I had the rare pleasure of revisiting a fantasy world that I have loved some time ago through a new story recently. Garth Nix’s Clariel a prequel to Sabriel, the first of the Abhorsen trilogy was published. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, there is something different about revisiting a world where you know all of the rules but where you don’t yet know what is going to happen than the warm familiar feeling that you get from rereading an old favourite. As we get older our experiences and the way that we therefore interpret what we read therefore change. Reading the same book as a teenager and then again in your 30’s may well leave you with two very different senses and appreciations of a book. Different aspects of it may affect you in different ways to it did when you were younger, the death of a character may be easier to relate to or a characters motivations may make more or even less sense to you depending on where your life has taken you. In rereading the same old words a sense of nostalgia may sweep over you and you might find yourself back in your school dormitory or curled up in bed at your parents house, nostalgia can be amazing but it can take something away from the enjoyment of the story itself. But if you read a new book from the same world then you don’t have this risk. The story line and the swirls and the changes won’t be noticed or affect you in quite the same way. I personally find that this makes it easier for me to get fully immersed in and enjoy the book without feeling that something has changed or running the risk of discovering that I didn’t love it as much as I once had.
With Clariel I felt lucky, it was set some time before the original story with very little overlap of the characters. I was able to get absorbed into it fully and enjoy the feel that Garth Nix writing always creates. I was a little disappointed with the ending but mostly because it didn’t really feel like you got a sense of closure for where the main character ended up. I may have to reread the original book at some point to see if I can find out some more about her, as the character they described her becoming I couldn’t recall! I suppose a gap of over a decade between readings can do that!
Overall its definitely encouraged me to keep my eye out for any of my favourite authors revisiting their series. Fundamentally I guess that once you enjoy and feel settled in the world of a certain book there will always be a sense of comfort and safety when you are familiar with the style of their work. I an definitely one of those fans who once they discover an author that they like will be a fan for life.