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Old 10-30-2009, 03:09 PM   #31
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I do have a particular dislike for Weis and Hickman - I find their prose style excruciatingly painful to read.
About them - if you started from the very beginning of their first series (Dragonlance Chronicles), first two volumes were written to illustrate D&D scenarios that already existed, and serve as a marketing tool, so they had to follow closely what was in the scenarios. After two volumes they caught up with the scenario makers, and third volume was written by them, and scenarios made from it. It's a big difference in my opinion, feels like a whole different book.
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Old 10-30-2009, 03:12 PM   #32
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One author I really don't like is Diana Gabaldon. Her books are just pure rubbish. I read Outlander because of a former GF and I really wasted my time.

Another is Urula K. LeGuin. She make have good story ideas, but the way she describes things just drives me nuts.
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Old 10-30-2009, 03:40 PM   #33
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I have to disagree with the assessment on Mercedes Lackey, Stephen R. Donaldson, and Terry Brooks. They are quite good. I'm sorry you (you know who you are) cannot see this.
You are lucky... If you can stomach Terry Brooks, you must be able to read almost anything. Your reading universe is wide open!

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Old 10-30-2009, 06:52 PM   #34
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ACK!

So much by Lin Carter STINKS, and you will too if you read his entire oeuvre.

He was a Great Editor, but my God a lot of this man's writing really, really stinks.

What say you, oh Erstwhile Reader?
Don
I'll be a bit gentler on Carter, since I knew him back when and he and his wife Noel were friends.

But yes, as a writer, he was at best a competent hack, doing SF by the yard and Conan pastiches, largely for Ace Books. They were "popcorn" books, read in an afternoon and promptly forgotten.

And how great an editor he was can also be questioned. He got a good and largely deserved reputation for putting together the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, which gets kudos for at least demonstrating that there was more to fantasy than Tolkien, and returning E. R. Eddison and William Morris to print, among others.

But I recall a conversation with Dave Hartwell (who has a PhD in English, and knows more than a bit himself about the roots of fantasy) where he wished Ballantine had chosen someone more knowledgeable to helm the line. I though the Ballantine Adult Fantasy line was good, and have wondered over the years what it might have been had some (like Dave) been in charge instead.

My three fantasy pet peeves are Terry Brooks, David Eddings, and Piers Anthony.

Brooks' Shannara series is largely watered down Tolkien pastiche. Had I not been a long time Tolkien fan and regular re-reader of LoTR, I might have felt better, but I know what Terry was imitating, and I was already sick to death of such imitations. The Landover series had the virtue of an original premise, then ruined it with writing that reminded me of cotton candy, cloyingly sweet with no nutritional value.

I read Eddings' Belgariad with pleasure. I plowed grimly through the Mallorean. Folks back then were talking about how much they loved the Belgariad, and wished it would go on forever. By the time I finished the Mallorean, I felt like it had. The authorial strings were too evident in the Mallorean, as Eddings very carefully maneuvered his characters through every place on his world. The whole thing wound up feeling like paint-by-numbers fantasy. On the plus side, Eddings had likable characters and a flair for dialog. On the minus side, he had one cast of characters and one story to tell, and subsequent series were the same series with the names changed and the serial numbers filed off.

Anthony is one of the best in the field at taking an idea and running with it, and there are earlier works I recommend. Unfortunately, he's one of the worst at knowing when to stop, and can run series into, and under the ground. The sterling example is the Xanth series. The first book, _A Spell for Chameleon_, was charming. The next couple were at least readable. Beyond that, the books became excuses for bad puns, long past originality or nything particular to say. AAnthony has discovered he can make a lot of money turning out Xanth retreads. I admire his motive: he's using the money to buy virgin land around him in Florida and keep it virgin and undeveloped, but I can't read the resulting work.
______
Dennis

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Old 10-30-2009, 07:16 PM   #35
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Some of you will give me crap for this but I propose avoiding Stephen R. Donaldson's "Thomas Covenant" series. It wasn't badly written but I guess I just need SOMEONE to empathize with. I think all it did was give me a headache (as did some of Tolkien's meanderings but THAT at least had a payoff).
I read the first three Covenant novels back when with reasonable pleasure, largely because it wasn't Yet Another Tolkien Clone. I plowed rather grimly through the second series, and haven't attempted anything else he's written. Donaldson is writing from a set of philosophical premises I suspect I don't agree with. He's also annoying for vocabulary. I don't mind an author using obscure words, but I expect him to get them right when he does. Gene Wolfe does it well. Donaldson doesn't.
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Old 10-30-2009, 07:18 PM   #36
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Avoid (piles of turd):

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson
Earthsea 5 books by Ursula Le Guin
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Book of the New Sun series starting with The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe
Crown of Stars by Kate Elliott
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Old 10-30-2009, 07:50 PM   #37
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Avoid (piles of turd):

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
It wasn't my favorite, but I wouldn't go quite that far.
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Old 10-30-2009, 08:53 PM   #38
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I have to say I hadn't given it much thought but with the exception of The Black Swan I have never much liked Mercedes Lackey. I want to. I just can't.
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Old 10-30-2009, 11:52 PM   #39
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Avoid (piles of turd):

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson
Earthsea 5 books by Ursula Le Guin
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Thomas Covenant books got on my nerves when I first read them back in the 80's. Using obscure words for the sake of obscure words annoyed me too, and the whininess of the main character really pissed me off. But I read them all.

I've like other stuff he's done, though.

I ADORE the Earthsea books.

I thought American Gods was ok. I prefer Gaiman's Anansi Boys, though, especially in audio format, read by Lenny Henry.

I CANNOT read R.A. Salvatore. I've tried a couple of times, and I don't think I've made it more than a page or two before I threw the book down in disgust. His stuff is so badly written I just find it totally unreadable. I have no idea why he's popular.
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Old 10-31-2009, 12:09 AM   #40
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Another is Urula K. LeGuin. She make have good story ideas, but the way she describes things just drives me nuts.
LeGuin's work from the 60s and early 70s is magical, essential reading. Her problem is that she converted to Feminism with a capital F in the early 80s and started thinking that she needed to write Meaningful Works, the result being the stinking pile of trash that is Tehanu and other similar later works.

The Earthsea Trilogy from the 1960s is the one of the greatest pieces of fantasy ever written, suffused with a subtle and coherent philosophy that surpasses anything else in the genre. It is, however, rather sexist if you're sensitive to such things. Rather than accepting that and moving on, LeGuin turned around and trashed the entire premise of the original trilogy many years later in order to prove her feminist credentials. Her career is an excellent example of how a superb author who's capable of thinking for herself can get turned into a robot spewing mindless political diatribes. She can still write very well if you can avoid the corrosive propaganda.

/rant off
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Old 10-31-2009, 12:45 AM   #41
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You are lucky... If you can stomach Terry Brooks, you must be able to read almost anything. Your reading universe is wide open!

Good... glad to hear I have more options open to me. The Magic Kingdom of Landover is one of my favorite fantasy series. I also thought the Jarka Ruus series was quite good too. Quite a page turner. Oh, The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara was a great trilogy also.

I'm so glad people can have different tastes and opinions.

BOb

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Old 10-31-2009, 04:40 AM   #42
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I love Goodkind for being an Objectivist but his writing does tend to be a little bland. I've only read the first book, though. I hear his writing doesn't really improve. I also thought the Mord-Sith bit was more like Goodkind describing his wildest sex fantasy.

As for Terry Brooks, I loved the Knight of the Word series in junior high. Haven't really looked at it since then, though. I wrote to him and he wrote back eventually. I thought it was pretty cool that he personally responds in hand written letters to all of his fan mail no matter how long it takes him.
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Old 10-31-2009, 08:22 AM   #43
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I'll be a bit gentler on Carter, since I knew him back when and he and his wife Noel were friends.

But yes, as a writer, he was at best a competent hack, doing SF by the yard and Conan pastiches, largely for Ace Books. They were "popcorn" books, read in an afternoon and promptly forgotten.

And how great an editor he was can also be questioned. He got a good and largely deserved reputation for putting together the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, which gets kudos for at least demonstrating that there was more to fantasy than Tolkien, and returning E. R. Eddison and William Morris to print, among others.

But I recall a conversation with Dave Hartwell (who has a PhD in English, and knows more than a bit himself about the roots of fantasy) where he wished Ballantine had chosen someone more knowledgeable to helm the line. I though the Ballantine Adult Fantasy line was good, and have wondered over the years what it might have been had some (like Dave) been in charge instead.

My three fantasy pet peeves are Terry Brooks, David Eddings, and Piers Anthony.

Brooks' Shannara series is largely watered down Tolkien pastiche. Had I not been a long time Tolkien fan and regular re-reader of LoTR, I might have felt better, but I know what Terry was imitating, and I was already sick to death of such imitations. The Landover series had the virtue of an original premise, then ruined it with writing that reminded me of cotton candy, cloyingly sweet with no nutritional value.

I read Eddings' Belgariad with pleasure. I plowed grimly through the Mallorean. Folks back then were talking about how much they loved the Belgariad, and wished it would go on forever. By the time I finished the Mallorean, I felt like it had. The authorial strings were too evident in the Mallorean, as Eddings very carefully maneuvered his characters through every place on his world. The whole thing would up feel.ing like paint-by-numbers fantasy. On the plus side, Eddings had likable characters and a flair for dialog. On the minus side, he had one cast of characters and one story to tell, and subsequent series were the same series with the names changed and the serial numbers filed off.

Anthony is one of the best in the field at taking an idea and running with it, and there are earlier works I recommend. Unfortunately, he's one of the worst at knowing when to stop, and can run series into, and under the ground. The sterling example is the Xanth series. The first book, _A Spell for Chameleon_, was charming. The next couple were at least readable. Beyond that, the books became excuses for bad puns, long past originality or nything particular to say. AAnthony has discovered he can make a lot of money turning out Xanth retreads. I admire his motive: he's using the money to buy virgin land around him in Florida and keep it virgin and undeveloped, but I can't read the resulting work.
______
Dennis


I was being a little facetious with Lin Carter.

When I was a young pimple, I really enjoyed Carter's Thongor series. I was hungry for anything to do with "Swords and Sorcery." (It's a shame we now have these fat, offensive Fantasy novels, and "Swords and Sorcery" is now an almost forgotten sub-genre of Fantasy.)

I was also (back in those days) a big fan of the continuation of the Conan saga, as worked on by DeCamp, Bjorn Nyberg, Carter [and someone else?].

I credit Lin Carter with turning me on to William Hope Hodgson's work. (I assembled Night land for MobileRead; it's available as an LRF ebook.)

Lin Carter led an increasingly unhappy life. He was a hack, but I don't consider that a bad word. He deserved to make more money than he did, and often he wrote out of desperation.

Salud to Lin Carter, and to his pioneering work in the field of Fantasy.


Don
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Old 10-31-2009, 10:07 AM   #44
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Avoid (piles of turd):
Earthsea 5 books by Ursula Le Guin
The Book of the New Sun series starting with The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe
Can you explain this dislike a little more?

The LeGuin and Wolfe above are widely considered masterpieces, and I largely agree. I consider Wolfe to be one of the best writers alive, period, in any genre.
______
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Old 10-31-2009, 01:03 PM   #45
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I thought Jordan lost control of the story around the third volume. (I remember reading a passage and it felt like nothing happened for a hundred pages - and then the same nothing happened for another hundred pages to the same characters later on.)
I have mixed feelings. Jordan's WoT series is a lot like how Tolkien described "The Lord of the Rings": a "tale that grew in the telling". If I recall correctly, WoT was originally conceived and sold as a standard fantasy trilogy, but the more Jordan wrote, the more he discovered he had to write to tell the story he wanted to tell.

And as he discovered more he had to write, he got increasingly farther behind, to the point where his publisher put him up in a hotel at one point so he could write with no distractions and get the next book out the door.

I met him on a signing tour at one point, and he stated that he knew what the last scene in the last book would be, but was not certain exactly how he would get there. He was adamant, however, that the WoT series would not be a twelve book series. After reading the book he had signed on that tour, I said "He's right. It won't be a twelve book series. Given how far this book didn't advance the plot, it will take at least thirteen..."

The last couple of WoT books did advance the plot. It felt like zwischenzug , the chess term for the intermediate moves you must make to set up conditions for the end game you want to play. Jordan was putting his pieces into place.

Ironically, the book Jordan died in the middle of writing and which is being completed by Brian Sanderson is number twelve (though I believe it's big enough that Tor is choosing to publish in three volumes.)

I've been reading the series steadily. I give Jordan credit for giving his characters distinctive voices -- you generally know who is speaking -- and managing to keep multiple plot lines and major characters straight without the sort of continuity glitches that can plague series books. I like the books, but I can understand why some folks have problems.
______
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