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Why I'm Disappointed in the Last Chronicles
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi folks

Having read this thread, it seems to me that the general opinion of FR and the Last Chronicles is one of disappointment, a sentiment which I sadly share. At the same time, I havent read a single post that suggested anyone was less than gripped when reading it, and I have no doubts at all that each and every poster (myself included) will be first in line when the next installment hits the shelves. Credit to SRD...even his worst is streets ahead of the competition.

In general, my own issues with TLC have been mentioned in other posts so I wont echo those here. But there is one aspect of the plotline which I feel is utterly flawed - the Harrow, and his desire for white gold & the staff of law.

Question 1 - why doesnt he just take the staff by force? The ring may need to be voluntarily given, but the same rules dont apply to the staff.

Question 2 - More fundementally, since the Harrow was around when the Theomach became gaurdian of the One Tree, why has he waited 10,000 years to decide he wants the staff?

Question 3 - Equally, why hasn't he been around at any time since TC first brought white gold into the Land in LFB?

I've considered that *this* staff is somehow more desirable due to the runes placed on it by Caerroil Wildwood, but that still doesnt answer question 1 or 3. I can only hope some sensible reasons are presented in the books 3 and/or 4, or I'm afraid I'll be left with the belief that the Insequent were simply an afterthought to add some new faces into TLC.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 1:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Re: why doesnt he just take the staff by force? The ring may need to be voluntarily given, but the same rules dont apply to the staff.

He tried to take the Staff by force. The Mahdout bested him at the cost of her own life and bound him by oath not to try again.

Re: Question 2 - More fundementally, since the Harrow was around when the Theomach became gaurdian of the One Tree, why has he waited 10,000 years to decide he wants the staff?

Maybe he didn't want that Staff. The two Staffs are not identical.

Re: Question 3 - Equally, why hasn't he been around at any time since TC first brought white gold into the Land in LFB?

Maybe he was off doing other things in other parts of the Earth? He's powerful but not omniscent. He may never have known about the ring in the Land until now.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I disagree with the sentiment that the last chronicles is bad. I think fatal revenant is the best he has ever written, and that is saying alot considering I don't much like Linden. This series is far more complex, far far more complex that the previous 6 books.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Power That Preserves still holds a too-prominent place in my heart, and it might be impossible to surmount. Scenes like Lord Mhoram's Victory, the unnamed Healer (was she an unfettered?) in Morinmoss, Triock's discovery of the short-lived wraiths of Andelian, Saltheart Foamfollower's passage through Hotash Slay, Covenant refusing to slay Foul with all the lords of the Land telling him to do so...I mean, that book made me CRY. More than once. The only book I can remember that's done that to me.

But for me, Fatal Revenant is probably the closest to it right now.
Quote:
Question 1 - why doesnt he just take the staff by force? The ring may need to be voluntarily given, but the same rules dont apply to the staff.

Question 2 - More fundementally, since the Harrow was around when the Theomach became gaurdian of the One Tree, why has he waited 10,000 years to decide he wants the staff?

Question 3 - Equally, why hasn't he been around at any time since TC first brought white gold into the Land in LFB?

It seems that, for whatever reason, having Linden as his companion is the most goal for the Harrow. Therefore even if the oath only pertained to the companionship thing, he might now abstain from attacking Linden because the only way he can have her is if she's pushed into accepting him.

As for question 2, besides the other stuff mentioned, there's no way the Harrow could have gotten past the Elohim before the Theomach became the guardian. By taking the staff at any point after that (at least until the old lords died) he would have been acting directly in opposition to Theomach's actions, and would have been undone like the Mahdoubt.

And once Anele loses the staff, the question of course is whether The Harrow could have discovered it, or (as people have said) whether he would have wanted an incomplete staff in any case.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ringwielder wrote:
Having read this thread, it seems to me that the general opinion of FR and the Last Chronicles is one of disappointment, a sentiment which I sadly share. At the same time, I havent read a single post that suggested anyone was less than gripped when reading it, and I have no doubts at all that each and every poster (myself included) will be first in line when the next installment hits the shelves. Credit to SRD...even his worst is streets ahead of the competition.


Before FR came out, I would have agreed with this sentiment -- I thought Runes was a huge disappointment. It didn't even strike me as being ahead of the competition. I remember thinking, "Maybe Donaldson made a mistake when he returned to this series." I felt like ROTE was sort of... pissing on the grave of the first and second chronicles. But I've definitely changed my mind -- I loved FR. I haven't been bothered by a lot of the things that seem to be irritating other people: the Insequent, for example. I'm instinctively attracted to a race of beings who are overwhelmingly compelled to pursue knowledge -- and I like the fact that they all choose different directions. Reminds me of the Unfettered. Sure, they've brought about a few convenient plot turns, but things like that were reasonably prevalent in previous books.

And while, in my opinion, none of the subsequent books rival the first chronicles, there have been a couple of small improvements over the second. In the second half of FR, even Linden was fairly tolerable, and that's a big deal to me. It was quite an accomplishment, and I was immensely pleased. (Still not a fan, of course, but it was a nice change -- it made for easier reading.)

My biggest problem remains my emotional detachment toward the Haruchai. For some reason, I haven't connected with Stave, and the Masters are acting like idiots. This really bothers me -- in the first six books, they were my favorite race. Now I'm just... indifferent. And I hate the fact that the people of the Land are largely impotent because they've lost their health sense and their lore, but that was a problem in the second chronicles, too.

There are a few other unresolved issues that are bothering me, but I think I'm going to hold most (though perhaps not all) of my carping until I'm sure SRD isn't going to answer my questions in the next two books.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Damelon wrote:
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How are you, VF?

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'Lord, I have been away. I have feasted with the Elohim, and ridden Sandgorgons. I have danced with the Dancers of the Sea, and teased brave Kelenbhrabanal in his grave, and traded apothegms with the Grey Desert. I have waited.'

(And I've been suffering from scruples; I said some damfool things in the Lordsmobile and have been regretting it since. I am gladdened and surprised to find that you don't appear to hold it against me.)

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The OP has expressed eloquently my own dissatisfaction with the Last Chronicles so far.

I'll just add that yes, I can detect SRD's more mature writing prose/narrative---but where is the mystery, the drama, the tension, the subtle misdirection I'm used to from him?

I instantly knew TC was Roger from his manner of speech and demeanor. It was blatantly obvious.

The 'time travel' was, forgive me, rather boring.

I'm also extremely annoyed with the continuing torment of Joan. How much longer must she pay for simply trying to protect her son from leprosy, finally demonstrating that she never loved TC in the first place and just wanted out of the whole thing? That's not a crime, by the Gods! When does she finally get to speak and seek atonement (if she even needs to)? Showing her in eternal madness and torment is a one-dimensional ploy. Elena is the one who should be in eternal torment---afterall, she's the one who caused all this chaos in the first place.

The Insequent. Yuck. When they were stuck in from nowhere, I started to realize the fundamental aspects that made this story unique were going to be cast away without regard. I find it humorous that the Insequent accuse the Elohim of their own psychological flaws: self-absorption. Again, lacking subtlety and intriguing mystery.

I could go on, but the OP has done an excellent job of diagramming my own view. Excellent!

All I can hope for at this point is that SRD clicks into whatever MUSE set him to write the First Chronicles so long ago.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2007 11:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Why I'm Disappointed in the Last Chronicles Reply with quote

arenn wrote:

And there's even a sense of ambiguity about the outcome. While to the omniscient reader it is probably likely that the Land is real thanks to the Hile Troy and Lord Mhorham PoV sections, it isn't a guarantee. And to TC it is by no means certain the Land is real. He tries to validate Hile Troy's existence. He tries to find the woman who calls him "Berek". In the end, TC succeeds against Foul by deciding that it doesn't matter if the Land is real or not..


I thank you for making this point, which I've long argued, and fail to understand why more people don't see this. For me, the whole thing lost a definite "something" when it seemed to become assumed that the Land was definitely real. I think it worked a lot, lot better when it was still up for grabs. You wanted to believe it, but you couldn't be sure. TC wanted to escape it by thinking it might not have been real but wasn't sure. Even though he came to realise it was irrelevant whether it was real or not in terms of his own real (or mental) struggle, I think it's a little bit terrible that now it's "just another fantasy land that some random bloke and woman go into to save". Sorry if that sounds harsh but that's how I feel. If it was the inner workings of a man deranged by the effects of leprosy (and I always interpreted Lord Foul, the Grey Slayer, as leprosy itself), it just worked better for me. When TC burns his stuff down after 1st chrons, hey presto, the Land has been scorched by the sunbane. Everything in the books could be mirrored to something happening in his real life.

Anyway, it seemed after some posters made lengthy analysis and SRD made some comments that this is not the case

Sorry, but this absolutely weakens the whole thing.

I thought the runes book was woeful, mainly because of the awful editing/writing, repeating of certain adjectives over and over and over, and the way it was just a ticklist trek across the land introducing this that and the other. It didnt have any soul for me. Also, I was getting fed up that half the plot lines seemed to be just because people talked in riddles or half ass faraway sentences that dont mean anything direct, you know what I mean. Too much of it spoiled it.

Anyway, the FR book is a lot better. I definitely was entranced this time by the story, the editing/writing was better and you were hooked by the action unfolding, even if I didn't care for some of the over elaboration of things in the past, the sleight of hand with Roger was excellent and a real shocker, but overall much better

I am still a bit worried now (perhaps this is due to reading the earlier books, or being older?) that too much of the story and plot is based on different characters revealing different random cryptic quotes whenever they want, and some random revelation or character popping up just when the shit hits the fan, and it basically being about Linden Avery running around from A to B to C and every time she gets more cryptic info, then gets into trouble but is miraculously saved when she suddenly realises what those clues meant, or some new thing pops up to save her or whatever. It is getting a bit old I think. If I'm honest, while I can't wait for the next book, I think he should have left well alone with the TC series. I genuinely mean that, even though I think there'll be lots of exciting story left, it will have somewhat let down the whole thing a bit like it's been done for the wrong reasons and not as well.

Even though I have no idea what will happen in the next books, I am 100% sure there will be more cryptic babble from all the different powers, none of it makes any sense but more to the point, none of it will help drive the story because it will just be Linden and maybe TC not understanding it until they've been saved by whatever random thing pops up just in time in the Nth encounter along their journey to place X (insert some place in the Land they have to travel "many leagues" to get to).

And for the record. Sorry, I don't give a flying f**&&^& about Jeremiah. I don't care about him don't know him, don't know anything about Linden's relationship with him and am sick of it all being about him. He's already dead, shot (thank god) in the real world, let it go Linden you boring cow. Sorry, that was a rant hahaha
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To each their own, but FR is some of the best fantasy I have ever read...SRD has grown as writer significantly! Also, the reason for the Harrow's inactivity over the eons?

I am sure we'll find out, but I would guess that it has something to do with the fact that until now, the rules that guide time, life, and power have only NOW become fluid and weak enbough to make the Harrow's investment worth his time.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I read the Last Chronicles, I recall how SRD stated that he has to trim about 200 manuscript pages of each novel and think to myself, 'he must have trimmed the best parts.'

Nonetheless, SRD shows pockets of brilliant writing which keep me reading. And I want to see how it all turns out. So I'll continue to wade through the brambles and thickets to find the occasional rose and then, in 6 years, the fascinating and surprising conclusion of it all.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 6:49 am    Post subject: Re: Why I'm Disappointed in the Last Chronicles Reply with quote

leeharris wrote:
let it go Linden you boring cow.


Laughing That struck me as so funny, simply because it was unexpected -- the rest of your post was comparatively serious, and then you suddenly threw that comment out there. I actually "LOL'd."

A Gunslinger wrote:
To each their own, but FR is some of the best fantasy I have ever read...


I agree.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 12:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Why I'm Disappointed in the Last Chronicles Reply with quote

stormrider wrote:
leeharris wrote:
let it go Linden you boring cow.

Laughing That struck me as so funny, simply because it was unexpected -- the rest of your post was comparatively serious, and then you suddenly threw that comment out there. I actually "LOL'd."


LOL.. Yeah, sorry, I don't think she is a bad character per se, I'd just rather have a lot more of TC, and I don't really have any empathy for Jeremiah whatsoever, so it's hard to keep reading that all this is just about her rescuing him (he's dead in real life already of course).
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 3:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Why I'm Disappointed in the Last Chronicles Reply with quote

leeharris wrote:
stormrider wrote:
leeharris wrote:
let it go Linden you boring cow.

Laughing That struck me as so funny, simply because it was unexpected -- the rest of your post was comparatively serious, and then you suddenly threw that comment out there. I actually "LOL'd."


LOL.. Yeah, sorry, I don't think she is a bad character per se, I'd just rather have a lot more of TC, and I don't really have any empathy for Jeremiah whatsoever, so it's hard to keep reading that all this is just about her rescuing him (he's dead in real life already of course).


The Creator gave TC a choice between life and death at the end of TPTP after his allergic reaction to the antivenin. Perhaps He is capable of saving Jeremiah.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 6:26 am    Post subject: Why I'm Disappointed in the Last Chronicles Reply with quote

Quote:
I think that part of the problem so far is thematic: the quest to save the Land, in both trilogies, was intimately tied into the protagonists' own psychology. Right now, it looks as if Linden's psychology is going to mean the deliberate sacrifice of the Land to her own needs. This is, shall we say, not an optimum solution either in-character or authorially, or for the reader's satisfaction. (Again, I reserve the right to change my mind if it turns out that the first two books are building up to something that makes it all worth it... but I thought the same thing after RotE and FR still leaves me at the same point: when is Linden going to realize what she's doing and get her psyche turned around and realize that she can't save herself without saving the Land, or at least making an effort.)


completely agree with Tonz assessment !
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 5:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only folks we run into who weren't associated with the previous novels are the Insequent, who appear to exist primarily to be convenient deus ex machinas. (The name "Theomach" even implies as much). Speaking of, many such events occur or otherwise apparently random and non-predictable changes that radically alter situations.


I kept thinking that again and again whenever that damn Theomach popped up... as well as a few other things... Shifty

I do think this book is miles ahead better then ROTE,but,it like the first book in the last chrons simply pales in comparison.The first six were poetry,classics,moving and emotional.I complained about a lack of that 'poetic' like writing in the first,that it seemed to clinical and detached,well in this book we seem to have returned to the writing of old,but it seems forced.Seems being the key word here.

Big words just for the sake of big words.The first six books,none of it seemed forced,it seemed as natural as breathing...[/u][/i]
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting post, i agree on some points. But every readers experience is different from the other. For example:

Quote:
But she's definitely a different sort of anti-hero than TC. In fact, I'd argue that the primary quality that distinguishes her as an anti-hero is that she's just plain unlikeable.


On the contrary i like Linden more than i liked Covenant, whom i only began to find supportable at the end of TPTP. The reason i went on reading the first chronicles was not sympathy for the main character, but for everything and everyone else having to deal with him.
Linden strikes me as a very human protagonist. Her reactions are human, as opposed to a fantasy heroe stereotype. Maybe thats why so many dislike her. They would rather have a mindless war machine going after Foul and all things evil with ring and staff on a holy crusade.

I agree wholly though with your comments on the Land. To me, the main protagonist of the first books was the Land, not the lords, TC or someone else. The Land in its fullness, people, geograhpy and magic, made it feel like a place worth fighting for. And therefore i was dying for Covenant to finally do the right thing. In the second chronicles the Land was raped, and that made me bloody furious. But in the last, the Land is like OK, but not very exciting. The magic seem to have evaporated and we are left with a pretty bleak environment. Here Donaldson will need to make amends, if the last chronicles are going to hold up to his earlier standard.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am refining my feelings of the Final Chronicles. I think I understand better and better as time goes on what it is that they lack. (And it would be folly to assume that I won't understand more tomorrow than today.)

So, today, what I think about is the way Donaldson now writes, and how that contributes to the feeling I have that there is a lack. The two have to be connected, it seems obvious to say. But I'm only now starting to see how the two are connected.

I think that things such as plot holes or plot contrivances or dislikable characters are not the central issue. Those are side effects of the central issue. Things that we notice because our attention is not consumed with what should be central stage. Like an audience that notices that the music is off-key and the curtains are tattered because the star of the show is hasn't gone on stage to occupy their attention.

So now, I have to say what I think is missing, don't I? Well, that's harder to do, because I lack the language, really, to do it. But, okay, I'll try.

What is missing is the way Donaldson used to develop his characters by having them relate to each other in poignant ways.

See? Now I have to explain that.

Dramatic events, in the Chronicles, are dramatic because of who the people are that are involved. So characterization was the key to everything.

And Donaldson used to characterize so well, in the first two Chronicles. When he went on to write Mordant's Need, people would say that the best part of the story was his characters.

He never tried to drive us directly into their heads. He never assumed that actions alone made a character. What he did was he had them interact with each other in very interesting ways. In ways that brought out each character's utter essence.

Quote:
Foamfollower's question caught him wandering. "Are you a storyteller, Thomas Covenant?"

Absently, he replied, "I was, once."

"And you gave it up? Ah, that is as sad a tale in three words as any you might have told me. But a life without a tale is like a sea without salt. How do you live?"

Covenant folded his arms across the gunwales and rested his chin on them. As the boat moved, Andelain opened constantly in front of him like a bud; but he ignored it, concentrated instead on the plaint of water past the prow. Unconsciously, he clenched his fist over his ring. "I live."

"Another?" Foamfollower returned. "In two words, a story sadder than the first. Say no more-with one word you will make me weep."


I've run out of words. I'm not an author. All I can do now is point to different parts of the First and Second Chronicles, and say, "Like this", and "like that". Like Hile Troy getting in Covenants face in the hallways of Revelstone, and Covenant giving back a piece of his mind, and then Trell trying to kill Covenant, and then Troy trying to understand it. Like Covenant storming into Mhoram's room and demanding that Mhoram make sense of everything. Like Covenant sniping at Foamfollower as he grieves in the caamora, and Foamfollower somehow loving Covenant instead of hating him for it.

There's nothing like that in the Final Chronicles. Characters don't seem to have any character-defining interactions with each other. As of the Gap, Donaldson doesn't seem to be able to write those kinds of scenes any more. Characters just are, and we are left to judge them by what they do instead of who they are.

"Dissapointment" is circumscribed by what you loved; you can't miss it if you never cared for it, and you can't be disappointed if you don't miss something you were expecting to see. So I can certainly see how readers who are in it for the action might be less disappointed than those readers who are in it for the passion.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with that post Wayfriend. To me its just another aspect of the "watering down" of the Land. The people Thomas Covenant met in the first chronicles were special and dynamic, and served higher purposes that made them somewhat extravagant. In the present day Land the inhabitants are mainly ignorant of any higher purpose, or in the masters case, arrogant and dispassionate.

A few exceptions exist, such as Esmer. But his likability is not very high, and hes too cryptic to engage in the kind of personal interaction that made me love Foamfollower, Elena, Mhoram, Sunder, Hile Troy...
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hate to say it - but I agree with you, Wayfriend. I think that I've wanted to feel the same about the Last Chrons as I did the previous two, and so have overlooked quite a bit.

While reading FR, I commented over and over how much I disliked what I was reading. Then Donaldson redeemed himself with the Viles, the ending, and I forgave everything I disliked.

To your list, I'd also add that there's nothing remotely like Lord Mhoram's Victory (yet), and there were two scenes that *could* have had the same or at least similar impact.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

burgs wrote:
To your list, I'd also add that there's nothing remotely like Lord Mhoram's Victory (yet), and there were two scenes that *could* have had the same or at least similar impact.

Not to argue with this, but just using it as a launching point to add more to what I was saying...

Lord Mhoram's Victory (the chapter) could only have been successful because of Mhoram's characterization up until that point. We needed to know what defending the Land meant to him. We needed to have shared his tears in the Close as he shared his 'secret'. We needed to know how much he invested in Covenant. There would not be any impact if we didn't know what went on in Mhoram's heart as he slew Satansfist.

And the reason we had any of those things is because we watched him suffer helplessly as Revelwood was burned. We were with him when he mistakenly held the other Lords at arms length, rather than embracing them. We watched him as he let Covenant go, and then reminded all the Defenders of Revelstone that they owed the Land only their best, but nothing more, lest it give wayt to dispair. Those POV chapters, oft-discussed in the context of the Land's reallity, were critical to the buildup of that chapter.

There's nothing like that in the Final Chronicles. For example, when Liand learned how to use orcrest.... I didn't really care. Liand is merely (yet) a guy following Linden around. I mean, I know what he is supposed to represent. But I have no empathy for him, really, and so his achievements are dry reading. Liand has not had any character-defining moments so far.
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