I’m a big fan of Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series so when the companion came into my hands I was excited to delve into it.
Companions can be excellent additions to a series, especially a long book series, bringing together all the information of the series in one place, being a handy one stop guide to questions, elaborating on all those little elements of the series that just cannot be included in the main books but are still hinted about – they can be excellent additions. Any author writing a series as long as this is inevitably going to have scenes and ideas and world building that they just can’t fit into the main series. Oh, they could – but inevitably it would be irrelevant to the plot or involve some massively ridiculous info-dumping that would look convoluted and would drag down the pacing of the story
This is the ideal place to fit in all those notes, rambles, world building development etc that couldn’t fit into the main story.
That’s a companion at its best
At its worst, a companion will merely rehash and repeat most of what has been said in the main series, occasionally interspaced with extras that have been on the author’s website. There will be nothing new, original, useful or interesting in it and it will feel like a bit of a money grab.
Unfortunately this companion falls heavily into the second category. A large swathe of the book is taken up by a brief recap of all the other books. As a reviewer this could be useful to me if I ever want to refer back to something in an earlier book, but really is pretty pointless. If you’ve read the series, you don’t need the recaps. This takes up a pretty huge part of the book.
Add on to this there’s a section which is basically a lot of quotes copied and pasted from the books as well.
We have some brief world building notes – but they’re just lists: like Jane’s list of weapons, a list of characters in the series (no extra information on them, just a list) or a brief history of Clan Pellissier – which could have been interesting if it were more than a list.
There’s a glossary at the beginning of the book, including several Cherokee terms, which isn’t bad – but it’s the kind of thing you normally see tucked into the back of a book in the series rather than part of the guide.