Friday Favourites: Sequels
By The Hodderscape Team
Posted on April 25, 2014 in Books, Film, Friday Favourites with tags Films, Friday Favourites, Sequels, Tad Williams, The Godfather
The Hodderscape team pick their favourite sequels, from A Clash of Kings to the Godfather Part II.
Last week we published the last book in the phenomenal Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and this week we announced three new books by Tad Williams, sequels to his bestselling Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy. So this week the Hodderscape team are picking their favourite sequels!
The Godfather Part II (1974)
When assigned this week’s task by the Dodo, I naturally got thinking about what makes a great as opposed to a good sequel. Many fantasy sequences of course are basically a continuing story over several volumes (The Lord of the Rings, A Game of Thrones, The Wheel of Time). All of them could be read as one giant novel, and frequently are. What’s interesting about Tad’s proposal for The Last King of Osten Ard is his decision to hit a huge ‘Fast Forward’ button and start his trilogy thirty years after the events of To Green Angel Tower. Immediately we have that resonant question: what would it be like for Simon and Miramele, his protagonists in Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, to have ruled on the High King’s throne so long? How would the world have changed, they have changed and the people around them have changed? There are not so many literary sequels that take quantum leaps in this way. Personal favourites are Charles McCarry’s series of Christopher spy novels which, undaunted, take the reader back and forwards through time from Cold War mysteries to modern terrorism and back to the 50s again, always asking fascinating questions of his central character, Paul Christopher: how do time, memory and experience shape a person?
Apart from McCarry’s inimitable books, I think one of the great examples of playing with back story to illustrate front story comes in the film of The Godfather Part II directed by Francis Ford Coppola and written by Coppola and Mario Puzo from the latter’s novel. A merely linear successor to the equally brilliant Godfather I would no doubt have been wonderful but there is a rare poignancy in the way Coppola takes the flashback elements of Puzo’s novel showing how the newly immigrant Vito Corleone (played by Robert de Niro) comes from nothing to his violent ascendancy and how in the 40s and 50s his son, Michael (Al Pacino), beset by treachery and the murderous attentions of his rivals in organised crime must change himself, become head of the family, become what his father became: a man who’s credo is notionally ‘business’ but whose bottom line is always the terminal ‘offer that cannot be refused’.
If we are talking about sequels, I feel it is my duty to mention A Song of Ice and Fire. Yes, people talk to death about these books (and the TV series), but I think that it is well deserved. The books are absolutely fantastic, the moment I read the prologue for A Game of Thrones I knew that if I read further I would be hooked.
I was in my third year at University and I knew I had to study, so onto my (digital) bookshelf went the fantasy book and out came the studies and essays. I also wanted to read the books before watching the series, so once my studies were finished I rushed to my kindle and started reading what would possibly the most engrossing fantasy series I have ever read. Honestly, these books are like a drug – once you start you just keep reading.
This brings me nicely onto the sequels, A Game of Thrones is followed by 4 other books and each one is just as gripping and traumatic as the last. Every single book engages you, we all know about Martin’s ability to make you fear for the lives of all your favourite characters, so you never know what to expect. It isn’t the usual tale where good triumphs, or even when good is obvious to you in the first instance. I absolutely hated Jaime Lannister, (SPOILERS) with the incest, p towards Bran and his branding as Kingslayer, you can’t help but dislike him. Though when you come to read his segments in the sequels, he becomes likable – even respectable – and all of a sudden you don’t know who you should be supporting.
I’ll avoid going into any more detail, let’s just say that as sequels go George R. R. Martin has got it right on the money. Each new book in the series is as great as the last, if you are only a fan of the TV series I’ll say you are really missing out – the books surpass it by miles.
The Vampire Lestat (1985) by Anne Rice
No matter how much I love a series, the first book is usually my favourite because that’s where the bulk of the world-building takes place. Anne Rice takes a different approach in The Vampire Chronicles: in Interview With The Vampire the solemn, guilt-ridden vampire Louis introduces us to the world of the undead, and in the sequel his debonair sire Lestat proceeds to have fun in it. In IWTV Lestat was a charming antagonist, but in The Vampire Lestat he literally takes centre stage as he narrates his story, from his upbringing in rural 18th century France to his resurrection as a 90’s rockstar. This is just the tip of the iceberg: in subsequent books Lestat has a love affair with the Ancient Egyptian mother of all vampires and goes on a road trip to both Heaven and Hell. I expect nothing less than for Lestat to be jettisoned off into outer space in a velvet-lined coffin in the upcoming sequel.
I’ve been finding it surprisingly tough to come up with a favourite sequel – I almost went with Speed 2 in a so-bad-it’s-good way! But no, I shall instead go for Imperial Bedrooms, Bret Easton Ellis’ follow-up to Less Than Zero. Imperial Bedrooms picks up with Clay and co 25 years after we first met them in his debut novel, as they approach middle age – older but not necessarily wiser, and certainly not any nicer. The book is just as dark, depraved and, frankly, terrifying as the original. In particular, there’s a certain seriously unpleasant scene near the end that I could hardly bear to read – I think I may have put my hand over my eyes and yelled ‘no!’ out loud at one point. So, not for the faint of heart, but definitely a worthy sequel!