You may have noticed from this blog that I am quite fond of reading series of books. I suppose there is a form of security in reading about familiar characters, often in familiar contexts. Anyone who knows the smallest thing about the Harry Potter series will soon realise that Hogwarts School is a character in its own right, and that the setting is part of the charm of the books. I suppose it rather goes to the main point of why we read what we read. Do we read the Austens, Wodehouses, Heyers (my particular vices) because they feel comfortable, safe and we know what to expect? Or are we happier to read new things, new authors in search of new ideas, characters and situations?
Which is a long winded way of saying that I have re read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling.
What can anyone say about this book. The readers did grow up with this series; this book is a basically simple tale for children, with goodies and baddies, clearly drawn characters, carefully explained events. It does start the whole ball rolling, sets off lots of trails, and establishes the series brilliantly. I am half way through The Chamber of Secrets.
I’m not sure that it is such a good book as the first, and it hasn’t got the relative sophistication of the later books. It does move the story on, and does have the wonderful Gilderoy Lockhart. Perhaps I could have spent the time reading a new book, but one of the joys of reading this series is spotting things that you missed in the rush to discover what happened, especially as the films either stuck closely to the books, or were forced to leave out large chunks. At least we have many copies of these books…
The other series is nowhere near as well known, but a lot more adult. I have written about Susanna Gregory’s Matthew Bartholomew Series before, and now I have read the latest to go paperback, number sixteen.
The Killer of Pilgrims is quite simply, brilliant. It is firmly set in Cambridge, features bitterly held grudges, clever tricks, the hapless Mathew being chased by a romantically inclined female and many murders. The beginning emphasises the importance in the fourteenth century of pilgrims badges to show that someone has made a challenging journey. This book also describes campball games, huge, dangerous ball games featuring large teams set on getting the ball at whatever the cost, including physical damage. A quick check on a certain online encyclopedia reveals just how dangerous a game this was, played between neighbouring parishes or similar groups, and having few if any rules. This novel makes particular use of two games to increase the levels of physical danger and tension between different groups. There is also a fearsome matriarch, a woman who “oozes” towards Matthew, as well as the college going through the usual food shortages and leaky buildings. This is just such a good episode in the series. I think that it probably stands alone as a novel, as a medieval murder mystery, but if it is the first you read in the series, you will want to find the others. I haven’t re read these books, partly because they are quite big, but I have kept them all, if only so I can go back and see how the series develops. Has anyone else got favourite series of books?