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rsbakker

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Hi, Scott (if this indeed is you).

I enjoyed your last book, and even though it would've been far better if it wasn't split in two, it was still worth the wait. I can't really rank it 1-10 or compare it to the other books, since they're complete works and this one wasn't. I liked a lot of things about this book, disliked others. Your whole Gnostic "metaphysical horror" theme in this book is fascinating and totally unseen elsewhere in fantasy, and the new focus on God and the Outside is great. I also liked your deconstruction of your own "grimdark" themes and instead giving us a refreshingly heroic story - or rather, your unique take on it. Oh, and the black humor was also great. TGO was a lot funnier than anything that came before, which is a big plus.

As for the criticism, here it goes:

 

30 minutes ago, rsbakker said:

You know, I can't read the first books, especially WP and TTT, without cringing at how *loose* the prose feels!

If you want my opinion - your "loose" prose was actually better, and far more accessible, than the one in TGO.

The first three books (as well as TJE) were written in a more natural, flowing prose - it makes you focus on the content rather than the writing style. I don't think your writing has degenerated, exactly, but your idiosyncratic style could be reined in a bit. TGO overdid it a bit too much. WLW had my favorite prose of your books, because it hit a golden middle ground between a "mature" natural style and an affected purple prose. (And yes, the looser prose in the early books feels more mature and "literary" than TGO with its nerd prose full of rapid-fire sentence fragments and overuse of italics for emphasis. I could post some excerpts to show what I mean, but interested to hear your own opinion about the prose differences.)

Anyways, that's just my constructive criticism. Aside from the niggling prose thing, I really enjoyed TGO and especially (like most here) the Ishterebinth story. Keep up the good work and hope to see TUC within a year!

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Nolendil: I'm glad you liked. It's funny how it works--and I see no way of resolving such disputes outside machine reading techniques. The fact is, we are so selective when it comes to determining frequencies that these stylistic generalizations are literally impossible to make. I often get accused of 'blaming the reader' when I make these observations, but it doesn't make them any less true. Priming is everything when it comes to these impressions, as much for me as for you. There's very little in the way of facts of the matter (which is why there's so much disagreement).

I certainly know that certain passages of TGO take bigger risks--the 'Song of Koringhus' is a perfect example. I was frankly expecting to take quite a bit of heat for that one...

And I think it's safe to say I have a bad habit of becoming more lyrical--less clear--the more climactic a narrative turn becomes, and that this interferes with comprehension. The italics, the purple prose--all this is part of the scriptural hysteria. I know people from certain academic backgrounds cannot but assume there's an 'ideal,' stripped down, aesthetic out there (rather than seeing themselves merely as people trained to detect certain features in certain ways). But ask yourself: Why should italics be distracting? What's wrong with them

I've just never encountered an argument that doesn't boil down to taste.

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First of all, some feedback as requested. Then, the cheeky Q&A :)

I loved TGO, as I love all RSB books. It was not my favourite, but then that's like saying cocaine isn't as good as smack. The depth of the series becomes more apparent with each instalment, and in this particular volume I found myself less shocked at the answers to the questions I was already asking (e.g. "who destroyed Ishual") as to the new questions that I wasn't prepared for ("what's with the head on the pole" - by the way, I don't believe it has nothing to with with Onkis. Sorry, don't believe you).

As you mentioned earlier, most people don't connect with the Momemn thread, and I have to admit I'm one of them. As cool as it is keeping up with these characters, this thread just didn't seem at all relevant to the overall plot or theme. The very end of the book made me reconsider, and I trust the writer enough by now to assume that I will at least appreciate the connection (if not the profundity of it) by the end of the series.

In short - please keep up the good work. I generally can't even pretend to give a shit about other books after a new Bakker book comes out, and this time I'm already into a re-read and nothing else can scratch the surface. Your hard work is appreciated!

OK, now the self-indulgent question, if you will (and sorry if you've answered this before): why is Mimara's POV in the present tense? I've found this interesting since TJE came out. She's the only present tense POV in the entire series, so it's not by accident. Since the gods (and the rest of the outside) exist outside of time, does this confirm that Mimara is rendered god-like status due to the TJE?... or did you just fancy playing with a different writing style?

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Sologdin: I'm glad you enjoyed--and yes, it's me! Have you guys had some incidents or something lately?

Your question is one I've been asking myself quite a bit lately, given that I'm up to my eyeballs in the EG. I want all the secondary material to come across as heavily mediated, so I look at it as something gathered from multiple sources, multiple voices, then transcribed with varying degrees of fidelity by a single compiler.

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Yellow: The King in Yellow scarred me as a boy, you should know.

You're coming pretty damn close to answering the question, yourself, you know! The intellectual tradition has been to assign discursive knowledge to men, and intuitive knowledge (the knowledge of angels) to women, and to insist this distinction is actually flattering to women, even as it was used to systematically exclude them from public discourse and debate. I tell Mimara in the present tense because I presume this ontological distinction obtains in my world, and that Mimara is in fact closer to the god, possessing unmediated--immediate--knowledge of good and evil.

The questions is what this makes out of all of Achamian's reasons.

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Thanks for the critique of my critique, Scott - I'll write a pretty long reply to your points, but here's a quickie Q&A first:

What more can you tell us about the Cuno-Inchoroi Wars? In the TTT glossary we get a very detailed narration of the Arkfall, the betrayal, the first battles, the womb-plague - and then it just skips to Nil'giccas finishing the war and sealing up the Ark.

What happened in the long war in between? What was Nin'janjin's fate? Why did the Inchoroi keep attacking until only two were left, knowing that they'd be damned after death?

Why is Aurax a basement-dweller and only Aurang appears in public?

 

 

 

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Nolendil: Its not so much a critique as an explanation why I don't worry about such matters. Priming is inescapable, so I just see it as a bullet to be bitten, a cost of doing narrative business. I wish people weren't in the habit of rationalizing their particular feature detection peeves, but I don't think we really have any choice. Ive caught myself doing as much countless times. Im a big rationalizer from way back.

Sometimes you just don't get what a creator is up to because youre in the wrong context. I just watched Dirty Harry for the first time on the big screen and finally realized all that darkness that drove me nuts watching the movie on the tube had the effect of putting the viewer in the dark *with* Clint and the killer when viewed in the theatre...

Theres not much I can say vis a vis the history of the Nonmen or the Inchoroi until TUC has hit the shelves, I fear. I can say, that Ive always wanted to fill in the details of Cuno-Inchoroi wars...

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(assuming, reluctantly, that rsbakker is not a glamour)

Loved it, by far the best thing in the genre. I liked WLW better, because of the Great Ordeal battles, the fantastic imagery of Swayali witches blooming over a sea of dusty Sranc – that was sense of wonder. The nail-biting excitement of Sorweel’s plot-line. Acka and Cleric battling Wutteät! LENGTHY DIALOGUE IN CAPITALS.

The Ishterebinth chapters is TGO come close, though. Immensely satisfying. I needed a second reading of the Koringhus sections to get that part, but it’s all good.

Thank you for writing these books.

(My main criticism, which remains from the first book, is the infuriating reluctance of telling us what the fuck is going on. The prose is needlessly conceited when it should just relate plot. There is plenty to think about in these books, I shouldn’t also need to be confused about the surface action.)

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Happy Ent: You sound like my agent! If it weren't for him Im sure things would be twice as bad. The best I can think is that my stories get me excited, and excitement makes me abstruse--more inclined, you might say, to use words like abstruse.

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Mr. RSB, 

Good stuff.  

Beyond the philosophical references, which pretty much go way over my head, there's a lot of fun dialogue / nods to other works in TSA.  LoTR, Dune, Blood Meridian.  Any other recommended reading, just for fun?  Especially fiction, is there an informative text or three that it would behoove me to check out?

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47 minutes ago, larrytheimp said:

Mr. RSB, 

Good stuff.  

Beyond the philosophical references, which pretty much go way over my head, there's a lot of fun dialogue / nods to other works in TSA.  LoTR, Dune, Blood Meridian.  Any other recommended reading, just for fun?  Especially fiction, is there an informative text or three that it would behoove me to check out?

Expanding on this edit a bit... Why did the No God ever take the field at all?  Why not just hunker down and let the cessation of the cycle of souls naturally reduce the population to the required amount?

Oh... and what happens when a dragon is hit with a chorae? :lol: 

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Scott - Who would win a fight between Nayu and Mek if Mek was in possession of all of his faculties but only 12 inches tall?

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18 minutes ago, Triskan said:

Scott - Who would win a fight between Nayu and Mek if Mek was in possession of all of his faculties but only 12 inches tall?

Is Ditka regular size?  Or is he mini too?

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5 hours ago, rsbakker said:

Sologdin: I'm glad you enjoyed--and yes, it's me! Have you guys had some incidents or something lately?

 

So long as men live, there are alts!

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Expanding on this edit a bit... Why did the No God ever take the field at all?  Why not just hunker down and let the cessation of the cycle of souls naturally reduce the population to the required amount?

No knows for sure, but there is speculation to the effect that the system is very difficult to maintain beyond a certain window of time.

Quote

Who would win a fight between Nayu and Mek if Mek was in possession of all of his faculties but only 12 inches tall?

Depends. Is Nayu naked?

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Ok, in all seriousness...

first of all, thanks for coming here and doing this. Actually pretty cool, and I appreciate it. I've had a shit load of questions since starting the series, and since finishing TGO, but of course they all fly out of the head the second I try to recall them

one thing that has kind of bugged me since reading the preview chapters prior to TGOs release: in the first time we see the Outside with Kellhus (p 44), there is this

Quote

There is a head on a pole behind you.

  Brutalities spin and scrape, like leaves blasted in the wind.

  He is here ... with you ... not so much inside me as speaking speaking with your voice.

  There is a head on a pole behind you.

  And he walks, though there is no ground. And he see, though his eyes have rolled into his brow. Through and over, around and within, he flees and he assails... For he is here.

Here.

(Bolding mine)

Now, the not-stupid part of me understands this could simply be a stylistic choice to help jar our frame of reference from, uh, what just came before. But the stupid part of me (the part that seems to actually be in charge here) can't get over these three antecedents. I assume the he is Kellhus, but who the fuck are me and you? Is it actually you and I/us? Any clarity you can offer to what passes for my soul?

Am I making something out of nothing?

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Now that the 99.5% probability has lost out, let me just give my honest feedback on the new book which I've touched on in the other threads.

Like many others I thought Ishterebinth was amazing.  I had remarked several times on the dynamic in the series where they (the Nonmen) were such a big part of Earwa and yet we'd had so little on-screen time with them.  I didn't know exactly what to expect, but this was awesome and very satisfying.  Very high marks.  Some of the best stuff you've ever written.  I wonder if it will give you any satisfaction to hear that I now refer to my most hated sports franchise as "The Vile."

I also very much liked the Akka/Mimara thread.  I thought the flashbacks to what had happened at Ishual with the shriekers and the singers was haunting imagery.  And then the Koringus chapter is dripping with meaning/profundity.  Mixed feelings on the event of Nayu's return but high marks for the execution of the chapter if you're going to go that route.

I've seen some of the folks around here say that the great ordeal chapters weren't great.  I liked them just perhaps not as much as the WLW versions of the same. 

But I am not too into the Momemn storyline.  I find the WLW itself confusing, I don't like Kelmomas, and don't feel like this storyline (so far) does much for the rest of the story.  I was very intrigued by Meppa in WLW but found everything about his role in this book underwhelming. 

But if we break the book up into four sections as I've done here I thought two were outstanding, one solid, and one disappointing.  That's pretty nice overall, and I'm still very excited for TUC. 

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