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September 13, 2009

Dune, The Magicians

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — inky @ 11:02 pm

The question on everyone’s lips is of course what have I been reading lately. Wonder no further!

Dune (Frank Herbert): The list of “classic” sf I haven’t read is pretty long (nothing in the Foundation series, nothing by Clarke except Childhood’s end, nothing by Moorcock except Gloriana, etc); I’m trying to rectify this in between all the other things I intend to read, so, ok, here’s Dune. Dune is most notorious, at least to me, for 1) being rejected by twenty-odd publishers before being accepted and 2) for having a long list of increasingly-crappy sequels.

I can’t really explain point #2 (and really, who can explain Kevin J Anderson?), but having read the book, #1 seems not that surprising. Dune is a weird mix of really good and really bad stuff — like, the setting is great but starts developing holes as soon as you poke at it even the slightest bit; the characters are colorful but most don’t get used to anything like their full potential; the plot alternates between cool bits and heavy-handed authorial control and the ending is goofy. Wikipedia says the novel is a reworking of two separate serialized novels, which feels about right; it’d be interesting to read those and see if the bits I liked were all from one or the other, like how all the good TMBG songs are by John Linnell.

So I guess I liked it well enough but not enough to read the sequels. This is good since my reading list is long enough as it is.

The Magicians (Lev Grossman): This is a total ifmud bookclub book, given liza’s and dfan’s review. I guess I pretty much agree with their reviews, so in that sense this third one is a little pointless.

That said, what struck me most about the book was the way it seemed to purposely subvert obvious plot arcs. Like, it starts off as a school-for-magic kind of story, but that is definitely not the point of the book, or even, in some ways, a very important part of the plot. Then it goes into another thing, halts that, goes into another thing, halts that, and so on. In some ways it feels like three or four stories welded together, but there’s enough interlocking bits that it clearly was intended to be like this. So I guess the author had some point in doing it this way but I’m not really sure what it is — if it’s just to give a kick in the teeth to “the chosen boy with the magic destiny” motif, that is pretty lame. But the writing is pretty sharp, there are lots of funny bits and a few really nice bits, and I had a good time reading it, so recommended.

A couple more spoilery comments/questions for people who have read the book: Vg frrzf cerggl urnil-unaqrq nf na nhgube gb znxr gurve cbjref zbfgyl varssrpgvir va Svyybel rkprcg qhevat obff svtugf. Yvxr, gur ragver Svyybel frdhrapr jnf nyzbfg vqragvpny gb ubj vg jbhyq unir tbar vs gurl unqa’g orra zntvpvnaf ng nyy, juvpu frrzf yvxr n zvffrq bccbeghavgl.

Nyfb, fcrnxvat bs obff svtugf, jul jnf Znegva Pungjva fb fpnel jura ur fubjrq hc gur svefg gvzr naq fb jrnx gur frpbaq gvzr? V zrna, ng svefg ur jnf noyr gb cnenylmr n jubyr pynffebbz naq ubyq bss zbfg bs gur havirefvgl’f cebsrffbef, ohg gur frpbaq gvzr Nyvpr jnf noyr gb nyzbfg unaqyr uvz ragveryl ba ure bja, naq (cerfhznoyl) fur jnf fgvyy gelvat gb nqncg gb pbaqvgvbaf ba Svyybel. V xabj fur jnf fhccbfrq gb or gur zbfg oevyyvnag fghqrag ng fpubby, ohg guvf frrzf n yvggyr rkprffvir.

V thrff lrg nabgure rkcynangvba vf gur cebgntbavfgf whfg nera’g irel tbbq ng zntvp be ng nccylvat vg; jung gurl ernyyl pbzr bss nf vf n ohapu bs gehfg-shaq xvqf jub fyvq gurve jnl guebhtu fpubby naq pnzr bhg jvgu n qrterr naq ab vqrn jung gb qb jvgu vg, ohg guvf qbrfa’g wvir jvgu nyy gur oynu jr frr rneyvre nobhg jung uneq jbex vg nyy vf. (rot13)

Next up is another book club book, The Third Policeman.

1 Comment

  1. Regarding the multiple arcs: The guy at complete-review.com (http://complete-review.com/reviews/popus/grossl.htm) thought that it would be better as a series than a single novel, which is an interesting idea. I’m not sure that I would be up for three or four books of this, though.

    Comment by dfan — September 14, 2009 @ 6:37 am

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