Stephen R. Donaldson

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BeardFisher-King

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« on: January 04, 2018, 04:09:27 pm »
Thing Called Sarcellus showed interest in SRD's latest, The Seventh Decimate, so I thought I'd start a thread for all things Donaldson.

I enjoyed Seventh Decimate for its simpler structure. A single POV from the protagonist, a prince fighting for his kingdom's survival. Donaldson is very good at constructing characters with conflicting motivations and at describing the mental conflict and how it resolves into action.

NB: No spoilers for Seventh Decimate for awhile (till 2/1?)
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 04:13:28 pm by BeardFisher-King »
"The heart of any other, because it has a will, would remain forever mysterious."

-from "Snow Falling On Cedars", by David Guterson

Thing called Sarcellus

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« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2018, 05:31:58 pm »
First of all I will say that I find Donaldsons writing in this book rather weak compared to his other works.  As if it were more aimed at juvenile readers.

(Mild spoilers)

Although it is interesting to have firearms in a fantasy setting, while everyone else is stuck using medieval technology, to introduce a breach loaded, clip fed, bolt action rifle that was developed in secret was much too far fetched for me.  Like we are looking at 400+ years of technological development done by a handful of guys in a few decades just working out of that back room over there.  We will just skip over the Renaissance AND the industrial revolution, with NONE of the necessary tech required trickling down into your civilization.  Why not use some of the machines that would be mandatory for rifle constructuon to manufacture some farming equipment to aid your impoverous and starving nation?  Although it was a good idea to invent rifle tech as a super weapon to kill wizards, you know what would have been a superior super weapon?  ARTILLERY!

Wilshire

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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2018, 05:53:56 pm »
Haven't read this particular Donaldson, but if you're interested in a similar "guns to counter magics" idea, you might try Promise of Blood (first book in The Powder Mage trilogy written by Brian McClellan).

... Though thinking on it, its more that magic exists alongside guns (not familiar with time period or terminology, but they are black powder, front loaded, single shot, lead ball guns)  during whatever time period that is, so maybe not the same thing.

Probably enough derailing from me though.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 08:24:44 pm by Wilshire »
One of the other conditions of possibility.

MSJ

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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2018, 06:57:44 pm »
I've read the first 2 of the Gap Cycle. To me, they were ok, but nothing is call groundbreaking. But, ibwithold my verdict until I finish.

I guess that I'm fairly new to sci-fi, but I have read a few series in the past year or so. Gap Cycle would be near the bottom of a very short list.
“No. I am your end. Before your eyes I will put your seed to the knife. I will quarter your carcass and feed it to the dogs. Your bones I will grind to dust and cast to the winds. I will strike down those who speak your name or the name of your fathers, until ‘Yursalka’ becomes as meaningless as infant babble. I will blot you out, hunt down your every trace! The track of your life has come to me,

BeardFisher-King

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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2018, 07:48:51 pm »
I've read the first 2 of the Gap Cycle. To me, they were ok, but nothing is call groundbreaking. But, ibwithold my verdict until I finish.

I guess that I'm fairly new to sci-fi, but I have read a few series in the past year or so. Gap Cycle would be near the bottom of a very short list.

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised as you continue the series. The stakes continue to be raised in the final three books. Book 1, "The Real Story", is the weakest book. Just not much going on, it seems. Persevere, my friend. The hard-SF just gets harder. And Donaldson's "zone implants", well, let's just say that Bakker is not alone in tackling the moral implications of neuroscience.

"We have committed a crime against your soul". This mantra runs through the series. In my youth, I read those words somewhat indifferently, as I recall. "What's the diff, as long as the story's good?" was my thinking. But my thinking changed between reading Donaldson and reading Bakker.
"The heart of any other, because it has a will, would remain forever mysterious."

-from "Snow Falling On Cedars", by David Guterson

Wilshire

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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2018, 08:04:00 pm »
To me, The Real Story was, by far, the darkest/"most evil" book I've ever read (read it for the first time about 6 months ago). Not sure I can handle future installments.

I wouldn't call it superb scifi, but certainly not the worst out there either.
It'll be interesting to see your journey though scifi, MSJ, should you venture back into its dusty history.

One of the other conditions of possibility.

BeardFisher-King

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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2018, 08:07:46 pm »
To me, The Real Story was, by far, the darkest/"most evil" book I've ever read (read it for the first time about 6 months ago). Not sure I can handle future installments.

To my mind, "The Real Story" is about on a par with "Neuropath". But Neuropath affected me more, due to Neuropath's ending.
"The heart of any other, because it has a will, would remain forever mysterious."

-from "Snow Falling On Cedars", by David Guterson

MSJ

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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2018, 08:18:01 pm »
Quote from:  Wilshire
I wouldn't call it superb scifi, but certainly not the worst out there either.
It'll be interesting to see your journey though scifi, MSJ, should you venture back into its dusty history.

Sci-fi is about all I got left. ;)

I've been reading fantasy for the last four years and find it hard to stumble upon something good anymore. Please, everyone, read Mile Cameron's TRAITOR SON CYCLE. Best fantasy I've read in a long while, and its complete.
“No. I am your end. Before your eyes I will put your seed to the knife. I will quarter your carcass and feed it to the dogs. Your bones I will grind to dust and cast to the winds. I will strike down those who speak your name or the name of your fathers, until ‘Yursalka’ becomes as meaningless as infant babble. I will blot you out, hunt down your every trace! The track of your life has come to me,

Wilshire

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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2018, 08:30:57 pm »
Quote from:  Wilshire
I wouldn't call it superb scifi, but certainly not the worst out there either.
It'll be interesting to see your journey though scifi, MSJ, should you venture back into its dusty history.

Sci-fi is about all I got left. ;)

I've been reading fantasy for the last four years and find it hard to stumble upon something good anymore. Please, everyone, read Mile Cameron's TRAITOR SON CYCLE. Best fantasy I've read in a long while, and its complete.
Why not, more off topic stuff :) :

I'd argue scifi has a much richer history than Fantasy. There seemed to be little of note in Fantasy after Tolkien until fairly recently (last couple decades). Scifi, otoh, saw pretty continuous development since Asimov/Herbert - not everything unique of course, but plenty of Names.
Maybe I've just read the wrong stuff, but from my experience, most Fantasy was very derivative from Tolkien for a long time. I'm not near as well versed in either genre to make the claims I am, so its likely im way off base lol. Feel free to set me straight.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 08:32:56 pm by Wilshire »
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MSJ

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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2018, 08:36:23 pm »
You'd definitely enjoy TRAITOR SON CYCLE, and another excellent series is TOWER OF BABEL, by Josiah Bancroft, which is unlike anything I've read in fantasy in a long time.

But, I agree. Most fantasy follows the Tolkien template. T hats what has made me a Bakker fan boy. He uses elements of traditional fantasy, then turns them on their heads.

I will say this, there is a good chance that Bakker could ruin TSA with TNG. I thought the ending of TUC perfect and is exactly what Bakker stands for as a fantasy writer. He said he didn't think it had been done before, and I think he's correct.
“No. I am your end. Before your eyes I will put your seed to the knife. I will quarter your carcass and feed it to the dogs. Your bones I will grind to dust and cast to the winds. I will strike down those who speak your name or the name of your fathers, until ‘Yursalka’ becomes as meaningless as infant babble. I will blot you out, hunt down your every trace! The track of your life has come to me,

Wilshire

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« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2018, 08:52:20 pm »
Should anyone want to actually continue on topic please jump in at any time. Off topic conversations can be moved, but I'm to lazy to do it without reason.

You'd definitely enjoy TRAITOR SON CYCLE, and another excellent series is TOWER OF BABEL, by Josiah Bancroft, which is unlike anything I've read in fantasy in a long time.
I'm not sworn off fantasy, lots out there to read.
My problem is only reading 10 books a year lol.

 
But, I agree. Most fantasy follows the Tolkien template.
Glad you agree. For some reason, fantasy appears to have this massive hero-worship-complex with Tolkien, and I think that stagnated the entire genre for decades.  Contrast that with Herbert or Asimov - those generally called the 'fathers' of scifi  - seem to enjoy much appreciation, but nothing close to the same reverence.

 
T hats what has made me a Bakker fan boy. He uses elements of traditional fantasy, then turns them on their heads.
Me too ;)
One of the other conditions of possibility.

MSJ

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« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2018, 09:00:55 pm »
Quote from:  Wilshire
I'm not sworn off fantasy, lots out there to read.
My problem is only reading 10 books a year lol.

Then I'd truly recommend TOWER OF BABEL, by Josiah Bancroft. Nothing traditional about it. And, the options are limitless in that setting.
“No. I am your end. Before your eyes I will put your seed to the knife. I will quarter your carcass and feed it to the dogs. Your bones I will grind to dust and cast to the winds. I will strike down those who speak your name or the name of your fathers, until ‘Yursalka’ becomes as meaningless as infant babble. I will blot you out, hunt down your every trace! The track of your life has come to me,

Thing called Sarcellus

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« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2018, 01:38:39 am »
The Gap Cycle is probably my favorite series, definitely my most read.  Donaldson in my opinion has an excellent grasp of the human psychology and does well to try to make the reader understand why it is that "bad" people do the terrible things they do.  That is one thing I find missing in The Seventh Decimate.  The characters seem flat and the story is so far quite generic.  (Potential spoiler) the main character has such a fierce hatred for sorcery that it seems blatantly obvious to me that he probably becomes some kind of super sorcerer.

BeardFisher-King

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« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2018, 02:14:48 am »
The Gap Cycle is probably my favorite series, definitely my most read.  Donaldson in my opinion has an excellent grasp of the human psychology and does well to try to make the reader understand why it is that "bad" people do the terrible things they do.  That is one thing I find missing in The Seventh Decimate.  The characters seem flat and the story is so far quite generic.  (Potential spoiler) the main character has such a fierce hatred for sorcery that it seems blatantly obvious to me that he probably becomes some kind of super sorcerer.

I agree with you on Donaldson's grasp of human psychology. I don't actually own copies of the Gap Cycle novels, and since it's been at least 20 years since I've read them, perhaps a bibliographic increase is indicated chez BFK.

Donaldson's style is much more terse in SD, and some of his characters seem to be archetypes (assassin, seductress) rather than people. That is probably by design, imho. I think this story will grow as the conflict grows. Sorry, I don't see the main character becoming a sorcerer. Let's see which of us has guessed right in the coming years.
"The heart of any other, because it has a will, would remain forever mysterious."

-from "Snow Falling On Cedars", by David Guterson

BeardFisher-King

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« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2019, 08:46:51 pm »
Stephen Donaldson's latest, Book 2 of "The Great God's War", entitled "The War Within", is available in bookstores now. I hope to start it soon.
"The heart of any other, because it has a will, would remain forever mysterious."

-from "Snow Falling On Cedars", by David Guterson