Monday, July 21, 2014

[Rogues] Finished

Another book done.  Yes, I remain a slow reader but at least I read, keeping those brain cells fit. Nothing said about physical excersise.
And now I can really finish Mark Lawrence's excellent Prince of Thorns.

The final shorts in the anthology are by some of the biggest names in fantasy, but none of them entertained me as much as some of the earlier works in Rogues.  The young ones usurping the throne? Not that these last stories are bad or anything, not at all.

Rothfuss' lil' tale of Bast, known from the two hit novels The Name of the Wind and its sequel The Wise Man's Fear is the best of these, a sort of spin-off story that fans will appreciate. It gives us insight into the character of Bast,  whose dealings outside of the inn are curious, interesting and surprising, giving Rothfuss' setting a very fairy tale-like quality.  Fae is the word. Technically it hurts a little that the narration shifts between first and third person.

As for Neil Gaiman, this author really upset me when he came with his "GRRM is not your biatch" rant years ago. Gaiman came off as arrogant and belittling and not understanding what the fuss was really about.  Consequently, I haven't read anything by him since then, though I remember a time when I was in deep awe of the profound creativity of his main work, The Sandman.
His piece in the anthology is just as creatively weird as I expected, and the main character is pretty weird too - which made it hard to sympathize as a reader, making it harder to become immersed. Instead, the story feels gimmicky, in the sense that it was entertaining, but it didn't leave me with any feeling - wheras the fae tale of Bast still lingers - Gaiman never grounds his story, relying on his weird ideas alone. It never felt real.

I don't know if Connie Willis is as big a name but her story Now Showing certainly was a fun and different look at a near future where people are herded to massive cinemaplexes not realizing how they are being manipulated. Well written and fairly interesting, but with a distinct lack of that most precious of literary qualities .. epic fantasy.

I don't know who decides that Martin has to be the last entry in these last two anthologies, but I bet they reason that the big star at the end will be like the main attraction everybody reads toward. Well, in my opinion there's not much of a spectacular finale. Many of the early stories in the collection are much better and as such Joe Abercrombie deserves that headlining spot much more. Martin remains the most prolific of the authors, of course, but this truncated history lesson about Daemon Targaryen feels less vivid and inspired than the previous lesson in Dangerous Women. It's a slice of Westeros, but Martin is best when he's in a POV. So for the next anthology,  I suggest a chapter from The Winds of Winter or another Dunk & Egg tale. Or a chapter from, say, Ser Criston Cole's point of view. Texts like The Rogue Prince belong in a role playing game sourcebook, or Wikipedia or whatever. Oh, or The World of Ice and Fire: Up to Book Five at Any Rate of courses for horses. Still, all that being said, Daemon's quite the fellow, isn't he.


  1. Neil Gaiman's story's background is his novel Neverwhere. Maybe the gimmicks wouldn't feel so gimmicky if you'd had read the novel and were encountering them for the second time. Neil Gaiman is an great writer and you missing out on some excellent fantasy if you drop him into the memory hole. I would recommend American Gods in particular.

  2. I like Rothfuss's tale quite a bit for its air of mystery. Most of other writers spell all the rules of their worlds out so that the readers don't get confused, but that makes the magic less, well, magical.

    Plus Rothfuss writes as fast as Martin does, so that means that he must be as good.