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  1. IllusiveMan

    Persepolis Rising (Book 7 of the Expanse) - SPOILERS

    Just finished last night. Still need time to think where I'd rank it, but towards the lower end along with Babylon's Ashes I think. Not a bad thing, all the books are good, but not at the top with Leviathan Wakes, Abaddon's Gate, and Nemesis Games for me. I do find that the series has struggled a bit for me by being so episodic. Four books into it, I'm like hell yeah. 7 books in and the formula is showing and I'm ready to see plot progression. I dislike the move away from the more exploratory alien story of the first few books to the straight out war stories of the past three. The first few had a solid mix of both, but the past few books have pretty much completely neglected the alien mystery which was so prominent at the start. We learned of the eaters destroying the protomolecue species in book 3, and four books later we've pretty much had no forward movement on that. I find that frustrating, even as I enjoy the political human stuff. I think that should have been better spaced out. In Ice and Fire, the Others stuff is in the background with the politics at the forefront. But the first four books of The Expanse, it was pretty half and half, central to the plot. Taking a back seat so much makes it feel like spinning wheels. Hopefully the last two will pick up. I agree with a lot of people - the thirty year gap did not work at all for me. It was a suspension of disbelief that I could never truly get over. The aging of the characters was handled horribly. They complained about being sore, but honestly it felt more like the wear and tear you'd feel or start experiencing in your late thirties, not sixty, seventy, eighty plus. Literally no one changed in thirty years. Avasarala, despite being ninety plus, is the exact same sharp tongued politician. Bobbie has spent thirty years with these people, and she still feels like an outside and just started shipping out with them. You get a sense outside of Alex she barely knows these people. I compare with my best friend I just made in the last year - we know each other so well. Bobbie has been living in intimate quarters with people for thirty - there's just no weight to it. Same with Clarissa. Hell, Clarissa still reads like a 19 or twenty year old, and is even described as 'girl' repeatedly, with no sense of weight that she's now a fifty year old woman. I don't buy any of it. No new crew? No changes? I mean, think about how much changed for the Roci in the few years since Leviathan Wakes. New crew members, big shifts, etc. None of that in thirty years? It's interesting that they failed so badly in showing the age of the characters change, as it's a point that Abraham did really well in The Long Price. I fail to see why such a gap was necessary. Cut it down to five and I'd believe it. Or do what other posters said - have new POVS, which I really think 7 books into this series was needed. It's starting to feel a tad stagnant. Also, I struggled to believe Amos being a full psychopath and nearly killing Bobbie (trying to!) is brushed off as 'ah, got it out of our system!' Like, no. He would have killed a close friend of thirty years if she hadn't been better than him. From a tactician standpoint, it's a poor as hell idea to keep someone so volatile and murderous on board. From a friend standpoint, I'm sorry, I just can't believe they'd keep him around and treat him like family. Agreed with others: Drummer was a forgettable POV to lead the war and Clarissa's death could be seen coming a mile away. So that was a lot of moaning, made it seem like I disliked the book. Honestly, I didn't, these books are always quality, but this one wasn't quite up to par for me.
  2. IllusiveMan

    Bakker LIII - Sranc and File

    I suppose that's daring, though not all that unique. And from a literary standpoint hardly fulfilling. You could argue there's merit to that approach, but in my approach nowhere close to the merit achieved if with his ending he actually had something to, you know, say. I also suspect the grim dark ending of the Consult winning and the Ordeal perishing was an idea he came up with at a young age (he has said as much IIRC). And like Wheel of Time or Harry Potter, he stuck to that ending even when by the time he reached that point the series and his skills as a writer had outgrown the concept he found so riveting at a young age. But that is just a whim that occurred to me. At least, unlike Jordan and Rowling, his prose skills in that final chapter didn't take a sharp decline.
  3. IllusiveMan

    Bakker LIII - Sranc and File

    I'm still trying to square my thoughts on The Unholy Consult. The Great Ordeal is a much easier cut for me - it has some editing weaknesses, sure, and the split results in a lack of a clear ending, but it still works throughout and contains some of my favorite writing in the series (Ishertebinth and the Survivor). TUC I really can't figure out where I land. It's a weird mix between being riveted by some of the twists I never saw coming (Kellhus as Ajokli, the Dunsult reveals), incredible iconic and haunting imagery (the description of the ordeal coming across Golgotterath was stunning), and huge disappointment at the lack of resolutions and answers. I partially love the world and reveals and need to see more and am partially devastated by how little it amounted to. If Bakker hadn't come out and said the third series is basically being winged at this moment, I'd be holding out hope and faith it would all finally come to a head... It's odd, I've never been this invested in a series before. This fervent to get answers and an ending. When I was younger,but LOST, maybe Mass Effect was the last thing I was desperate to get to the ending of and know more (look how that one turned out). So I felt like I've been waiting some six years with a need to see what happens with TUC, only to finally get there and be like...you actually gotta wait until that third series. Keep reading. And also, the third series probably won't answer any of it because it's largely incidental. Which is kinda why I'm like, write it and release it now, so I can get some sense of resolution, either to the story that was promised or to me realizing that Bakker never had as much to offer as I thought he did.
  4. IllusiveMan

    Bakker LIII - Sranc and File

    Random aside, but something I haven't really seen discussed but has bothered me in TUC... Akka and co leaving Proyas to die seems like a huge misstep or editing error. I understand the action from a logical standpoint - Proyas was dead anyway, there were like a million scranc incoming, etc. But I feel like it was a huge misstep to not have a scene devoted to it or any thoughts on it from Akka at all after such a huge deal was made of Akka desperately trying to save him. I mean, he knelt to Kellhus and even cried, thinking of Proyas as his boy...but then leaves him to die without a thought? Again, the action is fine, but devoting no scene to it is just rankling. On another note, what reason did Kellhus have to let Proyas live (by dying slowly)? He claims it was his act of mercy, that hell was so much worse, and that seems to be true based solely on the fact that he even has that conversation with Proyas, as it doesn't seem to serve any strategic purpose. But Proyas just dies and goes to Hell anyway, so it doesn't really work then as an answer, as Kellhus has to know there's no way he'd survive what he'd been put through. I dunno, Proyas have such a horrible end still bothers me. Even if one dislikes him, the concept of damnation as painted by Bakker is so overwhelmingly horrible that it's really just such an awful end for someone so devout - systematically broken in every conceivable way before being dragged to eternal torment. I figured someone would be damned but I figured it'd be Akka.
  5. IllusiveMan

    Bakker LIII - Sranc and File

    So anyone know what the odds are on getting that third series? I feel like Bakker could self publish if he's having issues getting a contract for round three. While the AMA took a lot of wind out of my sails, I'm still trying to largely ignore it and hope the final series will offer the answers that I thought we would have gotten in TUC. Despite all the issues I had with it, at its peak, and with what the series hinted at being, there's really nothing that comes close to it for me.
  6. IllusiveMan

    Goodkind 54: How to Revive a Dead Dick

    A fellow actor in a production of Henry VI with me said last night, in response to someone saying people are dumb, that it was wizard's first rule. And it totally caught me off guard to remember that, like, real people in the world have read these books. Honestly, I can't really fathom it, that these books are insanely popular. Not in like a Twilight type way, where you lament that people like it but you can totally see why it's popular. This is more of like...I can't fathom people en masse sitting down and reading about evil chickens and nipples and 1000s of pages of discount Randian philosophy.
  7. IllusiveMan

    Oathbringer: Stormlight Archives 3 (Spoilers)

    Weirdly, I never got past the first Wax and Wayne book. I couldn't stomach it. I think largely because (outside of the prose reaching a new low), I find Sanderson's attempts at humor awful. So when he tries to write light breezy fun, it doesn't work for me. It's like something you might imagine directed by Guy Ritchie or Joss Whedon but without the stylization that makes them stand out. I honestly think he's at his best when playing it straight, with melodrama and epic fantasy at the forefront, with a slight twist on it like the original Mistborn trilogy or Warbreaker. Twists, fast moving plots, action, he is good at and they're best enjoyed, in my opinion, when just accepted and taken at face value. They're fun in an old fashioned sort of way. Stormlight could actually very well (and does) fall into this paradigm - IF they weren't so damn long. Again, 600 pages and they'd probably be his best stuff, old fashioned heroic fantasy. But instead he wants to make this his big mark on fantasy, and either he's just not good enough to pull that off or his idea hasn't evolved since he originally came up with it at a much younger age. I suspect it's a combination of both. I also think someone really needs to halt him from being so damn prolific. Shocking thing to say, and his enthusiasm is great. But it seems to be hindering his work. Stormlight could have been great with some serious editing. But, awesome as all these ideas he has are, he seems a bit like an excited kid who gets bored with certain ideas and moves to the next. I know he says he needs this time to reenergize but I think someone needs to sit him down and get him to focus on one thing. It's telling that we really haven't had a book as polished from him as Mistborn or maybe Warbreaker. And with as big as he's gotten, I suspect he won't get any better in that regard. It's a shame, all this bashing, because in terms of what he wants to do and how he's made it happen, he's kind of an inspiration of mine.
  8. IllusiveMan

    Oathbringer: Stormlight Archives 3 (Spoilers)

    Not to keep ragging, because there are some things i enjoyed, but it just feels like Sanderson has so many opportunities to do something different/interesting with this series and consistently takes the safest routes. He kills people off in shocking ways - Jasnah, Szeth - nope, they're fine, no threat. All the main characters of course end up superpowered Jedi basically, a la Wheel of Time. None of them are ever in any real danger and you know in advance who's gonna stay alive the whole time (unless it's an end of book heroic death which we'll also see coming a mile off). Kaladin and co just get more superpowered every book. The villain remains bland and typical Dark One type and there's never any tension or fear he'll win. I remember reading book two at the point where Kaladin is betrayed by lighteyes one too many times and is locked up and vows never again...and I remember thinking wow, wouldn't it be awesome if Kaladin was Odium's champion? He fits the bill, so powerful, and after two books and more of awful things happening to him, you could really see a genuine compelling arc of him becoming the champion. Of course, it doesn't turn out that way. Maybe I just need to accept that I'm not writing these, but I can't help but feel there's a far more interesting story underneath if Sanderson didn't play it so damn safe all the time. Last two things: Honestly I feel like Renarin is one of the most annoying and ill defined characters. I didn't even follow his little arc about being corrupted because I cared so little. And his whole visions thing turning out to be false was terribly done because it was literally introduced the second before they were proven wrong. To make that reveal work - that Dalinar can resist Odium, that things aren't set in stone - you need to set up the visions being foolproof way before, and establishing their inevitability. You can't bring them up at the end of the book, then in that very scene that you establish them show us that they're imperfect and have any kind of emotional effect on us. Lastly, is anyone else wondering how this is gonna be 10 damn books? At least if the Odium conflict is the central one. I mean Kaladin and co already are superpowered as all Hell and we're 3 books in. Odium has been revealed way too early, I feel. He's already hard to take seriously and been defeated - how are we gonna take 7 more books of him? I really hope there's a twist in there somewhere.
  9. IllusiveMan

    Oathbringer: Stormlight Archives 3 (Spoilers)

    Okay, so I finished finally. Wow. A bit of a slog, though it picked up around the middle of part three. Biggest takeaway: these books do NOT need to be so damn long. There is nothing justifying it, and it really comes to damage their overall quality. I feel there's a really exciting 600 page book here. 1300 pages is ridiculous and it's nowhere more important than in the first two parts. So much could have been excised or trimmed significantly. Dalinar's present day plot, and Shallan's, were nonexistent. The flashbacks could have been cut down by half and been more effective. Part three picks up, and has the most interesting stuff happening. Part four suffers though with Shadesmar. It sounded fascinating in book one and two but it's so poorly defined, an entire realm of spirits and we still have no real good idea how it functions, what it's like, etc. Part five is all right, though it suffers from a lack of tension and poor pacing of events. There's some actual tension when Dalinar is almost overwhelmed by Odium and made to be the champion. I can't help but think the book would be so much more effective, and the series as a whole, if Dalinar had succumbed. The entire book is spent setting up his weakness and trying to push so much onto a man that he breaks. You think multiple times he breaks (remembering Evi, when the Coalition falls apart, Amaram's men attacking Thaylen) and each time his will is too great. That sets up the best moment of all, the biggest blow: becoming Odium's champion. And finally failing is both fascinating from a story perspective, creates an actual interesting and threatening villain, and you can't even blame him after all the shit he's been through. It's a compelling twist. But Dalinar, of course, overcomes it. And it's just not that interesting. Odium screeches Vodlmort style, an ageless God that is surprised and undone by basic human willpower. And right there is the climax of the book - yet it *proceeds* the like 150 page battle scene that follows. The biggest tension and climactic moment is resolved before the battle - so there is zero tension throughout the endless and rather tiring fighting because the main threat - Dalinar vs Odium in a battle of wills - has been overcome. It was just really poorly structured and made the follow up fighting feel perfunctory. Character wise, Shallan is one of the most irritating characters read recently. Her wit is awful, all the more so when people praise her for it. Her personality shifts were just poorly defined. I never got a clear vibe if it was genuine breaks in personality or more an attempt to hide/play dress up to avoid problems. Radiant was nonexistent; can anyone really define a character trait about her? Jasnah is a more interesting character, though she kind of seems Mary Sue-ish - insanely intelligent, in complete control, and effortlessly badass with her abilities. She needs more focus to take away from that perception. Dalinar is somewhat interesting, but he also honestly seems too perfect. THat's weird to say when he has a terrible past and even in his present falls to alcoholism - but I guess there's just never any doubt that he's going to do the rightest thing that ever righted, and be so awesome that everyone follows. Each book ends with him getting even more perfect. This one he basically becomes God. Dunno. He's interesting enough but lacking in tension. Kaladin, strangely, is my favorite. He's pretty standard epic fantasy hero but I like him in that Jon Snow sort of way, just enough depth there for me to be old fashioned and root for the hero type. Szeth is interesting but his story arc was very poorly paced. WE basically have the insane villain of the first two books who's murdered countless people turn good and start protecting Dalinar without a second thought. His redemption was not defined well enough, and everyone's reaction was ridiculous. Dalinar/Kaladin never have a conversation with the guy who tried to murder them repeatedly? Odium is boilerplate fantasy villain, honestly. Super all powerful bad guy trying to destroy the world who surprises people by being kinda reasonable and kindly when talking about destroying the world. Nothing interesting going on there. I kinda really hope Sanderson pulls a and kills him off somehow in favor of more human antagonists. But I wouldn't count on it. Overall, it would have been a fun exciting standard fantasy read if it had been 500 pages shorter. As it stands, I'll read the follow up but I'm not really pumped for it.
  10. IllusiveMan

    Bakker LII: Ol' Golgotterath Blues

    My only real interpretation of Bakker's claims in the AMA is as I said before. Kellhus did make a pact with Ajokli to overcome the Consult. There's too much evidence against it and nothing Bakker said explicitly refutes this. What he meant by not knowing about Ajokli was that he simply didn't expect Ajokli to take completely over and leave him helpless/blind. So in essence, Kellhus planned everything right up until his head went Ghost Rider - that was when Ajokli took over completely to do whatever he wanted, with wasn't something Kellhus had expected. Otherwise I really don't think it makes any sense.
  11. IllusiveMan

    Bakker LII: Ol' Golgotterath Blues

    I was referring to Kellhus's lines in the Golden Room. Prior to the AMA, the reading of the text left me (and I believe others) thinking that Kellhus was in control, that he made a bargain with Ajokli and allowed him to take over to defeat the Consult. But upon the AMA, it seems that there was no bargain and that Ajokli was playing Kellhus from the beginning and taking over was not something Kellhus intended or expected at all. But it just doesn't really jive with the text if we are led to believe that Ajokli it talking all along and not Kellhus. The lines I referred to were 'striking treatises with the pit', seeing himself descending as hunger, seeing Hell as fathomless power that he would conquer - those lines really only make sense if it is purely Kellhus saying them, with the assumption that he and Ajokli are a team. The idea that he was subsumed by Ajokli without any knowledge of it and that it was Ajokli speaking all along just doesn't really make sense, but per the AMA seems to be the case.
  12. IllusiveMan

    Oathbringer: Stormlight Archives 3 (Spoilers)

    So I just finished part one, so avoiding spoilers, but i'm kind of struggling, guys. I forgot the usual structure is five parts so I was amazed when I realized I was only part 1 of five in. Yikes. I feel like the entirety of the part could have been like a hundred pages, honestly. Less. Dalinar's flashbacks were repetitive. His present day storyline seemed to accomplish exactly nothing by the end of it. Shallan was boring as Hell. I guess Kaladin's stuff was fine, mainly his stuff at home. And Adolin and murdering Sadeas honestly wasn't even given a character thread. See I really want to get to the next Expanse book, and I'm a stickler about finishing things but another I dunno 900 pages is not selling me. I honestly feel like Sanderson has regressed. He was always weak in prose and character but one of his strengths was pacing and forward movement, a certain immediacy to the plot that kept you in in and kept it 'real' even if the characters weren't great. But this book has tremendous bloat and the affair seems entirely languid and lacking any urgency.
  13. IllusiveMan

    Bakker LII: Ol' Golgotterath Blues

    Honestly I loved that scene. It was for me an example of a fantastic twist. I didn't see it coming at all, and yet it made all the sense in the world looking back. It elevated everything. And it was followed up by another huge twist - Ajokli possessing Kellhus - which again, never saw coming, and while it might not have been foreshadowed as well as it should have been, honestly still made sense with the information we had and just clicked everything into place. How could Kellhus overcome five Dunyain sorcerers with Consult knowledge? How could he perform sorcery without a mark? What was his plan to avoid damnation? He's made a pact with Ajokli. It even fit in with the true Dunyain model - the desire to manipulate everything, and so master circumstances - what could yield greater power than Hell itself? And it gave a horrifying, chilling answer to the series long question - is Kellhus a good guy? I think tons of us were suspecting, even knowing he did terrible things, that he had some grand plan to both defeat the Consult and end damnation at the same time for the good of humanity. And this reveal goes NOPE - he's got a plan, and it makes him a greater monster than even the Consult. But then Bakker had to do that AMA and honestly I'm left stunned. Like, how is it genuinely possible for a text to make complete and utter sense and answer every question (virtually) when read on it's own, but make zero sense when given author intent? I honestly don't get it and it's why I assume Bakker has to be lying or being misinterpreted. I honestly just don't see how it call all read so clearly a certain way, with lines and evidence supporting it, only to discover that all that evidence was happenstance and the author meant everything a different way that goes counter to how the scene plays out? Like literally the lines about striking treaties with the pit and seeing Hell as a well of bottomless power to conquer...they make no sense as said by anyone other than Kellhus. Honestly the only interpretation (other than Bakker lying) that makes sense to me is that he was misread when he said Kellhus didn't intend the Ajokli thing to go down. That he DID make a knowing pact, that he intended to use that power to overcome the Consult, and either be Ajokli's bitch or had some other method of tricking him. But Ajokli ended up being too powerful and took over completely, which left Kellhus blind and wasn't what he intended. The only read that makes sense for me.
  14. IllusiveMan

    The Unholy Consult post-release SPOILER thread IV

    I wholly agree with this. I have to say, much I enjoy Bakker, I find there to be very few moments of genuine beauty in his novels. Things are usually so horrifying and semen-heavy that, while I'm definitely feeling, it's rare I get sad (it's usually horror or despair haha). But I found much of Sorweel's arc to have genuine beauty and his finals moments were he was seemingly embraced by paradise were beautifully written and conveyed. It honestly almost convinced me that maybe there's a genuine flip side to the horror of damnation. Randomly, one of the only other moments of beauty and heartbreak I experienced was the end of WLW with the burning of Nil'giccas. Mimara knows that he is screaming somewhere (in Hell). She then prays for him, and thinks there's no harm in prayers. Such a bleak and heartbreaking thought and moment.
  15. IllusiveMan

    The Unholy Consult Post-Release SPOILER THREAD II

    real quick - is Sosering saved because he rescues Esmenet? That's one of the only things that I can see that distinguishes him from Holgrim and the rest of the Ordeal (unless he didn't engage in rape cannibalism).