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Old December 19, 2015, 17:03   #11
Rowan
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I think only Boromir dies, Frodo loses a finger, and the other three hobbits have to recover from almost getting eaten by orcs and/or Shelob. ... I feel like I'm forgetting one of Gimli or Legolas dying, but ... Sure, Gandalf "died" against the Balrog of Moria, but then that was wiped out later on.
I guess it just depends on how you define a good ending
-Aragorn lived a long life, but eventually died (most likely with Arwen still looking about 30 when he was elderly) and then Arwen went out and lived in abandoned Lothlorien all alone until she finally died of grief.
-Boromir died, yep.
-Frodo lost a finger and was forever poisoned by the witch-king's knife wound, and his addiction to the Ring was never broken. He kept getting sick and couldn't stay in the Shire anymore, so he had to go to Valinor.
-Gandalf died, yeah. He came back which is semi-cheap I guess, but he was after all a Maia, and had a mission to accomplish, so being sent back in a new body isn't so cheap perhaps.
-Gimli didn't have it so bad. He got to rule over the most beautiful caves he'd ever seen, and eventually went to Valinor with his BFF Legolas.
-Legolas was predicted/cursed to love the sea and leave his old life behind when he heard gulls. He heard gulls during LOTR and never was happy at home again. He did have that bromance with Gimli though, so I think he was happy anyway. Eventually they both went to Valinor- bittersweet.
-Merry was an honored leader in the Shire and a loremaster, and world-traveller. Happy ending- check!
-Pippin, similar to Merry. Happy ending number 2!
-Sam was crushed when Frodo left, but had a wife and kids so he stayed. He was a ring-bearer, though, so he aged much more slowly and outlived his wife. When she died he left everything to try to go to Valinor himself. Maybe....he made it? Maybe he drowned. Semi-happy ending, possibly.

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The only villain that I felt got noticeably shortchanged on screen time (so far) was Ancalagon. (etc)
Your argument for Ancalagon is hilarious and spot-on. Perfectly justified!

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I have no problems with badass heroes. I thought Fingolfin and Huan were great, as well as Turin (who is admittedly more of an anti-hero, but still, he's got to get some credit for making swaths of the countryside safer and for eventually killing Glaurung). I think Beren got off too easy
I agree here too. It's probably the function of just having little summary-lives in the history-book Silmarillion. If only Tolkien had been an Elf, and then could have written 100 novels about all of these deserving heroes!

Also, completely agree about Beren and Hurin being oversold. After reading about everyone else I'm always thinking "Ok remind me why they're better?"

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the Wheel of Time series (which did a much better job of having the forces of good feel the cost of their war with The Dark One despite the three main men all canonically being able to force plot contrivances to work in their favor, although I won't deny that books 5-9 or so are individually pretty awful)
Man, I'm giving W.o.T. a try... I really am... but... man these people STUPID. The first three books would have run so much smoother if people would freaking COMMUNICATE, and if the men would stop blaming Aes Sedai for everything bad while ignoring everything good. I swear it's like watching partisan politics. But I'm still gonna try it out- on book 4 now. You say it gets worse? XD

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I've also read Lovecraft, and something about his style of hinting at things, rather then fully describing them, appeals to me, and I've found alot of that in Tolkien as well.
This more than anything I've heard makes me interested to try Lovecraft. So far my only exposure has been internet research and gamer-geeks who love playing Call of Cthulhu because it's "badass and fatal." Glad to know there's some skill and art to his writing.
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Old December 19, 2015, 17:39   #12
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This more than anything I've heard makes me interested to try Lovecraft. So far my only exposure has been internet research and gamer-geeks who love playing Call of Cthulhu because it's "badass and fatal." Glad to know there's some skill and art to his writing.
Lovecraft and Tolkien are arguable the most influential writers in the phantastic literature of the 20th century.

Lovecraft's work is quite diverse considering both genre and themes. Today he is largely known for his mythological novels about Elder Ones and Cthulhu and other entities. He has also written some appealing classical horror stories and a considerable amount of his novels are some extraordinary tales of dream walkers.

I discovered both Tolkien and Lovecraft a long time ago, when I was in my early teens and have treasured them ever since.
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Old December 19, 2015, 17:53   #13
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I guess it just depends on how you define a good ending
(details snipped)
The whole "immortal falling in love with a mortal"/Mayfly December Romance trope feels cliche to me by now, but perhaps it was fresher back when LotR was written. Legolas and Gimli getting to go to Valinor seems like a happy ending to me, since there's really nobody else who Gimli is attached to and I think there was a thing about all elves feeling a yearning to go to Valinor eventually (though I could be mistaken on that). Frodo and Sam were more ambiguous than I'd acted like before.

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Man, I'm giving W.o.T. a try... I really am... but... man these people STUPID. The first three books would have run so much smoother if people would freaking COMMUNICATE, and if the men would stop blaming Aes Sedai for everything bad while ignoring everything good. I swear it's like watching partisan politics. But I'm still gonna try it out- on book 4 now. You say it gets worse? XD
Oh, yes, communication problems are a very pronounced trend in Wheel of Time. For me, it tended to feel pretty funny and realistic, but maybe that's because I work at a large company where lack of communication is a recurring issue. Comparing the men/women general dynamic to partisan politics is fairly accurate, although it goes get a little bit better over time as characters get exposed to more cultures, but it's really not until after Brandon Sanderson took over (following Robert Jordan's death) that that aspect of things gets more or less phased out.

The problem with books "The Fires of Heaven" through "Winter's Heart"/"Crossroads of Twilight" is that very little happens that advances the plot until the second half of "Crossroads". There's a lot of focus on character development and inter-factional politics. It's a very dramatic shift from the more action-dense pace of the first four books. It's not necessarily bad in an absolute sense, if you enjoy that, but as I mentioned, I like it when characters are actually doing things, so it really did not go well with me (with the exception of Rand's story arc, because his character progression from "Lord of Chaos" through "The Gathering Storm" was very well done, and everything involving Mat after forming the Band is great because Mat is the best). On the plus side, things do pick up again for the last third of the series, and I found the conclusion of "A Memory of Light" to be one of the best endings that I've ever read.

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This more than anything I've heard makes me interested to try Lovecraft. So far my only exposure has been internet research and gamer-geeks who love playing Call of Cthulhu because it's "badass and fatal." Glad to know there's some skill and art to his writing.
Dagon Bytes has a collection of Lovecraft's work. My personal favorites, in no particular order, are The Rats in the Walls, The Color Out of Space, The Shadow Out of Time, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Call of Cthulu, The Dunwich Horror, The Whisperer in Darkness, At the Mountains of Madness, and The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath.
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Old December 19, 2015, 18:18   #14
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--snip--
The problem with books "The Fires of Heaven" through "Winter's Heart"/"Crossroads of Twilight" is that very little happens that advances the plot until the second half of "Crossroads". There's a lot of focus on character development and inter-factional politics. It's a very dramatic shift from the more action-dense pace of the first four books. It's not necessarily bad in an absolute sense, if you enjoy that, but as I mentioned, I like it when characters are actually doing things, so it really did not go well with me (with the exception of Rand's story arc, because his character progression from "Lord of Chaos" through "The Gathering Storm" was very well done, and everything involving Mat after forming the Band is great because Mat is the best). On the plus side, things do pick up again for the last third of the series, and I found the conclusion of "A Memory of Light" to be one of the best endings that I've ever read.
--snip--
I really like the first four or five books, but the quality goes considerably down after that. I think Jordan lost himself in his own world, constantly adding more and more story arcs and personnel and he probably didn't know anymore how to bring all that to an end. Maybe it was due to the tremendous success of the series that he had to deliver more novels or whatever.
It really comes to a point where it is sometimes unbearable. There are chapters where nothing happens, except Egwene taking a bath or some such. And Jordan fills page after page with descriptions of absolutely irrelevant things. The reader struggles through heaps of Aes Sedai, all introduced with names and origins and depictions of their garments down to the tiniest embroidery. Of course they are never heard of and will never show up again, but who cares if the pages are filled and the books are sold.

Every time I reread the series, I always get stuck in book 9 and 10 and have to force myself to go on.
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Old December 19, 2015, 18:57   #15
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The whole "immortal falling in love with a mortal"/Mayfly December Romance trope feels cliche to me by now, but perhaps it was fresher back when LotR was written.
Yeah, I get that. It's also hard to believe it ONLY happened those two or three times in all of history.

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Frodo and Sam were more ambiguous than I'd acted like before.
Heh. I think these days, F&S are a hell of a lot more ambiguous in a lot of ways than Tolkien intended. But such is storytelling- the same stories mean different things, generations later.

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(Wheel of Time.) For me, it tended to feel pretty funny and realistic, but maybe that's because I work at a large company where lack of communication is a recurring issue. Comparing the men/women general dynamic to partisan politics is fairly accurate
Yeah... without opening an enormous can of worms (and I really hope this doesn't), a lot of 1980s-and-earlier fantasy seems to rely on very strict separation/misunderstanding between the genders (Dune also comes to mind). Especially Wheel of Time though. With the unassailable division between male/female sides of magic, a gay or especially a trans character would kind of break the whole system. Just a comment! Again, seen from outside the times in which it was written.

Glad to hear Brandon Sanderson fixed things- I have heard it gets really good near the end. Looking forward to it!

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Dagon Bytes has a collection of Lovecraft's work.
Thank you very much for the resource and recommendations! I will explore his work after Wheel of Time.
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Old December 19, 2015, 20:12   #16
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I think Jordan lost himself in his own world, constantly adding more and more story arcs and personnel and he probably didn't know anymore how to bring all that to an end. Maybe it was due to the tremendous success of the series that he had to deliver more novels or whatever.
I never checked into it for myself so I can't say anything definitive, but I've heard that it was around the time of writing "The Shadow Rising" that Jordan started having the martial problems that eventually led to either a divorce or at least some estrangement from his wife (which lasted until he was diagnosed with his terminal illness) and that the books from then until "Winter's Heart" had a lot of him forcing himself to write because he didn't want to stall the series for his personal issues. Not to say that that excuses the change in the series, but that's the explanation that I've heard.

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It really comes to a point where it is sometimes unbearable. There are chapters where nothing happens, except Egwene taking a bath or some such. And Jordan fills page after page with descriptions of absolutely irrelevant things. The reader struggles through heaps of Aes Sedai, all introduced with names and origins and depictions of their garments down to the tiniest embroidery.
I won't argue that Egwene and Perrin do a whole lot of nothing for the middle third of the series. They get some redemption with their parts in "A Memory of Light" (particularly Perrin), but I did rather hate most of their parts for a long time. At least Rand had his satisfying character development going on, Elyane and Nynaeve were doing some things, and Mat was always great post-tainting.

Also, I found the copious descriptions of the One Ring in LotR to be far more detrimental to the flow of things that the clothing descriptions in Wheel of Time, but that's going to a subjective thing either way. Not saying that they were enjoyable, but they didn't stick out like a Tom Bombadil cameo.

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Heh. I think these days, F&S are a hell of a lot more ambiguous in a lot of ways than Tolkien intended. But such is storytelling- the same stories mean different things, generations later.
Awkward word choice on my part . I'd meant that their individual endings were ambiguous in terms of how good/bad they were, not anything to do with their relationship. I try to avoid reading too much into subtext because it's almost impossible to tell what, if anything, the author was trying to imply (like in my 10th or 11th grade English class, my teacher had disagreed with my interpretation of LotR having a theme of seemingly insignificant characters [from the point of view of a person in that world] being the driving force behind most of the major events, but the letter from Tolkien in the forward of my copy of Silmarillion says that that was exactly what he was trying to do).

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Yeah... without opening an enormous can of worms (and I really hope this doesn't), a lot of 1980s-and-earlier fantasy seems to rely on very strict separation/misunderstanding between the genders (Dune also comes to mind). Especially Wheel of Time though. With the unassailable division between male/female sides of magic, a gay or especially a trans character would kind of break the whole system. Just a comment! Again, seen from outside the times in which it was written.
I understand what you mean. I enjoyed the Dune books, too, but I felt like the later ones (starting with "God Emperor of Dune") went way off the deep end with the sexual issues, and the series would've done well to just end after "Children of Dune".

The male/female split of magic does become more meaningful later on (around "Winter's Heart", if I'm not mistaken), although it never really stops feeling like it could've been substituted by just saying that different channelers have different talents. Incidentally, there is at least one canonically homosexual character in Wheel of Time, and from what I recall, it was handled gracefully (just kind of an "Oh, really? Okay." moment). There is also at least one trans channeler, but I'd rather not say more about that for spoiler reasons.
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Old December 19, 2015, 20:50   #17
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...clothing descriptions in Wheel of Time, but that's going to a subjective thing either way. Not saying that they were enjoyable, but they didn't stick out like a Tom Bombadil cameo.
Hahaha! For me, given what Tom is or could be, he at least behaves in a way that's believable. My problem with Wheel of Time (3 books in) is that the characters themselves might be believable, but their stupid decisions come across as dumb-just-to-keep-the-plot-going type of things.

It might not change your mind one bit, but if it has been 20 years, it might be worth re-reading LotR. A lot of what you say is true, but some might be a little different than you remember. Again- not saying anything's gonna change, but it might.


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...ambiguous in terms of how good/bad they were, not anything to do with their relationship. I try to avoid reading too much into subtext because it's almost impossible to tell what, if anything, the author was trying to imply
Heheh. I think Tolkien was pretty clearly not trying to say F&S were in a romantic relationship, but I don't see harm in people reading it that way nowadays. Doesn't really change the story other than to make the ending much sadder.

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I understand what you mean. I enjoyed the Dune books, too, but I felt like the later ones (starting with "God Emperor of Dune") went way off the deep end with the sexual issues, and the series would've done well to just end after "Children of Dune".
"God Emperor" was truly painful. "Children" would have been a great ending, though I enjoyed aspects of book 5 and 6 very much indeed. His son created a huge, self-aggrandizing disaster of an ending, though, the way he deus-ex-machina'ed his own character to be the savior of the universe. Pretty sure his father had a different ending in mind.

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(back to Wheel of Time) ...but I'd rather not say more about that for spoiler reasons.
Thank you! I've heard bits and pieces in my own research that I wished I hadn't. We'll see how it reads
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Old December 19, 2015, 22:09   #18
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Dagon Bytes has a collection of Lovecraft's work. My personal favorites, in no particular order, are The Rats in the Walls, The Color Out of Space, The Shadow Out of Time, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Call of Cthulu, The Dunwich Horror, The Whisperer in Darkness, At the Mountains of Madness, and The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath.
I'd like to second this entire list of titles, though I'd include The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. I also did almost all of my Lovecraft reading over at dagonbytes.
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Old December 19, 2015, 22:29   #19
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Hahaha! For me, given what Tom is or could be, he at least behaves in a way that's believable. My problem with Wheel of Time (3 books in) is that the characters themselves might be believable, but their stupid decisions come across as dumb-just-to-keep-the-plot-going type of things.
Fair point. Wheel of Time does admittedly have a lot of people with poor decision-making skills. That's one of the things that colors my love for Mat: he's a loser at first, but from the end of book 4 on, he's pretty much far and away the wisest character (probably helps that "The Shadow Rising" was the first book of the series that I actually read, so my first exposure to Mat was when he was turning into a cool character).

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It might not change your mind one bit, but if it has been 20 years, it might be worth re-reading LotR. A lot of what you say is true, but some might be a little different than you remember. Again- not saying anything's gonna change, but it might.
If I can find them bundled for a decent price, I wouldn't be opposed to it. If nothing else, it would at least fit in my classic books collection next to things like Beowulf.

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"God Emperor" was truly painful. "Children" would have been a great ending, though I enjoyed aspects of book 5 and 6 very much indeed. His son created a huge, self-aggrandizing disaster of an ending, though, the way he deus-ex-machina'ed his own character to be the savior of the universe. Pretty sure his father had a different ending in mind.
Leto really did ruin things.

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I'd like to second this entire list of titles, though I'd include The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. I also did almost all of my Lovecraft reading over at dagonbytes.
I like hard copies, so it's annoying that there isn't a complete book of Lovecraft (as far as I know) like there is the complete book of Poe. I have 3 or 4 compilations of Lovecraft stories and yet still don't have everything that's on dagonbytes.

Oh, also, Pickman's Model is another nice one, with the added bonus that it ties into Dream Quest.
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Old December 20, 2015, 03:36   #20
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...Wheel of Time... Mat: he's a loser at first, but from the end of book 4 on, he's pretty much far and away the wisest character
He did spend a good amount of time sick with that dagger, then playing catch-up. He's definitely coming into his own, though my interest in Perrin is rapidly waning to balance it out, ha.

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Leto really did ruin things.
I actually meant Brian Herbert! But come to think of it, the fictional son was also pretty much a disaster.
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