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Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar, #1)
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2015 Reads > AotQ: A rare negative review? (some spoilers)

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message 1: by Steve (last edited Dec 07, 2015 07:49AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Steve (stephendavidhall) | 14 comments I feel somewhat nervous writing this review because obviously a great many people love this book, and I recognize that, as a 40 *cough* year old man, I am probably not the target audience. I should also point of that I have not read the rest of the trilogy, so maybe things improve from the first book. Having said that, I am at a loss to understand why anyone over the age of 12 or 13 would consider this worth their time; the prose is horribly uneven and laborious, and the story profoundly uneventful (at least as far as Talia is concerned anyway).

The language used in the book swings between either overly simplistic or wildly wordy; in one instance the author drops the word "annunciation" into a sentence, without appearing to understand what it means, and in another she is carefully explaining what "trauma" means.

The story itself is wish fulfillment of the highest order but with surprisingly little payoff. Talia is (view spoiler). The only real threat in the book is dealt with in a few short pages and (view spoiler).

All of the interesting events happen "off screen", with even the author commenting at one point that Talia was "continually receiving the affection and attention she craved, and yet was doing little or nothing to earn it". All of the secrets are discovered by others, with Talia simply acting a bystander. Even the denouement, which is arguably the most exciting thing in the book, is (view spoiler).

With regard to the very chaste "sex" scenes in the book, which others seem to praise highly, they give the impression that someone suggested to the author that they should be included to spice things up, so she did so in the manner where they could be got out of the way as quickly as possible with the least embarrassment for all concerned. Given what I perceive the target audience to be, this is not very surprising, although what *is* surprising is that they were included in the first place; they could have been removed entirely with absolutely zero impact on the relationships of those involved.

And finally, does anyone else think it is strange that a character whose chief "super power" is (view spoiler) decides that the best way to civilize a wayward child is to (view spoiler)?

Apologies if I have offended the fans of the book but this book actually managed to annoy me, which is a rare feat (although maybe I am just having a bad day).

(edit: it appears this post was accidentally cross-posted to both the "general" and "Arrows of the Queen" boards - teaches me for trying to use the iPad app. Apologies. If anyone knows how to fix this without losing the existing comments, please let me know...)

(edit: I think I have managed to fix the cross-posting)


message 2: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (last edited Dec 06, 2015 11:21PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tassie Dave | 3543 comments Mod
I am a little bit more forgiving of it's faults. But, as someone 40 years past the intended audience, I find myself agreeing with all your points.

The start was pure wish fulfilment. I was sure that at some point Talia was going to wake up from that hit on the head and find out she had dreamt it all. It was just too convenient.

Her treatment of the brat was a bit out of character (view spoiler)

(view spoiler)

Chaste sex scenes, what sex scenes? Poor Skif ;-)

Talia is a bit too good and needed a bit more of a rebellious streak (view spoiler)

A perfect book for tween girls.


message 3: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Tassie Dave wrote: "The start was pure wish fulfilment."

If you're not into wish fulfillment, fantasy is not the genre for you.


Steve (stephendavidhall) | 14 comments Sean wrote: "If you're not into wish fulfillment, fantasy is not the genre for you."

True, but there is a difference between wish fulfillment as the basis for a gripping, well-told story and wish fulfillment simply for the sake of wish fulfillment.

Once you get beyond the basic wish fulfillment in this story, in my opinion there is not much else of substance to pull the reader through to a satisfying conclusion. Having said that, I can see how a reader who is satisfied purely by the existence of (view spoiler) would get more from this story.

As an addendum to my original post, I would say the story this brought to mind, by way of comparison, was The Goblin Emperor. Much like AotQ, this is a story in which not much happens beyond the basic wish fulfillment (young person suddenly elevated to a powerful position where they must quickly learn to use their talents to survive), however where AotQ peters out, The Goblin Emperor carries you through on the basis of excellent characterization.


message 5: by Andy (last edited Dec 07, 2015 08:27AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Andy (andy_m) | 311 comments I have a lot of the same issues with the book as Steve.

I am a little more forgiving because I place the book in some context. It was written 30 years ago and is remarkably progressive for that era. I normally cannot read older sci-fi or fantasy because newer books have built upon them and in a lot cases done a better job but Arrows of the Queen holds up well.

AotQ is proto-YA - the beginning of the novel felt like the opening to a modern YA novel - I almost walked away because of it, but I am glad that I held on. Wish fulfillment - check, restrictive household for a teenager - check, epic gender stereotypes - oh the horror (seriously).

I have one major issue with the Queen - she abdicated all responsibility with her child and places all responsibility on a 13 year old abuse survivor who has no positive parental experience to draw upon. Ouch. (this is a judgement on the queen - not on Talia at all)

At the end though, if I had caught this book at 14 I would have loved EVERY second of it. In my mid-thirties I am more "meh" about it but I appreciate the novel for what it is and for when it was written.

I could go on with other concerns but honestly - it was a nice little read that I am definitely not the target audience for.


Steve (stephendavidhall) | 14 comments Andy wrote: "I am a little more forgiving because I place the book in some context. It was written 30 years ago and is remarkably progressive for that era."

Yes, I agree that a strong point in favour of the book, particularly one that seems targeted at the younger end of the market, is the casual and non-sensational attitude it takes towards relationships, which is unusual even in this day and age.


message 7: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Steve wrote: "True, but there is a difference between wish fulfillment as the basis for a gripping, well-told story and wish fulfillment simply for the sake of wish fulfillment."

Perhaps, but most fantasy falls into the latter category but gets a free pass from readers. The books that don't ... well, I've noticed they tend to have one characteristic in common.


Michelle (stemshell) | 24 comments I'm so glad I'm not the only one! I wanted to really love this book and if I'd read this book as a child, I think I really would have.

Talia, though. What a Mary Sue! In the beginning she was a bit rebellious and much more interesting, but once she got to the academy (I can't remember now what it was called) this book was such a snooze fest. She did everything perfectly and everyone loved her. The end. Everything was just way too easy.

Andy, your point about the Queen was spot on. Why were all the adults ok with this plan of having the brand new 13 year old fix all their problems with the heir?

Steve, I could not agree with you more about The Goblin Emperor, which I LOVED despite its not having much of a plot. Arrows of the Queen just didn't have enough meat to it to withstand its tragic combination lack of plot and huge plot holes.


message 9: by Alan (new)

Alan | 534 comments There are tons of wish fulfillment books for male tweens (half of Heinlein's juveniles fall into this category) so it was interesting to read one for girls. If I had daughters, I would definitely put this book in their library. Even with all the YA tropes and the fact that I'm way out of the target demographic (also a 40-year-old man), I found the story entertaining enough to finish the trilogy.

I do agree, however, that the character of the Queen makes no damn sense unless she's supposed to be an overly passive idiot. I will disagree with people a little bit in that it's not a terribly progressive story for thirty years ago. There were plenty of more progressive books published in the 80's. It's not like this book was written in the 50's.


message 10: by Michele (last edited Dec 07, 2015 09:10AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michele | 1154 comments Gosh, I'm surprised anyone can see Talia as a Mary Sue - she's been abused, she's a dangerously introverted and frightened teenager in a strange place, she has a talent that's almost useless in most situations, she gets bullied horribly or overlooked or ignored.

Her only skills are being book-smart and practical things like sewing, cooking, and dealing with children. Then she's thrust into this position of future Queen's Own - the closest supporter and adviser to the ruler of the nation - in the midst of a political swamp she knows nothing about, at age 14.

All the friends she makes - they're all loners and oddballs too.

Maybe there's been too many heroines like Katniss - we might forget that your average 14 year old girl or boy isn't going to be kicking ass and taking names, leading armies and slaughtering badguys.

As to the whole brat princess thing - that was a strange situation that doesn't make much sense. The Queen is a bit of a mess since her old adviser was both old and a stick in the mud and then he died. The nurse (view spoiler), but why no one feels compelled to say something about it to the Queen isn't realistic.

I thought it made sense to put Talia with Elspeth, since if things go correctly, Elspeth will be Queen and Talia her closest supporter as Queen's Own. That only Talia has the rank to throw around is the weird thing. Her being good at handling the brat seems reasonable, given her background and empathy.

Anyways, sorry you guys weren't impressed, but not really surprised. It is an old book, and a YA book. I will say, there is a lot of dark stuff that happens in the next two books - travel, danger, torture, war, death, sex, the dreaded love triangle (lol) and more magic ponies than you can shake a stick at :)


message 11: by Alan (new)

Alan | 534 comments Michele - What I found weird was that the queen knew about her daughter and didn't deal with it herself. I get that not everyone is great at parenting and someone with as many demands on her time as a queen might be even worse but the character was written as otherwise too smart and empathetic to let that situation linger like that.
And, while I'm one of the ones who liked the book, Talia does have a bit of mary sue-ish life at school - it's like Harry Potter if all the teachers and students loved him (except for faceless enemies), he was absolutely great at every subject and instead of an owl he had a magic intelligent horse who provided emotional comfort whenever needed.


Michele | 1154 comments As far as I know - a Mary Sue is a character who shows up and with no explanation or justification is perfect and everyone loves her just because and she's super pretty and wins everything.

I felt that Talia has plenty of flaws, and that she won the loyalty of her friends with her caring attentions, non-judgmental attitude, and stubborn determination to be worthy of the Heralds.

She also gets overlooked and ignored, bullied (view spoiler). She works for what she gets, earns it in a pretty believable way - imo.


Joanna Chaplin | 1175 comments It's true that I totally read this with rose-colored glasses for a couple of reasons. The first time I read it, I was Talia's age and identified with her a *lot*. Bookish, check. Tries too hard to please, check. Inferiority complex, check.

I reread this right off of The Traitor Baru Cormorant, so compared to that, the good kingdom filled with good people trying to do the right thing felt like fresh air after a musty room, if a bit naive.

I think the main problem is that it's super subjective whether or not the reader feels that Talia has earned her good life. But I also think there's an idea running around that this is how people ought to treat one another. That respect and warmth is how you ought to treat people, even if you don't know them. That it doesn't have to be earned. But Talia comes from such an emotionally cold background that she can't initially accept it.


message 14: by Alan (new)

Alan | 534 comments I wouldn't want to derail into a thread about what is a mary/marty s/tu(e) but I just meant the wikipedia version: "A Mary Sue or, in case of a male, Gary Stu or Marty Stu is an idealized fictional character, a young or low-rank person who saves the day through extraordinary abilities. Often but not necessarily this character is recognized as an author insert and/or wish-fulfillment." To me, she fit the criteria -- JUST LIKE MOST MALE PROTAGONISTS IN SIMILAR YA STORIES.

I liked Talia and enjoyed her fine as a character; I do think, however, that the story would have been even better if there were some people among the heralds who took more of a "show me" attitude, rather than being instantly welcoming or if Talia was shown to be less than excellent at some part of her schooling.


Michelle (stemshell) | 24 comments Michele wrote: "As far as I know - a Mary Sue is a character who shows up and with no explanation or justification is perfect and everyone loves her just because and she's super pretty and wins everything.

I felt..."


If you go by this definition, then perhaps I was a bit hasty to label Talia a Mary Sue. What I meant was that as soon as she got to the school, she was just automatically good at EVERYTHING (the Harry Potter analogy was a good one). Plus, everyone immediately liked her without much cause (IMO). To me, it was actually almost like there were two different characters- the abused but plucky Holderkin Talia and the effortlessly successful, supported Talia- without enough transition between the two.


Sandra (whatlovelybooks) | 179 comments The book was OK, but I have zero interests in reading the rest of the series. I totally agree with all the interesting events happening "off screen". Ex. (view spoiler).

Also did anyone else think it was weird when it would randomly switch points of view? It seemed all the adults thought the same thing, kind of redundant to add everyone's two cents about Talia being an introvert that needed special handling.


message 17: by E.J. Xavier (new) - added it

E.J. Xavier (ejxavier) | 163 comments Sandra wrote: "
Also did anyone else think it was weird when it would randomly switch points of view? It seemed all the adults thought the same thing, kind of redundant to add everyone's two cents about Talia being an introvert that needed special handling. "


I agree, the point of view shifts were not well done. Third person omniscient is a reasonably difficult style to pull off seamlessly and it's one of those craft things that can highlight an inexperienced writer pretty quickly. This being Lackey's first novel I think the choice wasn't wise. I wish I could remember if she gets better with the style in later novels, but like many here I read most of her books many years ago.

To be honest, I wish her editor had encouraged her to go with a straight third person POV from Talia. Lackey isn't really using the style to do much of anything, other than (as you've pointed out) letting us see Talia through other people's eyes, and set up that Talia has trust issues. But the story already has many built in mechanisms for letting the reader in on information that Talia might not fully understand. The most obvious being that her backstory is from a sheltered, insular and repressed community.

I think it would have been a bit more interesting if we as the reader needed to figure out along with Talia that these too-good-to-be-true heralds were for real, rather than the author handing us the answer by letting us into their heads the second we met a new one.

After all do you really need third person omniscient AND a protagonist who has magical empathy powers?


message 18: by Phil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil | 1140 comments Sandra wrote: "The book was OK, but I have zero interests in reading the rest of the series. I totally agree with all the interesting events happening "off screen". Ex. [spoilers removed].

Also did anyone else ..."


Yeah, the randomly switching POV was one of the few things I didn't like about the novel. It sometimes took me a couple sentences to figure out the view had shifted. Apart from story issues I thought part of the problem may have been bad formatting in the Kindle version.


message 19: by Jordan (last edited Dec 07, 2015 07:13PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Jordan Gibson | 7 comments I'm also not the target audience but I had to force myself to finish this one. I just didn't care about any of the characters and there wasn't much plot to speak of. The POV switching was annoying and every issue that came up was resolved within a few pages. I did enjoy the beginning of the book, her miserable life at the Hold and the journey to the capital was a good start. Major spoilers for the ending follow: (view spoiler)


message 20: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tassie Dave | 3543 comments Mod
Jordan wrote: "Major spoilers for the ending follow:"

(view spoiler)


message 21: by Phil (last edited Dec 07, 2015 07:35PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil | 1140 comments Jordan wrote: "I'm also not the target audience but I had to force myself to finish this one. I just didn't care about any of the characters and there wasn't much plot to speak of. The POV switching was annoying ..."

I think you misunderstood the ending; (view spoiler).
At least that's what I thought when I read it.


Jordan Gibson | 7 comments Thanks, that makes much more sense.


message 23: by Kate (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kate (kilotangobravo) | 13 comments If I had read this at 13, I probably would have loved it. Magic horse chooses a bookish girl to be go to magic guard school? Yes, please!

I didn't read it at 13, though. Reading it now, all I could see was the weak writing and clunky, wholly unnatural dialog. When people talked, they talked at each other to relay world-building and history. The ol' "As you know, Jeff..."

And while Talia had some character moments in the first part of the book, by the time she got to school, she stood around while professors stared at her and worried in detail about her past, her future, and her role.

The only part of the book where I thought Talia came across as three dimensional was when she was disciplining and teaching the princess. But even then, I had to wonder why no adults were involved in the princess's life in any useful capacity.

I think I just missed my window for this one.


Melanti | 44 comments If you guys think Talia is a Mary Sue - good thing you didn't read the one where Lackey wrote herself into the book and made her alter ego the love interest of the previously aloof main character!

Oh, yes. And invented sports goggles just for her alter ego, cause until she wrote herself into the book, there apparently wasn't any Heralds with bad eyesight that were going to be near a battle.

(Yes, she really DID do such a thing. She even named the character after herself. It was the last Valdemar book I ever read.)


I really liked the Valdemar books as a pre-teen/teen - especially the Last Heralds Mage trilogy - but looking back now that I'm older, they really were pretty flawed.


Joanna Chaplin | 1175 comments Her Five Hundred Kingdoms books are considerably better written.


message 26: by Adam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Adam Gutschenritter (heregrim) | 110 comments I enjoyed the book for what it was a YA fantasy book, 30ish years old. Her gift seemed to me to be well written for what it was, I don't see many ways that Empathy could be well written as a super power and I liked how passively she could influence those around her. I see this in my students a lot and it seems to me that her actions/character is 13ish years old. She certainly has Mary Sue characteristics, but ultimately the we love our own, to me, was more than justified and explained by the book. Everything from the founding of the kingdom, to the selection of Haralds...most of whom came for horrid lives created a believable, although fantastical, organization that would rally around each other.


message 27: by Serendi (new)

Serendi | 833 comments About Talia and Skif - I've always had the feeling that (view spoiler)


Steve (plinth) | 179 comments I agree, this book is weak on a number of fronts.
Like many of the comments here have brought up, I quickly realized that I was decidedly not the target audience for this novel. It is certainly better geared for tween/early teen.

Except.

The characters, especially Talia, are inconsistent. Talia alternates between being wise beyond not just her years but the adults around her as well as incredibly naive. Her dialogue is moves between age appropriate and adult-level too.

Except.

The main trope in this book is (view spoiler) and it sticks out like a sore thumb. This is partly forgivable in that this hook is extremely effective for the target audience (view spoiler)

Except.

The companions had a very weak role at best. They could have been birds. They could have been slugs. Hell, they could have been talismans that could teleport and it wouldn't have made any significant difference to the story.

Except.

The external conflict was largely anonymous and not particularly present. (view spoiler) And while the opportunity was there for internal conflict (view spoiler).

Except.

The anachronisms and/or flimsy world building. (view spoiler)

Except.

There seemed to be at least one really good missed opportunity in character development. (view spoiler)

Still. I recognize that this was her first book and there were three things put in the story that make it stand out (view spoiler)

You could compare this book to Eragon, which is also a first novel and has a very similar story. What's different is that when I read Eragon, I noticed that my copy was missing about 50 pages and it didn't change my enjoyment of the book at all. In fact, I was so struck by that that I wanted to send it back to the publisher and ask if they would be so kind as to remove the rest of the pages for me. AotQ was, to me, quaint in some ways but mostly just bland.


message 29: by Serendi (new)

Serendi | 833 comments Some points:

The trilogy was originally written as one book, but it breaks easily into three parts: (view spoiler). A number of "she dropped this!" comments turn out not to be true across the trilogy. I'm not suggesting you should continue, but wanted to mention that this book isn't the whole story. As others have observed, Books 2 and 3 are darker.

One of your comments is addressed in this book, though not as clearly as it could be: (view spoiler).

Personally, I just reread Book 1, started to reread Book 2, and remembered how much of the book is taken up with a trope I hate (view spoiler). I may skip most of it and go to Book 3.


Barak Raguan (shiningheart) | 40 comments I've read through most of everyone else's comments, and I very much agree with nearly everyone's thoughts.
I'll add a few more glaring points that stuck in my craw throughout reading.
The whole book felt decidedly juvenile and amateurish. For one, the author was widely inconsistent in her world-building. She gives scarce details on the world itself, on the many fantastic and important people, places and events that are mentioned in the book, but felt it necessary to explain how students are summoned to chores and meals. She gives us the briefest exposition on the major plot points, but expects us to care.
And the characterization - what a mess. The characters are all as flat as cardboard. There's little to no growth in any of them. Talia undergoes some changes, but these are mostly superficial. From the quite the beginning you see the qualities that make her exceptional, and then it's just a matter of waiting until she realizes the obvious.
Another negative aspect of the book is the pacing. Everything happens lightning-fast, with little to no build-up, and just as little pay-off. Is Talia having a problem with something she's studying? By the next page, the reason will have been discovered, the matter resolved, and she'll be well on her way to mastering the subject. Is she feeling isolated from the other girls? One of them will crack a joke and by the next page they're all friends.
Really, none of it had any depth, any layering at all.


message 31: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3964 comments I'm about halfway through the second book. It's serviceable fantasy. I get that the target audience is female teens and it seems to have appealed strongly to them. At the same age I was seeking out the most grandiose space opera I could find, so I get the visceral appeal.

I'm not motivated to become a Mercedes Lackey fan by this book, but I'll have no trouble finishing out the trilogy. There are some interesting concepts. And hey, telepathic horses!


Molly (mollyrichmer) | 130 comments I tried reading this book awhile back, but couldn't get past the sub-par writing and flat characterization. I could see myself loving it at 13 or so, but I've read so much great SFF by this point that my current standards are pretty high.


message 33: by Tom, Supreme Laser (new) - added it

Tom Merritt (tommerritt) | 1151 comments Mod
I think Mary Sue is WAY overused anytime someone doesn't like a character. Talia has some weak spots as a character sure, but as soon as you cry Mary Sue it's like yelling "Nazi" in any argument. I stop taking it seriously.

"character saved from horrible family by magic taken to a wonderful school, populated by wonderful people who care deeply and have best interests at heart, where magical powers are learned"

Sounds like Harry Potter to me!

Or Arthur

or Kvothe


message 34: by Kim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kim | 477 comments Tom wrote: "Sounds like Harry Potter to me!

Or Arthur

or Kvothe "


Except for...

" populated by wonderful people who care deeply and have best interests at heart"

Every one of the students (in her group) was just great and wonderful and loved her instantly.


message 35: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3964 comments And the Blues tried to kill her, along with people in the Court who were total jerks to her. Plus, Heralds are picked by mystic Companions to be awesome, so it's little surprise that they, well, are.

I must confess: After a fair-to-middling two books, Lackey wrote a gripper of a third. I see there's a lot more Valdemar. I think I'm up for them.


message 36: by Michelle (last edited Dec 22, 2015 05:02PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Michelle (stemshell) | 24 comments Tom wrote: "I think Mary Sue is WAY overused anytime someone doesn't like a character. Talia has some weak spots as a character sure, but as soon as you cry Mary Sue it's like yelling "Nazi" in any argument. I I stop taking it seriously."

Well that's not really cool, Tom, especially since I have heard that term (Mary Sue) bandied about on The Sword and Laser. You may not agree with me and that's fine, but that doesn't mean that I was calling anyone a Nazi or a racist or anything horrible like that...and we're only talking about a fictional character.

ANYWAY

My point was that Talia was just instantly, naturally good at everything once she got to school. Seriously, like every subject was instantly mastered except for the one time her gift was misidentified. (view spoiler) I'm sorry if I just didn't buy into her character.

Other than some similar plot parallels, I don't see the comparison between Talia and Harry Potter as characters. HP was actually a pretty average student, struggled with mastering new things, and was pretty relentlessly persecuted throughout the books. For example, "he's the heir of Slytherin"; no wait, "let's kick him out of school for underage magic after those dementors we sent attacked him",; no, "He cheated his way into the Triwizard tournament and now he's lying about Voldemort being back", etc etc. The extraordinarily talented character was Hermione, not Harry.

Along the same lines, Kvothe, while naturally talented, struggled a lot with his classmates and teachers at the University. He often tried to pull things off and failed rather spectacularly, not to mention getting constantly led on by Denna and getting in deep with what amounted to a loan shark.

Well that is my opinion on Talia. It is obviously different from a lot of people's but that doesn't mean I automatically stop listening (or reading as the case may be) to people who think differently from me.


message 37: by Tom, Supreme Laser (new) - added it

Tom Merritt (tommerritt) | 1151 comments Mod
Michelle wrote: "Tom wrote: "I think Mary Sue is WAY overused anytime someone doesn't like a character. Talia has some weak spots as a character sure, but as soon as you cry Mary Sue it's like yelling "Nazi" in any..."

No of course not. I definitely did not mean in any way to imply you were calling people nazis. I mean that it's a loaded term that raises emotions in response.

And I think your criticisms, and Steven's of Talia re perfectly reasonable. And I didn't even realize you had used the Mary Sue term when I wrote that so apologies for feeling like I was pointing that post at you. It's LOTS of other conversations well outside this thread that I'm reacting to.

I think I do a better job of explaining my thoughts on the episdoe we just finished recording.


message 38: by Rick (new)

Rick | 2796 comments Tom wrote: "It's LOTS of other conversations well outside this thread that I'm reacting to.l..."

Perhaps, when commenting, you should comment on what people in the thread have said and not what someone elsewhere said. If you feel the Mary Sue term doesn't fit then explain WHY vs tossing in terms like Nazi.

You're better than this.


message 39: by Tom, Supreme Laser (new) - added it

Tom Merritt (tommerritt) | 1151 comments Mod
I will try to be better.

But I do feel the term Mary Sue and its usage is relevant to the thread.


message 40: by Tom, Supreme Laser (new) - added it

Tom Merritt (tommerritt) | 1151 comments Mod
Rick wrote: "Tom wrote: "It's LOTS of other conversations well outside this thread that I'm reacting to.l..."

Perhaps, when commenting, you should comment on what people in the thread have said and not what so..."


I clearly must not have written my explanation very well but again. I wasn't calling anyone anywhere a nazi. I was saying throwing about the "Mary Sue" label can have the same effect as using the word. Not as an accusation but as an argument ender.

I was meaning it in the sense of Godwin's Law.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%...


Michelle (stemshell) | 24 comments No worries, Tom! Thank you for responding to my post; you explained yourself perfectly well. It's cool that you join in the discussion with us :)


Steve (stephendavidhall) | 14 comments Just a note to follow-up, since it was brought up in the podcast, but I didn't *actually* use the phrase "Mary Sue" in my original post, and, to be honest, I was not particularly aware of this term until the discussion in this post.

Just to defend myself slightly, I wasn't implying that the "a nobody becomes a special person and saves the day" trope is bad (as noted elsewhere, it is the basis for a huge number of successful stories). I am, however, saying that, in my opinion, the implementation of the trope in this specific case left a great deal to be desired.


message 43: by Louis (new)

Louis | 17 comments In late, but, as a 42yo male, this re-read reminded me of everything I loved about Mercedes Lackey and Valdemar. I admit, after consuming, well, everything written in the the world of Velgarth up through 1996ish, I got fed up with infixed capital letters, and silly punctuation (colons, really?) and bonded animal sentient flavour or the week. Sadism is automatically evil, what? And yet...

And yet... Man, did I love this book, and its sequels (or, the Arrows of the Queen book it was supposed to have been). As a 10th grader growing up in the American South, Lackey gave me a magical fantasy world that I could unabashedly migrate to if it were possible. Gay people are okay? AWESOME. Sexuality isn't evil? AWESOME. Social systems that promote one gender over the other are bad? HELLS YEAH. As a boy, these were all the things I could want. Screw the horses and the magic stuff. I just wanted to live in a world with all this stuff.

I find myself browsing Amazon looking for more Valdemar that I haven't experienced yet. It's re-kindled my love of the series.

Oh, and it does get a bit more nuanced, and the characters do get more three dimensional. Lackey, for all her faults, does learn from her mistakes (colons and bonded animals and RandomCaps aside). Also, Lackey did a huge amount of world building in this series; several plot lines for much later trilogies were born right here in AotQ as name-drops, asides and historical tidbits. I never appreciated that as a kid.

Also: totally with Tom on the 'Mary Sue' thing.


Colin Forbes (colinforbes) | 494 comments Oh dear me, no! Wrong book at the wrong time for the wrong reader, I think.

The only positive thing I can say is that it was an easy read and didn't take up too much of my time. Think I need to be more selective about which books I want to read along with the group...


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