Friday, August 7, 2015

A Marital Disagreement

#57 - Guardians of the West – David Eddings
Recommended by: My Husband
               It was a late spring.

I have said quite often that my husband and I don’t share the same taste in books. Obviously, when it came his turn to choose a book for the list, he had a vast range to choose from as I’ve read almost nothing that he has read and vice versa.

The one he picked is dog-eared, with no back cover, and has been well-used. While it is the first book in a series, it the second series in which these characters are used. As a reader, this was similar to watching the “previously on” that occurs before a season finale, then jumping right into season two as if that three-minute recap of events, characters, and plot twists was all you needed to catch up with everything. It isn’t and it wasn’t.

As in all typical fantasy novels, characters had multiple names, all of the names have too many consonants and vowels in strange places, and no one is ever just named Ted. Everyone has a title that has multiple parts, there are always people in disguise, and while there are distinct rules of magic, they don’t always seem to apply in every situation. In short, I had no fucking clue what was going on in this book. I didn’t know what happened previously in the first five books, didn’t care what was happening in the one I was reading, and couldn’t care less what happened next because the plot device it all hinged upon was dumb and collectively ignored everything that had gone before hand.
Plus, the blatant misogyny about killed me. There is a character that is constantly referred to as the greatest sorceress on this world. What does she choose to do with her time? Play wife! No lie, she puts all of her powers aside to live in domestic bliss with a blacksmith. Who doesn’t prefer to make soap by hand when you could topple governments with a wave of the very same hand? All one queen does is cry. When another queen uses military terms, she is asked to stop because it is too distressing to men’s ears and when her plans are used, it is grudgingly at best. I know fantasy, especially old school stuff tends not to be very forward thinking in terms of gender roles but this was ridiculous.
A bigger problem wasn’t even that I was dropped into the middle of the story, but that deus ex machina was used so egregiously. It is by far, my least favorite plot device (a bitch to spell and impossible to pronounce.) Just once, in my literary travels, have I seen it used to good effect and that was when the author rather wittily made it an actual hand of an actual god. That, I can get behind. This sucked. 

But after learning why my husband picked it, I can’t really fault him. It was the first fantasy novel he read at the tender age of 12. It made an indelible impression on him and led him down the path to a lifetime of fantasy and sci-fi. I get that. I have lots of books that I read as a child that I don’t know if they are good or bad just because they are so much a part of me that I can’t readily distinguish between the two. So while I didn’t exactly pull my punches when it came to reviewing his book, I do understand why he chose it and I feel honored to be a part of such an important memory. I’m still not reading the rest of the series though. 

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