As a brief note before we begin: we should have fixed the contact form for those of you still interested in the ARC Giveaway, but if it doesn’t work you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The contest goes to the end of August and all you have to do is email me one good reason why you deserve an ARC of Tome of the Undergates.
If I have one complaint for reviewers, it’s that they occasionally tend to find their comfort zones and settle into them. As such, they start getting a little predictable. We start seeing certain blogs going into routines: they review the same books, they give the same scores and no one’s learning anything.
First, there is inspiration.
Then, there is stagnation.
And finally…there is THE BRAVEST CHALLENGE.
Twelve bloggers from around the net have agreed to partake in this glorious and violent fury of a contest, accepting a book that I have chosen for them, knowing their habits well enough to think that such a thing will genuinely give them a challenge or at least an aneurysm. Either way, should be fun to watch!
Victory is defined as having successfully read the book and completed a fair-as-possible review of the book, which they will put on their site. All winners will receive a RAGING ROTHFUSS trophy!
Failure is defined as having not made it through the book and/or going completely ape on the review. All losers receive the WEEKS OF SHAME trophy!
Our challengers await below…
Ana and Thea have the distinct honor of being two of the more socially conscious reviewers out there, highly concerned with issues of racism and sexism present in the world of fantasy and YA. The Fifth Sorceress is a book whose greatest criticism is that it tends to steer toward some pretty distinct anti-female themes. But are these real or imagined? The Book Smugglers are determined to find out!
This one should prove to be quite an interesting point. Gene Wolfe is considered to be one of the fathers of fantasy, his stuff being cited alongside Tolkien’s as the greatest in the world. This tends to synch up quite nicely with Amanda’s quest to read the various masterworks series. As yet, she’s mostly reviewed newer stuff and, as we all know, she is a gentle creature with sensitive feelings. Can she withstand a book that is proudly called “difficult” and possibly rough? WE SHALL SEE!
Louis is a guy who enjoys a lot of things: fast action, deep plot, characterization out the wazoo. Why not pit him against a book that experienced harsh criticism against all three? I never read The Wanderer’s Tale, but it’s said that it’s very Tolkien-inspired. Perhaps Louis, with his shiny new fantasies, will succumb to its ancient influence?
Personally, I happened to like Kell’s Legend a whole lot. It had everything I enjoy in a fantasy: flawed characters, gritty action and M-M-MEGAVIOLENCE. It is fact that reading Kell’s Legend will cause you to grow a beard, which resulted in several lawsuits which Remic won by cutting off the plaintiffs’ heads. Kenda Montgomery, of the New Jersey Montgomerys, however, is a gentle soul who enjoys her paranormal romances and fantasy heroines. Can she survive the pure testosterone of Kell’s Legend?
Believe it or not, there was a time when Goodkind was a leading name in fantasy and you could utter his name without Westeros burning you at the stake, and the man still has many fans who will swear by his books. Even those who no longer follow him claim that his first book, Wizard’s First Rule, is still an excellent story. Graeme actually requested this one. He’s never read any of Goodkind’s work and I saw this as a good experiment in Reputation vs. Quality. Can Graeme, ignoring the venom that will undoubtedly be heaped upon him, find quality in this story?
My knowledge of Hannu is limited to the fact that he was a string physicist and has a handshake like a vise grip. My knowledge of his book is limited to the fact that it is HARDCORE SCIENCE FICTION, something that I full well know Jason will have difficulty with. This is emotion versus knowledge! Physics versus Scrutiny! HANNU VS. JASON.
This one isn’t fantasy, of course. However, the circumstances were just too good to pass up. Harry Markov came to me and asked if he could get in on the Bravest Challenge. “Well,” I said, “what do you have trouble with?” “Not much,” he replied. “I like just about anything that isn’t dry…or historical…or a war story.” BAM! Cornwell’d!
If you happened to wander over to Westeros the past few days, you might have noticed a hardcore episode of Blogger Fight Club going on over M. John Harrison. Long rumored to be the anti-fantasy fantasy, it seemed right up Aidan Moher’s alley, who is genuinely interested in broadening his horizons. Seeing as The Pastel City is one of his more accessible novels, we watch with great interest as Aidan sees if he can swallow the stuff.
Ken, as we all know, is the epitome of the dignified fantasy reviewer: his tastes are refined, his mind is honed to a razor’s edge and his eyes are scrutinizing enough to pick parasites off krill. I’ve never read Arrows of the Queen (though I do like some of Lackey’s other stuff), but an associate of mine who wishes to remain nameless described it as: “Telepathic ponies that are your special BFF!!!! Oh-so-spunky and rebellious heroine! It’s every 12-year-old girl’s fantasy!” Have fun, Ken.
Like many kids growing up on fantasy, I loved Drizzt. As I grew, the distinct lack of moral ambiguity and general lack of motive tended to wear on me until I stopped reading him. Still, the drow that launched a thousand knock-offs holds a special place in my heart. But is that place deserved? Michael is here to find out. I know two things about Michael: he likes moral ambiguity and he’s never read “tie-in” fiction. I’m recommending Homeland as the quintessential Drizzt novel, explaining origins and basically everything that makes him who he is. Given that the Drizzt novels are fairly quick reads, though, I’m also putting in a possible recommendation for The Orc King, which is generally where a lot of people agree that Salvatore lost his stride. Good hunting!
If The Pastel City is considered to be the escargot of fantasy, hard to digest but a genuine delicacy, then Viriconium is the deadly pufferfish, delicious but capable of killing a man who bites it improperly. And Patrick is just the man with death wish enough to try it.
You, The Reader vs. EVERYONE
Yes, my adoring public, I issue you the EVERYMAN’S BRAVEST CHALLENGE. I don’t know your tastes, so I can’t recommend anything specifically, of course. But my challenge is a lot simpler than that: find a book that you put down, for any reason, and try to finish it. Email me with your results (whether you finished it and were surprised at how good it was or whether it wound up sucking anyway) and I’ll post them on the blog.
These should go through toward Christmas, with various bloggers balancing their schedules to fit these in, so keep watching this space for who succeeds and who is sharkmeat!