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Author Topic: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley  (Read 12952 times)

Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2014, 10:07:40 PM »
Remember that there is a difference between generic writing and clean, sharp writing.

This largely comes down to subjective preference. When people talk about clean, sharp writing, they're often referring to lean prose. There is no reason everyone should write lean prose, or that every reader should want to read it. And in fact they do not. There is a tendency to conflate personal preference with some objective measure of quality. This is particularly prevalent among aspiring writers because, in my opinion, it is comforting to cling to some objective notion of how one should write and one would be successful. So people try to frame their preferences in that manner. Of course, a simple tour of the shelves in any bookstore will demonstrate that this idea is empirically false.

Not everybody should write lean prose. I agree with you on that. On the flipside, it takes just as much skill and experience to write good sharp prose as it does to write good purple prose. But to say there is no objective "right" way in some form to writing is like saying that because I enjoy clunky writing, that makes it acceptable. The analysis by AJZ showed one example of Staveley's clunky writing (the second sentence). Subjective defense of it does not make it good writing.
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Offline Steerpike

Re: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2014, 10:12:41 PM »
Not everybody should write lean prose. I agree with you on that. On the flipside, it takes just as much skill and experience to write good sharp prose as it does to write good purple prose.

True. Doing either one well takes a lot of skill (and in the later case, if done well I don't consider it 'purple,' though others define it differently).

I don't find those sentences to be all that clunky. They're not stellar, by any means, but they're fine. Which I suppose goes to prove that whether or not they are clunky is a matter of opinion, which gets to the point I was hoping to make.

Offline Charlemagne

Re: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2014, 10:59:41 PM »
Also: was I the only person who got sick of 'Kent-kissing'? Maybe because I listened to the audiobook, but that really started to grind on me after a while.

And let's not forget 'Shael-spawned! I wasn't listening to the audiobook, just reading on my kindle, and it still ground on me immensely.

I didn't enjoy this book - it felt like it had potential, but that it was thrown away. I quite enjoyed the first quarter and the ending, but otherwise I found it to be repetitive, boring, and often wholly predictable. Each POV had their own flaws: for Kaden, the boredom of his plot line. For Valyn, it was his rash impetuousness that made it hard for me to like him. For Adare, it was the fact that I expected her to be a main character. She wasn't.

I found the secondary characters to be enjoyable in both Kaden and Adare's plot lines, but not Valyn's. As Arry has already pointed out, they either felt like stereotypes or were just bland and boring.

And though the ending brought back the pacing and excitement that had vanished in the past quarter of the novel, the way it was resolved was very disappointing - but that's all I'll say  about it!

I have a more detailed review on my blog (link below) if anyone's interested, but, long story short, I thought that though his book had much promise, it did not fulfill it. I'll follow Staveley's progress as an author, but I'm not sure I'll pick up the sequel to this one.
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Offline SkynJay

Re: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2014, 02:35:28 PM »
The farther I get from reading this book the less it stands out.  When I finished it I thought it was iffy at best but ended fairly well and thought I would probably read the second.  A couple months later even that has left me, I wonder if I will even care by the time we get to it.  The hype machine sure picks strange candidates at times, this reminded me of The Unremembered in how fast it went from the next big thing to barely talked about.

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Re: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2014, 05:01:47 AM »
I haven't read this book (yet) but I have to say it amazes me people can magically judge the quality of any novel on its opening page.

This is not to say that the book was bad, I did not say it was. I said "decent at most." And by the reviews it is getting, for the most part, it's about there.

Remember that there is a difference between generic writing and clean, sharp writing.

This largely comes down to subjective preference. When people talk about clean, sharp writing, they're often referring to lean prose. There is no reason everyone should write lean prose, or that every reader should want to read it. And in fact they do not. There is a tendency to conflate personal preference with some objective measure of quality. This is particularly prevalent among aspiring writers because, in my opinion, it is comforting to cling to some objective notion of how one should write and one would be successful. So people try to frame their preferences in that manner. Of course, a simple tour of the shelves in any bookstore will demonstrate that this idea is empirically false.

I also never said anything about writing leaner or lean prose. The point in the matter is that writing in a piece must be concise and revealing of characters, setting, plot, and so on: How could this author have written it so that we are shown more of the relationship between father and daughter? That is what my analysis asks.

As for judging a whole novel by the first page, I can honestly say this. I am usually a harsher judge. When I see a book on a shell. I open to the middle and read a paragraph of description. Then I flip to another chunk and read a segment of dialogue, if you impress me with both, I will be buy you.

So why the judgment for this novel's start? Well, firstly, I haven't seen it in person. Secondly, this thing was over hyped. So now judgment takes place online.

Thirdly and finally, a novel's start is one of the first things a publisher will see and read, so to avoid rejection pile, write a strong beginning. Thusly, many author's put a lot of work into their openings and endings. If the author isn't as sharp as they could be, their middle segments will falter; hence why I judge a book by its middle.

But this is why I had an issue with this author. His start faltered, and analyzing the structural problems these sentences can tell us a good amount of information about the work. I would say his first two sentences are a bit clunky, but by no stretch of the imagination are bad, but they did give me a note that I picked up on. And the note was, as I explained, was on an author who would tell us things in round about ways and needlessly giving information or repeating it (this includes stating the same thing differently).

Also, I never said this book was bad, based on one page. I made an analysis of the novel and how the author wrote. And based on seeing his skill level, it appears that I was about right. With this quoted from the first poster Arry:

Don't get me wrong, I did like this book, but the level of explanation and repetition was tedious at times. I think it also likely made the book more predictable. If the story had been tightened up, the excess explanations and repetition stripped away, my rating of the book would have been much higher. But, once again, this may fall to my preference for writing style, others may disagree with me. I know there are a number of highly successful books that I would have this same reaction to.

Prose do not have to be leaned down to be good. I would never make that argument. They can be great thin, average, or thick. And personal stye never needs to be sacrificed, if the work is good. And another thing, If I had to say anything about prose "thickness," I would say that leaner prose is not a thing I favor. I dislike the work of Hemingway and his minimalism, but I cannot deny the fact that it was good and well written. I can and always will admit an author's skill if it is present. I don't see much in this novel; Stavely is not up to that skill level yet. He does have some skill in other areas, but will need some work to get his other weaknesses up to par.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2014, 09:24:34 PM by AJZaethe »

Offline Arry

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Re: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2014, 09:41:33 PM »
this reminded me of The Unremembered in how fast it went from the next big thing to barely talked about.

Aptly named I guess. And just to prove your point, I haven't heard of that one :)

ETA: or if I had heard of it, I don't remember.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2014, 11:06:22 PM by Arry »
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Offline Lando33

Re: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
« Reply #21 on: March 13, 2014, 12:10:25 AM »
I recently finished Emperor's Blades and have to say that I enjoyed it. I will definitely pick up the sequel when it is released.

Offline Arry

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Re: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
« Reply #22 on: March 20, 2014, 10:03:17 PM »
I recently finished Emperor's Blades and have to say that I enjoyed it. I will definitely pick up the sequel when it is released.

Glad to hear it. While I have said some negative things, it is a fun read, so it is good to hear just positive reactions as well.
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Offline Francis Knight

Re: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
« Reply #23 on: March 20, 2014, 11:28:34 PM »
I haven't read this book (yet) but I have to say it amazes me people can magically judge the quality of any novel on its opening page.

I can't

But I can judge if I want to read on.

As can many people, if you ever watch the browsers in a book shop

If the first page doesn't engage (for whatever reason -- clunky prose, uninteresting start, abundance of cliches whatever) then people are unlikely to get to the second.

The first page needs to suck the reader in. If it doesn't....



Anyway, this book (and I didn't get far) was not for me. But then I'm damned picky.
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Offline sennydreadful

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Re: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
« Reply #24 on: March 21, 2014, 08:57:20 AM »
I haven't read this book (yet) but I have to say it amazes me people can magically judge the quality of any novel on its opening page.

I can't

But I can judge if I want to read on.

As can many people, if you ever watch the browsers in a book shop

If the first page doesn't engage (for whatever reason -- clunky prose, uninteresting start, abundance of cliches whatever) then people are unlikely to get to the second.

The first page needs to suck the reader in. If it doesn't....



Anyway, this book (and I didn't get far) was not for me. But then I'm damned picky.

And with the advent of the "kindle sample", I suspect that opening page is even more important - I have an entire folder on my kindle filled with samples that didn't lead to a book purchase. I think I have a sample downloading compulsion. :s
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Offline JMack

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Re: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
« Reply #25 on: March 28, 2015, 12:36:43 AM »
So I wanted a recorded book to listen to, and this was inexpensive enough on iTunes, so I took a shot. I'm probably a quarter in? And agree with Arry's first post here.

With two additions: I don't find the characters and their reactions believable, and I don't find assassins at all admirable.

Reactions aren't believable for me because every sentence of action or dialogue is followed by five sentences of thinking about the action or dialogue. Meanwhile, it seems that the writer is just making up backstory every time he wants it. Kayden has seen innumerable deaths on the battlefield. Er, he's a cadet? Etc.

Assassins. Well, fantasy does tend to be a violent genre (as if others aren't). And really, in this case, change a few things and we just have "special forces". These soldiers may be called upon for assassination (unfortunately) in the RW, but it isn't how they primarily identify themselves to my knowledge. The idea that a price of the empire is not only allowed to join, but self-identifies as an assassin seems pretty ludicrous.

I've been reading another book with assassins for justice, and I just struggle with the whole thing.

I have another addition, but it's going into an old post of mine.

Meanwhile, all this said... it's an okay diversion. Especially because of the kent-kissing actor doing the audio. I've said before that I can do tedious books on the CD player and actually enjoy them. That's what's happening here. If I were reading the actual book,mid probably put it down.
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Offline Ryan Mueller

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Re: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
« Reply #26 on: March 28, 2015, 03:51:07 AM »
Am I the only person here who really enjoyed this one?

Offline Raptori

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Re: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
« Reply #27 on: March 28, 2015, 10:48:58 AM »
I read it a while back so I'm not entirely sure exactly what I thought of it. Only gave it three stars on GR though, and whenever I see the sequel mentioned somewhere I have an ambivalent reaction. Guess I found it okay but not brilliant.  :-\

@Ryan - I've seen some people raving about it, so you're definitely not alone! :)
 
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Offline Arry

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Re: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
« Reply #28 on: March 28, 2015, 11:50:46 PM »
Am I the only person here who really enjoyed this one?

I enjoyed it! I just didn't think it was worthy of the "Will be the Best Book of 2014" hype it was getting (also felt that was setting an unfair bar for the book). I loved the second one! :)
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Offline Ryan Mueller

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Re: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
« Reply #29 on: March 29, 2015, 05:23:59 AM »
Am I the only person here who really enjoyed this one?

I enjoyed it! I just didn't think it was worthy of the "Will be the Best Book of 2014" hype it was getting (also felt that was setting an unfair bar for the book). I loved the second one! :)

I don't think I'd so far as to say it was the best book of 2014. One of the best debuts, yes. But there were a lot of great books this year.