Just go read it. Seriously.
As I mentioned in Wild Seed, I am glad I read that novel first – the background it provides for Doro, and Emma, is devastatingly important. Of course you could read this first – publication order – and then have the background filled in… but this order definitely worked for me.
This book is very focussed on Doro and the people he manipulates people to his own ends. Even when other characters – Emma (Anwanyu), and especially Mary – get to tell their own story, it’s always connected to Doro: against or in favour, in reaction somehow, trying to figure out how to circumvent or please him. He is the Patternmaster. He is the puppetmaster.
This book takes place over a much shorter timeframe than Wild Seed – just a few decades. In the prologue, Mary is a small child in an abusive home; the narrative picks up with Mary, one of Doro’s many children and an important part of his experimentation, in her late teens. Mary becomes the focus of the story as she seems to be the fulfilment of Doro’s plans, and it basically follows her development and discovery of her powers.
Unsurprisingly, Mind follows some of the same themes as Wild Seed. Why humans acts they way they do, how compulsions can work and why we act in our own worst interests; what slavery can look like. It develops the discussion of the difference between haves and have-nots to a greater extent, and the consequences of power. The idea of family and its power as well as its destructiveness. Humanity at its best and worst.
This book isn’t always pleasant to read, but it is always powerful and it’s always well written and I will definitely be reading it again.