Long-time lurker, first-time poster
I have a few thoughts, then a complaint and then a few questions for both Janny and the community at large.
Firstly, let me say that this series, in my opinion, is one of the most important works to grace the annals of literature in a long time. In the same way that Tolkien opened new ways of thinking about fantasy (even if that was not his intention) and that Ashok Banker has done with is re-imagining of the Indian classic saga, The Ramayana, Janny has made us rethink what literature is and what it can mean for future authors to come. Her work reminds me of China Mieville's Bas-Lag novels (if you have never read Perdido Street Station, I strongly recommend it) in that she is challenging both our perceptions as readers and our perceptions as human beings. Well. Enough rambling.
I have finally (I think), completed a read-through of all the posts here. Whew, what a journey that was! I especially appreciate how Janny won't respond unless directly asked a question. Being a long-time Dungeon Master (been playing Dungeons & Dragons for 35 years) I fully appreciate the joy of watching your readers (or in my case, players) deliberate on what they think is going on in the stories and knowing just how damn wrong they are, but fully enjoying the debate anyway.
Now to my sole complaint. Its not a big one, but it hurts.
Sulfin Evend. My favorite character in all the books, he was the one true shining light for Lysaer who had no ulterior motives for helping him (Diegan was outraged at Talith's abduction and the besmirching of her character) and I am so saddened that I didn't get to experience his death. I didn't get to be there and figuratively hold his hand as he passed under the Wheel. It hurts. Everytime I re-read the series (about 8 times now) and I fall in love with his strength and compassion all over again, I know that Initiate's Trial is coming and it makes my stomach hurt just a little bit.
I understand why Janny did what she did. 500 years of life needed to be moved through a bit quicker and she needed to set up the shock of Arithon's imprisonment, but....it still hurts
Questions for Janny:
The magic. Damn the magic feels so real. I wondered if any of it was based on “real-world” magic practices from history. I feel that the quartz rods and the placement of objects at the compass points resonates with me from something I've gleaned over the years, but I can't be sure. The sigils and seals, they just feel so right and so real, and I've been dealing with fantasy magic for a long, long time and nothing even comes close to your depictions. (over to the community real quick – what do you see in your mind when she describes the magic? For me its a glowing set of geometric equations, angles, arcs and crazy squiggles)
Second question for Janny – I also write. Can you stop making me look so bad? Thanks
For the community:
Do any of you have trouble with the language? I find myself struggling to understand just what people mean and the phrasing throws me sometimes, and I love words, but damn sometimes it makes my head hurt – I still love it though, but some friends of mine I've tried to turn on to the series say that the language is simply too hard to follow.
A few character questions:
How do you feel about Dakar? Its so easy to not like him up until Vastmark when he finally realizes what a prejudiced jerk he's been, but after Initiate's Trial (and I'm still confused as to what actually happened with his “betrayal” of Arithon, but maybe that's deliberate on Janny's part or maybe I'm just not “getting it” - like I said, her language throws me sometimes), while I sympathize with him, I kind of don't like him again. (also I read in a thread about Dakar's skill with the ladies and someone asked if he had ever been with any non-prostitutes – I'm in the middle of Fugitive Prince right now and at Riverton, right before Arithon flips out from the fetch, Dakar is boozing with some people he meets in the streets and he's making out with quite a few “regular” women)
Talith – ah Talith. So sexy, so arrogant, So. Damn. Stupid. Did you feel for her at all? Was she a tragic figure? Having never had to deal with extreme snobbery in my life, I kind of felt she got what she deserved. She knew Lysaer was obsessed when she married him. I kept wanting to scream at her, “Just leave the wacko and go home!” Love, I guess, truly is blind.
The Fellowship. Up until this last read-through, they were my boys. Loved em. But this last read-through, especially in COTM, I felt that they were bending the Law of Major Balance pretty heavily, and not really following their own codes of conduct too well. They were kind of jerky to Arithon and Lysaer, keeping secrets from them and pushing them around. I dunno. I kind of wonder if anyone else has had this experience?
Lastly, Does anyone really understand why Davien started the rebellion? Am I missing something or has Janny kept us in the dark? It seems he didn't have any great love for humanity, which is kind of strange, since the F7 were corporate/military scumbags who destroyed worlds and were supposed to have found some sort of grace through the Paravians. I feel that I am missing something, so someone clue me in, please?
Thanks for letting me have my voice, and damn I can't wait for the last two books!!!
Hi. I have posted here only a few times over the years usually just after reading one of the books.
Re your questions:
the language is difficult. I believe Janny aims for precision in her choices allowing layers of meaning to be explored and referencing exact detail, taking pride in it, however I agree that it hinders accessibility. I would identify overuse of adjectives as the main culprit. In almost every sentence there are several words or a long phrase where one would do. And I feel at times it definitely detracts rather than supports the meaning. There is another issue, in that most of the characters' speech patterns include the same overuse of adjectives in dialogue as occurs throughout the descriptive passages and action which means the narrative is weighed down without relief. Further, when a character, particularly Arithon, is in the midst of a life-threatening situation the description is of every second being at the extreme of endurance ... meaning a reader who cares and is associated into the flow of the text cannot catch a breath. Pacing of the scale of the danger or pain or heartbreak could definitely be improved.
To me this is a style issue. Her earlier works don't seem to have these problems or at least not to the same extent. I am guessing that after many years researching and preparing towards this huge project which had been with her since a young age, Janny was determined to do it all her own way and perhaps lacked the advice of a strong editor. There is so much I love about the series that I try to overlook it but I do sometimes hesitate in recommending the series widely because of that factor.
I have also hesitated to come here to Janny's own website and make uninvited criticisms (even though I may see them as loving and construtive). It has meant I haven't participated as much as I otherwise would and, to me, discussion around a fascinating series such as this is a big added enjoyment.
Re the fellowship and Davien, I am not sure how I am being positioned as a reader whether to have utter faith in the Fellowship and regard Davien as misguided or to see Davien's moral paradoxes as relevant and potentially leading the fellowship to the next phase of their growth and learning. The uncertainty is tolerable in the expectation that it WILL be resolved.
Again there is so much to love about this series I really am in awe of Janny's talent.
For a long time, I didn't grasp the nuance of every word, but loved the books anyway! Getting some sailing experience, and a Kindle (for the dictionary) have helped a lot. How do you describe the experience of a nautical manoeuvre anyway, other than by using nautical terms? By simplifying, you lose a certain level of envelopment that you _could_ have had in the scene.
I find the language heavier than many, but overly simplistic language sometimes makes me feel like 12-year-olds have taken over all the main characters. Not naming names, but some books... These people feel real, even if much of the vernacular is that of the 17th-18th centuries.
The language isn't for everybody; I lend the first book to people, with the comment that it is somewhat heavy, but worth a read-through, because the series is really worth it. The most common reason not to finish, does seem to be the language. Ah well.
I think he's a great character. He learned a lot about loyalty and friendship from Arithon. But he made some quick decisions, siding against Arithon (Traitor's Knot, Stormed Fortress), which I think have hurt him for a long time. I can't see him choosing against Arithon again. I don't know either if he did anything else wrong (in the references from Initiate's Trial). To my mind, he could still be ashamed of the events from Stormed Fortress.
I haven't thought about her much. She did seem to be somewhat clever, but not wise, and seemed to believe that her cleverness and connections would prevent anything seriously bad from happening to her. I don't fault her too much for marrying Lysaer; she was in love. And fair deuce to her for allowing herself to see behind the lies after she was captured.
It does seem that Arithon in particular was manipulated after the Strand casting. Everything before then was oriented towards education and helping understanding until the brothers reached Althain Tower. Afterwards... I'm not sure what forces were at work. Which choices were mandated by the Drakes' binding? Probably the one that required the capture of the Mistwraith, and set the brothers against each other.
Pushing Arithon into kingship is possibly a more complex topic than we've seen yet, tied up as it is with the restoration of the Fellowship to seven, which seems to have its own mysteries. Is this also tied in with the binding? I don't know. Given their behaviour over the whole rest of the series, I think there must still be missing information which will allow their behaviour to match what we know of their beliefs. But I see why you are concerned.
If you think about the depth of feeling underpinning F7-style magic, and the Law of the Major Balance, I think one has to say that all the F7 have much love for all of existence, even drakespawn, or Deshthiere. A lack of love does not seem to be a failing of any of these people. So Davien causing the downfall of the system of crown justice and land oversight must have been balanced by some greater disaster that he thought might otherwise happen. But it failed in some way; the Havens, Davien-style.
And in fact, some partial answers have been given. In "Stormed Fortress", chapter "Scarpdale", Davien discusses the issue in Althain Tower. The split between clan and town-born, the lack of respect for the free wilds, and the slow death of the talented bloodlines are all mentioned as serious issues that were causing a slow drift towards disaster, if nothing changed. However, due to Luhaine's aggressive needling, Davien leaves without providing all the answers as to the method he chose to pursue his aims.
(yes that was a half hearted attempt)
Welcome The Wastelander, always nice to see someone decloaking there.
Starting from near the bottom, did you read the short story Sundering Star?
The Fellowship were actually originally a research team, who made a new revolutionary discovery which they never intended to be used as a weapon. Some greedy power hungry factions put the research team under pressure to give up their new discovery, they wanted to use it as a weapon to win their war. In the end rather than give it to the ones doing all the coercing, they apparently gave it to the underdogs in the war and fled. It was a bit vague who they gave their research to, but it was not those that were being the most insistent.
They never used it as a weapon themselves, but still it was their work and they felt responsible for how it was used. They felt responsible for what happened to their civilisation. So feeling they were the destroyer of worlds is what brought them to the dragons attention. Personally I think Janny has a bit more explaining to do about the dragons dreaming, she might or might not go there.
As to the language, yes I had trouble with it at first and the obscure words Janny digs up does not help. I am always running for a dictionary and I was reasonably well read. The way the story is worded and presented can be difficult to take in, although it becomes easier as you get used to it. Re-reading the series so often, you might have become a bit suspicious there is more to the story than you first thought, it is multi-layered. Often Janny is describing something other than the obvious events, there are often different aspects to what Janny is describing, so the image she is creating is important and often very precise (and full of adjectives for that reason). As you re-read you might notice different things, might interpret what happens a different way depending on how your viewpoint has changed.
But there is still something else hidden. If Janny uses numbers, colors, emotions (and who knows what else) they can all be referring to something else. Often she will try to show us the same 'event' in different ways, different settings, seemingly as clues to what is still obscured. In Initiate's Trial she was really becoming more obvious, without giving much away. Janny could hide the secrets to creation itself in there and still we would not see it for all the words. But I would think our understanding and perspective will change a bit yet. After the next book I expect a lot more might be looking for other things in those words.
Janny has created a puzzle and apparently has not yet given us the keys to understanding it, just lots of clues and hints. And the clues are not only in the images created by the words, and the words themselves, they are in the artwork. Janny filled her artwork with further clues, also the Paravian language, Names, music, magic, they all contain clues, they are all connected. Janny seems to have it all well thought out.
I was going to throw a pebble in there as an example, but for the life of me cannot find the quote!
But for those with the digital versions, you could try a pebble out for size anyway, it seems the simplest to start with. Just search each book for the word and see what you come up with. Might take a bit of note taking. Even more note taking if you are going to do it on your next re-read. Not every mention would be significant, but some will stand out. Some might see something, some will not, just depends on how you look at things. No need to worry if you do not, it might only be something you need to be crazy to see.
Hello the Wastelander, welcome here!
You Asked: the 'magic' in Paravia is based on very real physics - resonance and frequency, (sound and light) - the electromagnetic spectrum, the quantum, and a few things off the edge of what current science can 'measure'. Quartz is piezo-electric, and certain rod crystals (Tourmaline, etc) also polarize light. All of those things have been encorporated, but the physical properties and the esoteric.
As for the compass points: there are SO MANY angles of cultural belief that engage them, it would be hard NOT to 'feel' as if they connected, somehow, somewhere. I DID want to create a unified field - of sorts - between what we have, what we know, and what is fictional and what is playful speculation. I wanted Athera to 'live' and function - and resonate - with many foundational concepts. Not create a 'game' or a 'magic system' so much as create a believable whole.
If I have succeeded, it ought to 'tap into' many root ideas, from a lot of eclectic sources, and also from experience, combined with the unbridled use of the imagination.
As to 'what is not yet disclosed' - heh - the series is not to closure Yet!!!
Oh Ho - delurkers! I love it!
Welcome here, Hosanna!
Your personal taste and choice of opinion are honorably respected.
The same goes for my editors, and without apology for my individual voice.
Thanks to all the responses, especially from Janny - wow what a buzz to actually hear from the author.
I wanted to clarify that I only ever have trouble with the dialogue - descriptive prose is not the issue - without description its not really a book now is it?
I'm reading a LOT slower this time - I tend to gobble books quickly and read them multiple times, so my fault for being such a greedy gus.
I'm a big physics geek - layman only, and I feel that I have a decent grasp on quantum mechanics (and string theory), so with that in mind, I'm going to restart and read more closely - keeping all the layers of Janny's brilliant prose in mind.
COTM - here I come (again!)
Annette: No I have not read either of the short stories yet - I really want to but I have a real problem with e-books, but in light of any other options, I may just have to suck it up
You can get a free kindle reader for your PC, and Janny's kindle friendly e-books will have a nice colour cover when you read them on the PC.
I have the actual books the three short stories were originally published in, but still like having the digital versions, and the covers are a nice extra. I am particularly interested to see what Janny does for the cover of the third story.
I just wanted to add to what Janny said above about frequency and resonance. On an atomic level all things animate and inaminate vibrate except at absolute zero. The different vibrational frequencies can be demonstrated on oscilloscopes. Energetically evertything is connected, the particle physicists have been able to demonstrate what ancient traditions have been saying all along! I read the magic in Janny's books as being able to tap into those electromagnetic fields to effect change in varying degrees. i.e. Beidar psychic trance, Koriani healer using a crystal to focus intention. Janny- did I get that right?
What I love about the practitioners of magic in her books is that it actually takes decades to become proficient as opposed to many fantasy novels where the "hero" aquires mastery in a matter of weeks.
Yes I am aware of the underpinnings of string theory and physics in general
Julie - you asked; did you 'get it right' - note very carefully about the very REAL phenomenon of resonance:
If you take a low frequency standing wave and mix it with a higher frequency standing wave - the order between the two breaks down and REFORMS - at a resonant frequency between the two - so frequencies of vibration interact in a very real way....go on and figure from there/Resonance plays a very real role in how or reality actually works - which science and the ancient traditions knew well, too.
Thanks for the quick response- I should have worded my last post more clearly. I understand that interacting frequencies reform- as in matching frequencies during energy healing. I was making the assumption that this was the basic premise in much of the practical magic used in your books with varying degrees of sophistication related to the scale of the intervention.
I am ever trying to wrap my mind (probably the problem)around the perceptions/concepts of reality- I (think) I get that we create our own reality, it is fluid, which is how I interpreted Grimwards, inner sanctums of Ath's hostels, Beidar seeing... so I think this is what I wondered if I got right.
Janny - one last question for this thread.
When the focus circles are used for lane transfer, are the travelers moving at light speed?
Always wondered that.
Thanks for your time
To The Wastelander: you asked. Yes. This would be evident from the text: first,in the explanation itself, that Asandir translated his frequency UPWARD, out of the physical - and also, noted: as the traveler crossed longitude in either direction, the sun's position/or hour of day or night would be earlier or later/indicating close to simultaneous (from a world frame of reference) transmission.