Another new guy here... Just finished reading the books

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Titan

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« on: June 25, 2016, 04:46:11 am »
Hello,

I just picked up the first book of the SA series about two months ago, and I just finished the 5 currently published books.

I discovered the series through a mention on the Westeros.org forums, and also by googling for fantasy maps. (I'm a real map nerd) What piqued my interest was a mention of the there being sci-fi elements of the story, which made it sound interesting... I'm primarily a Sci-Fi reader that does not care much for fantasy in general. I read LOTR before the film trilogy, and then didn't really read much until I picked up GRRM's ASOIAF shortly before the show started on HBO. The world-building aspects of fantasy has to be VERY good, otherwise I just won't bother, and it was pointed out that Bakker's SA was of similar quality as GRRM's work. And I agree, although Bakker has different strengths (and weaknesses) compared to GRRM.

But I'm a big fan now, and I'm about to start my re-read of the series. I have this nasty habit of skimming boring parts (certain POVs) when reading the first time, so I know I'll pick up a LOT more the 2nd time around.

Anyway, I hope to contribute to this forum more in the near future, but I may not have much to write until I finish my re-read (and TGO).

Madness

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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2016, 05:56:59 pm »
Welcome to the Second Apocalypse, Titan. Well met. I'm happy you've found your way here.

I discovered the series through a mention on the Westeros.org forums, and also by googling for fantasy maps. (I'm a real map nerd)

Have you seen Wertzone's piece regarding Bakker's maps?

And I agree, although Bakker has different strengths (and weaknesses) compared to GRRM.

What are the comparative weaknesses you perceive, Titan? Just curious.

But I'm a big fan now, and I'm about to start my re-read of the series. I have this nasty habit of skimming boring parts (certain POVs) when reading the first time, so I know I'll pick up a LOT more the 2nd time around.

Lol - re-readability is high :). I'm actually kind of jealous to imagine what it is like to pick up the series now.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2016, 05:58:46 pm by Madness »
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Wilshire

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« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2016, 12:19:12 am »
Welcome to the forum.

I find myself reading more scifi than fantasy, though that changed in the last few years for no particular reason.. I can't say I prefer with genre.

Simmon's Hyperion Cantos is hands down my favorite scifi,, closely followed by Dune.
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Titan

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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2016, 03:54:52 am »
Welcome to the Second Apocalypse, Titan. Well met. I'm happy you've found your way here.

I discovered the series through a mention on the Westeros.org forums, and also by googling for fantasy maps. (I'm a real map nerd)

Have you seen Wertzone's piece regarding Bakker's maps?

Yes! I actually saw that, and that analysis of the maps is what finally convinced me to pick up the books. I really do like the realistic looking map, although I wish Bakker would show us more of Ešnna.
(Maps is actually one of my main irritation with GRRM... It painfully clear how the maps are just drawn to fit a book page, and how Westeros is just basically a mirrored England. There's also lots of unrealistic elements - Note how they are almost no rivers that flow in the northern direction, and how a major river flows from just north of KL all the way up into the neck of the North, past the "twins", it makes no sense)

And I agree, although Bakker has different strengths (and weaknesses) compared to GRRM.

What are the comparative weaknesses you perceive, Titan? Just curious.

Hmm... GRRM's writing is ... how should I put it... easier to read. Even though the 5th book (ADWD) is not GRRM's best, I actually found Tyrions journey through Essos to be my favorite part. A lot of people hated this part, but I can read though a LOT of well written world building without getting bored. Bakker has his moments, but frequently his descriptions of the world is lacking. It took until the 5th book to even get a clear picture in my mind of how the Sranc and Nonmen look, which seems like a rather basic failure. There is practically NOTHING about how the Sranc look in the first book (or did I miss it?), so I kept expecting a some sort of twist where the Sranc were just regular humans under some sort of mind-control. Or just a primitive tribe.

Now on the positive side, Bakkers world is FAR better though out, and it doesn't feel as ad-hoc or invented on the fly as GRRM's work. Yes, GRRM has the major elements in the history laid out, but it really feels like he is back-filling in details more then it should. And the "World of A Song of Ice and Fire" history book is great, but there is just so much bizarre stuff that seems like he just randomly came up with just for the book. Bakker has clearly put a LOT of thought into the physical and metaphysical rules of his universe, whereas in ASOIAF it seems like anything goes. Magic is just a some sort of elemental force that is applied where the plot needs it to be.

Does that make sense?

« Last Edit: June 27, 2016, 04:08:53 am by Titan »

Titan

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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2016, 04:04:20 am »
Welcome to the forum.

I find myself reading more scifi than fantasy, though that changed in the last few years for no particular reason.. I can't say I prefer with genre.

Simmon's Hyperion Cantos is hands down my favorite scifi,, closely followed by Dune.

Yes, there hasn't been much great new Sci-Fi lately, maybe that's why.

But big props for you for mentioning Simmon's Hyperion Cantos. Space Opera is my favorite sub-genre, and Simmon's epic is by far my favorite books. I have of course also read Dune, and the other classics.

If you are looking for other new Sci-Fi to read, my favorite recent Space Opera series are:
 - Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy ("Ancillary Justice", "Ancillary Sword", "Ancillary Mercy") - a very interesting take on a future society with no gender roles (although biological genders exists for procreation)
 - James's A Corey's The Expanse series (5+ books starting with "Leviathan Wakes") - a great near future space opera in a colonized solar system (also adapted by SyFY, season 2 starting next year)
« Last Edit: June 27, 2016, 04:06:04 am by Titan »

Wilshire

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« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2016, 11:59:23 am »
Ancillary Justice has been on my list for some time now, and Leviathan Wakes was a recet addition.
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Wilshire

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« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2016, 01:22:25 pm »
Btw they have some nice copies of Leckie's series left at subterranean press, lettered and numbered edits for Sword and Mercy.
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« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2016, 03:04:06 pm »
Yes! I actually saw that, and that analysis of the maps is what finally convinced me to pick up the books. I really do like the realistic looking map, although I wish Bakker would show us more of Ešnna.
(Maps is actually one of my main irritation with GRRM... It painfully clear how the maps are just drawn to fit a book page, and how Westeros is just basically a mirrored England. There's also lots of unrealistic elements - Note how they are almost no rivers that flow in the northern direction, and how a major river flows from just north of KL all the way up into the neck of the North, past the "twins", it makes no sense)

Lol - interesting that Wert's article finally convinced you :). I always like noting what pushes individual readers to the books and us.

What are the comparative weaknesses you perceive, Titan? Just curious.

Hmm... GRRM's writing is ... how should I put it... easier to read. Even though the 5th book (ADWD) is not GRRM's best, I actually found Tyrions journey through Essos to be my favorite part. A lot of people hated this part, but I can read though a LOT of well written world building without getting bored. Bakker has his moments, but frequently his descriptions of the world is lacking. It took until the 5th book to even get a clear picture in my mind of how the Sranc and Nonmen look, which seems like a rather basic failure. There is practically NOTHING about how the Sranc look in the first book (or did I miss it?), so I kept expecting a some sort of twist where the Sranc were just regular humans under some sort of mind-control. Or just a primitive tribe.

Bakker's work bears close reading. I actually think this does him a major disservice, especially in TDTCB when it is of utmost importance that the reader be paying attention. There are one-liner descriptions of Nonmen and Sranc during Kellhus' prologue and Sranc in Cnaiur's POV later in the book - even then, though, Bakker relies twofold on these very sparse descriptions and the reader's imagination to evoke an image that isn't necessarily easy to visualize. Inhumanly expressive. Fused teeth. Hairless. Nonmen are statuesque in the extreme. Sranc basically have some fucked-up human-dog body. Etc. Etc.

Classic Bakker in that something might only be addressed in three sentences across five books but then is outsourced to the reader to hold and maintain the world to the capacity of their inner limits ;).

Now on the positive side, Bakkers world is FAR better though out, and it doesn't feel as ad-hoc or invented on the fly as GRRM's work. Yes, GRRM has the major elements in the history laid out, but it really feels like he is back-filling in details more then it should. And the "World of A Song of Ice and Fire" history book is great, but there is just so much bizarre stuff that seems like he just randomly came up with just for the book. Bakker has clearly put a LOT of thought into the physical and metaphysical rules of his universe, whereas in ASOIAF it seems like anything goes. Magic is just a some sort of elemental force that is applied where the plot needs it to be.

Does that make sense?

Indeed. You're quite cogent :).

Welcome to the forum.

I find myself reading more scifi than fantasy, though that changed in the last few years for no particular reason.. I can't say I prefer with genre.

Simmon's Hyperion Cantos is hands down my favorite scifi,, closely followed by Dune.

Yes, there hasn't been much great new Sci-Fi lately, maybe that's why.

But big props for you for mentioning Simmon's Hyperion Cantos. Space Opera is my favorite sub-genre, and Simmon's epic is by far my favorite books. I have of course also read Dune, and the other classics.

If you are looking for other new Sci-Fi to read, my favorite recent Space Opera series are:
 - Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy ("Ancillary Justice", "Ancillary Sword", "Ancillary Mercy") - a very interesting take on a future society with no gender roles (although biological genders exists for procreation)
 - James's A Corey's The Expanse series (5+ books starting with "Leviathan Wakes") - a great near future space opera in a colonized solar system (also adapted by SyFY, season 2 starting next year)

Lot of love here for Hyperion.

We also have a thread for The Expanse, though not many of us have read it and I'm still two $20 volumes behind keeping up on current events.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2016, 03:06:57 pm by Madness »
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Titan

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« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2016, 10:05:32 pm »
What are the comparative weaknesses you perceive, Titan? Just curious.

Hmm... GRRM's writing is ... how should I put it... easier to read. Even though the 5th book (ADWD) is not GRRM's best, I actually found Tyrions journey through Essos to be my favorite part. A lot of people hated this part, but I can read though a LOT of well written world building without getting bored. Bakker has his moments, but frequently his descriptions of the world is lacking. It took until the 5th book to even get a clear picture in my mind of how the Sranc and Nonmen look, which seems like a rather basic failure. There is practically NOTHING about how the Sranc look in the first book (or did I miss it?), so I kept expecting a some sort of twist where the Sranc were just regular humans under some sort of mind-control. Or just a primitive tribe.

Bakker's work bears close reading. I actually think this does him a major disservice, especially in TDTCB when it is of utmost importance that the reader be paying attention. There are one-liner descriptions of Nonmen and Sranc during Kellhus' prologue and Sranc in Cnaiur's POV later in the book - even then, though, Bakker relies twofold on these very sparse descriptions and the reader's imagination to evoke an image that isn't necessarily easy to visualize. Inhumanly expressive. Fused teeth. Hairless. Nonmen are statuesque in the extreme. Sranc basically have some fucked-up human-dog body. Etc. Etc.

Classic Bakker in that something might only be addressed in three sentences across five books but then is outsourced to the reader to hold and maintain the world to the capacity of their inner limits ;).

Certainly, there are a few clues strewn about - but that doesn't mean that I have to like it. Bakker has vivid descriptions for other things, but here is the sum of his descriptions of Sranc appearance in the Kellhus prologue: ...inhuman faces... ...narrow shoulders and dog-shaped chests... That's it. And that's not enough for me. Basic character/creature description should not have to be a treasure hunt for clues.  :)

We'll probably just have to agree to disagree about this, but you asked for what I found lacking in Bakker's style, and that is my best example. Obviously I'm still a big fan, but the man is not perfect.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2016, 10:21:43 pm by Titan »

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« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2016, 03:50:18 pm »
Certainly, there are a few clues strewn about - but that doesn't mean that I have to like it. Bakker has vivid descriptions for other things, but here is the sum of his descriptions of Sranc appearance in the Kellhus prologue: ...inhuman faces... ...narrow shoulders and dog-shaped chests... That's it. And that's not enough for me. Basic character/creature description should not have to be a treasure hunt for clues.  :)

We'll probably just have to agree to disagree about this, but you asked for what I found lacking in Bakker's style, and that is my best example. Obviously I'm still a big fan, but the man is not perfect.

I wasn't contesting your point :). Nothing to agree to disagree about.

That's me "analyzing/critiquing." I don't know if what he's done is enough for the average reader or not? I don't know if it even works for me, in some measure?
« Last Edit: June 28, 2016, 03:53:07 pm by Madness »
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« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2017, 05:23:08 pm »
Hello,

I just picked up the first book of the SA series about two months ago, and I just finished the 5 currently published books.

I discovered the series through a mention on the Westeros.org forums, and also by googling for fantasy maps. (I'm a real map nerd) What piqued my interest was a mention of the there being sci-fi elements of the story, which made it sound interesting... I'm primarily a Sci-Fi reader that does not care much for fantasy in general. I read LOTR before the film trilogy, and then didn't really read much until I picked up GRRM's ASOIAF shortly before the show started on HBO. The world-building aspects of fantasy has to be VERY good, otherwise I just won't bother, and it was pointed out that Bakker's SA was of similar quality as GRRM's work. And I agree, although Bakker has different strengths (and weaknesses) compared to GRRM.

But I'm a big fan now, and I'm about to start my re-read of the series. I have this nasty habit of skimming boring parts (certain POVs) when reading the first time, so I know I'll pick up a LOT more the 2nd time around.

Anyway, I hope to contribute to this forum more in the near future, but I may not have much to write until I finish my re-read (and TGO).

HI TITAN! I TOO WANTED A DETAILED SRANC DESCRIPTION EARLY ON.  IT WAS NEARLY A DEAL BREAKER FOR ME IN THE FIRST READ.  WELCOME!

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« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2017, 05:42:22 pm »
Thanks! I'm glad to have someone agree with me.  ;D

I'm almost done with my 2nd read of the series (so much more detail picked up this time).

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« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2017, 05:53:03 pm »
:) I THINK BAKKER IS MY FAVORITE FANTASY WRITER JUST FOR THAT ABILITY TO IMPREGNATE EACH CHAPTER WITH MORE SIGNIFICANCE THAT INITIAL READS REVEAL

I GUESS WRITING FOR REREADERS IS KIND OF A DANGEROUS GAMBIT FOR A WRITER, BUT I'M GLAD HE DID IT