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The Sword of Rhiannon
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2015 Reads > TSoR: Anyone else have a hard time finishing? (No Spoilers)

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message 1: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3959 comments I feel like it never really got started before it ended. A decent piece of fluff, but these days it would be a 500 page tome. With battle scenes. And a quest or two.

I kind of felt like the "Poochie" episode of the Simpsons where they never get to the fireworks factory. You've got a sword, when are you going to use it?


terpkristin | 4144 comments Yeah, this book wasn't really for me. It wasn't that it was bad, but I guess I'm just not that into pulp. Combine that with finding the main character annoying, it just wasn't my thing. It seemed very average. If it had been longer, I probably would have lemmed it. I just didn't feel ANY connection to or care about any character.


message 3: by Brendan (last edited May 07, 2015 07:58PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brendan (mistershine) | 930 comments I actually was slightly pleasantly surprised? I expected it to be bad but instead I found it average. I echo other people's problems with characterization (and sexism), and I think if it was any longer it would have been a bit of a slog, but it was short enough to not wear out its welcome.

Glad I read it, not inspired to seek out other Brackett or Sword & Planet novels.


Rochelle | 69 comments I too am finding the main character, and most of the other characters, very hard to sympathize with.

It seems to be a book filled with a lot of portent, but wondering if that's going to pay off...


Joanna Chaplin | 1175 comments I put the book down at maybe 1/3 of the way through just because of life reasons and had a little trouble picking it back up again. But I knew that it was supposed to be short and I thought "it's pulp and it's history" and I soldiered on. I'm glad I did though. There's a minor twist at the climax I found neat. I'm glad of the experience but I'm probably not picking up any more "sword and planet" stories, either. At least, not of this type. I really really liked Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series, especially when I was young.


message 6: by Art (new) - added it

Art | 190 comments I have actually put this one down, which is pretty rare for me. But I wouldn't say that I have lemmed it because it wasn't particularly bad, I just wasn't into it. I felt no pull to keep reading, not even curiosity to see what was going to happen. I felt like it was a waste of my time to keep going and so picked something else up. It was interesting to give it a go as I have never read a book from that time before, but I won't be returning, it's not my thing.


Phil | 1140 comments Eleanor wrote: "I have actually put this one down, which is pretty rare for me. But I wouldn't say that I have lemmed it because it wasn't particularly bad, I just wasn't into it. I felt no pull to keep reading, n..."

I think it's a mistake to write off a huge amount of science fiction just because you didn't like one story, especially since she was paying homage to a style from 30 years earlier than when it was written. It would be like me giving up on all of contemporary fantasy because I didn't like A Dance of Cloaks.
Maybe you should try a different writer from the era like Bradbury or Sturgeon.


message 8: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3959 comments The seminal Mars book of my young reading days was Bradbury's Martian Chronicles. It's still loved as a classic, and rightly so. Maybe that one.


message 9: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (last edited May 11, 2015 09:14PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tassie Dave | 3542 comments Mod
70 years ago this was probably a great book. 50 years ago it might have been an ok book. But in 2015 this is dated and misogynistic, which is bad enough for a male writer of the time, but for a female author.... :-?.
I can understand writing for a male audience, but pandering to their Male Chauvinist Pig attitudes is perplexing to me.

I probably would have enjoyed this at the time I was reading E.R.Burroughs and similar (about grade 5 when I was 10) (Early 70's) the misogyny would have gone over my head.

(view spoiler)


message 10: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3959 comments ^ I moved on to Black Amazon of Mars. I'm good with taking authors as representative of their time and will forgive many of the things that bothered you, Tassie. For instance I found the Barsoom books good adventure stories despite the breathtaking racism and justifications of slavery. If anything, Burroughs was ahead of his time by having Dejah Thoris represent a scientific mission. She also tells John Carter to go screw on several occasions when he's being a jerk.

As for Leigh Brackett, I found the following interesting in Black Amazon. Spoilered, I suppose, although the possibility would be obvious to a casual reader: (view spoiler)

So I find some sociological benefit in reading older SF and parsing out the attitudes of the day. Heck, there is blatant anti-semitism in Verne's "Off on a Comet" yet it is still worth reading. In addition to being a decent space adventure drama, reading that book can help in understanding how the Vichy regime came about, if one of the best of French writers could create such a character.


Daniel K | 164 comments I agree to one of the comments above about this book being first of all interesting as a history lesson. Characters and adventure and story are too simple to enjoy this after all those big epic masterful sci-fi sagas. Situations unravel in such a naive way, Carse solves everything with so much ease that it feels like a teenage book if not for even younger audience.


Rob Secundus (quintessential_defenestration) | 1035 comments Joanna wrote: "I'm probably not picking up any more "sword and planet" stories, either. At least, not of this type. I really really liked Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series, especially when I was young. "

Weirdly, I'm not super-enthused about this read (I keep wavering between "mediocre" and "average, but solid") but I definitely found it more enjoyable than the one McCaffrey we read. This one could have used some breathing room, but the first Pern just came off as plodding to me.

And then, occasionally, you get lines like "it was as though he were Lucifer fallen, crowned with all the wickedness of the world" or "he heard above him a rustling as of great birds roused from slumber."

I can't really picture a version of the first Pern that I would have loved reading, but I can very easily imagine a version of this that would've rocked.

Also, count me in with the voices above saying "this was worth reading even just as a history lesson." Definitely glad that I got to peak into an era, genre, and classic writer that I never would have otherwise.


David | 67 comments I thought this was pretty good for the time period in which it was written. As in, I finished it without a problem, but if it had been longer I would've quit. Most early sci-fi and fantasy both suffer from writing that wouldn't survive if measured against today's standards. Some of this is due to book lengths that don't allow full character development and intricate plots.


Robert Osborne (ensorceled) | 79 comments Tassie Dave wrote: "70 years ago this was probably a great book. 50 years ago it might have been an ok book. But in 2015 this is dated and misogynistic, which is bad enough for a male writer of the time, but for a female author ..."

I think that's the point of still reading these types of books occasionally, to see how far we've come and how different we are as readers.


Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1864 comments Chase wrote: "Brendan wrote: " I think if it was any longer it would have been a bit of a slog, but it was short enough to not wear out its welcome. "

Yes that was the only reason I actually finished it. If it was closer to 300 or more pages, I probably wouldn't have finished it."


You know, I really enjoyed this book, but after reading comments like this, I feel myself agreeing. I loved it for what it was, a short and very silly book with swords and lasers and gods and martians and, by gosh, was it enjoyable!

But if it had been a longer book, I highly doubt I would have had the patience. The characters are all so loosely drawn, doing whatever the ridiculous plot requires of them and there is no way I could care about their motivations enough to tolerate a longer tale.

As the story is so short, I found myself just embracing the sheer daftness of it all.


message 16: by Art (new) - added it

Art | 190 comments Phil wrote: "Eleanor wrote: "I have actually put this one down, which is pretty rare for me. But I wouldn't say that I have lemmed it because it wasn't particularly bad, I just wasn't into it. I felt no pull to..."

OK, good point. Shouldn't have been so blunt.


Miranda I had a hard time, not with the last half of the book but rather after the beginning. I really liked the beginning with the description of the towns and a few parts of the history revealed. It made me want to know more about the place. But the lack of emotions with the characters and not liking any of them made it hard for me to read further. But in the second half of the book, for me they became a bit more likeable (or maybe because they had a goal?)
I think if the book would have been longer it might have an opportunity to be better. More words into character emotions and time between the action parts (which for me was a bit hasty. It stopped me in my reading and I had to tell myself: this is a few days/weeks later they might have changed...)


message 18: by Rob (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rob | 33 comments I found this book absolutely riveting but I wouldn't want to read an epic trilogy of 500 pagers based on this. It's fantastic for what it is, a pulp adventure story of a certain time. Yes there were sexist tropes, but I've read much much worse from later authors who are still regarded as pinnacles of the sf genre.


terpkristin | 4144 comments Can the thread creator or a mod please change the title of this to have TSoR (or something similar) at the front?


terpkristin | 4144 comments No worries, and thanks!!! :)


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