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Posts Tagged ‘literature’

Umm, yeah, it’s been a while. Ah well, forgive me?

I’ve just discovered Goodreads, something I’m sure many of my avid readers have known about for a long time. I’d heard of it a while ago, but never gotten round to trying it. So I’ve rated a few things, added a few things and generally messed around with it a little, but not all that much yet. You can follow/friend/see what I’m reading here.

One of the bits of functionality that’s rather nice is you can become a fan of an author – and receive updates/news/blog posts. Which means as well as confirming, depressingly, that neither Rothfuss nor Weeks even have an expected publishing date for Book Three of their trilogies, (but Rothfuss wins, cos people have been reviewing his unwritten book for him, and he’s added a nice post asking for them to let him have a copy as he’d like to know how it turns out in the end….)

Anyway, I stumbled across the unexpected news that Hobb is back at it, and plans to release the first on a new trilogy about Fitz and the Fool this summer. I’m unsure of this is good news or not. If you read the last post on here (yes I know, it was a while ago – go remind yourself what it was about, but be sure to come back) you’ll know of the view shared with Waxy, that sometimes an author really should stop trying to write new stories and just live off the royalties of the existing books.

I love both Fitz and the Fool, and have shed many a tear over Nighteyes, Burrich’s sacrifice, the Fool’s torture and so on. And I hope (wildly and possibly foolishly) that she can write at her former level once more now she’s dealing with characters she’s very familar with again. Maybe the monotonous and lifeless Dragon books are a blip best consigned to the second-hand book shop.

As to what she will do with the characters, its hard to guess. Molly and Fitz appeared to be, finally, living”happily ever after”. It almost seems cruel to tear them apart again (but equally not much of a story if they stay tucked up in their home together!). Will she take us back to the Fool’s motherland, where I vaguely recall (correct me if im wrong) he was planning on heading with the Black man.

I don’t know. We’ll have wait till August to find out. In the meantime I have a gradually increasing “Want to Read” virtual shelf on goodreads (have a look and make a recommendation if you like)

My to-read shelf:
SorceressPol's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (to-read shelf)

along with 2 new books for Christmas, Making Steam (the new Pratchett) and the first Wheel of Time book – a series that’s somehow passed me by in the last 20 years.

Happy new year and happy reading.

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Look. Isn’t it beautiful?

The Blinding Knife, Brent Weeks

A nice hefty hardback, completely new with shiny, embossed lettering on the front. Pristine. (I hate it when people break the spine of a book – it’s sacrilege!) As to the actual story, I couldn’t comment yet – it’s only just arrived, and sadly I’m not first in the queue to read it.

However I can tell you a bit about the first book in the series – The Black Prism. It was…different. For those of you that don’t know Weeks’ writing it’s good solid fantasy, though he has rather too graphic a taste in gruesome torture, violence and monsters, for me really. For example the Ferali from his first series – The Night Angel trilogy.

The Black Prism introduced a new concept for magic, chromaturgy, which focusses on how people see and use colour (put simply, people can use the different colours they can see to make a magical substance that can be shaped/molded into different uses – so the more colours you can see/use, the more wide-ranging your magical abilities). I like the use of the fact women can see more shades of colour than men. (For more, semi serious ramblings on colour perception and naming see the XKCD study).

There are a good few twists and turns through the first book and some quite engaging characters. But it was unusual in that almost nothing happened for most of the 700 odd pages. Now that happens in some books, but generally they’re badly written ones. But it didn’t matter, because “nothing” happened in a really addictive way.  There was a lot of detail and a lot of background to the characters and what had happened in the world before the time the story is set. This was cleverly woven in throughout the book.

I’m looking forward to reading this shiny new book and finding out what (if anything) happens next.

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…a TV series that was better than the book it was based on.

I’m talking, again, about Game of Thrones. The first book was a bit painful but I still watched series 1 on TV.

Unusually for an American series it was 10 episodes of an hour each, rather than the 24 or so episodes of 20 minutes with at least 10 mins of adverts that make up most American series. A couple of the episodes were a little dull – but so was the book at those points.

But it was good. Definitely better than the book, which surprised me because the tv series was very close to the book – these things usually get distorted and the story changed once the TV people get their hands on it. It was well scripted to keep the good bits of the story without geting bogged down in unnecessary dullness the way the book did.

On a tangent I watched the kids film The Spiderwick Chronicles recently, it was great, but when reading about the story and the author later on you realise the film was snippits of about 4 books mashed together to make the film. It made a good film, which made sense and flowed, but I wonder how much you miss out on. If they thought the story would work as a film why not make them faithful to the books.

Anyway, back to Game of Thrones – a lot of the dialogue from the book was used directly by the actors – with more bits added obviously as there wasn’t a narration. Most of the extra dialogue to fill in detail not covered as dialogue in the book was added whilst people were having sex. In fact I’ve just discovered there’s a new word for it, made up because of Game of Thrones –  “sexposition“!

And here we come to the first major problem with the tv series. The sex. There was so much of it. Most of it wasn’t in the books and was totally unnecessary. It may have been titillating to flash boobs and so on on-screen to keep people’s attention but  added nothing meaningful to the story. If they thought the story was so weak they had to pad it out with sex scenes then the producers should have done something different. Or not adapted the story in the first place.

And now the other problem, linked to the whole unnecessary sex thing.

The children (mainly Ned Stark’s offspring) are portrayed as several years older than they are in the book. I can see why – you couldn’t have Daenyrys and Sansa as the 16 and 14ish that they are in the books with them getting married/betrothed/having a child. But they are still acting and speaking as if they are the age in the book – it doesn’t fit. Either keep the actors portrayed accurately as the books are – which makes sense. Or the directors/writers needed to change the language to fit the older child they are portraying.

Overall the actors were well chosen and roles were well acted – I think Peter Vaughan portrayed the blind master Aemon very well.

Interstingly, the TV series made me warm to characters I hadn’t particularly liked, or cared about before. In particular Tyrion – the dwarf youngest Lannister son had a great role, and I can see him growing in importance (but not stature) as the story progresses further.

At the end of the series I WANT to watch series 2. Unlike at the end of the book where I just wanted to know what happened to a few characters because it didn’t end neatly. But not enough to actually want to read the books.

What did you think? Better than the book? Worse? About what you expected?

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I finished A Game of Thrones (or “Game of Thrones” if you’re American), a few weeks ago now. It was rather a relief to finish, which is never a sign of a good book!

It took two attempts to get into it properly, and a good 50-100 pages before I was convinced it was worth reading. Then I quite enjoyed the first half or so, once I’d established who was who, and how they related to each other.

There are a lot of characters introduced at the start with no real setting to see how they fit together, or even if they are part of the same story. (and I only found the family history charts tracking who was who at the back of the book when I was over halfway through…putting it at the front would have been more logical!)

An interesting and different way to structure a book was telling the sotry through a series of point of view characters. Each chapter is titled with a different character’s name, and written from their point of view. But I think there were too many “point of view characters” making the story spread a little too thin to really engage with and care about all the characters who were telling the story.

There were a couple of characters I liked (Arya in particular), but other places – big battles which should be full of pace and excitement where I ended up skimming the details because it was just too staid and monotonous. I didn’t care what happened to Tyrion during the battle, or whether person X lived or died. Although interestingly Tyrion came across as a far more interesting and likeable character in the TV series.

The story of Daenrys, her horrible brother and the horse lord was one of my favourite threads of the story, and interestingly I found out afterwards that those chapters were split out into an award winning novella after the first book was published.

By the end I was reading it because I wanted to get to the end – wanted to finish it – rather than particularly enjoying reading it. It wasn’t bad. It was just a bit unfocused.

But then when one of the main characters died  (I won’t spoil it by telling you who) it was over in a flash, there was not enough emotion expressed by any of the characters there, and no detail for the reader to empathise with. There isn’t a need for blood and gore, but something to make the reader feel something about this quite surprising death would have added to the story.

I cheated in the end. I did finish the first book (of about 9 in the series) and I did, sort of, want to know what happened next, as it wasn’t a neat and tidy conclusion. But it just didn’t leave me wanting to read the next book enough to actually decide to buy it . And therefore I used the synopsises and character details on Wikipedia instead.

Next time – some more on the TV adaptation of book one.

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