PDA

View Full Version : JK Rowling v.s other fantasy authors



DarthArminius
2007-11-25, 07:41 PM
Never read Potter. I might not ever, but perhaps I may review it one day just for the shucks of it.

I've read all but one book of LOTR. I've read one, or maybe two book of C.S Lewis'es, I've read two books of the Wizard of Earth Sea. I've read the entire Dragon Lance Trilogy, the Twins Trilogy, and other Dragon Lance books. I"m sure I've read just a few others, who's names I don't recall. What I need to know is, how does JK Rowling compete with authors like my favorites Margaret Weis/Tracy Hickman, and others?

....
2007-11-25, 07:44 PM
The Harry Potter books are fun.

Especially now that they're all out, you can read through them without waiting for the next one and enjoy them quite a bit.

Are they the best fantasy books ever written? I wouldn't say so. But they're not bad. I'd give them a solid 7 out of 10.

(The reason I talk about the HP books and not Rowling as an author is becuase, well, she hasn't written anything else.)

Sir_Norbert
2007-11-25, 08:17 PM
Definitely fun, yes.

Plus points: she weaves an intriguing plot, draws you into her world, fascinates you with the detail of her invention. Each book is a well-plotted mystery that will keep you guessing until the final revelation, and then suddenly it all makes sense... but at the same time each book reveals part of the bigger picture behind the whole series, so you're drawn into wanting to read on.

Bonus plus point: when you get as far as the fifth book, it has Luna Lovegood in it.

Minus points: her technique as a writer is not the best. If you're willing to ignore this and concentrate on what she's saying with the writing, there's no reason you won't enjoy them. There are many inconsistencies and plot holes (she has repeatedly admitted she sucks at maths). Her tendency to bring out a giant deus ex machina just when the tension is at its highest gets tiresome after a few books.

Also: The ending of the last book is a major let-down.

warty goblin
2007-11-25, 08:24 PM
Hmm, I'd put Harry Potter way way under LOTR in terms of...just about everything actually. Writing, worldbuilding, plot, character, hell even the Magguffin in LOTR is cooler and more interesting.

I can't say about the Earthsea series since I never read much of 'em. To me it fell into the "if I wanted to read something this much like Tolkien, I'd read Tolkien" catagory.

When compared to Dragonlance, Harry Potter comes out ahead on some scores, behind on others. The Dragonlance world blows the HP world out of the water without a doubt, even after the various later ret-connings, its just plain more interesting. Character wise, its something of a wash, there's some good characters in HP, just as their are in Dragonlance. HP has nobody who even comes close to the awesomeness and complexity of Raistlin however, for one thing there's pretty much nobody in HP who isn't clearly a villian or a heroe in the end. . Where HP IMHO comes out ahead is in narrative consistancy and humor. Although there certainly are some discontinuities in HP, the fundamental elements of the universe tend to not be altered every trilogy or so (not that I'm complianing, DL does a pretty good job of working these kinks out). Narrative scope and complexity I'd have to give to Dragonlance however, although due to spoilers I'm not going to elaborate.

Conclusion: Although inferior to some books, HP is still worth reading, as it is quite fun and entertaining, although it never made me think and interprete in the way that LOTR did.

Nerd-o-rama
2007-11-25, 08:40 PM
Also: The ending of the last book is a major let-down.
Personally, I enjoyed the climax (cheap Deus Ex Machina being expected by then), and just ignored the epilogue except for humor value.

Anyway, Harry Potter's alright, but you should really be reading Discworld, by Terry Pratchett. Far and away the best fantasy franchise I've ever read.

puppyavenger
2007-11-25, 09:43 PM
Amber>Diskworld>LOTR>Shanara>Earthsea>Rowling.

Haruki-kun
2007-11-25, 11:49 PM
Harry Potter's good, but it's not the best there is. But I should say it is one of the best.

In my opinion, HP deserves to be in a bookshelf next to LOTR and Narnia.

Never read Discworld myself (I will soon) but my current favorite is Garth Nix, especially his "The Seventh Tower" Series.

Leper_Kahn
2007-11-26, 12:08 AM
I agree with most people here. It's fun.

Other books are far better, but if you want a lighthearted-esk book one of the Potter books would be a good choice.

The_Snark
2007-11-26, 12:21 AM
Amber>Diskworld>LOTR>Shanara>Earthsea>Rowling.

I like most of those, but I'm unsure why you placed Shannara on there at all. I haven't read a whole lot by the guy, but the Shannara book I read struck me as a heavy Tolkien derivative. Different enough that it wasn't a ripoff, sure, but it wasn't all that original, either.

Discworld is great fun. I also liked what I've managed to find of Fritz Leiber so far, although his stuff is hard to track down. (And go read the last book of the Lord of the Rings! How can you stand to go so far in a series and not complete it?)

But going back to Rowling... she's a pretty fair writer. The books have their flaws (parts of the later ones had an almost soap opera-ish feel that annoyed me), but I enjoyed reading them most of the time.

Xuincherguixe
2007-11-26, 01:18 AM
Harry Potter is interesting because in a lot of ways the fantasy elements are kind of incidental. That is to say the world is magical and no one is particularly surprised by this. It serves a utility purpose.

It's written in an interesting way. Nothing about it is very original, but I no longer consider originality to be terribly important. I care about how well stories come together. Now if something is outright derivative? Then I won't bother with it.

Lord of the Rings was an interesting story, but looking back I realize that the plot was pretty simplistic. It was a very detailed world, but the characters were kind of lacking in depth. But, that too is how things were back then.

I haven't read too many Fantasy Novels, so I can't compare. There's a number of Shadowrun Novels I read that had a strong fantasy element, but those are going to be pretty obscure.

Wraith
2007-11-26, 06:41 AM
After reading some of the Harry Potter stuff, I am convinced that I will never understand why it was such a fantastic success even if someone carved the reason into granite and dropped it on my head. Like several people here, I have found it to be a work of average quality (about irritating characters, I have to admit :smallyuk: )

Having said that, what put me off the most was the snobbish pretension with with Rowling has regarded her work. She's on public record as having stated that she didn't intend Harry Potter to be a fantasy novel, and was attempting to 'subvert the genre'. A novel feat, to say that she didn't know WHAT genre she was writing in the first place.

Terry Pratchett didn't like that, much. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/4732385.stm) Although it has little to do with her writing, even so I find it very hard to appreciate any of her work when she keeps making these ridiculous, sensationalist announcements to hype the brand, rather than just working on the overall quality.

Bah, enough rambling. Give me Neil Gaiman any day of the week. American Gods is quite simply the best novel I have ever read, and I thoroughly enjoyed Neverwhere, Anansi Boys and the Sandman series to boot.

DomaDoma
2007-11-26, 06:49 AM
The only author who has ever riveted me more than JKR is George R.R. Martin, and I stopped reading Song of Ice and Fire somewhere in the third book because the guy is sorely lacking in, you know, hope. Flaws or no, that's a pretty tall order.

Xefas
2007-11-26, 07:06 AM
Personally, and I'm not sure I can rate it without bias, I found the series to be quite good. I enjoyed it a lot more than Lord of the Rings, though I suppose I can concede that the Lord of the Rings series was probably better quality.

The first book came to the states when I was in elementary school, and that's when I read it. I had just finished the Chronicles of Narnia series, which were the first fantasy novels I ever read, but a little much for me at the time (3rdish grade?). Then I got shown Harry Potter, and it was far easier for me to relate to and enjoy. For that reason, the series will always probably be better to me than it actually is.

Right up there with Discworld, which I recommend just as wholeheartedly.

Dallas-Dakota
2007-11-26, 07:07 AM
I'm going to be honest here, J.K. rowlings books are ment for children, any better she should or couldnt do.

The earthsea series have a very good plot but there just sometimes just isnt enough humor.

Tolkien owns all those writers asses, he has very good plots, world built, character introduction and build, he even has languages that you can learn and properly speak in, I see none of those in any other books, though I see scrambles of 'true names' in The earthsea series.

I have read all of J.K. books.(honestly, only the 7 HP books)
I am halfway in the second book of the Earthsea triology.
I have read almost all the books of Tolkien except the Silmarrilon.

What can I say I love Tolkien:smallredface:

Manga Shoggoth
2007-11-26, 07:17 AM
I've read all but one book of LOTR. I've read one, or maybe two book of C.S Lewis'es, I've read two books of the Wizard of Earth Sea. I've read the entire Dragon Lance Trilogy, the Twins Trilogy, and other Dragon Lance books. I"m sure I've read just a few others, who's names I don't recall. What I need to know is, how does JK Rowling compete with authors like my favorites Margaret Weis/Tracy Hickman, and others?

First of all, remember that the HP stories are children's books, with the slight difference that the viewpoint is supposed to become more mature as the protaganists age. This has implications on the way the stories read.

I found the first three books were a delight. The Goblet of Fire less so (too large, but still held together reasonably well).

The next two books had good patches largely held together by filler.

The last book was more or less back to the quality of "Goblet of Fire". The person who was claiming "Deus Ex Machina" was heavily overstating things: Most of the elements were foreshadowed and there was no real sense of "getting the gods to sort it out". The actual method of Voldemort's defeat was even foreshadowed in the first book.

As to the comparisons: At best the books compare well with the original Dragonlance trilogy. The storyline was planned and is at least reasonably consistent (and reasonably pleasureable to read).

I wouldn't rate it as well as the Earthsea trilogy or The Hobbit.

I wouldn't even compare it with LOTR. They are too different.

Jorkens
2007-11-26, 08:44 AM
I wouldn't really think of Harry Potter as a fantasy novel, to be honest - a lot of the time it reads like a boarding school story or a kids' adventure story with added wands. Certainly the focus of the storytelling is very different to the focus in a lot of the books the OP mentioned.

I like them, though. I wouldn't call them great literature or particularly well written stylistically, but they're exciting and fun and a generally enjoyable read.

SmartAlec
2007-11-26, 08:50 AM
I reckon Rowling could take Jordan in a fistfight. Maybe not Martin, he has mass, he's a big guy. Pratchett would be a more even fight. Against Tolkien it depends - if it's Professor Tolkien then she could probably beat the old man, but he was a soldier in his youth if we say she's up against Tolkien when he was the same age as she is... he's probably a reasonably tough cookie.

That IS what this thread is about... right?

Xuincherguixe
2007-11-26, 09:07 AM
I think I know who won the thread at least.

Jerthanis
2007-11-26, 09:33 AM
I reckon Rowling could take Jordan in a fistfight. Maybe not Martin, he has mass, he's a big guy. Pratchett would be a more even fight. Against Tolkien it depends - if it's Professor Tolkien then she could probably beat the old man, but he was a soldier in his youth if we say she's up against Tolkien when he was the same age as she is... he's probably a reasonably tough cookie.

That IS what this thread is about... right?

Dang, you beat me to it...

...I was going to joke about how Rowling probably never learned how to shoot a gun, so probably losing in an arena with guns involved. I was also going to include irreverent jokes about Jordan and Tolkien being dead, and thus not much of a contender in a fight.

In any case... blah blah, Rowling is fun, blah blah, perhaps not a literary triumph or anything, blah blah, she's actually really entertaining, and good at foreshadowing and mystery, despite avoidable plotholes. Due to her popularity, her work is put under a much closer microscope of criticism than other, less popular works, and perhaps can't stand such close scrutiny. I'd say the real test of quality in a book is whether you stay up all night reading it because you can't put it down, or if you fall asleep while reading it. Harry Potter books kept me up all night from middle school through highschool and even into college. In that same time period I grew out of the styles of Robert Jordan and Margaret Weis, but I was still riveted by J. Rowling.

Darken Rahl
2007-11-26, 09:45 AM
Weis and Hickman are hacks.

Rowling writes decent fun books, with little serious going on (regardless of intent.)

And the only reason Rowling could take Jordan in a fist fight is because he's dead, may he rest in peace.

Prophaniti
2007-11-26, 09:58 AM
Personally, I've never understood the appeal of the series, unless people like it simply because it's british and they wish to feel sophisticated... I doubt that's the case, but I can't fathom what else it could be.
I've read part of it, and I guess it just didn't click with me. I'd much rather read R.A. Salvatore or George R.R. Martin, or even re-read Tolkien or Rober Jordan for the umteenth time. And I greatly prefer Jim Butcher's use and interpretation of a world of magic existing 'underneath' ours.

I read the article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/4732385.stm) linked earlier and it gave me two major bones to pick.

1)Obviously the writer (of the Times interview) has never read a contemporary fantasy novel, indeed I would be surprised to learn they've read any kind of novel ever except HP (which was probably an asignment by the editor). Espesially if they can hold the egregious opinions that
a)she "reinvented" the genre in any way whatsoever, and
b) that the genre is in any way stuck in this "idealised, romanticised, pseudofeudal world, where knights and ladies morris-dance to Greensleeves".
I've never even read a fantasy novel where people morris-dance to greensleeves! I can't begin to fathom where the writer of the interview would pick up such a... (I cant think of an adjective strong enough here) flawed opinion.

2)I'm definitely with Pratchett on this one, you'd think with wizards and such she would have had some clue what genre she was in, even if it's not intended to be a cookie-cutter 'typical' fantasy book.

Sorry Rowling, but I'm relegating you to the 'Young Adult' section of my library. Maybe someday you'll grow up and be able to sit at the big kids table.

EDIT:
Weis and Hickman are hacks.
You, sir, have just earned a very special place on my enemies list. I don't even know where to start with how wrong that is. I... I... I'm going to go calm down before I break the posting rules and make an ass of myself.

Kraggi
2007-11-26, 10:00 AM
In a battle royale, I'd give it to JK Rowling. Tolkein is already dead, and Rowling seems like a crazy old cat lady to me, and therefore seems a likely candidate for THE WIN.

....
2007-11-26, 10:38 AM
Ooo, I forgot about Garth Nix and Sabriel. That is a really cool world, I wish he'd write more stories about the Abhorsen.

And how can you say LOTR has better characters that...er... anything? Dobby has more character development than the entire cast of LOTR.

Fascisticide
2007-11-26, 11:22 AM
Harry Potter is fun to read, it's universe is very original, funny and imaginative. J K Rowling's writing style is easy to read, and the intrigue drags you into the book. That's all the positive things I can say about the books, but that's enough to really enjoy reading it.
The stories themselves are really not that great. When the plot is exposed at the end of the books, it was often a big down.
I would say, she is a great writer, but not a great story maker.

If I were to compare her to Weis and Hickman, who are also my favorite authors, I would say Rowling's writing style is more funny and really fun to read. But Weis and Hickman write better stories. I could say they create better worlds, but it can't really compare, as Harry Potter's world is not very serious.

Rowling lacks experience. Hopefully, she will get better at creating stories and intrigues. Just like Weis and Hickman did. Their earlier books, the dragonlance trilogies, were quite typical D&D stories... good, but not extraordinary. But with their most recent series, like Sovereign Stone and the new Dragonlance trilogy, we really see they gained much experience, their writing style is much better, the stories and worlds they create and much more rich ant with a deep plots.

Hopefully, with time Rowling will also get better at creating stories, while keeping her great writing style which made Harry Potter so fun to read.

Prophaniti
2007-11-26, 11:29 AM
And how can you say LOTR has better characters that...er... anything? Dobby has more character development than the entire cast of LOTR.
Look, people. The simple fact is Lord of the Rings was written more that 50 years ago. Things like character development were not high priorities for a novelist at the time. The idea was to tell a good story, and they did tend to have a simplistic 'these are the good guys, these are the bad guys, they're going to fight and the good guys will almost lose, but win in the end' kind of approach. LotR pulled it off quite elegantly, to me.

The other thing to keep in mind when trying to compare LotR to other fantasy books is that Tolkien was creating a story in the old sense of the word. The kind of story that is handed down and told around the fireplace after dinner on a winter night. He was creating something meant to be taken in the same spirit as stories of King Arthur or Robin Hood. He was, as his letters tell, writing an authentically English fairy-tale, complete with shiny castles and wizards towers, deep forests and Dark Enemies. It was written in a rather straight-forward manner compared to some modern books, though I don't find that this detracts at all from the story, but rather enhances it.

I generally don't compare LotR to modern novels because it is simply too different. It was written in a different time with a different approach and had a different end result in mind. You get a lot further and are more easily understood if you compare modern authors to other modern authors, plus you don't piss off all the rabid Tolkien fans out there.

warty goblin
2007-11-26, 11:38 AM
Ooo, I forgot about Garth Nix and Sabriel. That is a really cool world, I wish he'd write more stories about the Abhorsen.

And how can you say LOTR has better characters that...er... anything? Dobby has more character development than the entire cast of LOTR.

Agreed, Sabriel rocks. The sequels are good, even if they follow pretty much exactly the same story. Still, the atmosphere of Sabriel is pretty mindblowing, with just the right amount of creepy.

Although I admit that Weis and Hickman's prose are sometimes a little bad, I would never go so far as to call them hacks. Even with their earlier work there's a sense of wonder and love poured into their creation and characters. Harry Potter to me feels like a daydream, a fun, enjoyable daydream, but not something I can come back to again and again or take much away from. The old DL feels like more than that, the characters, although archtypical, feel alive to me in a way that HP characters never do. All of the characters that die in HP up through the sixth book were characters we had spent a fairly minimal amount of time with, and their deaths were so sterilized and abstract that it was hard to be too torn up about. The character deaths in Dragonlance could be somewhat over the top sometimes (Sturm), but at least were very blunt that yes, in fact, this person had just been impaled by a spear, or had a heart attack or whatever.

Also in HP, by the end, there was not a single character that didn't fall squarely into "Good Guy" or "Bad Guy" camps, which is, frankly, boring. The only characters with actual moral conflicts we never got to really experience as more than passive observers. Also, Raistlin destroys all in HP, not just in terms of raw power, but in terms of complexity of character. By the end of Legends, I was still not sure if I'd call him a hero or a villian. Sure he save the world, from himself.

Jorkens
2007-11-26, 11:59 AM
Look, people. The simple fact is Lord of the Rings was written more that 50 years ago. Things like character development were not high priorities for a novelist at the time. The idea was to tell a good story, and they did tend to have a simplistic 'these are the good guys, these are the bad guys, they're going to fight and the good guys will almost lose, but win in the end' kind of approach. LotR pulled it off quite elegantly, to me.
I agree with you - and one of my favorite books, The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany, has even less character development but creates such a wonderful atmosphere of weirdness that it doesn't matter. But that doesn't mean that LotR has better character development, it just means that the lack of character development isn't important.

....
2007-11-26, 01:02 PM
I realize that Tolkien's books are old...

But so is Sherlock Holmes, and Conan Doyle's characters are vivid and changing (albiet many of them have a fawning obsession over beautiful women) whereas 99% of Tolkien's are flat, achetypical cardboard cutouts.

Thats fine, because LOTR isn't a novel, its a history book with some vivid discriptions, but it annoys me when fans can't admit that LOTR is not, in fact, perfect.

SteveMB
2007-11-26, 01:16 PM
I read the article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/4732385.stm) linked earlier and it gave me two major bones to pick.

1)Obviously the writer (of the Times interview) has never read a contemporary fantasy novel, indeed I would be surprised to learn they've read any kind of novel ever except HP (which was probably an asignment by the editor). Espesially if they can hold the egregious opinions that
a)she "reinvented" the genre in any way whatsoever, and
b) that the genre is in any way stuck in this "idealised, romanticised, pseudofeudal world, where knights and ladies morris-dance to Greensleeves".
I've never even read a fantasy novel where people morris-dance to greensleeves! I can't begin to fathom where the writer of the interview would pick up such a... (I cant think of an adjective strong enough here) flawed opinion.

The quotation marks around the part I put in boldface give me the impression that the author was quoting Rowling, not giving his own opinion. (This point should have been more clear, though.)

Prophaniti
2007-11-26, 01:29 PM
I've never said Tolkiens works were perfect, merely that they are great and deserving of shelf-space next to books like The Once and Future King and, as you mentioned, Sherlock Holmes. There really was more to my post than the quoted first paragraph.

to SteveMB: the article states: The magazine also said Rowling reinvented fantasy fiction, which was previously stuck in "an idealised, romanticised, pseudofeudal world, where knights and ladies morris-dance to Greensleeves".

I took this to mean that the writer of the original article (the Rowling interview) posed these ridiculous and laughable claims. If, in fact, Rowling is responsible for that horrific quote then it has simply served to further lower my opinion of her writing capability and integrity. Perhaps she should actually read a few contemporary authors before disparaging them and what they write.

Alex12
2007-11-26, 01:31 PM
IMO, the first, second, and third HP books were good, the fourth was decent, and the fifth and sixth, not to my taste. I haven't even read the last one yet. However, even at Rowling's best, Pratchett is still far superior to her as a writer.

Supagoof
2007-11-26, 01:34 PM
HP is to Fantasy Writing as Disney is to Cartoon Animation.

Not fierce enough to compete in complexity, detailed enough to compete in depth, or consistent enough to compete in longevity - but it did bring a lot of children into reading about the genre at a time when video was begining to dominate all - and for that is should be commended.

Please note I compared Disney, not specifically Walt Disney, as he did more for animation on the big screen then many.

And I have read all of JKs books (7 HP + 2 extra side books written in allignment with her wizard world.)

I also agree - nothing is original now a days, as comparisons can be made about many back to Shakespeare, Homer, the Bible, etc.... To find a truly original story would be like trying to find a truly original color or musical song. Every color will fit onto the wheel (red to yellow to blue), every song will fit within the notes (like the 88 of them on a piano), and every story will fit into a comparison to stories past.

Tamburlaine
2007-11-26, 02:17 PM
QFT^

Quite apart from my personal enmity for Rowling, there is no way that she's the best fantasy author ever, there are simply too many other good authors out there.

....
2007-11-26, 05:40 PM
They Morris dance in Discworld books!

(the Dark Morris)

Mr. Mud
2007-11-26, 05:55 PM
Rowling has her place among great fantasy writers, but isn't at the very top

Some where at the top: (IMAO)

1. Tolken (Lord of the Rings)
2. Robert Jordan -- PEN NAME -- (Wheel of Time series)
3. Garth Nix (Seven Towers, among others

Nerd-o-rama
2007-11-26, 07:41 PM
They Morris dance in Discworld books!

(the Dark Morris)
But not to Greensleeves, and only the peasants.

All anachronisms in the Discworld are strictly intentional, even if they do get out of hand sometimes.

The Extinguisher
2007-11-26, 07:52 PM
I prefer her to Tolkien.

I'll take average and interesting writing over excellemt but completly boring writing anyday.

dehro
2007-11-27, 06:21 AM
LOTR is the bible of fantasy...I think there are precious few books that should be put on the same level, at least from a literary point of view. then again, Tolkien did not write for the sake of characterisation or anything..he wrote mithology, and mithology is not supposed to come with a complete sheet of characteristics, feets and an evaluation by a shrink of every PC. it must have epic feel, dreamy settings and literary value and accuracy, more so than plot accuracy or extended examination of the finer details (but if you do not limit yourself to the LOTR books, you'll find that Tolkien did a lot on details and psychological drive too, he simply didn't get to put it all in 3 books) ..again, he did not write for the purpose of writing fantasy, he wrote because he cherished his job, his knowledge, and because he despised the fact that England of all countries did not have a mithology of its own...all of this has not much to do with what motivates the writers of today.
His role however, is that of the ultimate inspiration for a good 90% of modern day fantasy writers. he has set the rules for decades and it was only by openly breaking those rules that different approaches to Fantasy have found a place in the sun.
As for plot, imagery, worldbuilding, etc. etc. there are several franchises that are very very entertaining and well-built, the discworld for one (although I tend to put that one in a separate category of its own, next to LOTR).. Eddings, at times.. Brooks, G.r.r. Martin, etcetera..HP books are entertaining enough to be considered on a level with several of these, I'd say Eddings, for one.
as for the other examples you state... Narnia is a bit of a revisionist and hippy Bible, and I'm talking of "the book"... there are just too many biblical references and messages for my taste. at every step I can't help but wonder what is biblical propaganda and what is genuine invention.. (I guess Lewis his strong beliefs are just showing too much)
All the biblical innuendos, ultimately, have worn my patience to a very thin thread, by the time I have reached the final pages.
Earth sea... pretty good, I've had good times reading those books. I'd say they are just a little bit below the level of HP books as for "grasping" power..but I must also say that probably the HP books are more in my mind because I've read them more recently, and because we've been talking a lot about them, one way or the other..plus the movies, that provide a robust backup to everyone's memory...
as for Margaret Weis/Tracy Hickman... no, I simply do not dig them. I've read several books of the first series... read and forgotten in a very short sequence.
It's not that they do not have a good plot or world built behind the plot... it's just that I feel cheated whenever I read a book that is so blatantly a rendition of a game. I'm pretty sure that several of the forumites have enough campaigns behind their back and are proficient enough to write them out in a decent fashion if not in a spectacular one. It's just that they are not well introduced or do not have literary ambitions, or else I'm sure they would do a heck of a better job than Weis and Hickman.
hell... I could probably do better myself (not in english though)..
I'd feel the same if a chess player made a book out of his last match...He'd probably be a better player than me (not much of a challenge there) but I'm quite confident that I could describe the game better than he does.
and you do not need to be named Kasparov to be able to write about chess..but somehow I think he would find an editor way before me.
I tend to put Weiss and hickman on a par with a well promoted boyband in the music industry...something good here and there, but the rest is worthless or not written by them to begin with.
it does work great in a webcomic (or I wouldn't be here) but for a public phenomena such as the weiss and hickman franchise...no, I do not want to compare them to Paolini's, but the explanation of their success is not far from the one I give to Eragon's...

DomaDoma
2007-11-27, 07:40 AM
Weis and Hickman are generally pretty standard and forgettable, but I read the first book of their fairly obscure Darksword Trilogy - think it's out of print - and believe me, they can really take off without TSR to drag them down.

DeathQuaker
2007-11-27, 08:10 AM
Never read Potter. I might not ever, but perhaps I may review it one day just for the shucks of it.

I've read all but one book of LOTR. I've read one, or maybe two book of C.S Lewis'es, I've read two books of the Wizard of Earth Sea. I've read the entire Dragon Lance Trilogy, the Twins Trilogy, and other Dragon Lance books. I"m sure I've read just a few others, who's names I don't recall. What I need to know is, how does JK Rowling compete with authors like my favorites Margaret Weis/Tracy Hickman, and others?

The books you've mentioned are mostly relatively "standard" high fantasy novels that take place in fictional worlds. Potter takes place in the "real" world, just a fantastic segment of it that most ordinary people don't seem to know about. So, if part of what draws you to those other books are things like unique world building and separate mythologies and the like, Potter has slightly less to offer there (though there is work put into the structuring of "wizard society").

Beyond that, however, the Potter books contain main characters with fairly well-developed backgrounds and a good balance of humor, intrigue, and angst. Supporting characters on the other hand are sometimes extreme or poorly developed (but sometimes it is because they are an allegorical figure), and by the end she's introduced a lot of people to keep track of. It is written for the preteen/teen in mind, though the language used is not unintelligent by any means.

On the surface, a lot of the Potter world looks silly; looking past the surface you, again, see a lot of commentary on and satire of real life--prejudices between "pureblood" wizards, half-blood wizards, and "muggle" and normal-born wizards are reflective of both class struggles and differences as well as of course racism. If that kind of thing interests you you may get a lot of enjoyment out of the books, beyond the fun of the magical subculture Rowling creates.

Rowling is a good descriptive writer, though relies too much on lengthy exposition, especially in her later books, and often has trouble with her pacing--but, if you like Tolkien, dry exposition and poor pacing shouldn't be a problem for you (and I managed to get through and relatively enjoy all 7 Potter books, whereas LOTR bored me to tears; the only things of his I've finished are the Hobbit and his translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; brilliant scholar, Tolkien. Brilliant brilliant man. But could write an entire army to sleep, IMO).

Where she excels is really getting inside characters' heads; I get annoyed with the main character at times, but it's because she's writing him as a very real, teenage boy, and very real teenage boys make mistakes and get angry when they should cool off (as we all do). She's good with word play, and knows some basic hermetic lore and lots of mythology, though the way she mishmashes it all together delights some and irritates others.

Hope that is helpful.

bugsysservant
2007-11-27, 08:14 AM
Rowling is a kid's author. Keep that in mind, and you'll do fine.

Tolkien is far beyond her in almost all aspects, all levels. I can't even go in depth, that's just the fact. Tolkien writes immortal epics, Rowling wrote the equivalent of a paper bound TV series. And not a Nova special either. It can be entertaining, but only in a very mind numbing predictable way.

Pratchett, no, he blows Rowling out of the water for entertaining, well constructed, any standard you want. Only if you compare his second and third books to Rowling's best would she stand half a chance.

Personally, I love Robert Jordan. I'm not going to go on a fanboy-esque rant, but suffice to say if I had to decide which series I would throw on a lit pyre, I wouldn't hesitate long.

There are a few other author's more on par with Rowling (though they tend to be above her anyway). Terry Brooks, Eddings, Garth Nix, hell even Feist. Personally, I find Eddings to be the most comparable. Both are predictable, simple entertainment. Eddings is more traditional in his plots (though he's relatively modern in his treatment of characters) but I'd say they are about equal.

So, go for it, read the series, but don't expect some sort of masterpiece.

Death Giant
2007-11-27, 08:31 AM
She has a website called www.veritiserium.com that she forces children to look at so they would buy the books and then throw them away and then buy more! It's pure evil! Besides I never even heard of the others that you put

Prophaniti
2007-11-27, 11:37 AM
as for Margaret Weis/Tracy Hickman... no, I simply do not dig them. I've read several books of the first series... read and forgotten in a very short sequence. *snip* I feel cheated whenever I read a book that is so blatantly a rendition of a game. *snip* hell... I could probably do better myself (not in english though).. *snip* I tend to put Weiss and hickman on a par with a well promoted boyband in the music industry *Edited*


I simply don't understand how you can arrive at these conclusions of two very good authors. Yes, they started out novelizing the D&D world for TSR. Personally, I don't care as much for their earlier work myself. Once they got their novelist 'sea legs' however, I think they really took off. The Death Gate Cycle is really good, espesially the first few, someone else mentioned the Darksword series, which I feel is one of the most original fantasy fiction works I've ever read. And dont forget, they wrote books on their own as well, not just in partnership. I like the ones I've read of these as well.

I am not saying their the greatest writers ever to pick up a pen, but I would certainly put them up with the greats. Absolutely better than Rowling, whos only advantage is quaint british humor. Even the Dragonlance series they wrote for TSR had some wonderful writing, interesting characters, and a breathing, vibrant world. I do not consider it their best work, and yet it's probably the most liked on average.

If you feel you could do better, then for gods sake go out and do it. No, you won't get published tomorrow, but you will eventually and if your work is as good as you say then you'll get the recongnition you deserve for it. Perhaps you can even get Rolling Stone magazine or another famous author to praise your work as 'Better than Weis and Hickman' so you can stick it right in the front jacket. In all seriousness, I wish you luck with that.

Darken Rahl
2007-11-27, 11:45 AM
Death Gate was decent, but it felt small to me, even though the world they created was anything but. It also lost its way at times, and lost me as a reader as well.

dehro
2007-11-27, 12:01 PM
I simply don't understand how you can arrive at these conclusions of two very good authors. Yes, they started out novelizing the D&D world for TSR. Personally, I don't care as much for their earlier work myself. Once they got their novelist 'sea legs' however, I think they really took off. The Death Gate Cycle is really good, espesially the first few, someone else mentioned the Darksword series, which I feel is one of the most original fantasy fiction works I've ever read. And dont forget, they wrote books on their own as well, not just in partnership. I like the ones I've read of these as well.

I am not saying their the greatest writers ever to pick up a pen, but I would certainly put them up with the greats. Absolutely better than Rowling, whos only advantage is quaint british humor. Even the Dragonlance series they wrote for TSR had some wonderful writing, interesting characters, and a breathing, vibrant world. I do not consider it their best work, and yet it's probably the most liked on average.

If you feel you could do better, then for gods sake go out and do it. No, you won't get published tomorrow, but you will eventually and if your work is as good as you say then you'll get the recongnition you deserve for it. Perhaps you can even get Rolling Stone magazine or another famous author to praise your work as 'Better than Weis and Hickman' so you can stick it right in the front jacket. In all seriousness, I wish you luck with that.
I'm afraid that I never got as far as that, I've stopped reading them halfway through one of the first series..feeling a bit cheated...don't ask details, I sincerely do not remember titles.
after that I've always had the feeling that their work was largelly based on settings, ambiance and "rules" of a world that they just "inhabited" and wrote of, instead of also doing the creative bit... I might be wrong on that, of course.
not that I haven't fantasised or actually considered the option of a professional carreer in the writing industry... but no, I'm not going to really take it up against them...for a number of reasons... I lack time, I lack the ambition, I lack focus as my writing has not a regular pace and I'm stuck with it since a couple of years... and mostly I write fantasy for none others than myself and the pleasure of "creation"... and if ever I wanted and managed to get published, the last thing I'd want is to reduce this fact to a confrontation with other writers, whatever my opinion might be of them (and indeed, it's just an opinion, and I realise it is not a popular one)
..that, and I've a job that is more rewarding in the short term and am a bit afraid to put it on the line in favour of an uncertain fate as a writer..it works well for those we hear about in book reviews and movies, but for any of them there are at least a hunderd who have to live of other people's work, have not enough talent to actually pull it off (and I might be amongst them)... do not make it and are of no use to their family and or children because they have to resort to smalltime jobs and still try to sell themselves as authors and writers waiting to be discovered. I know my limits and prefer to underestimate my chances than trying to win a pissing contest with fate because I'm overconfident...my previous statement was merely a reaction to the ammount of following the Hickman and Weiss enjoy for what, to my experience, was of nothing more than modest quality.

Edit: then again, fantasy is not exactly a mayor trend, in the editorial world in Italy, unless it comes from the other part of the ocean, you know somebody in the business, or you have means to survive while you wait.... it is growing, and there are more titles that make it to best sellers..but it is still regarded as an imported phenomenon of no real literary value... and i definitely do not feel sure enough about my english to ever consider writing more than longwinded and boring posts on internet forums :smallbiggrin:

slight strider
2007-11-27, 12:18 PM
In my opinion Rowling is O.K but I would have to put LOTR above all the Harry Potter books. Narnia, is also above Harry Potter, but not as far above as LOTR.

....
2007-11-27, 01:22 PM
I prefer her to Tolkien.

I'll take average and interesting writing over excellemt but completly boring writing anyday.

I agree completely.

Prophaniti
2007-11-27, 01:36 PM
Tolkiens writing is in no way boring, unless you find it difficult to follow, which is perfectly understandable as he was a professor of linguistics and wrote quite a while ago when the language was more formal, espessialy in writing. I myself occasionally have to read a passage two or three times to make sure I understand what he's saying correctly. This is not a problem with the writing or the author, it is merely demonstrative of how much english is changing as a language.

Sorry, Dehro, didnt mean to sound like I was trying to tear you down, I just really like their work...

But as far as the original topic of the thread I simply refer to my first post.
Sorry Rowling, but I'm relegating you to the 'Young Adult' section of my library. Maybe someday you'll grow up and be able to sit at the big kids table.

two_fishes
2007-11-27, 01:38 PM
Look, people. The simple fact is Lord of the Rings was written more that 50 years ago. Things like character development were not high priorities for a novelist at the time.

I've only lurked on these forums (fora?) until now but I feel the need to respond to this because it's just so wrong. A list of authors who display great character development who predate Tolkein: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Somerset Maughm, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Homer. Tolkien's characters are stuffy and flat because Tolkien wrote stuffy, flat characters. It had nothing to do with the priorities of the time.




I generally don't compare LotR to modern novels because it is simply too different. It was written in a different time with a different approach and had a different end result in mind. You get a lot further and are more easily understood if you compare modern authors to other modern authors, plus you don't piss off all the rabid Tolkien fans out there.

I totally disagree. Compare all authors to all authors. Good writing is good writing, regardless of time-period, or genre, or what-have-you.

Prophaniti
2007-11-27, 02:02 PM
I've only lurked on these forums (fora?) until now but I feel the need to respond to this because it's just so wrong. A list of authors who display great character development who predate Tolkein: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Somerset Maughm, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Homer. Tolkien's characters are stuffy and flat because Tolkien wrote stuffy, flat characters. It had nothing to do with the priorities of the time.

Homer? Character development in the Illiad? You'll have to point that out to me, must've missed it. I could probably discuss this further with you and I think it would be great fun, but I'm gonna stop trying to derail the thread. If you do wish to further discuss character depth among the great authors I'd love to, we should just probably start our own thread for it.

....
2007-11-27, 02:13 PM
Tolkiens writing is in no way boring, unless you find it difficult to follow, which is perfectly understandable as he was a professor of linguistics and wrote quite a while ago when the language was more formal, espessialy in writing. I myself occasionally have to read a passage two or three times to make sure I understand what he's saying correctly. This is not a problem with the writing or the author, it is merely demonstrative of how much english is changing as a language.

No, see, when you have to re-read an action scene to realize its an action scene...thats boring writing.

Sometimes the things that are happeneing are not boring, but the action is never, ever described in a way that could be called exciting. I don't remember exactly, but I seem to recall the description of the fight in Balin's tomb going something like, "Aragorn clove many orc helmets and Legolas buried many fletchings in their flesh."

Other writers are guilty of this (Lovecraft springs to mind) but older writers than Tolkein wrote exciting action scenes.

Take for example the fight between the Narrator of Conneticut Yankee in King Arthur's Cort and the knights, where the Narrator was using his lasso to drag the knights off their horses and pull them around for people to laugh at, and when all the knights charged him he started shooting them.

Nerd-o-rama
2007-11-27, 03:18 PM
I've only lurked on these forums (fora?) until now
Dictionary.com says either is correct, though I'm fairly certain "fora" is a modern English construct, and the original plural of the word was "forums", and I will maintain my habit of using that.

(Incidentally, Firefox's spellchecker agrees with my sentiment.)

Why yes, I did find Tolkien interesting. What gave it away?

(But seriously, read Discworld.)

dehro
2007-11-27, 03:26 PM
It had nothing to do with the priorities of the time.


indeed it has not..what it has to do with is the priorities of the author and the purpose of his writing. he did not go into deep character analysis because he drew from epic sources, from mythology and from poems of "ancestral" value. hardly you will find anything close to in depth analysis in any of those. he wrote to give the reader an impression, a whiff of the flavour of legends and ancient lore... if you go about detailing too much of the characters, you end up loosing the epic feel..and that is what mattered the most to Tolkien. If he had to sacrifice a deeper knowledge of the motives of each character firstly he wouldn't have gotten anywhere, secondly he would have lost the main distinctive aspect of mythology..which is in fact the "stature" of the characters...to put it in Pratchett's words, the characters in saga "spoke", and did not speak. they did have speaches and for the rest spoke through their actions... it is not by chance that in LOTR we rarely have a direct indication of what the character thinks..and when this is expressed, it is mostly the "lower" characters..or at least the less epic ones.

edit: no worries, prophanity :smallwink: I did not take it personally and understand...

Alex12
2007-11-27, 03:30 PM
(But seriously, read Discworld.)

Quoted for truth and seconded.

duckie
2007-11-27, 03:49 PM
OMGWTFBBQ!!

I mean, what the hell?? Jordan's dead?? Aw, well, I guess I never heard about it cuz I live in South America.
Sorry to be so off topěc, but does anyone know if he ended The Wheel of Time? Because I just ordered the last 3 books from Amazon, and something tells me not even Knife of Dreams actually reaches Tarmon Gai'don.

Am I gonna be stuck with 11 books with no real ending?

The_Snark
2007-11-27, 03:50 PM
Homer? Character development in the Illiad? You'll have to point that out to me, must've missed it. I could probably discuss this further with you and I think it would be great fun, but I'm gonna stop trying to derail the thread. If you do wish to further discuss character depth among the great authors I'd love to, we should just probably start our own thread for it.

This was pretty much what I was going to say.

And yes, there were plenty of people who wrote before Tolkien who displayed good character development. Tolkien, however, was imitating an older, more mythic style, because that was what he was aiming for. Much like Homer. In fact, character development is not a huge priority of a lot of folklore and myth.

So he did what he was intending to do, and he did it very well. Some people might not like the style, of course, but that's a matter of personal taste.

On to our next quasi-sidetrack: Weis and Hickman... I've read some of their stuff (albeit none of the Dragonlance material), as well as a couple individually written books, and they're decent writers. The Death Gate Cycle was an entertaining read. I wouldn't put them up amongst the great writers, but they're good enough.

Rowling falls into a similar category for me. She produced an entertaining series.


OMGWTFBBQ!!

I mean, what the hell?? Jordan's dead?? Aw, well, I guess I never heard about it cuz I live in South America.
Sorry to be so off topěc, but does anyone know if he ended The Wheel of Time? Because I just ordered the last 3 books from Amazon, and something tells me not even Knife of Dreams actually reaches Tarmon Gai'don.

Am I gonna be stuck with 11 books with no real ending?

Sadly, yes, he is dead. Apparently, he left enough notes for his wife and editors to be able to finish the last book, but don't expect it anytime soon.

Shraik
2007-11-27, 04:41 PM
the Harry Potter books may have good characters, but One author Definately overcomes them all in sheer Cahracter Awesomeness. With a Trilogy started in 1992, his name is Timothy Zahn. 90% of the Great Expanded universe Character originated through Timothy Zahn, or Michael A. Stackpole. Grand Admiral Thrawn For the lord's sake!!!

dehro
2007-11-27, 04:46 PM
About Jordan. I've read somewhere on this forum that he has left instructions and notes to his wife and son about how to procede and bring things to an end from the moment he knew he hadn't long to live anymore

Darken Rahl
2007-11-27, 04:47 PM
You must be joking.

Zahn?

Really?

Nerd-o-rama
2007-11-27, 04:54 PM
Well, he is far and away the best Star Wars EU author. Not that that's saying much.

....
2007-11-27, 05:04 PM
EU stories always just struck me as fanfics with covers that were basically just Star Wars nerds trying to out cool each other with their new superweapon/evil jedi/alien empire.

Seriously, according to the EU, it seems as if there were never more Jedi floating around than at the height of the Empires power. Not to mention that there were like 5 people more powerful than Vader at 2 or 3 smarter than the Emperor.

(Obviously the above statement isn't true, I'm exaggerating, but still)

Prophaniti
2007-11-27, 05:35 PM
No, see, when you have to re-read an action scene to realize its an action scene...thats boring writing.

That's not what I meant. I didn't have to re-read it to realize it was an action scene, I had to re-read it to make sure I caught who was stabbing what and how. This is entirely due to changes in the language and the (even at the time) somwhat archaic prose that the books were written in. I'm sure in five or six more decades people will have to take special courses to understand the language that writers like Tolkien and Dickens and Sir Conan Doyle used much like you need to take such courses to understand Chaucer's Canterbury Tales now.

Also, everyone keeps quoting me saying that character development was unimportant to authors of the time, and making the counter that it wasn't important because Tolkien was writing a mythological epic. I made that point in my original post on the topic. It's in the second paragraph, which apparently no one bothered to read.

As well, I must point out that in my opinion Dickens and other major authors did indeed write some very straight-forward and I guess you could say 'two-dimensional' characters, thought that seems like a term that is simply applied to characters we don't like or whose actions we disagree with. They had direct motives, clear goals and little change over the course of the story. Holmes didnt change much at all, just kept solving mysteries. This is, of course and over-simplification and there are exceptions, but Tolkien is hardly alone among the 'great' writers in creating characters with obvious motives and personalities.

Sorry for the tangent again... back to discussing Harry Potter! Side note, I laughed SO freakin' hard at the OotS where he poked fun at the series. Hilarious.

Ossian
2007-11-27, 06:08 PM
Well...forum is the sing. nominative. Fora would be the plural nominative. So, yep, fora would be the word. Yet I suppose consensus has it that on the internet message boards are referred to as "forum" (sng.) and "forums" (plr.)

Anyway, before stepping in the discussion, I must say that I could very well use a nice example of what some of you intend for "well developed character". Maybe the Iliad and Odyssey are a bit extreme, but I did not find Tolkien's chracaters to be that "one sided". Perhaps the rich prose could be misleading, but if nothing else in the fellowship of the ring it should be easier to discern the main traits. I don't think he needs to masterfully characterize ALL the people of middle earth. The eleves at the Council are pretty much one block, and the dwarven stereotype of D&D came AFTER Gimli (and with a lot less style). We did not have many skilled and assertive elves, grumpy dwarves and mysterious rangers that hide a long and prestigious line of kings and live as the simple Strider, before Tolkien.

OK, I stepped in...anyway, I'd still love (no sarcasm, honestly) to read some examples of well portrayed Fantasy characters from you guys.

O.

Daze
2007-11-27, 07:06 PM
OK, I stepped in...anyway, I'd still love (no sarcasm, honestly) to read some examples of well portrayed Fantasy characters from you guys.

Well I happen to think Tolkien's character were very well fleshed out, so I have no problem with that.
But I think you could look at George RR Martin's characters and find some great depth... just to give an example (per request) ;)

And as far as Weis & Hickman go...

I've read the entire Dragonlance series (and associated twins books). I enjoyed them and will continue to read any new ones they release. And Raistlin was a highly interesting character, I liked him as much as the next geek... but make no mistake:

Weis & Hickman are indeed HACKS.

Seriously people... there's more bad grammar, butchered sentences, plot contrivances and unoriginal thought in their books then you can shake a stick at.
I dont mean to insult any of their fans, but they too write "adolescent" books... in the same category as Rowling. They are a far cry from the more adult fantasy writings of Tolkien, Martin, or even Jordan.
Again, to reiterate... I've read the books and enjoyed them for their own flavor, but nothing more. To put them anywhere near the pantheon of great fantasy authors is absurd.

zeratul
2007-11-27, 07:10 PM
Sometimes the things that are happeneing are not boring, but the action is never, ever described in a way that could be called exciting. I don't remember exactly, but I seem to recall the description of the fight in Balin's tomb going something like, "Aragorn clove many orc helmets and Legolas buried many fletchings in their flesh."



Am I the only one who finds a fight scene written like that exciting? I mean it shouldn't have to be dumbed down or it goes into the Cheers thing of "Tis a far greater ass kicking I give today than I have ever given" being taken from a tale of two cities (that was an amazing episode).

It's not that it's written boringly, it's that people don't comprehend the text well because the current English language is less than half of what it used to be.

dehro
2007-11-27, 07:30 PM
I can only agree with that. I got to read homer in italian as a kid, before finding, at age 13, an old copy of the LOTR in dutch, so I was well into the "archaic" style of writing and pacing of the events. therefore I especially loved the LOTR because it was translated using the same flavour of "old phrasings" in dutch that I had grown to love in italian. Years later I tried the italian version of LOTR and simply could not stomach it.. because the archaic feel was totally not there, in my eyes...
I don't know if it's a distortion made by my personal interpretation of things, I don't know if any other italian translation is different or if the newest editions of LOTR in dutch are any different. what I know is that I love the LOTR how I first read it (and of course in the original English version)..and the more so because of the wordings, the concepts and the style. so yeah...I guess it's really a matter of personal taste and age/upbringing and view on the matter.

Daze
2007-11-27, 07:39 PM
Am I the only one who finds a fight scene written like that exciting? I mean it shouldn't have to be dumbed down or it goes into the Cheers thing of "Tis a far greater ass kicking I give today than I have ever given" being taken from a tale of two cities (that was an amazing episode).

It's not that it's written boringly, it's that people don't comprehend the text well because the current English language is less than half of what it used to be.

I enjoyed it too... I found LOTR very riveting in fact.
I think most people lose Tolkien, in not so much the language (although that does weed out a lot of people, non-readers especially).. but rather in the names...
I mean he's got an entire myth history populated just like a real world history would be. I think that throws most people off... unfamiliar names, places and things. They can't get past remembering which elf is which to notice the exciting story being woven.
(credit to my girlfriend who is a voracious reader, but never much cared for LOTR for that sentiment)

Mike_Lemmer
2007-11-27, 08:03 PM
You must be joking.

Zahn?

Really?

Well, how does he compare to John M. Ford (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_M._Ford)?

A sample:

"Scotty! I need a sonnet in three minutes or we're all dead!"

"Och, Cap'n, ye canna force the muse. Have ye got a rhyme for 'silvery Tay' somewhere on the bridge?"

And the source, since we're speaking of other literature:

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/002693.html#22254

....
2007-11-27, 08:53 PM
OK, I stepped in...anyway, I'd still love (no sarcasm, honestly) to read some examples of well portrayed Fantasy characters from you guys.

FitzChivalry Farseer- starts out as a orphan and then becomes a tool to the king. Over the course of his life is used and abused by nearly everyone he meets. He keeps at it, though, after realizing that even though he is a bastard child he is still royalty and should protect his people. In the end he learns that all a man can be is content.

Sabriel- she's just a simple schoolgirl who learns magic and rarely sees her father, who spends all of his time fighting undead monsters. Once her faher vanishes, she draws herself up and goes into the Old Kingdom to find out what happened. From an inexperienced if serious little girl to an Abhorsen all the world admires.

Roland Deschain- he's the best example of badass and not superhuman in existance. He's obessed with finding his Tower, and realizes he is dammed for doing the things he does in order to get it. The entire seven book series is really about him trying to figure out how to be a decent human, I think.

And no, simple explanations of fights can be good, but Tolkein's aren't. Your complaint about how the english language has degraded holds no water when one of my favorite fight scenes is out of a Mark Twain book.

valadil
2007-11-28, 03:33 AM
I'll try and keep this quick because I haven't read Harry Potter yet (though my gf keeps suggesting it).

At the time I read it, I enjoyed LotR's archaic style. I find overly choreographed fight scenes to be incredibly tedious to read, having Aragon cleave helms and Legolas loose arrows is just fine. I'm not sure why but I find that particular style of recounting combat to make things seem more epic than a more descriptive style.

As far as the lack of character depth goes, it's already been pointed out that LotR's style is supposed to be the retelling of a legend. The characters who are a part of that legend should be icons who are already well known. The story isn't about how they changed, it's about what they did. You already know the characters and are supposed to see how and why they're important. Character growth just isn't the focus of a story like this. It's about what great deeds were done in freeing the world from the forces of evil.

Much as I love Tolkien, I feel that his work is best enjoyed at a certain age and maturity. I probably wouldn't be into it if I read his stuff now because what I'm looking for in a book is much more character based. There was a time when all I cared about was epic plot, and at the time Tolkien was perfect.

For what it's worth, GRRM is my favorite right now, but the new books is coming along too slowly, so I've been dabbling in sci fi instead. Lois McMaster Bujold is arguably as good as GRRM and I recommend the Vorkosigan Saga to all.

Ossian
2007-11-28, 04:50 AM
I can only agree with that. I got to read homer in italian as a kid, before finding, at age 13, an old copy of the LOTR in dutch, so I was well into the "archaic" style of writing and pacing of the events. therefore I especially loved the LOTR because it was translated using the same flavour of "old phrasings" in dutch that I had grown to love in italian. Years later I tried the italian version of LOTR and simply could not stomach it.. because the archaic feel was totally not there, in my eyes...
I don't know if it's a distortion made by my personal interpretation of things, I don't know if any other italian translation is different or if the newest editions of LOTR in dutch are any different. what I know is that I love the LOTR how I first read it (and of course in the original English version)..and the more so because of the wordings, the concepts and the style. so yeah...I guess it's really a matter of personal taste and age/upbringing and view on the matter.

Glad you tryed other languages! Well, my first Tolkien was the Hobbit, then LOTR and finally the Unfinished tales, all in Italian. (Silmarillion and other tales came much later and in both Ita and Eng). Each case is different though. I personally liked it a lot in Italian too, but I was also fed homer, virgil, ariosto and tasso and neat translation of G. of Monmouth C. de Troyes since I was 8ish (school program mind you, but it really took root in me). So by the time I got the LOTR I was already in love with the epicity of italian. Now, as a person who loves English to death for its sheer richeness and for how flexible and powerful it can be, I must say that each language (or, say, family of languages) holds its specific flavor in recounting this or that kind of story. This + the inevitable bias of being a native speaker, which will lead you to defend your language in a book you loved over some of its translation.

LoTR is an even more specific case though. Read at the right age it just enters your heart, no matter how many faster paced novels you read afterwards (I read some dragonlance, and I QFT Daze. Dr.lance is fun, and you can picture yourself as a D&D character of krynn as you read it, but that's all there is to it). The English version, although by not that big a margin, is better than the italian, and my opinion is that it's because the norther anglo-germanic languages are more apt at portraying the very genre they were born with: the epic tales of older days. Beowulf in Italian is OK, I really liked it, but it won't hold a candle to any anglo-german version. On the same note, the climactic battle at the end of the Orlando Furioso, tag match between 3 and 3 champions, is yet to be paralleled in any book I've read.

As a side note, I find that reading books written in a more archaic style, by authors who had well clear in their minds the ways of their grammars and how\why they were altering at times, is a fantastic exercise for the reader. It enrichens your vocabulary and sentence structure, it trains you to picture in your mind what happens through abstractions and entices you to find possible hidden layers of text. Entertainment-oriented literature falls into that category because all that work has already been done for you. The message is clear, does not need to be processed by your intuition, the action sequence is straightforward and consistent and you have just to sit and read. It's good stuff, but sometimes you need something that talks more to the soul.

O.

PS
Thanks for all the examples :smallsmile:

dehro
2007-11-28, 06:54 AM
Glad you tryed other languages! being bilingual does offer its advantages...:smallwink:

I was also fed homer, virgil, ariosto and tasso and neat translation of G. of Monmouth C. de Troyes since I was 8ish (school program mind you, but it really took root in me). So by the time I got the LOTR I was already in love with the epicity of italian. same thing here


I must say that each language (or, say, family of languages) holds its specific flavor in recounting this or that kind of story. This + the inevitable bias of being a native speaker, which will lead you to defend your language in a book you loved over some of its translation. very true


The English version, although by not that big a margin, is better than the italian, and my opinion is that it's because the norther anglo-germanic languages are more apt at portraying the very genre they were born with: the epic tales of older days. Beowulf in Italian is OK, I really liked it, but it won't hold a candle to any anglo-german version. On the same note, the climactic battle at the end of the Orlando Furioso, tag match between 3 and 3 champions, is yet to be paralleled in any book I've read.
very very very true... the whole elves-orcs a.s.o. in italian simply work less than perfectly, and no way as good as they work in english (or dutch)
..then again, I read the D&D books in italian...I might want to try them in english then... but I don't think it will change a bit in my feeling of "being cheated"..
anyhow, where I can totally picture agaememnon and achilles lambast each other in italian, the words of the elven people and the fascination of samwise for the mumakil simply do not touch the same chords, somehow. that's what put me off in the first place.

yay for italian classics, though