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Terribly disappointed by the ending :-( *spoiler*
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IrrationalSanity
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:40 pm    Post subject: Re: Terribly disappointed by the ending :-( *spoiler* Reply with quote

Condign wrote:
joques wrote:
I've never known Donaldson to bring any narrative to such a cheap end before. Everything always has consequences, and it always makes sense within the narrative. That the Elohim now suddenly are able to put the worm to sleep goes against *everything* that has gone before. I get the image of Donaldson disgustedly saying: "Here's your happy ending. Enjoy. I wash my hands of the whole mess."


Beautifully put.

This was my main problem with the book. It was finished in a way that said to me as a reader 'I don't care anymore. We're done.'

I went with everything, even the changes in character that I thought were unearned, or out-of-character.

But the end was a real kick in the face for me.

I felt cheated too.


I didn't feel "cheated", though maybe s bit underwhelmed.

There are really only three ways this could have ended:
1. World ends. As the souls of TC & Co. Float, our old friend, the Creator, shows up to thank/congratulate them, impart some transformative Aesop wisdom, and returns them to the real world circa 2nd Chronicles, but in time for Linden to save TC. They all live happily ever after in the "real" world.
2. World ends. As the souls float in the resulting chaos, we end up with some variant of "In the beginning, there was nothing, and the Earth was without form and Void..." They're the new godhead, and live happily ever after in the new Land they created.
3. World ends. We dissolve to the police analyzing the scene of everyone's deaths. Everyone is really dead. No moral, no Aesop. End of story.

Spoiler:
Frankly, the only one which would have frosted me was #3. Fortunately,
We essentially got a variant of #2.


I could have used a little more detail, or maybe some more surprise twists, Spoiler:
The fate of the ur-Viles and SWMNBN victims was a good effort there
, but most of the steps and final conflicts were pretty much inevitable, and fairly well told.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I Have yet to finish "The Last Dark"... ~~ spoilers out of the way ! ~~It sounds to me that I dare say (dare, Dare !) that it may .... compare with S Kings DT VII conclusion.
that he got bored.

I Hope that SRD didn't get bored and just like Kings , DT ~~ the climax wasn't just "phoned-in" I HOPE Not


Reading the 'The Last Dark" right now --- bought it at Books-A-Million in NPR, FL, --- Support your local Bookstores!!
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Joques,

From the "For what it is worth" Department:

I finished the book late last night, so perhaps I missed something. I didn't care for the end of either of the first two chronicles, so surely nobody is surprised that I enjoyed this one.

However, it is my opinion that the "deus ex machina" is the basis of the entire series, starting with a magic ring, a staff of law, the krill, hurtloam, treasure berries, etc. Thus finding them in the third series was expected. Now, having seen how the other books ended (which I loathed) that sense of consequences missing is understandable, and I appreciate your dislike of his not following the format he had established.

But the thread which almost became a mantra was "Do something he won't expect."--that was how to defeat him (LF). From saving the Elohim via J., to freeing SWMNBN by L., to first giving into despite (which slowed him down but didn't kill him) to absorbing him and accepting him. Even Roger's response...not what LF expected.

However, in regards to your dislike of the ending vis-a-vis the Elohim putting the Worm back to sleep, I must have misinterpreted that. I don't believe they could have done that on their own without the choices of the heroic triumvirate. Elohim are tied to the trees as well as the stars (if I understand correctly), and without Linden going back into time, answering the question at Gallows, and making a new forestall from the blind man, the Elohim would have been nothing more than Kibble -- the Earth blood didn't attract the Worm as a first choice dinner; it only went after it after the Elohim were gone. But now, the trees can again come forth, guarded by a forestall (which can create others when needed), the Elohim are no longer threatened by a sated Worm (only because he drank enough to make him sleepy instead of picking off the Elohim like popcorn), and the Law being restored by J.

And I appreciate your expression of the Syrupy Ending. But if so, then why did the Raver survive to come back again? I was sleepy, so perhaps I read it incorrectly. But the Raver was released by Chosen-son, not destroyed. The Land is not completely restored, there are still issues to deal with, including the teaching of the use of Earth Power, re-establishing that whole process, and all of these are the consequences of the actions of our anti/heroes.

As to Linden's changeability, I chocked that up to her being a parent with a son who suddenly was present. Kids change things, period. And as someone up-thread (or another tangent I read this morning) said -- We swear we won't become our parents and then hear their words come out of our mouths. Surprisingly, Linden didn't give in, as her parents did. She faced her Fear and released the Kracken (so to speak), which also changed the power LF had (a HUGE amount of despair suddenly went missing).

I don't really expect anyone to agree with me. As I said, they are for you for what they are worth...

Cheers! (and welcome)
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DoctorGamgee wrote:
I don't really expect anyone to agree with me. As I said, they are for you for what they are worth...

I agree with your points, more or less. Surprise!

deus ex machina: in every Chronicles, Covenant had unexpected outside help.

Do something he won't expect: certainly. Foul's downfall is always that he doesn't expect the resiliency and determination of Covenant and Linden to overcome their obstacles.

Worm kibble: I never really thought about why the Elohim could not put the Worm back to sleep all on their own. Your point is well taken. Infelice tells us as much (cryptically, of course) at the end of FR: "Done? She has roused the Worm of the World's End. Such magicks must be answered. Because of her madness and folly, every Elohim will be devoured."

Syrupy Ending: Agreed, they do not [yet] live in a perfect world. Such is life: you can overcome your inner issues, but yet the world still is what it is.

Linden's Changeability: I am lost on this one. But Linden is certainly driven by a parent's needs through the whole story. If you ever think that this has taken a back seat, you might feel she is changing I suppose.

Missing Despair: it sounds like your saying that SWMNBN fueled Lord Foul's power. I have to wonder about that one. Certainly she fueled the Dirt.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
DoctorGamgee wrote:
I don't really expect anyone to agree with me. As I said, they are for you for what they are worth...

I agree with your points, more or less. Surprise!

deus ex machina: in every Chronicles, Covenant had unexpected outside help.

I've responded to this almost every time I've seen it said, and it appears I'm not going to stop doing so:

whatever other problems/annoyances/shortcomings there are, this is not one of them.

being "unexpected" is NOT the defining attribute of deus ex machina...in fact being "unexpected" is most often a defining attribute of good writing.
"outside help" IS one attribute of deus ex...but "outside" means "external to the content of the text." AFAICT, there is no person, place, thing, or power present in the resolution that is NOT present...and most of them explored deeply and integral to the world, as opposed to one-off "inserts"...in the text.

The list of things upthread...staff, ring, hurtloam, etc...are NOT deus ex. They are essential elements in the nature of the whole damn world.
Feel free to dislike them...but don't call them what they are not.
Feel free to hate any and/or all the books and/or their resolutions.
Go ahead and make the case that the resolution was contrived/unrealistic...I think that's a reasonable possibility objectively, and certainly an acceptable conclusion as a matter of TASTE...I mean, if you can't stand mushrooms, you can't stand mushrooms...no argument is helpful or necessary. But you can't say [well, you can, but you'd be mistaken] you hate mushrooms because they've got beef in them.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith,

I recant my use of the term "Deus ex machina". I should have used Tolkien's "Eucatastrophe." Mea culpa.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But if you keep putting your players into seemingly impossible situations - and then keep 'playing the joker' to get them out of them, it gets a bit...well... contrived. [not sure that's the correct word but I think you'll know what I mean].
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've also been guilty of misusing the deus ex machina term and I think DrG's word is probably more apt. I loved the endings of the 1st and 2nd Chrons and I have come to terms with the ending to TLD. I didn't ever think that they felt deus ex-ish.

My beef would always have been with the Insequent. While they were not technically deus ex machina I could never escape feeling that they sort of were. It had to do with their integration (or lack of it) into the fabric of the story and, what felt like to me, the unearned nature of their almost infinitely flexible powers. Saying that, they are not present in TLD, so that sort of deus ex feeling wasn't there for me.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

berk peter wrote:
But if you keep putting your players into seemingly impossible situations - and then keep 'playing the joker' to get them out of them, it gets a bit...well... contrived. [not sure that's the correct word but I think you'll know what I mean].

peter ... it doesn't feel "contrived" to me when the joker is dealt (to follow your analogy) but it takes the determination and insight of the protagonist to play it the right way. Unforeseeable opportunities arise in the Final Cs (as in the other Cs) but for the most part, they would not have been good for anything if the characters were not who they were. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
berk peter wrote:
But if you keep putting your players into seemingly impossible situations - and then keep 'playing the joker' to get them out of them, it gets a bit...well... contrived. [not sure that's the correct word but I think you'll know what I mean].

peter ... it doesn't feel "contrived" to me when the joker is dealt (to follow your analogy) but it takes the determination and insight of the protagonist to play it the right way. Unforeseeable opportunities arise in the Final Cs (as in the other Cs) but for the most part, they would not have been good for anything if the characters were not who they were. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.


Quote:
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

But can we take one [perhaps the most obvious] example; Longwrath's reappearance just in time to sever Kastennesen's hand and save the Elohim [is that what Kasty was going to do; blast the fane with all the Elohim inside]. Ok - it worked; it was fortuitous - but there was no 'preparation' that could have made it's occurence more likely. And why? How did it happen? Longwrath did not ever seem self-controlled enough in earlier encounters to 'bide his time', to wait in the bushes untill he was needed. How did he evade the 'geas' that had him attacking Linden at every opportunity and suddenly turn his attention to Kastennesen. Were we given the background to this turn of events that enables us to say 'Oh thats how it happened; thats how he was there and why he acted as he did." [We probably were and I have forgotten most like.....Smile]
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It doesn't matter if you can find a way to dismiss the coincidental sources of redemption by saying, for instance, that the characters were well prepared, or they're who they are. The simple fact is that these stories happen this way because of the writer Donaldson is, not because of who the characters are. The relevant question is: does it make for a good story? Gandalf, being the character that he is, may have laid the groundwork in the Hobbit for the eagles to simply carry the ring to Mt Doom and drop it in, but this would have been a horrible story, even if it was in character for him, and if it made sense given his relationship with eagles.

The Longwrath example is a good one. However, there are PLENTY more. If a plan wouldn't have worked without event A (not to mention B, C, or D) happening, and characters couldn't have possibly anticipated any of those events, then of course it's contrived.

Think of the finale for WGW. TC's victory would have been impossible if Hollian hadn't died, if Sunder hadn't decided to take her corpse to Andelain, and if Caer Caveral hadn't prodded Sunder into killing him, breaking the Law of Life.

If Hollian hadn't died and set off that chain of events, there's no amount of preparation that Covenant could have done to make that victory possible. And yet he was marching to Mt Thunder with a specific plan in mind, that he was confident would work. And like magic (or authorial intervention) just the right sequence of accidental, unforeseen events occurred which were precisely the missing ingredients to Covenant's LACK of preparation (i.e. he didn't see the need for those lacking elements).

It's contrived. If you don't see it, you're not looking. The entire Chronicles depends on these sorts of author interventions.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To undertake that question as an example:

IIRC, Longwrath's appearance would not have had a successful outcome if Thomas Covenant had not appeared and scared Kastenessen enough to give him pause. Covenant created the opening.

Kastenessen would not have emerged from hiding in Mount Thunder in the first place if Jeremiah and the Giants and Stave had not built the fane to preserve the Elohim. So it was Linden's Army who drew him out and made him vulnerable to attack. And remember that Longwrath was geased up by the Elohim to strike at Kastenessen when that opportunity arose.

So, yes, I see this as an example where there is an unexpected, fortuitous event. But it would not have been possible without the characters having undertaken enormous risks and accomplishing valorous deeds.

However, I would submit that Longwrath's final deed answers the mystery of his mighty sword. We could not have guessed it's purpose, purhaps, but the presence of that mystery sword presaged some unexpected use. You can call Longwrath's deed a surprise, but it wasn't completely fabricated out of thin air either.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:


It's contrived. If you don't see it, you're not looking. The entire Chronicles depends on these sorts of author interventions.


Show me a work that doesn't do that.
Even your own, from the few things you've said about it, contrives.
For instance, you said somewhere something like characters have specific philosophies/viewpoints and you want how they act to be driven by the characters commitment to those.

But it is all contrived, and it is contrived by you.
You have to contrive a way to "fool" the audience, or at least keep them
wondering...yet not MAKE a fool of them...by telling outright falsehoods about/within the characters, by deus ex machina, a shitpile of other things.
Contrivance is the ONLY way to tell a story that has any meaning/purpose/drama.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

contrive denotes artificial,,and its on that, where the contrived perception fails. As been pointed out in this discussion, all that happens is within the context of the story,,organic. So, artificial really doesn't apply or work here.

Seems to me what is being not perceived is the " elimination" of characters at each conflict. Deus ex machina does not work because characters are dieing and what not,,,not saving the day ,,or artificially correcting a poorly thought out plot line. Its just the opposite,,They are NECESSARY. Their deaths, sacrifices, or otherwise elimination from the story ,,demonstrates the narrowing down to the pure essence of Thomas Linden and Jerry..Only those three Rise Like Glory at the end..So, yea, at each conflict, the entourage is reduced. Like excess baggage, like encumbrances,,the weight is let go,,and with each conflict the 3 are further defined, further refined. All quite natural, organic to the story and thus necessary...not artificial.

Thomas demonstrates the power of the tiniest mote of Hope has over Despair. Linden demonstrates a Love so Vast that its beyond description and Jerry finds a Compassion that fills the space between Thomas's Hope and Linden's Love.

All three suffer pain, agony and physical abuse in their travails,,so if its all contrived..why would one include doing that to the protagonists?..Why not just have them saved from that pain and agony as well? The contrived perception seems to be missing what actually happens to the characters. They are changed by their challenges. They are developed, refined, clarified, with each new struggle.

Linden decided to break the Law of Time, linear cause and effect, ..break the mold her parents made her out of, and find her true self. That Struggle is not pain free or free of mistakes..Part Two of TLD, ,," the abyss and the peak",,is that struggle. All that happens is necessary for Linden to save herself.


Its unfortunate that the Epilogue is perceived as " syrupy".
The entire epilogue is a metaphor and to only get " syrupy" out of it suggests much has been mis-perceived in all the other chapters as well. The only thing possibly " syrupy" about it is...is the realization that the characters words , dialogue,,may be the last we hear from them,,,and yea..if that pulls on the heart strings..opens up the flood gates on the tear ducts..what of it? To list that as a complaint , a criticism, is truly sad...imho.

The author has written a Master piece .Its up to the reader to rise to the Glory, the challenge of it,,not for the author to reduce his Art to the contrived . The author has succeeded in demonstrating that the Epic Fantasy can be legitimate Literature, Art, . So, yes, if you were expecting Conan and didn't get it,,its still up to you to rise to the Art of TCoTC if you choose to be a critic...otherwise,,your post comes of as..contrived.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some may sincerely believe that the author has written a masterpiece, and thus that the posts of those who express disappointed dissatisfaction about it must de facto be "contrived".

Others may sincerely believe that the author has written a clunker, and thus that the posts of those who heap effusive praise on it must de facto be "contrived".

The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. That's if a concept such as "truth" is even relevant here. I'd say that there are multiple possible "truths" about the Last Chrons, since "truth" will solely depend upon the reaction of each individual reader - each person reading the Last Chrons will come to his/her own unique "truth" about it, and to deny anyone's individual "truth" is to risk devolving into interpretative fascism.

I do however think it's always worth keeping in mind the lesson inherent within the fairytale that is The Emperor's New Clothes...
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheFallen wrote:
Some may sincerely believe that the author has written a masterpiece, and thus that the posts of those who express disappointed dissatisfaction about it must de facto be "contrived".

I suggest that recent posts have been calling the plot of Donaldson's story contrived, not the posts themselves.
-------

As I see it, as soon as Thomas Covenant got a white wild magic gold ring, the story has not been about how things happen, it's been about what drives the protagonist(s).

Shamefully reposting himself, Wayfriend wrote:
And that's where the white gold comes in.

With white wild magic gold, Covenant can literally do anything that he can will to happen. With a thought, he could sweep aside Foul's army, drag Foul out of his crèche, and give him noogies until he cries "uncle!"

But it's not so easy. For Covenant is limited by his own psychological and emotional regulations. He can't do anything with wild magic unless he truly, passionately desires it with every fiber of his being. And you can't fool the fiber of your being. It requires, as Amok says, "the honest subterfuge of the heart." In order to use white gold effectively, to do with it what he chooses to do with it, Covenant must master himself.

Set up with white gold in this way, Covenant's real story arc is not about learning how to defeat Foul or how to save the Land. His real story arc is a journey of self-discovery. He must resolve his internal conflicts, face the darknesses he carries within himself, tear down his self-built walls. When he does so, he will be capable of wielding the white gold, and the fall of Lord Foul is then a rather trivial exercise.

It's no coincidence that it's just this kind of an ordeal which is of practical value to a modern man in the real world. Covenant could learn how to use Earthpower, but, when he returns to his real home and his real life, this knowledge wouldn't be worth anything. Covenant could learn how to lead armies or ride Ranyhyn into battle, but he would have no armies, no Ranyhyn, when he returned to Haven farm. Ah, but learning how to master ones passions and to harness them towards constructive ends - in the modern, Ironic world, that has real value. To Covenant - and by extension, to us.

Surprises do not bother me. What I look for, and expect from Donaldson, is character responses that are well developed, true, and meaningful.
------
RE: syrupy

In Gojiro, an awesome book, Mark Jacobson wrote:
"Why, I believe in the earned arf," is what Komodo said.

The earned arf. It was Gojiro's term. invented back in the days when he and Komodo first considered the narrative structure of those scenarios that Shig eventually turned into the King of Monsters series. At the time it was Komodo's idea to have the movies end happily, since the more reality-tenuous Atoms might not be able to stand the strain of a downfall denouement.

Gojiro was against it. "Enough with this obligatory final-frame iconography. I ain't taken no arfs that ain't earned," he declared, in reference to what he deemed the repulsive practice of certain Dishscreen wallahs who truncated their shoddy sagas with the family dog barking at a particularly stupid joke made by one of the numbnuts characters, thereby triggering a spasm of laughtrack hilarity that fabricated a totally unearned sense of well-being. This didn't mean the monster was against the happy ending - quite the contrary. He felt that any story that didn't end happily, truly happily, was no story at all.

"We must speak to the nature of the storyteller in today's changing world," Komodo said as he stood under Albert Bullin's tent, hoping to do justice to Gojiro's argument. "Perhaps at the outset of the Modern Age it was enough to hold a mirror before the face of the world, to document the predicament into which we are heading. Now, however, it's too late for that. The situation is there for all to see. It is the job of the storyteller to seek the Way Out. He must keep on talking, incident after incident, stalling for time if need be, until an ending that is both happy and True springs to sight. That does not mean that I despise endings that appear to be sad. To me, no ending is truly sad unless it produces a false closure to the story. Then it is a bad story, and, by necessity, sad. No matter what the circumstances of the tale when the storyteller stops, the story remains valid as long as there is the promise of the next episode, a maintenance of at least the potentiality of a happy ending. This is the earned arf, the goal of Art in our times, I believe."

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
TheFallen wrote:
Some may sincerely believe that the author has written a masterpiece, and thus that the posts of those who express disappointed dissatisfaction about it must de facto be "contrived".

I suggest that recent posts have been calling the plot of Donaldson's story contrived, not the posts themselves.

Largely yes, except...
lurch wrote:
The author has written a Master piece .Its up to the reader to rise to the Glory, the challenge of it,,not for the author to reduce his Art to the contrived . The author has succeeded in demonstrating that the Epic Fantasy can be legitimate Literature, Art, . So, yes, if you were expecting Conan and didn't get it,,its still up to you to rise to the Art of TCoTC if you choose to be a critic...otherwise,,your post comes of as..contrived.

(Bolding mine)

I stand by my assertion of the existence of multiple, differing yet all "correct" (or at least "equally valid") opinions on the LCs.
---------------------------------------
wayfriend wrote:
As I see it, as soon as Thomas Covenant got a white wild magic gold ring, the story has not been about how things happen, it's been about what drives the protagonist(s).

Shamefully reposting himself, Wayfriend wrote:
And that's where the white gold comes in.

With white wild magic gold, Covenant can literally do anything that he can will to happen. With a thought, he could sweep aside Foul's army, drag Foul out of his crèche, and give him noogies until he cries "uncle!"

But it's not so easy. For Covenant is limited by his own psychological and emotional regulations. He can't do anything with wild magic unless he truly, passionately desires it with every fiber of his being. And you can't fool the fiber of your being. It requires, as Amok says, "the honest subterfuge of the heart." In order to use white gold effectively, to do with it what he chooses to do with it, Covenant must master himself.

Set up with white gold in this way, Covenant's real story arc is not about learning how to defeat Foul or how to save the Land. His real story arc is a journey of self-discovery. He must resolve his internal conflicts, face the darknesses he carries within himself, tear down his self-built walls. When he does so, he will be capable of wielding the white gold, and the fall of Lord Foul is then a rather trivial exercise.

It's no coincidence that it's just this kind of an ordeal which is of practical value to a modern man in the real world. Covenant could learn how to use Earthpower, but, when he returns to his real home and his real life, this knowledge wouldn't be worth anything. Covenant could learn how to lead armies or ride Ranyhyn into battle, but he would have no armies, no Ranyhyn, when he returned to Haven farm. Ah, but learning how to master ones passions and to harness them towards constructive ends - in the modern, Ironic world, that has real value. To Covenant - and by extension, to us.
That's a well-written and fair point, as it happens - and one which I very largely concur with, and especially where it relates to message. I certainly agree that within the Last Chrons particularly, SRD is far FAR more interested in his main characters as compared to external events - the LCs have been called, albeit a little flippantly, more of a "psychodrama" rather than an epic. I'll further agree that SRD mainly achieves consistency within his description of the reactions and thoughts of his major protagonists - they're "in character", when measured against what has been revealed before.

Having said that, I'm not sure that an author can solely satisfactorily focus upon "what drives the protagonists", no matter how consistent, seamless and credible his description of their reactions may be.I think there is a desirability for an author to make the situations/events to which his characters react and respond also in some way credible against the backdrop of what has gone before. He is after all equally in charge of plot as he is characterisation.

Permit me a small reductio ad absurdum for a second. If towards the end of the Last Chrons, Covenant and Linden had been attacked by a fifty foot walking purple banana out of nowhere, then that would indeed have seemed out of place and contrived, no matter how consistent their reactions and feelings towards such an assault might be described.

Credibility of plot (and yes, to be fair, plot credibility against both the self-set ground-rules, but equally importantly, the "feel" of what has gone before) is important too.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
Zarathustra wrote:


It's contrived. If you don't see it, you're not looking. The entire Chronicles depends on these sorts of author interventions.


Show me a work that doesn't do that.
Even your own, from the few things you've said about it, contrives.
For instance, you said somewhere something like characters have specific philosophies/viewpoints and you want how they act to be driven by the characters commitment to those.

But it is all contrived, and it is contrived by you.
You have to contrive a way to "fool" the audience, or at least keep them
wondering...yet not MAKE a fool of them...by telling outright falsehoods about/within the characters, by deus ex machina, a shitpile of other things.
Contrivance is the ONLY way to tell a story that has any meaning/purpose/drama.
Good points. Yes, it's all contrived, since it's fiction. It's invented. But the difference between being contrived and feeling contrived is similar to works that break the 4th wall (unintentionally) or those that don't.

I'm always very aware that I'm writing a story that is philosophy-driven, rather than character- or plot-driven. And for that reason, I've worked *very* hard for the themes to seem to arise naturally out of the characters, rather than forcing it upon them (which is one of the reasons why this 1st book is taking me so long). Finding reasons why a pragmatist, a priest, a skeptic, a conman, a materialist (Dwarf), an idealist (Elf), a soldier, and a crusader etc. would absolutely depend upon each other--and to do so specifically for the worldviews they bring to the table--has been quite a challenge, but I've found a way to do it that makes for one hell of a plot.

What I don't do is rescue characters with luck. I don't expect them to hope for a "wonder" to happen to redeem them ... well, unless that fits their worldview. But for me it's a way to talk about that belief/expectation--whether or not it's authentic or giving up--and not to get me out of a corner into which I've written myself.

There are successful examples in the Chronicles where the contrivance doesn't feel contrived. Hile Troy's plan to save his army was both unexpected and yet earned. TC's defeat of Foul in TPTP was also well earned, and arose naturally in conjunction with the themes embodied by Foamfollower. The "philosophy" of the necessity of choice was used to great effect, limiting what Foul could do in a realistic way (i.e. requiring Covenant to give it up, instead of taking it). Also, the philosophical issues of reality vs dream were handled in a way that seemed to arise directly from Covenant's character.

Those are great examples of doing it right. But that doesn't mean Donaldson always hits the mark ... only that he's capable of hitting the mark, which makes his failures more apparent and disappointing.
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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