A Book, Abandoned – #2/2016 – Erikson, Steven – House of Chains

 

Another abandoned book.  Is this a habit?  What will be the similarities between these books?  The differences?

Well.

The previous book I abandoned in 2016 was Umberto Eco’s The Prague Cemetery.  Eco’s writing is always erudite, clever, humorous and engaged with history and politics.  And yet it never quite clicks with me.

Erikson, on the other hand, is a throw-everything-including-the-kitchen-sink fantasy writer who likes to build up to ‘epic’ moments which show characters doing things that aren’t supposed to be done, and that’s really it.

Imagine.  For 400 pages of a 900 page book, you are told, from various view points and by multiple characters, that a certain type of sword has been forged to fight the gods that used the ‘heart power’ of a character and has only ever been made between 2 and 3 feet in length (which is enormous).  A character comes along and using his ‘heart power’ he creates a 6 foot sword and then kills some gods.  Everyone gasps.

That’s Erikson.

I have the strong impression, when reading Erikson, that he spends a good amount of time (ie hundreds of pages) throwing whatever he feels like on to the page, and then he brings it all together by a character suddenly doing something ‘awesome’ and then the book climaxes and either ends or carries or until another ‘awesome’ thing occurs.  It’s kind of exhausting, because you never know what or who is important until suddenly they do an ‘awesome’ thing and are identified as a major player.  Until then it’s just characters wandering around being cynical and violent.

I despise cynical and violent.  Levity is an important part of art, as is humour, as is love, as is friendship, as is charity, as is disappointment, as is melancholy, as is regret.  But being cynical about chopping off someone’s head, or feeling ‘regret’ because you didn’t assassinate someone when you had the chance?  Well – that’s nothing.  It’s a bunch of metal toy soldiers being rammed into one another by a cranky toddler.  It’s meaningless.

Sometimes I really love the cheesy escapism of fantasy.  And the sometimes I read a writer like Erikson.

The Books, Read page contains a list of all of the books I have read over the years.

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