So I just read the first Malazan book
Posted 24 October 2009 - 11:08 AM
Posted 24 October 2009 - 11:50 AM
No, it is not.
Facts are stubborn things. They do not change because you hiss and stamp your feet like a petulent child.
The Malazan Book of the Fallen, the ten-book series, is one story arc in the history of this world. That history has now been extended by the six-volume Novels of the Malazan Empire series by Ian Cameron Esslemont, the three-volume Kharkanas Trilogy by Steven Erikson and the three-volume Toblakai Trilogy by Steven Erikson. These together form one inarguable 22-volume story.
There will be closure in The Crippled God for the Crippled God storyline and I'm guessing the Bonehunters. Pretty much everything else will be left unresolved, unless the book comes in at three thousand pages in length or something. There is simply not enough time for all the other major storylines to be resolved. And we have already seen major, core storylines from the series, including ones that began in Gardens of the Moon, developed and resolved in Return of the Crimson Guard, a book by a different author in a different sub-series.
As in, not at all?
Excellent! We are on the same page after all and you are not a crazed troll as everyone previously thought! Hallaleujah!
That would be the largely guessed reconstruction backed up by the link I gave above? And backed up by five years spent debating the series on Malazanempire, and a discussion with Steven Erikson himself? And by interviewing him along with Pat and Larry for our blogs? And by constructing the semi-official Malazan world map on the official website which met with his approval?
And by, you know, actually reading all nine books, six of them twice, plus the two by Esslemont, and not basically making up arguments based purely on internet hearsay?
The author has, in his own words, said many times that major, integral storylines in his series will not be resolved by him in this series, but by Esslemont in future books, or by himself in the future sequel trilogy. The 10-book arc is solely about the Crippled God and that is it. Everything else, including major storylines established in Gardens of the Moon like Tattersail, Laseen, Tayschrenn and the ultimate fate of the T'lan Imass, is up for grabs in future books and future series.
This isn't even a hypothesis. This has happened already on a huge scale, as shown in Return of the Crimson Guard which picked up on major storylines, brought about huge geopolitical changes in the world and developed major characters - and in some cases killed them off - from the existing Erikson novels.
Because I am an eternal optimist who is incapable of honestly believing that people actually persist in believing inaccurate information purely out of stubborness. You'd have thought that years of dealing with the BS people make up about ADWD would have taught me otherwise, but I guess not.
Edited by Werthead, 24 October 2009 - 11:53 AM.
Posted 24 October 2009 - 12:15 PM
Also: Oh snap!
Posted 24 October 2009 - 12:41 PM
Seeing that on top of that Gormenghast has explicitly expressed the view that plot, consistency or worldbuilding were totally accessory and irrelevant compared to theme exploration, the arguments you offer do not seem to be able to ever convince him.
Posted 24 October 2009 - 01:21 PM
Yes and no. If you sat down and wrote WWII as a story, you could start in September 1939 or at Munich or at Hitler's coming to power in 1933 or in the failed Munich revolution or before WWI. All would be equally valid, and you'd have to explain some of the backstory whatever you did.
What I'm talking about is if someone started writing a series of books in WWII, developed say Stalin as a major character for five books, and then completely dropped him in mid-stream, with no plot or thematic resolution, and said the series was complete, but there was going to be more books later featuring him and what he got up to later on, and tried to sell the remaining story as 'complete' although a major protagonist's story arc, begun and thoroughly developed already, was missing its thematic or plot resolution. That would be, to put it kindly, bullshit.
The Kharkanas trilogy, a prequel focusing on Rake and Kharkanas, would seem to fit this goal of an optional extra story just set in the same world (aside from the fact that significant chunks of TBH, RG, TTH and DoD, not to mention almost all of Nimander's storyline, are used to set it up, which clouds the issue). Night of Knives is definitely in that bracket as well. The Toblakai trilogy is not, and neither are Esslemont's later books based on the information we have at the moment. They are as integeral to the story and the series as any of the ten 'main' books. Return of the Crimson Guard is a much more significant book in exploring and furthering character, story and themes from the events of Deadhouse Gates, House of Chains and The Bonehunters than any of Erikson's later books. It is a more important and integral volume of the over-arcing storyline than Toll the Hounds (which, one event aside, seems to solely exist to set up this other material), that is certain.
Posted 24 October 2009 - 04:07 PM
What I'm talking about is if someone started writing a series of books in WWII, developed say Stalin as a major character for five books, and then completely dropped him in mid-stream, with no plot or thematic resolution, and said the series was complete
You are asserting he has to do certain things for it to make sense, and I think it's that idea that doesn't jive. I'm actually surprised that after all these books, you still think Erikson is willing to write a story that ties everything up, that he will do it or that he thinks a real story should have all plotlines tied. If he was able to do that, MBOTF would be like, 4 books long, each about 300 pages long. I mean, you're talking as if, I don't know, Buffy needed Angel to be considered complete, or X-Men could be complete with some story about Magneto written on the side... (I get that you consider these side stories to be integral to what you see as the central plot of the ten books crippled god storyline, but there is so much stuff in these ten books, can they not stand on their own? Not like the books don't run on stuff happening for no reason without explanation to begin with, or that any sequel is going to change that)
Moving on, I think Gormenghast would argue there is thematic resolution, since each book is pretty standalone in its central thematic (or at least that's what he argued last time), and that, once again, plot doesn't matter (didn't he say it in this very thread, in response to criticism about it?).
If you manage to demonstrate that there will be some unclosed thematic after the tenth book, I suppose you might have his ear, but hammering about plot or character arcs? He doesn't even care about internal consistency, why should an argument relying on continuity hold any meaning for him?
Well, whatever, not like you can convince a fanatic who hasn't read the scriptures that you interpretation of them is correct anyway.
Edited by Errant Bard, 24 October 2009 - 04:22 PM.
Posted 24 October 2009 - 08:16 PM
Posted 24 October 2009 - 10:16 PM
Edited by keithweed, 25 October 2009 - 03:19 AM.
Posted 24 October 2009 - 10:37 PM
1) Gormenghast makes a battery of dubious claims which are thoroughly refuted with evidence.
2) Gormenghast then claims the sky is green and becomes irate when others do not accept this.
3) Gormenghast abandons any attempt at reasoned debate and launches a furious and unacceptable tirade of personal abuse against a moderator.
I am now predicting 4) Gormeghast plays the martyr and whines about moderators abusing their powers or something.
It's like Groundhog Day. Only much stupider and less entertaining.
Posted 25 October 2009 - 02:59 AM
Posted 25 October 2009 - 11:03 AM
I'm fully aware of Erikson's flaws. His lack of consistency between books is frustrating, there are quite a few scenes that annoy me due to their irrelevence. But at the same time I love his series. I love his scope and vision. He is the best author I've read when it comes to dramatic scenes. He's pretty damn good when it comes to the emotional scenes, too, like when Cotillion breaks down in The Bonehunters.
I also love the characters. He doesn't give them as much time to develop as Martin and doesn't go into the same depth, but he still gives enough that I've come to care about them. Even all the different POVs in the Bonehunter army don't bug me like they do other people. I love getting the insights into all those soldiers. It makes their deaths have far more impact than simply having them be Soldier A and Soldier B.
I've rather given up on Martin. I haven't even bothered checking when ADWD is due to be released recently. All these delays just make it seem like he's lost control of his plot.
Posted 25 October 2009 - 11:05 AM
Sorry, there is no trashcan option here. Once posts are gone they are gone for good and that's it. Maybe in future that will teach you to behave better online. You can't go around screaming blue murder at people and expect to get away with it.
EDIT: Okay, and that wasn't me who deleted that one. Not sure what happened there.
Edited by Werthead, 25 October 2009 - 11:06 AM.
Posted 25 October 2009 - 11:07 AM
Maybe if you read more than 4 of the 13 books of the two series (1 or less of ASOIAF and 3 of MBOTF) then you could make some kind of argument.
Actually, on second thought, probably not.
ETA - well now my post makes less sense, without G's to read... to summarize, he basically did exactly what wert predicted.
Edited by WrathOfMe, 25 October 2009 - 11:09 AM.
Posted 25 October 2009 - 11:11 AM
[mod] If a boarder has a problem with a mod decision, take it to PM. Thank you. [/mod]
Posted 25 October 2009 - 02:24 PM
I have for the most part reconstructed my deleted posts from human memory and enjoyed the discussion, so I'd want it to continue and have a natural closure more than one imposed.
The reconstructed original post is up on my blog, that can be found in my profile.
Posted 25 October 2009 - 06:36 PM
What is this human memory that you speak of?
Wert, you put together a world map? sweet. you should have linked. now i gotta actually google it. booooo.
Posted 25 October 2009 - 06:59 PM
Once again I was participating to an interesting debate on Westeros forum when a moderator realized my arguments were not easy to counter in a normal discussion and so deleted all my posts. *groan*
: Now, i didn't see your posts, but from the reaction here on the board, it sounds to me like you made personal attacks. It was not because you actually made a considered and stinging rebuttal to his remarks, you didn't do much more than flail your arms and stamp your feet, but rather because you broke forum rules.
What Werthead considers "complete" is subjective. It's a matter of quality. It's a matter of whether or not the last book will offer readers what they consider a satisfying conclusion and proper closure. The last book isn't out so we can't say if it delivers from a subjective point of view or not. If it's good or not. But it's plain naive to argue that since more books are planned beyond the main series, and since we don't know what happened to every character, then the Malazan series is to be considered as unfinished and as a failure in the same way of ASoIaF. Or even that their situation is comparable. That's a quite ludicrous thing to say.
:Again, your being pretty subjective with your response. What some have argued (perhaps Werthead has, i can't remember), is that the series will not be done with 10 books because HALF OF THE SHIT THAT HAPPENS IN THE SERIES HAS YET TO BE EXPLAINED. In other words, its not just a few characters he hasn't dealt with, its entire storylines that range across a multiple of characters.
Martin instead is holding back, and justifying these delays in the name of quality. But quality that has still to be proven and not to be taken so easily for granted.:
I don't remember him justifying it that way. As for quality, its BEEN proven. ASOIAF is superior to Malazan in any number of ways, at least in my subjective opinion, not the least of which is that the characters all seem believable and don't come from my power gaming days of DnD. Could Martin screw up the last of the series, sure. Its not guaranteed to be good, especially after AFFC, which was disappointing to many. That being said, this little line is false.
Subjectively you can make your choice and have your preference, but no one can say if these delays are really justifying the quality of the book. Even more it's arguable that is to be preferred a series that appears to stick to an high quality standard but that takes 20 years to get to the point, and actually not getting to the point at all, to one that stays on track both from the schedule perspective and writing intent of its writer, even if it suffers form some mistakes along the way and that sacrificed the strive for perfection to not lose anything of its deliberateness, drive and ultimate goal.
: Malazan is on schedule only in the sense that a super dense book manages to show up on the shelves every fucking year. At no point though, does it feel like Erikson is reaching some literary goal, but rather that he's throwing in any randomly cool thing that pops into his head. As for suffering from some mistakes, well, thats one way to look at it. Subjectively.
What Werthead does here is playing on semantics because he's more interested to win an internet argument than actually understanding what I'm saying and having a normal discussion. So this has now become a linguistic problem.
:This is patently stupid, and nothing near the truth. This is you stamping your feet and skewing perspectives for the sake of your own argument.
Are you saying that since now Stephen King has linked all his books through the Dark Tower now all those books are to be considered incomplete because there may be an odd character that may appear in another book sometime in the future?
:False equivalence, and completely off the mark besides. Thematically, King made his universe revolve around the Dark Tower series, though only very loosely. And he hasn't linked all of his books through the DT, any number of them exist outside of that series. A good quote to sum up how i feel about this statement is: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."
What I said is that, as a project, the Malazan series is plausibly going to be completed. As a project it was "successful", in the sense that it went as planned and Erikson delivered the goods. He wrote it in the exact way he wanted to write it
:So you know what he wanted to write, and how? And, if things were completely boloxed up, would he ever admit to that? Where as, just so you know, Werthead has met Martin. He has some information straight from the horses mouth, as it were.
ASoIaF, as a project, was a failure. Because Martin planned seven books and is not plausible that we'll see the end of it. It took him too long to write the thing, much longer than he thought. You can love it as much you want, but this doesn't make it a "successful" project. Because as a project it betrayed its original intent and proved to be harder and above what Martin seems able to handle when facing human limits.
:Funny, how a few paragraphs up, you go on this rant about words being just that, and that often it only comes down to subjective truths, but here you are presenting what you criticized Werthead for. A you Republican perhaps?
As China Meiveille said, Martin is not your bitch. As a fan of the series, it is troubling how long its taking Martin to finish even the next book, let alone others. As for not being successful, well, some people with money are pumping considerable amounts of said money into a tv project based on the novels. But if speaking strictly about the novels, how in gods green garden do you know what his original intent was? And how, exactly, did he betray it? If he takes his sweet time, thats his choice. AT LEAST THE FUCKING THING IS COHERENT. I know exactly what is going on at any given time. Erikson has this conceit that throwing someone into the middle of a war, and then not explaining ANYTHING FOR BOOKS AT A TIME, somehow makes for good reading. Sure, it reflects reality, to some extent, but as the all seeing reader i don't want to be kept more in the dark than some fucking grunt sergeant in the series.
Taking more time for each book would mean stretching it over a too long period of time and it is very likely that done that way Erikson would have lost momentum, focus and deliberateness.
:Heres a concept he could have used. Cut the books in half with a decent editor, loose a shit ton of reduandant stories, and move on. And when i mean cut in half, i mean don't have the friggin things 1000 pages nearly every book. He could have fulfilled his contract obligations by simply having 500 page books and increasing the quality of each one.
These are rather precise claims he made. I asked him to prove these claims and he deleted my posts instead.
:Except he didn't delete them, nor does he have to result to such petty tactics when fighting you. Your posts were deleted because you broke forum rules. Please, please stop pretending like it was because you made some awesome point and Werthead was like: "oh noes, Gormenghast has foiled me again. Curse you, brainy little man, curse you. I'll delete the posts, and none shall see my shame. Tonight i must cut myself to purge my soul of this devestating loss."
I also commented that I saw plenty of times on those forums people comparing Erikson's books to "anime" or "comic books" as a way to diminish their value and ridicule them in a way they believe is so subtle and smart, when instead it is really not.
That's why I said that it's a proof of how it seems the great majority of people are deeply hardwired hypocrite.
They read "fantasy" so they are ready to spring up and proudly defend the genre when one of those "fantasy versus serious literature" arguments comes up. They defend their own garden. Ready to go against those who call fantasy as a lesser form of literature and mock books that have magic, wizards and trolls.
But then they themselves have no concerns calling the Malazan series "anime in book form" or "literary comic book" as a cheap way to diminish its value and reduce the books to just a bunch of spectacular scenes. It's the same as usual: people mocking what they do not understand in order to celebrate their own stuff and elevate it above the rest.
Next time your daddy mocks your fantasy book collection just remember that you are no different.
:I have yet to see anyone compare them to anime or comic books in a derisive tone, as more often than not people that enjoy fantasy enjoy those other forms of medium as well. Though, it is a good point that Erikson does have that flair to him. Some people like that, some don't. I enjoyed his books, but i think all of the bad assery in an ever increasing need to upstage to the next level is very reminiscent of anime and comics. While in those mediums it works well, in fantasy it sometimes comes off as kind of stupid because there is no end to it. Its like escalation theory, but for badasses. (perhaps i should create a theory, called Eriksons Badass Escalation Theory (EBET): This theory postulates that in the presence of one bad ass, another must appear, and each and subsequent book new bad asses must be introduced...but none can be so bad ass as Quick Ben.) As for mocking what they don't understand, from what i have gleaned from...you know...actually reading peoples posts, is that they have progressivly become tired of this aspect of the books. At first its cool, but it gets fucking tiring after awhile. (To give an example: In DnD i ran a power campaign, for a LONG time. Years, involving one group of characters. Each new weapon had to be super kewl, each castle bigger, each invading army badder.....and it got fucking boring and rediculous. Which is the problem that some have found with Erikson)
So, in conclusion, please write and respond honestly, because someone is going to take what you said earlier and shove it up your ass. Or at least don't post the link to the place you were forced to retreat to to defend yourself away from those that you tangled with in the first place.
Posted 25 October 2009 - 07:39 PM
For me, the lack of consistency and character motivation tends to kill Erikson's dramatic scenes. For instance, in the scene you mention Erikson has to downgrade the power of shadow demons by about a factor of ten from where it was earlier in the book and he has to make Cotillion a complete coward in order to get to the emotiona; moment he wants. Erikson tends to try to tug on the heart strings in such an obvious and manipulative fashion that I inevitably end up rolling my eyes. It's like a movie that piles on the sad music while never bothering to actual establish an emotional bond with the viewer.
Yeah, but having them there in the first place is just sort of...pointless. The Bonehunters were what made me stop reading the Malazan books. A group of characters that simply slog from point A to point B and do what other characters (i.e. the important and interesting ones Erikson never bothers spending time on) tell them to.
Posted 25 October 2009 - 08:14 PM
Hence, the reason why we know more about Herboric, Quick Ben, Apsalar, etc. than the Crippled God at least as far as book 8 (I haven't yet read DoD).
I'd say it's more about the Malazan Empire, with the theme of war and the fall of heroes great and small.
Posted 26 October 2009 - 12:23 AM
I imagine that Werthead considered a personal attack when I said he was making false claims and then the part at the end where I was calling people hypocritical. It was all done in context and with argumentation. There were no gratuitous personal attacks.
That's why I was calling it a linguistic problem. That's why I said it's subjective whether or not the series receives a proper, satisfying closure. You can't set objectively what a reader may find satisfying or not. Nor you can say objectively if enough plots threads are resolved to match your own personal idea of "complete".
What I pointed out and that is objective is that the Malazan series has 10 books. And while the world in there is not "over", the series is. It has a start and an end, and it followed the pattern that was set and delivered. You people are arguing even on this.
If I make a project to build an house, set a timeframe and budget. Then I go on to build the house and in the end it takes twice the time, twice the budget, and there's no roof. Am I allowed to call the project a "failure"?
I didn't say ASoIaF was a failure because it sucks or because it wasn't successful enough. I called it a failure, as a project, because Martin himself wasn't able to match his own promises and doesn't seem to be able to stay ahead of the thing and give it a proper closure (objectively as in: maintaining his own declared plan of writing and finishing the series in 7 books).
By "your own" definition of "complete", ASoIaF may not be complete even if those 7 books are finished. So comparing Malazan to ASoIaF on this argument is wrong. You are using two different standards.
When I said quality has yet to be proven I intended for books past 3 (it's with book 4 that difficulties started to rise and that many readers considered not up to the quality standard Martin set). Now that the delays are getting more important and that Martin is struggling more and more, quality has to be proven. We can't say if in the end he will actually match the readers expectations. For now he justifies the delays in the name of quality, but quality has yet to be proven (considering that Martin may find harder to write the series now compared to 12 years ago, which is part of my argument).
Everyone here wishes that Erikson as well started to delay his books indefinitely in the name of quality. I'd be wary to suggest that. First because it's utterly ludicrous since writers aren't computers and you can't simply order a writer to work under set rules, assuming that what works for Martin would work for Erikson and vice versa. Secondly because it's not an absolute rule that a delay equals better quality.
As far as critical response, popularity and whatnot, ASoIaF is successful. Without a doubt more successful than Malazan will ever hope to be. Not only I know that but I even see very well the motivations.
I said it betrayed its original intent as in taking way longer than Martin originally planned and plausibly not being completed as Martin originally planned (as in: seven books). Erikson is planning new projects now that his first is near completion, projects set in the same fictional world, but different projects. Martin has to finish this one before he can plan another, even if a new one could be as well set in the same fictional world. Can't you see that their situation is not the same?
In the same way people are saying each book should be 300 pages considering that all they enjoy are the fireworks. The problem is that not everyone wants that. Because what sets apart Malazan is not the fireworks, but everything else.
Different readers enjoy different things, even within the same book. You should also realize at this point that Erikson is "not your bitch". Not writing what you enjoy the most. In the same way Martin doesn't write stuff that I enjoy the most. But even if I don't like especially what Martin writes you don't see me pretending to give him writing lessons, while people here do it all the time in regards to Erikson (like you did up here).
In particular, Erikson himself made this point clear:
Some of my readers would rather I cut to the chase quicker than I do; to which I can only respond that my reasons for doing what I do continue to satisfy me, and trust me, if I am not satisfied absolutely no-one else will be. I am very deliberate in my approach, and I would humbly remind those impatient readers that their pace is not my pace; that reading is an engagement distinct from that of writing, and that at no time do I pad for the hell of it – again, I have my reasons!
By the way, while looking up that quote I found another that demonstrates pretty well how some claims Werthead made were utterly wrong. This is what he says:
That's not what Erikson himself says though:
I admit to some coyness at first. When the deal was being made for the first novel, it was a one-off contract, with first rights of refusal for the next one. It was only after 'Gardens' came out that I made mention of my grander scheme: ten books. And since by that point I was finishing up the second novel, Deadhouse Gates, I suspect it was seen as encouraging, in that I was able to deliver manuscripts at a decent pace, and I didn't balk at the notion of doing one a year. It's hard to consider the notions of everyone else involved -- I was, I suspect, both confident and naive, as only unseasoned writers can be. The series never felt too big, never felt impossible, or frightening. All I knew was an immense, burning impatience. I had the arc laid out in my mind: I knew where it was going and where and how it would end and I just wanted to get there.
Also, about the series not being complete as you argued thorough this thread:
With the tenth novel, The Crippled God, the ‘Malazan Book of the Fallen’ ends. While Cam (Ian Esslemont) has a few more to write in that sequence, I do not. The two new trilogies I am signed to write share the world and its cosmos, but they do not resume the arc of the Fallen. This may seem an odd distinction, maybe even an unconvincing one, but it is sharp in my mind. The whole point of the Malazan Book of the Fallen was to deliver a self-contained series, a slice of history, and to give the readers a sense of completion when they read the last line on the last page.