I treated myself to enough books to fill a shelf in the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale, and I couldn't resist starting on them any longer. I must have had the wrong glasses on when I chose them because instead of series starters, I found that two of the books I downloaded are second instalments. Once I stopped being irritated with myself, I realised what a good opportunity this was.
As anyone who follows this blog can hardly have avoided noticing, the third novel in the Exiles of Ondd series, Discord's Shadow, is due for publication on 6th November. I wouldn't have put it up for pre-order if I hadn't thought it was ready, but as every author, artist, composer or other creator will tell you, no work is ever finished. I shall no doubt keep finding things that I think need changing right up to publication. Two things that I shall keep checking, is how much to include from the previous novels, and how best to do it. Jumping into part two of someone else's series should help me decide.
The novels I read are Wyvern by John H. Carroll and The Sea of Grass by Gilbert M. Stack. I found them both easy reads, and at no point was I brought up short by not knowing what had gone before. In both cases, apart from a couple of minor exceptions, the protagonist was the only character from the previous novel, and while previous events had led to the current situation, they were not really part of the current story (although they might well influence what happens in the third novel). This means that very little back story was needed. A prologue of the story so far would only have prevented readers getting to the action. What details were needed were brought out through the action. There was no info-dumping where characters tell each other what they already know, or indeed explaining previous events to new characters.
The situation with Discord's Shadow is rather different as many of the previous characters return, and their aims and the dangers they faced before are integral to what happens. Nevertheless, I hope I've succeeded in giving new readers enough information to understand what's happening and why without slowing the pace and boring people who have read Discord's Child and Discord's Apprentice. Time will tell.