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March 14

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  1. In Topic: Reading at t'moment?

    Yesterday, 02:17 PM

    Finally finished Water Sleeps (aka Black Company 8) this morning. Pretty good throughout the first 80 percent. Sleepy is a much more involved, though only marginally less self-absorbed protagonist than Murgen. Finally getting a narrator who's originally Taglian/Jaicuri offered some nice insight into people that thus far always seemed kind of unfathomable. The reveal that Taglians fearing the Company is just the result of some magical mindfuckery rather than anything that the Company forefathers ever did is actually kind of funny, I won't lie, and making Sleepy a native plus history/book geek feels like a far more natural way for the narrator to find out stuff about the past. So, the novel goes on and all in all it's looking pretty good. Fun, exhilarating moments of cleverness, clear goals, relatable motivations, some human drama - but then we get to the Glittering Plain.
    First thing that set me off was the incredibly poorly handled "reveals" about the fact that there are several planes of existence and the history of the Plain + the Free Companies. After spending literally 4 full novels piecing together what might have happened, here we simply get a 7 pages dialogue between Sleepy and Ghost Murgen wherein the latter simply info-dumps the entire backstory/lore of the world on her. What's all the more jarring is the context in which this exposition dump is delivered: At that point, the company is about to enter the ancient nameless fortress, stone pillars containing glyphs have been revealed, Sleepy has been established as a capable, knowledgeable historian, she has her librarian/uber-historian Santaraksita with her AND Doj has shown willingness to share his knowledge. Put these factors together and Cook could easily have written the story in such a way as to have the characters piece together enough of the backstory through "archaeology", rather than just having Murgen force-feed the information to them. I mean...isn't that Chekov's gun? And as if the first info dump wasn't bad enough, there's another one when Sleepy, Tobo, Doj, and some others get mind-probed by Shivetya. Which is a whole new level of bad because the narration at that point has become really erratic and hard to follow. Also, Shivetya injecting the Company brothers with knowledge that will pop up in their minds whenever they need it is a really transparent trick to conveniently have them pull stuff out of their ass...Oh, and someone needs to kick Tobo's ass for getting poor old Goblin killed.
    Overall decent entry that could've been a whole lot better if the closing act had been different.

    On to Soldier's Live.
  2. In Topic: Reading at t'moment?

    13 March 2019 - 10:28 PM

    Just passed the 50 percent mark of "Water Sleeps" and, yup, this really is much much better than the previous two novels in the series. Feels a little similar to Dreams of Steel in terms of pacing, wit, and badassery.
  3. In Topic: Finished the book for the first time-general thoughts/impressions

    03 March 2019 - 11:27 PM

    View PostRaz4starr, on 03 March 2019 - 07:52 PM, said:

    Some other minor questions that are left open. Who started the convergence? Was it really planned to coincide with the Whirlwind or was it just a coincidence?

    Convergence is a tricky concept in MBotF. The basic idea is often summed up as "Power draws power". Whenever powerful entities gather, they create sort of an intangible nexus that draws other powerful entities to them. So, your question is kind of hard to answer. Its not exactly true to say that the emergence of the Whirlwind caused the convergence on the Path of Hands or the other way around. It's more likely to assume that both amplified each other.


    What was the Warren that the Shilanda went through and some of the passengers almost ascended (maybe Telann, since it is the Warren of Fire?) and does everybody that come in contact with this fire ascend?

    RAFO :)


    Also, I would like your thoughts on Mallick Rel. Do you believe he was a traitor from the start or did he side with Dom due to Coltaine humiliating him? We have indications for both. Pormqual is acting weird from the start, but Rel warns Coltaine that he would see to his destruction after he is humiliated by him in Hissar. I tend to believe he only cared about himself and that he decided to side with Dom after his clash with Coltaine.

    Well, there is a moment early on in the book where it's revealed that a key figure of the Whirlwind rebellion is a "Jhistal" at Aren.
  4. In Topic: In a world where all novels were standalones...

    27 February 2019 - 10:56 PM

     Gorefest, on 22 February 2019 - 12:46 PM, said:

    Well, no, they cannot. Why would anyone suffer through a number of 'meh' at best books simply for the promise of feeling amazing at the end? You'd lose 95% of your reader base within the first 3-4 novels if these novels by themselves aren't engaging and invoke a sense of wonder and intrigue.

    Sorry for the belated response.
    I think the converse argument to what you said is that there are plenty of series which start out great, then see a significant drop in quality and where long-time readers/fans still continue to trudge on in spite of this turn for the worse. Could be the author has earned some good will and people continue because they still think nostalgically of the previous good novels while clinging to the hope that it might just get good again. But could also be that some good things from previous good entries carry over to the bad ones. Characters you've grown to like, locations that are rich with history - stuff like that. Some of this may be hard to pinpoint, but I think the argument could be made.
    I say that as I struggle with the later Black Company books. Number 1 through 5 were very good to great, 6 and 7...less so. But even the latter ones feature characters I care about and are set in a world that intrigues me. I mean, it's easy to compartmentalize and say "this one's got a bad story but good characters", but it's this becomes more complicated when the things that make characters "good" are the result of several novels worth of careful character-building.

    I just talked about this with my girlfriend and she actually brought up an interesting idea from her field of expertise. In statistics there's a phenomenon called reciprocal suppression. Basically the idea is that you have several predictor variables that each correlate with a criterion but are independent individually. For our example, say we take a look at book series. Our criterion is "overall enjoyment" and the predictor variables would be good and bad entries respectively. And good and bad ones exist independently of each other. Now, normally one would assume that good entries correlate positively with enjoyment (i.e. the more good entries, the more we enjoy the series) while bad ones correlate negatively (the more bad ones, the lower the enjoyment). And that's probably true for our example. However, in cases of reciprocal suppression, people find that the correlation coeffcient (the value which tells us how strong the correlation between a predictor and a criterion is) between one predictor and the criterion decreases if we take the other predictor out of the picture.
    In keeping with our example, say we disregarded the bad entries completely and just focused on the good ones. Aside from the fact that this screws our examination by way of omission of crucial data, the really curious thing that happens is that we can actually infer less about the correlation between good novels and overall enjoyment.
    Usually, what statisticians do in cases like this is defer to something like confounding/lurking variables. Like, for example, "contrast", as in: bad novels in a series actually do have an impact on our enjoyment of the good ones inasmuch as we cherish the good ones all the more if they are sandwiched between subpar ones." Because they stand out more.
    That, I think is an interesting notion to consider. That subpar novels in a series not only serve to put a damper on our overall enjoyment but that they indirectly contribute to our appreciation of their better counterparts.
  5. In Topic: Honestly, should I continue reading?

    27 February 2019 - 09:58 PM

    I second what worry wrote. While GotM doesn't do the best job of making you feel too attached to any of the characters, later books in the series do a fantastic job of accomplishing just that. Though I can only speak for myself, there are moments in the Malazan books that resonate with me in the same sense as that Lord of the Rings quote you mention does with you.
    Without spoiling anything much, I think it can be said that MBotF, at its core, is very much about humanizing grand scale drama by breaking it down to individual stories. And as the series goes on, it also delves deeply into the ambivalent ways in which characters are perceived by their peers and how they feel on the inside. So, to your question: You will get to know some characters in really intimate ways...which lays a great foundation for making both their grand successes and failures emotionally resonant.


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    14 Mar 2019 - 07:32
    Happy birthday dude
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