Yesterday I posted a rambling review of The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Sharp readers no doubt noticed at the end of the post that I contradicted myself. I talked about avoiding the fourth installment of the Millenium series initially just because Stieg Larsson, the series’ creator, passed on and a new author picked up the thread of the story.
I mentioned a thing called author loyalty. Then I ended the post speaking about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Mycroft Holmes and my enthusiasm for reading it. That got me thinking about the whole issue. How long does an author have to be dead before author loyalty erodes and readers flock in comfort to a new author’s continuation of the saga?
Perhaps that’s the wrong question to ask. Is it the fact that a new author is taking a crack at characters we have loved, laughed with and cried for that puts us off? Or does the work need to pass into the public domain first?
Are we as readers (listeners) more comfortable with other authors playing with our favorite universes (in the case of Dune) or characters (in the case of the Millennium series) when the main character ends up being someone the new author invented? Are we less comfortable when a new author picks up our favorite characters and animates them in a way that is different than their originator? Or does it depend on the series/characters in question?
What do you think? Is author loyalty a thorn in your side or a feather in your cap?
For me it’s more comfortable to read a yarn like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Mycroft Holmes or Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russel series. In both series, the main character is not Sherlock Holmes. If you’ve read Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales, then you know that Sherlock is usually not the protagonist, Watson is. So the choice of creating a new main character to lead the story is a must for all Sherlock Holmes tales.
Sherlock Holmes makes cameo appearances in both King’s series and Adbul-Jabbar’s offering allowing the other characters to take center stage. Mycroft Holmes has always been a fascinating character who popped up far too infrequently in Sherlock Holmes tales. So reading an adventure solely about him and his very intriguing friend, Douglas, was a real treat. Abdul-Jabbar and Anne Waterhouse paid careful attention to the details of that time period and Doyle’s style. I give it a five stars.
If you’re a fan of Holmesian fiction, Mycroft Holmes, is a must read. King’s Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russel series is also brilliantly written and very well researched. Each premise is intriguing in its own right. Mary Russel is fantastic leading lady who has earned her place beside Sherlock Holmes. She’s quite the detective.