First Among Sequels is (I think, but I may have lost count) the fifth in the Thursday Next series. Halfway through this novel it would be fair to say I was disappointed. Not a lot had happened, and most of the text was a reiteration of the ideas of the earlier books in the series. While several years have elapsed since Something Rotten, Thursday has acquired several children, and is no longer a literary policewoman, despite all this ostensible change, everything felt very familiar.
This is confident playful writing by a writer at the top of his game. Fforde creates a deliciously dark villain in Thursday Next 1-4, and although she is killed off “textually” at the end of the novel, as we always knew she must be, I would not be at all surprised to see her return. In reading First Among Sequels I was reminded of some of the better episodes of Doctor Who, where time travelling allows just about anything to happen, including dead characters to reappear. There’s a wealth of other really funny and interesting ideas, plus an appearance of one of my favourite characters in literature, to make this a really worthwhile and valueable addition to the series. Fforde is in complete control of his material, despite sometimes juggling with concepts which in lesser hands would be simply silly (e.g. the recipe for unscrambled eggs), but definitely pulls it off.