The book you don't like that most everyone else seems to like ...

Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by TomTB, Apr 26, 2015.

  1. Matticus Primal

    Matticus Primal Journeyed there and back again

    Also, just so we're all on the same metaphoric page, my argument isn't that The Magicians is derivative of Narnia. It's derivative of Narnia AND Harry Potter. And if you can't see that, then no amount of argument of terms/ definitions will ever do. Because this is basic pattern recognition. And you either see it or you don't. And if you don't, good on you. Enjoy The Magicians. I cannot, but do not begrudge you that you can.
  2. ExTended

    ExTended Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    In all honesty - I haven't read Narnia. But I have read Harry Potter and I couldn't think of anything similar between the two series - in tone, setting, characterization or worldbuilding. So do tell me, besides a few tropes, what do they have in common?

    Until you point out exact similarities which aren't tropes, I cannot help but think you are bulding up a straw-man argument to support your feelings toward the series.

    Now let's come back to the Narnia thingy. I haven't read it. But so far that isn't preventing me from opposing you, because you haven't made a single comparison of things that happen in the books and aren't tropes. The walking through a closet into another world is a trope. Which means it can be found in numerous different works, used in numerous different ways. Until you prove the case here isn't a use of a trope but a blatant plagiarism, I am sorry, but even a person like me who haven't read the books can tell you how empty your argument is.

    And before you start to explain to me how I don't know nothing, Jon Snow, because I haven't read the books - I've watched the movies, they are what they are, but I bet that they are following the books close enough enabling me to be sure that besides the number of characters rulling the imaginery kingdoms, there are no other similarities between the two - again this includes characterization, plot, worldbuilding, conflict, etc. Prove me wrong.

    As for the question about are the books better that the TV show... In my opinion - yes. Far better. They are not made for a teenage akward phase time audience for one. Also - the story is going more smoothly and the mysterious cliche evil blonde bitch plot-line is nowhere to be found in the books, so yeah... The TV show is kind of insulting actually, books or no books, to the intelligence of the average viewer. But that's how most TV shows nowadays are, so it might be that I've been expecting too much, no idea.

    I feel kind of strange here. I am defending a series that isn't even one of my favorite as if it is. The series is good, very good, it's not extraordinary, but it's not copied from one other person's work either. It's wrong when you make such kind of demands without any solid arguments to back it up, so I don't mind chiming in to the rant party.
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  3. Silvion Night

    Silvion Night Sir Readalot Staff Member

    A quick Google search will show you that there are tons of similarities between Harry Potter and the Magicians. There are several articles out there that revolve around this very topic. The reviewer from the New York Times even called the Magicians "Harry Potter for adults".

    I haven't read the Magicians, so I can't say it is derivative per se, but saying there are no similarities between the franchises is obtuse.
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  4. ExTended

    ExTended Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    I am a busy man in my daily life, I don't make a note on reading any newspapers, even less - all of them, therefore you won't find me spending 20 hours going through essays on books I've spend 15 hours reading. Nor do I read thoughts - if I manage to acquire that skill - the people in this forum will be the first to know.

    So I am still waiting for Matticus to back-up his opinion with arguments, facts, simple words - we are simple men here, simple words would do just fine.

    My history teacher in high-school used to say something very profound - if you want to make a good case for any topic, be ready to back it up with at least three arguments or if you don't have three - don't bother at all.

    I am waiting for things like "This place from X is oddly similar to this place from Y". "This character X is just copy-pasted character Y, because they go through this and this character arcs, which are oddly similar to another another, or have this an this traits, or this and this habbits or reactions to stimulus". A "The theme that this plot device in book X conveys is similar to the thing the plot device in book Y does, because arguments yada, yada" would be nice too. Or even something obscure and out of one's ass like "Author X comments on the work of Author Y" by satirizing these and these things, or hyperbolizing them, or whatever."

    All we get instead are personal interpretations of whole books, backed up by personal interpretations of whole books. I call that BS.
  5. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Journeyed there and back again

    I can make three arguments comparing magicians (tv show) to men in black...and a few too matrix.

  6. Theophania

    Theophania Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    When it comes to stories about boarding schools, there are hundreds - with magic and without. If you're dealing with young protagonists, you have to get the parents out of the way somehow, and a boarding school is a good alternative to some kind of disaster. Plus it creates a society composed almost entirely of children - which is going to appeal to a juvenile audience.

    When it comes to schools of magic, I read The Worst Witch series when I was a kid - there was even a TV programme (both of which predated Harry Potter). Then there's the school in Earthsea, the Collegium in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds series, the school in Caroline Stevermer's A College of Magics, and that's just counting books I've read and can think of off the top of my head, and deliberately listing only pre-Harry Potter books. Since Harry Potter, of course, there's been an explosion of magical school stories, which is what you'd expect.

    When it comes to people going through portals to other worlds, that one's an old favourite. Maybe you don't always get a wardrobe, but so many people have used it before that it's a very well-worn road. In Coraline, the girl goes through a door; Diana Wynne Jones plays with the trope by turning it inside out in Howl's Moving Castle (also a door); and let's not forget Alice in Wonderland (rabbit hole) and Alice Through the Looking-Glass (mirror).

    Yes, Grossman might well have taken a mixture of Harry Potter and Narnia as his jumping off point - Seanan McGuire has done something with the Narnia concept quite recently, too, I think. But it's what he does with it after that, that counts. It sounds to me like he started off with the question 'what would really happen if there was a school for magic and a portal to a fantasy world', and set out to write something grittier and more realistic than Harry Potter (notwithstanding the later books get quite dark, for kids' books). But what dictates whether it's just 'Harry Potter done for young adult' or not is where he takes it.

    For instance, Jenna Starborn is Jane Eyre done sci-fi. Pretty much every character in Jenna has an equivalent in Jane, and you can follow the plot of both in tandem if you want. This was the author's conscious decision: to rewrite Jane Eyre in a sci-fi world. And having read both, I enjoyed Jenna with that little bit of extra spice, because I could see what the author was doing.

    I haven't read The Magicians, and probably I won't because it sounds like I'd want to slap most of the characters. But the existence of a magical school and a fantasy world you access through a doorway doesn't make The Magicians a copy of Harry Potter and Narnia any more than Harry Potter was a copy of The Worst Witch or Narnia was a copy of Alice.

    Like leaving your house when you go on a trip, it's not where you start from that counts: it's the direction you take once you leave.
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  7. kenubrion

    kenubrion Journeyed there and back again

    It's tiresome now, but it WAS great.
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  8. Noor Al-Shanti

    Noor Al-Shanti Stood on the wall with Druss

    Just finished reading through all 28 pages! Now to try and restore it to its former glory! haha

    I agree with those above who mentioned Uprooted. I liked Novik's Temeraire books (well, the first couple at least), but Uprooted was a let-down. I did manage to finish it, but it felt like two different books that don't like each other were forced into the same binding.... one of the stories had promise, I loved the forest stuff near the end and wished it had been developed better, but the other felt kind of pointless after a certain point. And the love story was ridiculous.

    I enjoyed Tigana and the Sarantine Mosaic, but I have a feeling if I try re-reading them it might not go too well. However, if you've only read the Fionavar Tapestry try something else by Kay because man did that first trilogy suck compared to his later works.

    *sheds a small tear at all the HP and LoTR mentions* I do understand it, though. I was lucky enough to get into both fandoms just before their movies came out so my view of it wasn't spoiled by the visual representation.

    I feel like movies and tv have kind of spoiled us(humans) in general. In the past when you read a book you were looking for the words to paint an image for you, you were looking to enjoy the turn of a phrase or whatever, but nowadays you can see pages and pages of description in only a few seconds so it's hard to make that commitment to descriptive works like LoTR. However, if you are going to give LoTR a chance I'd say you should give it at least until the Bree and Strider. And skip the barrow-downs and Tom Bombadil chapters/sections.

    For Harry Potter, if you've watched the movies and don't like it I would suggest you give the books a chance up to book 3. Even if it means skipping the first two (definitely skip 2, it's just not worth it and the movie tells you everything you need to know anyway). Book 3 was a lot less predictable and childish because it wasn't about facing Voldemort yet again. There are hidden gems in those books, honestly, and you're missing out if you think the movies are an accurate representation! I've re-read them all maybe 5 to 7 times except for the second one which I only read once and will probably never read again.
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  9. Darwin

    Darwin Journeyed there and back again

    The setting is comparable to Harry Potter (secret magic school set on Earth), but the themes, plot, characterization, magic system, and writing style are completely distinct. The author knows you've read HP, and you know that the characters in the story have read Harry Potter. But other than learning magic at a school, there's nothing in common.

    As for Narnia, to make my point I'll just substitute Narnia in place of Fillory. The author knows you've read or are at least aware of The Chronicles of Narnia, and you know that the characters in the story have read these books too. One of the characters discovers that Narnia actually exists and that with a special item from the stories they can enter Narnia. The characters go to Narnia and discover it's nothing like what they read about, that there's an evil demon who made Aslan his slave, and that this demon wants to eat them. Some of them are maimed or killed in their encounter.

    Now take that Magicians story and consider that instead of Narnia, Grossman built his own childish portal-fantasy world, the main similarities to Narnia being that some British kids stumbled into it through a clock, that they go there and become kings and queens, that they're not allowed to come back when they get too old, and that there's a book series about the adventures that Grossman's characters read as children the way you and I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The features of the world and the adventures and characters in it are all unique, however. It's also got some SUPER dark secrets that are exposed at the end of the first Magician's book. Only read this spoiler if you've read The Magicians or you're confident you won't want to:
    The "demon" I mentioned earlier is Martin, one of the British kids, the one who found Fillory through the clock in the first place as a young boy. Scared he would be asked to leave Fillory, he secretly used dark magic to transform himself into a terrifying demon-god-thing so that he could bitch-slap the world's Gods and prevent them from kicking him out. Why did he step into a grandfather clock in the first place, and why didn't he want to go back to Earth? The clock belonged to his rich neighbor, who watched after the kids while their father was off at war iirc, and this neighbor had been molesting Martin. The neighbor also happened to be the author of Fillory and Further, the Narnia-esque novels beloved by Grossman's protagonist. In essence, this diddler is both Digory Kirke AND C.S. Lewis, but as a pedophile. So...what was that about this story just being an adult HP/Narnia?
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2017
  10. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Journeyed there and back again

    Tom bombadil is one of the detestable characters that serve no purpose but deus ex machina and not a shred of adding to the plot or the back lore. Yet everyone seems to love him as the favorite and most unremovable character. (Oops that's a different thread "character you hate everyone else loves")

    The barrow downs at least establish two things, the nature of wights addition of swords, so we don't have to worry about it later, and to add a sense of danger earlier than it would have arrived without. You can easily skip this and add the nature of wights on weathertop, and swords in some manner.
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  11. Darth Tater

    Darth Tater Journeyed there and back again

    I can just see Toke-eon and Gandalf passing the old churchwarden back and forth when Bombadil was created.
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  12. Anti_Quated

    Anti_Quated Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    It is this perspective you've described that makes me a most grumpy, ornery, and dismissive bastard, and sadly is often more directed at younger people. I'm aghast at how few people in the generations beneath put any effort into reading, particularly older works from yesteryear, be they fiction, non-fiction, or otherwise. Worse, is the pollution of young minds with the instant gratification electronic teat that seems to occur - precisely what you're describing where the need for immediate stimulation and reward outweighs any consideration of delayed gratification or associated effort with an experience or acquisition.

    Why read the voluminous, dusty works that form the cornerstone of Western Civilisation, or some rich, deeply nuanced philosophical meditation on the nature of the human condition writ large as rollicking adventure, when you can revel, swine-like, in all the deplorable pastiches of insipid vulgarity, uninspired retreads and endless reboots, and utterly disposable consumer product of the modern entertainment milieu? Spoiled isn't the word; soiled is perhaps more fitting. :mad::rage::oldman:

    Well on my way, eh @Alucard ? ;)
    For my part, while the adage of a picture painting a thousand words rings true, the quality of that picture rarely matches what I believe the human imagination capable of producing, and to this day I'm yet to encounter a film that conveys a level of comparable quality, enjoyment, stimulation, and immersion against a book. One need only look at the near-autistic levels of camera-speed on the latest Bourne movie, or the wildly overstimulating eye-ball cocaine of Fury Road with all its milk0-fed gimps and flame-thrower guitars and explosive car-chases (well, it was really just the one, but I digress). Maybe it's an age thing; taking the time to appreciate something, or perhaps allowing oneself a less frenetic pace at which to experience stories irrespective of medium.

    One should not rob themselves of the immense value in the written word, especially in such a fantastic genre where there is so much to cultivate strong mental images and stimulate one's 'visuo-spatial sketchpad'. I actually rather like Bombadil and Goldberry; the former is significant, as he is, perhaps, the sole example of a truly old, ancient being in Middle Earth capable of withstanding, perhaps denying, the ascendancy of the dark lord, and yet with such power, he is content to tend to his gardens, to placate the wrathful ancientness of the old forest, a good meal, pleasant company, an evening pipe... very Hobbit-like, wouldn't you say? Think of what Frodo might have become with the power of the Ring, had Frodo's destiny been directed inward, and not toward resolving the large conflicts of the world... Sauron certainly would not have been diminished necessarily, but perhaps kept figuratively subdued by the lack of power. Frodo & Bombadil together, righteous green-thumb wardens of the West. Fanciful musing, apologies, but it delineates the amusing little digressions one gets provided you don't skip the smaller details.

    Advocating selective reading of a text? On a Fantasy forum site?! HERESY!! :D

    To the actual topic of the thread:
    I don't like derivative piss-takes and the asinine smugness of some satirical books. 'Bored of the Rings' is a perfect example. Weird Al Yankovic and the 'comedy' music genre another. It's distasteful, repugnant, and smacks of laziness, lack of creativity, and sour grapes.
  13. Alucard

    Alucard In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge! Staff Member

    Well you're loquacious so you don't fit well with Black Dow, Curnden Crow or the Dogman. You'd be best buds with Glokta though ;)
    But yeah, you're on your way.
  14. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Journeyed there and back again

    Best not read my coming review of Moby dick.
  15. Darwin

    Darwin Journeyed there and back again

    Or the infamous soldier of fortune, Nicomo Cosca! Also the navigator.
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  16. Jaden_Diamondknight

    Jaden_Diamondknight A farm boy with a sword

    After reading some commentaries about Sword of Truth and Wheel of Time, I would rather stay away from those series. Specially with all those misogynistic undertones of the series (specially SoT).
    Other series I can't get into, as much as I want, is GoT. This one is for different reasons.
  17. Ryan W. Mueller

    Ryan W. Mueller Ran bridges next to Kaladin

    You should still give The Wheel of Time a chance. Yes, some of the female characters come across as annoying, but you have to remember that Jordan specifically wrote a world in which there is female privilege rather than male privilege. Did he always pull it off seamlessly? Probably not. But it's still a great series overall (despite the problems in the middle of the series).
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  18. Darwin

    Darwin Journeyed there and back again

    WoT is peerless. I hate when people feel they have to add qualifiers to that (no offense Ryan, you're hardly the only one). "Did he always pull it off seamlessly? Probably not. But it's still a great series overall." Find 12,000 pages of work from any other author with as few troubled spots as WoT. It's a masterpiece, better to my mind than LotR by a mile. Yes, it's filled to the brim with tropes, but many of them have never been done better. The problems in the middle are overstated. It was different when there was a 2 year wait for the next book, but now the occasional subpar sections (bowl of the winds, rescuing hostages from the shaido, Andoran succession, etc.) don't cost you anything and they're overwhelmed in quantity by all the brilliant parts.
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    Last edited: Mar 31, 2017
  19. Silvion Night

    Silvion Night Sir Readalot Staff Member

    Why not both?
  20. Silvion Night

    Silvion Night Sir Readalot Staff Member

    I wouldn't call WoT misogynistic. The female characters are annoying, that's for sure, but it's not out of some inherent misogynism. In fact, like Ryan mentioned, the books actually empower women instead of men. You are really missing out if you avoid WoT, and especially if you do it for the aforementioned reason. Like Darwin said, it is one of the best fantasy series out there and if we're talking about epic farmboy-with-a-sword fantasy series it is the best period.

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