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10:05 pm: Book review post for April (part 1)


Date:April 29th, 2008 03:28 am (UTC)
Hallo Limyaael,

I've been reading your rants for a while with great interest - first let me say that I love them. I love seeing that I'm not the only one who's nitpicky and hates bad worldbuilding. ^___^

My friend's writing a fantasy series (really she is, I'm not using "a friend" to mean me, I don't have the focus to plot like that; I send her your rants when I don't have time to write personalized concrit :D) that takes a lot of fantasy cliches and uses them in varying ways, and I was wondering what your opinion would be on some of them.

For example, the main character is the son of the evil queen, like they all are, but he finds this out really early on and has to deal with it for the rest of the series, as well as with the fact that he himself was an evil little bastard growing up. (Yes, he wakes up with amnesia.) Likewise, the stereotypical gorgeous-female-companion-with-whom-the-hero-is-in-love turns out to be evil, but she then becomes the main villain and he has to fight her at length. (For the record, she's a well-thought-out character.)

(On the other hand, there's an old hag who is really, really unrepentantly cliche, and I must confess I love her just because of how she makes the hero squirm.)

Unfortunately she has one of those bickering couples and I have not been able to convince her to put some actual romantic tension in there. :(

[User Picture]
Date:April 29th, 2008 09:48 am (UTC)
...I'm not the person you're asking, but my first question would be: why are all the women in that summary evil?
[User Picture]
Date:April 29th, 2008 01:10 pm (UTC)
I suppose I can't say anything about it for certain, because I'd have to see it in operation to know how much the clich├ęs were overcome, but:

1) Does the main character actually deal with being an evil little bastard? Does he make up for things or suffer the consequences? Or does he just mope and angst and have people reassure him that he's a good person, really?

2) Why the amnesia?

3) Yes, why are all the women evil? And do any good female characters only take roles strictly subordinate to the men?
Date:April 29th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
Oh, there are good female characters - I didn't mention them because most of the ones that are really cliche are the evil ones. And I wouldn't say that they're subordinate - since the protagonist is probably the least motivated of all the characters he doesn't pull anyone, female or male, along with him. In cases where they (protagonist + one female and one male) are doing something that serves mainly the protagonist's interests, it tends to be because it also serves the interests of one of the other two (and believe me, everyone's family issues get confronted) or because they're all three of them getting dragged into something bigger. The other important good female character is definitely not subordinate to anyone.

(I like S., the protagonist's female friend. She works in a used bookstore, has father issues without being controlled by them, is sensible, and was also friends with M., the one that becomes evil.)

To some degree the morality isn't black and white - that hag is outside that binary rather than on the evil side, even though the protagonist doesn't like her. And the protagonist himself doesn't really have any especially redeeming qualities.

Dealing with being an evil little bastard - I myself am not sure, as the full reveal of what he did before losing his memory has only been outlined so far and not written. There is no moping and angsting and "you're good really" but there is a lack of explanation as to why his friends can get over his past, which I've said needs to be fixed. One of the problems, I think, is that my friend hasn't taken a clear position on how much the general public knows of the atrocities committed under the evil queen.

As for the amnesia? I don't know. The only thing I can think of is this: it was a way to create an adolescent character who is good(-ish) from the get-go but with a really evil past.

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