I’ve said before that I’ve fallen out of the habit of re-reading. I used to re-read my books all the time, evidenced by some of my teenage favourites that are on the verge of falling apart and have spines that are pretty much only sticky tape. But then – and I suspect this probably coincided with the time I started getting a monthly pay cheque and therefore could spend without (much) guilt – my TBR pile started growing, and re-reading became a casualty of too many books, too little time…
But ebooks! I succumbed to a few too-good-to-pass-up Kindle offers recently, and in addition to the assorted paper versions on my shelves, I now have e-copies of quite a few Georgette Heyers, Mercedes Lackeys, and Mary Stewarts (yes, I appreciate that is a fairly mixed bag). It has been years since I’ve read these books (in the case of Lackey, nearing two decades), and I wondered how they would stand up to the test of time – more on that to follow. What really struck me about my recent binge of re-reads was how much I had actually forgotten about the actual plot. I kind of loved that I had a vague memory of where the story ends up, but still got caught by surprise by the actual events unfolding on the page.
First up, Mercedes Lackey – I started with her Vows and Honor omnibus (and I have to say, I am the biggest fan ever of ebooks, but there is no replacement for the sheer awesome-ness of the original covers – I mean, look at Tarma and Kethry on this DAW cover). The good: old-school Lackey is so much better than current Lackey in terms of world-building, story-telling, and pacing, and the magic that drew me into her Valdemar world was still very much there. The bad: Did I never notice how rape-y this series was? Gendered violence galore, some very stereotyped thinking, and I ended up skipping the Tarma/Kethry origin short story, because I just couldn’t.
Having said all that, I definitely want to re-read the sort-of sequel BY THE SWORD and am currently in the middle of her Exiles of Valdemar omnibus, which I don’t believe I have actually read before (I lost interest in the series about the time Alberich’s story came out, IIRC). I also want to re-read the Elspeth books, but haven’t bought that e-omnibus (yet!).
And as for the Georgette Heyers – there are a handful of Heyers that I re-read every now and again (COTILLION, FREDERICA, THE GRAND SOPHY, and VENETIA spring to mind), but equally, there’s a huge list of Heyers I’ve read only once or twice. So having bought a whole heap of her e-editions (the only criteria being that they were £0.99 or less), THE TOLL-GATE was the first one I cracked open, and ah, Heyer’s love of period slang, whether real or not, was in full evidence here. There’s a good story buried underneath with some very engaging characters, but I found it hard-going and there’s obviously a reason why it’s in my lesser-read Heyer pile.
THE TALISMAN RING, though, was much better, with an implausible setup which Heyer carried off with style. Totally farcical comedy, but with heart; I loved the inevitable romance, and it had a perfect last page.