Discuss and rate the last thing you read

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
 

I decided to reread the Drizzt series again for some reason. The last time I read this was early high school, so I was curious to see how it stacked up. I started with the origin trilogy, Homeland, Exile, and Sojurn. It's not the worst thing I've ever read is about the best I can say. The writing has a pace to it that just makes pages fly by. I've read about nine hundred pages in a week, which has been rare for a long time. It has problems though I didn't notice as a kid. Drizzt is painfully Gary Stu. Literally stuff that shouldn't be possible happens because he attempts it. If he was a character in a D&D game, the player playing him is either best friends with or dating the DM. I'm pretty much just treating it like The Prince of Thorns trilogy. It's trash, but it's entertaining trash.

Elfgore:
I decided to reread the Drizzt series again for some reason. The last time I read this was early high school, so I was curious to see how it stacked up. I started with the origin trilogy, Homeland, Exile, and Sojurn. It's not the worst thing I've ever read is about the best I can say. The writing has a pace to it that just makes pages fly by. I've read about nine hundred pages in a week, which has been rare for a long time. It has problems though I didn't notice as a kid. Drizzt is painfully Gary Stu. Literally stuff that shouldn't be possible happens because he attempts it. If he was a character in a D&D game, the player playing him is either best friends with or dating the DM. I'm pretty much just treating it like The Prince of Thorns trilogy. It's trash, but it's entertaining trash.

Drizzt doing absurd and amazing things is, I think, very much in keeping with the idea of a D&D hero, though. Althoguh does depend on the GM: some prefer being closer to realistic (I was in that mould) rather than nailing ancient dragons every week.

I wouldn't want to be too harsh, but I think tie-in literature is generally the preserve of authors who aren't good enough to sell on their own merits. There are exceptions - some very good authors have also done tie-in lit because no matter how good they are they don't sell enough of their own books to pay the rent. RA Salvatore is nice and easy to read (I enjoyed the Icewind Dale trilogy as a child), but he's far from the world's best author.

Agema:

I wouldn't want to be too harsh, but I think tie-in literature is generally the preserve of authors who aren't good enough to sell on their own merits. There are exceptions - some very good authors have also done tie-in lit because no matter how good they are they don't sell enough of their own books to pay the rent. RA Salvatore is nice and easy to read (I enjoyed the Icewind Dale trilogy as a child), but he's far from the world's best author.

Depends how you define selling. I can tell you up front, it's very rare for an author to write entirely tie-in fiction. There's a few settings where you can basically submit your book for publication (e.g. Star Trek), but most of the time, it's case of the IP owner floating around a pitch/concept, and writers agreeing to take it on. Now obviously a lot of tie-in fiction is of questionable quality, but most of the time, the author will have had to published something of their own to get taken notice of.

There's also the fact that there are very few authors who can survive entirely on writing. Yeah, there's the J.K. Rowlings and James Pattersons of the world for instance, but these authors are very much the minority. When I did writing courses, one of the first things the instructor did was hammer home that only the cream of the crop can survive entirely on writing. In those courses, some of my fellow students ended up being published. None of them went full time however.

Agema:

Elfgore:
I decided to reread the Drizzt series again for some reason. The last time I read this was early high school, so I was curious to see how it stacked up. I started with the origin trilogy, Homeland, Exile, and Sojurn. It's not the worst thing I've ever read is about the best I can say. The writing has a pace to it that just makes pages fly by. I've read about nine hundred pages in a week, which has been rare for a long time. It has problems though I didn't notice as a kid. Drizzt is painfully Gary Stu. Literally stuff that shouldn't be possible happens because he attempts it. If he was a character in a D&D game, the player playing him is either best friends with or dating the DM. I'm pretty much just treating it like The Prince of Thorns trilogy. It's trash, but it's entertaining trash.

Drizzt doing absurd and amazing things is, I think, very much in keeping with the idea of a D&D hero, though. Althoguh does depend on the GM: some prefer being closer to realistic (I was in that mould) rather than nailing ancient dragons every week.

Though I'm inclined to agree somewhat with this, my players have done some absurd stuff during my games. But that's the problem with this, Drizzt is just better than everybody else and it doesn't feel like a team effort. He manages to make a creature magically compelled to serve the holder of the control item turn against his master. Solo an earth elemental. He's told constantly how he's somehow better than everyone else. It doesn't feel like a balanced party when the main four get together. It feels like Drizzt is the DMs favorite.

I should, I don't hate R.A. Salvatore. He has some good moments and the reason I think the books are amazingly paced is because of how enjoyable they are to read. I do think he totally uses the Forgotten Realms as a crutch. Him being able to name monsters without needing to describe them, due to them being popular D&D monsters, is something he does way too often. I also think the phrase "churn out" is completely fair to use one him. At one point he was putting out two to three books a year in this series. Even slowing his pace we still see multiple years of him putting out two books a year. In his defense again, this seems to be commonplace for many who write for the Forgotten Realms.

Hawki:

There's also the fact that there are very few authors who can survive entirely on writing. Yeah, there's the J.K. Rowlings and James Pattersons of the world for instance, but these authors are very much the minority. When I did writing courses, one of the first things the instructor did was hammer home that only the cream of the crop can survive entirely on writing. In those courses, some of my fellow students ended up being published. None of them went full time however.

True - I used to play football with a crime author who was so much of a mid-list author he wrote a non-fiction book about being a mid-list author. SF&F very much tends to be mid-list. I was in loose contact for a while with a fantasy author who said on about his 3rd/4th book he was making enough to give up his day job, although his wife had a job to also pay the bills.

Tie-in lit often sells relatively well compared to most SF&F, or so someone I wouldn't entirely trust to know said to me, anyway. Also, movie/TV adaptations can often be a big payday, too.

Elfgore:
I should, I don't hate R.A. Salvatore. He has some good moments and the reason I think the books are amazingly paced is because of how enjoyable they are to read.

I agree entirely - they are extremely easy to read and decent fun. Even when you know you're reading trash, if it's fun trash that sort of knows it's trash, you'll forgive it. What really grates are books that seem to have the feel that the author thinks they're writing the next great epic, and just doesn't realise how mediocre they are.

I also think that you're right that having a world pre-built (like Forgotten Realms) can make the job much easier, probably just because it saves a lot of creative effort.

The Spider - Leo Carew

Second in the series Under The Northern Sky, following "The Wolf". This is set in a sort of fantasified Dark Ages Britain, where the equivalent of northern England & Scotland are occupied by a humanoid race called the Anakim (which if I remember rightly are borrowed from some sort of mythical Hewbrew giants) and the south by "Sutherners" who are basically Saxons. The Anakim are individually larger, more powerful and longer-lived than men, advanced, but disdain agriculture and so are few in number and slow to change. The setting goes that over the centuries, humanity have driven the declining Anakim to small pockets, with this group in Albion being the last major Anakim nation in Erebos (i.e. Europe).

The main protagonist is Lord Roper, who leads the Anakim, and then to a lesser degree an ambitious and vastly talented man of ignoble birth, Bellamus, who is key to the efforts to oppose the Anakim. Following the events of the previous book, Roper has realised that the Anakim realm is doomed unless they can expel men from Albion, and so he sets about the next phase in his long war. He seeks allies amongst another race of giants, and intends to invade and subdue the South. Bellamus as a spymaster seeks to oppose him, using the limited tools available to him.

The two main characters in this book are both presented sympathetically: the Anakim (surprisingly?) are perhaps the side we're invited to root for by the author, although their opponents are portrayed realistically and well-roundedly. Bellamus is ambitious, deceptive and manipulative, but also a man of substantial decency and honour - he's genuinely interested in the welfare of other men. There's an air of tragedy - Roper and Bellamus admire and even like each other, both are fiercely intellectual, but there can only be conflict between them because their aims are utterly antipathetic.

This is not the easiest-flowing read, but I think it's a cut way above normal fantasy fare in terms of character development and thoughtfulness, and the well-grounded sense of... I hesitate to use the term "realism" for a fantasy novel, but that it is so well constructed that everything has a good, sensible reason for happening. No magical make up whatever the author fancies, deus ex machina, etc. So, I like it plenty, anyway.

Agema:

Tie-in lit often sells relatively well compared to most SF&F, or so someone I wouldn't entirely trust to know said to me, anyway. Also, movie/TV adaptations can often be a big payday, too.

I wouldn't doubt that, I remember in my teen years of reading tie-in lit, those Salvatore and Star Wars books always claimed to be on the "New York Times best-selling list" or "from a New York Times best-selling author". I dunno what it would take to get on that list, but I presume it means some dosh for the author.

I think to an extent you can regard that as setting-based novels being buoyed by how positively received and popular the setting's brand is.

Agema:

Tie-in lit often sells relatively well compared to most SF&F, or so someone I wouldn't entirely trust to know said to me, anyway. Also, movie/TV adaptations can often be a big payday, too.

Off the top of my head, Karen Traviss stated outright on her website that the reason that she writes so much tie-in fiction is that it, in short, pays the bills.

Similar to franchise films in a way. People will go with what's familiar than what's an unknown a lot of the time.

Does Religion Do More Harm Than Good? (3/5)

That isn't a question (well, it is technically), it's the title of the last book I read. And by book, I mean novella, because it was less than 100 pages and read within an hour. It's a book that attempts to deal with that question, but at least for me, "attempts" is the key word in that sentence. Because for my money, the book feels too dense and too sparse at the same time. Too dense, because even as someone who considers himself reasonably well educated on history, it threw around a lot of terms, concepts, and events that I wasn't familiar with. Sparse, because in the context of its title/question, the book touches on Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and if only for a second, Taoism. Any one of those religions could be evaluated by themselves in the context of the question, but the book throws them all together, and not really in that succinct a manner. As in, it'll deal with Abrahamic religions, then Eastern religions, then go back to the Abrahamic religions all in the same paragraph.

So, yeah. If you asked me the above question, I'd have an easy answer for you. The author gives his own answer, and while it's one that I disagree with, it's beside the point, as I don't think he presents the case that well. In part because the book's trying to do too much in too few pages, and isn't structured in an intuitive manner.

Sherlock Holmes Series (A Study in Scarlett through Hound of the Baskervilles)

I've got very mixed feelings about this series. It's not difficult to get through or particularly unenjoyable, but neither would I say that it's especially well written or developed. And a good deal of this is down to the mysteries being terribly unfair and a lot of the tales being short stories that simply didn't have the time to properly develop. The facts and relevant clues of the case are usually withheld until such time that Holmes is explaining how he'd divined the correct answer. Worse still, Holmes immediately zeroes in on any and all relevant information, meaning that there's little tension. In a Study in Scarlet he figures out the culprit's physical description within minutes of arriving on the crimescene and handcuffs him within moments of seeing him in person. There's no suspense and there's no mystery. Admittedly, however, the series predates the convention of leaving breadcrumbs for the reader. With that being said, I found that the most enjoyable of the stories was Hound of the Baskervilles, in which Holmes had the least involvement and we instead see Watson reporting on everything he observes for much of the novella.

For me, the series kinda falls into the same category as Citizen Kane: It's worth looking at to appreciate its influence and legacy, but you have to go into it understanding that because of that influence it comes across as very dated.

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here