172 – Prologues and Epilogues

The Mythcreant Podcast

Prologues and epilogues seem so simple. They come before the first chapter and after the last chapter of a book, right? But maybe there’s more to it than that. When is a prologue really chapter one? When is chapter one really a prologue? What is the purpose of an epilogue, and what kind of book actually needs one? Listen to find out, plus bonus material on flash forwards.

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Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

Harry Potter

The Blade Itself


A Game of Thrones


Red Seas Under Red Skies

The Handmaid’s Tale



The Lady or the Tiger

Lord of the Rings

A Tale of Two Cities

The Martian

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  1. Brandon Harbeke

    Mission: Impossible III is a good example of a flash-forward beginning done right.

  2. Matthew Rosen

    The Martian actually originally *had* an epilogue when first digitally published, but taken out for the print run. I haven’t read it, but I heard it involves Watney cussing in front of a little kid when he’s asked about the prospect of returning to Mars.

  3. mike r.

    “1984” also had that “Newspeak dictionary” analysis at the end implying that it was written long after the totalitarianism of the main plot had supposedly ended.

  4. Bellis

    I actually didn’t continue reading the first Harry Potter book at the time, because of the overly long and boring prologue with Vernon Dursley. I would have loved the rest of the book and was the right age and everything, but I remember reading that part and wondering why and what for and just finding it too boring to get through.

    Had it been labelled as “Prologue” I might have continued reading, knowing the actual story about this boy named Harry would start eventually. Had it started with Dumbledore apparating into the muggle street, I’d have been hooked immediately! JKR should have opened with that and sprinkled in some stuff about the Dursleys after that.

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