September 28, 2020, 10:25:46 PM

Author Topic: Battles, sieges and duels , do there do anything for you?  (Read 499 times)

Offline eclipse

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Battles, sieges and duels , do there do anything for you?
« on: August 14, 2020, 08:06:50 AM »
Duels can become a bit boring especially 1v1 sword duels that’s why I gave up reading drizzt from Salvatore you always know he would win. The excitement just wore off for me.

Sword training schools are so boring to read. No excitement at all for me.

Magical 1v1  duals on the other hand I don’t mind as there seem different and not the same repetitiveness of a 1v1 sword dual  only restricted by the writers imagination.

Now battles are a mixed bag for me. I love the Glen cook,  Erikson small squad in the battlefield in the thick of the fog of war not knowing if one of the characters you love  will get killed off or will survive.  I also love it if there’s some genius general who uses tactic , Sabotage, and spy’s to win and not brute force . That’s why I liked Janis from Wexlers  shadow campaign


But some battles bore me too   Page after page with no end in sight like the lord of the rings movie and GGK novels too slow paced.


Sieges same as battles really I think I need to like and be involved with a character to enjoy a good written siege. K.J Parker can write some excellent sieges.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2020, 08:13:50 AM by eclipse »
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Online ScarletBea

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Re: Battles, sieges and duels , do there do anything for you?
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2020, 09:02:24 AM »
You're going to be amazed eclipse, but I agree with you :o ;D

Especially this:
I love the (...) small squad in the battlefield in the thick of the fog of war not knowing if one of the characters you love  will get killed off or will survive.  I also love it if there’s some genius general who uses tactic , Sabotage, and spy’s to win and not brute force .

To be honest, I haven't read many books with the boring type of battles, at least not lately. But on films, oh definitely... That's why I can't be bothered with the superhero films, Marvel, X-Men and the like. I tried watching one or two recorded from TV and ended up fast-forwarding on all the fights, hehe
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Battles, sieges and duels , do there do anything for you?
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2020, 12:10:04 AM »
In general, physical action and the related tension does not excite me. But that doesn't mean I can't find a scene engaging if it's primarily physical action. For me, the core tension needs to be about character - so it's less "how will he win this swordfight?" and more "can he overcome his fear of this dude and his nervousness about his mother watching to triumph?" The actual swordfight details are waaaay secondary, for me, to those character-questions.

I've heard a lot of people say that Parker's Sixteen Ways is a terrible siege because there aren't enough actual siege-things taking focus. But for me, it was perfect because it focuses on the people-tensions in the city, and the tensions within Orhan himself regarding what's happening, what problems he needs to solve, what decisions he needs to make. That's the interesting stuff. The siege is just the problem, what's interesting to me is the solution.

But everybody finds different things interesting, it's part of what makes fantasy such a wide and interesting genre. :)

Offline hexa

Re: Battles, sieges and duels , do there do anything for you?
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2020, 05:05:28 AM »
For magical duels, I recommend Schooled in Magic by Christopher Nuttall

For sieges, I recommend The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Offline Magnus Hedén

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Re: Battles, sieges and duels , do there do anything for you?
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2020, 08:11:20 AM »
To cut it to the bone, no action is interesting unless:
  • I'm emotionally invested in the outcome.
  • Said outcome is uncertain.
Whether it's a small fight between friends or an epic battle between empires doesn't matter. I need to know what's at stake for the POV character, particularly on an emotional level. Without that any conflict is going to feel flat and unengaging.

If the storytelling is done well, I'll read a book about anything. Like a fantasy battle (The Heroes), a fantasy siege (Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City), or one man against a really big fish (The Old Man and the Sea).

Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: Battles, sieges and duels , do there do anything for you?
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2020, 08:34:24 AM »
Magic duels are probably my most favorite, since they can vary tremendously from book to book. I really loved personal duels too, since it's so intimate and seemed like a personal struggle between characters. To a lesser degree I like large battles when they're done well (Bernard Cornwell, for example). Sieges are probably my least favorite, since they're usually so drawn out, but if done well I also liked those. Training schools are pretty decent too, if done well.

Offline Neveesandeh

Re: Battles, sieges and duels , do there do anything for you?
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2020, 10:12:05 AM »
I'm a big fan of action films, so usually battles hold a big appeal to me, though maybe not as much as they did when I was younger. That said, having an overpowered character guaranteed to win takes a lot of the fun out of fight scenes for me.

One of the things that really put me off the later 'Traitor Son' books was that the battles took up more and more of the books. There were thousands of POV characters I didn't remember and didn't care about, constantly fighting huge battles in places I couldn't keep track of all the time and it was impossible for me to follow what was happening. It was exhausting. Those books would have been vastly improved if the number of battles had been reduced to two or three per book.

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Re: Battles, sieges and duels , do there do anything for you?
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2020, 11:39:17 AM »
One of the things that really put me off the later 'Traitor Son' books was that the battles took up more and more of the books. There were thousands of POV characters I didn't remember and didn't care about, constantly fighting huge battles in places I couldn't keep track of all the time and it was impossible for me to follow what was happening. It was exhausting. Those books would have been vastly improved if the number of battles had been reduced to two or three per book.
I agree, I ended up only reading the first one because of the extreme military detail that also put me off. I guess the main reason is that the author's a proper historian and re-enactor and let his knowledge be present in every single scene...
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Offline Peat

Re: Battles, sieges and duels , do there do anything for you?
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2020, 03:18:35 PM »
I like reading about violence so I'm down.

That said, it can be tricky to do right.

I can remember how some of the fights in Bernard Cornwell's books, or David Gemmell's books, go just like that. They stay with me.

I can't remember squat about those in Jade City, or The Poppy War, although I recall reading them happily enough.

Add Kerr to the first pile, Mistborn to the second... I can't tell you why, but something about some live on and something about others don't.

At a guess it's not just about the emotion and stakes, it's about imparting a sense of dynamism and knowledge without getting caught up in detail

Offline cupiscent

Re: Battles, sieges and duels , do there do anything for you?
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2020, 12:53:59 AM »
To cut it to the bone, no action is interesting unless:
  • I'm emotionally invested in the outcome.
  • Said outcome is uncertain.

I think 1 is WAY more important here. I remember reading a book that had a big dramatic scene where the character had to climb up a rope. And I got very bored reading it, because I felt like the answer to "Would she make it?" was "whichever outcome the author had decided would be more interesting for the story right now". This was just a transition to the next emotionally-invested scene; there was nothing innately emotive about climbing this rope.

What would have made it more interesting? I'm not sure, and I think there are a number of ways to come at that. Having had her try and fail earlier gives it more involvement in the plot - the rope is an old nemesis! Having her receiving good advice from an emotionally-important character that she remembers in the pinch and uses to triumph - that might give more punch. Tying the physical action to as many emotional things as possible!

But I guess my TL;DR point here is: just having the outcome uncertain doesn't guarantee reader buy-in. And sometimes, things can still be tense even if you know how it's going to turn out, but you don't know how or what it will cost.

Offline Peat

Re: Battles, sieges and duels , do there do anything for you?
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2020, 11:39:12 AM »
The very best duel I read happened so early in the book with the protagonist narrator fighting, so the outcome was pretty obvious... although the author managed to make me forget that somewhat

However

- it served to illustrate several facts about the character and world
- it came built on the climax to two-mini arcs between the character and others
- it conveyed a big sense of violence and movement

There were no big epiphanies, no level up, no heavy emotional connection (although plenty of small ones), but there were enough little details that it was just captivating and real.

Offline Alex Hormann

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Re: Battles, sieges and duels , do there do anything for you?
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2020, 01:55:58 PM »
The only thing I love more than a siege is a long retreat story. I love the scale of them, and all the tactical problems they bring. Same for pitched battles. I love, love, love logistics, and could read page after page of details about the minutiae of it all. I'm a big fan of anything beyond a singe character or group of characters, which these things tend to be.

Duels I quite like, but they can get repetitive after a while. The best ones read like Jackie Chan fights, where they take full use of what's available to them. Two people whacking each other with swords doesn't do much for me after a while.
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Offline Rostum

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Re: Battles, sieges and duels , do there do anything for you?
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2020, 12:24:29 AM »
Like anything else if well written or directed Battles, sieges and duels can be gripping or at least have gripping moments.

Sieges were dull and boring for the most part while you try to starve out a fortified enemy, and they wait on the hope of relief. Possibly the only thing worse to be involved in is naval blockade. There are no good outcomes and usually a very bad one for one side.

Read The Siege by Ismail Kadere for a truly horrific fictional account.

Battles are chancy things but  a damn sight safer than duelling to the death which historically has a short shelf life most cultures run out of madmen and get to a first blood rule fairly quickly as winning can end you if your society takes a dim view of murder.

The Duellists is worth a look as is Dangerous Liaisons. The sword work is excellent in both, and they impart the tension and risk well.