[DWJ] Mediocre fantasy serieses (was Titles (was

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Tue Jun 13 08:47:38 EDT 2006

>On Mon, 12 Jun 2006, Melissa Proffitt wrote:
>> Almost everything I've ever read by Mercedes Lackey.  I'd try to cut
>> out the parts of my brain that hold those memories if it didn't mean
>> losing the memory that would prevent my reading them again.

Paul Adinach replied:

>I think I have already mentioned on this list that I had such a low
>opinion of the first Mercedes Lackey book I ever read that I re-read
>it a few years later to make sure I wasn't confabulating how bad it
>(The second, which I read largely out of an obligation to give her a
>second chance, wasn't actively bad, but didn't inspire any great
>desire to read on. There hasn't been a third.)

I think I may have read my first Mercedes Lackey at some precisely-right
moment, because I liked it.  Granted that I was certain that the "Arrows"
trilogy was padded -- I was later told by someone who knew Lackey before
she got famous that it started out as one book, and was turned into a
trilogy at the publishers' insistence, which pleased me mightily as showing
that I could spot it when that happened -- it seemed to me to be
better-quality than quite a lot of the trottle that I'd encountered.  And
no, I didn't identify with sweet-little-wossername the Misunderstood Teen
With A Talent.  I just liked the whole set-up.

That didn't last.  I got fed up with the way everything seemed to turn out
to be either a goditty or a motiveless super-villain as the series
staggered on.  Even so, I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the first
few.  I re-read them a few weeks ago because I needed something that
wouldn't occupy too much brain for reading at a hospital bedside, and they
still seemed to me to work well enough for what they were.

It's the same with Anne McCaffrey's dragons: I liked the first one a lot, I
could handle the second (though I got a bit fed up with the manufactured
villainy) but by about the fourth or fifth I was no longer keeping an eye
out for the next to be published, and when it got to *Dolphins of Pern* I
had *had* it.  I did read that a few years after it appeared (10p
second-hand copy from a charity shop, long boring journey to get through),
and I marvelled at the way a reasonable character from the previous book
had been turned into a completely irrational moron just so she could be the
"mother who doesn't understand" and provide the excuse for a nitwitted brat
to gallop madly off in all directions just because mommy didn't understand
him.  Pah! thought I.  Next book, *Woodlice of Pern*.

It seems to me that the problem, in each case, is that a stand-alone book
proved popular and the writer got cozened or bullied into writing a sequel
for which she didn't really have enough ideas.  Then the ideas she did have
didn't quite fit the original template and the whole thing had to be
dragged into a new shape that it didn't really fit.  The worst example is
the sequel (sequels?) to *The Crystal Singer*; the original book had
several interesting things in it, particularly that the crystal singers
forgot everything except singing crystal, and that they couldn't go
off-planet for any length of time without it being fatally bad for them:
they needed crystal to survive, and it destroyed them as continuing-people
whilst making them almost immortal.  Interesting premise.  So in
*Killashandra* the crystal singer remembers everything, and goes off-planet
for yonks and yonks without ill-effects, and the whole point of the
original is forgotten in (gawdelpus) someone who by the premises of the
original book *can't* have a lasting love affair finding her one-true-love
and presumably living happily ever after with him on a planet which
according to the first book she can't leave but on which he couldn't
survive.  There is also the interesting *Ship Who Sang* premise -- the
human who cannot ever experience carnal love because it's a crippled infant
really, but it's also an adult spaceship -- being lost because the
shell-person ends up being given a human body after all just so she can
swoon into the arms of her true-love and live happily-ever-after.  Gah.  I
get bored with the sex-is-the-only-important-thing way that these books end
up going.


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