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Mr. Land
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reviews Reply with quote

Early unofficial reviews are in through Goodreads. Looks like those that liked it enjoyed the world-building and weren't that put-off by the main character. Those that took a negative view often thought that Price Bifalt was too unlikable.

It is true that SRD does have a tendency to write challenging characters. How do you feel about that?
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NY Times Book Review wrote:
War has plagued the kingdom of Belleger for so long that its soldiers have given up on peace. This war is all the more brutal thanks to magical weapons of mass destruction called Decimates, which incinerate soldiers by the dozen or inflict deadly pestilences in the middle of battle. Seeking the rumored Seventh Decimate - which can ostensibly quell the other six, and may turn the war's tide - the heir to the throne embarks on a grueling quest to reach a legendary sorcerers' library.

There are no subtleties in SEVENTH DECIMATE (Berkley, $27), by the acclaimed fantasy veteran Stephen R. Donaldson. The Decimates decimate. Key characters have blatantly descriptive names like Abbator or Rummage or, for the leader of the exotic brown-skinned desert dwellers the prince encounters, Set. The library is a literal ivory tower full of scholarly magic-users. Yet amid all this blatant symbolism, it's difficult to discern a theme or focus. There is potential here for a meditation on how privation feeds bigotry. As Prince Bifalt travels, he repeatedly rails at non-Bellegerins for doing what his people cannot, like learning multiple languages, or for wasting time with frivolities like dance and study. In many ways he is the stereotypical American abroad, confronted with his own insularity: "Faced with so much diversity, so much lying outside his experience, he felt an unexpected impulse to draw back. Instinctively, he wanted to retreat to his pallet and sleep until the world shrank to more comprehensible dimensions." There's no basis for Bifalt's resentment, though; none of these outsiders are responsible for his country's endless war. He, as prince, is more capable than anyone of ending the conflict. He is simply wrong, and blaming others for his wrongness.

Since this is the start of a projected trilogy, however, maybe it's too soon to tell where Donaldson is going. Let's hope future volumes define the arc.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:27 am    Post subject: Re: Reviews Reply with quote

Mr. Land wrote:
Early unofficial reviews are in through Goodreads. Looks like those that liked it enjoyed the world-building and weren't that put-off by the main character. Those that took a negative view often thought that Price Bifalt was too unlikable.

It is true that SRD does have a tendency to write challenging characters. How do you feel about that?


I'd have it no other way, and the NY Times review Wayfriend posted has me even more intrigued.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read an ARC, and here is my brief, spoiler-free review.

I enjoyed it immensely, although it is not without problems.

The strengths are the characters and the interactions between them. Donaldson has always been very good at that, using dialogue to both set up mysteries and reveal their solutions. Bifault is not very likeable, but he's unlikeable in a very specific way, and that is a very deliberate choice by Donaldson - as are the natures of the characters that Bifault interacts with.

The language is also wonderful, from the names, to the dialogue, to the descriptions.

I would say that the world-building is a little light. The novel actually feels closer in style to Donaldson's novellas than to his longer novels, and he only reveals enough of the world to serve the story. He tends to tell rather than show more in his novellas, and this novel has the same tone. It reminds me of The Real Story, in that sense.

The novel also ended a little abruptly.

All in all, I enjoyed Seventh Decimate, but I'm hoping that, like The Real Story, the following volumes will expand the world and bring great significance to the events of this first, short novel.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have just finished it, and join i the hope that the story will unfold in the coming volumes - I hope that now that we have been informed about how big the world outside Belleger and Amika is, we actually get to see at least some of that. I don't mind that Bifalt is not very likeable - I felt the same way about Covenant and Angus in the first books of their sagas and Donaldson managed to turn that around for me, so I trust him. And there's a lot of mysteries going on - are the magisters good or evil or both? Why's Belleger named after war and Amika after friendship, if Bifalt's knowledge of their history points to the opposite? Where's the Great God? etc.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read it (well, listened to the audio.) It's ok - but what I've read from Donaldson in recent years doesn't seem to have the character development that hooked me in the earlier years: Foamfollower, Covenant, Mhoram, Pitchwife, Linden, Angus, Sorus, Morn ... We cared about or hated them ... an emotional reaction to all. While Prince Bifalt is annoying ... there aren't really any characters that pulled an emotional connection with me in the same way Steve's earlier writing did.

The above said - I'll listen to the next one! Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just finished this book and I have to say that I enjoyed it. It was refreshing to read Donaldson without some major character being so filled with angst that you hated them. I could actually identify with the main character and completely understood where he was coming from although I think we have only touched the surface of the character.

Creator said that there was not as much character development. But I think Donaldson is or rather seems to be doing more of a prequel than actually delving into the story. So I am sure that as future additions to this Chronicle are released, we will see far more character development.
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does it have any of the magic of the Chrons? I have always rated the [first six] TC novels as quite simply the best books I ever read in terms of the pleasure I derived from reading them. I was transported, I was TC! I struggled with the ....what were they ....'Mirror of her Dreams' or something books; they were just dull to me. The Gap, I only ever got as far as The Real Story - but they were SF as opposed to fantasy and I've never been a big fan as such [don't mind a good stand alone one - but an extended series, not so much]. What I want therefor is something that's going to do for me thirty plus years later what the Chrons did for me all those years ago. Any chance?
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter, that is a difficult question when we've only seen the first book. I suspect this book is much like the Real Story in that it is a first scene played in front of the proscenium, barely hinting at the vast and detailed expanse that lies behind the curtain.
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 4:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Much of Donaldson's strength in the Chrons came from his world building; the Land itself was of equal significance to even the best of his inventions in terms of characters, races or plots. If he can achieve even one quarter of the success in this series I'll be more than satisfied!

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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You've been here long enough to have seen my "Trust SRD" litany during the latter half of the Last Chrons release cycle (I emerged from lurkerdom between Fatal Revenant and Against All Things Ending), so I will skip that material.

Absent that degree of trust, I would advise waiting to read Seventh Decimate, and then in the second quarter of next year committing to reading both that book and The War Within back to back. By the end of the second book, I would wager SRD will have you avid for the next book of the series.

Admittedly, you've some time to kill. I'd suggest giving the Gap another chance. Yes, you will need to steel yourself for some violent and sexual content in the first couple books (all necessary to the eventual plot!), but the intricately written plot and multiple viewpoints are among his best work. Feel free to stop reading after the end of any book after the initial The Real Story. I don't think you will choose to do so!

If the sci-fi setting just is not something you can tolerate, perhaps you like better a gumshoe mystery? Try his "Man Who..." mysteries.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well - read Seventh Decimate. I'm pretty much with Creator on this; I'm interested enough to certainly give the second book a go and would also like to experience more of the wider world in future books. There's not much mileage in keeping doing comparisons with the Chrons - but part of 'the hook' in Lord Fouls Bane was the fairly short opening into action (TC's fall into the Land and Drool/Foul meeting, followed by really almost a whole book of world building. The 'prequil' route that Seventh Decimate takes is less to my taste in that as mentioned above, we have less emotional attachment to the participants before the story starts space and we are into it.
Also, I find the limited scope of the usage of magic in the story has a dampening effect. This, to date, is a medieval set romp with magic tacked on, but as noted there is plenty of time yet for the story to expand in many directions. I have hopes!

Smile

(ps. Wouldn't it be crazy if at some place far removed from where our story is currently set we encounter a people who have legends of a distant dessert where feral and savage beings wreak destruction on a huge scale..........)
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