I don't know at all what to think about this series.
There's its basic concept of people being used like livestock to give superpowers to a few boneheI don't know at all what to think about this series.
There's its basic concept of people being used like livestock to give superpowers to a few boneheads. It does dwell on the...DUBIOUS morality, but not in a way that really provokes any thought or reaction.
There's the naturalist religion that is SORT OF a counter to the rampant rune use and possibly a stand-in for christianity. But then it veers off into fairly arbitrary moral standards and inconsistent miracle-work (okay, maybe that reinforces the christianity angle. But to what end?).
There's the extensive side plot dedicated to a man having his testicles torn off and then regrowing them.
There's the monsters (Reavers) who are...well they're just monsters. There's not a lot to say about them.
It's certainly not Bad fantasy. But it is very confusing, and not in a way that makes additional reading seem like a good time investment....more
Anne Rice deserves recognition for building the latest configuration of vampire fiction, in that vampires are emo and moody in a manner distinct fromAnne Rice deserves recognition for building the latest configuration of vampire fiction, in that vampires are emo and moody in a manner distinct from the capital-R Romanticism of the Bram Stoker novel, and are also weird sex addicts.
Whether this has been a net positive depends on whether True Blood (the tv series) is worth the Twilight series, the Vampire Diaries, True Blood (the books) and so forth and so on. But True Blood certainly owes a lot to Rice, and that is something....more
Man gets theoretically cursed but powerful sword whose powers seem limited to flotation and the medicating diabetes or some similar uncureable ailmentMan gets theoretically cursed but powerful sword whose powers seem limited to flotation and the medicating diabetes or some similar uncureable ailment.
He is then cursed to brood so hard even a Twilight character would gag, sleep with various women who dig that sort of thing and...hijinks ensue.
I guess the book/series would be entertaining as a self-referential meta-narrative about Moorcock doomed by the worst conventions of his genre to spit out endless and endlessly terrible fantasy. But probably not....more
This series is the epitome of boilerplate, disposable fantasy. [Ordinary everyman] is told by [mysterious magical old guy] that he has [lots of powersThis series is the epitome of boilerplate, disposable fantasy. [Ordinary everyman] is told by [mysterious magical old guy] that he has [lots of powers] and is the last hope against [various monsters]. Journey of self-discovery and/or enabling of powers ensues. Wash, rinse, repeat....more
From a technical standpoint there are many issues with the Farseer Trilogy. Hobb/Ogden relies far too much on tell-not-show, she doesn't spend nearlyFrom a technical standpoint there are many issues with the Farseer Trilogy. Hobb/Ogden relies far too much on tell-not-show, she doesn't spend nearly enough time fleshing out the very complex (and intriguing) concept of "Forging," the omniscient jester trope is overused, and her protagonist winds up being a lone voice in the wildnerness, which is an odd conceit given that many of his struggles are poignant and devastating.
Having said that, the premise and concepts behind the series are so refreshing and thought-provoking that it is worth a read despite its uneven execution. The books stand out among almost all fantasy in that power actually has terrible consequences and deep injustice, both on an individual/short-term level and a macroscopic/long-term level. The scrying ability used by the protagonist is physically devastating, wearing out even its most skilled users. The larger conflict of the book is a destructive technology neither the protagonist nor antagonists understand, or use particularly well.
Moreover, the series operates in extreme moral ambiguity. The protagonist is worn out to an emotional and physical husk by the end of the series, used in every sense of the term. He's denied any relief from the torments that come with the job, even prevented from death. Each time his sense of duty and loyalty is appealed to, and the appeals become progressively more bizarre and cruel. One of the most heartbreaking sequences is the protagonist's "friends" ridiculing him for sinking into alcoholism mid-series. This comes after he's been forced to scry for the "good" king to the point of total exhaustion, drugged with toxic stimulants leading to a crazed killing spree, then drugged again to prevent his own death. He can't die, he can't live with anything approximating free will, and he's been physically ruined to preserve the reign of one aristocrat. Who WOULDN'T reach for the bottle after all that?
In the same way, the resolution of the conflict is explicitly the same horrific, genocidal attack that led to the conflict to begin with. It's not clear at all why they have to use that technology, and considering how thoroughly the antagonists were wiped out the last time it was used, it's unclear whether any victory at all is justified. Sure, the "good guys" globalize the conflict: if we fall, then this power will be used on everyone. So their solution is...to use that power themselves, in such a way that another horrible war is guaranteed.
It's a compelling story, even if the writing could be improved. Too many fantasy novels/series pay lip service at most to the cost of power, the implications of feudalism, or magic as a destructive technology. While the series has issues in the details, it's a breath of fresh air for the genre....more
Maguire is a strange author. On the one hand, the Oz series is great. It floats between allegory, satire and pure story, in a good way. The overall meMaguire is a strange author. On the one hand, the Oz series is great. It floats between allegory, satire and pure story, in a good way. The overall meaning (perhaps even the existence of meaning) is elusive but compelling. His characters are evocative (usually in their pathos). The shortcomings of Oz-land can't be put into any one box: religious fanaticism gives way to trade imbalances gives way to race relations, sometimes all in the same chapter.
On the other hand, Maguire's prose is dry to the point of a Henry James novel. The dreamy quality of his characters' streams of consciousness sometimes gives way to tedium, and it's sometimes unclear if he is going anywhere with the story. He always does, eventually....more
Out of Oz resolves the Maguire Oz storyline, such as it is. I get the feeling he wrote all of the books in the series after the first just to spite thOut of Oz resolves the Maguire Oz storyline, such as it is. I get the feeling he wrote all of the books in the series after the first just to spite the musical; each makes a successively bigger deal about whether Elphaba MIGHT be alive without any particular resolution (or relevance).
The same airy, meandering style is here, picking up one concept/question after another and musing about it to interesting, if not satisfactory, effect. The characters are still quirky weirdos with bizarrely high-minded internal monologues. Every resolved plotline again leaves a dozen open questions.
If you liked the previous books in the series it will not be a bad read. I wouldn't say it's as great as the first was, but Maguire can be forgiven for running low on steam by the fourth book....more
Paradise Lost may be the seminal work of modern English-language Christianity, including actual theological essays, books etc. It laid out many concepParadise Lost may be the seminal work of modern English-language Christianity, including actual theological essays, books etc. It laid out many concepts- the Devil as heroic yet flawed rebel, the "fortunate fall" apology for original sin, the victory of erotic over divine love in Adam's decision to eat the fruit, the relationship, for better and worse, of femininity to religion- that are still heard in many pulpits in the English-speaking world. Regardless of the merits of the poem in a metaphysical sense, we owe our religious rhetoric to Milton....more
Why the Prince is great: It is one of the most thorough looks at early modern Western European conceptions of political systems and how they compare tWhy the Prince is great: It is one of the most thorough looks at early modern Western European conceptions of political systems and how they compare to each other.
Why the Prince is not great: For the love of god any relevance it has to contemporary politics, geopolitics, international relations, Republicans v. Democrats, organizational management, etc et al is at best coincidence with a heavy dash of anachronism. There is no comparison between the ideal subjugation of a republican city-state by a dictatorial one using the mercenary armies of a third, and the AT&T-T Mobile merger....more