Jessica asked:

Is it imperative to read the first two in the trilogy?

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Russell nope this is the best of all of them and he includes a lot of necessary background information as he tells the story, but I do often suggest to read the first to before, but if your not gonna read all three just read this one
Blaine Snow It's much more than a trilogy. The historical sequence goes:

1. The Teachings of Don Juan
2. A Separate Reality
3. Journey to Ixtlan
4. Tales of Power... (where things end, in a way)

then continues with...
5. The Second Ring of Power
6. The Eagle's Gift... (where things end again, in different way)

and then there are possibly 3 of 4 more... for a total of maybe 9 or 10 books...

I agree with the previous answers... in some ways it's best to start with this "Journey", then move on to "Tales of Power." These two will probably make you want to go back and read the first two and then possibly go on to more. Happy reading!
Sternej As a personal project I read the whole series in sequence. This one can stand alone. The others seem to share information but they're not really sequential. However, they all shed light on the others.
Gin Arnold I read this one first, then went back and read the first 2. I have read this one perhaps 8-10 times over he last 30 years. I have read every thing else that Castaneda wrote, and his writing's got increasingly more difficult as he matured, and was exposed to Don Juan and his group. I have highly intelligent friends that are simply unable to comprehend his works, and he addressed that to Carlos. At 73, years in Asia and now living in Ecuador, his words remain as clear to me as they did so long ago.
Alexis Yes absolutely. Because they are much better written, especially A separate Reality. This book is really a bit of a bore halfway.
Emily Rosewater It is not imperative to read any of these, you know? ;)
You can read titles only - and it'll be impressive "Separate Reality" of the last "Journey to Ixtlan" of yours.
Although, there'll be no "Teachings of Don Juan", but only interpretations of own experience in creation of descriptions)
Castaneda created one more "gloss" with his book, anyways.
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