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First Quarter 2020 Reading

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8 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

You know I need to read Strange and Norrell some day. :leaving:

Was thinking the same thing. 

I own 2 copies of the book. (There was a special edition copy my partner and I saw and we were like "YES IF ONLY TO SUPPORT THE ARTIST WHO MADE THAT COVER YES".)

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23 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Nothing nuanced about constant rape.

I find this complaint to be overblown. The use of it is no more abundant in the Demon Cycle than ASOIAF, or plenty fantasy series trying to give a more human-realistic depiction of the world and war. 

22 hours ago, polishgenius said:


Is this your re-read once a year book? Coz I definitely remember this being one of the topics you made back when you were being super-enthusiastic and it spinning off into discussion of other authors who use rape as a plot device. I'm not knocking since there are plenty of books I re-read a lot and I've read China Mieville's The Scar like once a year for fifteen years but it seems an unusual choice...




Anyway, meself I just re-read Strange and Norrell, ha. Always forget how good that book is - love how it seems meandering and rambling until all of a sudden it's really really not.

Meh, I guess so to your question.

Also Yes, some posters complained about the use of sexual assault in it’s story-telling. I found it’s use no more inappropriate than most fantasy series who use it. Actually perhaps less so since the characters who experienced sexual assault suffering wasn't made about how it affects far more important characters, or the protagonist.

Also, misunderstanding, or perhaps misremembering how rape was utilized. Such as saying it made male characters stronger while making female survivors more unhinged. When nothing could be farther from the truth given we are shown one of male POV characters being raped-and nearly breaking because of it. 

Edited by Varysblackfyre321

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2 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Please, Brett has more rape in one boom then GRRM has in his entire series. Those books are about as nuanced as Faith of the Fallen,

Not really. 

The rapes in Asoiaf are just often relegated to less important characters most of the time. And made to be the catalyst of other more important characters who are currently alive in the story.  For example Gilly. How is Sam being affected dealing with this traumatized girl? 

Or the girl who was gang-raped by the the mountain and his men. How is Arya being affected hearing about it?

How does the Dothraki raping the women affect Daenerys’s sense of righteousness?

Here’s the thing having a lot of sexual assault/sexual abuse in a story does not mean a book is bad. How it is used is the issue The broken empire has a lot of rape. Terrible series in my opinion. In part because it uses sexual assault/sexual abuse as little more than a tool to just shock the reader.

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Yeah, gonna side with the Peter V Brett/Demon Cycle sceptics here. I enjoyed the first two as a young teen, and I still think the premise is really good, but...I don't think they're well enough written to handle that kind of topic. That said, I just about read the third one when it came out, haven't read the fourth/fifth ones yet. One thing I did just notice from googling it though: Brett is extremely prolific - a new novel every 2/3 years and a bunch of novellas/short stories set in the same world? That's the dream for any fan. 

Anyway, I just finished Terry Pratchett's Sourcery, which was fun. Not my favourite Discworld novel, but definitely enjoyable enough that I no longer have any doubts about the Rincewind sub-series. 

Next up, A Spy in the House of Love, by Anais Nin (but with two little dots above the first 'i' in her name). No idea what to expect with this, but it's the book I bought alongside Sourcery the other day, so I'll read it now rather than letting it become part of the eternal backlog. 

 

 

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Broken Empire has one instance of rape. One. It’s mentioned aside in the opening chapter. I suspect strongly you have never read the books and have instead just read some incendiary blog reviews by people who have not either. 
 

And you think Bretts characters ARENT being raped for pure shock value? I’m at a loss for words, or polite ones anyway.

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12 hours ago, IlyaP said:

Was thinking the same thing. 

I own 2 copies of the book. (There was a special edition copy my partner and I saw and we were like "YES IF ONLY TO SUPPORT THE ARTIST WHO MADE THAT COVER YES".)

What does it look like?  Is it the red and white cover with the woman in the mirror?

Strange and Norrell is definitely among my all-time favorites.

Right now I'm finishing up Connelly's The Night Fire.  Fairly quick crime read as good as most Connelly books.  I wish Connelly would stop teaming his characters up.  As much as I like Bosch, I want some more Renee Ballard solo books.

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So, here is a whole slew of stuff that I have been reading for the last month and change:

I DNFed from "Children of Blood and Vengeance" by Tomi Adeyemi about halfway through. I liked the first book of the trilogy well enough, despite it's plot being uncomfortably closely inspired by  the excellent "Avatar, the Last Airbender" cartoon series, which I can't recommend enough. Specifically it felt to me very much like a

 

Spoiler

Zutara fanfic.

Still, the setting's magic drawing from various African mythologies was interesting and refreshing and the book seemed to eventually take an original and intriguing tack on certain things. Only for this second volume to throw it away in order to indulge in standard YA tropes, which I am becoming very tired of. Urgh.

 

Then I finally read "Vallista" by Steven Brust and it somewhat let me down as well. I mean, it was nice to spend time in that world and in Vlad's head again, but he was basically wandering through a labyrinthine haunted mansion trying to understand what was going on with it. It didn't quite work as a mystery it was seemingly intended to be because there weren't enough clues for the reader to figure it out themselves, IMHO. And limited interactions with other characters didn't play to Brust's or Vlad's strengths either. Still, it revealed a very important bit about where the series is intended to go in the end. I do have a significant quibble with it, however: 

Spoiler

if Dragaerans were created to prevent cultural and societal evolution, why didn't the Easterners, who are unmodified humans,  outpace them long ago? They do have their separate societies and countries, which are, if anything, even less advanced. Also, it seems like Brust is flirting with the boring old "longevity is bad for you" sour grapes cliche so popular and overused in SF. As well as "(unmodified) humans über alles!" ditto. That would be very disappointing, if he commits to it.

 

"One Word Kill" and "Limited Wish" by Mark Lawrence. These are the first 2 parts of a novella trilogy and I know that some people liked them a lot, but they didn't work for me. A 15-year-old mathematical super-genius plays DnD, gets cancer and romances a beautiful (of course!) girl, which has world-shaking consequences. Eh.

 

After this I decided to take a break from SF to cleanse my palate a bit and read:

"The Nickel Boys" by Colson Whitehead.  "The story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida... Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children." Brilliant and devastating. 

 

"My Brilliant Friend" and "The Story of a New Name" by Elena Ferrante , which follow 2 talented girls, one of them a troubled genius,  born in the poorest suburb of Naples as they grow up and struggle in post war Italy. An excellent and captivating look at a complex friendship and intriguing personalities against the backdrop of and molded by the very specific time and place.

 

"Sarah Jane" by James Sallis. I picked this on a whim from the library, vaguely confusing the author with H.H. Hollis(!) from "Again, Dangerous Visions" anthology, who wrote a highly original and entertaining SF story about court battles in the future being fought out via shared drug-induced hallucinations. Alas, this isn't him. This is a very odd book about a woman who ran away from home as a teenager after the pregnancy that ended with stillbirth, had to do a stint in the army to avoid conviction, which included a tour in (probably) Afganistan and after getting out drifted across the US working as a cook and never staying in one place/relationship for more than a few years. Eventually she fetches up in a small town and almost by accident becomes first a deputy and then a sheriff. All of this is gradually revealed via snippets of her "stream of consciousness" journal. This book is billed as a mystery, but there isn't any involved case for the protagonist to investigate - personally, I couldn't decide if the real mystery was if certain statistical anomalies happening around her were (too) subtle hints of some deeper significance, i.e:

Spoiler

how many people that she associated with were eventually shot in the head by unknown assailants or committed suicide?! Is she a mass murderer or are we supposed to think that her largely understandable and excusable assault on her abusive and murderous husband was all there ever was and everything else was just an epic curse-level bad luck?

or just bad plotting.  The author never bothers to make it clear.

Edited by Maia

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4 hours ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

The rapes in Asoiaf are just often relegated to less important characters most of the time.

Argue: No one who is raped is of minor importance. 

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58 minutes ago, Maia said:

"One Word Kill" and "Limited Wish" by Mark Lawrence. These are the first 2 parts of a novella trilogy and I know that some people liked them a lot, but they didn't work for me.

Well Lawrence is a grade A asshole in real life so fuck him and everything he writes.

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5 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Broken Empire has one instance of rape. One. It’s mentioned aside in the opening chapter.

That’s not even remotely true. The opening has Jorg literally burning two of his rape victims is just one of the instances of rape in the trilogy. He recounts after sleeping with a whore to have never had consensual sex before this. A big part of his band’s gimmick was that they were raping, beastly marauders. Hell Jorge along with other boys at monastery in the third book is raped by a bishop who he went on to torture. 

“The smell of Murillo, perfume and sweat. The corrupt softness of his bulk. The strength that twisted my limbs until they creaked, until the pain reached me through the fog of whatever drug the wine had hidden, and tore thin screams past the gag. I made Katherine watch and share, made her share the pollution, the crude stink of his lust, the delight he took in his power, the horror of being helpless. I let her hear his grunting. I made her understand how dirt can get inside you, too deep to be scrubbed out, too deep to be bled out, perhaps too deep even to be burned out.”

I’m not sure how you could possibly misunderstood this part.

Rape is not rare in the Broken Empire it-like a lot of things trying to be edgy-use it a plenty. And badly at that. 

5 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

I suspect strongly you have never read the books and have instead just read some incendiary blog reviews by people who have not either. 

Or I read the same books as you and arrived at a fundamentally different conclusion in regards to them. I understand this proposition may not be as comforting to you—but it is the truth.

5 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

And you think Bretts characters ARENT being raped for pure shock value? I’m at a loss for words, or polite ones anyway.

Yes, I thought I made my position perfectly clear in my other posts.

I have no idea why you think I’d change my mind suddenly. You’ve put forth no real argument.

 

Edited by Varysblackfyre321

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1 hour ago, IlyaP said:

Argue: No one who is raped is of minor importance. 

I’m not saying a person being sexually assaulted has less value because of it.

I’m just saying in terms of stories in media it’s often only really relatively minor characters who suffer from it. Pia from ASOIAF is a minor character who had been sexually assaulted repeatedly. She only made to have any degree of significance story wise in terms being someone for Jaimie to save on his road to redemption. 

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9 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

I suspect strongly you have never read the books and have instead just read some incendiary blog reviews by people who have not either.  ROH


Fixed that for you. :P

 

5 hours ago, IlyaP said:

Well Lawrence is a grade A asshole in real life so fuck him and everything he writes. 

 

Hey? I've had a couple interactions with him online (here and on twitter) and he's always seemed sound, and I've seen or heard nothing that makes that seem otherwise. What's he done that's so bad?

 

 

 

Anyway, I'm reading True Bastards, the sequel to Grey Bastards by Jonathan French, and it's oddly well-timed to this discussion, because although it is mostly a really good, enjoyable series, it does leave an uncomfortable taste in exactly that vein because although iirc no character we know of is raped in the course of the story (although it's threatened several times), nearly every single major character is a child of rape as the series is about part-orcs and since orcs don't interact even a bit with human society except for to attack and pillage, all of their lines must have started, within one or two generations back, by someone having been raped by an orc. The series doesn't hide this or shy from it or pretend that's not what must have happened, but neither does it have anything like the sort of tone to properly deal with such a horrifying backstory, and it leads to a weird clash in tone whenever the subject of half-orc children (the care of which is an oft-visited plot concern) comes up.

It's really the only major downside of this series so far, since it's otherwise well constructed, well paced, wringing some great character turns and plot twists out of its setup, and is generally recommended, but some people are gonna find it too uncomfortable.

Edited by polishgenius

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2 hours ago, polishgenius said:

 

Hey? I've had a couple interactions with him online (here and on twitter) and he's always seemed sound, and I've seen or heard nothing that makes that seem otherwise. What's he done that's so bad?

 

Yeah I'm baffled with that one, I think(hope?) he's thinking of someone else?

It occurred to me late this morning that Brett and Lawrence are friends in real life and big fans of each others work. So, that' some sort of irony, maybe.

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Don't understand the Lawrence hate. 

Currently reading Never Die by Rob J Hayes. Picked this from SPFBO list. Feels like a wuxia fantasy till now. I'm liking it. 

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