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[Reading Group] October Choices

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Ankari, Sep 30, 2014.

  1. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    Sorry for the short notice. I haven't read anything for a month and now feel the need. I have a few books in my library I haven't read yet. Let's see if we can get some votes in today:

    Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

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    The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

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    Shadow and Claw: The Shadow of the Torturer/The Claw of the Conciliator by Gene Wolfe

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    Please pick two. One as your main choice and the second to serve as a tie breaker if the need arises.
     
  2. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I'll go for Shadow and Claw since I own it.
     
  3. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    I vote Gene Wolfe! I really need to finally read those books, since I named my son after the main character and all. But Shadow and Claw is two books in one. Not sure I can read THAT much Gene Wolfe in one month.
     
  4. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I think if Gene Wolfe's two books get picked, then maybe we can just read the first one? They usually come bundled together now, as far as I know. I've been meaning to finally sit down and read this for a long time. I started not too long ago and liked what I read, but put it down again (like I'm apt to do).
     
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I've read all of these. October is going to be pretty busy for me, so I don't know how much I'll be able to participate, though if the pick is Wolfe, I may re-read the book and follow along with the group.
     
  6. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Of note, both of the books that make up Shadow and Claw are only about 200 pages each, making the whole book about 400 pages. I believe this would at least make it shorter than The Name of the Wind and maybe some others we read in the past.
     
  7. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    Alright, we're going with Gene Wolfe
     
  8. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Wolfe is one of those writers I'm never sure what side of the fence I'm on. I'm determined to finish this book (I hope, I'm reading Joe Hill's NOS4R2 right now and it's quite good.) I like his prose, but it's sometimes hard to find the story. I guess he's one of those challenging writers that becomes rewarding after you've read him for a while.
     
  9. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Well, I just finished the book I've been reading for a while last night. Perfect timing. I'm determined to read this one as well. The tetralogy is on my list. My husband has been a mega Gene Wolfe fan for years. (Our youngest son's middle name is Wolfe.) I've still only finished one of his books. (Total respect for the man though.)

    Oh, just noticed this is in ebook form now. A couple of years ago I had to buy the print version for my husband because it wasn't in ebook form yet. And now our print copy is lost.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014
  10. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Has anyone started yet? I am not sure what is happening but I like Wolfe's style. Not sure if it is sustainable for me because it feels more like literary fiction. This can be good or bad for me depending on the writer. So far it is good.
     
  11. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I've started. I read this book some time ago, and I already know I'll like it. Wolfe has a unique writing style I enjoy.
     
  12. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    I've started as well. I think I'm better prepared to read this book than the last time I tried, when I only got about halfway in before I couldn't go on. While reading the first chapter I realized for the first time that this is an entirely cerebral book. There are no feels, as we Otaku say, in it. I remember that the first time I read it I expected to sympathize with the protagonist, at least eventually. But what happened was that I liked him less and less as the book went on. The thing is, I believe this is the effect the author and Severian as the one recounting the story are going for. I don't think Severian wants to be sympathized with, perhaps just understood. (I am basing these thoughts, by the way, not just on my own experience with Severian but on everything my obsessed husband has told me about the books over the years.)

    Here's a particular quote that helped drive this home to me:

    "All this took place in dark and fog. I saw it, but for the most part the men were no more than ambient shadows- as the woman with the heart-shaped face had been. Yet something touched me. Perhaps it was Vodalus's willingness to die to protect her that made the woman seem precious to me; certainly it was that willingness that kindles my admiration for him. Many time since then, when I have stood upon a shaky platform in some marketplace square with Terminus Est at rest before me and a miserable vagrant kneeling at my feet, when I have heard in hissing whispers the hate of the crowd and sensed what was far less welcome, the admiration of those who find an unclean joy in pains and deaths not their own, I have recalled Vodalus at the graveside, and raised my own blade half pretending that when it fell I would be striking for him."

    Now, my first reaction to this passage was: WTF? That makes no sense. Who could possibly sympathize with an unapologetic grave robber? Who could see him as the defender and the people who have come to protect their dead relatives as the enemy? But it was this passage that made me realize that I'm not necessarily supposed to understand how Severian thinks and feels and what his motivations are. Or at least, I'm only supposed to understand them intellectually.

    My husband has told me that Gene Wolfe is trying to establish a world in these books that is truly alien in culture and morality from our own. A world in which grave robbing is just a thing that some people do. It's supposed to be the kind of world, like Middle-earth, where you read about it and then wish you could live there. An Severian is both an unreliable narrator and an anti-hero, not in the modern sense of "I know I shouldn't like him, but he's so sexy!" He's actually difficult for some and impossible for others to like. I found it impossible to like him. But if I can hang in there for more books this time I expect to develop a better understanding of him.
     
  13. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I'm about 150 pages into the re-read. What can I say, I like the book a lot and that apparently hasn't changed in the time since I first read it :)

    I don't necessarily "like" Severian as an individual. I find him interesting. I also think that his viewpoint as the narrator reinforces that the events of the book are so far in the distant future that people's thoughts and motivations may seem at one moment entirely familiar to use, and in the next completely alien. Severian is certainly unreliable as well, and since everything is filtered through him, every character and event is likewise unreliable in its reporting.
     
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