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- Adrienne on The Sequel of Shannara at 07:40 on 19-06-2016 - link Hah, fair enough. Read later Kay, maybe?
- Arthur B on The Sequel of Shannara at 22:42 on 16-06-2016 - link I think it's because I have low expectations of Shannara and it meets them solidly, whilst with Fionavar I keep getting frustrated by how good it could be if it didn't keep doing stuff that annoyed me.
- Adrienne on The Sequel of Shannara at 21:06 on 16-06-2016 - link I gotta say, Arthur, it boggles my mind that you can tolerate fucking Shannara but you hated Fionavar. :)
Ichneumon on Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Afterword
at 12:54 on 26-05-2016 - link
I am not sure how you spin "Harry's descendant becomes the next dark lord" in a way which is whimsical and sardonic rather than just grim, particularly when - as you point out - it comes at the end of the most densely grim books of the series.
I was thinking more of the other details, with that particular element being more of a sour, unsettling kick at the end. Which, again, wouldn't be entirely out of keeping with some of Rowling's earlier stuff: Consider how the first chapter of the first book begins with rather on-the-nose social satire and ends somewhere entirely different, all the while keeping roughly the same atmosphere. I feel like a sort of warped reprise of that same mode of writing would have been interesting, at the very least, but pulling off that sort of intentional tonal dissonance is quite the balancing act, and the last book makes a lot of... *odd* choices to begin with.
Janne Kirjasniemi on Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Afterword
at 09:20 on 26-05-2016 - link
am not sure how you spin "Harry's descendant becomes the next dark lord" in a way which is whimsical and sardonic rather than just grim
Perhaps "the dark lord" part is a aesthetic and he is actually just a really fun guy. Then the sardonic part could be how a more capable candidate for the position of the Minister of Magic loses, because the Dark Lord is just so much more popular and wins every debate with well timed magical guitar shredding (he has put his wand into the guitar). A kind of a Salieri-Mozart dynamic. The whimsical part could do with grandpa Harry's disapproval of his descendants shenanigans, until he is able to remember a part of his rotten childhood, that actually brings back good memories and has something to do with muggle rock music he heard when he was a child. In a whimsical way.
- Sister Magpie on Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Afterword at 21:02 on 24-05-2016 - link FWIW, you could totally read the ending of the book now and decide Voldemort lives on and Harry's descendant could be the next dark lord.
Robinson L on Educating Vitae
at 15:00 on 24-05-2016 - link
I checked this one and its sequels out, along with Fallen and The Morganville Vampires after the TeXt Factor Halloween special. I read the final book, book 6, a year or two ago, and I recently started listening to the spin-off Bloodlines series on audiobook. So, I obviously liked it—quite fun on the whole, with occasional forays into really fun. I'd put the series somewhere above Fallen, but below The Morganville Vampires in terms of my enjoyment/appreciation.
(I also encouraged one of my sisters to read the first book, and while she enjoyed it, she loathed Lissa and all the Moroi, because she considered them useless in their dependence upon the dhampir guardians.)
I broadly agree with your case for the themes the book explores, and I'd definitely say it carries over to the rest of the series—and the first two spin-off books, at least. Interestingly enough, despite dealing with these fairly weighty issues in a moderately intelligent manner, the books still come across to me as light beach reading; I still haven't worked out whether I think that works towards their favor or against it.
Book 2—where my sister bailed on the series—is a downgrade in quality from the first, as there's less stuff going on through most of it. However, it rallies at the end with an exciting climax, and one which redress one of my major disappointments with the climax to the first.
Book 3 is a return to form, and a solid addition to the series.
Book 4 is, in my opinion, the best of the lot: here we see Rose's internal struggle at its most intense, and Rose herself at her very lowest point in the series. I said the books feel like beach reading, but there was a point about two thirds of the way through the fourth book which got me right in the heart, and I was impressed with the depth of emotional reaction Mead managed to evoke. Plus, the Lissa subplot was pretty cool, and the resolution was both awesome and unexpected.
Book 5 like Book 3, is a really solid addition to the series, though it feels like a bit of a downgrade coming off the high of Book 4. Still, it's got a lot going for it, and while the big plot points themselves aren't to surprising, I wasn't expecting when or how they would play out.
Book 6 was a little disappointing, not because it did anything really bad, just that it wasn't quite as exciting as I would have liked from the final installment. While I like that the climax doesn't revolve around a big fight with an Arc Villain for the series, I could have done with something a little more epic. Plus, the villain turned out to be a very likable character I'd pegged early on as being either a villain or a victim, because they didn't fit into any other story slot. Just when I was beginning to think this was just a cool supporting character, it's revealed that person was a villain after all. Sigh.
I agree with you about Natalie, poor thing.
As I recall, the school principal is, indeed, a strict but ultimately reasonable authority figure throughout the series, whom Rose misreads because Rose's and Lissa's behavior often brings out the “strict” part of her character. Actually, that's a bit of a running theme in the series.
From what I remember of the first book, Mia does degenerate from understandable antagonist to Designated Villain, part of which involves her engaging in sex to influence someone else's behavior—rather than for love, in contrast to both Rose and Lissa* over the course of the books—and that's not good. It's probably no big spoiler to reveal that Mia is rehabilitated later in the series, but as I recall, it's a case of a reformed villain rather than both sides admitting they shared the blame equally.
*I think Lissa slept with her then-boyfriend—Mia's current boyfriend—before the events of the book because she was young and horny, which is still more “legitimate” than sleeping with someone because so they'll help you out in your evil scheme.
I also felt like the series as a whole has a disappointing lack of follow-through regarding some of the more unpleasant aspects of Moroi society. The hypocrisy over feeders (I think that is the common parlance “neutral” term) is brought up at times, but nobody ever really tries to do anything to resolve it, so the overall message comes across as a helpless shrug, “too bad, what'cha gonna do?”
Furthermore, the books never really acknowledge how immensely f*cking scary the Moroi's compulsion magic is, and how, in a more realistic universe, even well meaning people like Lissa would probably wind up using it for much more destructive purposes than undermining their rivals' popularity; kind of like a miniature version of the One Ring. (One character in the Bloodlines novels is suitably freaked by it, but this is explicitly depicted as part of their irrational distrust of Moroi and magic in general. Not once so far have we seen how easily compulsion could be abused to disastrous effect. I know Robert Jordan had a lot of flaws as a writer, but his characters knew to treat that kind of power with the respect and suspicion it deserves.)
The Moroi's institutional aristocracy and monarchy (even if it's a constitutional monarchy) also strikes me as pretty disturbing, but no one even suggests there might be something wrong with that one.
I think Mead does a better job of keeping Rose's faults and flaws as a character foregrounded, even with Rose providing first person narration the whole time, while still keeping her a likable character. One of the fascinating things in the later books is the way Rose gets into relationships which we know because of narrative convention are never going to work out, and which she has some misgivings over, but which she talks herself into anyway, sometimes multiple times, and the boy in question is so enamored of her that he keeps holding out the hope she'll commit to him for real. It's very unfair of Rose, and depicted as such, but also as completely understandable given what she's going though. It's like a total deconstruction of the Evil Girlfriend Who Toys With Innocent Boys' Emotions archetype, without ever hitting you over the head with what it's doing. (Indeed, I could be prepared to believe Richelle Mead didn't set out to explode this stereotype at all, and just happened to do so in the course of writing about a young woman caught up in an Epic Tragic Romance trying as best she can to navigate a swathe of feelings and emotions which she doesn't fully understand.)
The older lover thing is a trope, and being a trope it isn’t quite as problematic as a 17-24 relationship would seem to me in real life.
Me too—although on the other hand, one of the best matched couples I know got together at ages 17 and 30, and they're still going strong 8 years later. Funny old world.
On a tangential note, it's really weird to consider that I'm now several years older than Dimitri in the books. The way he acts, I guess I always tend to think of him as being in his early 30s, rather than early 20s.
I must also confess that I've got limited tolerance for plots along the lines of "you alone have the one special magic long thought lost or legendary, which will be the key to saving the universe".
For what it's worth, we meet a couple of other spirit users over the course of the series. Also, while Lissa's magic is, indeed, critical to the plot, it is not the key to saving the universe, as that's not really what the books are about.
We learn a lot more about Strigoi in later books, too, and they do indeed come across a lot like Buffy-esque Vampires: pretty much the same personalities, and they seem to have some sort of feelings for other people, and yet still somehow evil and uncaring, and the juxtaposition of the two is about as awkward as you would expect. (I fantasized while reading those sections that the Moroi and the Guardians might just be mistaken, and Strigoi, while alien and with very different priorities, might not be actually evil and uncaring. No such luck, sadly.)
If you do decide you want to continue reading the series, don't get attached to the psi-hounds. They get dropped so completely in later books that I was shocked to see them when the film version of the first book came out, as I'd literally forgotten they existed.
Arthur B on Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Afterword
at 22:09 on 22-05-2016 - link
Yeah, sometimes you have situations where an entirely alternate ending was filmed or something (First Blood is a classic example of this), but "We/I considered doing this but then thought better of it" by itself isn't very interesting.
I'm sure Rowling must have at least given a brief bit of thought to embracing the "Dumbledore is Ron from the future" theory, but that doesn't mean there was ever any serious prospect of it actually making it into print.