I struggle with whether to tell people to read Breachalon (Book 0 in Senta and the Steel Dragon) before or after reading books 1-5. Brechalon is an actual prequel. It is book 0 in the series, but I didn’t write it until I had already written books 1, 3, and 5. Therefore I had to think very carefully about what I wanted to reveal. Some of the plot points from book 0 are surprises that happen later in the series. Other elements have more impact if the reader has read the rest of the series before reading book 0.
An example of the former is Zurfina in prison. In the rest of the books, we don’t hear about Zurfina being imprisoned until book 5 nearing the end of the original series. It explains a great deal about her character, but not revealing it until book 5 made it a huge revelation. By revealing it in book 0, it detracts from that a bit, even though I like the story line with her in prison in Brechalon.
An example of the latter is Zurfina’s nickname for Senta. Beginning in book 1 and right through the entire series, Zurfina seldom if ever refers to Senta by her name. Instead, she calls her “Pet.” It seems on the surface a sweet nickname for your child and it stands in the face of some of Zurfina’s careless actions as far as child-rearing goes. You can say, well, you know she loves Senta. She calls her Pet. Then in book 0, you find Zurfina calling Chapman the same name– this a man she has no feelings for and actually plans to destroy and maybe use as a sacrifice. It kind of has a chilling effect when you then hear her giving this eight-year-old child the same nickname.