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Tad Williams - The Witchwood Crown / Empire of Grass spoiler thread

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o.O

No Fighting! That's for the political threads!

Also to clarify a bit from yesterday, in no way do I endorse goodreads as indicative of anything ever.

And I do kind of know what's its like to hate something that everyone else seems to love cough cough the night circus cough cough.

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Posted (edited)

Well.

Despite being either bored or annoyed, I managed to make myself finish EoG. I figured if I'd dropped it like I wanted to, I'd never return to finish it-- but now, lacking any desire to read the third book I'm left with this ashy taste in my mouth. Why did I fucking bother? I mean, I won't be reading it anyway lol

Contrast this with The Priory of the Orange Tree. It was a similar experience at first. Wasn't feeling drawn to it, characters weren't really working. But, like EoG, it also wasn't horrible so I gave it another chapter. Then another. Unlike EoG however, it turned a corner and opened up onto a vista I could really feast my eyes on. 

I like Tad, and will always have a soft spot for Memory, Sorrow and Thorn-- But I'm done with Osten Ard.

Edited by JEORDHl

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3 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I did like TWMF (with the exception of the fairy sex portion of the book) I enjoy Rothfuss’s prose quite a lot.

I also enjoyed EoG.  It isn’t a modern “grimdark” novel that pervades much of Fantasy literature but I really enjoyed how Williams has deepened the existing world and how he has (as the review someone posted at the end of the prior thread pointed out) put a big twist on the “happy ending” people complained about at the completion of the prior trilogy.

It’s a good book.

much better :)

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Posted (edited)
39 minutes ago, JEORDHl said:

Well.

Despite being either bored or annoyed, I managed to make myself finish EoG. I figured if I'd dropped it like I wanted to, I'd never return to finish it-- but now, lacking any desire to read the third book I'm left with this ashy taste in my mouth. Why did I fucking bother? I mean, I won't be reading it anyway lol

Contrast this with The Priory of the Orange Tree. It was a similar experience at first. Wasn't feeling drawn to it, characters weren't really working. But, like EoG, it also wasn't horrible so I gave it another chapter. Then another. Unlike EoG however, it turned a corner and opened up onto a vista I could really feast my eyes on. 

I like Tad, and will always have a soft spot for Memory, Sorrow and Thorn-- But I'm done with Osten Ard.

I'm interested just enough about the Norns to read the third book. 

I really don't care much for any of the main characters, though. I can't even remember what Binibik did for the entire novel, other than chase Morgan through the forest. Unver is just a poor man's Kellhus (complete with no POV) and the whole Thrithings subplot felt weak and contrived.

I did like Miri in this book. She's probably the only one of the central cast I'm invested in.

Edited by kuenjato

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29 minutes ago, kuenjato said:

I'm interested just enough about the Norns to read the third book. 

I really don't care much for any of the main characters, though. I can't even remember what Binibik did for the entire novel, other than chase Morgan through the forest. Unver is just a poor man's Kellhus (complete with no POV) and the whole Thrithings subplot felt weak and contrived.

I did like Miri in this book. She's probably the only one of the central cast I'm invested in.

Given the population concentration that appears to be in Nabban I’ve never really understood how Erykenland has managed to maintain political control over Nabban?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, kuenjato said:

I'm interested just enough about the Norns to read the third book. 

I really don't care much for any of the main characters, though. I can't even remember what Binibik did for the entire novel, other than chase Morgan through the forest. Unver is just a poor man's Kellhus (complete with no POV) and the whole Thrithings subplot felt weak and contrived.

I did like Miri in this book. She's probably the only one of the central cast I'm invested in.

Heh. See, I lost interest in the Norns during The Heart of What Was Lost. 

There was this sense of Otherness about the Sithi and Norns in MS&T that young me really dug. And sure, one could argue we didn't get much about their respective lives, or their inner lives, so of course they felt Other, but [for me anyway] all I got from the reveal was disappointment. They're little different than long lived humans. Same old bullshit, longer grudges.

But hey. TWC [et EoG] was a return to old and beloved characters.  

Miri I liked, though I wanted to drop a Nuke on every instance I was returned to Nabban. Morgan is a cut out of young Simon, with a background change [scullion v. royal upbringing] same mooncalfing/avoidance of responsibility except the stakes are higher for Morgan, i.e. running from duty to the realm instead of chores, etc. Morgan's substance abuse? Same thing. Jarnulf and his piety, a dirtier Camaris come-again, etc, ad nauseum.  

I'm not angry or anything. I'm just surprised, frankly, that I really don't fucking care.       

    

Edited by JEORDHl

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Given the population concentration that appears to be in Nabban I’ve never really understood how Erykenland has managed to maintain political control over Nabban?

This hits on another aspect that I found dissatisfying, in that Osten Ard comes off nowadays as cookie-cutter Europe template. This wasn't unusual in 1988, where you had huge-but-shallow stereotype worlds (Eddings), nonsensical worlds (Dragonlance, Shannara), etc. as the general norm. The historical veneer Williams ladled across in doses large and small -- ultimately imparting a more 'tactile' fantasy, in terms of religion, geography, etc --  made MS&T's text really shine, in comparison. But now, compared to what's come out since, Tad's world feels frankly simplistic, with the cultures poorly integrated and the underlying relationships rather vague. It would have been nice to have fleshed out what's to the south, or the huge blankness that looms in the east. 

Some effort was made, I'll grant you, with the occasional reference-drop of taxation, infrastructure spending, and so forth, but all in all Osten Ard, for me, no longer feels real. It's limitations seem too obvious.

Edited by kuenjato

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22 hours ago, kuenjato said:

Back on topic: Pat, what parts of the novel did work for you? Did you scan the critiques I posted earlier? What was the worst of the slog for you?

 

I agree with pretty much everything you posted earlier in the thread.

Like most, what I enjoyed was finding out more information about the Norns, the Sithi, and the Tinukeda'ya. However, the way that information was conveyed, mostly through Viyeki, Nezeru, and Tzoja's plotlines, was off-putting for the most part. All three keep wondering what's going on for page after page after page. So even the good stuff must be sifted through hundreds of pages of boring narratives. Even Jarnulf's storyline, by far the most interesting in TWC, pettered out and started to suck in EoG.

I wanted to throw the book at the other end of the room every time a chapter switched to Morgan, Simon, or Miri.

I've mentioned this in my review of TWC, but one of the things that kills this series is the decidedly weak political intrigue that permeates all the important plotlines. Williams has never been at the politicking aspect, and to make it an integral part of most of the storylines truly hurts the plot.

Plus, there is so much extraneous stuff to go through to get to the goos scenes. You could probably excise a good 100-150 pages from EoG without losing anything. The Tiamak, Binabik, his daughter, Tzoja's storylines in particular, they all act as filler 90% of the time. And do we really need the perspective of the 3-year-old princess? Unver, one of the most important characters in this new trilogy, doesn't have a POV!

Overall, it's not frustration I feel. Though yes, I am frustrated. It's just an immense sense of disappointment. This was supposed to be the fantasy series of the decade, or one of the very best. After two installments, it turned out to be something so subpar that it one can scarcely believe it was written the same author who came up with MST.

Still, I can't understand why so few people are reading this series. It defies comprehension given Williams' reputation. 

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31 minutes ago, Lord Patrek said:

Still, I can't understand why so few people are reading this series. It defies comprehension given Williams' reputation. 

I think this is simply a case of losing touch with what people are reading these days (perhaps a symptom of not using the sites where the actual, large-scale fantasy discussion is happening these days, which is Goodreads and Reddit). Williams is seen as old-fashioned and low-key, and people just aren't pushing the books enough, whilst books like Priory of the Orange Tree and pretty much anything Sanderson puts out gets a ton of signal-boosting that makes them into bigger deals.

Ten years ago you could maybe make the argument that Westeros, SFFWorld, Wotmania etc were influential online spaces that reflect what people were reading (although even that wasn't always true, see Gail Z. Martin's sales absolutely burying Scott Lynch's of their debut novels, despite LoLL's far higher online profile). That's not even remotely true now.

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, Werthead said:

(although even that wasn't always true, see Gail Z. Martin's sales absolutely burying Scott Lynch's of their debut novels, despite LoLL's far higher online profile). That's not even remotely true now.

That's weird, because, re: Goodreads, TLoLL has more than a dozen times the ratings as Martin's debut novel, thirty times the number of actual reviews, and a higher overall rating as well. I find it very, very unlikely that Martin's first book actually outsold TLoLL. Maybe briefly, in the near term, if there was a hiccup with reprints at Lynch's publisher. And if she's outsold him overall now, that's probably because she's a writing machine with numerous novels under her belt.

Edited by Ran

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5 minutes ago, Ran said:

That's weird, because, re: Goodreads, TLoLL has more than a dozen times the ratings as Martin's debut novel, thirty times the number of actual reviews, and a higher overall rating as well. I find it very, very unlikely that Martin's first book actually outsold TLoLL. Maybe briefly, in the near term, if there was a hiccup with reprints at Lynch's publisher. And if she's outsold him overall now, that's probably because she's a writing machine with numerous novels under her belt.

Yes, that was first-year sales of their two debut novels, made all the more remarkable because Martin's didn't come out until a lot later than Lynch.

Where the sales are now is another question. LoLL has had serious legs behind it (fortunately, given the author's slow production rate).

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Ran said:

That's weird, because, re: Goodreads, TLoLL has more than a dozen times the ratings as Martin's debut novel, thirty times the number of actual reviews, and a higher overall rating as well. I find it very, very unlikely that Martin's first book actually outsold TLoLL. Maybe briefly, in the near term, if there was a hiccup with reprints at Lynch's publisher. And if she's outsold him overall now, that's probably because she's a writing machine with numerous novels under her belt.

Those stats really mean nothing in terms of sales, though, just internet enthusiasm. Lynch used to post around here before he sold the series, so there's always been favorable bias and occluded perception as to his series at westeros. 

I'm sure it's changed, but Wert used to pull up the fact that most consumers (like, more than 90%) of fantasy books did not get their info/decision making from the net. Hence Goodkind maintaining bestseller status for many years despite being a laughingstock across many of the common arenas for fantasy discussion.

Edited by kuenjato

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1 hour ago, kuenjato said:

Those stats really mean nothing in terms of sales, though, just internet enthusiasm. Lynch used to post around here before he sold the series, so there's always been favorable bias and occluded perception as to his series at westeros. 

I'm sure it's changed, but Wert used to pull up the fact that most consumers (like, more than 90%) of fantasy books did not get their info/decision making from the net. Hence Goodkind maintaining bestseller status for many years despite being a laughingstock across many of the common arenas for fantasy discussion.

Well, that was true when we were discussing things here c. 2007 and maybe as late as 2010, but that's definitely less true now. An author doing a Reddit AMA that goes well can add a few hundred sales by itself, and a solid Goodreads campaign and good word of mouth can get an indie author a professional publishing deal (which is what happened to Josiah Bancroft and a few others).

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Posted (edited)

 

9 hours ago, kuenjato said:

Those stats really mean nothing in terms of sales, though, just internet enthusiasm. Lynch used to post around here before he sold the series, so there's always been favorable bias and occluded perception as to his series at westeros. 

There's zero chance that Martin's first book has outsold Lynch's in the long run, and I admit I still find the claim that it outsold the firt year a bit suspect (Archive.org shows that TLoLL already had more ratings in year 2 after publication than Martin had in year 2 of her book's publication). Isn't this apple to oranges, anyways? Lynch was only hardcover the first year, while near as I can tell THE SUMMONER was straight to MMPB. 

 

Wert, what's the source on this statistic, re: first year sales? 

Quote

I'm sure it's changed, but Wert used to pull up the fact that most consumers (like, more than 90%) of fantasy books did not get their info/decision making from the net. Hence Goodkind maintaining bestseller status for many years despite being a laughingstock across many of the common arenas for fantasy discussion.

Goodkind's THE OMEN MACHINE (published 2013) has more ratings on Goodreads than Martin's debut novel (published 2017). I really think whatever odd blip there was regarding Martin's first year sales compared to TLoLL is not really indicative of anything useful beyond he vagaries of print runs. I suspect "internet enthusiasm" as seen on Goodreads is probably a very good proxy for sales.

In fact, via Kameron Hurley, I found that Mark Lawrence got fellow fantasy authors to shares sales data to see if they correlated to the number of ratings you had on Goodreads... and it did.

Edited by Ran

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There's zero chance that Martin's first book has outsold Lynch's in the long run, and I admit I still find the claim that it outsold the firt year a bit suspect (Archive.org shows that TLoLL already had more ratings in year 2 after publication than Martin had in year 2 of her book's publication). Isn't this apple to oranges, anyways? Lynch was only hardcover the first year, while near as I can tell THE SUMMONER was straight to MMPB. 

Wert, what's the source on this statistic, re: first year sales? 

 

Online ratings for a book released in 2006 (pre-social media) were pretty meaningless as any kind of guide to sales at that time.

And this came straight from Scott's publisher, who was happy with his first year sales (15,000 in tradeback and hardcover) but pointed out that it was nowhere near the highest-selling fantasy debut of the year and rattled off a number of other books which did better, including, I believe, Abercrombie, but Martin was the striking one due to her relatively low online level of discussion in comparison to both.

Quote

 

Goodkind's latest novel has more ratings on Goodreads than Martin's debut novel has 12 years later. I really think whatever odd blip there was regarding Martin's first year sales compared to TLoLL is not really indicative of anything useful. I suspect "internet enthusiasm" as seen on Goodreads is probably a very good proxy for sales.

In fact, via Kameron Hurley, I found that Mark Lawrence got fellow fantasy authors to shares sales data to see if they correlated to the number of ratings you had on Goodreads... and it did.

 

Yes, as Goodreads has continued to explode in size, a correlation between profile and sales has come into existence, although it is not perfect and I wouldn't rely on it too hard.

I know some publishers who agree that Goodreads acts as a sales proxy and others who say it is still wildly off-base in some cases (I suspect for older books with a long pre-Goodreads tail).

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18 hours ago, Werthead said:

Well, that was true when we were discussing things here c. 2007 and maybe as late as 2010, but that's definitely less true now. An author doing a Reddit AMA that goes well can add a few hundred sales by itself, and a solid Goodreads campaign and good word of mouth can get an indie author a professional publishing deal (which is what happened to Josiah Bancroft and a few others).

With all this discussion about sales, I'm wondering what the sales are for The Last King of Osten Ard, and what the expectations were (hence the disappointment Pat mentioned in an earlier post).

There is such a huge glut of novels being released every year, even every month, I suppose even big names can get overwhelmed. Or it might be that TW has been dropping off, I mean, did you see the cover 'art' for his last Bobby Dollar novel? It felt like DAW gave an intern a photoshop project -- it seriously looked like a self-published book.

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Gail Z. Martin's first year sales truly did blow Scott Lynch's sales out of the water. I do remember that. But you have to keep in mind that hers was a mass market paperback release and it was hence a lot cheaper to buy. Down the line, Lynch's numbers probably crush her in such a way that it's almost laughable.

Not sure what the expectations were for Tad Williams' latest Osten Ard trilogy, but conventional wisdom says that likely expected at the very least similar numbers to the Shadowmarch sales. Probably more. TWC currently stands at 2134 Goodreads ratings after two years. Not bad for a midlist SFF author, but nothing to write home about for a New York Times bestselling writer.

Can't really elaborate on the Bobby Dollar books because most of my information came off the record. But yeah, it appears that little effort was made to help this series perform better.

Regarding Goodreads, Reddit, etc, it can definitely help certain authors sell more books. But it usually work only with authors investing lots of time and energy on these online venues and even then it seldom translates into loads of copies sold. To get an idea of what really sells, whether or not these books/authors are widely discussed online, just check what the mega bookstores are pimping heavily. Just before Christmas, I went to my local bookstore which is part of the huge Indigo Chapters stores and stumbled upon the person in charge of the fantas/science fiction section while I was browsing. When asked what sells particularly well, other than GRRM of course, I was surprised to learn that Robert Jordan remains a top seller. Goodkind, Gaiman, Hobb, Butcher, Rothfuss, Erikson, Sanderson as well. She was saying that the bigger the series, or the more novels available by the same author, the higher the odds that it will sell well. Brooks and Modesitt, still sell well. So is GGK, but this is Canada. Lawrence, Corey, Abercrombie was barely stocked, so was Lynch. Hugo big names like Hurley were not even stocked at all. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy was stocked, but nothing else by the author. This is an enormous store with a huge SFF section, and yet old school writers like Brooks, Eddings, Donaldson, Weis and Hickman, etc, get more exposure than recent bestselling authors like Peter V. Breet and Ann Leckie. Brick and mortar stores still move thousands of copies every month and most of the time it's not necessarily books from authors that are receiving love on Goodreads, Reddit, etc.

I'm willing to bet that Goodkind's back log still nets him six-figure amounts every year. And don't forget what sells in foreign markets. Tad told me that Otherland made him more money in Germany than everything else combined in the USA. It was huge there. Same with Lawrence, who was selling as much in Brazil as in the USA a few years back.

There's no easy way to figure out how/why something sells and something doesn't. Even Goodreads ratings can be biased by all those inexpensive ebook deals that I post on the Hotlist. I remember Hurley's The Mirror Empire getting a shitload of ratings on Goodreads, but that was when the publisher dropped the price at 1.99$ just a few weeks following the official release. It sold thousands of copies during that span (the same has happened with lots of other titles), so it's not like it sold a lot at cover price. Lawrence's One World Kill was free for about a month if you had Amazon Prime, which netted him over a thousand ratings before the book was officially released. There are lots of examples like that of ways to influence those ratings with even "selling" a single copy. Access to NetGalley is another one of them.

So your mileage will vary. . .

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That’s weird, the B&N here Corey and Leckie out the wazoo, Jemsin also has a lot of room. Of course GRRM practically has his own section.  Going to have to look next time to see what’s what. I know personal preference plays a part sometime, which is why it used to have Bakker stocked fairly well until recently.

oh and I’m always reminded how little this forum represents things when I see how insanely popular Sanderson is. Not that I don’t like you guys or his stuff. :p

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