in the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. I think I've mentioned my devotion to this series before here. The first book, The Eyre Affair, is vastly superior as a stand-alone novel and has the most arch villain. You'll want a basic knowledge of the plot of Jane Eyre in order to appreciate it. The sequels are for more devout bibliophiles, as Fforde makes so many literary references and inside jokes that no matter how well-read you are, you'll still miss a few. Fforde's books also include generous helpings of mystery, horror, SciFi, oral tradition, and metafiction.

I'd rate First Among Sequels as one of the weaker books in the series, along with Something Rotten. The plot moved a bit slow for me, although the action picked up in the end. However, I can't resist it because Fforde appears to have looked at my list of favorites and included all of them in some way in this sequel. Pride and Prejudice plays a central role, and Thursday visits the Hornblower series, a tearoom full of aunts in a Wodehouse novel, and Cold Comfort Farm (where Thursday does, incidentally, see something nasty in the woodshed). Additionally, there are references to The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and The Wind in the Willows, so I was gleefully suckered in. The series never takes itself too seriously, and even at its weakest, it's funny and clever.

The Thursday Next series (thus far) in order:
The Eyre Affair
Lost in a Good Book
The Well of Lost Plots
Something Rotten
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels


Manalive said...

I had no idea there was another TN book-- I thought that series was finished. I really enjoyed the first two, but felt they were getting to be too much like television. Very clever, though! I just bought TEF for my parents. I enjoyed Over Easy as well, much to my surprise.


hayumbone said...

I really disliked Well of Lost Plots, even as I liked some of its conceits. It felt like JF was getting carried away by his own cleverness, seeing how much cuteness he could stuff into his books. I didn't even read Something's Rotten. First Among Sequels, the title alone, made me laugh. I'll finish things out eventually, especially since FAS sounds like it hits many of my fan buttons.

And, the series WAS supposed to be finished. But, as Ursula Le Guin said about her own Earthsea series, silly author, to think the characters were finished yet.

Or maybe JF is just really, really comfortable writing in the Thursday Next universe. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as long as one isn't expecting great literature. But the first book was so inventive.