Monday, October 02, 2006

The Fforde Affair

Books 19 to 22 were delights to read and I've been recommending them to everyone I know. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to be able to live inside fiction or ever fantasized about trading places with a fictional character (I've always wanted to be Elizabeth Bennett) then the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde is perfect for you. I read the series out of order but my enjoyment of the books was not diminished and I was able to easily follow all of the plot lines.

I read Lost in a Good Book, which is the second book in the series, first, and by the end of the first chapter I was hooked. Fforde has an incredible imagination and has created a parallel universe in which there is a yearly mammoth migration, people keep reengineered dodo's as pets and travel long distances either by airship or in tubes that go through the center of the Earth. This is a world in which the Crimea War is still raging in the year 1985 and there is a policing agency called Special Operations that oversees everything too "weird" for the regular police. SpecOps has a vampire and werewolf disposal unit, a Chronoguard division whose operatives can stop time, and the Literary Detectives of which the main character, Thursday Next, is a member. Thursday usually spends her days investigating forgeries and dealing with crazed fans who insist the Shakespeare's plays were written by someone else (Francis Bacon being the popular favourite), until she has to find a way into fiction to stop a madman from destroying Jane Eyre. I wouldn't call these books science fiction or fantasy or even just regular fiction - they are a genre all to themselves.

The third book in the series, The Well of Lost Plots, is the one that I read second. In this one Thursday decides to take a vacation from the real world and joins Jurisfiction's (the policing agency of the Book World) Character Exchange Program. She takes up residency in an unpublished book currently residing in the Well of Lost Plots and tries to solve several mysteries that have occurred in the book world all while trying to regain her memory.

The Eyre Affair was third and gave me all of the background that I was missing from the other two books. This is the one that started the whole series and takes the reader on a wild ride as Thursday follows advice and clues that she doesn't totally understand.

Finally, I read the fourth installment in the series, Something Rotten. Thursday seems to take on more than she can handle as she tries to save the world by winning a seemingly unwinnable croquet match, foiling the Goliath Corporation yet again, finding an escaped Minotaur and trying to defeat a long-time enemy. This final book will keep you enthralled and the ending will reveal all.

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