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10:06 pm: My thoughts on Acacia, let me show them to you.


Date:October 21st, 2007 05:42 am (UTC)
It just sounds like mediocre writing to me. Compare your points with, say, "Lord of the Rings" or Pratchett's Discworld stories, or Jack Vance's Dying Earth stories.

Point 1)

In LOTR, our viewpoint is always one of the four hobbits; we see the world through their eyes.

In Pratchett, it's whoever is the hero of the story. We see Ankh Morporkh through Vimes's eyes; we see the backcountry peasants through the eyes of Tiffany Aching or Granny Weatherwax; always people who are part of that bit of the world and involved in it.

Vance's characters tend to be lone adventurers, outsiders to wherever they are, giving us a stranger's eye view of whatever marvelous and dangerous part of this alien Earth they are visiting.

2) LOTR gives us the archetypical Dark Lord of fantasy -- yet we are told by Gandalf that even Sauron was not evil in the beginning, and the Silmarillion makes it clear that we are dealing with the Devil and his fallen angels with the names changed, so one rather expects them to be absolute evil. Prophecy in LOTR is actually more a warm fuzzy hope when it looks like everything is up the creek without a paddle, than a compelling fate. Victory isn't inevitable, Aragorn isn't guaranteed to be accepted as king--odds were hellaciously against it, and what kind of crack was the Council on to send a lone hobbit into Mordor? That decision was not a matter of prophecy that they just had to fill in the blanks; there were no prophecies on the matter, just a decision to do the least suicidal thing that had a chance of winning.

Discworld - Pterry loves to subvert the standard destiny and prophecy cliches. Take a look at what he did with the "rightful king of Ankh Morpokh"

Jack Vance - If there are prophecies in his stories, they are traps to snare the unwary.

3) LOTR seems to have originated the "Common tongue" cliche, but if you pay attention, Westron was the common tongue of the former domains of Numenor and its descendent kingdoms, Arnor and Gondor. The hobbits spoke a form of that, and that form spread around as trade tongue and vernacular--but Rohan had its own language, the elves spoke elvish, Gondor used Numenorian for the official court language. 'Common' of Tolkien's world may have been like Greek or Aramaic in ancient times--a very widespread second language.

Discworld - as varied as Earth.

Vance's Dying Earth - possibly more varied than Earth. You never knew what weirdness you'd stumble on over the next hill.

4) LOTR - Hobbits smoking. Hobbits cooking. Hobbits eating. Hobbits bathing. Hobbits doing just about everything except making babies and using the pot on stage.

Pterry - also has a great deal of everyday in his stories. There's far more everyday in a Discworld story than epic.

Dying Earth - Characters just traveling a lot... usually the traveling is a prelude to falling into some nasty situation.

5) LOTR - As far as I can tell, anyone who didn't behave like a sane and sensible adult did so because they were under the influence of (a) the Ring, (b) Saruman, (c) Sauron, or (d) two or more of the above.

Discworld - Everyone acts like human beings here, both good and bad sides with all their variances. Even the monsters and divine beings.

Vance - tended to have a distance from his characters, like an Arab storyteller relating the 1001 Nights.

So, not much good epic fantasy these days? Sad.
Date:October 22nd, 2007 01:30 am (UTC)
And now that I understand this OpenID thing, I can take ownership of the above comment. Next time I'll post with OpenID.

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