George R. R. Martin

Dorian E. Gray israfel at
Thu Jun 27 16:56:32 EDT 2002

Melissa said...

> If you like George Martin, you might also like Mary Gentle's _Ash_.  I
> haven't finished it, because the profanity (which is an integral
> part of the
> main character's personality) really put me off.  But I thought
> the premise
> was interesting and the story engrossing: warfare and politics
> combined.  Is
> it Dorian who likes these books so much?

Yes, that was me.  It's a really amazing book, I think (published in one
volume over here).  Very realistic depiction of medieval warfare and

> If you don't like frame stories
> it might annoy you, but *I* like them and I thought this one was as clever
> and engrossing as the novel

The framing device is one of the best bits of it, I think.  Because it looks
like just a device, until you find out that it's actually part of the whole
overarching story (I don't think it's a spoiler to say that; it becomes
apparent reasonably early).

> in fact, given my antipathy to Ash's
> language,
> I kinda wished there was a version that focused more on the frame a la
> _Possession_.

I don't have strong feelings one way or the other about profanity; I didn't
object to it in "Ash" because it's *right* for that character in that
setting.  I only object when it's tossed in for the sake of "ooh, look at
me, I'm daring, I'm using bad language in print!".
> David Eddings.  Where to begin.  Jacob just finished re-reading The
> Belgariad and indulging in some misty nostalgia.  I do not
> recommend any of
> the others except perhaps the Elenium (_The Diamond Throne_ etc.)
> and I ONLY
> do so on the basis that you have specifically requested information.

(Just to provide a contrasting opinion; I don't at all mind that the
Mallorean is basically the Belgariad all over again; I think he did it
better the second time!  And I like all the bit where you learn about the
"enemy" culture.  Not saying Melissa is wrong, of course.  Just that it
isn't something that upsets *me*.)

> I
> personally detest Eddings' writing style and his characters make me
> seriously annoyed.

Okay, I admit it, some of them annoy me, too.  The primness of most of the
women is very tiresome, as is Belgarath's somewhat laboured debauchery.
That's another reason I like the Mallorean; it has some better characters in
it!  (Beldin and Vella are just so cool!)

> But the Belgariad itself has many fine qualities and
> when I was younger, I really loved it.  I think, somewhere beneath all the
> annoying prose, there must be some kernel of universal truth--you
> know, the
> kind of thing you just resonate to, regardless of form.

Well, it's a basic quest story.  Our Heroes must go forth and rescue the
Item of Power in order to Save the World from Evil - which, eventually, they
do.  Good triumphs over Evil, and I think we all like to see that happen.
It makes us feel better about the world.  Or something.

> Even the bad things that happen are painted in rosy
> colors.

True.  As I said in my earlier post, this is no-brainer fantasy we're
talking about.  Fluffy marshmallow fantasy.  Comfort reading.

> I like the politicking of Katherine Kerr, but her later books are not as
> interesting to me.  The first four, _Daggerspell_, _Darkspell_, _The
> Bristling Wood_, and _The Dragon Revenant_, are all exceptionally
> interesting and full of Celtic-flavor politics and warfare.

I liked those, but found her writing style got very tiresome after a while.
She's one of those writers who finds a phrase she likes and *keeps* *on*
using it!  Frex, the first time someone "wept in a brief scatter of tears"
it was a nice phrase.  By the end of the book every single character had
done so, many more than once, and I was heartily sick of the phrase!  But if
you can get past that, they're not bad at all, and she has the merit of
knowing her Celts (unlike far too many writers of Celtic fantasy!).

Until the sky falls on our heads...


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