It's warm. And my brain is annoyed. So i will write a silly post before going to sleep.
Every so often i pick up a book/series not because it sounds especially interesting to me, but because it's very popular (within the genre) or acclaimed as an epic or a masterpiece or whatever, and i figure i ought to check it out and see what the fuss is about. So a couple weeks ago i picked up the first book in Tad William's "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn" series, "the Dragonbone Chair."
I'm currently about a third of the way through (240/766) and so far i'm far less than impressed.
The book seems to have two key elements so far. The first is a lazy pastiche of the catholic church. (Our christ figure was hung on an _upside-down-cross_, not a right-side-up-cross! Aren't we original?!) The second is the most annoying protagonist that i can ever recall reading about in a fantasy/sf book ever. Perhaps there's been someone more annoying than him in some past book i've read, but if so the trauma must have wiped the pain from my memory =P He's even more annoying than i remember Lavan Firestorm being! (I foresee a "hierarchy of youthful annoyance" chart coming on =P)
He's called "Simon Mooncalf," and in most such stories one would initially think "they just call him that cause they don't understand him." Well in this case he more than deserves it. Take every awkward adolescent from every fantasy novel and combine all their worst traits while throwing away all the good ones. He's stupid (or at least acts that way,) naive, clumsy, lazy, incompetent, unfocused, and seems to have a rather loose sense of morals. He's only evidenced any kind of specific ambition twice so far. One ambition he achieves, and then whines about it, and the other he undertakes for a very stupid reason and then gives up after encountering his first setback. And did i mention he whines? And he's lazy? It seems that the plot is presented as "things Simon sees or overhears while sneaking about the castle trying to avoid work." This is occasionally interlaced with viewpoints from other characters who are more directly involved in the ongoing political situation, which just makes you regret having to go back to Simon afterwards.
I keep waiting for some event to force him to wake up and smell the coffee, but despite lots of initially promising incidents it keeps not happening. I hope no one will consider it a spoiler, given that the series is billed as epic fantasy, that eventually murders are committed, dark rituals are performed, plots are intrigued, and evil threatens the land. (If you do consider that a spoiler, sorry, and, um, whatever you do don't read the blurb on the back cover =) When Simon is forced to leave the castle after about 180 pages and go out on an adventure (something he at one earlier point bemoaned that he would never get to do) does he mourn for the tragedy that brought his current situation about? Does thoughtfully consider the circumstances and fear the dire consequences of what has been set in motion? Does he selfishly become excited at his chance for adventure? No. He whines about how unfair it is that his that his life has been disrupted and he's been forced to leave the castle. He whines. Then he does something stupid. Then his brain surfaces just long enough for him to become scared of what his stupidity has gotten him into. Then he runs. Then he whines some more, and the cycle repeats.
At this point i don't care about the vague secrets hinted about his background, i just wish he'd die so we could go follow one of the other, more sympathetic and/or interesting, characters around instead =P
But it's a famous fantasy series! It's got to get more interesting at some point, right? At some point he has to grow up and stop being someone you'd like to kill yourself just to put him out of your misery, right? Right?
Okay, it's a bit cooler now, time for sleep.