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The war within
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Landwaster popped up in another thread to post this audio interview.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QPyzeE4X5M

It's a great interview! Lots of things I hadn't heard before.
+ Donaldson's imaginary childhood friend!
+ How Donaldson learned about storytelling.
+ How Donaldson called himself "Donaldson" (think about it)
+ The old Donaldson in the new World
+ A shout-out to the Gradual Interview

... and of course stuff about the Great God's War. Like Libraries. And Anger.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
Landwaster popped up in another thread to post this audio interview.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QPyzeE4X5M

It's a great interview! Lots of things I hadn't heard before.
+ Donaldson's imaginary childhood friend!
+ How Donaldson learned about storytelling.
+ How Donaldson called himself "Donaldson" (think about it)
+ The old Donaldson in the new World
+ A shout-out to the Gradual Interview

... and of course stuff about the Great God's War. Like Libraries. And Anger.


Thank you Wayfriend!
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the link, Wayfriend! Very interesting!

(In other news, my UK edition of TWW arrived yesterday! Woo hoo! Banana )
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:01 pm    Post subject: The war within Reply with quote

Well I've just completed The War Within and I've got to share that I am equal parts surprised and thrilled with what SRD has delivered us.

Like much of Donaldson's work, this book is far from perfect. There are lumpy aspects to it that annoy me, and times where I feel Donaldson fails to quite strike the tone he's hoping for.

The character names are betimes cringeworthy (Demure and Immure, anyone? Facile and Lambent ..) while some of his attempts to colour the narrative with atmospheric flourishes become labored or heavy-handed (e.g. the recurring 'visual' motif of characters literally cast in sharply contrasting light; usually a gloom or shadow rendering a character's motives or intentions opaque, occasionally brilliant light etching the characters in high-definition).

Other structural choices are executed with confidence - the shift between character perspectives are largely a success, and the shifting time periods are very deftly handled - the reader is given a very thorough and broad history of Bifalt and Estie's marriage and alliance, yet it is written very economically.

The 'world-building' - which Donaldson all but abandoned for the Last Chronicles - is at its most considered, for Donaldson.

I'm not the type of reader who needs a linguistically plausible alien language to suspend my disbelief, but like most readers I do like at least a few broad strokes to set a scene - by the end of the War Within I felt like I knew all of the locations well; the Bay of Lights, the Fist, the journey to Smegin's secluded hideaway in Amika, these were all well rendered.

But best of all are the characters.
It's probably the biggest active cast of characters Donaldson has written, and it is to his immense credit that he manages to craft so many distinct perspectives and voices in the one book.
Sure he does employ his fairly idiosyncratic technique or tactic of constantly referring to certain aspects of a character's personality as a kind of short hand - in the past he has leaned a little too heavily on this.
For example, The First in the 2nd chronicles is barely ever mentioned without some comparison to a whetted blade or iron. It can render certain characters a bit two-dimensional.
Donaldson largely strikes a great balance here though.

My apologies if I have rambled and not added much of real substance, but its been a while since I enjoyed an SRD offering this much, and at his best he is one of THE best.

There were many, many scenes and exchanges and images written in the War Within which managed to remind me of the effect Donaldson's original trilogy of books had on me so many years ago.

A real return to form; bravo.


Last edited by SleeplessOne on Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:40 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for those impressions, SleeplessOne!
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hiro wrote:
Thanks for those impressions, SleeplessOne!


thank you Hiro - have you finished TWW yourself? thoughts?

forgot to add:

nice to see Donaldson weave some of his career-long themes into the narrative; most noticeably to me being the value of free will.

his willingness to challenge himself in regards to exploring and deciphering religion and spirituality are to be noted and applauded too I reckon ..

In the Great God's War we have a number of religious and spiritual institutions, from the Missionary-like Priests to Lylin's obscure and potent devotion to the Spirit and the wonderful 'Third Father's Cult of the Many.


Also: Lome.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SleeplessOne wrote:
Hiro wrote:
Thanks for those impressions, SleeplessOne!


thank you Hiro - have you finished TWW yourself? thoughts?

forgot to add:

nice to see Donaldson weave some of his career-long themes into the narrative; most noticeably to me being the value of free will.

his willingness to challenge himself in regards to exploring and deciphering religion and spirituality are to be noted and applauded too I reckon ..

Also: Lome.


Not as of yet...
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hiro wrote:
SleeplessOne wrote:
Hiro wrote:
Thanks for those impressions, SleeplessOne!


thank you Hiro - have you finished TWW yourself? thoughts?

forgot to add:

nice to see Donaldson weave some of his career-long themes into the narrative; most noticeably to me being the value of free will.

his willingness to challenge himself in regards to exploring and deciphering religion and spirituality are to be noted and applauded too I reckon ..

Also: Lome.


Not as of yet...


hmm; well I hope I've not been too loose-lipped Shocked
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't worry about it, I'm a grown man.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:32 pm    Post subject: Re: The war within Reply with quote

SleeplessOne wrote:
Well I've just completed The War Within and I've got to share that I am equal parts surprised and thrilled with what SRD has delivered us.


Thank you for this review. I enjoyed the first book and just got this one. Looking forward to starting it tonight.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:35 am    Post subject: Re: The war within Reply with quote

SleeplessOne wrote:

The 'world-building' - which Donaldson all but abandoned for the Last Chronicles - is at its most considered, for Donaldson.


I'm a bit frustrated that there's no map. I suppose it's not crucial to the story - the text gives the general geographical relationships between locations - but it would help visualize the layout enormously.

(I found the same with Mordant's Need - particularly during the parts of A Man Rides Through in which different regions were visited. Struggling to visualize Mordant's geography distracted from the focus on the story).
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:01 am    Post subject: Re: The war within Reply with quote

caamora wrote:
SleeplessOne wrote:
Well I've just completed The War Within and I've got to share that I am equal parts surprised and thrilled with what SRD has delivered us.


Thank you for this review. I enjoyed the first book and just got this one. Looking forward to starting it tonight.


ooh you're in for a treat, especially if you already enjoyed the Seventh Decimate (which I wasn't overly enamored with) - let me know what you think!

Quote:
I'm a bit frustrated that there's no map. I suppose it's not crucial to the story - the text gives the general geographical relationships between locations - but it would help visualize the layout enormously.

(I found the same with Mordant's Need - particularly during the parts of A Man Rides Through in which different regions were visited. Struggling to visualize Mordant's geography distracted from the focus on the story).


Interesting; it didn't particularly bother me, but I feel as though I was able to get a reasonable picture of lay of the land just through the descriptive writing - however I may be completely off in how Belleger/Amika and the Last Repository are situated ...
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thats a fair review Sleepless...a few other aspects could be brought up:
!) The author's ability to make the reader feel..his ability to pull the emotions out of the reader,,are really on classic display in the first and second chapters. A Master at Work.
2)the narrator..has some subtle snarky moments that I enjoyed..Every now and then there is a sarcastic comment made out of the blue ..that just lightens up some of the darkness being cast about. Some are quite subtle.This is called the " subjective narrator" or "Unreliable Narrator"..He used it more often in the 3rd Chrons. I enjoyed its use in TWW.
3) The use of Time( as pointed out by sleepless) is easy enough but a bit deceptive in that its the way the author moves the story forward through the development, fleshing out, of the characters. By intertwining He ingratiates the reader into the story cleverly.
4) The author is...an elder..So, its kinda weird how he treats the elderly in this book..He got flack in his LFB for the rape scene..Where are all the Olde Pharts complaining about Elderly Abuse?..Im kidding but it just struck me funny how some of older characters get treated by the author.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lurch2 wrote:
Thats a fair review Sleepless...a few other aspects could be brought up:
!) The author's ability to make the reader feel..his ability to pull the emotions out of the reader,,are really on classic display in the first and second chapters. A Master at Work.
2)the narrator..has some subtle snaky moments that I enjoyed..Every now and then there is a sarcastic comment made out of the blue ..that just lightens up some of the darkness being cast about. Some are quite subtle.This is called the " subjective narrarator" or "Unreliable Narrator"..He used it more often in the 3rd Chrons. I enjoyed its use in TWW.
3) The use of Time( as pointed out by sleepless) is easy enough but a bit deceptive in that its the way the author moves the story forward through the development, fleshing out, of the characters. By intertwining He ingratiates the reader into the story cleverly.
4) The author is...an elder..So, its kinda weird how he treats the elderly in this book..He got flack in his LFB for the rape scene..Where are all the Olde Pharts complaining about Elderly Abuse?..Im kidding but it just struck me funny how some of older characters get treated by the author.


Responses to your responses, Lurch Very Happy :

1) Yes. Donaldson strikes a really nice balance throughout this book in which a reader is largely able to empathize with a varied cast of characters; You've mentioned the first two chapters as being stand outs - and I agree, even though the Matt/Matta/Matson/Matwil/Mattilda business annoyed me a bit.

That whole scene could've been culled from the Coen brothers or Tarantino doing Fantasy; it reminded me of the prologue in A Serious Man or Inglourious Basterds.

But it was Bifalt's confrontation with Estie, and Estie's earlier confrontation with her father, that had me on the edge of my seat with sheer *investment*.

Bifalt's assertion that he'd never see Estie again was ambiguous and yet completely heartbreaking. Certainly Estie wasn't sure of how to interpret it.
Donaldson can definitely pull those emotional levers when he's at his best

He also knows when to tip his hand, and when to throw his support behind a character - and those qualities are at their confident best in this book.
Donaldson himself is the 'filter' that pulls this entire panorama together, and you are absolutely right to highlight that fact.

There's a good example (or two I think) right at the end of the book where Captain Flisk (another great secondary character; maybe my favourite) imagines a future where he and his comrades might get a chance to rest and recuperate from their preparations for, and participation in, War.
Donaldson flatly, fatally contradicts Flisk's fantasies in a way that foreshadows just how dark things are going to get.

The way he is able to deftly move between his voice to the specific voice of his characters is superb at its best and always has been; When a young Estie first learns from her father that she is to wed Bifalt - with the old psycho blind drunk and pining for his 'gift' above everything else - Donaldson is in Estie's head; he is Estie, he speaks as she does.

Contrast this with Prince Lome; Donaldson sees fit to poke all manner of fun at the boozed-up loser youngest brother of Bifalt; he really mixes up Lome's own uncomfortable insights into himself with his own authorial interjections.
He does this with Bifalt a lot too.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing about Donaldson..is that I learned not to trust him with which characters he subtly supports. I haven't forgotten Woodhelven.(spl) He seems willing to sacrifice any character to the plot and or themes.

I caught myself more than once getting " invested" in the Lylin character and was on the verge of waiting for her and Jaspin to hook up,,and what happens? She beats the begeezers out of him.. Can't wait to see the other side of that coin...but true, classic Donaldson.

Again, watch out with the narrator. Its the authors " voice" but that also means its possibly a character as well..One of the narrators lines just floored me so I made it my tag line..I mean..heres an author,,telling His Story,,and drops this.." as usual, they had nothin to do"..Donaldson Tales are all about what motivates characters to do what they do....and he slips that line in. There are more and I wish I had wrote them down as I came across them..Good Stuff..Maybe worthy their own thread....
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I loved the War Within. Will have to return with more detail when I have time....
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2019 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

StevieG wrote:
I loved the War Within. Will have to return with more detail when I have time....


Please do; happy to hear of another reader who enjoyed it.
Very sad to hear that it has been selling so poorly, as it is a real page-turner without sacrificing the type of nuance and thoughtfulness that SRD excels at.

Also; like a lot of Donaldson's work, I have just re-read Seventh Decimate and found that it works much better in the context of what is to come ..
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