Passing quotes (and comments)

Memories of Ice, Steven Erikson:

And perhaps that is the final, most devastating truth. The gods care nothing for ascetic impositions on moral behaviour. Care nothing for rules of conduct, for the twisted morals of temple priests and monks. Perhaps indeed they laugh at the chains we wrap around ourselves – our endless, insatiable need to find flaws within the demands of life. Or perhaps they do not laugh, but rage at us. Perhaps our denial of life’s celebration is our greatest insult to those whom we worship and serve.

It’s a while since I’ve last written about books. I haven’t stopped nor even slowed down reading, but it’s taking time to get to a point.

I’m currently reading in parallel three books. 550 pages into Memories of Ice (halfway through), 130 pages into the Colour in the Steel of K. J. Parker and 150 pages into Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind. Oh yeah, I’m reading Goodkind. I decided that a lightweight interlude would be nice between the two other more demanding reads, and I also want to watch the TV series only after having read the book, so I had to do it soon.

On Memories of Ice I have mixed feelings that I’ll probably explain better if I manage to write a review when I’m done. It’s an ambitious book that packs way too many themes. It’s a paradox because you have these books that exceed 1000 pages, and instead of having a boring and padded storyline to fill the space, you have instead way too many aspects that aren’t fully used. It’s a wasteful book that throws away too many good ideas (this quote here above could lead to a deep character development, with lots of implications, but it is started and done in two pages). There’s also less “genius” in the writing. When I was reading the novellas every paragraph was a form of art on its own. It made wonderful quotes. With this book I find very hard to have quotable pieces that work as brilliant standalone. It’s convoluted in its own dimension, filled with jargon and internal references. It’s not hard because I’m well used to all of them, but I find the writing of a quality below the second book. Still enjoying it immensely though.

Colours in the Steel is a book I decided to read after I read online the excerpt from The Company, the latest standalone from the author. I thought the characterization was so well done that the book deserved to be read, and not just that, but also what came before. So I bought this one other book that is the first on a trilogy. The same author, beside the recent standalone, wrote three complete trilogies. Very, very different from the rest of the fantasy genre. It feels a bit like historical fiction, with a strong realism in setting and characterization, but the world is still entirely fictional, even with a spark of magic that still feels very “real” (it reminded me the beginning of Stephenson’s Anathem with the monks). The writing on this book is more traditional than the other excerpt I read, but the characterization is still outstanding. For theme, development and obsessive attention to technical details (it explains exactly how weapons and siege engines are made) one would think it would make for a slow, boring read. Instead it is “brisk”, never dull. Really well done on all levels and unique in style and plotting from the rest of the genre.

Finally Goodkind (Wizard’s First Rule). As I commented on a forum, it is extremely accessible. It uses all the tricks to win the reader from the first pages. It’s the average “young adult” fantasy, with added gore. I read it knowing well how it is hated by the critics, without expecting much. For now it’s easy and fun to read and as I said it is a good interlude. Here and there it gets silly and unbelievable but there were also parts that didn’t come out completely trivial. For example there are the good guys and the bad guys, but it went explaining some ambivalence that is interesting to consider. A lot of the background doesn’t make sense though. Maybe it will be explained later but for now the story is inconsistent and illogical.

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