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  1. Galastel's Avatar
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    #101
    I can't vie with Saranna, but since this thread has offered me a lot of good reading, I'll try my hand at another review. Or, in truth, because I miss halfir, I find myself drawn to his fora and to the threads he started.


    Among many books I have read recently, The Chronicles of Chrestomanci series, by Diana Wynne Jones have left a lasting impression on me. On first glance, it looks rather simple: a world where magic is a common talent, so you have mages, warlocks, witches, shamans – you name it, with enchanters being the most powerful. Chrestomanci is the most powerful enchanter, whose task it is to make sure that the magic-users don't abuse magic, and that those who do not have magic can live peacefully without being harassed by the magic-users. There's also the fact that there are in fact many worlds, and Chrestomanci's responsible for them all. Big responsibility, only Chrestomanci is never the main character. Always, the main protagonist is a kid, or a teen. Chrestomanci might be a major actor, or he might only have a short appearance, but you never see the world through his eyes. That is, the Chrestomanci of one book might be the main character of another, only he'd be a child there, just learning, preparing for the role.
    It looks like a children book: lovely magical setting, child protagonists, U rating. Bookstores even sell it as a children book. Well, let me tell you: it's not. Charmed Life offers the scariest, most cruel, most evil antagonist I've ever read of. And I've read Song of Ice and Fire. Witch Week is dark, and gives you a sense of what it's like to be hunted. In The Lives of Christopher Chant, a child is used in a disgusting way – you'd need to be an adult to be horrified and angered by it. I'm not saying “don't let your children read this”. Tolkien said you shouldn't write down to children, so those books are adequate. They don't have adult themes, or gore, or anything like that. What I am saying is – read it yourself. Those are books for an adult to enjoy. As long as you haven't killed your inner child, that is.
    One of the things I like about Diana Wynne Jones's writing is the realness of her characters. Her children act and think like children, not like small ignorant adults. They have fun, they play silly pranks, they don't always think things through. Sometimes they are shy, sometimes they aren't rational, sometimes they misbehave. You know – real children. And because of this, much of the books is filled with childish fun. There is humour – kind, simple and funny. And sometimes there is sheer terror, honest anger, and mounting frustration, because those are children. This is no Dickens, who forces children to grow up before their time. Here you have children as children should be – should have a right to be. Another thing I admire is the somewhat Mollierian quality of Diana Wynne Jones's books. You don't get a fairy-tale, sugar-sweet happy end. But here, I'll say no more, for fear of spoilers. The rest: go read it. The books are:

    Charmed
    Life
    The
    Lives of Christopher Chant
    The
    Magician of Carpona
    Witch
    Week
    Conrad's
    Fate
    The
    Pinhoe Egg
    Mixed
    Magics


    Charmed Life should definitely be read first, followed by The Lives of Christopher Chant and then Conrad's Fate.Witch Week can be read either before or after The Lives of Christopher Chant and then Conrad's Fate.The Magician of Carpona I'd keep for after the other four, but that's not strictly necessary – it's only a few very small details that you might miss otherwise. And The Pinhoe Egg should definitely be kept for last. Not only is it the latest plot-wise, and the latest written, but The Magician of Carpona is a bit of a disappointment, at least it was for me, so you'd want to keep a good book for the end. Last of all, Mixed Magics is a collection of four short stories, all within the Chrestomanci universe. I'm afraid I couldn't get my hands on the book (yet), so there isn't anything I can tell you about it.

    A note of warning: there's a three-volume set of the series, published by EOS. Don't buy it. Or anything else by Diana Wynne Jones that they print. They Americanise the text - change grey to gray, and stuff like that. Diana Wynne Jones was a British writer. She wrote British English.
    Last edited by Galastel; 22/May/2014 at 03:14 PM. Reason: The move to the New Plaza made a royal mess of my formatting.
    -- I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. (Anne Frank, July 1944)

  2. Saranna's Avatar
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    #102
    Galastel, thanks for this - I love DWJ's books too, and this is an excellent introduction!


    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  3. <i style="font-weight: bold; ">Jonathan Strange &amp; Mr. Norrell[/i]by Susanna Clarke
    I just finished re-reading this book, and thought that it definitely should have a mention in this thread. It's an unusual specimen for 'fantasy', since it's set in (a version of) England during and after the Napoleanic wars, rather than a (pseudo-)medieval, gritty urban modern, or purely fantastic setting. But despite this, it's in some ways one of the most Tolkienian books I've read in a long time (except for the stuff Tolkien himself wrote, I guess).
    The basic premise is simple: in this version of England, magic was and is very real. It had been commonly practised in the Middle Ages, but at the start of the story magic seems to have vanished from England. The two title characters, Gilbert Norrell and Jonathan Strange, are the first magicians in some three centuries, and are involved with restoring English magic. This endeavour, the relationship of the two magicians, the Napoleonic wars, and the consequences of magic form the elements of a plot that slowly unfolds over the course of more than 1000 pages.
    It's hard to describe the style ofJonathan Strange &amp; Mr. Norrellso that it doesn't come across as incredibly boring. It's fairly slow paced - more Book I of The Lord of the Ringsthan most sword &amp; sorcery - with plenty of descriptions, digressions, and even footnotes. Still, the storyline and characters are interesting and engaging, and the book as a whole is fantastically well-done. Some of the moments involving magic, fairies, or Fairy are among the most compelling I've ever come across. Clarke's version of Fairy is very much both attractive and perilous, encompassing both the Barrow-downs and Lothlórien, and she really hits the nail on the head in depicting it.
    For Tolkien fans specifically, this book as a lot to offer. Aside from the similar visions of Fairy, the sense of an ancient (and medieval-flavoured) past intersecting with a type of 19th century England runs through both Clarke's book and The Lord of the RIngs. They also happen to be not dissimilar in size. Many parts of the book also have something of the feel of Smith of Wootton Major, and if you liked that short story by Tolkien, I think it's a virtual guarantee that you'll enjoy Jonathan Strange &amp; Mr. Norrell
    One more mundane thing worth mentioning is the physical differences between various editions of this book. A friend of mine has a cheap red paperback version that is of extremely poor quality - in particular, the binding is just not up to the task of dealing with so many pages, and after only one read-through dozens of pages were falling out; scores after a second read. My own copy is a much sturdier and large black-covered paperback, with a thick cover and a solid binding. Amazon lists a whole host of printings and variants, and I'm not really sure which are the bad ones (though I'd imagine the hardbacks are all pretty safe), but it's something to look out for if you want to buy this book.



    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  4. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #104

    Lol, I said I'd never read any of George R.R. Martin's (sorry, coughcoughMarteen'scough) SoIaF series, but while I was in hospital the second time I needed something easy to read so I read A Game of Thrones.

    The novel was a good chioce for a light and enjoyable read. I, surprisingly, liked some of the characters such as Ned, Arya,Jon, and Tyrion; I guess I'm a Stark supporter, lol. I expected to hate everyone. I even liked Dany at first, but when she submitted to Khal Drogo (is he by any chancealso the father of Frodo? lol)I stopped liking her or even pitying her; she could have run away or I don't know killed herself or something rather than marry and be raped by that sicko . Stupid girl. And I loved the whole thing with the kids all getting their own direwolf pup, it was so sweet Ned's death at the end was so shocking and I even questioned whether it actually happened or not. And I hated that minstril dude Marillion (add Sil- and what do you get?), he's such a loser and he wouldn't shut up; I was so happy when my friend told me that later on in the series Joffrey orders his tongue be cut out

    I also like the way that Martin writes, it's very filmic which is no surprise since he also writes scripts for TV shows. The only thing I didn't like about his writing was his contant use of the phrase 'boiled leather', it sounds hideous and I'd roll my eyes everytime I came across it.

    Overall, I was suprised at how much I actually liked this novel. I'm glad I gave it a go. Though I don't think I'll read the rest of the series because it wasn'tas muchto my liking as to spend more money and time reading all the other books. As far as fantasy goes, Martin is IMO the third best fantasy writer (after Tolkien and Lewis of course) and if you want to read something a little different in the genre then I suggest you try his work.

    And I forgot to mention that I thought that the jousting and tournament stuff was out of place, that kind of cliché Medieval stuff doesn't suit fantasy IMO.Edited by: Briony_L
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  5. Saranna's Avatar
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    #105
    I have just finished reading Terry Pratchett's newmiscellanyA blink of the screen;collected shorter fiction. Doubleday, 2012, ISBN 9780385618984



    Pratchett remarks at least twiceinthis collection that he has never found writing short stories an easy task. However, among this widely-chosenselection there isindeedthe proverbial something for everyone, and also some clues to interesting items I had not before heard of.
    The book is in two divisions, Non-Discworld and Discworld, but there are treasure in both - generally i would say the stories range from the mildly amusing to top-class Pratchett, and there are few if any weak offerings. indeed, I would have been very pleased with myself if at the age of 13 I could have produced half as good a story as the first in this volume, which is also the first Pratchett ever published. At 13!
    Now has anyone heard of the collection for which the story 'Troll Bridge' was originally written? (Here it appears first in the Discworld section.' This book was published by TOR books in 1992, edited by Martin H. Greenberg, and was called After the king. Pratchett describes it as 'an anthology in honour of J.R. R. Tolkien'. Anyone able to tell us more?
    Also, doesanyoneknow Hidden turnings, ananthologyedited by Diana Wynne-Jones forMethuenin 1989? Pratchett's story 'Turntables of the night' was originally written for that, and it would be good to know more of it.

    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

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  6. geordie's Avatar
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    #106
    I have a copy of 'After the King' - tho' goodness knows where it is at present. Here's a link to a review:

    Look here

    Haven't hear of Hidden turnips/ sorry, turnings - but all of the stories you mention are in another anthology of Terry's writings called 'Once More* *with footnotes' - a limited ed. of 2500 copies, one of which is resting on my tum as I type.

    Bein' a twit, I mean collector, I had to fond a copy of the original magazine in which Sir Terry's first story was published - 'The Hades Business', in 'Science Fantasy', (No.60, vol.20, 1963). I took my copy along to a talk by Terry at Oxford's Town Hall some years ago; his face lit up when he saw it. Signed it too; lovely.

    It's all in the books...

  7. Saranna's Avatar
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    #107
    Thanks geordie, should have guessed it would be you that would know! I see it's available for Kindle but I'd rather have a BOOK!


    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  8. Saranna's Avatar
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    #108
    http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1163513.ece




    Review from this week's TLS by MarinaWarnerof Pullman's Grimm tales for young and old and Davies and Tatar, The fairies return; or, new tales for old.
    Warner references Tolkien's Onfairy-stories and explains more about the Grimm's than I had previously known, so that's my something learned for today!
    Enjoy.

    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  9. Dorwiniondil's Avatar
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    #109
    <DIV =WebWizRTE topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" marginwidth="1" marginheight="1">
    I am no longer young even in the reckoning of Men of the Ancient Houses.

  10. Saranna's Avatar
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    #110
    Just realised this is the wrong thread - but I think we'll all survive


    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  11. Saranna's Avatar
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    #111
    Lord Dunsany, or rather Edward John Morton Drax Plunkett, Lord Dunsany, is an amazing writer. Following my re-reading of The Gods of Pegana a while back, I became desperate to find a copy of The King of Elfland's daughter. Thankfully my dear Granddaughter found me one for Christmas!

    I think I found it even weirder, and even more compelling, on this second reading than on the first. There's a great deal that echoes in Tolkien's work, although I don't personally know for certain whether Tolkien was an admirer of Dunsany. Just to pick out some themes that I find in both, will hopefully whet the appetites of any who have not yet read this astonishing book.

    Elfland is a stasis, preserved by the will of the King, who holds unchanging 'that magical land, which held its eternal calm from his own mysterious serenity...' here I find echoes of Thingol, who with the aid of Melian desired to have and to hold his retreat from change and circumstance.

    Like Thingol, the King of Elfland loses his daughter to a mortal, and in one scene we see him brooding on the eternal separation that will come if his daughter becomes so mortal as to pass on to heaven, never to see Elfland again.

    Like Beren, and to some extent like Frodo, Alveric, the mortal who steals the daughter only to lose her again to Elfland, must embark on an arduous and lengthy quest searching for her. There are two oddities here that characterise Dunsany for me; the astonishing notion that Elfland can be withdrawn far from mortal lands by the will ofthe King, or may be brought flooding back again like a wave of the sea; and the strangeness of the border-country, the edge between out world and faery. Dunsany is very good on edges. People of the mortal world who dwell on the edgelands never look towards Elfland, never name it, and live as if there were only three directions in existence.

    This is bitty I know and not a proper review, but I hope you now have a taste of this feast of fantasy. My copy is a paperback from Ballantine, and benefits from an introduction by Neil Gaiman. Published in 1999, ISBN 9780345431912. There must be others out there without you having to travel 'beyond the fields we know' to find one.
    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  12. Nyrė's Avatar
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    #112
    The novel Stardust seems quite in debt to Lord Dunsany's work, and particularly to The King of Elfland's Daughter, especially given Neil Gaiman's introduction. Might there be something of a Paolini-Tolkien exchange at work here?

  13. Saranna's Avatar
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    #113
    I don't know much about Paolini, do you mean Gaiman is borrowing from Tolkien? If so I would have to mention the difference between borrowing, being influenced by, and just drawing from the same 'cauldron of story.' If I have misread your meaning do come back and set me on the right path!
    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  14. Nyrė's Avatar
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    #114
    Saranna - My apologies! I should have been more cogent in my wording. Many critics have asserted that Christopher Paolini, author of the Inheritance Cycle, borrowed heavily (sometimes overly so) from Tolkien's legendarium.

    With respect to Lord Dunsany and Gaiman, many of the plot elements you described in The King of Elfland's Daughter seem also to be present in Gaiman's novel Stardust, which was made into a film just a couple of years ago.

    Does that help to clarify things?

  15. Saranna's Avatar
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    #115
    Yes, thanks. Indeed so much negative press has been given to Paolini that I have never tried those works - maybe I should judge for myself sometime! As for the plot elements in Stardust, I guess there are two things happening - one is Gaiman's admiration for Tolkien, perhaps operating partly consciously, partly unconsciously, and also I do think there's only so many elements available from which to build one's own fantasy stories - maybe now that it's such a huge genre, those elements are more obvious to readers and critics.

    As a comparison, I've not got into the various vampire tales by different writers (although I used to watch Buffy on TV - I wonder if readers feel sometimes that one or other of those authors is copying from those who published before them - but there too it must also be the case that certain things just have to be a vampire story in order for it be a vampire story.

    Thanks for getting back to me!
    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  16. Aduchil's Avatar
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    #116
    In Stardust, the humans live near a wall, which separate their world from the mystical other world; that seems very similar to what you describe concerning the border region in The King of Elfland's Daughter. It does seem like there's a direct line of descent from Dunsany to Gaiman in that respect. I have not read Dunsany's work, but maybe I will try and locate it if possible, it sounds interesting.

  17. I am afraid that any remnant of motivation for picking up Paolini was instantly killed when my then 20-years-old son threw them down in disgust for being too pubescent in that horribly immature way (his judgement). Not even the desire to see for myself will now make me pick up any of his books.
    Troels Forchhammer, physicist, Denmark
    The love of Faery is the love of love: a relationship toward all things, animate and inanimate, which includes love and respect ...

  18. Turgonian's Avatar
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    #118
    I was done with Paolini after one book, when I was 16 or so.

    Has anyone read Gene Wolfe? I read his series The Book of the New Sun, a story about an apprentice torturer who is exiled from the guild and sets out on a quest. The quest involves lots of searching, a blurring of the distinction between friend and foe, and it remains without a conventional happy ending. Rather like life. As a writer, Wolfe is definitely original and his vocabulary is stunning (he uses many strange words, but none invented).

    For me, the only drawback was that I had no idea what Wolfe was trying to get across.

  19. Nyrė's Avatar
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    #119
    Turgonian - I can identify. I finished the rest of the series to see how everything turned out, but it was not memorable prose. I commend Paolini for making the effort at such a grand epic at a young age, but it is clear he did not have the time or background to develop many original ideas.

    Concerning Gene Wolfe, I've not yet had the chance, but I will be on the look now that I've been informed!

  20. Greyfang's Avatar
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    #120
    Aye I think its true that in his story Paolini uses Tolkien's dwarves and elves, but to be quite honest, Tolkien's influence on the entire fantasy genre is so strong that what most consider to be generic elves and dwarves are drawn exactly from Tolkien's own works.

    In my opinion, the inheritance cycle is a fantastic story in an amazing universe. Of course he didn't create an entire world or people like Tolkien, I think he still came up some fantastic ideas and most importantly came up with a great story. As for the text being immature, I'd be interested to find out what made your son say that Toelsfo.
    If he's talking about the romantic interests perhaps I can understand and actually most definitely agree. Unfortunately Paolini can't seem to make his mind up whether the story should include romance at all like LOTR or if it should be made a main part of the story like most modern fantasy tales. And where it is included it is a major failing part of the cycle, but I personally believe that the Inheritance Cycle is a fantastic story with far more pros than cons.
    Last edited by Winterwolf; 14/Feb/2014 at 12:03 AM.


    Formerly Winterwolf.
    Work Hard, Hard Worker.

  21. I did read the first two of Paolini's books, and came away very unimpressed. The first one struck me as a passable, if highly derivative first novel - probably best left unpublished, but with some signs that the author could eventually develop his own voice and become a reasonable writer. I read the second in the hope that he'd had a chance to learn and improve, but in the event it seemed much, much worse. I did finish it, but I'm honestly not sure why - I didn't find much to my taste in pacing, plotting, characterization, or prose styling. (I don't mean this as an insult to anyone who liked it - I just didn't like it very much at all myself.)

    Gene Wolfe, on the other hand, I highly recommend - though not without reservations. The books are a bit slow paced and understated, and the diction can be very difficult. But they're very rich, and every scene is really masterfully done. It probably helps to remember that Wolfe was Catholic, and while New Sun doesn't really proselytize, a particular worldview is embedded pretty deeply. For me, though I'm not a Catholic myself, this was one of the strengths of the work: it was very theological in a way, but moreso very personal, and there was something pretty beautiful about how Severian slowly changed his view of the world around him. A difficult read (I took New Sun in fairly small doses), but a rewarding one.

    (Apologies for any incoherence - I've got a cold and my head feels like it's stuffed full of straw or cotton or something else that makes it hard to think.)
    Last edited by Lord of the Rings; 14/Feb/2014 at 12:21 AM.
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  22. Saranna's Avatar
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    #122
    Sympathy, LotR
    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  23. The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan (and Brandon Sanderson)

    Apologies in advance for what will probably be a rather long and rambling review.

    I finally finished Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time today - my main initial feeling is relief. These books are long, and I've been at them for quite a while. I think I discovered the series in 1997 or so, beginning with book 2, and I read, in a rather haphazard order, all the books that were out at that point until I'd read the first 10 volumes (some more than once, only a few in any kind of sensible order). There wasn't that long of a gap between that and the next book, but between that and my disjointed approach I figured I'd have to read the whole series in order to make sense of the new release - so I decided to wait, and read the series in full once it was finished. That ended up being a long wait. Robert Jordan died in 2007, leaving what was supposed to be the 12th and final volume unfinished. Brandon Sanderson was recruited to finish the task, and the 'last book' became three books. I finally started my re-read in January 2012, when it looked like the end might be in sight (and I knew it would take me a while to get through the series).

    My impressions of the story changed quite a lot between my early reads as a kid and my much later straight read-through. I used to think that the story had grown (too much) in the telling: that Jordan couldn't resist thinking of new plotlines as he went along, resulting in a complex and eventually over-burdened story. Reading straight through, I was amazed at how many elements in later books were foreshadowed very early on. The story might well be overly complex, but it was meant to be that way from the start, and things I'd thought were new ideas that occurred to the author halfway through were clearly always intended. So while I'd enjoyed the stories then and now, my respect for Jordan as an author increased a lot coming back to him. I still enjoy a lot of the things I did before too: very rich world-building, a good mixture of exciting adventure and thoughtfulness, very satisfying build-ups and resolutions (including a lot of firecracker finishes to many of the books), and a sense of being classic without being cliche. Also the little icons at the start of each chapter - I'm really fond of those

    This is not to say that there aren't some problems. Jordan sometimes goes a bit overboard with the amount of description (as a recent comment I saw on Facebook put it, do we really always need to know what colour so-and-so's bathrobe was and how it was embroidered?). And does every women on earth really have to smooth her skirts every five minutes? My impression is that these things grow worse as the story goes on, but maybe it's just the reader's patience wearing thinner over time.

    More seriously, there are certainly a couple of big problems with the structure of the series. Most of the books manage to tell a fairly coherent story while still moving the story along overall. Some are naturally better than others, but the first seven or so books are really all pretty good. But volumes 8 and 10, and to a lesser extent 9, barely deserve the name 'book' - they mostly serve to fairly incrementally move several of the main plotlines forward - a few things of substance do happen, of course, but I can't help but feel that there must have been some better way to structure that part of the story (and probably get through it in two books rather than three). Things fortunately pick up again marvellously in book 11 - it is a real tragedy that Jordan didn't live long enough to finish the series himself.

    One of the things I particularly enjoyed this time around is sense of perspective in the novels. Each scene is told firmly from a single character's viewpoint (with only a few exceptions, I think mostly limited to beginnings and epilogues), and Jordan is really a master of describing things as that character would see it. Characters, even ones in close interaction, don't necessarily understand each other very well, and the reader gains knowledge more by slowly gathering things from various viewpoints than from just being told them outright. Jordan also makes great use of irony - there is very often a contrast between what a character says and thinks. Even when we see a character we know from someone else's viewpoint, we can usually infer what they're really thinking (as opposed to what they're saying) because we know them (and the reader can frequently catch the implications of words that the viewpoint character misses). It helps us to see characters not just as they see themselves, but also as a variety of others see them - which can both be a lot of fun, and is often employed to good narrative effect. In the long run, this makes for a pretty richly textured story, and is, I think, part of what lets a reader keep enjoying book after book after book. Jordan is sometimes derided for having his characters so often sniff, snort, and grunt in dialogue, but more often than not he actually uses this sort of non-verbal communication very effectively - unlike with many authors, the surface appearances of spoken words may be their least important dimension.

    Unfortunately, a lot of this is lost when Brandon Sanderson takes over, finishing the series off with volumes 12-14. He's a good writer in his own right, and I enjoyed reading a number of his other stories before I came to his Wheel of Times novels, but his style makes for a fairly jarring contrast with Jordan's. He certainly manages some scenes extremely well (in particular action sequences and some scenes with a more philosophical/cosmological nature - scenes where, perhaps, character isn't the focus), but he greatly flattens out a lot of the differences between the various viewpoints - usually with the effect of making things feel more modern. In vocabulary and idiom, nearly everyone begins to sound like university student in the 2000's. Jordan's dialogue had hardly been archaic, but it wasn't as trendy as Sanderson's, and felt much more at home the world. Maybe related to this, Sanderson does something I feel like a lot of current fantasy authors do: he relies on explicit psychoanalysis (as it were) for characterization. Jordan would have some characters do this, and some not, as fit their personalities and inclinations, but with Sanderson it seems to become the norm. As just one example for those who know the story, there's a scene where Faile spends time explaining Berelain's psychology to someone else, which rang false to me in a number of ways: Faile would be more guarded with her words; she wouldn't be so precise and logical in her phrasing; and her feelings would be more complex than this boiled down resume. I don't know, of course, but I suspect Jordan would have conveyed Faile's feelings by having her speaking a few somewhat more guarded and oblique phrases, while paralleling her words a fuller description of what she really thinks - and, most importantly, really feels.

    So for a great deal of the last three books (most strongly in book 13 for some reason, the middle of Sanderson's three contributions) I was reading with a mental editor, rephrasing thought and dialogue. Despite this, I'm very grateful to Sanderson for finishing this at all, and in really a fairly decent form in the end. He conveys the story, and if he adds in some annoyances of his own, he also avoids some of Jordan's more annoying stylistic quirks. And he sets things up very well for the big climax of the series - the final scenes of which are, reportedly, by Jordan's own hand, and which do give an overall very satisfying end to one of the longest and most complex fantasy stories ever written (and, frankly, the qualifier 'fantasy' is probably not needed).

    Just as a last note: I'm not terribly interested in the question of whether The Wheel of Time is 'better' or 'worse' than any given other novel or series. It's entertaining, and overall worth reading - though it's not without its flaws, and does take up a moment or two of one's time to read. If pressed, I'd say it's not as good Tolkien or Le Guin, but I would say that more by way of praising with faint condemnation. And I vastly prefer Jordan to George R.R. Martin, for what that's worth.

    So there. Long and rambling, as promised.
    Last edited by Lord of the Rings; 03/Jun/2016 at 04:14 PM.
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  24. Saranna's Avatar
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    #124
    Well, I shall have to read this properly later LotR, as I am going out today - but just wanted to say I admire your determination, I gave up after three volumes and finding all of them rather too like each other. When I read your review maybe I shall be inspired to try again!
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  25. If you weren't that entertained by the first three books, I'm not sure I'd press you to keep reading Book four in particular is one of the weaker early books, and the series is a a touch on the long side to push through if you're not enjoying it that much.
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  26. Saranna's Avatar
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    #126
    It's a good review though, and I shan't give up on the idea of trying them again later - if I can find the time. I wholly support your view that it's not a question of what is better/worse than anything else - one needs different kinds of reading at different times in ones life.
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  27. Nyrė's Avatar
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    #127
    Lord of the Rings - A wonderful review! I shall be sure to look into the series.

    I've only recently returned to reading fantasy, after a hiatus of about a decade. Apart from the selections included here, are there any recommendations, particularly those which may relate to philosophical issues?

  28. Saranna's Avatar
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    #128
    Anything at all by Ursula Le Guin, if you are not already familiar with her, Nahal.
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  29. Nyrė's Avatar
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    #129
    Saranna - Thanks! I read A Wizard of Earthsea about ten years ago, but I am not familiar with her other work.

  30. Saranna's Avatar
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    #130
    You'll love them, I hope!
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  31. Hanasian's Avatar
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    #131
    GRR Martin's Ice and Fire - I have to say I tried to read this series, and only managed about half of Game of Thrones after three attempts. Guess I didn't get the vibe of the writing. I am pleased that a mini-series was made of it though.

    Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time - I checked out the 1st book from the library, and though it read ok, it didn't inspire me to read on, so I haven't

    Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastard series - I read Lies of Locke Lamora and enjoyed it. Then I read Red Seas Under Red Skies and barely was able to finish it. I am tempted to give Republic of Thieves a try just to see if it swings back toward the good side of writing.

    Stephen Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen - I read Gardens of the Moon and though it seemed to send out a thousand storylines, it was a fairly good read. Going to read the next book, Deadhorse Gates in hopes it solidifies the tales of the characters a bit. I am also pondering reading the side books written by Ian Cameron Esslemont. Will give Stoneweilder a read and see what I think of his writing.
    Last edited by Hanasian; 26/Apr/2014 at 01:59 PM. Reason: Full of typos
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  32. Nyrė's Avatar
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    #132
    I cannot speak to the sources for the Shef Trilogy, unfortunately, but I can point you in the direction of reviews of fantasy novels on the Plaza, provided that is what you are looking for. The proper thread may be found here -
    http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread....t=Book+Reviews


    [Edit] Thank you, Nyrė. The discussion has been to this thread, which you pointed out. /Troelsfo
    Last edited by Troelsfo; 27/Apr/2014 at 01:18 PM.

  33. Hanasian's Avatar
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    #133
    Quote Originally Posted by Radagast The Br0wn View Post
    The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
    1. Assassin's Apprentice
    2. Royal Assassin
    3. Assassin's Quest
    I picked up the first book of this series and read it and enjoyed it. But there was something about the character development that seemed lacking, and it didn't inspire me to read Royal Assassin even though I picked it up at a used book store. Can't put a finger on it though. Maybe I need to read the 1st one again before passing judgment on it, for it just may have been me and where I was in life at the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Radagast The Br0wn View Post
    The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks
    1. The Way of Shadows
    2. Shadow's Edge
    3. Beyond the Shadows
    Interesting. I picked up Brent Weeks Way of Shadows but haven't read it yet. Anyone read this series that could review it?
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  34. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #134
    A couple of years ago I read 'A Game of Thrones' and hated parts of it while I loved the rest of it. I am currently reading the rest of the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series and I'm loving most of it and coming to know the characters better. For example, I used to hate Jaime but as the series has progressed I have come to know him better and I love him; he and Brienne crack me up, I love their friendship. I was angry with Jon when he joined the wildlings and got into a relationship with a wildling girl; he was not thinking with his head at that point of the story, if you take my meaning ;) And I was glad to find out that she is killed off.
    I still get ticked off at the use of the phrase 'boiled leather', it doesn't sound nice to my ears.
    They've probably already been mentioned but I highly recommend C.S. Lewis' 'Chronicles of Narnia' series and his space trilogy. My favourite books in 'Narnia' are 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe', 'Voyage of the Dawn Treader', and 'The Silver Chair'. 'The Silver Chair' feels very Tolkien in some ways and I love the characters Eustace and Jill.
    I only recently read the space trilogy and I loved it. It definately deserves a second reading. Apparently the main character Ransom is based on Tolkien (it's mentioned in one of the letters, but I can't find which one atm) and Priscilla thought it a good rendering of her father. Does anyone know the letter?
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  35. Saranna's Avatar
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    #135
    Smials, as you see we've moved your original post here to this thread as it seemed a good thread for finding the answers you wanted! Here we can either write a full review of some book we have read, or make more informal recommendations. Hope you find your answers here!
    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

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  36. Saranna's Avatar
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    #136
    Hope you choose a good home on the Plaza and are happy there!
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    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  37. Smials, is the directionality of the king being from the north what you're looking for, or more general themes of the saviour king (or perhaps the king from [across] the sea)? Even Scyld Scefing (or, variously, King Sheave), who I assume must have played a role in forming Shef, isn't (as far as I can recall offhand, anyway) said to be from any particular direction in the old sources. Stories of returning kings or kings who unexpectedly step in to save their kingdom (Offa/Uffo the Angle comes to mind) should be rather more common.
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  38. Ankala Teaweed's Avatar
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    #138

    Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin

    Quote Originally Posted by Saranna View Post
    Well, I shall have to read this properly later LotR, as I am going out today - but just wanted to say I admire your determination, I gave up after three volumes and finding all of them rather too like each other. When I read your review maybe I shall be inspired to try again!
    Ah hah! A second review of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time entire series!
    Saranna, you were not so inspired by my review as to think about coming back to WoT. [LOL] I will say to you that the books do evolve as they go along. But I felt the series became far less formulaic after the first book. I have read the series three times. It takes a few months, really, to get through all twelve (and they're fat).

    Now, I was first exposed to Brandon Sanderson when Jordan's editor, literary executor and widow Harriet picked him among many current fantasy writers to take on finishing the series. I think she liked his style, knew he'd been inspired to become a fantasy writer as a youth by the earlier volumes in the series, and there were not only some manuscripts in various states and notes, but also troves of info available from their editorial staff.

    I went on to read the Mistborn series (the first 3), which I liked mostly but hated the ending.

    Yet, then I picked up Sanderson's "The Way of Kings" and I felt I had found yet a new great epic fantasy series in the making. Like Mistborn, the "magic" of the characters has some sort of physical explanation of how it works. The characterizations just grow and grow through the course of the story developments (as is also the case in WoT).

    The nation of the Alethi people are fighting an extended war with a people called the Parshendi, who are definitely a different species. The war began when the Alethi king was assassinated; the assassin is still killing various people--many important leaders of nations--at the behest of whosoever possesses a certain stone.

    One of the principal characters is a young man, who had been studying to be a surgeon, but who followed his drafted kid brother into the military to protect him, yet failed to do so. He lives in grief over that and his other losses, and after a spectacular battle victory was victimized by the one man he looked up to and then sold into slavery. There is a serious element of class society, where the working people and farmers are completely subject to the whims of the upper class.

    A leading Alethi general is having what seem to be religious visions during storms, which his sons mistakenly interpret as signs of a mental deterioration.

    A young woman whose family is in great trouble hopes to steal a magic relic from a heretic while posing as her ward. This scheme is hard to hatch and by the time she carries off her theft, her opinion of the heretic and her entire world view have changed.

    And the second volume of the Stormlight Archive, "Words of Radiance" did not let me down!

    Now I am at work so I have to wrap this up. In the second volume the looming danger of the Everstorm finally hits and the once-great and protective nation of Alethis, now mostly divided by greed and competition over riches, is in tatters. Yet there is hope.
    Ann Kalagon says, "check it out!"

    And of course, many of us are eagerly anticipating the sixth book in George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones).

    An interesting fact: Jordan and Martin were friends, and they were both also fans of Tolkien.
    Last edited by Ankala Teaweed; 23/May/2014 at 03:03 AM.
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  39. Saranna's Avatar
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    #139
    Thanks Ankala - bear with me, I may give it a go one day but times have been difficult for me lately. But I never mean to imply that something is 'bad' just because I haven't taken to it easily!
    Last edited by Saranna; 22/May/2014 at 10:31 AM.
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  40. Ankala Teaweed's Avatar
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    #140
    Oh, Saranna, it is a big commitment to read that entire series! I just happened to pick up the first one at a library sale and got into it.

    But check out The Way of Kings by Sanderson. I think you will like it.

  41. Melahny_oftheWoods's Avatar
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    #141
    Wahoo Wheel of Time! I'm reading the series right now!

    It is really good. Definitely recommend for my fellow Fantasy lovers. Very interesting work, highlighting and dealing with some social and political issues as well as moral, alongside the classical Fantasy elements. I'm on the third book right now, and there are fourteen, which I am happy about. Lots to look forward to! I love long or detailed books (like Lotr xD) and long series (especially when its Fantasy)

    Ooh, I haven't heard of the other books by Sanderson. Is The Way of Kings, part of one of his own series, Ankala?
    "Through darkness one may come to the light" - Gelmir, Unfinished Tales, ​Tolkien.

  42. Ankala Teaweed's Avatar
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    #142
    Quote Originally Posted by Melahny_oftheWoods View Post
    Ooh, I haven't heard of the other books by Sanderson. Is The Way of Kings, part of one of his own series, Ankala?
    Actually, it is book one of his Stormlight Archive series. The second one Words of Radiance came out about March 2014. I for one am eagerly anticipating the future additions to what I have heard will be another 12 book series! (The number has significance as each of them will feature the arc of a different character as the story unfolds. Without going into the background too heavily, each of them will become part of an order of the Knights Radiant with each order having specific powers to use in the fight against the Everstorm.)
    Last edited by Ankala Teaweed; 23/May/2014 at 03:51 AM.

  43. Melahny_oftheWoods's Avatar
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    #143
    Oh cool! It is a Fantasy series, right? (sorry, thought it could possibly sound like a sci-fy. nevermind though, since it's a fantasy writers thread, I'm assuming it's definitely not sci-fy)

    Sounds pretty awesome. So is The Way of Kings, the first book in this anticipated series? I shall have to look into this....
    Last edited by Melahny_oftheWoods; 23/May/2014 at 04:33 AM. Reason: Melahny is too tired
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  44. Saranna's Avatar
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    #144
    Not really a review, but I have just finished re-reading George MacDonald's Phantastes after some 30 years or so, and wanted to recommend it to anyone interested in Fantasy and particularly in the influence of earlier writers on later ones. MacDonald was a huge influence on C S Lewis and on Tolkien, and until this re-read I had forgotten what strong parallels there were - wandering quests, journeys through forests and underground and over mysterious seas, Fairyland, animate trees, goblins, wise women. There's more built-in verse than I remembered, too. It's a prime example of what Tolkien called 'the cauldron of story;' all those fantasy/fairy-tale ingredients going into the writer's soup, but coming up with different stories. Lots of editions out there, probaly cheap in charity shops too! All out of copyright too so there are legal online copies to be found. [Sorry, I can't shift this unwanted Italic!)

    <LotR Edit: that should do it on the italics.>
    Last edited by Lord of the Rings; 10/Jun/2014 at 09:57 AM.
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  45. I've had a good chance to catch up on my fantasy reading lately while travelling, and just finished a book by a current fantasy writer who seems, to me, to be seriously overlooked: Lynn Flewelling. She's got a loose series of books called the Nightrunners, following the exploits of a pair of adventurous heroes, which are both great fun and skilfully put together. The books are a bit hard to describe fairly, but a rough approximation might be to say that they portray a high fantasy world where Classical Greece meets the European Enlightenment, with storylines coloured by sword and sorcery, detective stories, horror, and romance (though they often tend more towards the wistful or melancholy than to the pulp). Rather unusually among fantasy books, they also deal extensively with LGBT themes.

    In a day of enormous door-stopping tomes piled up in multi-volume series, it's refreshing that most of the books in this series are stand-alone or in pairs. The first two books (Luck in the Shadows and Stalking Darkness) were originally intended as a single book, split for publication purposes, and are followed by a single independent volume, another duology, and two more stand-alones. They do need to be read in order, as there is real continuity and development over the series, but by and large you can finish each novel (or pair) and feel like you've read a full story. I read the first book five or six years ago, and have just now finished the sixth (Casket of Souls). I'm looking forwards to reading the seventh and (at least for now) final book when I have a chance.

    Flewelling is, at least in my opinion, very much a notch or two above most of the current crop of fantasy writers. I'd draw a particularly strong contrast with George R.R. Martin, since there are a fair number of sort-of parallels between their works: both feature political intrigue, do not shy away from portraying violence and sexuality, and feature a fair amount of moral complexity and non-black-and-white characters. But whereas Martin (in my not terribly sympathetic opinion) tends to rely on shock value and gratuitousness, and achieves moral ambiguity largely by making nearly everyone a bit unpleasant (if not outright psychopathic), Flewelling tends to take the opposite approach. Violence and sexuality are not glossed over or avoided, but neither are they overindulged in. There is intrigue, but the characters always come front and centre (very much avoiding the dragging plotting of Martin, or of Jordan). And, very refreshingly, there is moral ambiguity and complexity without losing track of right and wrong - in particular, the villains tend to be interesting and complex while retaining their villainy (and generally acting for all-too understandable reasons). In the general attention to people (and culture) Le Guin might be a better comparison than Martin (actually, Le Guin meeting the best of Fritz Leiber might get you in the ballpark for Flewelling).

    The most curious thing is that Flewelling seems to be relatively unknown in the fantasy world. I've almost never seen her books in any British bookshop, and even at the larger American shops I've been to there tend to be, at most, only a couple of copies of one of her books. They rarely turn up in secondhand places. Among the people I know (many of whom read a fair amount in the fantasy genre), very few have heard of her books (though those that have tend to be very enthusiastic about her) - though maybe she's more talked about in other circles. But this obscurity is not deserved, and they really are very enjoyable - good page-turners not lacking in substance.
    Last edited by Lord of the Rings; 14/Sep/2014 at 12:29 PM.
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  46. Erintilantė's Avatar
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    #146
    I'm a great admirer of Tad William's work in Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, a series that, besides being the most imediate inspiration upon George R.R. Martins's A Song of Ice and Fire, by his own admission, is, at the same time, a great homage and deconstruction of Tolkien's work. Highly recommended

    http://www.greenmanreview.com/book/b...rrowthorn.html
    Last edited by Erintilantė; 12/Nov/2014 at 05:16 PM.

  47. Erintilantė's Avatar
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    #147
    http://caffeinesymposium.blogspot.co...ms-memory.html

    http://dr.morgenes.tripod.com/mfr_tolvtad.htm.

    This last one is only recommended for someone that has already read Tolkien and William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series...
    Last edited by Erintilantė; 12/Nov/2014 at 05:15 PM.

  48. Gerontian's Avatar
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    #148
    Lord of the Rings, thank you for your review of Lyn Flewelling's books. I, too, just purchased my kindle edition. Your description of Classical Greece Meets the Enlightenment sold me. An author that I found very interesting because of her creation of a mythology/cosmology that is unlike any other I have read: Jacqueline Carey. Kushiel's Dart starts her first trilogy with a heroine that is quite unlike your run of the mill ingenue. The books read a bit like Mary Renault, sometimes even closer, but if one is going to borrow, might as well borrow from the best.

    I have always read a great deal of fantasy, but I have not come across Flewelling. Usually, Amazon is pretty good in its recommendations, although with so many bookstores closing down here in Southern California, I do not have the luxury of searching for jewels like these (I hope) will be.

  49. Saranna's Avatar
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    #149
    I had the privilege of proofreading the item below, and urge you to check it out on Amazon - it's excellent.


    J.R.R. Tolkien's Lost English Mythology [Kindle Edition]

    Simon J. Cook (Author), William Puck (Illustrator)

    The blurb on Amazon does it justice so I won't re-review it here - only don't miss it, please!

    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

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    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
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  50. Ankala Teaweed's Avatar
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    #150
    So, here is a little tidbit concerning one of the many influences that J.R.R. Tolkien had upon George R.R. Martin. This is from a recent interview wherein he references how important is The Scouring of the Shire, among other things.
    The interviewer, a Sean T. Collins of the Observer asked Martin how he sees the ending of his Ice and Fire series going? "Will it all end in an apocalyptic fashion?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Collins in his interview with George R.R. Martin for the Observer
    I haven’t written the ending yet, so I don’t know, but no. That’s certainly not my intent. I’ve said before that the tone of the ending that I’m going for is bittersweet. I mean, it’s no secret that Tolkien has been a huge influence on me, and I love the way he ended Lord of the Rings. It ends with victory, but it’s a bittersweet victory.

    . . .

    And the scouring of the Shire—brilliant piece of work, which I didn’t understand when I was 13 years old: “Why is this here? The story’s over?” But every time I read it I understand the brilliance of that segment more and more. All I can say is that’s the kind of tone I will be aiming for. Whether I achieve it or not, that will be up to people like you and my readers to judge.
    The reference also to not having properly understood the relevance of The Scouring of the Shire at the tender age of 13 is one I have often made in years gone by on the Plaza (when some of our members were of a tender age themselves), and it is also to the great credit of the Professor that his epic work has such deep layers of relevance that one can only appreciate when seasoned by years of life experience.

    Similarly, there seem to be many people (some of whom may not read or watch much fantasy or scifi??) who have read the books and/or watched the HBO series based on Martin's work don't quite get that one is not supposed to like how those who play the "game of thrones" damage the lives of not just the common people, but women and children in general and the knights as well. War is no game, after all.

    Here is the link and I hope it works:

    http://winteriscoming.net/2015/08/11...at-you-expect/
    Last edited by Ankala Teaweed; 13/Aug/2015 at 04:22 AM.

  51. Saranna's Avatar
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    #151
    Thanks for this, Ankala; When you originally posted I had not read ASOIAF but my dear son gave me his pbk set and I read it over the summer - now I've joined the army of the waiting! I do hope he will stick to a less gory ending, some of those people deserve a break!
    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  52. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #152
    I have been involved in a fantasy book club since May this year and we have already read many fantasy and science-fiction books. First we read 'The Hobbit' that my dad also read and he enjoyed it though he kept comparing the Co. of Thorin to boy-scouts :/
    Then we read 'A Game of Thrones' (yet we talked about the whole ASoIaF series); I've already given my opinions on these books above.
    Then we read 'The Wizard of Earthsea' which I enjoyed; I like that Le Guin made her characters of different races, not elves, elc., but black, brown, etc. and thus was she racially inclusive; I thought it a very modern element to add to a fantasy story. But I thought the ending rather abrupt and want to find out what happens next, perhaps I'll read the rest of the series some time.
    Then we read 'The Long Earth' by Terry Pratchett and this other guy, well I began it but didn't continue because it had a baby in it at the start (which freaked me out; I have tocophobia); I didn't attend that meeting because I was sick and hadn't read the book.
    Then we read 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' which was ok (we talked about the rest of the series a bit too). I made a deal with my sister that if she read the whole 'HP' series then I would read it all too. She is in book 3 now, her boyfriend has also taken up reading the series (don't know where he's up to), and I'm up to book 7. I found the series rather mundane (being about school life mostly) and full of pent up teenage angst and unresolved sexual tension. I found Harry quite an angry character, hard to relate to, and a lot of a Gary Stu. I also hated his "relationship" with Cho Chang (for personal reasons I'm not willing to share here). The one character that I did like was Snape, I felt that I could relate to him and I understood him better than many of the other characters. Luna's also a pretty good character too, just 'cause she's weird like me ;)
    The next month we read 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'. It was ok, but I didn't fully understand or like the humour in it. Arthur was my fav character; I found the other characters hard to relate to or like, especially Marvin (even though I've gone through, and still am going through, depression). I, like with 'Earthsea', thought the ending rather abrupt and wanted to find out what happened next (although I don't see myself reading the rest of the series). I didn't attend book club that month either 'cause my boyfriend accidentally slept in and he was going to drive (he's been part of the book club since the start, I invited him along and he's enjoying it too).
    This month we're reading 'Dune'. I hate it and am not even a quarter of the way through. The characters are confusing to remember who's who, it's got a lot of unexplained words and concepts in it, and it's boring. And it has a baby in it (Jessica is with child, eww); again my tocophobia is guiding my decisions for I've decided not to read any more of it.
    Next month we're reading 'Letters from Father Christmas' which I'm looking forward to re-reading and discussing :)
    Last edited by Athelas_H; 06/Nov/2015 at 07:17 AM.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  53. Saranna's Avatar
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    #153
    I can strongly recommend the rest of Earthsea, with the proviso that the subtitle 'The Last Book of Earthsea' on the second-to-last is inaccurate. It must now be the longest 'trilogy' in existence. Would be glad to read your review of that when you have time.
    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  54. Dorwiniondil's Avatar
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    #154
    Dune is a mess. An interesting mess, with bits and pieces from Turkish, Arabic, Romani, Serbian, dog Latin etc., but still a mess.
    I am no longer young even in the reckoning of Men of the Ancient Houses.

  55. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #155
    Thanks Saranna, I'll keep the rest of the series in mind and try to get around to it.

    I agree Dorwiniondil, it's very messy.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  56. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #156
    'Letters from Father Christmas' was good the second time round for me. We discussed it in our December meeting of the fantasy/sci-fi book club that I'm part of. One person started relating the events in the letters to the events of WWII and I felt a bit thingy about that because it almost became a discussion about allegory which the Professor would not have been happy about imho; to me it's just coincidence that the events in the letters "matched" with events in WWII.
    And yesterday for our January meeting we discussed H.G.Well's 'The War of the Worlds'. I had read 'The Time Machine' before so I knew what to expect with the style and feeling of Well's story-telling and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But I found overall that it was difficult to relate to the characters, especially the protagonist and his brother, for they were unnamed so they felt rather impersonal. And I've seen both the '50's and 00's movies so I knew the ending before I'd even opened the book up so I was rather disappointed at that for it wasn't a surprise. Our book club group discussed all sorts of things relating to the book ranging from the 1938 radio play and its impact on society to the controversy surrounding blood transfusions in the late Victorian era in which the book was written. Next we're reading 'Ender's Game' by Orson Scott Card which I will review here in February. And when I'm finished 'A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms' by George R.R. Martin I'll also review it here. And it's not exactly fantasy but I might review Meg Cabot's 'Avalon High' here as well when I've finished re-reading it for uni; it's the story of King Arthur set in a modern American high school but it's got fantasy elements in it as well as being kind of mythological.
    Last edited by Athelas_H; 18/Jan/2016 at 07:18 AM.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  57. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #157
    Finally finished reading 'A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms' by George R.R. Marten. I really enjoyed it and can't wait until the next volume comes out (Marten mentions at the end of the book that he's writing more), it's similar in feel to ASoIaF but it's also less lofty and more realistic 'cause Dunk is just a commoner. And I really like Egg (aka Aegon Targaryen) and enjoyed seeing him growing up; Dunk is loveable too, he's like a gentle giant except when he's punishing Egg with a clout on the ear :)

    'Avalon High' is one of my favourite novels ever and I highly recommend it if you're a King Arthur fan. Cabot's King Arthur, Will A. Wagner, is very like to Tennyson's King Arthur in that he is wise, gentle, and caring, though he's also a bit of a Gary Stu but a likeable one (like King Arthur or Aragorn). The protagonist, Ellie Harrison, is also a likeable character, you know what I like all the characters (even the evil Marco) 'cause they feel somewhat realistic and interesting compared to most characters in YA novels. And the story is so much fun, I don't want to spoil it for you, so you'll have to read it yourself :) Though I don't like the way the Ellie always puts Elaine/the Lady of Shalott down, she's my fav Arthurian character ever so shut up Ellie! Enjoy reading :)
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  58. Saranna's Avatar
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    #158
    I've just read 'A knight of the seven kingdoms' too - really enjoyable, and you could give it to readers a little younger than I would recommend to read ASOIAF. It's very funny a lot of the time.
    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  59. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #159
    Saranna: I agree about it being for younger readers and it was very funny at times :)
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  60. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #160
    This month for book club we read 'Assassin's Apprentice' by Robin Hobb. I enjoyed it but I probably won't read it again nor read the rest of the series. I found it hard to relate to the characters (especially Fitz, though I found his Wit very interesting) and the world-building felt clumsy. And there weren't too many female characters; none of them were strong which surprised me since the book was written by a female :( Molly Nosebleed was the most disappointing, she was beaten into submission by her father and Patience wasn't that interesting either. Next up is 'The Magician's Nephew' by our beloved Jack.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  61. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #161
    Rereading 'The Magician's Nephew' was a delight, I love rereading books that I grew up reading, it's like having coffee and a chat with an old friend :)
    Then I read half of 'The Sword of Shannara' because for book club in May we're doing 'The Elfstones of Shannara' (the sequel to 'tSoS') so I though I'd read both of them. But I'm really hating the Shannara series so far so I had a break from it and read 'Blade of Fortriu' by Juliet Marillier. I really liked it because it's steeped in Scottish history and mythology and it's the Pictish companion to my own novels 'Lug's Fortress' and 'The King and the Cult' so it was fun to draw connections between my work and hers though they're completely different stories with vastly different characters. I recommend it to those who like historical fiction.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  62. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #162
    Just finished reading 'Carry On' a YA fantasy novel by Rainbow Rowell, it's a spinoff of her book 'Fangirl'. I thought it was ok, the world building was not totally original (it felt very much like 'Harry Potter') and the characters were (mostly) likeable and relateable. But towards the end of the book my nerves kicked in 'cause there was a baby, so much for having tocophobia, I skipped that entire chapter but I did not feel like I lost any of the story. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes 'Harry Potter' or the 'Earthsea' series.
    For book club this month we read 'The Elfstones of Shannara'. I only made it three chapters in and then gave up, it's not my kind of book at all and because of it I will now steer clear of anything written by Terry Brooks.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  63. Saranna's Avatar
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    #163
    Thanks Athelas_H for the reports on your fantasy reading - I never took to Shannara either, but I guess we can't like everything. I have no new reports just now myself, as my fiction reading has taken a detective turn for the moment!
    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  64. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #164
    No worries Saranna :) For book club in June we read 'Day of the Triffids' by John Wyndham. I hated it, it was sexist and not a very nice world, it was like a horror story for me. If I was stuck in a world like that I would either die or move to a deserted island and try to live alone, triffids or no. And I had too many unanswered questions by the end of the book, it felt like it needed a sequel. Next up is 'The Final Empire'.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  65. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #165
    For the month of July for book club we read 'The Final Empire' ('Mistborn' book 1) by Brandon Sanderson. I found it a difficult read, I found it hard to follow what was going on in the action scenes where they were pushing and pulling metals (plague that stuff is confusing and hard to imagine) but I did enjoy the ball scenes where there was lots of talking and flirting and unresolved sexual tension. I would recommend this book to people who liked 'Ender's Game' or other pulp fiction/fast paced action. Next up is 'Foundation' by Isaac Asimov.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  66. I don't think the Mistborn books are Sanderson's best work. He specializes in fast-paced stories in slightly unusual worlds, usually with very elaborate magic (or magic-like) systems. If you want to get a feel for him at his best, I'd recommend Warbreaker or his modern superheroes-with-a-twist trilogy that begins with Steelheart. He's really pretty good at what he does, which is basically to write fantasy thrillers.
    It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.

  67. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #167
    Thanks LotR, I'll keep that in mind :)
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  68. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #168
    'Foundation' was the most confusing book I have ever read. It kept skipping forward in time by approx. 30 yrs and introducing a whole new set of characters with each time leap. It also didn't have any female characters in it :< I didn't even finish it that was how confusing it was. Has anyone else had this experience with 'Foundation' or other Asimov books? Next up is 'The Silmarillion' :D
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  69. Dorwiniondil's Avatar
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    #169
    The early Foundation books simply bring together separate stories published in individual issues of Astounding Science Fiction in the 1940s, within a linking framework. Look on them as simple accounts of crisis points in the Seldon Plan as it develops.
    I am no longer young even in the reckoning of Men of the Ancient Houses.

  70. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #170
    Thanks for the info Dorwiniondil, I'll keep that in mind.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  71. Nieliqui Vaneyar's Avatar
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    #171
    I actually got caught up in the Encyclopedia Galactica theme and and Seldens idea of psycho - history .Thinking back on that theme -as i read the story- which suggests an overarching relationship of how history plays out helped me appreciate the story segments. I guess part of the reason I liked the Hobbit which I read first and then LOTR and the rest is seeing each of those as part of a larger history and getting into exploring it (like Elrond's mention of Gondolin). Tho by Second Foundation I started losing my interst with the introduction of the Mule and how he was written .and especially with what I considered sort of a deus machina , (spoiler) the actual explanation of the 2nd foundation.

  72. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #172
    I'm no longer involved in book club but that doesn't mean that I'm not reading Fantasy books. I've started two new series in the last couple of weeks. The first is the Obernewtyn series by Aussie author Isobelle Carmody. It is set in the future, post-apocalyptic, and focuses on Misfits, people with mind powers who are outcast to Obernewtyn. The main character is named Elspeth or Elf for short and she has the ability of being a Farseeker, meaning she can communicate with people's thoughts over long distances. She can also communicate with animals telepathically. This series is a bit dense but it is also worth reading if you like post-apocalyptic stories.

    The second series is the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I've just finished the second book and am keen to read more asap. I love this series. The main character Celaena is sassy and sexy yet still a strong female. The first book kind of reminds me of the Hunger Games in that certain individuals have to compete in a competition for their freedom. I recommend this book for anyone who likes epic fantasy and good old sword fights (and romance). But I would recommend it to an older audience because of its sexual content.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  73. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #173
    Guess what? I've decided to go back to book club 'cause my ex doesn't go anymore. We had our January meeting yesterday and we discussed book 1 of the 'Ranger's Apprentice' series by Aussie author John Flanagan. I liked it but didn't love it. It's a kids book so it's rather simple. But it's written well. I didn't like many of the characters; they were very stereotypical eg the fat girl who likes to cook (and eat) and the tall, skinny, bookish, gawky boy who can't defend himself physically. I would recommend it for younger readers, probably the 8 to 14 age group. Next up is 'Childhood's End' by Arthur C. Clarke.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  74. Saranna's Avatar
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    #174
    Just taking advantage really - my new novel is now on Amazon HERE (The Dry Well)
    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  75. Finduilas Faelivrin's Avatar
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    #175
    Thanks for the heads-up, Saranna. Your book must be doing okay, since it's temporarily out of stock. I've added you to my authors to follow. I haven't read any of your books, and my pile of books-bought-but-not-yet-read is backing up. Still, I enjoy hearing about the literary travels of Plaza friends. All the best to you and your writings.
    asėa aranion / kingsfoil / athelas
    Come athelas! Come athelas! Life to the dying, in the king's hand lying!

  76. Saranna's Avatar
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    #176
    Thanks Finduilas; but I must be honest, it's on print-on-demand so will always claim to be out of stock! When you feel ready, just order it.
    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  77. Ankala Teaweed's Avatar
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    #177
    Tor Books is releasing chapters in advance of the 3rd Stormlight Archive book, Oathbringer, by Brandon Sanderson, which will be out in the Fall. It is good stuff. So far, the prologue and this week chapters 1 - 3. yes preciousssss

  78. Saranna's Avatar
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    #178
    Thanks Ankala, must have a look!
    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

  79. Saranna's Avatar
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    #179
    Befouled by Sian Glirdain - Dreamworlds Publishing October 2017

    Sian Glirdain has managed to terrify and enthrall me with this book. Her depictions of the beings of Evil at their cruel work are chilling, and the story fills me with pity and sorrow at the suffering of the captives and thralls.
    They say love will always find a way, but this story takes its protagonists to hell – and not necessarily back again, at least not completely. What if the only way to show your love is an act of evil?
    A devastating tale, that made me cry out in shock at times. Produced from imaginative depths that I envy.
    Remembering halfir by learning more each day

    Death comes to all
    But great achievements raise a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    George Fabricius, 'In Praise of Georgius Agricola'

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