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Why I'm Disappointed in the Last Chronicles
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that The Last Chronicles have the potential to be as good as the First. We've only really seen the set up so far, but I think the next two books will be deeper, if only because it looks like the staging part of the story is already done. The new characters are introduced, the new situation fleshed out (well, fleshed out enough), and Covenant and the Giants are back. The stage is set, as it were.

Just in terms of the vividness of The Land itself, as someone mentioned above, there's no one around who even really understands why they're fighting against the Despiser. Only the Haruchai, and maybe the Ramen, have any conception of what the Land used to be, and neither group is really in a position to illuminate anyone. The Masters are fools, and it's been stated that they serve Foul. The Ramen have been away from the Land for too long, so they only have vague stories to fall back on. I think we're supposed to acknowledge the fact that a character like Mhoram couldn't exist in this setting anymore as part of the tragedy of the situation.

One thing that is stated again and again in the book is that the peril of the Land belongs to the people of the Land. One way you can look at that is that the people of the Land are only as strong as the Land itself. Mhoram is a product of the Land at its best, its most alive, and its most directly threatened (actual armies marching). Since no one in the Final Chronicles has any experience with the Land in its full glory none of them can be as extravagant as Mhoram. It's impossible for them to be as passionate for the Land, or as powerful, or even as clued in. Liand begins to show signs of becoming like Mhoram, but it's not until he bathes in Glimmermere and gets his Orcrest stone, things that are both linked to the Land's former glory. The Land itself is impotent in a lot of ways, and so are its people. This is one of the things that makes Liand's blessing after the big battle so important. He's giving the people back their connection to The Land.

I'm not disappointed in the least with Donaldson, quite the contrary really. He's being very subtle, creating parallels and setting things up in very specific ways, and I'm enjoying it a lot.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finally read FR and although I liked it better than Runes there is some kind of "it" factor missing from the last chrons so far. The sense of wonder and discovery is gone to me. Instead of wondrous new things to envision (aside from The Insequent who I am not at all sure of) I am left with things that I already know about being altered, tainted, re imagined, or tormented. (Plus the books have been Linden centric so far)
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm feeling the loss too. For me the Last Chronicles have been lacking in the strong emotions of the earlier books.

I think this might be intentional and part of a key theme about death and letting go and how no specific example of beauty lasts forever, so one shouldn't remain stubbornly attached to its faded ghost and deny oneself the enjoyment of other beauties.

"Why not kill yourself?"
"I dunno. I guess I just don't want to die. Being alive is what I'm used to."

That kind of thing is not exactly what thrilling fantasy adventures are made of.

In the real/not real department, the lack of interesting new stuff could be signs that everything is going on in Linden's head. Linden is clinging to her memories of Covenant and the Land, but since Covenant is a dead man living only in Linden's memories, the Land has become a sort of living dead thing, unable of going into truly new directions, retreading old ground over and over again in slightly different variations. The caesures are gaps in Linden's memories that threaten the integrity of her unreality. The Insequent are parts of Linden's subconsciousness fighting to keep everything together even if it means they have to sprinkle dei ex machina everywhere.

I have a feeling this kind of thing can become very creepy, but the problem is that we're still in the phase of laying groundwork where everything is played seemingly straight, so that all we have now is an inchoate feeling of something missing.

I think the awakening of the Worm is a sign of a major turning point in the story. I think we are going away from an assortment of mid-grays to black, black, (flash of white), BLACK as it becomes apparent that while the life the people of the Land are living isn't that great, it isn't that terrible either, compared to some of the options.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I HOPE this isn't all happening in Linden's memories. A story about something that may or may not be real just doesn't interest me. And I don't think it interests SRD anymore, either. The First Chronicles were obviously of the doubting sort, but he's said in the GI that the question of reality should long be gone. It is for me.

Your point about beauty was an excellent one. I can definitely see that here. That said, I do think that SRD would be disappointed to here his readers saying that an "it' factor is missing.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 10:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

burgs wrote:
I HOPE this isn't all happening in Linden's memories. A story about something that may or may not be real just doesn't interest me.


?

Do you realize what forums you're in?

burgs wrote:
And I don't think it interests SRD anymore, either. The First Chronicles were obviously of the doubting sort, but he's said in the GI that the question of reality should long be gone. It is for me.


Not quite. He said it isn't necessarily pertinent anymore; but he's gone to great pains to ensure that his basic rules from the first series (nothing verifiable, everything as an expression of the character(s) of the protagonist(s), et cetera) aren't broken.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, Rigel, thank you so much for orienting me. I hadn't the slightest idea that this was a forum for discussing SRDs works, and obviously, specifically not the Thomas Covenant books, and certainly not The Last Chronicles.

Rolling Eyes

Yes, I know where I am. I read the first series about 30 years ago. I understand Covenant's unbelief, but chose to believe that Covenant's experiences in the Land were as real as those on Earth. The chapter "Lord Mhoram's Victory" from The Power That Preserves cemented *my* belief (after many other similar POV shifts that initiated my *belief*).

If I felt that SRD was writing books and specifically stating that the Land does not exist and that all of this is in their heads, I would be significantly less interested - much as I was disappointed in Lewis's wrapping up of his Narnia series in The Last Battle.

With regard to things being unverifiable, explain "Lord Mhoram's Victory" to me in a concrete, non-abstract fashion. How is that chapter able to be written if nothing is verifiable? (And I would argue that SRD didn't enter the abstract until he started the 2nd Chrons.)
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think there is zero chance of SRD outright saying that the Land really doesn't exist at all. However, I wouldn't shut it out that that the subject is reintroduced so that Linden starts to worry that the Land is only her dying delusion. Or perhaps Covenant suggests he might only exist in Linden's mind. After all, the Dead can come back to life even less than nerves can regenerate.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

burgs wrote:

With regard to things being unverifiable, explain "Lord Mhoram's Victory" to me in a concrete, non-abstract fashion. How is that chapter able to be written if nothing is verifiable? (And I would argue that SRD didn't enter the abstract until he started the 2nd Chrons.)


I'll agree that Donaldson was inconsistent with regards to this in the First Chrons. After all, he originally cut out Gildenfire and developed it into the three Tales chapters for precisely the reason that it stands on its own, as a unique narrative thread, and separate from Covenant's POV.

But then he goes on gives us half of TPTP from Mhoram's POV, a much more serious breach than Gildenfire ever was!

Still, I'm willing to overlook his faults, as I love Mhoram and can't ever get enough of him.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rigel wrote:
burgs wrote:

With regard to things being unverifiable, explain "Lord Mhoram's Victory" to me in a concrete, non-abstract fashion. How is that chapter able to be written if nothing is verifiable? (And I would argue that SRD didn't enter the abstract until he started the 2nd Chrons.)


I'll agree that Donaldson was inconsistent with regards to this in the First Chrons. After all, he originally cut out Gildenfire and developed it into the three Tales chapters for precisely the reason that it stands on its own, as a unique narrative thread, and separate from Covenant's POV.

But then he goes on gives us half of TPTP from Mhoram's POV, a much more serious breach than Gildenfire ever was!

Still, I'm willing to overlook his faults, as I love Mhoram and can't ever get enough of him.


I believe it's been mentioned somewhere that by the time you get to Mhoram as the POV character, whether the Land is real or not is no longer of the same importance, either to Covenant or the reader. Any earlier and it would have much more dramatic impact on the story.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rdhopeca wrote:
Rigel wrote:
burgs wrote:

With regard to things being unverifiable, explain "Lord Mhoram's Victory" to me in a concrete, non-abstract fashion. How is that chapter able to be written if nothing is verifiable? (And I would argue that SRD didn't enter the abstract until he started the 2nd Chrons.)


I'll agree that Donaldson was inconsistent with regards to this in the First Chrons. After all, he originally cut out Gildenfire and developed it into the three Tales chapters for precisely the reason that it stands on its own, as a unique narrative thread, and separate from Covenant's POV.

But then he goes on gives us half of TPTP from Mhoram's POV, a much more serious breach than Gildenfire ever was!

Still, I'm willing to overlook his faults, as I love Mhoram and can't ever get enough of him.


I believe it's been mentioned somewhere that by the time you get to Mhoram as the POV character, whether the Land is real or not is no longer of the same importance, either to Covenant or the reader. Any earlier and it would have much more dramatic impact on the story.


True, and this is the biggest reason why Lester Del Rey insisted that the TIW chapter "Gilden-Fire" be cut from the book, since it had a chapter in the POV of someone from the Land (Korik.) BTW, I think LDR was dead wrong on this - Gilden-Fire is an essential part of the story of TIW, IMO. And, it should be noted that the subsequent chapter in TIW entitled "Seer and Oracle" is in Mhoram's POV.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm going to admit right off that I haven't thoroughly read every post in this thread, so I might repeat some things someone else said...sorry if I do. ( I did examine the beginnings of the thread fairly closely, though..and quick scanned other pages)
I agree, to an extent, with the initial criticisms, but have a big BUT:
1) This is actually a "bigger" story than the other parts were, isn't as amenable to "one step at a time" format, and requires more "setup". Consider as an example one of my favorite moments: In the Second Chronicles, when TC meets the Giants for the first time, my heart broke, and at the same time swelled like the Grinch's. This moment could never have occured effectively without all the previous developement. So I have hope that the character interactions disappointing people so far are necessary build up (some writers wouldn't merit that hope, I think SRD does because he's done it many times already) {Although I also think the scene cited earlier in this thread with Saltheart...story in 3 words, 2 words, don't tell me the 1 word one...was a rare kind of achievement. Transcendent writing in any genre.}
2) Time travel: ok, done to death in speculative fiction, cheap device, blah blah. Many people thought/think the same about a ring. However...looking more closely a) it isn't a device or trick, it's a violation even when used by the Good Guys. b) It is absolutely logical that if you want to break the Arch of Time, you attack Time (Foul's first mistake: attack Covenant not the Arch with White Gold...or just part of his plan..he knew he'd get a better opportunity later, so did it on purpose)
3) The first post criticized the fact that the Land isn't set up to make you care as it was in the first chronicles. Well..yes it was..in the first chronicles. {analogy: Genocide is tragic and evil, but what is worse is that many people forget, so it happens again, again, again..for those who do remember, that makes it TRAGIC and EVIL}
4) Is making the past more human and less mythic really a flaw? (another criticism from original post) Generally speaking (storytelling, in whatever genre, including non-fiction as a whole) this might be purely a matter of taste, and my taste would say no. In the context of these works however: Isn't one of the major themes through ALL of the books the complex relationship between acceptance/responsibility/actions/consequences/belief/despair and the possiblility that it is precisely BECAUSE we are limited and mortal and flawed that our actions that transcend, even temporarlily, those limits, are meaningful? (flip side, related: The world is meaningful only because it is flawed...would we even read a story about a perfect world, a perfect land, no Foul, no Banes?)
5) The "deux ex machina" criticisms. On this point I predict I will absolutely be proven right: The actions in these cases will turn out to have been illusory victories/escapes/recues (whatever your preferred terminology. Every one of them (directly or indirectly) will lead to more problems/questions than solved/answered. If I'm wrong about this, you can boot me from the watch in 8 years or so, after the last book is written.
I'll stop before I get completely off topic, or risk repeating more things that might be elsewhere.
I simply think that the criticism COULD be premature (as I believe it was/is for those people who couldn't get past the rape, or "Don't touch me" iterations.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the Watch, Jeff! And, my, what an exotic name!

1) With six other books before the Last Chronicles, can you claim that there isn't sufficient set-up already? Especially if the Second Cs was designed to be a lead-in for the Final Cs? In your item 3, you even make this assertion yourself. It seems to me that Donaldson simply doesn't create such "crescendoes" any more. [link]

4) I for one am not "against" making the past more human. What I am is "disappointed" in Donaldson's making the past more "trivial" and even "degrading". [link]
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Welcome to the Watch, Jeff! And, my, what an exotic name!

hah..sorry..was in a hurry to join, (after all I've already missed years of this stuff) and thought I could make a different post name from login name..I usually try to "fit in" (while still being my contrary self) {hell, maybe I can, but I'm to busy catching up on my reading to check}
Quote:
1) With six other books before the Last Chronicles, can you claim that there isn't sufficient set-up already? Especially if the Second Cs was designed to be a lead-in for the Final Cs? In your item 3, you even make this assertion yourself.

you're right, I do make that assertion, but what I really meant (I always leave stuff out when I'm not actually in a conversation where the other person says stuff to remind you) is that the other books were background for the atmosphere (terrible word--mood/dilemma/milieu/spiritual stance combined would work if one word implied all that) of the Land, and why one should care, but things change unnoticeable slowly in the world (from the ordinary inhabitants view) yet so cataclysmically (sp?) for TC (then) Linden (now), that "intermediary" background is necessary for the reader (and the longer, and more intricate , the story arc, the more radical the changes, the more that this is needed) Example: look where he's taken the Haruchai...I'd bet serious money that NO ONE, not even the smart careful readers that are writing on this watch, could have predicted the role they've assumed..and yet that role is perfectly consistent with what they are. (at the same time, he's a master of including foresight teasers...things that you KNOW are going to matter, then when they do, they matter differently than you anticipated)

Quote:
It seems to me that Donaldson simply doesn't create such "crescendoes" any more. [link]

Quote:
4) I for one am not "against" making the past more human. What I am is "disappointed" in Donaldson's making the past more "trivial" and even "degrading".


Both of these things you said are related to one thing, for me: my hope that SRD can, and will, do what he's done before...pull it together, so that once you see it all, you feel "OH!!!!" so strongly you can't help but go back over and over. Maybe the crescendoes are there, just subtler and longer. Maybe the past seems trivial and degraded on it's way to something grander. SRD (and other great writers) have done this before, and I'm not willing to give up my hope yet.
Sadly, when the end arrives it may turn out that you were right and my faith insufficient to make you wrong.
Even if you are, though, in my never f*ing humble opinion Embarassed the worst SRD is an example that other writers should be striving to equal.
[link][/quote]
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jeff wrote:

2) Time travel: ok, done to death in speculative fiction, cheap device, blah blah. Many people thought/think the same about a ring. However...looking more closely a) it isn't a device or trick, it's a violation even when used by the Good Guys. b) It is absolutely logical that if you want to break the Arch of Time, you attack Time...

I very much agree.

Quote:
I simply think that the criticism COULD be premature (as I believe it was/is for those people who couldn't get past the rape, or "Don't touch me" iterations).

I'm on your side here, but...I think a reader would still have the right to criticize, say, the rape scene even if said reader got past that point and understood the larger picture SRD was drawing. Also, we should respect that female readers may have particularly strong views about the rape, or the way in which it was handled. I don't want to derail this thread by inadvertently starting yet another heated debate about The Rape Scene, but I do recommend you check out the numerous threads in existence that deal with that very contentious subject.

And, yes, Jeff, welcome to KW and to the FR discussions, which in their way are as contentious as anything else at the Watch. If you do intend to browse the FR forum, I hope you'll be able to keep from tearing your hair out or smashing your head against the monitor. Just remember to take deep breaths. Wink

Oh, and my compliments to all who have made eloquent response to the criticisms laid out in the opening post by arenn. Being very late to the party, I have little to add. (Mind you, I chose not to involve myself with this forum until it had become public.)

wayfriend wrote:
I for one am not "against" making the past more human. What I am is "disappointed" in Donaldson's making the past more "trivial" and even "degrading".

You probably want people to respond to you in the thread you linked to, but for Jeff's sake (if he's crazy enough to still be reading) I'll just say here that I disagree with your view that Donaldson has made the past more "trivial" or "degrading." I was very moved by what took place at Berek's camp, for instance. I don't think SRD has diminished Berek's "greatness" for lack of a better word. You may have a better one.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matrixman wrote:

(Mind you, I chose not to involve myself with this forum until it had become public.)


I am very glad that you're here now, MM. Welcome to the FR forum!
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 2:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Uber bump.

Maybe I should keep it to myself...
...but Runes was the single worst novel I've ever read.
I'd say it was on par with the Phantom Menace, or even worse, if compared to cinema.

I think all my reasons were spoken, articulated much better than I could, by everyone in previous posts (years ago). Smile
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jacob (if I may invoke your former name), please do not dismiss the Last Chrons based on ROTE. Having read the following two volumes and now being immersed in an ARC of TLD (about which I do not speak), I can only say trust SRD and ride the rollercoaster to where it is going.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've heard the same with the Gap series...how he builds towards great endings. The thing is, that's just lazy, poor writing. Using the earlier books for certain ends without making them interesting and entertaining with characters that matter and solid PLOT (I.E. STORY). Story is to novels what location is to business. So, what is the story of the first or second (or both) novels of the Last Chrons?
...

*crickets*
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RaceFinisher wrote:
I've heard the same with the Gap series...how he builds towards great endings. The thing is, that's just lazy, poor writing. Using the earlier books for certain ends without making them interesting and entertaining in their own right.


The Gap lazy writing? Far from it. If you haven't read it yet, you are seriously missing out.

Unfortunately you cannot have a strong payoff without a strong setup. And you really cannot compare the Gap with the Last Chron's, imo.

Besides, the earlier books in the Gap series are loaded with fantastic scenes, sequences and yes, endings.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read the sex slave one. Then I read half of the second one, and while the idea of being in your rapists body and the whole alien setup was good, the story and plot (or lack of) were not enough to hold me. That was too drastic. Look, I really did like the idea of her being in his body and what might lay ahead, really. But their was no impotis? is it? beyond that, to keep reading. Whereas with the Chrons, the first book is whole on it's own and wonderful, uses the Quest plotline to move it along, etc.

Why wouldn't you compare? It's written by SRD, so I think it makes sense to expect something near quality.

ttttangent: Man can SDR create a title, This Day All God's Die might be my favorite title in history, mostly due to the linguistic poetry of it.
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