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Vent about the Book You're Reading

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Devor, May 11, 2018.

  1. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Ok, the 'Benjamin Ashwood' series, billed as 'old fashioned sword and sorcery.' I picked up the digital version of the first three books for a steal many months ago, read part of the first one, wasn't impressed, wrote a review to that effect and moved on to other works. Then, I noticed more and more four and five star reviews on Amazon to that effect, dug it out of digital storage, and began reading it anew. Along the way, I began making comparisons to my own efforts. (yes, not supposed to do this, but couldn't help myself)

    Ok, 'sword and sorcery.' Means lots of fights, evil magicians, and assorted monsters. 'Benjamin Ashwood' has plenty of that. I'll also give the author points for worldbuilding - once I grasped the historical severity of the demon issue, the political arrangement of petty kingdoms made sense.

    The demons, however, are barely even one dimensional - they appear, they attack, and you either fight and win or you die - every single time. That was one strike - I kept waiting for demons to display something other than mindless violence; instead, there were a few more powerful specimens with a rudimentary grasp of tactics.

    Ok, I have demons in my own writings (especially 'Empire') that play major roles in what's going on. Monstrous demons on murderous rampages feature in several characters recollections. But, my demons were more than mere killing machines - they possess formidable intellect and knowledge, plus they have goals of their own that only sometimes involve mortals.

    Another strike is the discrepancy between the highly advanced knowledge (20th century level) displayed by some characters - notably the mages - compared with the feudal city-state and petty kingdom level everybody dwelled in. At this point, I'm wondering 'lost colony' or 'cataclysm.' If it's not one of those, then, well, the strike sticks.

    My primary world (and almost all the secondary ones, for that matter) have multiple high tech devices, and a number of characters with rudimentary understanding of them. Those devices and attendant knowledge stem from the 'ancient aliens.' In my worlds, the discrepancy exists, but it's accounted for. It's not well understood and is frequently regarded as magical or demonic. In Ashwood, it's like some of the characters are quoting from a 20th century college text.

    A strike of sorts is the total absence of religion. No priests, no discussions of theology, no mention of a deity or a pantheon. Comes across as 'weird' for a quasi feudal society. The closest is a sort of martial mysticism - the 'thirty ohms.'

    In my world - at least the primary one - religion is a very big deal. The faith of the True God exercises major influence across the Solarian Empire and beyond. Priests act as counselors for peasant couples, (sometimes) provide education, moral guidance, and more. There are also feuds between the True Faith and lingering pagan religions, plus splits within the faith itself.

    The 'long lived' are another strike of sorts. Seems you master a profession, one that requires great will (almost always either a warrior or a wizard) and aging just sort of 'stops.' Mind over body. Seems to me there should be more to it than that.

    Then, there is the body count in Benjamin Ashwood - people die in droves in these books. I could accept that, but all too often, it gets repetitious: Benjamin and company meet up with somebody, who is almost always presented as a fellow refugee or guide of some sort. Said character either gets killed in the next demon attack or assassination attempt, or is an assassin themselves. Then there are the small groups of assassins, some backed by mages, who just sort of randomly show up and try to kill the heroes. Very few of these secondary characters survive. For that matter, the body count amongst ordinary artisans, traders, and like folk is high as well, especially after even casual contact with Benjamin (and he's really, really trying to make things better for these people.)

    Ok, in my works, people died in droves during the Traag War. Unlike Ashwood, though, which has 'unsettled conditions,' the Traag War was a major, decades long conflict against a realm ruled by demons who regarded their subjects as bugs. Afterwards, though, well, Solaria is unsettled, plagued by banditry, piracy, widespread poverty, and occasional urban rioting - but the body count is (mostly) far less than Ashwood's. It's a symptom of social change.

    Social Change - that is something my tales have in common with Ashwood, though the thrust is different. In Empire, it's a massive seismic shift; in Ashwood, it's more 'ordinary folk building free states in the wilderness.'

    Ok...so the Benjamin Ashwood series gets some pretty good reviews (and is better than some other digital fantasy series I've read over the past year or two) - yet, it has these issues, places where I might have done a better job. Gives me a modicum of hope. Or maybe I'm being delusional.
     
  2. Kittie Brandybuck

    Kittie Brandybuck Minstrel

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    I recently finished the whole Harry Potter series and it was just... i can't describe my feelings about it.
    First of all, they ruined my favourite character. Hermione Granger was the intelligent one who always found a way to help Harry out of tight situations. But in book 7, she was literally holding Harry back from defeating Voldemort.
    Book 7 itself was one of the two worst ones. The first half was just them being moody and the only reason i read it all was i just had to finish the series. The second half was so action-packed i got confused. The battle of Hogwarts was just pointless. I can't describe why, i know it was important, but it just felt pointless. Also, what sort of villain tries to take over a high school and fails?
    Snape. At first he was just your ordinary strict teacher who everyone loves to hate. But then you find out about his past with Lily and all that. I DO NOT understand why people like him and why he's treated as some huge hero after this shocking revelation. Because he just reminds me of a very annoying ex who wouldn't understand our relationship was over.
    Book 8. This just seemed like a badly written fanfic instead of the real thing. They got so much stuff wrong, like when they make polyjuice potion in, like, a day or something. I thought it took a month? Also, why the heck would Voldemort have a child with Bellatrix? I thought Voldemort couldn't love or whatever? And the time turners were totally different. In book 3, if you change something in the past, it ever-so-slightly changes the present. In book 8, if you change the past, it leads you to an alternate reality. Also, they ruined Ron. At one point, he runs into the room, points his wand, realizes it is upside down, and turns it the right way around. Seriously? That is not funny, it's just plain dumb.
    The movies. They changed everything and made it horrible.
    Harry himself. He's moody, arrogant, mean, rude, and stupid. He annoyed me sooooooo much.
    The other stuff (Lego, Pottermore, etc.). All that stuff is TOO MUCH. I just annoys me so much when I walk into a shop and the first thing i see is a kawaii-style Harry Potter plushie, right next to a tiny bag of Bertie Bott's every flavour beans. They are basically jelly beans with a differnt name (also, the flavours are renamed too, to make them "every flavour". All it does is make them disgusting).
    I'm actually sad about all this. If J.K. Rowling wrote every book in the style of the first 3, kept every flavour beans as something non-existing, and kept the films with only one director instead of 4, and written book 8 by herself instead of with 3 random people, and not made it a play, i wouldn't dislike this series so much.
     
    Insolent Lad likes this.
  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    From what I remember, the first 3 books had an editor run through them before they got published. I wonder how much was red-lined? Then they got really successful... and a lot less red-lining.
     
    Kittie Brandybuck likes this.
  4. Wow, straight up forgot that “Book 8” was a thing.

    I remember liking the 7th book when I read it, but in hindsight I don’t really know why, since a lot of the worldbuilding stuff came totally out of left field for me. The Deathly Hallows just don’t fit with the previously established character of the magic system. (Not that the magic system has consistent rules that make sense, but it’s at least consistent in feel.)
     
  5. piperofyork

    piperofyork Scribe

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    I couldn't finish Mistborn. After a while it started to feel like a graphic novel with superheroes. Are all of Sanderson's books like this? Mistborn was published in 2006, so maybe his style has changed...
     
  6. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Funny, some of this is the same I felt after page 1, book 1, heh heh. Okay, I’m just taking pot shots at Potter. I made it part way through chapter 2 before my eyes rolled into the back of my head. In some ways I do wish I had been 10 when Potter came out, I would’ve enjoyed it and moved along with the story for a while at least. It’s the sme way I recall loving Narnia, and trying to read it now just doesn’t work. Tolkien’s LoTR is about the only books I read around the age of 10-12 that I can stlil read.


     
  7. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Mistborn is fairly “immature” for his writing, but it would probably depend on what you call “Style”. I’m not sure his writing changed a great deal from the books I’ve read, but the stories vary widely. I’m not a Sanderson-nista, so I’m sure his true followers would rail against us, heh heh. While I’ve not encountered those fans myself, several of my readers have mentioned how rabid his fans can be in our conversations.

     
  8. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

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    Yes and no. His style evolves from book to book (though I haven't read that many of them). I think this happens with all authors. And mistborn is clearly one of his earlier works, so he moves away from it a bit.

    At the same time, he likes very visible, action-packed magic systems. So there is often some of this. In the Stomlight Archive series you'll find people walking on ceilings and fighting while flying through the air. So still superhero stuff.

    As for Harry Potter, I think the later books needed a brave editor with a big red pen to remove 1/3 of the chapters. The pacing is just off in them and there's too many chapters where nothing happens, where there's no tension and they're just meh. She even manages to kill one of the important side characters by having him simply walk through a curtain.... They felt like the editors didn't dare say anything to her which would upset her in any way...
     
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  9. piperofyork

    piperofyork Scribe

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    Thank you DemesnedenoirDemesnedenoir and Prince of SpiresPrince of Spires. Your replies make me wonder: is there a resource out there that provides encapsulations of what one can (generally) expect from published fantasy authors? Something on the order of:

    If you read Tolkien, you should (generally) expect ABC...

    If you read Brandon Sanderson, you should (generally) expect DEF...

    If you read Robert Jordan, you should (generally) expect XYZ...

    It might be useful to have such a resource for a variety of reasons. (I imagine any attempt to include evaluations in the encapsulations would attract disagreement, though!)
     
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I would almost (not quite; I do read reviews; I'm only mortal after all) ... er, where was I? Oh yeah, here.

    I would almost argue the opposite, piperofyork. Rather than people being able to read summaries, they ought to face the work as the author intended--alone and unaided. No expectations. That's the way I would wish people would come to my books.

    After reading two or ten of the author's books, then the reader comes to the third or eleventh with expectations certainly, but with *their* expectations. They have formed their own opinions of the author's work, uncolored by both the opinions and the characterizations of others.
     
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  11. piperofyork

    piperofyork Scribe

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    You make an excellent point, skip.knox. My thoughts on the matter were probably too pedestrian: since we have such limited time, it might be useful to have a very rough guide, as non-evaluative as possible, to help us determine where to invest our reading time. But despite any such benefits, the cost you mention is serious and prohibitive. Better to let the storyteller tell the story. Quite right.
     
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