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The Sword of Shannara (The Original Shannara Trilogy, #1)
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2016 Reads > SoS: pick it up after 3 decades or remember it fondly?

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message 1: by S. K. (last edited Feb 28, 2016 09:41PM) (new)

S. K. Pentecost | 36 comments After all this month's rousing discussion, and a personally painful introduction to MTV's new series, a question has been nagging at me:

If a person had a great time reading this novel when they were 15, and put the series down after the third offering, are they better off remembering the books fondly, or going back in for a second go-round?


Trike | 8768 comments Things are rarely as good the second time, and our memories are almost ludicrously fallible. If it's life-or-death, then refresh your memory. But for a book you recall fondly and you suspect you can't trust that you'll be able to hold on to the happy memory if turns out to be less awesome than you recall, maybe leave it be.


message 3: by Gary (last edited Feb 29, 2016 12:57AM) (new)

Gary S. K. wrote: "If a person had a great time reading this novel when they were 15, and put the series down after the third offering, are they better off remembering the books fondly, or going back in for a second go-round?"

Tough call. Personally, I'm an "eyes wide open" kind of person, so I want to know how wrong I might have been in the past, meaning I'll revisit things just to see what a schmuck I was as a teenager (or even twenty-something. YMMV.) So, my vote would be to give it a shot, and if you find it just too crushing then maybe revisit something that is actually good to wean yourself gently off of your nostalgia.

I just re-read Treasure Island, for instance, and I didn't at all hate it. There was no retroactive suck. It was much as I remembered it, and I picked out a nuance here and there that I missed when I read it a few decades ago. Not at all jarring. Stevenson certainly has more longevity/lasting qualities than Brooks, though. If you really got a lot of joy out of it the first time around, you might want to work your way up to it....


message 4: by Steven (new)

Steven Paul Leiva (goodreadscomuser_stevenpaulleiva) Gary wrote: "S. K. wrote: "If a person had a great time reading this novel when they were 15, and put the series down after the third offering, are they better off remembering the books fondly, or going back in..."

Were your "wrong" in the past, or just a different person. After all, the book didn't change.


message 5: by Papaphilly (last edited Feb 29, 2016 10:08AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Papaphilly | 171 comments S. K. wrote: "After all this month's rousing discussion, and a personally painful introduction to MTV's new series, a question has been nagging at me:

If a person had a great time reading this novel when they w..."


You are talking about me. I read this when it was originally published in hardback and I was fifteen. I loved the book and read a bunch more before I felt he mined the universe out and moved on. I am now in my mid-fifties and I do not reread. However, to answer your question, I doubt I will have the same enjoyment that I had on a first read. Some of it is that I have changed and read very differently than I did when I was a teen. I no longer read much fantasy. Some of it is that it was a magic age and the book hit a nerve. Fantasy was a true niche genre and there was not much around. This came out of nowhere and exploded on the scene. You cannot capture that again 40 years later. If I read it again, I expect to like it, but not affect me like it did then. The one thing I have going for me is that I can take a story as I find it and enjoy it for what it is and not criticize it for what it is not.


Trike | 8768 comments I don't know who said it (ludicrously fallible memory) but there's a saying that goes something like, "A book is different each time we read it. Not because the book changed, but because we have."


message 7: by Kelli (last edited Feb 29, 2016 09:19AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kelli C (kellimcassell) | 73 comments I first read SOS when I was 12 or 13, then again in my mid-20s. I loved it both times. When the book was picked as a S&L monthly selection, I was excited to read it again (in my early 40s). Mostly, I wanted to see how it held up, especially since I've been learning the craft of writing since the last time I read it. I still loved the story, but I could see the flaws in the writing this time around. It's wordy, repetitious, with some odd word choices. Even with all of that, reading it again did not lessen the experience I had reading it as a child. Perhaps I liked it for different reasons now than I did back then, but for me it has always been a fun story.

But that's just my opinion, I know other people are different. I'm the type to re-read and re-watch things that I love. I think I've seen the entire Buffy series 7 times.


Sean Lookielook Sandulak (seansandulak) | 432 comments Trike wrote: "I don't know who said it (ludicrously fallible memory) but there's a saying that goes something like, "A book is different each time we read it. Not because the book changed, but because we have.""

“I am sure everyone has had the experience of reading a book and finding it vibrating with aliveness, with colour and immediacy. And then, perhaps some weeks later, reading it again and finding it flat and empty. Well, the book hasn't changed: you have.” ― Doris Lessing


message 9: by Gary (last edited Feb 29, 2016 06:25PM) (new)

Gary Steven wrote: "Were your "wrong" in the past, or just a different person. After all, the book didn't change."

I'd have to say both, to one degree or another. I'd say I was a different person when I read Stephen Donaldson the first time, for instance. Re-reading some of his work was eye-opening. Every page seems to glow with a strange, palimpsestic letters below the mass produced pages that softly pulsated: "What were you thinking when you first read this?"

I'd say I was just wrong about Heinlein, who I'd now describe as one of the most over-rated writers of his generation. He has a few undeniable and palpable talents, but if one adds them up with his overall abilities, his oeuvre is a good solid, two or maaaaaybe three stars here on Goodreads.

It's a little of both in either case, but usually more one than the other for any particular book.

There's probably a third factor that should get mentioned: fashion. Books go through periods of trends and fads like any other form of entertainment, both in terms of their theme and the style of language in which they are written. That's not necessarily a bad thing. When done well it turns out to be a work of literary significance that captures the zeitgeist of the time in which it was written, and that's what makes a book a classic. Other times it makes the book the literary equivalent of Pokemon, pet rocks or bell bottoms. Sometimes we, as readers, get swept up in the same kinds of trends that exist in any other entertainment media.

It's interesting to re-read things for that reason too. "How much of this was a fad when I read it?" I'd argue Tom Robbins (whom I really enjoyed reading) has some pretty heavy influences that are "of his time" in a way that means he won't be read 100 years from now. Cormac McCarthy, on the other hand, I'm more confident will be.

Offhand, I'd say Terry Brooks is probably 2 parts "different person" 1 part "I was wrong" and 3 parts "fashion."

I was *so* desperate for fantasy materials back then, I'd have read anything. Hell, I *did* read anything. I knew it was derivative when I read it, but that was the point. I simply wanted more Tolkien, more D&D, more anything to feed my insatiable need for escapism. It was like heroin. I knew he was taking ideas that weren't original and updating them in vernacular in a way that has a certain merit, but doesn't have a whole heck of a lot of artistic integrity, and I knew it wasn't great. It wasn't good for me, but I did it anyway.

And now, decades later, that's fine. It served its purpose when I read it, and that's good enough for me. It is even nice to be able to look back on it objectively and see it for what it was (and is.)


AndrewP (andrewca) | 2502 comments I'm in the same boat. I first read SoS in 1987 so was a bit apprehensive about a reread. Decided to do the audible version instead of the book. After about 90% I can say that this time I see all the LotR influences and a few other problems. However, it's still a good yarn and I'm enjoying it. First time I rated it 5 stars, this time I will probably still give it a 4.


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