Lack of Reading

Anyone checking my reading list will see that The Runes of the Earth (The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Book 1) by Stephen Donaldson has been on top of the list for months. I thought I’d better let you know that I finished the book about two months ago, but I haven’t started another novel as yet, so the list remains unchanged.

What did I think of Runes of the Earth, I hear you ask? 🙂

It’s been so long since the last set of books that the author had to do a lot of back story to remind the reader “what had gone before”. Whilst he did well with this, it did become tiresome and after reading 200 pages I was well and truly over it. I didn’t want to know what happen back then, I wanted the now to advance.

Maybe my taste has changed because I loved the first six books, but I found this one to be slow and long winded.

Will I read the next two books?

Good question. I think I’ll wait for the library to get copies and borrow them (which is what I did with this book).

This has proven one thing to me, when a story is over…it’s over! Don’t try to breathe life into old characters and settings because it usually doesn’t work. Let your fans remember them with love instead of ruining that imagine with more adventures that don’t quite move the reader in the same way.

Tolkien

This is a rant so feel free to skip this post if you want.

Lord of the Rings by Tolkien are the most boring books I’ve read. In fact, I couldn’t finish the first one and will never attempt to read the others. The writing is stiff and long winded, and it takes the author forever to say something that could have been said in a single page. I know the series was written over 50 years ago and that accounts for the style and I could make allowances for that if the writing wasn’t so boring.

So…having said this, I will now say that I know few people who actually did enjoy the books yet many writing discussions are turned to LotR. The discussions could be about anything and then someone mentions LotR and that’s the end of the discussion. It happens all the time and it makes me so mad.

Personally, I believe the movies are much better and they have built up an author to be something he’s not (or wasn’t). For those people who aspire to produce a novel in the same light as Tolkien, let me say one thing – it’s Tolkien’s light and you’ll be in his shadow. Your manuscript will never become a book, and if you did manage to find a fool to publish it the world will rubbish you for years because you can never fill the shoes of Tolkien. Thing is, who’d want to? Books are meant to be enjoyed, not bore us to sleep.

Forget Tolkien and become your own person. Write your own story, make your own history and above all – do a better job than Tolkien!

Stephen Donaldson

Stephen R Donaldson was the author who introduced me to fantasy with his The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series many years ago. I then went on to read the wonderful Mordant’s Need series – Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through (Vol. II) – and loved them but I never liked The Gap series because I had outgrown the science fiction genre at that time.

Some twenty odd years later, Stephen Donaldson has released the first book in The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Today, I got my copy of the book from the library. I’ve already read the “What’s gone before” and was surprised by how much I remembered, and I look forward to reading the next installment of the series.

Will this book hold my attention like the previous books? Time will tell but I hope so.

Finished “Passage” by Connie Willis

This was the strangest book. It started out repetitive but kept my attention, then the pace increased so much I hated having to put the book down. Then…at a major turning point (I won’t say a word) it flipped into repetition again.

It was a really good book. I read all 700 odd pages, so that accounts for something but after that major turning point I spoke of a second ago, there were elements that really, really flattened me. And I don’t mean this in a good way. The author picked the reader up and took them along but then she went too far. Instead of stopping, and letting the reader marvel in what a great author she is, she kept going and going and going and spoiled it. I was disappointed.

The ending was meant to have a reason and everything, and I didn’t miss what it was or anything, I just thought she killed her own book. I learned a lesson here, when a story is over – it’s OVER!!!

The Value of Reading

You may have noticed in the right hand column that I’m currently reading Passage by Connie Willis.

It’s a thick book, over 700 pages, and it’s hard to put into words my thoughts on how this book started. The first 300 pages was a series of events that repeated themselves over and over again. Now, normally I would have given up on a book that did this because I find it boring but there’s no way I can say this book is boring. I kept reading because it grabbed my interest. I won’t give reasons why because that would spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read the book yet, but there are definite reasons for why I continued to read on.

Then…I remember saying to myself that I was beginning to grow tired of the repetition and if nothing happens … and soon … then I’d have to give up. The next chapter changed roads, and there’s no way I could put the book down after that. No way!

Each chapter drew me further into the web. Each chapter ended at a crucial part of the story, making me turn the page and continue to read. When I did put the book down, I couldn’t stop thinking about where I was up to and what might happen next. This book has me captivated 100%.

I’m currently around page 580. Last night I thought I’d read a chapter before going to bed but I couldn’t stop, and then something happened that caught me completely off guard and to put the book down after that was unthinkable. It was almost 2am when I *had* to put the book down and go to sleep – or risk having a migraine today. I couldn’t sleep because the images wouldn’t leave me alone. This morning, I got up early and continued reading.

This is truly a remarkable book and as an author I would be proud to have my own writing affect a person to the degree Passage has affected me. There are still quite a few pages to go before I reach the end and I have no idea where it’s going to end up but I’m going to enjoy the journey – I know that for a fact.

If you haven’t read the book…do so! The subject matter is morbid – near death experiences – but the storyline and characters are fantastic. Connie Willis must be a great writer because of the two books I’ve read by her, both have had me wanting more.

A talk by Garth Nix

Today, I went into Sydney and listened to Garth Nix talk about his books and more importantly his writing. He said nothing that I didn’t already know, but it was good to listen to someone who has been through what I’m going through now.

He wrote for 15 years before he got published, and as I watched him talking I could see that he was nervous and that he was just a normal person who happened to find success. I daydreamed about the time I might get to do a book signing – and I know that, apart from the actual talking in public, I would dread reading from one of my books (because my voice would drone on and on…) and I’d fear the question time.

There wasn’t a huge gathering, and my friend and I felt like over-aged teeny boppers (we had a giggle about that), but it was an interesting hour and we did get our books signed.

Garth said that stories can come from anything and everywhere, the only thing holding you back is your own imagination. He demonstrated this by telling a story that was true but it was laced with untruth. I could tell the untrue parts, but it’s all in the telling because he made it sound believable – and that is the key to writing fantasy.

On another note. A dear friend of mine, Lermy, said the following in an email:

I’ve always been of a mind that you can only write so many words every day. What form they come in doesn’t matter – non-fiction or fiction, emails, forum posts – we all have our limit and once we’ve reached it for the day we’re written out.

I agree with this statement. It makes perfect sense and I think we all need to save the energy we use on emails and forum posts etc for our actual writing. And now, having agreed to that statement, I’m going to put it into practice and go start my rewrite. 🙂

Garth Nix, Author

On Monday at 1pm, Garth Nix will be giving a talk on writing, in Sydney. I should go to work but I’ve decided that I’m going to have a sickie and go with a friend to listen to what he has to say.

His latest book, Drowned Wednesday hasn’t been out long and I haven’t had the chance to get hold of a copy but I think that might change on Monday. 🙂

Hopefully, this will be an experience that will inspire me on. Garth Nix writes for young adults, he’s Australian and he lives in Sydney – all things that I can say is true about me too (well, almost – I wasn’t born in Australia but I’ve lived here longer than he’s been alive so I guess that makes me Australian in some ways).

I’ll tell you all about it on Monday night.

Passage by Connie Willis

This is a thick book…really, really thick. I just finished reading part 1 (approx 250 pages) and I was beginning to think that I wouldn’t make it to the end because there is too much technical stuff in it and I was beginning to get bored.

But…

I said in my last post that I put the book down right at a suspenseful part. Well, the book has taken a turn for the best and now I’m rivetted. I said I’d read until dinner time and then write afterwards but I had to rush back to the book and keep reading. When I finally put it down, it was nearly 9.30pm and now I don’t feel like writing.

I want to see what happens, so I have to go now… 🙂