Fantasy & Beyond

A Book Forum for Speculative Fiction

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By DragonFlame
#546
   Hi, I moved the relevant posts to a new thread, you can continue the discussion here. :)  
ScarletBea 


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Peat wrote: February 15th, 2024, 03:57
Peat wrote: February 11th, 2024, 02:23 I have resumed my fight to the death with The Dragonebone Chair.
I finally beat it.
Congratulations, Peat. I truly looked forward to a re-read but gave up forever halfway through The Stone of Farewell. It is sad when fantasy books
which contributed to your early love of the genre do not age well. It could well be that my expectations have changed, and hopefully, such books will appeal to new readers.
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By Peat
#569
lejays17 wrote: February 15th, 2024, 09:53
DragonFlame wrote: February 15th, 2024, 05:44
Peat wrote: February 15th, 2024, 03:57

I finally beat it.
Congratulations, Peat. I truly looked forward to a re-read but gave up forever halfway through The Stone of Farewell. It is sad when fantasy books
which contributed to your early love of the genre do not age well. It could well be that my expectations have changed, and hopefully, such books will appeal to new readers.
I’m reluctant to re-read early favourites in the fear they’ve been visited by the Suck Fairy (as Jo Walton described it).
There are certain books / authors that I know have not aged well, so I prefer to remember the rosy past love of them. And others that I’ve “grown out of” as my reading interests have changed over the years.
I really enjoy Sharon Penman’s writing, and early Crusades are a long term interest too. But I tried reading Lionheart for about 4 years, before finally finishing it on holidays as it was the only book I took with me. But it was such a slog, that I haven’t re-read any of her other books in case I no longer enjoyed them.
I have to say that at times like these I feel rather unusual, as I visit old favourites all the time and generally still enjoy them. Sometimes I like them even more, and I have to say the power held by a book where the appeal has only grown with your personal changes and where you can see multiple layers of how you liked it at multiple ages... well, there's nothing like that.

And I used that clumsy wording deliberately because I think it is important to acknowledge it's us that change, not the book. We talk about being visited by the suck fairy or ageing badly but really, the book is still the exact same collection of words. Insofar as humans are in charge of how they change, they don't have to. Me personally, I almost cultivate still having that me that enjoys a simply told action-adventure story about growing up. I can add other mes that prefer other things, but I don't have to lose that me.


In any case, The Dragonbone Chair wasn't even such a revisiting for me because while I tried it briefly as a teenager, it didn't stick. This was my first read and while I'd hesitate to say my reaction is a case for how all readers of today would react given I'm a long time epic fantasy reader, I think it still works for the most part.

I say for the most part because it's 288k words and being a fine but not quite for me book is one thing at 130k words and another at 288k.

I think my thing about it is that it doesn't really commit to being one thing and as a result, a lot of the book doesn't have the impact it could have.
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By DragonFlame
#576
Thanks @lejays17 and @Peat for interesting replies.
Not going to try a multi quote here, especially as reading on a phone screen. ;)
What we are discussing may deserve a separate topic of "What books age well or how they don't".
That is badly worded and maybe someone else could help me out with the title and practicality, please?
Definitely agree it is often my changing attitude, taste, patience, concentration or other personal reasons why some re-reads don't work for me. Yet many are a joy.
But also repeated themes can pall for many, quests are an example and young people magic academies another.
Another aspect is relevance in time. Have been Pratchett fan and devotee forever but have a dread that one day in future it will need to be annotated, like Shakespeare, as other generations will not understand the zillion little jokes or references apparent now. The moral conflicts will still apply but the subtleties lost.
Changing social attitudes can kill authors off now if they express contrary views, will this kill many books off in future? I will purposely not give examples as this is meant without any bias, and for a respectful discussion but you all know what I mean.
There is plenty to explore.
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By Peat
#590
DragonFlame wrote: February 15th, 2024, 21:57 Thanks @lejays17 and @Peat for interesting replies.
Not going to try a multi quote here, especially as reading on a phone screen. ;)
What we are discussing may deserve a separate topic of "What books age well or how they don't".
That is badly worded and maybe someone else could help me out with the title and practicality, please?
Definitely agree it is often my changing attitude, taste, patience, concentration or other personal reasons why some re-reads don't work for me. Yet many are a joy.
But also repeated themes can pall for many, quests are an example and young people magic academies another.
Another aspect is relevance in time. Have been Pratchett fan and devotee forever but have a dread that one day in future it will need to be annotated, like Shakespeare, as other generations will not understand the zillion little jokes or references apparent now. The moral conflicts will still apply but the subtleties lost.
Changing social attitudes can kill authors off now if they express contrary views, will this kill many books off in future? I will purposely not give examples as this is meant without any bias, and for a respectful discussion but you all know what I mean.
There is plenty to explore.
I like the idea of a whole topic for this. I can't think of a better title for it off of the top of my head without using a lot of words. Hmm. "What Makes A Book Age Well or Poorly"?
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By ScarletBea
#595
I'm with DragonFlame that for me it's to do with life experience, mindset at the time of reading and even all the books I have read since that first time, that put others into perspective.
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By cupiscent
#600
There's a lot to be said for novelty - or rather, the first time you encounter a particular idea or trope or element (especially if you're young and not hugely experienced in reading / stories / life) it's going to leave a dent in you. But once you live more, read more, encounter more engagement with that idea or trope or element, think about it more, turn it over and polished it like a gem... that first encounter may not live up to the nuance and depth you've now gained on the element. It doesn't necessarily mean that iteration wasn't doing something new at the time. But it's been done more, and possibly better (for your tastes) since.

There's also something to be said for novelty in that I like to read / consider new things - when I was a teenager, what I mostly wanted in a book was for it to be long enough to last me more than one or two days. I went through so many BFFS (big fat fantasy series, as a friend called them) and it didn't matter if it was mostly turning over the same earth to plant similar crops. But now I want to have something new to consider with each book upon which I'm spending my (much less abundant, these days) time.
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By Peat
#613
So I think there's three types of ageing.

One is values based. Either your values have shifted, or you have noticed things that don't sit well with them, or a combination. I think this one is either the most or least fatal. Most for obvious reasons. Least because a lot of people are able to read books from a different time with a "they were just different then" mentality and shrug off all sorts of stuff.

I think the only other one as fatal is your interests have changed. If you read a book because you love vikings then decide you think vikings are lame, that book is done-so. Or once loving massive books and now finding them a chore. I almost wouldn't call that one ageing though.

Then we get into what Dee was talking about - the "due to other things I've seen, I now feel as unimpressed as Shania Twain being told that someone is a rocket scientist" ageing.

And I feel like I get this less than other readers because

a) I don't really care if things are good, I care about if things make me happy. Do I look at some of the prose of the authors I read when I was 14/15 and think "wellp, this looks clunky as hell now"? Yeah. But as long as I can read it fast, 'sallgood. I'm not immune, the extent to which the Eddings were damn hacks sometimes wears at me (more than them being reprehensible people, although some of their narrative choices are *something* when you know that) (edit - this is most likely to fall apart if I decide that the plot is actually insulting to my intelligence, because I do value good craft there a lot).

b) I hate thinking in terms of cliches/tropes/stereotypes being all the same and am always looking for what little wrinkle makes this particular variant unique. Will I one day finish my essay on how the Belgariad and Wheel of Time are uncannily similar but the differences say a huge deal about them as a result? Yes.

Incidentally the flipside of this is I get ornery about books that seem to be shouting very loud "I beat the stereotype aren't I smart" because I usually think of something else doing this so it seems a different stereotype in its own right and it feels a bit smug. Not to mention I don't hugely value subverting stereotypes in their own right.

I also slightly hesitate to offer this one but I'll throw it out there and see how people feel...

c) I think there's a certain amount of expectation and general reader group pressure that of course you'll grow out of things and of course books age and goodness who likes the same simple things forever. I think it's the sort of thing that gets in your head without you knowing particularly when, well, people change naturally anyway.

And I philosophically don't like that for all sorts of reasons.



Also to go back to what I said about the comparison of small details? That's something that rereading really rewards because when you know a story well, your mind is free to pick stuff up. I focused mainly on stuff that makes a book age poorly, but having a book where you keep seeing interesting new wrinkles is what makes a book age like fine wine. The fact that Pratchett/Kay/Gemmell books do that for me is why they're my fantasy trinity, untouched by all other authors for my enjoyment.
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By Peat
#634
Actually there's a category that I'd kind of forgotten about. And maybe it falls under one of the others, but it's so distinct it's worth calling out on its own.

And that's being in a different emotional place in life. I think this one happens a ton in fantasy because of all the coming of age stories, and all those stories that hit people when they're young and feeling like the characters look a bit foolish when they're twenty years further down the line and they listen to teenage people and think "damn, was I ever that stupid".

And this goes double because a lot of these Coming Of Age stories aren't exactly filled with originality or super high craft. They're selling on accessibility and hitting big emotional notes. If your reaction to those big emotional notes isn't the same, it's a tough sell.
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By ScarletBea
#635
Peat wrote:Actually there's a category that I'd kind of forgotten about.

And that's being in a different emotional place in life.
This is actually my key reason, what I called 'life experience', thanks for adding it.
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