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dusted off in read-only

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Brys Candidate | joined 20 June 2006 | 12 posts


Ian Irvine posted 20 June 2006 in Literature DiscussionIan Irvine by Brys, Candidate

I've only read Geomancer, but it was one of the worst books I've read this year. The most annoying thing about it is that it shouldn't have been - Irvine had some interesting ideas and he almost managed to keep away from the cliches. But his writing was terrible - the writing alone was bad enough for me not to continue, but I did, in the hope that it would improve. And yes, the writing was just readable by the end. But by the end, he'd also simplified the plot and was moving towards cliches. The characterisation was oversimplified, but showed some signs of complexity. There were occasions when it was just wholly implausible in terms of characters though, but my main objection was that the prose was just painful to read most of the time and the original ideas he had turned out to be a superficial gloss on a straightforward story. view post


PON vs MBOF vs ASOIAF posted 20 June 2006 in Literature DiscussionPON vs MBOF vs ASOIAF by Brys, Candidate

I love all three series, it's very hard to choose - I still lean slightly towards Erikson, but IMO they're all as good as each other. Bakker I feel is the most competent writer and he shows the potential to go on and write many more excellent fantasy novels, while I think Martin is at the peak of his writing career and Erikson is levelling off. Erikson has a world of huge scale and depth and its a massively complex plot, while is often very emotional and his endings are nearly perfect, but due to its scale, the characterisation suffers a little, but of the three, I think he's easily the best at the comedy elements. Martin has brilliant character driven plots, but most of the world is frankly uninteresting and not hugely original and A Feast for Crows was a step down from the amazing A Storm of Swords. Bakker has a completed trilogy though and I think he manages to achieve excellence in all of these areas, but is just shy of brilliance in any of them - but his I would argue is also the most intelligent fantasy. view post


Needing some good suggestions. posted 20 June 2006 in Literature DiscussionNeeding some good suggestions. by Brys, Candidate

I'll also recommend Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen and George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire - as they're easily the other two best epic fantasy authors at the moment, it's a logical starting point. Guy Gavriel Kay writes excellent historical fantasy, particularly the Last Light of the Sun and The Lions of Al-Rassan which are well worth reading.

Dune of course is an excellent SF novel, and the protagonist does play a similar role to Kellhus (though perhaps a more likeable one).

In speculative fiction generally, I'd say the best are (in no order): Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake, Viriconium by M John Harrison, Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce, The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint, the Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick, Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny, The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester and One Hundred Years in Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.There are tons more, but those are 12 reads I'd view as essential in speculative fiction - all slightly better or nearly as good as the Prince of Nothing.

But really, R.E.H is good, under-rated. It's an enjoyable, fast read, with little characterisation and violence. Perfect.


Conan's ok, but I often find it too overtly racist and underdeveloped to be enjoyable. I prefer Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser and Michael Moorcock's Elric or Hawkmoon in sword and sorcery. view post


Dan Brown posted 20 June 2006 in Literature DiscussionDan Brown by Brys, Candidate

I've read the Da Vinci Code, and it was really awful - badly written, ridiculous characterisation and plotting and a poor ending. But surprisingly enough, that was well above my expectations for the book - it wasn't the worst novel I've ever read, it was just one of the worst. Some parts were (unintentionally) hilarious and I found it highly implausible that the characters could really be that stupid and be in the jobs they were in. view post


Favorite books/series posted 20 June 2006 in Literature DiscussionFavorite books/series by Brys, Candidate

In classic fantasy:
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake (if it isn't considered classic, then I don't know what can deserve that accolade)

In epic fantasy:
Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

In Swords+Sorcery fantasy:
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Fritz Leiber

In science fiction:
Flowers for Algernon

In magical realism:
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

In "New Weird":
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

I don't know where this fits in, but it has to be mentioned: The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. view post


Hugo Nominees Announced -- Weirdness Ensues posted 21 June 2006 in Literature DiscussionHugo Nominees Announced -- Weirdness Ensues by Brys, Candidate

I don't know why TWP wasn't on there - it really deserved to be, and The Warrior Prophet was a far superior novel to A Feast for Crows. AFFC is the only fantasy novel, but it has a chance of winning, though I don't think it deserves to.
I haven't read Anansi Boys, but knowing the quality of Gaiman's work, it's a bit strange it didn't make it to the shortlist - but I haven't read all of the novels on the shortlist, so they might have been good enough to push it out. I also would have expected Vellum by Hal Duncan and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro to get on. But Vellum hadn't been released in the US by that time, so it wouldn't have stood a chance of winning, and Never Let Me Go had already been shortlisted for the Booker prize. view post


Eddings posted 21 June 2006 in Literature DiscussionEddings by Brys, Candidate

I read the Belgariad, the Mallorean and the Elenium when I was about 13 and at the time I mildly enjoyed them, but Eddings is a pretty bad writer. Even if you are willing to ignore the fact that he copies his plots and characters almost exactly from one series to the next, those characters and plots aren't even worth copying, and I haven't seen an original idea in an Eddings novel. The worlds he created were incredibly simplistic and there was no imagination present in it, but it served his purpose. A couple of years ago I read The Elder Gods, and that was one of the worst novels I've ever read. It was absolutely terrible, even by Eddings' usual standards.

The Belgariad and the Elenium might be worth reading as children - though I think Feist is a far more competent author who would fulfill this role much better - and I think the Elenium is the better of the two - more tightly written, a slightly darker, more original tone, but again it's not exactly good. view post


Gates of Fire posted 21 June 2006 in Literature DiscussionGates of Fire by Brys, Candidate

It's a great novel, my favourite of Pressfield's. Tides of War was very good as well, but I didn't find it paced quite as well as Gates of Fire. Last of the Amazons was ok, but not anything like as good as the other two. view post


The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (first series) posted 21 June 2006 in Literature DiscussionThe Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (first series) by Brys, Candidate

I thought Thomas Covenant himself was a brilliant character, but I wasn't hugely impressed by the series as a whole. The parts set in the real world were by far the best written and most intriguing, as they helped to create a developed, realistic character and the attitudes of other people were entirely believable. But I found the storyline in the Land itself distinctly average - you have your pseudo-Middle Earth, with huge similarities, you have the stereotypical fantasy dark lord, the standard quest with a few companions, evil creatures that play exactly the same role as orcs in LotR...
Donaldson then goes on to make the mistake of writing lots of description about this very bland world, which kills the pacing. I only enjoyed the trilogy because of Covenant - within the Land, there were very few characters who were even reasonably developed and the plot was very predictable. It was one of those series where it's obvious the author has skill and could write something really good, but for whatever reason, decides to oversimplify the novel. There was one new idea in it - the anti-hero leper, Thomas Covenant, and that was a great idea. But not enough to last 1000+ pages.

For some reason I really enjoyed The Wounded Land though, and I can't quite pinpoint why, but then I hated the One Tree. view post


Robert E. Howard posted 21 June 2006 in Literature DiscussionRobert E. Howard by Brys, Candidate

I've read his Conan stories, and while Howard was a skilful writer, I didn't think they were that great, and I got really put off by the overt racism and misogyny in them. I prefer his contemporaries, but Howard's certainly preferable to most modern heroic fantasy like Gemmell. view post


Robert E. Howard posted 25 June 2006 in Literature DiscussionRobert E. Howard by Brys, Candidate

I think Gemmell's written some novels that were entertaining and not badly written, but after a while they get repetitive and while he may at his best be competent, he isn't spectacular, while the earlier sword+sorcery authors tended to be excellent. Howard might some times have objectionable content in his writing, but the writing itself is of a high quality. view post


The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (first series) posted 25 June 2006 in Literature DiscussionThe Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (first series) by Brys, Candidate

Thanks for the recommendation - I'll check out the Gap series, as Donaldson always struck me as an author with a lot of potential.

The One Tree.... it was terrible IMO. Barely anything happened in it, and it was incredibly tedious. Especially as it came after the excellent The Wounded Land. view post


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