or, How I Almost Lost My Soul to the Evil Wiles of the Jinn of Abandoned Books
Dear reader, it turns out I am a failure. Please don’t tell my mother. I have been struggling to read Salman Rushdie’s new book, Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty Eight Nights (Also known as how long it might have taken me to read this book) and finally I have given up and moved onto Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings which has been eyeing me in a seductive fashion for several weeks now.
I want to clarify, I’m not saying that it’s a bad book, I’m saying that it wasn’t for me. There’s a style to it that just turned me off. But the writing itself was good, and the story-line interesting. But this has me thinking about other books that I have bounced off of while trying to read, and what it is that caused it. Some of them I can pinpoint, and some of them are a complete mystery to me.
For example (I know this is the part you’ve been waiting for, where I name names. Shame on you scandalmongers!) I adore Brandon Sanderson. I have been a fan since I first read Elantris. However, It took me two tries to read Mistborn, because I loathe Kelsior, and am only slightly more fond of Vin. Seriously, for very different reasons they both make me cranky. But this is not a failing of Sanderson’s writing. It may in fact be a sign of success. After all, he wrote characters real enough that I had a deep reaction to them, even if it was just the urge to smack Kelsior until his smugness wore off.
Another book I bounced off of more recently was Kai Ashante Wilson’s The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, but for a very different reason. The prose was stunning, and the main character was wonderfully imagined. But the use of very modern language really caught me off guard. I will say that I don’t think this is the last time I will attempt it, and knowing what to expect will, I think, offset my previous problem with diving in.
For everyone there are books that you can look at and say ‘this is what made me love fantasy’. Among those books for me is Dave Duncan’s superb ‘A Man of His Word’ series, which starts with Magic Casement. There’s a wealth of fantasy cliches here, such as a willful princess, and a heroic stable-boy, as well as kings, and witches, as well as a rather motley group of sorcerers all trying to hide a powerful secret about the nature of their power.
But ‘A Man of His Word’ rises above the cliches. There are consequences to willful and impetuous actions, and a very human evil to be fought, and not always where you expect it.
With that, I am off, dear reader, to dive back into The House of Shattered Wings. Don’t disturb me please, because I can only write about not reading a book once, and now I’ve used that up. However I’d like to point out that so far in this whole post, I haven’t used the all-caps A SINGLE TIME. Oh thank goodness, I feel better having gotten that out there. Ta ta for now!
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