Books at my door – April, first part

While I love maps, I don’t mind if they aren’t there. But I’m pissed if the map exists but was stripped from an edition of the book.

So Greg Keyes comes with no maps. This one I got is the Tor UK Mass Market edition just because I thought it looked slightly better than the US version. But no map.

Instead I was positively surprised by the UK edition of the Stephenson book. It isn’t fantasy but GOT MAPS! Three of them, in fact (Europe 1680, London 1667 and Rhine Valley 1800). And also the three family trees diagrams shown on Neal Stephenson’s website. If it had appendices I may mistake it for LOTR.

So I got a fantasy book with no map, and a non fantasy book with maps and family trees. And both are EPIC.

Greg Keyes Thorn and Bone series is four books, the last out recently, and that is considered as a lighter version of George Martin’s Ice and Fire. Still supposed to be very pleasant to read, something flowing well, with good, intense characters and that captures you for a while without the overcomplicated parts and excessive evil of other series. I got it for that reason, as an interlude while I move between bigger and more demanding series. Something more lightweight and easier to read.

Stephenson instead is the other end of the spectrum. Not excessively evil, maybe, but excessively brainy and demanding. That book is part of the “Baroque Cycle”, three HUGE books, all already published. The first is more than 900 pages and written in a small typeset. It’s supposed to be 3000 pages of cleverness in total and I want to see what it is all about, as I keep reading about it on the forums. I like the insane ambition and scope, I like the challenge in reading, so I’m absolutely intrigued. Also because they say Stephenson has an unique writing style that is clever and fun to read even when he writes about things that aren’t. We’ll see.

In the meantime I’m at page 80 of Gene Wolfe, and 100 of Erikson. The first ten pages of the prologue in the Erikson book are a masterpiece, the rest I read also intriguing and excellent, definitely better than the first book. It shows that the writer has matured. With Gene Wolfe I keep reading hoping to find a “key” and understand where he’s going. The writing is indeed excellent and I love how there’s a subtext everywhere. Need to dig more.

If instead you are looking for games, I suggest playing this. Remember to turn on the sound, and burn the rope.

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Very tall series on narrow foundations

Accessibility, in books.

Because the world is all the same. One of the themes of this site has been about accessibility in games, now the theme comes back even if I’m dealing with fantasy books.

From an interesting interview with Scott Bakker, on Steven Erikson:

Steve Erikson and I had a conversation about this very thing at the ICFA a couple of weeks ago. Both of us are building very tall series on narrow foundations simply because of the sheer complexity of our first books. My bold prediction is that Steve’s next series will be every bit as successful as A Song of Ice and Fire.

At first I was misled by the “very tall series on narrow foundations”, as it sounds as the first book wasn’t well planned enough to sustain a huge series (10 tomes, in the case of Erikson).

It probably means the opposite: they aimed too high with that first book, make it too complex and intricate, and so too dense for a lot of readers. For a series this long this means that you bleed a majority of readers soon, and only a very small group will stick to it and make to the end.

In fact in that interview Bakker says he should have simplified his book, reduce the introspection and the philosophical essays. Make it easier to read. More welcoming. More accessible.

More popular.