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What’s the Best Order to Read My Marquette Novels?

Tyler at the TV6 Christmas Show, Marquette, December 2013When I do book signings, I’m often asked what is the best order in which to read my Marquette novels. The answer to that question depends on how readers want to experience my books.

I’m not the first author to encounter this kind of question. Debates, for example, continue over the proper order for reading C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles. Most people read them in the order they were published, beginning with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. However, other fans believe they should be read beginning with The Magician’s Nephew, the sixth book published, but the first chronologically. A similar conundrum could exist for my books. In fact, three different orders could be given for them as follows, depending on the experience readers want to have.

Publication Order

This order is probably the most logical and the one in which any of my longtime readers will have experienced the books. The order of my novels’ publication is:

1. Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy: Book One (Feb 2006)

2. The Queen City, The Marquette Trilogy: Book Two (Aug 2006)

3. Superior Heritage, The Marquette Trilogy: Book Three (2007)

4. Narrow Lives (2008)

5. The Only Thing That Lasts (2009)

6. Spirit of the North (2012)

7. The Best Place (2013)

Chronological Order

This order is more difficult to determine since the timeframes of some of the books overlap with one another. I’ve listed below the years of the storylines in each book. I’ll leave it up to readers whether they want to read just specific sections of The Marquette Trilogy books and then set a volume aside halfway to read another book that fits within that timeframe.

1. Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy: Book One (1849-1897)

2. Spirit of the North (1873-1900)

3. The Queen City, The Marquette Trilogy: Book Two (1902-1949)

4. The Only Thing That Lasts (1917-1934)

5. Narrow Lives (1915-1963; Note: Although this book chronologically starts in 1915 as opposed to 1917 for The Only Thing That Lasts, the stories are not in chronological order, but follow the pattern 1924, 1929, 1915, 1921, 1942, 1963, 1929-1964; since so many of these stories take place after The Only Thing That Lasts, it makes sense to read that book before Narrow Lives.)

6. Superior Heritage, The Marquette Trilogy: Book Three (1952-1999)

7. The Best Place (2005, with flashbacks covering 1938-2005)

Written Order

It’s equally hard to be specific about the order I wrote these books in, especially with The Marquette Trilogy. I intended to write one book but it became three so it was written in various pieces and I jumped around as I wrote it (it could be considered one book in itself for that reason). The advantage to reading the books in the order they were written is that you can see how my conception of my characters evolved over the years and how I expanded and came to define my fictional version of Marquette and its people. The order in which the books were written is:

1. The Only Thing That Lasts (1987-1990; significant revisions made in 2005)

2. Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy: Book One (1999-2004)

3. The Queen City, The Marquette Trilogy: Book Two (1999-2004)

4. Superior Heritage, The Marquette Trilogy: Book Three (1999-2004)

5. Narrow Lives (2001-2004; although the first two stories “Cecilia” and “Danielle” had earlier versions written in 1992)

6. Spirit of the North (2004-2005)

7. The Best Place (2006-2013)

Author’s Pick

In which order would I personally suggest? I would read them in order of publication since I published them in that order because I thought it was the best way to present the series. For me, it makes sense to read The Marquette Trilogy first and then read the other novels since they are designed as stand-alone books but they also fill in parts of The Marquette Trilogy and will be more meaningful to readers who have already read the trilogy.

In whatever order you do decide to read my books, I appreciate you being one of my readers and I hope you will enjoy them.