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Author Topic: Books that have fallen out of favor with the crowds  (Read 9948 times)

Online Yora

Books that have fallen out of favor with the crowds
« on: September 21, 2015, 06:02:56 PM »
Some writers make it big and become hugely famous, but some of these also later get a much less positive reputation for various reasons.
I wonder how much of that is their own fault and what might just be a change of mainstream taste,

I remember Robert Jordan and The Wheel of Time being super huge in the late 90s. Now two decades later it seems the shine has mostly gone off. I rarely see any big praise for it anymore but even people who seem like fans readily admit that there's a very big drop in quality in the middle and the story just keeps dragging on forever.

The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks also seems to be often described as kind of outdated with it's success being attributed to people wanting more similar stuff after Tolkien had his breakthrough. But I don't really recall hearing any praise for it now.

And these days it seems like Terry Goodkind is regarded as one of the big pariahs of fantasy. I've heard of The Sword of Truth many times, but was it ever a big deal with mainstream success?

Offline xiagan

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Re: Books that have fallen out of favor with the crowds
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2015, 06:08:42 PM »
And these days it seems like Terry Goodkind is regarded as one of the big pariahs of fantasy. I've heard of The Sword of Truth many times, but was it ever a big deal with mainstream success?
Yes it was. Successful enough to make a horribly bad (or so I heard) TV series.

R.A. Salvatore isn't as big and acknowledged as he once was. I recently saw Ice Wind Dale and Drizzt Do'Urden board games, though.
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Online Yora

Re: Books that have fallen out of favor with the crowds
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2015, 06:33:59 PM »
Being most succesful with licensed works, I think Salvatore always stood somewhat excluded from "proper, high quality fantasy writers". You probaby just won't get the full recognition outside the dedicated circle of fans. He seems like someone who never got mainstream recognition despite being very successful. Discredited by default.

I read quite a lot of his books and particularly liked some of the earliest ones. I've read Drizzt until book 13 when it just had been too repetitive. (And I think there's well over 20 now.) And I think his cultural impact is actually quite significant. Gary Gygax had the idea of evil black elves who live underground, but Salvatore made Drow the classic icon of fantasy they are now.
Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery and he got immitated a lot. I don't think many writers can claim that to the degree that he does.
I don't really know anything about how well he's selling now, but when I stopped reading it felt to me repetitive and no longer inspired.

Offline JMack

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Re: Books that have fallen out of favor with the crowds
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2015, 06:37:51 PM »
Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series were national bestsellers back in the day, and considered very top notch fantasy. I don't get a sense there's much love for him these days. It may have to do with Covenant's central crime; but I think we were just as opposed and shocked by it in the past as we are today.

I ignore the second two series, and just stick with the first. I know not everyone agrees, but I think it's pretty great stuff.
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Offline tebakutis

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Re: Books that have fallen out of favor with the crowds
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2015, 07:04:46 PM »
Quote
Yora said:
The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks also seems to be often described as kind of outdated with it's success being attributed to people wanting more similar stuff after Tolkien had his breakthrough. But I don't really recall hearing any praise for it now.

I honestly think Sword has been overshadowed by Terry's other books, which is why you don't hear about it as often. I mean, I'm as huge a fan of Terry Brooks as anyone, and I'll freely admit Elfstones of Shannara (his second book) is far better than Sword.... which is why I feel MTV chose to adapt the second book in the series, rather than the first (which, as people often point out, is very similar to a condensed LoTR).

But the thing is, Sword of Shannara was Terry's first book... all writers, even published, should improve with each book they release. And Sword was what, 20 years ago? If I were in Terry's shoes, I wouldn't want people judging me by a 20 year old book. I'd want them to look at my recent stuff, instead.

If I had to recommend a Terry Brooks book for someone who's never read him before, I'd point anyone to Running with the Demon. It's still one of Terry's best books (IMO) and kicks off The Word and Void series, which remains my favorite series out of all his work.

Regarding Terry Goodkind, I did read through his initial run of Sword of Truth books and enjoyed them, for the most part, though I'll admit the last few were a chore. Way too many cases of characters monologuing the author's personal and political views in the latter half. Still, I found them an entertaining series, especially the books closer to the start. I hadn't heard anything about Goodkind becoming a 'pariah' since.. where did you hear that?

Quote
xiagan said:
Yes it was. Successful enough to make a horribly bad (or so I heard) TV series.

Eh, Legend of the Seeker wasn't actually that bad... it just wasn't Sword of Truth. The arc bore a passing resemblance to the books, and the characters shared names, but really, it was more of an updated Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Slightly corny, but better than you'd expect. Just forget the books and it works.

I think if the exact same show (Legend of the Seeker) had come out without the expectations and plots attached to Sword of Truth, with a different title, it might have done better. If you take the show on its own (forget the books and the characters... consider it a 'alternate universe') it's no worse than Hercules and Xena, and in some cases, even more entertaining. I'm all for more light fantasy popcorn fare.

Offline ClintACK

Re: Books that have fallen out of favor with the crowds
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2015, 07:24:59 PM »
Some writers make it big and become hugely famous, but some of these also later get a much less positive reputation for various reasons.
I wonder how much of that is their own fault and what might just be a change of mainstream taste,

Lots of different things going on.

Elfstones of Shannara holds up today -- but the many other novels in that series never really worked for me.

Sword of Truth -- the first book or two were okay, if a bit out there (see: S&M Aes Sedai), but then it went off the rails.

Honor Harrington -- the first five or so books are great, then the quality starts to fall off.

Wheel of Time -- a few dragging "middle" books and now the series is done, so the excitement has worn off some.  At least half the fun, ten years ago, with WoT was theorizing about how it was going to end.  (For the record: I called the whole
Spoiler for SPOILER:
Callandor as a dark-magic sa'angreal which he'd use to shove the Dark One back into his hole
thing way in advance.  But I missed tons of other things.)

Game of Thrones -- brilliant, but starting to drag in the middle (as massive epics seem to do) -- in part because he was forced to split a book in two because of the constraints of hard-copy publishing -- but mostly because the slow writing pace is leaving us all hanging.  This may also suffer from the "theories-were-half-the-fun" problem when it's completed.


I would have put Chronicles of Amber right at the top of this list.  They were spectacular, twenty or thirty years ago, but they haven't worn well over time.  A lot of the feel is off, I think.  And the things that made them great have been copied and morphed and made cliche.

I wonder how Wizard of Earthsea would play to a modern audience -- would it feel like a pretentious takeoff on Harry Potter?



Offline Hedin

Re: Books that have fallen out of favor with the crowds
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2015, 07:53:18 PM »
Game of Thrones -- brilliant, but starting to drag in the middle (as massive epics seem to do) -- in part because he was forced to split a book in two because of the constraints of hard-copy publishing -- but mostly because the slow writing pace is leaving us all hanging.  This may also suffer from the "theories-were-half-the-fun" problem when it's completed.

I don't really buy the constraints of hard-copy publishing argument with ASOIAF.  I would have believed that if Winds would have come out within a year of Feast as promised but really the issue has some down to an influx of bloat that Martin wasn't able to control.


Offline Rostum

Re: Books that have fallen out of favor with the crowds
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2015, 08:19:11 PM »
Two series spring to mind Julian May's many coloured land and Phillip jose Farmer's to your scattered bodies go.
Both sci-fi fantasy crossovers, both enormous fun but they ran their course. Maybe if HBO find them they will be the next big thing.

If you haven't come across them you need to give them a go.

Offline leterile

Re: Books that have fallen out of favor with the crowds
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2015, 09:07:25 PM »
More sci-fi than fantasy, but Orson Scott Card has taken a hit for his political views. I don't know why it should matter what his political leanings are, but some are boycotting his books and movies because of it.

Offline Raptori

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Re: Books that have fallen out of favor with the crowds
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2015, 09:14:29 PM »
More sci-fi than fantasy, but Orson Scott Card has taken a hit for his political views. I don't know why it should matter what his political leanings are, but some are boycotting his books and movies because of it.
In his case it matters because he uses his income to campaign against gay rights and the like. I have no problems reading something written by someone whose views I disagree with, but giving money to someone who actively campaigns about things like that is crossing the line for me. And that's coming from someone who really enjoyed OSC's work.
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Offline DrNefario

Re: Books that have fallen out of favor with the crowds
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2015, 09:31:41 PM »
But the thing is, Sword of Shannara was Terry's first book... all writers, even published, should improve with each book they release. And Sword was what, 20 years ago? If I were in Terry's shoes, I wouldn't want people judging me by a 20 year old book. I'd want them to look at my recent stuff, instead.
Sword of Shannara was 1977, so closer to 40 years ago. I never liked it much, myself, but it probably did a lot to pave the way for the genre we know today. It bored me, and I never read anything else by Brooks. I can be ruthless sometimes. But maybe if you want me to read a later work, don't set everything in the same world. I hate not starting at the beginning.

How about the Belgariad? That was huge in the 80s, and these days seems to have been repackaged as YA. I loved that when I was the same age as Garion, but came to see it as very mechanistic and formulaic, with one of the worst prophecy-driven plots going.

Online Yora

Re: Books that have fallen out of favor with the crowds
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2015, 10:31:18 PM »
More sci-fi than fantasy, but Orson Scott Card has taken a hit for his political views. I don't know why it should matter what his political leanings are, but some are boycotting his books and movies because of it.
In sci-fi you obviously have also Heinlein. Who is dwarfed to insignificance by Hubbard.

Offline Elfy

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Re: Books that have fallen out of favor with the crowds
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2015, 10:32:54 PM »
Two series spring to mind Julian May's many coloured land and Phillip jose Farmer's to your scattered bodies go.
Both sci-fi fantasy crossovers, both enormous fun but they ran their course. Maybe if HBO find them they will be the next big thing.

If you haven't come across them you need to give them a go.
I kind of hope no one does try and bring Farmer's Riverworld to the screen. They'd mess it up. I can't see them casting anyone I'd agree with as Burton. Sort of related to this is a series of blog posts that Adam Whitehead (better known as Werthead) is doing on his blog. He's covering the history of Epic Fantasy, he's up to number 12 so far. It's quite interesting reading. If anyone is interested just cruise on over to: http://thewertzone.blogspot.com.
I will expand your TBR pile.

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Offline JMack

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Re: Books that have fallen out of favor with the crowds
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2015, 03:42:52 AM »
More sci-fi than fantasy, but Orson Scott Card has taken a hit for his political views. I don't know why it should matter what his political leanings are, but some are boycotting his books and movies because of it.
In sci-fi you obviously have also Heinlein. Who is dwarfed to insignificance by Hubbard.

Dwarfed to insignificance by Hubbard? Do you mean for wierd views and misue of money?

Meanwhile, I have to say that Hubbard's Battlefield Earth was a monumentally fun guilty pleasure.
As for Heinlein, I recently read "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls" and got whiplash between being charmed, bored and just aghast at his bizarre sexism (which I'm sure he would never have seen that way). I think my favorite of his was "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress."
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Offline CameronJohnston

Re: Books that have fallen out of favor with the crowds
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2015, 08:51:33 AM »
Wheel of Time - The middle books dragged...and dragged and dragged, which really discourages a re-read for me (and probably most people). But people persevered because they wanted to find out how it ended. I still really like books 1-7.

The Sword of Truth - I still enjoy the first and second book, but that series really did lose its way :\

Shannara series - some books just show their age as time marches on, and I think these ones really do. However, his Landover books are still enormously fun and I always preferred them.

R.A. Salvatore - I adored The Dark Elf and The Icewind Dale series, and after that it just seemed to become more and more of the same old.


I think, in the end, it just boils down to shiny new and interesting series' coming out that get people talking (A Song of Ice and Fire, Gentlemen Bastards, etc), and gradually older works fade away from the forefront of reader consciousness.

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