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  1. #1
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    Dec 2017
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    Default Secret History of the World First Time Read and Order Questions

    Hello there,

    I'm new here. I've read a few F. Paul Wilson books and stories before, including two novels, Implant and Midnight Mass. I found that I am really entertained by his work, and Midnight Mass of the two in particular really impressed me. I wanted to dive into his more famous work.

    Thus, I've made F. Paul Wilson's Secret History of the World as my 2018 reading project.
    I wanted to capture my thoughts as I move through the project and each story or novel.
    I'll have the full list up here in this post, and update it with what's finished and what's being read at the moment.

    Please no spoilers to any of the books that I haven't read yet!


    My Questions Before I get started.

    • First is the order, I understand the order on the website is Chronological but is it also the recommended reading order, does it make sense or spoil things later by reading it that way. I.e. Star Wars has six episodes, but if you watch Episode 1-3 first, you are spoiled on the big twist of Empire, so chronological isn't really the best way to read it.
    • There are numerous short stories tied to certain books i.e. Conspiracies (April) (includes “Home Repairs”+), should these shorts be read before or after the novel in question, is that short even in the right place chronologically?
    • Any other tips on how to read the series?


    I'm assuming chronological unless I hear otherwise.

    I'll underline complete stories. Bold the Currently Reading Story

    The Past (9 Novels, 6 Shorts)
    “Demonsong” (prehistory) - (Dec, 2017)
    “The Compendium of Srem” (1498) - (Dec, 2017)
    “Aryans and Absinthe”** (1923-1924)
    - (Dec 2017)
    Black Wind (1926-1945)
    The Keep (1941) -
    (Jan 2018)
    Reborn (February-March 1968) - Reading
    “Dat Tay Vao”*** (March 1968)
    Jack: Secret Histories (1983)
    Jack: Secret Circles (1983)
    Jack: Secret Vengeance (1983)
    “Faces”* (1988)
    Cold City (1990)
    Dark City (1991)
    Fear City (1993)
    “Fix” (2006) (with J.A. Konrath & Ann Voss Peterson)


    Year Zero Minus Three (3 Novels, 3 Shorts)
    Sibs (February)
    The Tomb (summer)
    “The Barrens”* (ends in September)
    “A Day in the Life”* (October)
    “The Long Way Home”+
    Legacies (December)


    Year Zero Minus Two (7 Novels, 3 Shorts)
    “Interlude at Duane’s” (April) ** / +
    Conspiracies (April) (includes “Home Repairs”+)
    All the Rage (May) (includes “The Last Rakosh”+)
    Hosts (June)
    The Haunted Air (August)
    Gateways (September)
    Crisscross (November)
    Infernal (December)


    Year Zero Minus One (8 Novels, 2 Shorts)
    Harbingers (January)
    “Infernal Night” (with Heather Graham)
    Bloodline (April)
    The Fifth Harmonic (April)
    Panacea (April)
    By the Sword (May)
    Ground Zero (July)
    The Touch (ends in August)
    The Peabody-Ozymandias Traveling Circus & Oddity Emporium (ends in September)
    “Tenants”*


    Year Zero (4 Novels, 1 Short)
    “Pelts”*
    Reprisal (ends in February)
    Fatal Error (February) (includes “The Wringer”+)
    The Dark at the End (March)
    Nightworld (May)

    Count Left: (30 Novels, 12 Shorts)
    Total Count: (31 Novels, 15 Shorts)

    Other Stories that deal with the Secret History:
     

    “The Cleaning Machine”
    “Feelings”
    “The Years the Music Died”
    “Lipidleggin’”
    “The Last One Mo' Once Golden Oldies Revival”
    “Menage”
    “Doc Johnson”
    “Feelings”
    “ICU” (only a few folks have seen this)
    “(the answer)”
    “Muscles”
    “The Years the Music Died”
    Masque
    Nightkill
    Buckets
    Traps
    Foet
    Last edited by elnino14; 01-17-2018 at 01:36 PM.

  2. #2
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    Dec 2017
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    Here we go story number 1 complete. Boom shakalaka!

    So a long while ago (maybe 4 years ago), I read this, it was a first attempt at going F. Paul Wilson's "Secret History of the World" Saga (and I didn't get very far after real life got in the way and I stopped at The Keep).

    This time...I really really mean it. I'm going to do this thing.

    Starting with Demonsong which takes place eons ago (but I'm assuming in this galaxy).

    Reading Scenes from a Secret History afterwards, helps provide context and understanding to the importance of this story's place in the overall scheme of things but I'm a little concerned at it spoiling things.

    An offshoot off what to normally expect from Mr. Wilson (my exposure being that of Midnight Mass and Implant), this story takes place in a medieval-like time full of kingdoms, magic, and demons. Admittedly, it's interesting to see a swords and sorcery story climax with almost none of that factoring into the climax, turning the concepts and expectations on their head. The story beyond those circumvented expectations is fairly straightforward, skipping over heavy handed worldbuilding in favor of getting on with the quest. It feels like a side quest to a much larger story, dealing out lore in bits, thus, as a result I didn't really get enough, but, also, I didn't really want more.

    I spent much of the book entertaining myself with trying to understand which bits and pieces will impact further stories down the line, and it does act far better as an introduction to it's main characters Glaeken and Rasalom than a fully fleshed out story.

    Things to remember: Rasalom was creating an embryo for himself to be reborn in, hmmm....

    Excitement level: Ruh?

    Next up: The Compendium of Srem

    Ranking Secret History Stories:
    1. Demonsong
    Last edited by elnino14; 12-30-2017 at 12:34 AM.

  3. #3
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    It's probably better to start with THE KEEP and read in order through to NIGHTWORLD, then go back to the early tales. The run-up material will have far more resonance that way.
    FPWHidden Content
    "It means 'Ask the next question.' Ask the next question, and the one that follows that, and the one that follows that. It's the symbol of everything humanity has ever created." Theodore Sturgeon.

  4. #4
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    Sounds good! I'll jump to The Keep next.

    I finished up the other two shorts already over the weekend...

    Next up is The Compendium of Srem
    This is more like it. I really enjoyed this look into the Spanish Inquisition. Surrounding the plot of an indestructible tome about pre-biblical history (The book referenced by the title), which is probably a key element in the meta plot, there is a rather interesting moral discussion regarding the philosophies at the time, about the dividing lines amongst those in the religion itself and the changing interpretation of the symbols of religion. A story that satisfies on multiple fronts, as a supernatural horror mystery, but also as a reflection of morality and the consequences of blind fervent faith.

    After that was Aryans and Absinthe
    I read this all up in one evening that I had trouble sleeping. Probably wasn't the greatest idea, as this story rattled in my brain for a little while longer after I put it down. It's not the first time it's been suggested that Hitler had some supernatural forces surrounding him (in fiction). Thankfully, the story also takes a look at all the political and economic upheaval surrounding this rise to power, showing the absolute need for change. It's all done through the eyes of a bystander, the reader surrogate, as this character experiences the world, the national changes, the hallucinations, and the evil that exposes itself to him, we as readers experience it too. By far the stand out moments are the introduction of the mysterious Ernst, who's hell bent on being entertained, and the blur between alcohol induced madness or clairvoyant visions. F. Paul talks a little about the research he did here, and it come out quite well for me placing me in that time frame, in that region, and in that awful economic situation.

    Things to remember:
    • Ernst helped Hitler survive an assassination attempt committed by his friend. Even though he profited off the economic and political chaos of Germany and was faced with an embodiment of evil with disastrous consequences, he still stops the assassination. Who is this man, Ernst?
    • The Compendium is indestructible and still out and about/ never buried and contains information about pre-Biblical times. I expect this to show up again.
    • Rasalom was creating an embryo for himself to be reborn in before he was thwarted by Glaeken, he's still around out there having disappeared.



    Other Notes: I'm excited to get into the Novel portion with the beginnings of the Adversary Cycle and, though a little further away, to meet Jack. The Keep (in the middle) is where I stopped last time I attempted this, so it's all new material from there.

    Next up: Black Wind and The Keep

    Ranking Secret History Stories:
    1. The Compendium of Srem
    2. Aryans and Absinthe
    3. Demonsong

  5. #5
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    I'm a bit behind on writing up my thoughts.
    I finished The Keep a couple of weeks ago.
    The first half of this book is spine-tingling, just a chilling haunting tale about horrors worse than arguably the absolute worst of mankind (Nazis). A book that explores the genre tropes of the vampire tale and digs deeper into a personal state of what their existence means, in fact, this exploration of faith in the face of evil is easily my favorite part of the novel. Creating German Soldiers, Nazi, and Jewish characters in World War II that all run the gamut of morality, wickedness, loyalty, and resolve makes for a fascinating complexity. In fact, we spend much of the first act with German commanders of the war, showing both how terrible men thrived and how good men were silenced.

    Somewhere near the halfway point the books enters a romantic and fantasy territory, granted I've never dealt with romantic material and swords and sorcery fantasy nearly as well, and while neither of these were entirely intrusive of the novel, they weren't where I expected the novel to go, and missed the days of the first half of the book of the unending tension and terror. Granted, the book had to end up somewhere, and while I didn't buy into the romantic element, I ultimately enjoyed the never-ending struggle of good and evil.

    The unending horror of our villain and the biggest trick of the book being an exploration of what turns good men bad, what men will do to justify the evil acts they commit, and even engaging the reader (as well as a particular character) that when faced with two evils - how easy it is to associate with one, and how difficult it is to see the harm both will commit.

    Looking forward to the next novel.

    Things for me to remember (Spoilers abound):

    • The Keep: Rasalom (Molasar) was kept in the Keep as a form of prison for all this time, has an unending hunger for death. Rasalom disintegrated into specks of dust in the climax, supposedly killed, yet Glaeken was able to survive (more human this time), so I assume Rasalom was able to survive as well.
    • Aryans & Absinthe: Ernst helped Hitler survive an assassination attempt committed by his friend. Even though he profited off the economic and political chaos of Germany and was faced with an embodiment of evil with disastrous consequences, he still stops the assassination. Who is this man, Ernst?
    • Compendium of Srem: The Compendium is indestructible and still out and about/ never buried and contains information about pre-Biblical times. I expect this to show up again.
    • Demonsong: Rasalom was creating an embryo for himself to be reborn in before he was thwarted by Glaeken, he's still around out there having disappeared.


    Other Notes: I'm holding off on Black Wind to focus on the other stories for a while. I'll come back around to it either before By the Sword or near the end of The Past section.

    Next up: Reborn

    Ranking Secret History Stories:
    1. The Keep
    2. The Compendium of Srem
    3. Aryans and Absinthe
    4. Demonsong



  6. #6
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    I'm enjoying your book-by-book notes
    FPWHidden Content
    "It means 'Ask the next question.' Ask the next question, and the one that follows that, and the one that follows that. It's the symbol of everything humanity has ever created." Theodore Sturgeon.

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