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Author Topic: The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker  (Read 9259 times)

Offline Quill

Re: The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2016, 07:40:09 PM »
I have to ask, what on earth is meant by "dozing to Byzantium"? I obviously haven't read the aforementioned work by Stephen King. If it's too complicated to explain, never mind, but if someone can briefly explain, I'd like to know.
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Offline eclipse

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Re: The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2016, 08:33:24 PM »
I'm sure no insult was implied, people like different authors and that's great.
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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker
« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2016, 09:35:37 PM »
His quote was: “No one can be as intellectually slothful as a really smart person; give smart people half a chance and they will ship their oars and drift…dozing to Byzantium, you might say.”

I used it to allude to the common negative reactions that I have seen of Bakker's work (not on this forum but in person), many of which indicate closed minds and slothful thinking. People seem to want enjoy a violent world where people fight with swords and fire, but not rape! That's too far!

Discussions with this forum's members that I have seen of such things as depictions of rape indicate a culture incompatible with Bakker's use of them. I am not saying they are wrong for their opinions (more power to them!), but to me, having experienced real brutality, violence, and death, I find his depictions spot-on, and find his accuracy and consistency refreshing.

Some people want their versions of the human condition filtered like a PG or R movie - I liked Bakker's made-for-grownups world where sex, violence, and depravity existed alongside their nobler cousins.
The Gem Cutter
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Offline Quill

Re: The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2016, 09:57:53 PM »
I see, I'm guessing that's an allusion to Yeats then.
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Offline Madness

Re: The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker
« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2016, 03:26:04 AM »
I am one of the above-mentioned new members to the forum who is a big Bakker fan.  I am currently approaching the end of my own first draft, so I have not read the new book yet, but I plan to as soon as I can.

Well met, TGM. I think TGO is the best volume so far and particularly rewarding in terms of capitalizing on setup from the preceding volumes - if only the publishers could have given it more respect in terms of copy-editing, cover art, etc.

I'm sure no insult was implied, people like different authors and that's great.

+1

I used it to allude to the common negative reactions that I have seen of Bakker's work (not on this forum but in person), many of which indicate closed minds and slothful thinking.

Some negative reactions are straight-up derision too. I think it implies something about how it's not enough for some people interacting with ideas that offend and challenge preconceived notions to just ignore them. Ideas that destroy some long-held sense of self need to be killed outright, or risk they spread ;).

I see, I'm guessing that's an allusion to Yeats then.

I was going to make a comment about Simmons' Hyperion duology but then realized that Keats is more so the running metaphor in those books. Still great books though :).

Offline Quill

Re: The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker
« Reply #20 on: July 21, 2016, 12:03:54 PM »
Small letter, big difference. :)

Hyperion is indeed a great read, though.
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Offline Madness

Re: The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker
« Reply #21 on: July 27, 2016, 06:59:27 PM »
Canadian release was yesterday (!!), though, I had to call a Chapters to find out that they were actually getting shipped physical copies. Currently in Ontario, Chapters, Coles, and Indigo stores list The Great Ordeal as "this item is online only and is not available in any store."

Also, Bakker recently appeared on the Grim Tidings Podcast, which has previously done amazing episodes with Abercrombie and Erikson.

Offline JamesLatimer

Re: The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker
« Reply #22 on: August 02, 2016, 04:41:21 PM »
I remember back in the early 00s when there was a bit of a dearth of "serious" fantasy (at least, what seemed "serious" to me at the time) and a lull in the publication of ASOIAF (iirc), I remember looking at Amazon reviews and elsewhere and trying to decide between Bakker and Erikson - that seemed the big choice on the next big thing at the time. In the end, I plumped for Malazan, but I never got that far with it, and moved on to other things.

Years later I picked up TDTCB on a whim and it really clicked for me (two prologues and all!), so I reckon I made the wrong choice all those years before. One of many lessons that I should take a few more risks and not listen to popular tastes. (Haven't got round to the second book yet, but then I rarely complete series these days!)

Offline Madness

Re: The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker
« Reply #23 on: August 02, 2016, 07:19:39 PM »
I highly recommend you read The Warrior-Prophet, JL :).

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker
« Reply #24 on: August 02, 2016, 08:59:52 PM »
So, I just broke my rule and took a 24 hour break from writing to read, and I chose the Great Ordeal. I have been an outspoken admirer of the PoN series, and to a lesser extent, the subsequent books.

I did not enjoy the Great Ordeal, and saw in it elements that not even I can defend. His style has always been a little high-handed in tone, and often distractingly dense. The Great Ordeal intensified these faults to an extent not even I could enjoy. I think he needs an editor to assist him in presenting his vision, as there were many laboriously obtuse sections that could easily have been honed to greater effect.

I have never taken issue with the misogyny that many others hate Bakker's work for, but in this case, I had to side with the crowd. I understand very well that he was presenting a misogynistic world, but prudence dictates that he carefully discriminate between the unsavory ideals of unsavory characters, and his own authorial asides, which I happen to often enjoy. The reference to women having smaller souls offended even me, and struck me as a poor decision for introducing little if any value, at a great cost among female readers. In this case, any backlash is not due to hypersensitive readers, imho.

Given the excitement I had for the work, I feel exceptionally disappointed. I will read the next book, as I won't write off an author for one bad apple, so to speak, but I hope he identifies his issues and corrects them. There were little/no issues with the ideas presented (outcomes and reveals, etc.), only in execution. Too many confusing moments. In too many places in the narrative he deliberately withholds whose perspective the narrative is following, making it neither enjoyable to read, nor clear what is being read. I don't expect authors to pre-chew my food, but I do expect the dish to be fully cooked.

Overall, I liked a lot of it, but I wonder what happened to the crispness and clarity of the first three novels, and question the thematic balance of his world, or rather, the lack of it.
The Gem Cutter
"Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Offline Madness

Re: The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker
« Reply #25 on: August 04, 2016, 05:05:26 PM »
So, I just broke my rule and took a 24 hour break from writing to read, and I chose the Great Ordeal. I have been an outspoken admirer of the PoN series, and to a lesser extent, the subsequent books.

I did not enjoy the Great Ordeal, and saw in it elements that not even I can defend. His style has always been a little high-handed in tone, and often distractingly dense. The Great Ordeal intensified these faults to an extent not even I could enjoy. I think he needs an editor to assist him in presenting his vision, as there were many laboriously obtuse sections that could easily have been honed to greater effect.

I have never taken issue with the misogyny that many others hate Bakker's work for, but in this case, I had to side with the crowd. I understand very well that he was presenting a misogynistic world, but prudence dictates that he carefully discriminate between the unsavory ideals of unsavory characters, and his own authorial asides, which I happen to often enjoy. The reference to women having smaller souls offended even me, and struck me as a poor decision for introducing little if any value, at a great cost among female readers. In this case, any backlash is not due to hypersensitive readers, imho.

Given the excitement I had for the work, I feel exceptionally disappointed. I will read the next book, as I won't write off an author for one bad apple, so to speak, but I hope he identifies his issues and corrects them. There were little/no issues with the ideas presented (outcomes and reveals, etc.), only in execution. Too many confusing moments. In too many places in the narrative he deliberately withholds whose perspective the narrative is following, making it neither enjoyable to read, nor clear what is being read. I don't expect authors to pre-chew my food, but I do expect the dish to be fully cooked.

Overall, I liked a lot of it, but I wonder what happened to the crispness and clarity of the first three novels, and question the thematic balance of his world, or rather, the lack of it.

I didn't want to cut up the quote to respond, The Gem Cutter, because prospective readers have a right to perceive all kinds of reviews and what you wrote was very articulate :).

To a couple points:

- TGO's editorial process sucked. As far as I know, right around when Bakker submitted his manuscripts for TGO/TUC circa. end of year 2014, his editor - the only person at Overlook familiar with the series - abruptly quit. I absolutely concede the editorial issue as fans have found more errors than Overlook's copy-edit did, much less pacing issues, outright seasonal notation errors, or formatting consistency across the series that fall under an editor's purview.

- I can't make a case for the gendered and sexed issues within the text, because I largely don't understand them as Bakker's intended to present them (which I imagine lean heavily on feminist philosophy regarding issues of human form and identity) and simultaneously don't understand the obviousness of the "social justice warrior" response to the text. But that women have "lesser" souls within the narrative has been confirmed out of text as early as 2008:

Quote
- Are there specific themes you wanted to explore in this second series?

Specifically, I’m interested in what it means to live in a world where value is objective - which is to say, to live in the kind of world our ancestors thought they lived in. Could you imagine, for instance, what it would mean to live in a world where, say, the social and spiritual inferiority of women was a fact like the atomic weight of uranium. Biblical Israel was such as world, as were many others.

- Regarding the "incompleteness" of TGO; it's book three of four. It's clearly a divisive book, even among fans. But it holds the narrative weight of much of the two preceding TAE volumes and the PON before that and has to do so unable to offer much conclusion for TAE as a whole.

Anyhow, just thoughts for the pyre, no contention to differing tastes :). That's the beauty of fiction in that different texts can so speak to different readers.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2016, 05:07:45 PM by Madness »

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker
« Reply #26 on: August 04, 2016, 05:34:22 PM »
This is interesting to me, as my thoughts on various works were always unilateral, and hearing some of the goings on behind the scenes is enlightening.

My criticisms with this particular novel aside, I have absolutely enjoyed Bakker's writing, and in particular his characterization of traditional stereotypes which were colorful and refreshing-to-the-point of Binaca-blast/York Peppermint Patty WHOOSH!

 I often find myself in such forums as a lonely voice for his style, but I suppose that makes sense.  I know men who have killed enemies with their bare hands - and Bakker gets it right - they way they act, the way they think, the way things are.  But if I hadn't had that savage background, how would I know? And how would I receive the naked and unpleasant truths of human nature and, gods protect us, from groups of humans?

For me, staring at the same old ideas of the Wizard, the Warrior, the Chick, the King, etc., his works opened my eyes to my own self-imposed limitations. I think he has tremendous strengths, and I look forward to seeing them develop over time. He's still quite young, and probably not near his zenith.

In a world where so many young and talented writers have neither the courage nor the talent to break new ground, writers like Bakker, even with his faults, are even more important. I'd prefer his glittering geometries to others' "fireball, level 4" any day, and all night.

- Gem Cutter
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"Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Offline Madness

Re: The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker
« Reply #27 on: August 06, 2016, 05:53:45 PM »
This is interesting to me, as my thoughts on various works were always unilateral, and hearing some of the goings on behind the scenes is enlightening.

So far, I don't think any book in TSA has suffered more because of "behind the scenes issues" than TGO.

To complicate matters regarding this release in particular, we did two book giveaways via the Second Apocalypse forum, Grimdark Magazine did another, and the Grim Tidings podcast a fourth, and then the Overlook publicist who handles Bakker's work quit about a week before TGO came out (and still hasn't been replaced as far as I know).

EDIT: This has made Canada's release... fairly anti-climatic as, since WLW, Penguin Canada has dropped Bakker and opted to do nothing but distribute Overlook's volumes in the future.

My criticisms with this particular novel aside, I have absolutely enjoyed Bakker's writing, and in particular his characterization of traditional stereotypes which were colorful and refreshing-to-the-point of Binaca-blast/York Peppermint Patty WHOOSH!

Lol - criticisms abound, man, it's cool :).

I often find myself in such forums as a lonely voice for his style, but I suppose that makes sense.  I know men who have killed enemies with their bare hands - and Bakker gets it right - they way they act, the way they think, the way things are.  But if I hadn't had that savage background, how would I know? And how would I receive the naked and unpleasant truths of human nature and, gods protect us, from groups of humans?

For me, staring at the same old ideas of the Wizard, the Warrior, the Chick, the King, etc., his works opened my eyes to my own self-imposed limitations. I think he has tremendous strengths, and I look forward to seeing them develop over time. He's still quite young, and probably not near his zenith.

In a world where so many young and talented writers have neither the courage nor the talent to break new ground, writers like Bakker, even with his faults, are even more important. I'd prefer his glittering geometries to others' "fireball, level 4" any day, and all night.

- Gem Cutter

Lmao. Cheers, Gem Cutter. It's still nice to connect with the disparate readers across the intraweb, if only as a reminder that we're out here.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2016, 05:57:07 PM by Madness »

Offline Jonny_Anonymous

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Re: The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker
« Reply #28 on: August 18, 2016, 09:12:42 PM »
I'm a fan of Bakker, I'm just really bloody slow at getting through book series.
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Re: The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker
« Reply #29 on: September 27, 2016, 01:11:28 PM »
An excellent book. Bakker is easily my favourite writer. 'Cant wait for the Unholy Consult'. Hu, by the way, I am new.