Have you ever intentionally avoided reading a top 10 fantasy book? If so why?

Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by kenubrion, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. Sneaky Burrito

    Sneaky Burrito Crazy Cat Lady Staff Member

    OK, although I liked the book better than you did (it would be hard not to like it more than you did), I've got to agree -- hated the interludes. Waste of time.
  2. Maark Abbott

    Maark Abbott Journeyed there and back again

    I am the Lord of Hate.

    Wait, doesn't that make me Gothos?

    I shall call you Tufty.
  3. rudyjuly2

    rudyjuly2 Ran bridges next to Kaladin

    I enjoyed the interludes lol. I know some of them did not offer any value to the current book but I still found most interesting and wonder how they will connect to the story down the road. Maybe that's not a good way of doing it but they didn't bother me.
  4. Silvion Night

    Silvion Night Sir Readalot Staff Member

    Agreed, I liked them too. I also liked the drawings at the beginning of some chapters. Really added some extra depth to the story if you ask me.
  5. Blastoise

    Blastoise Got in a fistfight with Dresden

    Yeah, iirc, their problem was more that they felt it wasn't an elegant way of doing it at all. Like he shoved it down your throat rather than elegantly weaving that information in throughout the story. I could be remembering incorrectly, but if I'm not, that sounds like poor writing, IMO. Taking a whole chapter just to explain something that doesn't actually help to push the plot forward seems like something that would make me fall asleep and quit. The books are already massive and if this sort of theme is common (which seems to be the case according to Maark Abbott), then probably best for me to stay away, lol (not to mention all of the other issues with my tastes that I listed).

    Of course, to each their own.
  6. Maark Abbott

    Maark Abbott Journeyed there and back again

    The most common theme is pathos and human despair because that's about all you'll get out of it.
  7. Ryan W. Mueller

    Ryan W. Mueller Ran bridges next to Kaladin

    I think you should at least give it a chance. I'm pretty sure Maark read a different book and just thought it was The Way of Kings. ;)
  8. kenubrion

    kenubrion Journeyed there and back again

    Mark at least read it. The other guy, the newb, didn't. Doesn't stop him from trashing it. Unbelievable.
  9. Blastoise

    Blastoise Got in a fistfight with Dresden

    You started this thread asking a question. I'm answering that question and I'm answering it thoughtfully- not just saying, "Oh, cuz it sucks." It seems that rather than reading what I wrote, you just read what you wanted to because you were simply looking for things to cherry pick to get pissed off about.

    I simply stated that based on everything I have heard about the book, that I don't think it's for me. I don't have some crusade against it. I said to each their own and I meant it. This "newb" gave a thoughtful reply, while you just gave some emotional, knee-jerk, one-line post taking a shot at me.

    There are plenty of books out there for all kinds of people. Not everybody has to like the same things. I love the ASOIF books, but I'm sure there are people who don't. If they prefer black/white characters/stories/everybody makes out alive fine and they've gotten feedback as to the type and style of books that the ASOIF series presents and decide it's not for them and explain that, well it's not for me to tell them no, that's wrong, especially if I'm the one asking the question in the first place.

    It's a thread asking why people aren't reading 'X' books/series. Why would I sit here and list all of the good qualities I have heard about a series when the whole point in me answering is to give a perspective as to why I'm not reading it. These are hefty, 4-figure page books. Do I really need to slog through 1000+ pages to decide whether I think I might or might not like something, when I have read commentary from people on various platforms and gotten feedback from people who actually know me and my tastes in real life?

    My time is limited and I don't want to spend 20+ hours on a book that I highly suspect I will not like. I already went down that road in trying a style of book that hasn't really jived with my tastes post ASOIF. No, I'm not going to name the book (and I'm also sure that WoK is easily much better without even having read it) because given your ability to rationalize and form arguments already, you'll just strawman and try to make it an argument about how WoK is 1000x better than that book rather than engaging my actual argument.

    To make it abundantly clear: I'm sure there are plenty of great aspects of WoK (from my understanding, perhaps the strongest is the really extensive magic system?), otherwise it wouldn't have such a rabid fandom as it does. I know plenty of people love the Mistborn series too (which I have no opinion on, aside from its written by the same author and seems to be similarly structured in terms of perceived strengths and weaknesses). Simply the strengths of that book are not what gets me going based on my fairly extensive contact with a lot of reviews and people who know me/my tastes IRL. However, what are perceived shortcomings (which perception might as well be reality in this case and it's all relative) to people who have similar tastes to me are things I do care greatly about, so this likely isn't the book series for me.

    What is unbelievable is somebody starting a thread looking for answers, only to bash people answering his damn thread without offering any substance in return.

    Instead of making vapid, one-line commentary, how about you explain to me and inform me why some of the impressions I have gotten through reviews and personal friends may be wrong or not true in your OPINION, which is all this is.
  10. Maark Abbott

    Maark Abbott Journeyed there and back again

    Nope, I definitely read the same book, I just actually looked at the content. :p
  11. Maark Abbott

    Maark Abbott Journeyed there and back again

    If by 'really extensive' you mean 'threadbare and rubbish', then sure. Will and the Word was more complicated, if I 'm brutally honest.
  12. Amaryllis

    Amaryllis Journeyed there and back again

    Saying 'intentionally avoided' makes it sound like I hid in a broom closet to avoid a book as it made its way down the hallway looking for me. No, I have never had a book placed in front of me, and then gotten up and run away in order to avoid reading it. But yes, I have certainly refrained from picking up certain highly reviewed books because it seemed like they would be of no interest to me. For example, on the list linked in the first post, I don't have to scroll very far to find that I have never read The Magicians by Lev Grossman, nor am I likely to try. Why? I don't even have to go that deep into ben's explanation.

    First three words. Already prepared to nope my way to the next entry on the list.

    This means that people get raped in these books. That is literally what 'grow up' means in the context of fantasy literature: rape happens. And hey, rape is a real thing, and it does indeed happen, so it would be unrealistic if it didn't ever happen in X fantasy world (more or less unrealistic than a wizard calling down a bolt of lightning to fry his enemies? As of yet undecided). But this means it will also be front and center, possibly described as it's happening in the most harrowing language the author can manage, and it is one of the things that every author these days uses to establish their AINT YO DADDY'S LORD OF THE RINGS cred. The novelty of gratuitous rape (or ridiculous torture scenes) for the sake of it has worn off for me.

    And by the way, I knew nothing about this book series other than what vague things people wrote about its style, but I did a tiny bit of googling, and yes, rape happens. Apparently, kind of a lot.

    There is genuinely not a single part of this paragraph, not one single solitary word, that sounds like it describes anything I would want to read.

    Cutting out everything else before or after, the condescension in the bolded part of this paragraph alone lets me know that the guy who wrote it and I are probably incapable of making useful recommendations about what to read to one another. This book is #5 on his Top 25 list. Ergo.

    (for the record, I know Ben and I also have some overlap, but I've read enough of his opinions to know we don't look for any of the same things in books)

    ...and I could keep going, and keep dissecting this description, but why? It's going to be more of the same. And hey, I suppose it's entirely possible that Ben could be putting me on here, and characterizing the series wrongly and unfairly. Although I have read reviews or commentary about this series on this site, and on reddit, and on Amazon, and occasionally out on the wild yonder of the internet, and whether people love or hate the books, they all seem to unanimously describe it as something that sounds exactly like what I don't want to read. It sounds self-indulgent, pretentious, depressive, nihilistic and overly wrought. Now I guess EVERYONE could be wrong, but at what point are you allowed to make a decision, with enough outside feedback, that something isn't for you? Must I actually read the book until the point where I hate it just like I thought I would, or can I fulfill a technicality by cracking open the book and reading a few pages? We can't all Look Inside! every book on Amazon for a peek (some of us have to have time to write agonizingly long forum posts, after all, and can't content ourselves with twittery one-liners). And even if we tried that, many of these fantasy sagas have fans who try to claim you aren't even allowed to judge a series if you only read the first entire book, because even that isn't enough (and there are a few series that people insist you read even more of). And what does Look Inside do, other than let you know if the prose is terrible or not? I thought The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Darkness that Came Before both had GREAT opening chapters -- and then I didn't like either series.

    In any case, like most things kenubrion posts, I assume this question is actually a roundabout way of trying to make an entirely different point, and I don't know if I hit that, but this allowed me to get a bit of mental energy out, so maybe now the god/dess of sleep will finally come and visit me.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2017
  13. Darwin

    Darwin Journeyed there and back again

    Amaryllis, IMO you're making @kenubrion's point. The things that turned you off about Ben's description and the upset blog posts aren't very representative of the books. Addressing your points one by one:
    1) "Post-modern fantasy" is a phrase that means absolutely nothing. That phrase could be used to describe practically anything on the top 25 list that was written in the last decade or so. It has nothing to do with the setting, plotting, themes, prose, action scenes, characterization, magic systems, etc. There's nothing about the book that can be pictured more clearly if you think of it as "post-modern". What if he'd called it a "modern spin on classic fantasy"? Or something else similarly meaningless.

    2) "Fantasy that's decided to grow up" does not mean lots of rape. That's not what Ben meant, and it's not even true that there's a lot of rape. There is one rape scene in the 3 books. That's the second best number of rape scenes that a series can have!

    3) "This is part Harry Potter on downers and suffering from clinical depression, part Alice trapped in a Wonderland gone nightmarish wrong. At its heart, the Magicians is really the story of a boy-become-man struggling to give the world meaning in a world that has no meaning." I think this is a pretty accurate description, honestly, but it's terrible marketing. I wouldn't want to read that either. There are parts of the story that are comparable to Harry Potter (there's a school for magicians...so yeah), and there are parts of the story somewhat comparable to Alice in Wonderland. There's a boy who grows up. After graduating, he does struggle to find a career or calling. All of that is true. However, I think it's not the facts listed here that make it seem unreadable for you, but rather the way Ben chose to describe them. You won't read any portal fantasy? Any magical pedagogy? Any bildungsroman? That's all that description actually means.

    4) "If you are looking for a happy-go-lucky read where the world is saved and everyone finds true love and does a victory dance into the sunset, you may want to skip this one." Again, your complaint here is with Ben's description. Yes, there are sad parts of the books. Is that disqualifying?

    5) "It sounds self-indulgent, pretentious, depressive, nihilistic and overly wrought." It's not though... Maybe a bit nihilistic and more than a bit depressive...but pretentious? Self-indulgent? Overly wrought? Not really. What's wrong with exploring depression in a bildungsroman? Isn't that a pretty common problem for high functioning youths?

    You should read the first Magicians book and post your thoughts here. Was it better or worse than you expected? It's a natural experiment that would be a great addition to this thread. Sure it's anecdotal, but no more anecdotal than explaining why you chose not to read this particular series. I strayed away from roughly half of the top 25 list, then eventually revisited most of them after running through other options. What I found was that the books I skipped were often better than the ones I had leapt at. You've done your due diligence, it seems, so if you find that you enjoy the book more than you thought you would, what does that say about people who didn't do their due diligence? There's plenty of examples in this thread.

    I can't guarantee you'll love it. Nobody can. All I can say is that your view of the books doesn't really resemble what I read, despite your efforts to investigate the book through reviews.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2017
  14. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Journeyed there and back again

    That is the best defense I have ever seen for forming your own opinions.

    Too bad my mind is made up since the tv show (and i asked, Is this accurate? And it was agreed it was)

    But that doesn't matter since it wasn't directed at me... Fantastic argument @Darwin
  15. khrm

    khrm Listens to The Unbeliever whine about life

    I haven't read Malazan . Saving them for some time when I am depressed. Same with The Macht (I know it's not top 10).
  16. Darwin

    Darwin Journeyed there and back again

    A little followup: Amaryllis, I don't mean to claim that you made even a single misstep in researching this book. The opposite is more my point, that even when done carefully the whole process of trying to study a book from the outside is very unreliable. Great fantasy books are so intricately multifaceted that they become nearly impossible to describe universally, and facets that others don't even recognize might be very important to you. Ben is promoting the books with language that work on some people but not on others.
  17. Darwin

    Darwin Journeyed there and back again

    An example from my own preferences:

    Joe Abercrombie doesn't get enough credit for his writing style. It's not the dense, nearly indecipherable prose of many of the more literary authors. Rather, there's a clever sing-song way in which his many of his chapters are written. I think it's Glokta's first chapter that includes something like "If Glokta could pick any one man to torture, anyone at all, it would surely be the inventor of stairs." Then a page or two later: "If Glokta could pick any one man to shake hands with, anyone at all, it would surely be the inventor of chairs." Or in Red Country, Glama Golden is musing to himself at the beginning of his duel that "This would be his last fight." Then thinking of retirement, what to do next, etc. Then he realizes who his opponent really is, realizes he's going to die, and thinks again: "This would be his last fight." I have no idea at all what this style of writing is called. My point here is that it's wonderful, it's clever, and it's one of the best things about Abercrombie's writing. It's everywhere in the books, but it's nowhere in the review, quotes, etc. You could do a ton of research into The First Law or its standalones and never see a mention of it. There's no examples that I could find in the Joe Abercrombie quotes lists on goodreads, either.
  18. rudyjuly2

    rudyjuly2 Ran bridges next to Kaladin

    I never picked up on that Darwin while reading the First Law series.
  19. Noor Al-Shanti

    Noor Al-Shanti Philosophizes with Kellhus

    Well... I found Fantasy in the first place by diligently avoiding everything that was "must read" and "top 10" and so on and only trying books I thought I would enjoy. No reason why that shouldn't apply within the Fantasy genre itself.

    And yes, wouldn't we all like to give every book an equal chance and all the rest of it, but books are not like actual humans. I don't have to be nice to them or humor them or anything. I've read so many books over the years that I have a pretty good idea now of what kinds of things I will enjoy and what kinds of things I won't. Yeah, sometimes it's a snap judgment based on just the blurb, or just the first few words, or even just the title or cover, but so what? If it's really that awesome maybe one day I'll hear something else about it elsewhere like on this forum and I'll change my mind. Maybe I'll be in a different mood and it will appeal to me at that point.

    Also, as has been mentioned previously top ten lists are just opinions.

    Just because it's a top ten book doesn't make it good. After all, haven't we all seen the Twilight craze... and isn't Twilight technically within the Fantasy genre? If someone made a top ten list with Twilight on it does that mean I have to bear with it and give it a bunch of chances despite its major flaws just because someone else thought it was worthy of a place among their top 10? I don't think so. I read primarily for enjoyment not so I can force myself through things that feel like nails on a chalkboard...

  20. Darwin

    Darwin Journeyed there and back again

    That's all true! I guess I just don't consider the lists on this site to be just average or amateurish. The main site and this forum are popular precisely because they don't contain suggestions for things like Twilight :D. My experience with the lists versus new releases that catch my eye is that the main lists on the BFB site are all top-notch. Each and every book I've tried has been exceptional in at least one way I can recognize, even if I don't enjoy other aspects.

    That this is the website we chose to join to chat fantasy stuff implies a certain appreciation for the main site. Even the people saying they didn't like the blurb are admitting that they made their decision at least partially because of that blurb. In a way, that's acknowledgement of some level of trust in Ben's assessment, despite not finding it appealing.

    If you've got other things on your to-read list, then there's no issue at all and my takes in these posts weren't meant to apply. There are just so many posts throughout the relevant threads on these forums that go something like "I loved almost everything I tried on the main lists, but I refuse to try the other 90% of the books on those lists for frivolous or ignorant reasons, so please give me other suggestions." Amaryllis isn't an example of this, at all, I just picked on that post because it was timely.

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