Saturday, July 13, 2013

Disappointing Realizations

Ever look at something you thought was awesome as a child and realize it sucked? It happens more often than we like. We see massive plot holes in old cartoons (okay, I saw some of them back when I was nine) and can't remember why we thought certain movies were funny.

I think it's worse when it comes to authors. I am picky about my reading materials, I spend more time deciding to read a book than I do reading it. back when I was in elementary school, unable to buy books and nervous about going into the adult section of the library (recall this was before the era of Harry Potter, Twilight, and Percy Jackson, when young adult novels were A Wrinkle in Time (which do to teachers suggesting it struck me as literature. Actually I just have an issue with any suggested reading that isn't from an automated source. You tell me I'm going to like it and I am predisposed to never read it) or Boxcar Children (how old are the characters? Who gives a fuck!). Yeah, there were Goosebumps but it's under the same terms of Boxcar children. If you couldn't reproduce, you weren't meant to be reading a book with over one hundred pages.

Yes there were kids who read some things a bit bigger (The Hobbit and/or LOTR) but that was still far and few in between. The horror of Harry Potter was it caused kids to read. It had a real story they could get into and enjoy. Before that we had to deal with other choices.

I got a book from my brother's room with my father's permission. It was far more enjoyable than any other book I had ever read, even though I realize now how much it sucked. After that my brother gave me the beginning of the series in it's massive trilogy pack format (they call them omnibuses now. I'd never seen novel omnibuses for anything other than classics until recently. They at least didn't refer to them that way even if they existed). It was the Dragonlance Chronicles.

Here's a fact about Dragonlance. Most people got into it when they were young and thought it was the best thing ever. If we try to suggest it to someone else it usually falls flat. Because there is a strange phrasing near the beginning of the book as they introduce a character for the first time (You know what I'm talking about). This was Margaret Weis' first novel and she had a partner, Tracy Hickman who took the role of editing her work. It shows.

Yet, back then this was the best thing ever. It was fantasy but not so much high fantasy shit I couldn't work out what was going on. Very few apostrophes, and other difficult to mentally pronounce names quickly disappear in later works. It was everything I wanted but not beyond my comprehension - something you rarely seen in fantasy fiction written by anyone.

I read and reread it a thousand times (this may not be an exaggeration) before I even realized how many sequels existed (I think I discovered Legends pretty quick. Summer Flame less quick, and then the 'Fifth Age'... eventually...). I can easily tell you the entire story from memory. Obviously I'd want to reread it when I grew up and enjoy it again.

You know how there is so much hidden meaning in Harry Potter? For every joke you get there's two you didn't (unless you're American then there are three, because apparently there are several language and cultural jokes we can't possibly understand). Those aren't there. There's one message and it's pretty obvious. The foreshadowing is too.

It's not at all based on The Lord of the Rings, yet there are Two Towers, one good, and one evil. The good knights defend their capital with a massive white tower in a mountain pass. At one point our heroes have to pass through the gates of the evil city which we discover was once the most holy temple of good. Constantly we are told how the items of good can be corrupted by evil. These sound familiar? Yes, they show up all the time but you can't use the argument that it came before LOTR, cause it didn't, it's based on a game which is in turn based on LOTR. I only mention because there are a number of people who are convinced it has nothing to do with LOTR, because nothing can be based off of anything.

It's not that it's based of another work, it's just not as good as the other work and many works which have come after. It was supposedly targeted to young adults, or what they though of as young adults at the time, which were in their twenties. Yet, it is written for teenagers but they still found it necessary a few years ago to make a youth friendly version (note: Tracy Hickman is very religious and the one novel Margaret's written without his assistance is one that crossed the line into 'risk-say') which is like adding training wheels to a tricycle.

I've struggled through very little of their other works for just this reason. My friend thought one of Margaret's books looked interesting at the library a month ago. I warned him how I couldn't read her work outside of DragonLance but he tried it anyway. He had to read the beginning of the series first and he was horrified she was a New York Times bestselling author. The second he found okay, but once again, not on par with someone who's sold that much and is that well known.

I just read Wayne of Gotham by Tracy Hickman. He should have kept to editing. It barely gets the character across (or maybe I'm just not in touch with Batman comics) and the villains are not quite right. There are info dumps where I would have liked to have gotten the information firsthand. You realize how bad a book needs to be for me to finish and not like it? Really bad.

But I knew this coming in. As I said, I read the Dragonlance Chronicles a thousand times.

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