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Reave the Just and other tales - First Impressions

 
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2004 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reave the Just and other tales - First Impressions Reply with quote

I'm more than halfway through my first read of this collection of short stories by Donaldson, having read from Reave the Just through to Penance. I'm posting what I think of the stories here. Spoilers included, so be warned.

One thing which interests me is the fact that, apart from Reave the Just, all the stories I have read so far have been written in the first person. Before this I had not read any of Donaldson's work in this perspective.

Reave the Just: An interesting story, with good look at the power of ideas, and suggestion. Reave takes no overly active role in the redemption of these characters; rather, he uses suggestion to impel them toward their own salvation, and in the end, they free themselves. A very interesting story, but I don't consider it one of SRDs best works - something about the writing just lacks the style and impression of other works of SRD that I have read.

The Djinn Who Watches Over The Accursed: This is one story which does not seem to have the underlying themes I am used to finding in SRDs work, or at least does not explore them as deeply. In essence, it comes across as simply the story of this man, Fetim, learning how to live with his curse. Well-written, the only part of this I disliked was the Djinn's mode of speech on the early occasions in whixh he addressed Fetim - it didn't seem to fit, for some reason.

The Killing Stroke: I think I enjoyed this one too much for a critical analysis. I will say this much, however: Brilliant.

The Kings of Tarshish Shall Bring Gifts: An interesting and occasionally disturbing insight into what happens when a man remembers his dreams so fully, so vividly, that all waking life is dulled and empty in comparison. Despite his spoiled nature, his vexation, and his cruelty, I find myself able to feel sorry for the tyrant, who did not choose to remember his dreams, and only sought to find ways to make his waking life worthy of them. Another great example of Donaldson's ability to give us insight into human nature.

Penance: I just finished this one a few minutes ago. Powerful and compelling, this one is a tale of redemption, and acceptance. There were some incongruities, however. It seemed to me that the power and vividity of the main part of the story were not present in the earlier pages - before Scriven began his tale. Also, the fact that SRD continued his usual mode of language and description when telling Scriven's tale belied the supposed fact that this story was a recitation by the narrator; it did not seem a natural way of speaking for this man commanded to tell his tale. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it, and am looking forward to the next tale.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2004 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wish I could go back in time to a point before I'd read these stories so I could read them for the first time again. Oh well...
Have fun, Murrin, and don't waste it, you only get to read them for the first time once.

You'll love "By any other name".

It's absolutely brilliant. I'd go so far as to say it rivals "the Killing Stroke" for being the best story in the collection.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 6:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually Murrin, The Djinn Who Watches Over the Accursed focuses on accepting responsibility for our actions and the consequences of those actions, which is definately something Covenant has to come to terms with.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2006 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm... I should probably finish this, but after this long I'd need to reread them all.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By Any Other Name was brilliant. Just read it last night. Can't figure outwhy I never read it before... Extremely simple and extremely effective. The 'message' was not hidden, just so well told.

The 'usurper' was exactly the type of charcter I have used in some stories I have written, and it's like SRD just plucked him from my mind and showed my how it could be written.
Genius.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2011 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually just at the very same point in the book that you were when you posted this. Despite being someone who doesn't generally like short stories, I am enjoying these a lot.

However, as I posted elsewhere, "The Killing Stroke" just doesn't work for me. Just pure sophistry!

By contrast (and revealing my shallowness), I really enjoyed Reave the Just itself. The ideas are simple and in your face (unlike the tortured philosophies of The Killing Stroke) and I like that! The idea that magicks can be made effective by the simple expedient of information and suggestion was excellent (it's probably old hat and been done to death but despite being a big TC fan, I don't read much fantasy.) And I liked the way that Reave empowered the individuals to save themselves (rather than simply riding in to the rescue).

And I guess I prefer the background setting of midlle ages England over the philosophically constipated Far East!

Looking forward to the rest of the stories now.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I very much enjoyed this book, pretty much every story ranges from good to excellent in my eyes, several stories there are amongst my favorite reads. "The Djinn..." has a nice plot twist near the end.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm also at the point Murrin was when he started this thread. That was in 2004. Did you finish it Murrin??

Thoroughly enjoyed Reave the Just.

Didn't enjoy the Djinn one.

Now, the Killing Stroke. Even though it is a short story I got thoroughly involved with the characters and I loved the ending.

The King of Tarshish Shall Bring Gifts - very strange story indeed. I really didn't see the point of it.

Penance. Found it difficult to read because of the content (a bit like I had trouble with the first Gap book) but I couldn't stop reading it as I wanted to know what happened at the end. Consequently I was still reading at 2.45 this morning! It was worth it however.

Three more short stories to go!
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Woman Who Loved Pigs, is my favourite. And the idea at the heart of the Si-Fi story is the reason I read Stephen Donaldson books.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reave the Just and Other tales is interesting in that a lot of the stories have an experimental style to them. The exceptions being "The Djinn That Watches Over the Accursed" (which I think is universally considered the weakest of all Donaldson prose) and "What Makes Us Human".

"Penance" is different. I enjoyed it, but the focus of the short story is not what readers come to expect. It, unlike "The Killing Stroke", seems incomplete, the main conflict unresolved.

I also liked "The King of Tarshish Shall Bring Gifts", but I'm weird like that Wink
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finished!

I did enjoy The Woman Who Loved Pigs, although I guessed the pig's identity halfway through the story which rather spoiled the ending.

What Makes us Human was not so enjoyable. Too much lead up and not enough ending, and I didn't find the story interesting.

By Any Other Name - wow, this was the best one. Almost Covenant in miniature. I read well into the early hours of the morning in order to finish it. Most enjoyable also was the way the narrator spoke - his turn of phrase, his attitude gradually changing. He dared to go where he dare not go. The fact that the usurper gave nothing away was the impetus for the narrator's actions, and also gave nothing away to the reader. Even by the end we were given no idea who he was, but somehow it didn't seem to matter.

I now look forward to Daughter of Regals which I should receive in 4 days time from now.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I enjoyed "The Woman Who Loved Pigs" a lot, too...
especially the portrayal of the main character, and the process of breaking through to her mind...
..was just thinking about it the other day, and turning over various questions in my head.

You've made me curious with your description of "By Any Other Name."

and love Daughter of Regals..
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

New US cover art:


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

:shakes fist at Palencar:
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At least there's no tree this time.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Penance" remains my favorite on my third reading of this collection. It's the only story in Reave the Just that can actually move me to tears.
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