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

stenney

Killed in the battle against the Mad King
Book 2 and 3 are certainly my favorites, packed with action and the clashing of major forces. The plot twist at the Red Wedding also spice up things quite nicely too. Book 4 seemed quite to stall a bit for me (and there's no Tyrion or Jon POV, so that's a thing), and book 5 does seemed too branching and distended in terms of plot. Personally, I prefer the direction the TV show is going with the plot, rather's than George R. R. Martin's layout post-book 5.
try reading books 4 and 5 chronologically. since they both take place after the events of book 3, just telling the full stories of characters divided by geography, i think they get an unfair rap, especially book 5 , when people say it doesn't advance the plot. no, it doesn't advance the plot from book 4, because it picks up after book 3, with the characters that weren't in book 4. there are a bunch of links you can find to read the 2 book at the same time, so the story involves all the characters from the end of book 3 moving forward.
 

stenney

Killed in the battle against the Mad King
Daenerys remaining in Essos for 5 books makes sense if you take into consideration the fact that A Song of Ice and Fire was originally supposed to be and sold to the publishers as a trilogy. But, as the series grew from a trilogy to a pentalogy to a septology, there were more and more stories to tell and resolve before Westeros was ready (whatever this means) for Daenerys. As a result we have lots of meandering in Essos. I doubt conquering the slaver cities was ever in the original outline too. Daenerys is just kind of waiting till a necceseray plot point is reached.

I didn't have any problems with Young Griff. I sort of see him as an antithesis to Daenerys. Her claim depends on her being the last living Targaryen, but suddenly there's a claimant who's allegedly the son of Rhaegar, Daenerys' older brother. And unlike Daenerys people actually like him, he doesn't burn people and turn down alliances and most importantly, he is actually conquering Westeros. At the end of book 5, he has a valuable keep in Stormlands and is ready to attack Storm's End, he has House Martell as allies and is likely to have the support of Tyrells as well come Winds of Winter.

There's is, of course, a prophecy of a mummer's dragon, so it's possible that Aegon might be a fake planted by Varys, a Blackfyre fake too. All most likely leading to what many presume to be the 2nd Dance of Dragons (the first one was a civil war between Targaryens and what after the war became another branch of the house - Blackfyres. It marked the eventual demise of dragons, as most of them died during the conflicts).
i have a different take on this prophecy. i like to think that Young Griff is legit, and the mummer's dragon (fake dragon) refers to Quentyn, since he didn't fair too well with his vist to the dragons, and that the sun's son is Young Griff, if real, would be Elia Martell's (sigil = sun) son.
 

stenney

Killed in the battle against the Mad King
Daenerys remaining in Essos for 5 books makes sense if you take into consideration the fact that A Song of Ice and Fire was originally supposed to be and sold to the publishers as a trilogy. But, as the series grew from a trilogy to a pentalogy to a septology, there were more and more stories to tell and resolve before Westeros was ready (whatever this means) for Daenerys. As a result we have lots of meandering in Essos. I doubt conquering the slaver cities was ever in the original outline too. Daenerys is just kind of waiting till a necceseray plot point is reached.

I didn't have any problems with Young Griff. I sort of see him as an antithesis to Daenerys. Her claim depends on her being the last living Targaryen, but suddenly there's a claimant who's allegedly the son of Rhaegar, Daenerys' older brother. And unlike Daenerys people actually like him, he doesn't burn people and turn down alliances and most importantly, he is actually conquering Westeros. At the end of book 5, he has a valuable keep in Stormlands and is ready to attack Storm's End, he has House Martell as allies and is likely to have the support of Tyrells as well come Winds of Winter.

There's is, of course, a prophecy of a mummer's dragon, so it's possible that Aegon might be a fake planted by Varys, a Blackfyre fake too. All most likely leading to what many presume to be the 2nd Dance of Dragons (the first one was a civil war between Targaryens and what after the war became another branch of the house - Blackfyres. It marked the eventual demise of dragons, as most of them died during the conflicts).
and the Blackfyre's and the subsequent Blackfyre rebellions didn't stem from the Dance of the Dragons, they started when Aegon the Unworthy legitimized all his bastards on his deathbed, including the 4 Great Bastards, one of which being Daemon Blackfyre, to whom he gave the sword, and many thought was his son and heir anyway.
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
especially book 5 , when people say it doesn't advance the plot
I loved book 5 and it may be that I don't perceive a plot anywhere at this point and I just revel in Martin's writing. He could write a shopping list and I would be enthralled.

Funny, reading the WOK and WOR summaries that someone posted the links to have made me sympathetic to Maark Abbott's opinion. In retrospect it is too much nothing that also doesn't further the plot. Yet anyway. Now my original reads didn't strike me like this at the time. Seeing now how much extraneous exposition there is, I'm surprised I didn't notice it originally.

But I still love his writing.
 

Amaryllis

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.

...

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.

You know, this is actually a really good point, and you probably make the most compelling argument I’ve seen for reading this book, lol. Now I actually kind of do want to read it, just for the purposes of comparing it to what I think it is in my head, since I’ve already taken a public stance on it. So kudos!

It’s true that no matter how much research you do, it isn’t really going to be a substitute for the ‘real thing,’ and you may end up feeling totally differently about something than how you thought you would, and you’re never going to be able to perfectly predict for taste (everyone, including people whose opinions I trust, told me Dragon Age 2 was the worst game in that series by far….turned out to be my favorite), but the basic problem I saw with kenubrion’s post was ‘then how are we supposed to decide what to read?’ None of us have infinite time, so we need to find a way of narrowing down the options. We can do this by following curated lists like Ben’s, which is great particularly for people who haven’t read much fantasy (I was there at one point, and found several books I love because of the site). But we also eventually learn to refine our own preferences and get good at finding things more likely to fit them. There is a world of difference between ‘thinking’ writers like Steven Erikson and R. Scott Bakker, and pure entertainment adventure fantasy like Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson or Larry Correia. A neophyte wouldn’t really be able to tell the difference, because they all have the same goofy covers and relatively stock descriptions. And while it’s by no means a guarantee about how any given person will feel about any of those writers and their works if they actually read them, I feel like seeing the sort of people who enjoy those books, and the kinds of things they say in their favor, is more likely to tell you something substantial about it than reading the almost cut and paste Amazon blurb about some mysterious wanderer and some young hard-done streetwise girl and some ancient resurrected demon god and etc. etc. It seemed like kenubrion was basically saying ‘if there’s something on this particular ‘Best of’ list you haven’t read, why are you okay with not having read it yet?’ There’s not really a satisfying answer to this question, but I do believe there’s a perfectly good rationale for avoiding certain works even if they are highly thought of.

Those people that somehow have extensive and extremely combative opinions, despite seemingly not having read much in the genre at all, are, of course, an entirely different problem, and probably the scourge of comment sections.

(as a side note, I do believe there is a pretty consistent fantasy writer in-group definition for 'postmodern fantasy,' despite the term 'postmodern' itself basically being so meaningless as to be nonsense babble; the way I see it mostly applied, it is roughly 'fantasy that really reeeally enjoys taking classic heroic or mythical fantasy tropes and making them either as dark/unheroic, or as purposely absurd as possible')
 

MorteTorment

Knows Who John Uskglass Is
You know, this is actually a really good point, and you probably make the most compelling argument I’ve seen for reading this book, lol. Now I actually kind of do want to read it, just for the purposes of comparing it to what I think it is in my head, since I’ve already taken a public stance on it. So kudos!

It’s true that no matter how much research you do, it isn’t really going to be a substitute for the ‘real thing,’ and you may end up feeling totally differently about something than how you thought you would, and you’re never going to be able to perfectly predict for taste (everyone, including people whose opinions I trust, told me Dragon Age 2 was the worst game in that series by far….turned out to be my favorite), but the basic problem I saw with kenubrion’s post was ‘then how are we supposed to decide what to read?’ None of us have infinite time, so we need to find a way of narrowing down the options. We can do this by following curated lists like Ben’s, which is great particularly for people who haven’t read much fantasy (I was there at one point, and found several books I love because of the site). But we also eventually learn to refine our own preferences and get good at finding things more likely to fit them. There is a world of difference between ‘thinking’ writers like Steven Erikson and R. Scott Bakker, and pure entertainment adventure fantasy like Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson or Larry Correia. A neophyte wouldn’t really be able to tell the difference, because they all have the same goofy covers and relatively stock descriptions. And while it’s by no means a guarantee about how any given person will feel about any of those writers and their works if they actually read them, I feel like seeing the sort of people who enjoy those books, and the kinds of things they say in their favor, is more likely to tell you something substantial about it than reading the almost cut and paste Amazon blurb about some mysterious wanderer and some young hard-done streetwise girl and some ancient resurrected demon god and etc. etc. It seemed like kenubrion was basically saying ‘if there’s something on this particular ‘Best of’ list you haven’t read, why are you okay with not having read it yet?’ There’s not really a satisfying answer to this question, but I do believe there’s a perfectly good rationale for avoiding certain works even if they are highly thought of.

Those people that somehow have extensive and extremely combative opinions, despite seemingly not having read much in the genre at all, are, of course, an entirely different problem, and probably the scourge of comment sections.

(as a side note, I do believe there is a pretty consistent fantasy writer in-group definition for 'postmodern fantasy,' despite the term 'postmodern' itself basically being so meaningless as to be nonsense babble; the way I see it mostly applied, it is roughly 'fantasy that really reeeally enjoys taking classic heroic or mythical fantasy tropes and making them either as dark/unheroic, or as purposely absurd as possible')
Cheers friend! I love Dragon Age 2 the best as well. It and avoided it for a long time because I heard it was so terrible, it's actually one of my faves.

While we're on the subject, here's a few other rpgs that I enjoyed that are judged harshly by more people I know than otherwise.

Divinity 2: Director's Cut(It's got a LOT ot offer.)
Fallout Tactics(Ignore the fact that it's not really canon, and it's a lot of fun.)
Neverwinter Nights 2(the best single player medievil isometric rpg out there!)
Shadowrun Returns(one of the best games ever made. Some of the best written dialogue you will ever find in a game!)
Divine Divinity(the original Divine Divinty. Some of the best music you'll hear in a game, and the best storylines in a Diablo clone.)
Torment: Tides of Numenera(tThis has what Planescape Torment lacks. Descriptions of combat!)
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines(best vampire game ever made. As atmospheric as it gets.)

This also makes me think of how I was judging Drizz't too harshly too, assuming I wouldn't enjoy it because my tates were "more refined." The Dark Elf Trilogy is just as good as when I read it when Borders was around.
 

Peat

Journeyed there and back again
I haven't read anything by Neil Gaiman. My husband has read quite a lot of his work, and knows my tastes pretty well, and says I would hate Gaiman's writing. (Well, I guess American Gods is actually #11 on the list.) I'm not saying absolutely that I won't pick one of his books up one day, but there's so much else out there that I want to read that I may never get to it.
10,000 years later, while browsing back through this thread...

Did your husband say why your tastes and Gaiman's writing would go so badly together? Just mildly curious.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
It is a very particular writing style and subject matter. I finally read Neverwhere last week, and I noticed a lot of similarities to American Gods in the writing and world-building. I didn't enjoy The Ocean at the End of the Lane, but there were similarities with that as well. If you haven't read Good Omens, I highly recommend it. It's a different matter entirely. Pratchett + Gaiman is a good combo.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
But we also eventually learn to refine our own preferences and get good at finding things more likely to fit them. There is a world of difference between ‘thinking’ writers like Steven Erikson and R. Scott Bakker, and pure entertainment adventure fantasy like Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson or Larry Correia. A neophyte wouldn’t really be able to tell the difference, because they all have the same goofy covers and relatively stock descriptions. And while it’s by no means a guarantee about how any given person will feel about any of those writers and their works if they actually read them, I feel like seeing the sort of people who enjoy those books, and the kinds of things they say in their favor, is more likely to tell you something substantial about it than reading the almost cut and paste Amazon blurb about some mysterious wanderer and some young hard-done streetwise girl and some ancient resurrected demon god and etc. etc.
Malcom Gladwell's TED talk "Choice, happiness, and spaghetti sauce" is pretty insightful on the limitations of what you describe. We as a species are remarkably bad at describing what we enjoy. Gladwell describes a friend's research to better understand consumer preferences. Here's my favorite excerpt from the transcript:
GLADWELL: People don't know what they want, right? As Howard loves to say, the mind knows not what the tongue wants.

(LAUGHTER)

GLADWELL: It's a mystery. And a critically important step in understanding our own desires and taste is to realize that we cannot always explain what we want deep down. If I asked all you, for example, in this room what you want in a coffee, you know what you would say? Every one of you would say I want a dark, rich, hearty roast. It's what people always say when you ask them what they want in a coffee. What do you like? Dark, rich, hearty roast.

(LAUGHTER)

GLADWELL: What percentage of you actually like a dark, rich, hearty roast? According to Howard, somewhere between 25 and 27 percent of you. Most of you like milky, weak coffee.
I don't like dragons or vampires in my fantasy books. I just don't. They're the worst of tropes, and they are common subjects for the type of rushed pulp fantasy that I try to avoid. I like assassins (yes, yes, also a pulp fantasy trope, but I like it). Tell me a story is great and that it's about assassins and I'm buying it. But I never cared for Assassin's Apprentice, and I really enjoyed GRRM's Fevre Dream (it's about vampires) and while I could complain endlessly about ASoIaF, I do enjoy the Mother of Dragons stuff.

I suspect that the best way to advise book selection would use some sort of rigorous statistical work to find underlying similarities in preferences. "People who like A but not B typically enjoy C, while people who like B but not A typically enjoy D," but much less linear. Some sort of neural network thing.
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
The following method works well for ME I go through Ben's lists the best I know of). Those I like go on my TBR. When unsure I wait until it is discussed or ask questions in the "Have You Read This Book" thread where somebody is usually nice enough to give insight.

When I find an unfamiliar book at a reduced price I ask people here about it. No method I'm aware of can possibly be 100% and personally avoiding two books that I don't like to missing out on a goodie is preferred. I think any method that works for an individual is a good one!
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
And then you go on to actually comment on a book positively or negatively based on what other people told you. So you're twice removed from the facts. But that doesn't stop you.
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
Besides, asking other people instead of relying on the product description and reviews is absurd. There is a surfeit of information about all books. Basing your opinion on "someone said" is just...
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
Who said anything about commenting on a book based on what others said? Can you supply a quote? Or is this something you just came up with on your own? I would actually agree with you that someone shouldn't comment on a book they haven't read as if they had first hand experience. However , it wouldn't bother me if someone said "I've read a lot of negative reviews on (fill in the blank) that stated (x)". That is normal human behavior.

Again, without supplying a quote what you're saying doesn't hold any weight. Even IF you could supply one I cannot help but wonder whether you are angry about something? Have you taken someone elses views on a book or an author that doesn't mesh with your own and taken it personally? I don't get that impression fron any other posters around here.
 

Maark Abbott

Journeyed there and back again
Tell me a story is great and that it's about assassins and I'm buying it.
*waves in I wrote one of these*

That said, a lot of the reason I write assassin fiction is that it's also my favourite subgenre. When I was writing the bulk of my main character's stealth / assassination parts, I was also playing Thief: The Dark Project, which had a very noticeable impact on what I was writing and how I was having her go about what she was doing. It became a lot more fun once she started killing; up until then the Garrett influence meant that she wouldn't kill someone due to the complications it would cause.
 

Peat

Journeyed there and back again
Besides, asking other people instead of relying on the product description and reviews is absurd. There is a surfeit of information about all books. Basing your opinion on "someone said" is just...
The thing I will never get about this argument is why you believe its okay to make decisions based on some people's opinions but completely unthinkable to do it based on other people's opinions. "Someone said" is pretty much exactly what reviews are.

Not making decisions about whether you like a book/author except from your own empirical evidence? That makes sense. Holding up Ben's lists and reviews as great information but deriding the opinions of forum goers as bad information? This doesn't make sense to me because both groups are the same: knowledgeable fans. Either knowledgeable fans are worth listening to or they're not.
 

MorteTorment

Knows Who John Uskglass Is
It is a very particular writing style and subject matter. I finally read Neverwhere last week, and I noticed a lot of similarities to American Gods in the writing and world-building. I didn't enjoy The Ocean at the End of the Lane, but there were similarities with that as well. If you haven't read Good Omens, I highly recommend it. It's a different matter entirely. Pratchett + Gaiman is a good combo.
I somehow missed this post.

The Ocean at the end of the Lane was something that I enjoyed a lot(dear god that bittersweet ending!) shame you didn't enjoy it.

and yeah, I need to give Gaimen a chance now that I've gotten over my "I won't read YA" phase.
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
I somehow missed this post.

The Ocean at the end of the Lane was something that I enjoyed a lot(dear god that bittersweet ending!) shame you didn't enjoy it.

and yeah, I need to give Gaimen a chance now that I've gotten over my "I won't read YA" phase.
I loved Ocean. and I enjoyed Anansi as well. I thought Good Omens was "OK". Neverwhere was not my cup of tea*. I avoid YA. However, even if it is YA, I'm going to read Stardust. Maybe even Graveyard and Coraline as well.


* Not my cup of tea" is not the same as "dissing it".