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kuenjato

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Everything posted by kuenjato

  1. Just finished it. Kinda tired, so I'll boil this down to some bullet points. Things I liked: Expands upon the underlying lore from the first book, and that lore is threaded throughout the novel rather than kept at the back end. Also of interest are the discrepancies in the myths regarding Unbeing, with the creatures under Nakkiga claiming the 'Vao' summoned it (implied, the Tunukeda'ya), while Tanahaya tells Morgan that the Norns were responsible. Not enough info to parse this, yet, and I think the answer lies somewhere in between. Miri was enjoyable to read, once she was separated from Simon. Like in TWC, I enjoyed reading about the Norns the most. As a kid, I always wondered what Stormspike was like, and the various weird/creepy environs of Nakkiga were well written. Has better pacing than TWC, though it shares the same problem of that novel (see below...) There are great little moments scattered throughout. Unfortunately... What I didn't care for: Just like TWC, this one is overwritten and under-edited. I felt the drag of it mostly in the beginning and around the 50-60% mark. This felt like a good 400 page novel woven into 600 pages. Of course, this disease afflicts so much epic fantasy -- making doorstoppers simply to make doorstoppers, without much consideration to what would make the books stronger, tighter, more effective -- that it's almost expected. See: Erikson, Sanderson, most Big Name fantasy authors, really. Repetition - expository excess. In TWC, there was a scene about halfway through the novel where Simon and Miri and Eolair and Tiamak discuss the plot of the novel for around 3 pages before reaching a decision of action that moves the narrative forward slightly. It was a "As you know..." scene, and this sort of bloat is interwoven throughout both books -- meandering conversations, repetition of information already presented, sometimes excessive descriptions, etc. Repetition - we're hitting all the locales and events of the first trilogy, to the point that it sometimes feels like a retread - Urmshiem, Naglimund, Dai'a Chikiza, etc. etc. If not for the lore and the underlying threat of Utuk'ku's plan, a lot of this would feel like an unnecessary exercise, sort of like Donaldson's third attempt at Covenant. Repetition - Most of the characters have the same "voice" when reflecting or conversing. Chalk it up to authorial style, but it creates this sheen of repetition where you already know what Tad will write paragraphs or even pages before it arrives. I didn't care for the fact that Joshu is still MIA. Feels like a last-minute appearance in book three is going to happen. I didn't care for how TW railroaded the events after Unvar became the Shan, reminded me of the worst parts of Otherland. TW has this fondness for leaving a chapter at a cliffhanger and then shoving 50 or more pages in between, as if this generates tension rather than annoyance. Nothing like concluding an epic sequence with a cliffhanger, only to find a whole chapter of Simon or Morgan or (shudder) both looming ahead! While nothing here was to the excess of Mountain of Black Glass, where Orlando + co were abandoned in dire straights for like a hundred pages, it's still not very well done or necessary, IMO. Someone asked how this compares to The Dragonbone Chair / first series to a long-term reader in the last thread. When I muster the energy, I'll present a critique as to why the first trilogy remains superior to the second.
  2. kuenjato

    Bakker LVI: the Rectum of Creation

    Dickinson, from what I've gathered, was a Something Awful alumni, and his perspective might have been charted as that site's forums shifted from the early days free-for-all shitposting to a more streamlined, mostly-far-left emphasis. I got more the feeling that the project was an attempt at far-left epic fantasy, through the lens of an internet-educated white guy (tho I guess he attempted a PhD in neuroscience?). I think the attempt was genuine, the execution, on the other hand, is in the eye of the beholder. The second novel, as far as I got into it, introduced a ton of new POVs with seemingly only tangental relation to what occurred in the first novel--and weren't introduced effectively, IMO--and regressed the main character in a strange, awkward way. I lost interest after that. I wonder if anyone has a line on Bakker? The Second Apocalypse forums seem mostly moribund.
  3. kuenjato

    Bakker LVI: the Rectum of Creation

    I don't entirely disagree with him on that point, but Seth comes off a bit churlish and jealous in that post. Darth, what was your issue with Traitor, again? I actually liked it -- I felt it implemented basic economics in drama far more effectively than, say, Coin and Dagger, which came across somewhat slapdash in the last volume. Can't say the same for Dickinson's second Cormorant novel, though, which basically killed my interest in continuing within the first 100 pages.
  4. kuenjato

    Bakker LVI: the Rectum of Creation

    I just checked Bakker's blog... nothing in over half a year. Hopefully some progress has been made in the meantime, on whatever's to come next.
  5. That's not... hopeful. I'm mixed on TWC, halfway through this re-read. The Norn stuff is pretty good, but everything with Simon and Miri and Morgan just drags. So much repetition. It feels like half of it could have been cut out.
  6. Haven't his sales been low for a while now? I remember you stating a long time ago that the Bobby Dollar books had not pulled in the interest they'd hoped. Might explain the bad photoshop job of the cover of the third novel of that series. I also thought the relatively low interest in his urban fantasy and Shadowmarch serial had pushed him back to more familiar ground, Osten Ard.
  7. About a hundred pages into my re-read of TWC. Tad writes quite nicely, but he simply writes too much, at times. While I bristle at the often ambiguous criticism of "show, not tell" (because there's a place for both in strong writing), a lot of the political ensnarements and the Prince Morgan, Boy Wastrel stuff hinge a bit too hard on the tell.
  8. Picked both this and Witchwood Crown up from the library this afternoon. I really should be focusing my free time on developing my teaching curriculum for next year, but... sometimes one needs a break. I'll give some overall impressions, how the books work (or don't), and comparisons to the original series when I'm done.
  9. kuenjato

    Scott Lynch's Thorn of Emberlain is Completed

    I remember him stating this in an interview waay back in the day - how each book would be 9 months or so, because he had it all plotted out. Which would mean, if all had gone to plan, we'd be getting close to wrapping up the second 7 book series he had announced back then, rather than relieved/exited about book 4. I think that was coming off the author's personal rush of banging out book 1 and the positive reception. Lynch's anxiety issues started around 2008, right? I thought book 2 was a step down and found book 3 tedious, but I'm still rooting for the series.
  10. kuenjato

    Rothfuss XV: Move along, nothing to see here

    yay. I liked what you theorized above, and would like to see it expanded upon.
  11. kuenjato

    Rothfuss XV: Move along, nothing to see here

    I agree with this 100%, and every writer (who isn't a sociopath or a douche like Goodkind) has to struggle with the feeling of being a fraud. As a writer myself, it's just constant, even as we plug away and try to get better. Problem with Kingkiller is, even in the first book there was just so much off-tone and shallow content, that immersion (for me) was damaged by the end. And the 2nd half of the 2nd book is mostly unintentional parody, it's so bad or mishandled or just cringy-strange.
  12. kuenjato

    Rothfuss XV: Move along, nothing to see here

    Sorry about not answering this earlier, I was on vacation this weekend. I'm a writer myself, amateur through-and-through, and epic fantasy is one of the genres I toil in. I've also been reading it from my days as a wee nerdling, and the history of it, and how it has slowly changed to cultural norms, is one of the reasons why I've off-and-on followed the Kingkiller debacle, just as I follow from a distance other authors that didn't quite do it for me (like Erikson or Lynch) and authors that I've invested a lot of time into (like Bakker and GRRM). The story surrounding the trilogy, IMO, is more interesting than the books themselves: how their popularity describes genre-consumption trends; the author's pretty obvious issues -- professionally and personally -- when contrasted with his fandom's almost cultish adherence to their supposed quality; how Rothfuss seems to epitomize, as an artist, the pitfalls of sudden fame for one not equipped or in the very least ready to train for it; the fun in deconstructing the novels as basically personal wish-fulfillment sagas and how they reflect rather accurately the uneasy mentality of epic fantasy from its rather conservative origins to 00's-onward attempts to present regressive, fundamental spheres of existence (the medieval template) with progressive elements/viewpoints, attempted particularly in this series via a "feminist" "gloss" that actually feels pretty cartoonish and white-knightish (to the point that one could read it as subversion, or an accurate portrayal of incel angst, though that wasn't the actual intention, which makes it all the more funny--); etc. etc. I also deeply respect Rothfuss for using his fame to establish a charity. That alone almost makes up for the underlying substandard quality of his series. Not enough that it doesn't deserve to be criticized, particularly as it stands as an influential text for its popularity.
  13. kuenjato

    Rothfuss XV: Move along, nothing to see here

    This may be the case. I haven't read the books in 5 years, and on my re-read I skimmed the faesex stuff. Faesexgoddess bleating about how Kvothe couldn't be a virgin 'cause he was just so.damn.good was incredible cringe, though -- penthouse forum fantasy, without the slightest hint at sarcasm.
  14. kuenjato

    Rothfuss XV: Move along, nothing to see here

    Rothfuss is by all appearances and self-description an uber-nerd, and the unintentional genius of Kingkiller is how it inadvertently epitomizes the multifold frustrations and fantastical delusions of the nerd-in-embryo struggling to comprehend a world indifferent to socially-regressive media consumption~conception~obsessions. If the books end as a expose of this -- Kvothe as completely self-delusional, and an enormous serial liar -- or in the vein of St. Elsewhere / Wolfe's Wizard/Knight -- to wit: the entire project some 7th-grader's feverish daydreams in Science class, surveying the inhospitable environment of Middle School hell and casting oneself in the righteous Role with his various peers assigned complimentary or conflictive Roles -- then the trilogy will suddenly become one of my favorites. I don't think it's going to end that way.
  15. kuenjato

    Rothfuss XV: Move along, nothing to see here

    If I'd read the books recently, I could give a much more in-depth answer. In short, the "world" never feels real, rather a mish-mash of concepts tossed into a blender with little thought as to how they'd actually function. He's gone at length about how extensive his world building is, but it really seems to encompass how money works in relation to Kvothe, and the various myths articulated mostly in the 2nd novel; I don't think any substantial differences can be discerned between the various countries in his world, how they interact, the histories informing their relationships, etc. His one attempt at an exotic culture felt extremely flat, particularly the idea of martial artists wearing skin-tight leather (!?), though that idea might have originated with the Mord-Sith from Wizard's First Rule, which Rothfuss at one time expressed admiration or at least influence from. Most if not all religious, economic, political, historical, and social praxis in Temerant all feel very slapdash, if mentioned at all. You can contrast this with any of the mid-00's eruption of talent -- Lynch, Abercrombie, Bakker in particular, Erikson-- who have much more defined and intricate settings, even if I personally don't like some of them, at least it feels like the authors did some background work to establish differentiation and thus an illusion of depth. One off the top of my head: there seems to be a full-on Inquisition against sorcery going on in the city Kvothe spends a few years in during his penniless phase, and conveniently pops up at a climatic moment so that he cannot get answers from his mentor-figure. A couple days travel away is a full-fledged world-renown magic academy that apparently has no real issue with this Inquisition, in fact, I don't think the Inquisition is ever mentioned again. I recall a bunch of "wait, what?" stuff like this in my initial read and re-read circa 2014, but again, that was quite a while ago. I also bridled at how he encouraged his fans at one point to poo-poo Harry Potter in contrast to Kingkiller, when it's one of the most obvious carbon-copy elements he pasted into the story, to which he owes a huge debt (and I'm not really an HP fan, I just think it was bad form). I also think he might be struggling with the dichotomy that, in order for his series to actually have some semblance of depth and long-lasting critical assessment, the third book needs to expose Kvothe as a habitual liar and selfish-to-the-point of disaster--which is where the books, thematically, should be heading--but that would violate the wish-fulfillment fantasy that has been translated into enormously lucrative swag and generated a die-hard fanbase who view Kvothe as the Horatio Alger-esque Hero, the rags-to-riches superstar student/bard/sorcerer who humiliates the mean old instructor to class applause, is so, er, amazing that, as a virgin, he tames an elemental sex-goddess (!!), has r/niceguy internal monologues about Denna (written, it feels, completely serious, rather than a pretty frank indication of an incel-type obsession), etc. etc. A long while ago, Happy End deconstructed one of the best-written sections of the first book, where Ambrose breaks the lute string, and pointed out how preposterous the entire scene is -- he completes this incredibly difficult and complex song by playing really fast. Rothfuss later admitted he knows almost nothing about music. This, in a nutshell, epitomizes the Kingkiller series -- a lot of carefully-chosen words and sweated-over prose ultimately swathing over the fact that the author has very limited life experiences and is writing about a character with vast, expansive life experiences. In a Crayola-scribbled world setting.
  16. kuenjato

    Rothfuss XV: Move along, nothing to see here

    His series was released right as Harry Potter was winding up, and is a (slightly) more mature take on that trope. A whole generation of readers weaned on HP were looking for the next fix, and Rothfuss combined the comfortable school drama fantasy with pseudo-philosophy, "me (a GeNiUs!) against tha world" navel-gazing wish-fulfillment, and a dash of puzzlebox mystery, all half-baked to the point that one can see how TNotW would be rather appealing to those relatively unschooled in the genre -- "baby's first epic fantasy primer", sort of like David Eddings in the early 80's, Dragonlance in the mid-to-late 80's, and Jordan in the early 90's. His prose is OK. Decent for the genre, but also a bit deceptive, as it's first person and IMO it's much easier to write decent prose in 1st than in 3rd person. Also bears noting that 1st person YA dominates that genre and seems to become the major frame for teen-centered sci-fi/YA from the aughts onward. It was the perfect storm of shallow appropriation and zeitgeist intersectionality. The fact that it's a complete fraud in execution and the author isn't a cha-ching sociopath (and so knows and no-doubt struggles with its inherent registry amid even the lowbrow genre's greats) is pretty compelling evidence as to why the third volume hasn't been released yet.
  17. kuenjato

    Anyone else feeling bummed about the show being over?

    I've been reading the books since 1998, on westeros from 2000, and came to the conclusion that it was very likely we wouldn't get a book ending anytime soon (if ever) when Dance was released, so I'm super happy the show answered the big questions and did so in such a spectacular way. Having checked out on the books from 2012, I didn't much follow the show and binged it these past 3 weeks. Overall, I am quite happy with it. The hateposting is sort of funny, this season certainly wasn't close to the worst (that would go to the first half of S5) and the cinematography, music, acting was all top notch. The writing was acceptable, but I'm not tied to this or that theory and didn't have expectations coloring my impressions during the binge. The Long Night was a bit disappointing but the epic bittersweetness of the last two episodes blew me away. Don't think we'll be getting something like this again anytime soon.
  18. This is la-la-land thinking. Dany's turn is the most GRRM plot point to come out of the last three seasons, and encapsulates all of the themes he's been working on since the mid-90's. The reaction to Dany's turn is exactly the reaction newbies had to Ned Stark's beheading and the Red Wedding. Subverting the messiah complex Dany exemplified was the final and biggest twist of ASOIAF, and was probably there from his original outlines.
  19. so what's the word on this? An improvement on the first, or about the same?
  20. kuenjato

    Bakker LVI: the Rectum of Creation

    We don't know. Bakker floated some vague ideas about a series of books, possibly in the vein of the Atrocity Tales (i.e. short story collections post-TUC), and that Crabicus would be the focus of the first one. He hasn't said anything since, and hasn't updated his blog in nearly 7 months. Maybe he's been using that time to write?
  21. kuenjato

    Rothfuss XIV: The Slow Regard of Luna Lovegood

    Yes. Almost everything about Kingkiller feels fake, despite the "look at me research" info drops here and there. The big give away is the music contest in the first book, which is utter nonsense and swathed with a lot of worked-over prose to the point that it almost seems possible. And then everyone claps at the end. One would think it's meta, but I think Rothfuss was dead serious when he wrote in in his seventh year of college or whatever.
  22. kuenjato

    U.S. Politics: Impoverished In Squalor

    This is a bit defeatist. We're barely halfway through the first term, and that's like two centuries in Trump time. The public reaction vis-a-vis the midterms certainly revealed the general public has had enough already. And while a recession is pretty much certain in the near future, I'm a lot more worried these days about climate change. The storms of last summer/fall and this winter pretty much spell out what's on the way, and fast.
  23. kuenjato

    Malazan: High House Shadow edition

    Just read that. LOL. Karsa might not show up in the first two books. After Steve had his last introspective trilogy truncated to a duology, he goes and tries the commercial thang and just. can't. do. it. I don't like Erikson's writing all that much, but I do admire his balls.
  24. kuenjato

    YA Twitter Tribunals

    A few years back, Requires Hate/Winterfox was exposed in Laura Mixon's Hugo-winning post as a serial sociopath bully who used a woke facade to justify her targeting other PoC, presumably because they were competition. While the dust settled on that, the same trend seems to have infected YA twitter to the point that sizable book contracts are being canceled on a monthly basis because of bad-faith dogpiling on upcoming novels that are viewed, however vaguely or laughably, as "problematic." Like writing outside of one's wheelhouse, or subscribing to a certain interpretation of history to the denial of any other viewpoint, or flat-out gaslighting/concern trolling. It's pretty disturbing, and distressing to see all the cliches right-whingers spit out metastasize in forums supposedly about fostering supportive relationships & promoting progressive ideals. Whatever your feelings on Jesse Singal, he has a pretty good detailing of the current situation, which apparently is seeping into children's literature as well. part 1: https://jessesingal.substack.com/p/ya-twitters-victims-and-critics-speak?utm_source=substack&utm_content=topposts part 2: https://jessesingal.substack.com/p/ya-twitters-victims-and-critics-speak-855?utm_source=substack&utm_content=topposts part 3: https://jessesingal.substack.com/p/ya-twitters-victims-and-critics-speak-4b5?utm_source=substack&utm_content=topposts pat 4: https://jessesingal.substack.com/p/ya-twitters-victims-and-critics-speak-c56?utm_source=substack&utm_content=topposts "It almost seems like there's a cycle of revenge, a tapestry of grudges and distrust. Sometimes I wonder if that's really true, or if I'm being a conspiracy theorist... or maybe I'm just going crazy. Too much time in YA Twitter land makes me feel like I'm losing my sense of reality. --- The rest, of course, is history. The Black Witch, The Continent, Carve the Mark, Blood Heir... I won't recount the obvious ways this culture has spiraled out of control into toxic, irrational, tribal, mob-like chaos. What makes it so difficult is that it all starts with good intentions. The goal of promoting diversity and positive representation in fiction is a noble one. I believe its proponents—of which I am one—are right to defend such an objective. But the ends do not justify the means. Rather than fostering an open, welcoming environment for diversity to flourish, this Internet subculture has birthed an environment of fear, hostility, and creative suppression." ----- "I used to love the children's literature industry because it was so supportive and nurturing. We authors were like one big family. Now it's about cutting authors down, bullying, and ruining careers. It's fun to be the bully. It gives one power. BUT we should not allow the minority to dictate what the majority can and can't do. Why are we giving any of these bullies an ounce of power? Now publishing companies are inserting clauses into their contracts that dictate an author's behavior. [yup] If an author says something that doesn't fit with the author's public persona then their book can be cancelled and they must pay back their advance." ---What do y'all think? It feels like we are seeing overcorrections in reaction to the MAGA sewage dominating the political sphere, and it feels much like the Requires Hate scenerio: sociopaths hijacking the woke/social justice language as opportunity to bully and self-aggrandize.
  25. kuenjato

    YA Twitter Tribunals

    I think in theory, the safeguarding is legit -- they are targeting marginalized communities in the LGBQT and (insert)-American vein, who are probably exposed to stereotypes and nasty commentary on a regular basis. I hosted a LGBQT club in a school district that was both affluent and highly intellectual, with zero-tolerance for bullying etc., and even then the students of this orientation were often blanketed with reproach for their lifestyles and orientation. On the other hand, through teaching public school (particularly high school), I've been repeatedly exposed to what teenagers are consuming / exposed to on a daily basis. Some of it is, uh, rather gnarly, and with trap/hip-hop pretty much the norm when in comes to popular music, that language and themes becomes a sort of common discourse. The YA Tribunals sheltering-code comes off as coddling, to some extent. And, in regards to the hyperbole extended to these books (RACIST! INSENSITIVE! WILL NO ONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!), it often comes off like disingenious moral policing, a convenient way to put a stake into something. I'd be curious how ASOIAF or Prince of Nothing would be regarded, if introduced in 2019 rather than 15 or more than 20 years ago.
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