Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Malazan Book of the Fallen: A Break-Up Letter.

Dear MBotF,

It's not you; it's me.

...OK, maybe it's a bit you.   I don't often not finish a series.  I usually feel as if my willpower has failed me and that I ought to get to the end just to be able to say, "I didn't like it, and yes, I read it all the way through," to the barrage of questions along the lines of, "Why didn't you like it?  Did you even read it?  Did anyone tell you it gets better?"  I know I've only read two books out of ten, but you haven't changed yet, and I don't want to waste my time believing that you will suddenly become The One.

We started out so well.  The beginning was all sinister scenes and captivating intrigue.  I suppose I should have known that this would foreshadow a fling rather than a long-term relationship, because you got complicated fast.  I'm no stranger to elaborate plot lines, extensive magic systems, or novels packed with detail-- I adored Brandon Sanderson's first book of The Stormlight Archives and Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time novels.  But you assumed that I knew your history as soon as we met.  You give bits and pieces here and there, but it's often difficult to form into a coherent whole, and true explanations come later than needed.  I'm still not certain how or why a warren works, and I don't want to have to read with a Wiki open.   You introduced the Bridgeburners as if everyone knew exactly who they were and what they did in the time before the series picked up in their story.  Did you drop hints that finally formed into a narrative?  Sure, but I don't like feeling like an author is toying with me for kicks.

OK, sometimes I tolerate it.

You seem to leave your friends in the lurch occasionally.  Just when I think I'm getting to know your characters, you shift settings and introduce me to a barrage of new people at once.  Even though they are often good characters-- no one-dimensional heroes or villains here; Mappo and Icarium were fascinating, and their story line nearly had me in tears-- but switching so often is jarring and slows reading time to a crawl.  I don't mind reading slowly, but not that slowly; I would prefer to be able to read more than one series in this lifetime, thank you.

Sometimes I also think you try to make up for any weaknesses with shock value.  Detailed descriptions of gruesome violence and horrible illness abound.  I understand that an empire is in turmoil and that various factions (both imperial and otherwise) are trying to take control, and I acknowledge that it must include unspeakable horrors.  But I much prefer the subtle double-crossings and nuanced personal relationships that you are so, so excellent at conveying to the nauseating drawn-out descriptions of crucifixions and dysentery.  Others might applaud the "realism," but as someone who has read, watched, and enjoyed A Game of Thrones, you disturbed even me.

Like Norman Bates levels of disturbance.

I know there are people who will appreciate you.  My feelings and preferences don't necessarily extend to others.  We're just not compatible, and I think it best that we go our separate ways.


The Absurd Curvy Nerd

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