The Captain’s Log – first last snow (Max Gladstone) – why chronology vs. publishing order sometimes matters

Ahoy there me mateys!  So in previous times, wendy @ the biliosanctum set me on a series of adventures that led to me reading the first book in The Craft Sequence, three parts dead.  I absolutely loved it.  This is a review that talks about the fourth published book in the series.  Like the others, I read this one without reading the blurb first.  Not that would have helped me predicament.  No real spoilers aboard but read at yer own peril . . .

So me hearties.  I loved this book.  But I found when I was readin’ it, something be fishy.  Action that was happening in this book seemed to have been discussed in the previous books.  I knew it was the correct book in terms of publishing order.  But it had been a while since I read book three and me mind be faulty and often drops facts so I was very confused about timelines and such.  I knew I was missing something.  Eventually, I mentally shrugged and finished this fun tale.

But after I was done, I was even more confused.  What in the world was going on?  Turns out I can blame all the confusion on the author (more on this below).  Arrr!  Ye see I was online searching for a recap for full fathom five, the previous book, to help sort things out.  I checked out the wiki fandom and some random reviews and was still unclear.  So I hopped onto the author’s website.  There on “The Craft Sequence” page was a section entitled “What about the chronology.”

Aye matey, what about it?  Well, turns out that the publishing order does NOT match the chronology order.  Well, shiver me timbers!  Apparently the titles hint at the chronology.  The books have numbers in their titles.  Book four in publishing order is actually book one in chronology.  But the books are all meant to be read as standalones even though there be some limited crossover in characters.  So does the order in which ye read them matter?

Aye and nay.  Ye see the first published book, three parts dead, is the book I read first.  And it be me favourite and was a wonderful introduction to the world.  I be grateful this was me initial foray into the series.  This book, last first snow, is the fourth published book but is set 20 years prior to three parts dead.  Is yer noggin’ whirling yet?  But this current book is me least favourite of the series so far, even if it happens “first.”  In fact, the order in which I like the books is (by publishing order) 1 –> 3 –> 4 –> 2.

Still with me?  Now if I had read these books in chronological order then me third favourite (4) would have been read first.  And then maybe without knowing how strong the other books were, I wouldn’t have picked up more of the series.  And that would have been a shame.  At the same time book four confused me because of the jump back in timeline.

Aye, I know I did not read the blurb.  But that wouldn’t have helped.  There is no indication in the blurb (see below) that this book takes place in an earlier time.  And I be sure that the author put clues about time frame into this book.  I just missed them.  But some of the enjoyment of the book was lightly lessened due to me silly confusion.  So the chronological order DID end up being important in the sense of me focus on the book.  I wasn’t drawn into the story as deeply as I could have been.  I do wish that I would have figured things out sooner.

That said, I always read books in publishing order.  I am not sure why that be.  The idea of readin’ books in chronological order bothers me.

Side note: Don’t get me started on the order in which the Naria series should be read.  I still get angry when I see the box sets “ordered” incorrectly.  But I digress . . .

I do know that some members of me crew read things in chronological order.  I am not sure if readin’ this series in that order is best.  Mehaps some of the crew has opinions on this matter and is up for lively debate on such topics.  All I know if that I be glad that I read them in the order I did.  Also I be glad that the author issued an apology-of-a-sort on tor.com called “This is How I Numbered My Books and I’m Sorry” where he takes responsibility for the scrambling of me noggin’.  And I be grateful that he be crafty enough (hardy har har!) to give me such wonderful readin’ material.

I have been spacing out these books for times where I need a pick-me-up and for when I can savour them.  I will be reading the next two books at some point and, no, I won’t be reading the blurb for them either.  Wish me luck.  Arrrr!!!

Side note no. 2: While searching for the recap, I inadvertently came across a post on Mr. Gladstone’s website called “How to Convince Your Friends to Read My Books.”  I, of course, immediately became sidetracked because explaining these books to me crew can be hard.  His post was absolutely funny and delightful and explained each book with fun little taglines.  For example, the first book published, three parts dead, is described as “For Law, Finance, or Business People: ‘It’s about bankruptcy law, only the entity in bankruptcy protection is a dead god, and the attorneys are necromancers.’  So wonderful.

The author’s website has this to say about the novel:

Forty years after the God Wars, Dresediel Lex bears the scars of liberation—especially in the Skittersill, a poor district still bound by the fallen gods’ decaying edicts. As long as the gods’ wards last, they strangle development; when they fail, demons will be loosed upon the city. The King in Red hires Elayne Kevarian of the Craft firm Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao to fix the wards, but the Skittersill’s people have their own ideas. A protest rises against Elayne’s work, led by Temoc, a warrior-priest turned community organizer who wants to build a peaceful future for his city, his wife, and his young son.

As Elayne drags Temoc and the King in Red to the bargaining table, old wounds reopen, old gods stir in their graves, civil blood breaks to new mutiny, and profiteers circle in the desert sky. Elayne and Temoc must fight conspiracy, dark magic, and their own demons to save the peace—or failing that, to save as many people as they can.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Max Gladstone – Author

To buy the book go to:

last first snow – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

three parts dead – book one (Captain’s Log – Urban Fantasy)

two serpents rise – book two (Captain’s Log – Urban Fantasy)

full fathom five – book three (Captain’s Log – Urban Fantasy)

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27 thoughts on “The Captain’s Log – first last snow (Max Gladstone) – why chronology vs. publishing order sometimes matters

  1. I definitely prefer publishing order and chronology to be the same. I don’t like to feel like I’m missing out or spoiling myself if it’s not clear what order I should read a series in! I’m struggling with my choice for Discworld though, because there are several paths you can take to read those novels and rather than publishing order, I’ve chosen to go by character arc. I’m terrible and I’ve only read two books so far, but I suspect in the future I’ll run into some confusion. But I’d like to finish a character arc, given there are like 40-some-odd books. I feel like I’ll forget too much if I read about one character and don’t come back to them until like 5 books later. But it’s a tough choice!

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    1. I didn’t realize there be 40 books! I don’t think I would keep them straight no matter what order I read them in. I wasn’t planning on readin’ that series but now I know I won’t for sure. Too long. I do hope that ye enjoy them all. Did ye like the two books so far?
      x The Captain

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  2. This is one of the endless challenges with authors who write books set in the same universe but can be read as standalones. You mentioned Narnia struggles with this. So does the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. And I don’t think there is a correct answer. Personally, I tend to lean towards published order. Why? Because it must be the order i which the author last touched the books, therefore the writing will only improve as I read. If I read in chronological order I am often disappointed with the consistency of the author’s writing style. I cannot read a well-written book and then a poorly-written book back to back. I will walk away.

    I tried to read the “This Is how I Numbered My Books And I’m Sorry” article, but it’s got a lot of terms I don’t understand. It sounds like I should read these books! Probably in your recommended reading order. 😉

    That said, this does remind me a bit of the Machete Star Wars viewing order. He thinks this is the superior order: VI –> V–> II –> III –> VI. And I agree.

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    1. That be an excellent point about strengths of writing improving with publishing order. I have been reading Michael Sullivan’s age of myth series and I never read the prior series set in that world. It gives me issues but I don’t want to read both series at once. And what in the world is machete star wars?
      x The Captain

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      1. Ooooh. The Machete order! Okay. So there is a website called Absoutely No Machete Juggling where a gentleman named Hilton rants about technology and Star Wars. Back in 2011, he posted an article Introducing Machete Order. I encourage you to read the article if you want all the details, but basically…

        Hilton understands there are two traditional ways to watch the series: Release order (IV, V, VI, I, II, III) or Episode order (I, II, III, IV, V, VI). There are two critical flaws. Release order is ruined by the inclusion of Hayden Christenson in the final shot because people watching are like, “Who the heck is this dude?!”. Episode order gives away only one of the biggest movie twists of all time (in Episode III before the twist occurs in V). So, Hilton recommends watching them in this order: IV, V, II, III, VI. This preserves both twists, and it removes episode I which is completely explained away in Episode II.

        I showed this order to one of my friends who had never seen Star Wars and IT WORKED. She gasped in all the right places and didn’t notice anything missing with the absence of Episode I. I’m just saying.

        Thoughts?

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      2. Hmmmm. That be highly interesting. I of course watched them in the release order. Not that I was alive when they first came out :). Though to be fair I never saw II which was explained to me in 5 minutes in the car on the way to see III. To this day I don’t think I missed anything. I could have avoided watched I as well. It was so not to me taste. Me enjoyment of that was seeing it in a mostly empty theater where me theatre friends staged battles with their lightsabres while the film rolled on. I will have to read the full article later, discuss with the first mate, and get back to ye. Very intriguing.
        x The Captain

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      3. I love seeing films in mostly empty theatres! There’s something to refreshing to know this is your own experience and you can make of it what you will. Lightsaber battles! Talk about my dreams. 🙂

        I look forward to hearing your thoughts once you’ve discussed!

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    1. I don’t know much anime. I will have to look that up. The miniscule amount I do know comes from exposure from me best friend. Do ye have a review of the first book? I like readin’ reviews on this series. Any plans to read more of them?
      x The Captain

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  3. That sounds a bit confusing, but at least you still enjoyed the books enough to recommend them! I’ll have to consider Three Parts Dead. I don’t mind reading a series out of chronological order as long as I’m aware I’m doing it — and I agree that I prefer to read in publication order.

    AND THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE IS NARNIA BOOK ONE. PERIOD. I refuse to buy a new copy of the series no matter how beat up my copy gets, because I refuse to buy one with the wrong numbers. 😉

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    1. I certainly recommend these books. They are so well written and have some fun concepts. But I am a dork and found the legal aspects involved to be fascinating. I certainly do think people could read the three parts dead as the start and see if it works for them.

      And ditto on the new copies of the Narnia series. Whenever I be cleaning the hold, that box set stays for the same reason. Well and for the memories attached too!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It be a great series with complex political and religious issues. I love it! It can be confusing but I think it is also rewarding. Ye could always read three parts dead (or a sample) and see if it works for ye. Thanks for the comment. Arrr!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I LOVED Three Parts Dead, but I’ve only read three first three books (chronological order). I read them when they came out, so back then there wasn’t any talk about them being published in the “wrong” order. One of these days I hope the read the last three. I’m not bothered by the out of order publishing, I guess!

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