Without doubt or hesitation, this is clearly the worst book I have ever read. It is so terrifyingly bad that it has somehow become inspirational in th...moreWithout doubt or hesitation, this is clearly the worst book I have ever read. It is so terrifyingly bad that it has somehow become inspirational in that I don't think anyone anywhere can write a worse book, unless they really try to. Also, I now have the confidence that I will never read anything worse, so I can go forth into any novel with the that assuring knowledge. All my DNFs that have accumulated, I can go back to them now with full appreciation, because while they may be bad, they aren't anyway in the same vicinity of failure as this book is.
I see the fuckload of 5 star reviews and can only assume it's an Emperor's New Clothes type situation. Morbid wish fulfillment; day dreams they always wanted to see come to life - I don't even want to know.
Unlike the majority of the other 1 star reviewers, I actually don't mind a little bit of rape and murder. Cannibalism, drug use, animal slaughter, all these things make me perk up and say, "Oh, someone's telling a story!"
And then up popped Jorgie.
Jorge begins the novel as a rapist-murderer-pillager, which is the popular chief complaint. There's no graphic detail though of any of the violence, but it's just thrown out there for the reader to deal with. A sort of signpost to say "If you're into good heroes, stop here." And I did stop right there the first three times I attempted this novel since it was released whenever. Not because I'm into good heroes and am appalled by rape/murder/pillage/burning people to death, but because I think it's just a horrible way to start a novel.
The village he's pillaging/raping/murdering/burning alive is, at that point, meaningless. We don't know the hows or the whys of it. Murder and all its accompanying crimes should have some kind of dramatic meaning when done by the protagonist, not just that we caught him on Slit-Throat Thursday or Rape-Your-Daughter Friday.
But every single time I stopped, there was this nagging sensation - The prose, tho... What about all that damn good prose? And then Prince of Fools looked inviting... Also, two years down the road now in 2014, I couldn't remember what my objections had originally been, (a bad start?), so I declared, "Fuck it" and got all of the audiobooks to read at my leisure, because this guy, Mark Lawrence, is supposed to be even grimdarker than Joe Abercrombie, less rambly and sprawling than GRRM, approved by Hobb, with better prose than Rothfuss and with a groovier, charminger protagonist that Locke Lamora, if the rabid fans are to be given any credit whatsoever. All good things, right?
I'd go into pros and cons, but there are no pros I can think of saving the prose, and that itself becomes part of the problem after a while. Every single sentence feels as though it should be accompanied by a rim shot. Someone somewhere apparently told Lawrence that he had good prose, or a good style, and that this was his strong point. It very well might be, as it is the only thing even halfway decent, but at least 30% of the way in, it had already become overbearing.
When you drown a book in metaphors and imagery and symbolism and all of the literary niceties, it becomes super easy to spot the superfluity, flaws and the errors in them. If you have a failure rate of say 10% but only use 10 metaphors, that's only one failed metaphor you're looking at, but if you have 10,000 of them packed up sentence after sentence in a 9 hour book... You see the problem?
Still, the passable "wittiness" is perhaps the only winning least failing thing the book has to offer.
Dialogue - Fail.
Action - Fail.
Description - Fail.
Exposition - Fail.
Now, I'm not even sure how fair it is to cite these as failures, because I get the feeling that all readers were supposed to check the N/A box for these categories. It's as though Lawrence said "Fuck it" to these traditional elements of fiction, as if in sacrifice to Inner Thoughts.
Honestly, this might come off as a ranty post set out to denigrate the whole thing, but this idea could have actually worked maybe in a literary novel.
If you're going to do Science Fiction Fantasy, Dystopian Fantasy, Post-apocalyptic fantasy however, I feel the very least you could do is flesh out a proper magic system exposition-wise and squeeze in an ounce or two of description. Now, not everyone can go all Sanderson and be all booyah! with a magic system, but when I was finished with this I was concerned that the entire thing was an asspull. It feels like an asspull. Not that everything doesn't feel like an asspull, but since Lawrence has already declared he doesn't plan that is to be expected.
You'd think that somewhere between the first and second draft and the editing, that these things would have been rectified or retconned, but they weren't... So there it is, a magic system that asspulls as it goes along... And I was supposed to be content with this because why? I was supposed to be mesmerized by Jorgie's childish loveability, charm, intelligence, quick wit and cleverness?
And then Inner Fucking Thoughts
This is the nail here. The true failure.
Lawrence says this in a magazine somewhere as way of rationale:
It's about what is and isn't forgivable, what role nurture plays over nature, how we react when badness is done by someone clever, intelligent charming rather than a villain who has the good grace to look and act as expectation demands
The trouble is Jorge isn't clever or intelligent, he's just surrounded by fucking idiots and nincompoops. And unless the definition of "charming" has changed recently, he isn't that either.
Hannibal Lecter is charming. Humbert Humbert was charming. Patrick Bateman and Baron Harkonen were charming. Lestat was charming.
Jorge is a stupid piece of shit. Being the smartest one in a mob of fidiots doesn't make you a genius, just less stupid. Being able to read and write doesn't make you intelligent. Just normal. Intelligent as compared to the fidiots, but still, mostly just normal.
Now why is he a stupid piece of shit? Because he was introduced as a stupid piece of shit and nothing was ever done to change or modify that. Jorgie is the ringleader of the pack of assholes you can expect to find in every traditional heroic fantasy. He is the guy who Kevin Sorbo had to throw into a lake and chase out of town. Who Xena had to go beat up and maybe toss off a cliff. A goon. A cretin. The thing under your shoe that'll make you want to throw away your shoes.
Lawrence however is set firm in his belief that Jorgie is intelligent, charming and clever and therefore proceeds to beat you over the head with Jorgie for nine hours non-stop.
There are no other characters. Other people exist, but they aren't even one-dimensional and could very easily have turned out to be figments of Jorge's imagination. There is Rike, a proficient rapist-musclehead henchman. A semi magical negro (magical meaning he isn't portrayed as too much of a mindless half-wit rapist-murderer-musclehead). Makin, a thoroughly incompetent and insignificant right hand man, and other people who flutter about who should be important but aren't.
Every person to oppose Jorgie is met with certain death (except Katherine, the princess love interest(?)(10,000 shades of eww) and a coward villain who literally runs away. Jorgie will throw a man off a cliff, stab him in the eyes, put a nail in his head with little to no resistance.
He is a Gary Stu, more or less. He defeats 7 foot men, necromancers, professional knights, e'rybody. By the end of the novel he can get stabbed through the heart and bounce back intact.
There is zero tension.
By 70% in I had ceased to give even the slightest whiff of a fuck.
Jorgie, Jorgie, Jorgie.
All we have is Jorgie. Near every sentence is an "I" or a "me" or a "my." A simple statement like, "The sky was blue" is transformed in this novel to, "I looked up to the sky, didn't like like the colour. Too blue for my tastes."
Really? Did we need to be clobbered over the head with it? It's first person. Yes. We get it. First person fantasy. Not that rare of a thing. We get it. We know how pronouns work.
"I" "Me" "My"
Jesus Christ, the centrism is astounding and crippling. You are essentially trapped in Jorgie's mind for the entirety of the book. And this wouldn't be so very horrible if there was anything of consequence going on in Jorgie's mind. Mostly he's all "I wanna cut the guy's head off. I wanna slap a bitch. Or rape a bitch. I'm gonna kill this guy." An so on. As Jorgie walks down the street, he considers murdering everyone he meets for the next couple of following paragraphs.
Because the thorns. The pain. The Dead Mother and Dead Brother. Revenge.
You can't go ten minutes without reference to the fucking thorns, his fucking pain and the fucking darkness.
About 40% in, it occurred to me that the Lego song that went viral about Batman from the Lego movie, "Darkness", could well apply to Jorge. I've never come across such a relentless woobie.
And then of course is the ending - "I'm all grown up." The classic, When I was a child, I raped, murdered and pillaged like a child, but now that I'm an adult, I'm pretty much just a cool guy. Also, I was kinda under a spell. I'm less epic of a piece of shit now, take my word for it!
This is what has lead me to the conclusion that Mark Lawrence really is maybe the absolute worst storyteller. This is why I deleted all the books and won't ever look back.
What? Jorgie is not an anti-hero. Jorgie is a full on fucking villain protagonist. And not because of what he's done, it's the how of it. It's implied that he's raped so many women and killed them that paying a prostitute and not having her gang-raped and burnt to death after is an odd experience for him. He kills people for zero good reason and he reflects on all the people he murdered with a general, "fuck 'em. I'mma do me" attitude.
This is a villain.
And Jorgie grows out of it.
Lawrence furthermore makes statements along the lines of, "This is less violent than ASOIAF"; "How come people like Tyrion while Jorgie has haters?"; "There were only two brief references to rape, what's all the fuss?"
It completely boggles my mind that he doesn't get how Tyrion can easily get away with murder and patricide and even gain fans in the process while Jorgie attracts people who would line up to spit on him. Does he not get character development?
And I'm supposed to like this because why again?
I'd have had more respect for the whole thing if I'd thought that he'd actually tried to out-grimdark Abercrombie, out-violence GRRM, out-prose Rothfuss, out-witty Locke Lamora, because then the desperation for extremity would have made sense, but Lawrence's brr? reaction to the hate, makes me think he just really doesn't know how to tell a story.
I can get behind a story about a man who eats babies straight out of the womb, but I need to feel that the author knows what he's doing and gets these concepts of "villainy" and "likeability".
Sooooooooo... Maybe I was a little premature in declaring The SandMan as the unrivaled King of Epic Fantasy... I'm hoping that this was just the dud i...moreSooooooooo... Maybe I was a little premature in declaring The SandMan as the unrivaled King of Epic Fantasy... I'm hoping that this was just the dud in the series, (where he works off some of the symptoms of the Robert Jordan Syndrome he came into contact with), and that by SkyBreaker, it's back to excellent.
I didn't like it as much as the first one. Not sure why exactly.
1) WAY too much pointless Shallan. She thinks she's witty.
She has an interesting enough story, but she's also an incredibly irritating, annoying insufferable character. I get why she's important, and weirdly I actually like her a little... (She's better than Dany, Sansa, Arya, Brionny... all these other female protagonists...) but I only want her in small doses.
There's a war going on with evil Parshendi summoning the Everstorm. We could have gotten more of that and less of Shallan in a tent drawing. I only needed a paragraph or two of that. How many times can I read of a person drawing before I just lose total interest? It's worse almost than reading about Kvothe's music.
Also, the flashbacks. Too much. I care about her mysterious past but I'd already sussed out a good bit of this in book 1. It didn't need to invade every nook and crevice of this story. It was more intriguing and relevant than Kaladin's flashback's in WoK but I didn't need it dragged out over 1000 pages when I could be reading about ANYTHING else.
Also, the audiobook reading by the female narrator is horrendous. Oddly, I only like her reading of Pattern. Everything else? No. Just no. Ended up reading the Shallan bits by the end, just to make it less heinous.
At this point I'm not sure Sanderson even knows how annoying this character is. At first I thought it was an intentional deliberate thing he was doing, but there were points in this book where I just groaned at having to dredge through all her nonsense and her babbling.
I like him, but not so much that I want to end the book with him doing a Neo-Smith fight in the clouds. I was hoping it would end with the "Trinity catch" he did on Dalinar, but then it went on to the Sky Fight.
The Sky Fight is really why I couldn't give it more stars. WoK ended with a nice good neat battle and rescue. WoR ended with... a swordfight in the sky over a hurricane... Right.
I just wasn't jumping up and down with the whole "The sky and the winds are mine!" power trip Kaladin went off on after being a douche, basically for the entire book, "killing Syl" and all that. When he was sucking on spheres one at a time and just getting into the groove of it, I liked him better.
Then, like 5 minutes later, he's all .
I liked him well enough in WoK when he was a navel-gazing specialist with all his "Who am I? Who is me? I is me, but you is not me. The universe is not real to me, unless it is real to you, but who is you?" But in this book he sort of slid into a woobie personality. He fell into a well of childish, mopey, hypocritical, jerkassy, bitterness, and I'm not sure now, even at the end, if he actually still deserves Syl. I'm like 90% sure she could find someone else better suited for the Randiance at this point.
Come to think of it, I actually possibly preferred Shallan's "wittiness" and "cleverness" to his grousing and bitching and racism(?).
3) Old Man Prophet Politician Dalinar
I like Blackthorn the Warlord. HighPrince Kholin, retired warlord, politician, old man, prophet - not so much.
My favourite parts of WoK was when Dalinar was going all bloodlusty on the battlefield. I get that The Thrill is evil, but it's also entertaining and enjoyable, sooooooooooo... WoR was basically for me WoK missing the good parts.
So maybe he doesn't have to go complete apeshit every five minutes, but I don't think I can take this full-time PeaceMaker part-time Genocider gentle tyrant shtick he's one.
Things I liked.
At this point he's the only character that I still have a real vested interest in. He's a badass straight up hero. No spren assisted super power, no over the top Neo-Smith fight in the skies, he doesn't make proclamations like "the sky and the winds belong to me", he doesn't go around babbling like a jackass (because he learned somewhere in his childhood that it's okay to shut up sometimes), no tyrant-dictator tendencies to speak of... Just generally completely inherently instinctively badass.
I HATE completely this Adolin-Shallan ship. More hate if it becomes a triangle. Honestly, I'd pity any man who had to end up with her, but Adolin deserves better, so as much as I also don't like Kaladin-Shallan either, I'd have to go with that just to spare Adolin. Kaladin can use some joviality and "witty banter" to cheer him up a little bit, and maybe keep him from being all "A God Am I".
Out of all the characters in this book, Adolin is maybe the best one. I want him to get some super spren. Idk, a war spren, Thrill spren, a dueling spren, a bravery spren, a courage spren, berserker spren, hell, any kinda spren at this point so that he doesn't need Kaladin to keep saving him all the time. If he's so awesome sprenless, Adolin with a spren would be like the Emperor of Cool.
I really hope that the SandMan doesn't push this triangle thing to turn Adolin "insane with envy and jealousy... consumed by evil and darkness" because Adolin is so far the only non-fuck-up in a book of a hundred fuck-up characters.
And on a side note, I really supremely hate it when "The Girl" in the triangle doesn't qualify for either of the guys. Both Adolin and Kaladin can get someone less annoying. Am I to assume that there are no other less chaffing female Radiants out there? I kinda see Adolin with some kinda equally badass Xena-ish princess person who's on his level of awesome, and Kaladin I'd say would go with someone cute and loveable (LIKE SYL!!!). Shallan needs somebody who will flat out tell her to shut the fuck up because she is annoying. That should be the prerequisite to a ship with her.
And back to things I didn't like.
The spren being weapons. I don't like it. To me, it diminishes the personalities of the spren to have them being literally used as tools. That's not cool. It worked in Soul Eater but I don't like it here.
Or maybe I'm just peeved that it sort of shatters the Kal-Syl ship. That could have worked. Now, Syl is like the woman returning to her domestic abuser at this point. A little bit.
We don't really know Syl or Pattern or Ivory well enough for them to just go about saying "Hey, use me as a weapon," and I'm digging Stormfather telling Dalinar, "I ain't your fucking weapon, dawg. Respect."
Enough philosophizing. Enough "scholarship". If I hear or read the word "scholar" one more time... Enough soul searching and morality questioning.
Enough prologue. I feel like I've had 2,000 pages of prologue. At this point in ASOIAF Ned Stark was already a head rotting on a spike. Not saying you have to kill ALL your characters, but at this point we should have had at least 1 significant death I think. We're on book 2 and already bringing people back to life?
Also, at this point, in this type of fantasy, where is the overly cool but very evil bad guy? I mean, where is this guy -
I'm so desperate for a villain and some badassery, I wouldn't even mind if Adolin picked up a Tyrant Murder spren and morphed into Odium or whatever (as long as it's not the collapse of his "relationship" with Shallan that drives him to this out of love triangle induced jealousy).
But really, how cool was Adolin just having a "Fuck It" moment with Sadeas? #Win
Not bad at all. Shane is pretty believable as the alpha-ish, hot-ish, scarred-ish, brave-ish flawed/perfect guy and you end up rooting for him to get...moreNot bad at all. Shane is pretty believable as the alpha-ish, hot-ish, scarred-ish, brave-ish flawed/perfect guy and you end up rooting for him to get the girl by the end.(less)
Kinda sad really when you think about it. Very sad. Almost like a tragedy. But good in a weird way... This has the honour of being the first romance n...moreKinda sad really when you think about it. Very sad. Almost like a tragedy. But good in a weird way... This has the honour of being the first romance novel where I'm actually convinced that the people love each other.
He didn't actually have to go on and become a billionaire. That's like really stretching it, but then I'm guessing he was probably a millionaire at the beginning off of blood money? I don't know... Him being a billionaire was really unnecessary imo. He was a good guy though.
The girl is awesome, the guy is awesome with an extra spoon of awesome sauce. The story is almost bizarre and very full of soap opera drama including a "secret baby" which I realise is actually a thing.
"Secret Baby" WTF? How can that be a thing? So lame! But the baby in this case was a grown child who was kinda sorta cute so I didn't mind.
The best part of it is the guy and how willing he is to just put his pride away. He just boxes that shit up. (less)
First off, I'm peeved at whoever wrote the little summary for this.
This ain't no epic love story about a girl who loves too much. It ain'...moreFirst off, I'm peeved at whoever wrote the little summary for this.
This ain't no epic love story about a girl who loves too much. It ain't. This is about some really creepy, possibly mentally ill people.
The girl just comes off kinda skeevy. I can't relate to her mindset at all. Not at all. Not in the slightest. No.
The guy is all kinds of shady. From chapter one he started off as sketchy and then he just kept dropping points throughout the whole story. He's either extremely weak and cowardly or a selfish asshat. Either way, I don't want to read any more about him. No. The guy doesn't get to snivel around and ask the "love of his life" to enter into a weird threesome relationship. No. Only pervs and weirdos do that. Plus, he's kinda rapey. So... no.
And Cynthia (Girl 2)... Nothing to say about this bundle of creepiness.
Not as good as the first one. But still amazeballs!!!
I'm all for the longer story, but I don't think Tristan's POV was altogether necessary. That, and...moreNot as good as the first one. But still amazeballs!!!
I'm all for the longer story, but I don't think Tristan's POV was altogether necessary. That, and the fact that this one has a couple typos and editing problems had me thinking that I would give it three stars, but in the end I thought, What the hell? It's basically part 2 of the first book. How I'mma give it three stars? That shit ain't right! Got to hook a Fifty Shades Parody up with a good review! That's how we do!
Plus, it's one big story kinda like LOTR.
Tristan is the big hook of this novel. In the first one, he's your typical romance novel hot guy. But in Exit Strategy you kinda start to think that he really has some marbles loose. He's a mashup of Damon Salvatore on one of his good days, James Bond, Harvey Specter, Sterling Archer, and Jamie Kennedy in Malibu's most Wanted. He's basically insane with all his elaborate and waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy over the top, super over-complicated, really stupid to borderline batshit crazy schemes. At the end of it all, you could almost see him drinking his own urine for some reason (that would have made total sense to him).
He's one of my favourite characters in the romance genre. Yes, in the entire collective with Mr Darcy and all characters ever portrayed by Hugh Grant. There should be more of him. He's like... a gentleman and a superfreak, who might live in an underground bunker from time to time. For completely valid reasons, of course.
He's a maximum stalker - complete with audio and video surveillance basically everywhere - and the joke is that nobody really calls him on it; he kinda gets and encouraging "awww, he's just looking out" reaction and that leaves me thinking that he's going to step it up later down the line. Come on! He breaks into the bathroom when the girl deliberately locks the door... He's a grappler. A real wrangler, but some how teddy-bearish at the same time. IDK. Loved him.
Ridiculous in the worst(best) way. It really is a parody of 50 Shades. A good parody. And you'd think that a parody on a crappy book would be equally...moreRidiculous in the worst(best) way. It really is a parody of 50 Shades. A good parody. And you'd think that a parody on a crappy book would be equally crappy or worse, but this was really fun read.
The girl is believable and funny. The guy is all manners of awesome (I'm wearing GGG's Team Tristan tshirt). This was just a good fun short read. There were moments where I couldn't help myself but lol.
The ghetto fabness of the title had me watching this book with squinty eyes, but it's all a joke. This is like a romance set in the Boondocks universe with Huey and Riley and Grandpa.
Plus there's a cool, totally hot reference to A History of Violence. All romance novels should from this day henceforth include a mandatory reference to A History of Violence.
I'm a little concerned though, that I want to actually finish this series...
That's not natural. ಠᴥಠ Too much awesome sauce. Ridiculous!(less)