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Ser Scot A Ellison

Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn/The Heart of what was Lost/The Last King of Osten Ard

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On 4/11/2017 at 10:22 AM, kuenjato said:

Pacing is relative to the reader, of course. If the world/story/characters are interesting or immersive, then I personally don't care if it's "slow." The Dragonbone Chair was my favorite fantasy novel when I was 13, because the world felt much realer and tactile & the prose was much better than other serials at that time (late 1980's). From what it sounds like, TWC is lacking the strengths of the original series, and potentially the mystery. 

Question: is this treading old ground, or offering anything new?

There is definitely new ground, and expansion of the world continues. By the end of the novel, I felt like there were more mysteries introduced than mysteries resolved from the classic novels, but maybe that's just me.

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UK ARCS haven't gone out, to my knowledge, and US ones only started going out in the last three weeks (I think, based on people sharing pictures on Twitter). There might not be any UK ARCs, actually.

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US ARCs started going out at the end of February and have been around for two months. By the time I got mine (about 5 weeks later because I live in Canada), plenty of reviewers had had their own copy for over a month. 

As far as I know, there's no UK galley going around yet. Could be wrong, though.

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2 hours ago, Lord Patrek said:

US ARCs started going out at the end of February and have been around for two months. By the time I got mine (about 5 weeks later because I live in Canada), plenty of reviewers had had their own copy for over a month.

Which reviewers had their own copies of TWC ARC in February, Pat? Who told you you were getting a copy five weeks later because you lived in Canada? Who are these "plenty of reviewers" who got ARCs, but didn't review The Witchwood Crown because they didn't like it? And now it's so "late in the game" with more than two months before publication?

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Jiriki,

I've been getting ARCs since 2005, my friend. The process is simple and straightforward. Living in Canada means that it takes up to 4 to 6 weeks for packages to reach me. This is how slow the USPS is. Nowadays, publishers seldom send out stuff via courrier service like FedEx, so I receive books at least a month later than American reviewers. It sucks, but that's the way love goes.

I posted a photo of the book on Facebook the day I received it. Just checked and that was on March 8th. I thought I had gotten it later than that. Lots of people reacted to the pic and I received a lot of comments and PMs. A few reviewers mentioned that they had received the books weeks before, Shawn among them, which implies that their packages had been sent out at the same time as mine.

So it appears that trade publications, other authors, and popular online venues receive their ARCs from the same batch. Publishers often have more than one batch of ARCs sent out, the first to the aforementioned suspects, with another batch going out a few weeks later to other venues/reviewers. Again, that's business as usual in publishing.

NetGalley has thrown a wrench in this process, as digital ARCs sometimes see the light before hard copies are printed and they are available to a lot more people. THOWWL wasn't on NetGalley, and as far as I know it's the same for TWC. Embargo or not, reviews show up on Goodreads and elsewhere about 24 hours after a title appears on NetGalley. To give you an example, there were about 15 reviews of Mark Lawrence's Red Sister on Goodreads before the physical ARCs even saw the light. Add to that the month or so for the book to actually reach me, the time it took me to read and then write my review, and you can see how "late" my review turned out to be.

I posted my review of Robin Hobb's upcoming Assassin's Fate a few days ago. As far as I know, I'm the first "popular" online venue to do so, and yet my review was the 48th posted on Goodreads. Random readers/bloggers were talking about it on Reddit before I even received my copy.

Anyway, suffice to say that I'm not the only person Penguin Books has sent an ARC of TWC to. I have the press release before me and there is no embargo on this title, which means that anyone can post a review at any given time without retribution.

Now, I'm not saying that this is the case. But in the past, when ARCs had gotten around around 8 to 10 weeks before, for a book that is one of the most eagerly anticipated titles of the year, the absence of reviews meant that the novel wasn't as good as people expected and reviewers didn't want to be the ones responsible for generating a negative vibe and would rather wait to post their reviews. Which is what I told Tad and Deb I was doing.

Could I be wrong? Yes, no doubt about it. But I'm persuaded that most people who received an ARC of TWC would, like me, be unable to show any sort of restrain and would jump into the book ASAP. If that's the case, quite a few reviews should already be up. And there are so few at the moment. . . Which is what scares me. That maybe I'm not the only one who's underwhelmed by the novel and that other reviewers are reticent to post so-so reviews until more reviews are available.

Given that I've been a huge Tad Williams fan forever and that I've never had any issues with the pace, extraneous subplots, etc, I believe I probably won't be the only one to be underwhelmed with this book. Though I still have more than 200 pages to go, so perhaps the ending might save TWC after all. :)

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This is a pointless discussion as  in the end of the day this is all speculation and we won't know if readers love TWC or are bored by it until they read it.

I remain thoroughly covinced that it will be the former and that this book will become a NYT bestseller.

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1 hour ago, Lord Patrek said:

Jiriki,

I've been getting ARCs since 2005, my friend. The process is simple and straightforward.

Hi Pat,

It's great that you've been receiving ARCs since 2005. You don't have to explain the process to me, as the first advance copy I received for an honest review was the Italian 1996 JRR Tolkien Calendar, which was sent to me by the Societa Tolkieniana Italiana in December 1995, in the pre-Internet days, when nearly everything was still done on paper. Still, it's always nice to have newer folks come in and assume the mantle.

Although Ylvs and I received our ARCs in January, and Shawn Speakman in February, an email I received on Friday confirms that the publishers are still very much in the process of sending out ARCs for TWC.

In February, TOR.com had an exclusive, and no one was allowed to reveal the cover until after TOR (we found this out the hard way, as we mentioned at the time). That wouldn't have been possible if ARCs had already been sent out to everyone. The ARC Reader Contest did not end until March 31st, and so review copies for the contest wouldn't have been sent out until this month. And more than two months before publication is hardly a "late date".

I don't know what to make of your assumption that people aren't reviewing TWC because they didn't like it; that may be how you feel, but others certainly haven't held back on bad reviews in the past. Kirkus Reviews loved The Witchwood Crown, calling it "a richly described, meticulously plotted, and multilayered narrative tapestry featuring a diversity of adeptly developed characters and multiple storylines [...] flawless epic fantasy." but they've been happy to slam Williams in the past, calling The Dragonbone Chair "a vast, dusty, irrelevant drone". Similarly, most reviewers will call a spade a spade, as that's just part and parcel of being a reviewer. But I'd say most reviewers will finish a book before trashing it in public...

 

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Geez, the drama. Who's got an ARC? Who's gonna review? Kirkus means nothing to me, they trashed River of Blue Fire (probably the best of the Otherland cycle) and luved them some early Goodkind.

This book is pretty low on my radar, just a blip before the awaited juggernaut that is TUC... but I'll definitely check it out even if the reviews such, as MS&T was my gateway into 'mature' fantasy way back in the day.

Edited by kuenjato

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1 hour ago, kuenjato said:

Kirkus means nothing to me, they trashed River of Blue Fire (probably the best of the Otherland cycle)

You raise a valid point: Kirkus has not given good reviews to Tad-books in the past. They hated The Dragonbone Chair, River of Blue Fire, City of Golden Shadow, Mountain of Black Glass, and The Dragons of Ordinary Farm. To be honest, though, some of their reviews were very sloppy.

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1 minute ago, Darth Richard II said:

Wait, what the hell us The Dragons of Ordinary Farm?

Williams' fourth series, a YA series written with his wife Deborah Beale. The success of the Osten Ard series, Otherland, and Shadowmarch has IMO overshadowed many of his lesser-known series and standalones. Ordinary Farm, the Bobby Dollar books, the comic book series, and (potentially, the proposed) Arjuna aren't known nearly as well.

For me, it's all about Osten Ard (MS&T, TLK, HOWWL and The Burning Man), which remains his best world, though I did love, love, love War of the Flowers, (most of) Otherland, Shadowmarch, and the Arjuna short story. I think the Osten Ard novels will remain his magnum opus.

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On 24/04/2017 at 7:01 PM, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Patrek,

What did you think of The Heart if what was Lost?

I thought it was good. Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but it worked quite well as an epilogue to MST.

But in style, tone, and feel, TWC is a totally different beast.

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I've just read the Prologue and the first chapter (or whatever fraction of it was included in the teaser in the German edition of THowwL).

I'm not so sure about the 

Spoiler

murder mystery plot in the beginning. Shouldn't Simon and the Sithi have established a less mundane means of communication? Like, say, using magic as they did back during the first great crisis they faced?

The reintroduction of known characters works reasonably fine although I think Simon and Miri should actually be more changed they actually are. Simon thinking about spending time with Binabik in the middle of nowhere sounds like something he actually never would have the time to do after he became king. He certainly could idealize life of less responsibility etc. but not actually give the impression he had lived such a life after he became king (unless, of course, it turns out that he is basically a rather bad king).

I like his positive attitude towards his alleged

Spoiler

wastrel grandson and heir

- Simon himself wasn't exactly a promising youth, either, and he turned out fine in the end. Grandparents usually try to see the best in their grandchildren (I'm pretty sure the aging Aegon V would also have shown a tendency to defend young Aerys whenever Dunk pointed out that this guy was remembering him of both Aerion Brightflame and Daeron the Drunk).

The setting of the first chapters seems to be somewhat reminiscent of the feeling of the beginning of the first book of the last series, especially with their inability to realize that something is amiss in Hernystir.

It seems that Simon and Miri only have one child, their late son, but two grandchildren. If this turns out to be true I don't think that was a good idea because they were married this long and should at least have had a daughter or perhaps a younger son (especially because this could add potential to the story).

I don't find anything slow-going at this point. This new world and its new and aged characters first has to be properly shown before it can (and should) go to hell.

However, I must say I still don't like that stupid Osten Ard religion. Whenever somebody mentions some saint I cringe. That's just too much for my taste.

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Resumed reading TWC after a 3-week break today. Read about 50 pages this evening and it's still as tedious as before.

But I'm now entering the third and final part of the book. Here's to hoping that Tad will soon shift into high gear. . .

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Varys, I couldn't figure out how to quote you, as trying to quote you with the spoilers caused me to lose my post each time. So I'll try once more, this time without the quotes.

Spoiler

I agree that the opening chapters do feel like the beginning of DBC; as you say, the threat of a distant, yet ignored, problem also feels familiar.

I'm not sure "magic mirror" witnesses are so common that Jiriki would have a replacement. Jiriki gave his mirror to Simon in DBC, and Simon and Miriamele broke it in TGAT to cut the binds that tied them, in the forest near Hasu Vale. The mirror witnesses were apparently dragon's scales, with Igjarjuk the white worm apparently being the last dragon in that part of the world, according to what Binabik(?) said.

I also didn't feel like the first couple of chapters were slow, though near the end the pace quickens anyway.

I like the Aedonite religion, as Medieval worlds feel weird without a vast religious hierarchy and accompanying bureaucracy. Like a Medieval world with no kings or queens, or no peasants.

 

Please let this post...

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