What are you reading 2.0

Discussion in 'Non-WOT - Literature and Fiction' started by Aduiavas Ida, Jan 27, 2018.

  1. Miliham Rastoubel

    Miliham Rastoubel Gaidin Company Commander of San d'ma Shadar

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    well...to be fair there are 3 series going on at the end. and they aren't "intended" to be read at the same time. I mean a lot of people have read them all, but really the shadow's and the torch's are meant to be side stories and only the mainline honor books are the mainline series. so yes there are scenes that are repeated (not completely copied and pasted) from the side series into the mainline books where they overlap.
     
  2. Cursor Wrathwind

    Cursor Wrathwind Gaidin

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    Currently reading R.F. Kuang's The Poppy War. Was very excited based on her Hugo best new author win and the fact that it's inspired by Chinese history culture (she herself having been born in Guangzhou).

    But so far, about 5 chapters in...all this wonderful worldbuilding I read about? It's LITERALLY just Chinese history, unchanged except for the names. And not even the names sometimes. Like, there's a scene where they're training in martial arts and the instructor tells them of who the author of the famous "Principles of War," who is named Sunzi (which is actually how Sun Tzu is rendered in Mandarin pinyin) was tested by the emperor by having him train his concubines. In which he was ultimately successful after beheading the two senior concubines when the women didn't obey the orders. That's not worldbuilding...that's an actual legend associated with actual Sunzi and nothing is changed about it. Earlier, when studying for the equivalent to China's Imperial Examinations, the girl recites a passage from a book that basically gives a super simplified overview of Confucianism. She says the name of the author was Mengzi. Mengzi is a real person...known in the west as Mencius, the most important Confucian other than Confucius himself. There are other examples and this is only like 60 pages in. It's constant.

    I really hope this gets better...I loved her speech at the awards, and I would love to see more non-western themed fantasy out there. But thus far I'm unimpressed because the opening of the book has basically nothing original to anyone even remotely familiar with Chinese history and culture (so, probably explains why the western media raved about it's worldbuilding...)

    /rant
     
  3. Kassina Tendar

    Kassina Tendar Aes Sedai

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    The history of the world does deepen the further you get. (I'm reading the third book in the trilogy right now) It is heavily inspired by Chinese history, though, and obviously she doesn't try to hide that the trilogy is based on the 2nd Sino-Japanese War. I admit, I also thought naming the author Sunzi was a bit on the nose. :lol

    YMMV, but I've enjoyed learning more about the world as the story progresses. It's become one of my favorite series, actually. I love it! I wouldn't say the world building is entirely original, but she's also pretty upfront about borrowing heavily from history. She's talked about wanting to do more in future series and has said she's learned a ton from the things she wishes she'd done better in this series.

    So in my opinion, it does get better, but I can't say for certain how you will experience the rest of the series since the parallels with Chinese history didn't bother me personally, even at the start. Even when I thought it was being rather blatant.
     
  4. Cursor Wrathwind

    Cursor Wrathwind Gaidin

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    There's based on, and there's "these are some of the most famous people, places, books, and legends from Chinese history and literature without even the serial numbers filed off." I mean, ASOIAF is heavily based on the Wars of the Roses, but GRRM at least smudged it a bit. They literally have a Sunzi writing the literal Art of War (Principles of War, as it's called in novel, is an equally valid rendering of the Chinese original). They have literal Fuzi and Mengzi (proper Chinese way of referring to Confucius and Mencius) writing about Confucianism. Kitay shows his mind for strategy by coming up with Zhuge Liang's famous plan to "borrow" arrows from Wei right out of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms--one of the most famous scenes in the most famous book in all Asia (it's even got a painting in the Long Corridor at the Summer Palace in Beijing). When Rin is training in martial arts, the historical figure Master Jiang claims invented them--Bodhidharma--is also a real historical figure (considered the founder of Chan Buddhism, better known in the west by the Japanese rendering Zen).

    I don't mind borrowing from history or culture. As mentioned, GRRM basically copies Wars of the Roses. JRR Tolkien took lots of inspiration from Finnish mythology. But they at least tweaked it enough, changed the names enough, that it's its own world. This for me is really immersion breaking. Even the place names are real places in China (the Wudang Mountains are real mountains and very famous in Wuxia literature. The Tianshan are also a real range, as are several of the others on the map). I know that the vast majority of westerners who are the intended audience won't know any of this, but for anyone familiar with China and its culture it takes you right out of the fantasy. It's like...imagine if Bilbo and the Dwarves had to cross the Alps instead of the Misty Mountains. Or if the instead of the Seven in Westeros, they read the Gospel of Mark. Literally called the Gospel of Mark and with the same content.

    The historical parallels in the plot don't bother me at all. That's most fantasy. The (to me, lazy) insertion of real (and very famous) figures, real places, and real legends into what's supposed to be a fantasy world, and not just some mythic China a-la Jianghu, does because it's so immersion breaking.