The prologue of the novel, “A Recollection of Wings,” opens not long after the end of Ship of Magic. Several serpents–Maulkin, Shreever, Sessurea, and others–linger near “the silvery provider.” Shreever considers their situation; Maulkin muses aloud over his uncertainty. A fight over food ensues, and Mauklin realizes that the other serpents have forgotten themselves and their intelligence, despairing that they will succeed in their quest. He, Shreever, and Sessurea share memories of a different life, and they recommit to moving forward as more food presents itself.
Brief as the prologue is–only some six pages in the edition I’m using to do the reread–it serves two useful purposes. For one, it re-grounds readers in the narrative milieu, serving as a powerful reminder that there is a non-human intelligence very much at work in the story. For another, proceeding as swiftly from and in the same kind as the end of Ship of Magic as it does, it reinforces the continuity between the two novels. While marketing alone makes clear that Mad Ship is the direct sequel to Ship of Magic, and while trilogy setups tend to promote the notion that stories continue through them, having so smooth a transition between novels is rare and serves almost to make the two books one in multiple volumes rather than separate works.
As the novel gets more fully underway, moving into chapters from the prefatory material, I expect I will have more to say. For now, though I am once again delighted to be pressing ahead with this project, and I hope you, dear reader, will continue along with me.