I have a marked reluctance to read the second book of a trilogy if I haven't read the first. It's usually tough going, and sometimes just about impossible to make sense of what is going on.
Back in 2004, books 2 and 3 of my Isles of Glory trilogy were up for consideration for Australia's Best Fantasy of the Year Aurealis Award. I know at least one of the judges for 2004 did not read book 1 (which had been shortlisted in 2003); perhaps none of them did. I wondered at the time if that was quite fair. It is hard to judge a story when you start a third of the way in...
Be that as it may, Book 3 was shortlisted for 2004. It did not win though.
I have just read a review of The Shadow of Tyr, book 2 of The Mirage Makers, written by a reviewer who has not read book 1, over at The Bookbag. [Spoiler Warning: don't read the review unless you have read "Heart of the Mirage"!!]
Needless to say, she found it hard going to start with, but I was heartened to see that not only did she finish it, but by the end she could give it 4 out of 5 stars and write:
"I began to see just why Larke elicits the comments she does. Once I’d got embedded into the mindset and began to find my way in this world – which is closer to ancient Rome than the usual “mediaeval” setting chosen for fantasy stories – I did begin to care about the characters. In particular Arrant – the son who appears to be as flawed as Ligea feared he might be – and his interaction with the other that takes over his mind. By the end Larke had my emotional attention. Had I started at the beginning, as one should, I’d have enjoyed the whole much more [....] She can spin a battle-scene with the power of a mirage whirlwind, and capture the stunned silence in the aftermath of a massacre."
That was a nice Christmas present.