Discussion in 'Literature' started by Master_Keralys, Jan 1, 2009.
Huzzah! Like a snow day without the health hazard.
Well, days off can be a hazard to one's liver, so to speak
EDIT: So, I'm starting my capstone paper this semester. I have decided to do it on how the Romans justified conquest and territorial integration, but need to decide whether to focus on how they justified it to the conquered, or on how they justified it to their own citizens. I also need to refine my data set, whether to (for example) Gaul, Dacia, or even Italy itself. Ideas?
Hm, do I have ideas about Roman conquest and territorial expansion, specifically in regard to literary, material, numismatic, or other means by which they justified it?
Yes, I juuuuuust might have an idea or two.
Jello is actually a textbook on Rome that has attained sapience and typing ability. Little-known fact!
Appropriately enough, since we're talking about papers, I had a little shocking bit of news today. It turns out that one of the papers I'll be writing this semester will probably be submitted to the United Nations with the view towards implementing some of its suggestions in drafting a new treaty.
Because there's nothing like the idea of an international committee laughing at how poor your writing is to stress someone out
Okay, Doctor Who fans, we've been through this before, but I can't remember the fairly detailed recommendations I've gotten before. So I need you again.
Where's the best place to start? I seem to remember the consensus was something odd for the uninitiated like me, like start with 2010, then go back to 2005, and so on. I'm thinking of starting at the 2005 reboot.
Some people *COUGHULICUSCOUGH* told me to start with the Ninth Doctor (episode called "Rose"), and I didn't like it. It was like the Power Rangers Putties teamup with the NJO World Brain or something. So I simultaneously jumped to Doctor 11 (episode "The Eleventh Hour") and Doctor 1 ("An Unearthly Child") and jumped back and forth. That way I could follow what people today are watching and also see how the Doctor developed. Now I'm going backwards through 11, 10, 9, etc and forwards through 2, 3, etc. I appreciate the Rose episode and 9th doctor better now.
I don't think anyone else would recommend you that route, but that's the one that got me hooked.
I would like that information too. I saw some seasons for ten euros in a local Kwik-E-Mart.
My re-reading of A Game of Thrones goes slowly. I decided to really learn about all those people and how they are related and make an Excel file of all the characters that are mentioned in the novel, the houses they belong in and how they were killed. Shouldn't take that long, I thought, after all the characters are mentioned in the first 100 pages it's just marking the dead ones.
I've never been so wrong in all my life.
194 named characters in the first 247 pages, and they just keep on coming. "The twins Ser Horas and Ser Hobber, whose shields displayed the grape cluster sigil of the Redwynes, burgundy on blue. Patrek Mallister, Lord Jason's son. Six Freys of the Crossing: Ser Jared, Ser Hosteen, Ser Danwell, Ser Emmon, Ser Theo, Ser Perwyn, sons and grandsons of old Walder Frey..."
lol, I don't think I've ever thought to try and write down all the names and houses before; I generally keep track of most of the major players, and rely on the appendices when that fails. 194 named characters already? I'm not so sure you should continue that project . . . that way lies madness.
This is the reason why I can't finish Song of Ice and Fire. Though the TV series is excellent and I am content to watch that instead.
Yeah, that's quite an undertaking with ASOIAF. I just kept plowing forward and figured if a character was important GRRM would let me know.
He is fairly good at that. There are some infodumps, but you do get the sense that he understands when his audience might be getting confused or bored. He strikes a fairly good balance of explaining things to the audience directly and through the world/character interactions, I think. As much as I love Malazan, you don't quite find that there; Erikson knows you're confused and laughs at you for it
The good side of this project is that when the second season finally begins in three weeks, I won't have any of those "Wait, Greyjoy? So he's not one of the Stark kids? And who are these two naked men having a political discussion during shaving? Renly who?" moments I had during the first watch. If they mention Yohn Royce I know that he's the Lord of Runestone, a bannerman to Arryns and a father of Ser Waymar Royce (a brother of Night's Watch, dead) and Ser Andar Royce. GRRM won't fool me! My only prediction for the second season is "Rocks fall, everybody dies".
Though I honestly don't remember that at all. I thought I'd been recommending "The Eleventh Hour" as a jumping in point since it first aired.
I feel like I let you down, now.
And you DIDN'T like it? But... when you put it like that, it sounds so awesome!
@instantdeath it's probably best to start with Series 5 "The Eleventh Hour", catch up with all the modern stuff, then go back to Series 1 "Rose".
EDIT: I removed my edit.
What does it relate to?
Privileges and immunities of officials under international law, which is pretty funny given the recent Lit thread about it. The professor's the United States member of said committee and so he'll basically guarantee that they'll read it, provided that they're good enough. Needless to say I want to make sure that it's good enough!
But I just got back a paper I wrote in 7 hrs on not much sleep that still managed to get an A from a former judge on the International Court of Justice, so at least I know that experts in the field don't think that I'm entirely stupid
The UN, the ICJ, hey? Sounds like you'll be going places when you're older, Jello.
I've thought about that myself, but I'm glancing at the columns of X-Men comics I'm currently indexing and deciding that one should only pursue one impossible project at a time.
Yeah, I've given up attempting to remember the details of every character in ASoIaF, if they come up I'll look them up or else Martin will give me sufficient information to work out who they are/their importance. That being said, I had no trouble with Season 2 of GoT - no confusing unknown (noteworthy) characters.
Yeah, I'm reading book 1 of Malazan right now and that's basically my experience. It's great- I like the characters (they don't irk me the way that a lot of the cast of Wheel of Time does), it's a neat setting, and his prose is fine, but I have no clue what the hell is going on. It suddenly jumped to Darujhistan, and now it's focusing on the Crone, I think?
To be fair, it wasn't just you -- somebody else (Hydro? Lord_Oblivion?) was also trying to sell me Rose. I just wasn't into her. It. The episode. And Jacen had just gone bad so seeing the World Brain starring on TV was like Embracing the Pain.
Also Eleventh Hour had just aired for the first time, so it was understandable you guys would be suspicious of a new doctor who broke into people's houses to raid their stores of fish custard.
Malazan and Wheel of Time suffer from opposite problems, I'd say. Malazan hits the ground running, and you don't really know what the hell is going on until you get a bit more into it (I'm actually not even half way through the series, but I'm at the point where I'm really enjoying it, and kind of want to go back and reread Gardens). Malazan books are so thick and, in a way, exhausting that I feel I need a break between books. Interesting thing about Malazan is that the second book focuses on completely new characters... some even recommend reading the second book first. The characters in the first book come back in the third, though.
Wheel of Time, on the other hand, starts off really slow and generic (and infodumpy). I really didn't like TEOTW, because I got the sense that it was a LOTR rip off with boring characters (apparently, Jordan intentionally gave it a familiar start, to make it easier to break into the fantasy market at the time). Luckily, it gets much more interesting, and peaks around book 4-5; by that time it's developed its own identity, and in my opinion (others disagree) characters have stopped being caricatures. Then it goes back to being really slow (the Andoran succession plot that runs through book 8-11 may be the most endurance testing thing a person can read)... then it gets better again for a strong finale. Luckily, Sanderson also smooths out some of the characters who never really stop being annoying. Schizophrenic series, that one.
On this subject, I think I'm going to reread ASOIAF sometime soon. Probably whenever the second half of Storm of Swords airs. The fact that it's unfinished has made me hold off on a reread, but I probably shouldn't hold my breath on that changing anytime soon.
@instantdeath: Cool, someone I can trust since your reaction was the same: I read the first Wheel of Time book last year, and was really, really bored. I know everyone raves about the series, but I assumed they were all more or less like the first one so I didn't have much interest continuing. So if they do get better as you claim, do I have to wait until books 4-5 before that happens?
Yeah, it's strange, since I hear so many people love the first one, though I personally think that's nostalgia. I just... wasn't a fan of the first one, until the last hundred pages or so, when we get a glimpse of what the series as a whole is about. The second book is also an "introductory" novel, but instead of focusing almost solely on Rand, we start to follow the girls a bit as they try to become Aes Sedai. I actually feel the second book has a very strong climax; by the time I finished the second one, I still had somewhat mixed reactions, but knew I'd enjoy the series. The third is interesting, in that the main character only appears briefly, near the beginning and at the end; Mat becomes a genuinely fun character to follow (and the series favorite). The fourth is where the series hits its high mark. There are some incredibly well written sections, the characters gain separate identities, and the plot itself becomes very interesting. It's not free from annoyances, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. To give you an idea, it took me months to read the first one, as I never found myself wanting to read more than a chapter at a time. It took me about two weeks to read the second one. By the time I got to the fourth one, the longest in the series, I had read it in just under a week. It definitely gets more engaging as it goes along.
The most appealing thing about the series is the detailed world, in pretty much all its aspects. One thing I will give Jordan, despite my gripes with some areas of his writing, is that every Wheel of Time book, even the slow ones, gave the sense that you were exploring. He did a good job establishing a world where rumor and myths can be more powerful than truth. Another thing Jordan is good at (something that made his fans go crazy between books, I understand) is that he's very skilled with foreshadowing. Some of this comes in the form of heavy-handed prophecy, and some of it is much more subtle. I haven't reread the books, and probably won't for at least a year or two (only finished the series less than a week ago), but I understand it's a good one to reread.
Unfortunately, the level of details works against the series, as well. Depending on who you talk to, the series begins to slow down. You can see evidence of this in book five, but I personally really enjoy that one. Others say book six, but are mostly mollified because it has one of the most extensive action sequences of the series. By about book seven, though, the plot definitely slows down, as he has to juggle about a bazillion POV characters, and some sub-plots come into play that arguably weren't needed. Interestingly enough, despite it becoming slow, it's hard to ever say Jordan intentionally uses filler; almost everything reveals something about the world (perhaps in greater volume than some would like), and seemingly insignificant events and discoveries can later turn out to be important. The world itself remains interesting throughout all these volumes, but I'm not the only one who wanted him to speed things up a bit. This finally happens in his last book, and by the time Sanderson takes over, it goes at breakneck speed. His final three books are not without their problems, but they form a very strong finale of the series. The last book, which came out very recently, does a very good job of portraying an earth shattering war. Oddly for a Wheel of Time book, almost 2/3 of it is battles. It's one of the most blood soaked books on the market (and important characters die! Whoa).
Luckily, the slower books were much less annoying for me than they were for other fans. If I had to wait two years to read Crossroads of Twilight, I would have been pissed. But because I knew I'd be able to read the series straight through, it didn't bother me. A novel that once seemed a roadblock was now much more manageable, since I knew I could just move on. The stalled pace didn't bother as much because I knew I'd reach the end, no matter how much detail he wants to give me on something I don't care about.
Some things that originally turned me off of the series at first was incredibly naive characters, an antagonist called "The Dark One", and characters that never, ever tell each other anything. That first one is solved to almost absurd degrees, as the main characters seems to become the author's punching bag. The second one is either solved or retconned, depending on your point of view. I don't think I'm alone in finding the villain of the first book incredibly lame, with some of the cheesiest dialogue in the genre. Turns out he was just an insane servant masquerading as him, and "The Dark One" is just called that by the public, people that don't truly understand him. By the time the final book rolled around, I was honestly getting a strong Lovecraftian vibe from him. I don't know if that's what Jordan intended or if Sanderson was responsible for that, but it's a hell of a lot better than a "big evil dude". Characters never fully drop the "never trust anyone ever" thing, but it gets a little better in Sanderson's books.
Err, in review, Wheel of Time is in my opinion a flawed but very entertaining series. Besides Lord of the Rings, I consider it the high mark of "playing it straight" fantasy (as opposed to people like Martin and Erikson who are subverting the genre). Ultimately, I feel the climax makes the slower middle books worth wading through. The thing about Jordan is that he can be slow, and he has many incredibly annoying tendencies and characterization habits, but when he's on the mark, he's really on the mark.
This gives me a much better picture then -- thanks! A lot of people had recommended I read Eye of the World and someone even gave me their much-loved dog-earred thrice-read copy, so I felt pretty bad after reading it and thinking it was one giant snoozefest. I didn't hate it, but it took me a while to read since the characters were so unemotionally stiff and the plot rambled on aimlessly most of the time. But I figure if so many people love the series, there must be something to it I haven't caught yet. So I guess I'd be willing to give the second one another go.
Ahhhh.... interesting. I will keep that in mind. There were a lot of off-hand references to subplots and locations I wanted him to explore more, but I wasn't sure if he was pulling a Silmarillion and just listing tons of potentially cool characters and myths without giving them any actual role to play in the long run.
Those were the exact problems I had with the first book as well -- although I wasn't even exactly sure of what was going on with the Dark One plot at the end of the novel. The pace and tone of the book took a 180 and sort of reminded me of the finale of the last Harry Potter after 400+ pages of walking, campfiring and tavern-drinking. If a couple of neurotic vagabonds could defeat a major dark power in the very first book, I had serious doubts about where the rest of the series was headed.
So all in all, thanks for the review! I think I'll probably give the series another go now...