Back in 2012, I first read Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I fell in love with the book and gobbled both it and the sequel up over the next couple months. I didn’t get to read the third in the series until the summer of 2014. When I finally read it, I raced through and was left with the vague impression that I’d missed a bunch in the latter half of the book. I knew that I’d need to go back one day and read through the book more slowly, and towards the end of March, I began to crave a dip back into Eretz. I downloaded the audio versions of all three books and have slowly listened to them in the last few weeks. (That’s as fast as things go when you’re book-slumping hard!)
First note on revisiting: I initially listened to the first book on audio in 2012. The audio is read by Khristine Hvam. I had quibbles with accents (normal for me) and things like musical interludes. In the last five years, I’ve had a lot more audio exposure – I was still in my first year or two of listening then – and thus have a broadened ear-palate. And while I still found the voices and accents slightly to exaggerated for my tastes, I mostly enjoyed the audio production. I had no problem continuing on to listen to the next two as well. Only weird thing to note was that Liraz’s name changed pronunciation after the second audiobook.
Second note on revisiting: I suspected, after completing Dreams of Gods and Monsters, that my rushed reading caused me to miss a lot. My initial review notes that a lot of the elements felt random and a lot of inessential plot-strings didn’t get tied up. Even then, I figured this was entirely due to my reading rather than actual problems with the book, and that initial suspicion was entirely correct. A lot happens in the latter half of the last book. There are a lot of characters, and a lot of new information, and a lot of stories flying around. With slower, closer examination, though, everything slots into place, and all the questions are answered, and there are no loose ends. Furthermore, rereading the first two books after finishing the third showed me all the many hints waiting to be discovered. Many of the things that felt random before actually showed up in glances already. This is my favorite kind of discovery on rereading a book or series!
Third note on revisiting: I could pull out many strings of philosophy that were played with in this series, but the one that really struck me the most this time around was the discussion of the soul. A big part of the world-building is the ability to glean a soul from a body and place it in a new body, so that the bodies themselves are just vessels, and the souls stay intact. This disconnect of body and soul leads to a lot of interesting ideas. Do souls, once in different bodies, still recognize each other as family and loved ones? Does it matter what your body looks like if your soul is a separate entity? Does the vessel affect the soul at all, in terms of adding to or subtracting from it? Needless to say, there’s a lot of self-discovery in all this, finding one’s truest self, and that struck a very personal chord with me.
This series was just as wonderful on reread as it was my first time through. More so, perhaps, with the deeper, slower examination. It’s full of things to discover and think about. The story, world-building, and characterization are just amazing. I highly recommend it.