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

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
Really? What did you hate about it? I'll never read it, so go ahead feel free to go spoiler crazy, just make sure to add a spoiler warning.
I'm not even going to bother with spoiler tags.

In no particular order:

*repetitiveness (one major plot device relating to some boxes is used twice in the series, plus the whole thing about the witch telling Richard and Kahlan not to have kids)

*treating the readers like they're stupid (every single book contains the story of how Richard and Kahlan met)

*preachiness (Goodkind is an Any Rand-style libertarian and he repeats this philosophy pretty much in every book)

*direct copying of The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (whatever the book was with the statue on front, they all run together)

*the villains doing stupid stuff like making all red fruits poison and not letting people use fire...just BECAUSE

*the villains being so evil and one dimensional they rape little boys and torture women and make women torture/kill their families and __(you name it and insert it here)__

*racism (all the nonwhite native peoples are horribly primitive and eat human flesh and junk like that)

*the evil chicken (yes, really)

*unrealistic stuff (armies of MILLIONS in a society with the standard fantasy technology level)

*names don't match up...you've got RICHARD, ANNE, and NATHAN along with ZEDD, DARKEN RAHL, and JAGANG

*anti-religion stance (I'm not religious, so I don't necessarily mind when a book takes an anti-religion stance...but here it's very childish and underdeveloped and basically is like "churches are bad because I said so" -- especially true in book 11, which most people probably don't get to)

I have more to say but I need to get going. And I think you get the point. Take everything that's bad about fantasy and throw it into one pot. Substitute "woods guide" for "farm boy" in "farm boy with a sword," too...
 

MorteTorment

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
I'm not even going to bother with spoiler tags.

In no particular order:

*repetitiveness (one major plot device relating to some boxes is used twice in the series, plus the whole thing about the witch telling Richard and Kahlan not to have kids)

*treating the readers like they're stupid (every single book contains the story of how Richard and Kahlan met)

*preachiness (Goodkind is an Any Rand-style libertarian and he repeats this philosophy pretty much in every book)

*direct copying of The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (whatever the book was with the statue on front, they all run together)

*the villains doing stupid stuff like making all red fruits poison and not letting people use fire...just BECAUSE

*the villains being so evil and one dimensional they rape little boys and torture women and make women torture/kill their families and __(you name it and insert it here)__

*racism (all the nonwhite native peoples are horribly primitive and eat human flesh and junk like that)

*the evil chicken (yes, really)

*unrealistic stuff (armies of MILLIONS in a society with the standard fantasy technology level)

*names don't match up...you've got RICHARD, ANNE, and NATHAN along with ZEDD, DARKEN RAHL, and JAGANG

*anti-religion stance (I'm not religious, so I don't necessarily mind when a book takes an anti-religion stance...but here it's very childish and underdeveloped and basically is like "churches are bad because I said so" -- especially true in book 11, which most people probably don't get to)

I have more to say but I need to get going. And I think you get the point. Take everything that's bad about fantasy and throw it into one pot. Substitute "woods guide" for "farm boy" in "farm boy with a sword," too...
Well done, except that you left the part out where the main character slaughters pacifists. :p

Seriously though, well done.

And seriously, the author is an Ayn Rand fan, and the books preach it? Well that's about as bad as it gets.

Oh, and I'm actually for puppy kicking evil villains. Sauron is one after all, and so are the villains in...at least the first two Night Angel Trilogy books(still need to read the third) as long as the main characters are compelling. And yeah, Sword of Truth apparantly fails here.
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
The biggest name on my list has to go to Lord of the Rings. I just found it to be completely boring and uninteresting. There are other big offenders that seem to be well received most of the time:

- Farseer trilogy. Hated just about everything about these books.
- Malazan Book of the Fallen. Can't even call these books bad so much as overwritten and unfocused. Too many characters and too many changes in characters from book to book.
- His Dark Materials. Don't hate these books, just never really connected with anything. Can't remember anything that really stuck with me from them.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
The biggest name on my list has to go to Lord of the Rings. I just found it to be completely boring and uninteresting. There are other big offenders that seem to be well received most of the time:

- Farseer trilogy. Hated just about everything about these books.
- Malazan Book of the Fallen. Can't even call these books bad so much as overwritten and unfocused. Too many characters and too many changes in characters from book to book.
- His Dark Materials. Don't hate these books, just never really connected with anything. Can't remember anything that really stuck with me from them.
How many Malazan boks did you read?
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
It's mind bo9ggling to me that some fantasy fans haven't read LOTR. It basically is the foundation of the modern fantasy genre. Where I live the Hobbit and LOTR are must reads for Young Adults. Nothing against you guys of course.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
It's mind bo9ggling to me that some fantasy fans haven't read LOTR. It basically is the foundation of the modern fantasy genre.
Well...if one hasn't read fantasy for a large period of their life, why would one need to have read LotR or any other "foundation" book? Just think about that and your mind will un-boggle. There, solved :D
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
I didn't really enjoy Abercrombie's First Law trilogy quite as much as most people seem to. Everything coming full circle by the end seemed rather pointless, as did the events of the story - it felt like that whole trilogy should have been a heavily edited single installment in a longer series about Bayaz's feud with Khalul.

That's an odd thing for me to say because I can't ever think of an occasion I've objected to the length of any novel or series. Personally, though I'm aware other people have limits on this matter, I would be perfectly happy for a series to go on forever (given the certainty of consistent quality). I don't even object to the length of First Law as such, in fact I don't necessarily object to anything as such. I just think that it (1) felt like an excerpt from a bigger story (2) padded out with interesting but nonetheless unnecessary and unrelated side stories (Glokta's).

I enjoyed the setting very much, and I enjoyed Glokta's story very much. He was my favorite character after Bayaz. The whole trilogy just felt like it could have been so much more, and if it had taken replacing Glokta's storyline with an earlier denouement of the story we got and the addition of Bayaz taking the fight on to Khalul to make that 'more' happen, I would be happy with that sacrifice.

I'm also aware that the whole point of the trilogy was that Bayaz and Khalul are pretty much playing chess with entire civilizations as pawns in pursuit of their own personal vendetta, but I do think a feud that interesting deserves more time spent following its pursuit than the pawns' sub-plots do. I think, had I the power to decide these things, I would have liked for First Law to exist as-is but contain either more books in the series or a more direct sequel series dealing with Bayaz and Khalul's story more personally and to its resolution.

First Law still actually made my 'Top X I can remember right now' list in the thread for those lists, but my enjoyment of it is definitely tainted with a little frustration about what might have been.
I think Abercrombie has become stronger and stronger as a writer, the more he's written. I generally prefer his standalones to his initial trilogy, and his new trilogy is shaping up to rival the standalones. Have you read The Heroes, Best Served Cold or Red Country?
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
I think it's fair to say that if you don't like / get on with Malazan after the first 4 and a bit books, you won't like or get on with it after 10.
Yea I kind of figured as much. The high points of the books were really cool honestly, it was just too much in-between I couldn't get into and the fact that when I did finally start getting into characters and their stories they were written out of the next book.

I'm kinda scarred this will happen to me and I don't want it to happen. I love LotR movies :sorry:
I actually read the books and watched the movies more recently. Not as in weeks ago but as far as when they were released compared to when I gave them a chance. For me this is one case where the movies were actually better than the books. Seeing the world come to life made it a little more interesting but the movies were still kind of boring to me. The first Hobbit movie on the other hand, I really enjoyed. Haven't read the book though lol.
 

Jakyro

Journeyed there and back again
It's mind bo9ggling to me that some fantasy fans haven't read LOTR. It basically is the foundation of the modern fantasy genre. Where I live the Hobbit and LOTR are must reads for Young Adults. Nothing against you guys of course.
just to explain: I used to read a lot when I was young but at a certain point I didn't have the time for it anymore and I also lost a bit my interest. I started reading again about two years ago, and I've only been reading fantasy again since September (ASOIAF). So, for me, the entrance point was ASOIAF. I did read the Hobbit 6 months before that, but it was ASOIAF that got me fully hooked and interested again in reading fantasy. It was also in my search for something similar that I stumbled onto the site and forum.

I've made some priorities the last couple of months about what I wanted to read first and LOTR wasn't one of them. Probably because I already saw the movies. From experience I know that I will probably not like the books as much as I would have without any knowledge about them (I also didn't fully enjoy the first ASOIAF book because I already saw the first season). Normally I'll be reading LOTR later this year.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
Well...if one hasn't read fantasy for a large period of their life, why would one need to have read LotR or any other "foundation" book? Just think about that and your mind will un-boggle. There, solved
Still boggled, sorry.

I purposely didn't read the final book in the trilogy because I didn't want it to spoil the final movie for me.
Hope that didn't just make your head explode!
That's a travesty, Tom. Bo's before shows (is "Bo" slang for books? No? Never mind...)

I've made some priorities the last couple of months about what I wanted to read first and LOTR wasn't one of them. Probably because I already saw the movies. From experience I know that I will probably not like the books as much as I would have without any knowledge about them (I also didn't fully enjoy the first ASOIAF book because I already saw the first season). Normally I'll be reading LOTR later this year.
Sure, I get that.

You know what it is guys, and I am absolutely frank here: I don't think you would enjoy the books much at this point in time. There, I've said it. I love LOTR. I love everything about it. BUT, I feel like if I woulnd't have read the trilogy before, and only started reading it now (with the fantasy experience I now have from reading Jordan, GRRM, Erikson, Sanderson, Sandersen, Bakker, Hobbs etc) I wouldn't enjoy the books nearly as much as I enjoyed them back when I was 14. Truth is that fantasy has evolved, and so has the writing style of authors. Sure, Tolkien is up there with the best, but I do believe that there are better fantasy writers and stories out there nowadays. It pains me to say this, as I normally defend Tolkien with my life (it resembles religious fundamentalism). Reading some posts in this thread has only confirmed this suspicion of mine. Cognitive dissonance is very unpleasant, so I might as well come clean with myself about this.

/rant. Glad I got that off my chest.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
I would actually disagree. Certainly a lot of fantasy authors have bloodily ripped off LotR, but we generally don't consider those types of work either representative of the fantasy genre nor very good.

Further, a lot of people will make incredibly specific claims to justify their belief in Tolkien's exceptionalism; the 'uniqueness' of his work, its originality, or its precedence, but I dispute all of these things.

Tolkien's work certainly wasn't unique; there had long been fiction set on secondary worlds and he himself confessed that his desire was to create a mythology. There are obvious comparisons to Homer; while certainly shorter than Lord of the Rings, his Iliad and Odyssey were certainly epics - in fact, they're almost the textbook example of the epic.

Regarding the justifiably lauded consistency of Tolkien's mythos, H.P. Lovecraft constructed a similar secondary universe; for example where LotR has a celestial hierarchy of angelic beings Lovecraft's universe was filled with various tiers of alien-gods. Likewise Robert E. Howard's Conan mythos consisted of a secondary world full of invented religions, magic and creatures.

Indeed, unlike Tolkien whose mythos was greatly expanded after his death by people who collated, cherry-picked, edited then published various things based upon some of the notes he had left behind (some of it becoming The Silmarillion, for example), Lovecraft and Howard made far greater progress toward a published complete cosmology than Tolkien in their own lifetimes.

Nor was Tolkien's work any more original than any fantasy today. is a quote from Ecclesiastes - a quote from The Bible. It translates to 'there is nothing new under the sun' and if that was held true at the time The Bible was written just think how trite everything was by LotR's publication. Naturally everything in LotR has parallels elsewhere; off the top of my head I can think of links to Norse mythology, Wagner, Beowulf and George Morris' The Well at the World's End. Tolkien himself was extremely candid about his inspirations and derivations; so it is no insult to dispute that LotR was neither more not less original than much other fantasy.

Finally, as to precedence, well, as I said, before Tolkien there was, off the top of my head: The Well at the World's End, Phantastes, The King of Elfland's Daughter, Lud-in-the-Mist, The Death of Arthur, among many others.

Tolkien was a great creator; his notes and letters show that he put a lot of thought into his universe, but I do not agree that either he or the work published in his lifetime (please note the exact phrase) was or is as exceptional as it's popular to think these days, nor the foundation of modern fantasy. That's a disservice to the many, many others who contributed everything Tolkien is touted to and, perhaps, more.
These are some excellent points. However, I meant something else with "foundation". Of course Tolkien's work wasn't unique, all encompassing in terms of cosmology, nor was it original, nor dit it take precendence over the other fantasy works you mentioned. However, Tolkien can be credited with the creation (or rejuvination, or popularization if you will) of modern epic fantasy. Races like Elves, Orcs, Dwarves, Hobbits and such weren't "invented" by him (as they were based on mythological creatures from Old Norse sagas mostly), but he did popularize them. It can't be disputed that a big part of modern fantasy is (sometimes loosely, sometimes extensively) based on Tolkien's works. I can name numerous examples of this (and a lot of fantasy authors themselves acknowledge the fact that Tolkien has inspired them, as Tolkien was inspired by others before him).

Howard's and Lovecraft's works are well known, and were very popular in their day. Nowadays the Conan books are quite dated (although I still like them) and Lovecraft has a cult status, but is not universally read. On the other hand, Lord of the Rings is still one of the most popular fantasy franchises (admittedly, the movies had a big hand in this). Still, I see LOTR as a "gateway drug". Many a young reader started their fantasy fixation by reading the Hobbit and the LOTR, thereafter moving on to other fantasy works.

To summarize: I wouldn't call LOTR the best, nor the earliest epic fantasy series. I also acknowledge that similar epic stories have existed ever since mankind existed (you refered to the Iliad and the Odysee, but Hamurabi also comes to mind for example). I do stand by my original standpoint though.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
I am absolutely frank here: I don't think you would enjoy the books much at this point in time.
All is not lost imo. Sure I have some concerns, but I have read Hobbit in 2012 and absolutely freaking loved it. I tried to get my fiance to read it, but he didnt have much time then. I do love a good children's fantasy book though. And while I'm sure the LotR prose is outdated, I am also sure it's not half-assed, so I could end up enjoying the writing style. You never can tell with these things, until you read the book.
Speaking of which if you have the time, we'll have LotR bookclub in September-October, so it would be nice if you could join in for a readalong.
 

ofer

Journeyed there and back again
Tolkien's work certainly wasn't unique; there had long been fiction set on secondary worlds and he himself confessed that his desire was to create a mythology.
That's actually quite true. I Remember seeing a documentary about him and one of the things I remember is that he said that he wanted to create a sort of English mythology, which he felt was not as developed as, say, Norse mythology.

I believe that in an alternate universe in which Tolkien had never been born, the history of fantasy would have proceeded almost precisely as it did in our universe, with only the most insignificant of aesthetic differences: Fair Folk or Tuatha dé Danann
instead of elves, brownies instead of pixies, gnomes instead of dwarves. Or just still dwarves really; Tolkien didn't depict them much differently than the Norse did. Those who feel themselves to have been inspired by Tolkien would have instead encountered Dunsany or Morris and followed much the same path, in my opinion..
That one I'm not so sure about. Obviously it's speculation on both our part, but I don't know if fantasy was as big as it is today without Tolkien. From several articles I read a long time ago, I understood that Lord of the Rings wasn't an overnight best-seller, and that the books became really popular only in the 1960's, when they were sort of adopted for some reason by the whole Flower Child trend. It's easy to look at fantasy today and say that it's an idea whose time had come, but I can quite easily imagine an alternative scenario where sci-fi (or, after the evolution of computers, cyberpunk) would have remained the dominant style of the genre. Again, it's pure speculation - guess we'll never know.

Hope that didn't just make your head explode!
You mean like this? ;)
 

afa

Journeyed there and back again
@TomTB No, I thought about it after finishing First Law but thought they sounded like yet more of my problem with the first trilogy - a lot of stuff that isn't Bayaz's feud with Khalul.

I feel like the series' deliberate decision to keep that a long-term background event is a lot like how people felt who first heard about the Clone Wars while watching A New Hope in the cinema in 1977. What is this fascinating background event, what happened, how was it resolved?

I'm aware that not resolving it is much of the point of the series; that it's a character study and therefore the grand scheme of Bayaz's feud is intentionally being withheld in favor of vignettes depicting some of the moves involved in their great game, but I can't quite turn off the part of my brain that cares less about literary merit and character study than watching these two magnificent bastards finally reach a climax.
I disagree. Or rather, I feel differently about the significance of what you feel is 'real' story.

I suspect the feud between Bayaz and Khalul wouldn't be very exciting if it were made the focal point. The intrigue and questions it raises - What is this fascinating background event, what happened, how was it resolved? - is because of the very fact that you only get hints, glimpses and innuendo. You are reading this story about all these characters, and how events they consider significant happen to and all around them, but all the time you realise that they don't realise how insignificant it all is when compared to the Big Game. That there are others who are fighting a centuries-long war in which these events are but a little skirmish. And that is not only intriguing, but fascinating.

But I find it fascinating precisely because it is in the background. After all, Bayaz really doesn't do much besides going around manipulating people. I suspect Khalul is much the same. They are too old, too powerful and too arrogant to get their own hands dirty. Perhaps, when all is said and done, I would like Abercrombie to write a book with Bayaz and Khalul as central characters so we can get some insight/resolution. A book with them as the focus at this stage, however, would be boring, because as of right now they are merely shadows. They aren't actively doing anything, so following them around would be tiresome.

Page 3 - Bayaz arranges for the Union soldiers to fight the Gurkish, knowing that they were but pawns in his game.
Page 181 - Khalul knows the game Bayaz is playing, and arranges for the Gurkish to get the Northmen involved, knowing that they were but pawns in his game.
Page 587 - "Did you think really think," Bayaz snickered, "that I would care one whit if you slaughtered the Union men with your Eaters? Ha!" Bayaz grabbed his giant belly as he laughed uproariously. "They were just pawns in my game, Khalul, pawns I used to capture your Eaters!"
Page 693 - "Bayaz, you old fool!" smiled Khalul, looking far too pleased with himself. "Did you think I would care about those Eaters? I have used your distraction to break into the House of the Maker. I wanted you to capture my Eaters! They were just pawns in my game!"
"It is you who is the fool, Khalul," said Bayaz, looking altogether smug. "Of course I knew you were heading to the House. I let you. There is nothing of import there, and there never was. It was all a lie! Even the Maker was a pawn in my game!"


To summarize - I would rather wait till the world, the wars, the people and the stakes are well-established, and then see Bayaz and Khalul finally duke it out.