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Some more very short book reviews

More epic fantasy...

Against All Things Ending, Stephen Donaldson

This is the ninth Thomas Covenant book. This series seems to be the Marmite of fantasy literature, although not quite as prominent as it was in the 80s (when, let's face it, there was less competition). As you might guess from the fact that I'm still reading after nine increasingly lengthy volumes, I'm definitely on the love side. They aren't easy books to read. Donaldsons's writing style is sometimes awkward. The plot is now enormously complex (the 'What has gone before' section at the start of each of these later books is the length of a novella, and even then misses out enough that you sometimes end up scurrying to wikipedia to work out what exactly it was that a particular enigmatic character did in volume 5). But if you can get past that and buy into the fantasy and the characters (in particular Thomas Covenant himself, but also Linden Avery), then there are few works of fantasy literature where the story seems so...important. The final (this time I think he means it) book is due out this October. I probably want to find out how this series ends as much as any fantasy series not written by George R.R. Martin.

Deadhouse Gates, Steven Erikson

This is another big thick novel, and again part of a genuinely epic fantasy series. The plot is (I suspect) actually more complex than Thomas Covenant. There are certainly lots more characters. I know that this is a hugely popular and critically-acclaimed series, frequently appearing at or near the top of 'Best Fantasy Books of All Time' lists. However, I wasn't really able to get into this. I had the same problem with the first book 'Gardens of the Moon'. Lots of characters, many of whom don't seem to be that interesting. I feel I should persevere, because it is so highly thought of, and at least one person has said to me that it gets better. Also, it's somehow hard to see the book as part of a wider series - there seems to be less continuity from book to book than in many series.



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 31st, 2013 04:58 pm (UTC)
Let me know how well it ends. I've read the first two Chronicles and thoroughly enjoyed them, and I'll do a re-read to cover the whole lot if the final set is worth it.
Jul. 31st, 2013 09:49 pm (UTC)
Will do. I did a full re-read of the first two Chronicles before The Runes of the Earth, and it was worth it. Mind you, I was still in school when I read the first six books.

Runes of the Earth, Fatal Revenant and Against All Things Ending have all lived up to my expectations, for what it's worth. If you liked the first six books, I think you'll like the next three at least. Here's hoping that the final book ends the series well.
Aug. 13th, 2013 08:48 pm (UTC)
To drag out the Marmite analogy further than it can probably sustain, when I was pregnant and horribly nauseous continually for weeks, all I could eat and keep down were bananas and toast and Marmite. As a result, I very much went off both, as they just reminded me of feeling sick. This is how the Thomas Covenant books are Marmite for me. I loved the first six (and-a-bit) so much in school that against sensible advice I wrote my A-Level English Lit. dissertation on them (title "The Power of Paradox", plus a more boring subtitle.) As a result of such in-depth study I felt somewhat glutted on the books and haven't felt up to re-reading since, or managed to muster up enough interest in the new series. However that was all a very long time ago now, and I really would like to get over that and enjoy (if that's quite the right word. Appreciate?) the books again.
Aug. 14th, 2013 08:25 am (UTC)
Worth making the effort. This final Chronicles is (I think) trying to properly wrap things up.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )