A question of timing

So, having finished the book, the question sooner or later arises of updating the Suggested Reading Order page. This one’s more puzzling than usual, and I’d welcome suggestions.

Trader’s Leap overlaps with two other novels that were published before it: Neogenesis and Accepting the Lance.

I’m pretty solid on thinking that Neogenesis be read before Trader’s Leap. The climax of Neogenesis comes in only a quarter of the way through Trader’s Leap, and is referenced in a way that feels like it might be confusing if the reader didn’t already know the details, and then (with the letters from home) giving details that might be regarded as spoilers.

What I’m less sure about is Trader’s Leap and Accepting the Lance. On the one hand, there are parts, particularly early on and regarding Tarona Rusk’s activities, that I felt that if I had been able to read them before Accepting the Lance I would have liked Accepting the Lance better. And although there are mentions of the Department’s headquarters being captured, that’s arguably not a spoiler (being something a reader would assume was going to happen anyway) and there’s no mention of the many other things that happen in Accepting the Lance — including the entire quarter of the book that happens after that event.

On the other hand, the end of Trader’s Leap feels like it’s written to be read after Accepting the Lance; there’s a feeling of “with that out of the way, what’s next?”. It might be jarring (I haven’t tried it yet) to go from the end of Trader’s Leap, with Padi happily contemplating Korval’s future, to the beginning of Accepting the Lance, with Korval’s future still in doubt.

Readers, what do you think?

3 thoughts on “A question of timing

  1. Skip

    I agree that it’s not a clear linear progression and I could prolly go either way. TL leaves me feeling that the trading branch of the clan is in good position now for a brighter future. ATL leaves me feeling like the clan-home-tree-business admin is in good shape at the end, with hopes for a happy future on Surebleak.

  2. Ed8r

    I had not even considered whether Neogenesis ought to change its place in the reading order. I think it must solidly go first. I am much less sure about the other two. I honestly was lost more than once during Trader’s Leap, and in other spots a bit annoyed that I already knew where it was going. In many ways I continue to think I might have preferred to read TL before ATL. I’ll leave that as my “vote”–at least until I have time to do a reread of both in that order. I’ll let you know here if I change my mind.

  3. Ed8r

    I have just completed a new re-re-read (etc), so I have come back to offer an opinion about the reading order for Accepting the Lance and Trader’s Leap.

    During my read-through, I had come back to the Suggested Reading Order page here and remembered there had been a question about this order, so when I finished Neogenesis this time, I chose to read Trader’s Leap next. Even so, at least two books separate Alliance of Equals from its direct sequel Trader’s Leap (The Gathering Edge and Neogenesis) so already there is a gap before returning to Shan and Padi. Admittedly, I am now more familiar with the story line, but even so, I found 2 books to be more than enough of a gap, and I was happy to return to this part of the story while I could still pick up the threads, rather than tangling those threads by trying to go back and trace them after moving forward in Accepting the Lance. While it is true that there is a time overlap between the two, I found the plot of Trader’s Leap much easier to follow before I interrupted it with everything that happens in Accepting the Lance.

    All that to say, I come down firmly on the side of reading Trader’s Leap BEFORE Accepting the Lance.

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