Martin vs. Erikson

But objectively

That word always makes me nervous in aesthetic discussions…

No, when talking about the writing improvements of Erikson’s second over his first, it is pretty objective. Simply his ability to communicate what is going on is vastly improved. I don’t think it’s possible to read them both and not recognize the improvement in the second book, even if you don’t appreciate the content.

I don’t have any problem following Erikson’s plotting but perhaps that’s because I don’t feel a need to know everything all at once, I’m happy to just be immersed in his incredible world building, and I trust that Erikson knows where he’s going. There are some arcs that begin in book one and pay off in book three.

If you have the patience for it, Erikson’s work can be enormously satisfying.

I love Martin, too. He’s the author that convinced me to return to fantasy, after being driven away by all the ‘busty damsel’s in distress’ garbage that the genre used to be full of. And, thankfully, I’ve found many other authors writing the same kind of adult, integrated, fantasy. But Erikson’s work just hits me in the right spot: it’s got so much breadth it feels like history.

Erikson writes about a universe, Martin writes about people.

Erikson is what Frederik Pohl calls a ‘fiddler crab’ - one enormous virtue that outweighs his flaws. Martin’s only real flaw is his slow output.

IMO Martin is a better writer, in that he writes about human beings in a believable way, but I really like them both.

I loved Martin’s novels, although I stopped at the end of book 3 and I’m waiting to see where the series goes from here before I even decide whether I’m going to read book 4. I think those three books are the best fantasy I have ever read, bar none. Not even Tolkien can hold up given his weaknesses (mostly character) and Martin’s all-around competence.

Erikson, on the other hand, I tried because of the recommendations here. In keeping with the recommendation, I skipped Gardens of the Moon and went straight for Deadhouse Gates. I couldn’t make it more than about 50 pages in. I initially blamed it on the fact that I wasn’t starting at the beginning, but I later found out that most of that uncompelling, nonsensical shit that kicks off the book is actually the introduction of new characters, locations, and plots, unrelated to the events of the first book. So while I wouldn’t say I hate Erikson per se, I don’t ever intend to give him another try.

Brother. Sister. Fucking.

edit: And the only thing believable about other characters is how typical they are. The cynical dwarf who has to deal with people shitting on him. The evil father who doesn’t care about the dwarf and disowns his son when he’s no longer physically capable. The “brilliant” leaders who manage to surprise people at every turn.

I honestly just don’t understand what people like about Martin, unless what people like is how safe he writes.

Naturally, I disagree. I defy anyone to follow the arc of Itkovian, the Shield Anvil of the Grey Swords, and not be moved by it. Or Whiskeyjack’s arc, or Onos T’oolan, or the multitude of characters Erikson created that feel like they have authentic inner lives.

This is all subjective anyway, and I don’t think either author is without flaws, and I do love them both, but I prefer Erikson. Luckily, the world we live in is not binary, and we get to enjoy both of them :)

Actually I think people perceive Martin as ‘unsafe’. Killing off major characters, dynasty changes, etc. It may not be hardcore enough for everyone, but it’s enough for many Fantasy readers who have never have seen a major character die. I think the first major death shocked enough people who thought, 'Wow, this Martin has balls!"

I love Martin, but by now if I were a billionaire I’d buy the stuff from him and put a Lynch&Abercrombie tag team on the job.

Malazan. Well I read about half of Gardens and just forgot to get back to it. It wasn’t actually bad or anything. Just failed to grab me, can’t remember any characters or much of what was happening at all. I guess I’ll still get through them in summer when I can do the “one book in one sitting” thing

The poll options are retardibad.

I like Martin and tolerate Erikson. In Martin’s world, stuff happens and it matters, even on a small scale. Except AFFC, which should just be ignored for future continuity purposes, though I suspect Martin has lost love and control of his creation to such an extent that ADWD will be even worse than AFFC.

In Erikson’s world, everything is so epic it becomes meaninglessly bland. It’s like watching Dragonball Z after you’ve figured out the formula in the second season, except that you’re now in season 10. The epic events are impossible to care about because they’re so frequent and inconsequential.

Martin’s killing of characters may be unsafe, sure, but everything else about his world is pretty much by the book predictable. Randomly killing people isn’t enough to make that shit interesting to me.

I was shocked, I tell you, shocked, when what’s-her-tits acquired an army and steamrolled a bunch of cities! I was shocked that Robb ended up being a Great Leader! I was shocked when Jon Snow acquired Special Powers! I was shocked when Tyrion lost everything he’d been working for!

Honestly, the only thing you don’t see coming in those books are the random deaths. Because they are random. Shock value is all well and good, if you value you that. I prefer interesting characters and unpredictable storylines.

edit: also, the only reason I managed to read three books is because I asked a friend if certain events happened later in the books, because the only thing I was interested in was seeing things like Catelyn dying.

It seems to me there’s a fine line between what you admiringly call “unpredictable” and disparagingly call “random.” Usually if a story has been set up conscientiously, a perceptive reader can get some sense of what is going to happen, because the storyteller ought to follow his own rules and be true to the personalities of the characters he’s established.

I have never been particularly enamored of unpredictability in storytelling, which is perhaps a flip-side of my relative indifference to being exposed to spoilers. Mainly I want the characters to live and I want to look forward to reading the next chapter. In what I read of RR Martin, that was sometimes accomplished, but not consistently.


Dude, I really don’t think you read the books.

I wouldn’t really say that Robb became that great of a leader. He wasn’t willing to make the necessary sacrifices and did absolutely stupid shit like letting Theon go free (cause they were best pals) and putting way too much trust in bastards like Bolton.

Did you just skim over the text and miss a lot of the subtext?

Yeah well, I never got that vibe. It was always retconned as OMG A Betrayal!

Ehh, it was a while ago now and I don’t have a good memory for details. I knew I was probably making a mistake trying to detail stuff, but honestly, everything that happened short of the deaths was obviously going to happen.

Yep, that’s my answer too.

I generally didn’t see betrayals/deaths coming in Martin because of my long conditioning to assume that main characters will always survive (though not necessarily intact), no matter how perilous the situation or stupid the move. But that’s not to say that one couldn’t - many people in A Song of Ice and Fire die because they’ve managed to set themselves up to die. Robb’s wedding being an excellent example - he trusted untrustworthy people, offended the wrong people, then placed himself in their hands despite knowing perfectly well that they tended to hold grudges. Occasionally it’s been just plain wrong place/wrong time or being beaten in an honest struggle, but even those aren’t what I’d call random - they’re clearly necessary for the story to proceed down the tracks Martin wants it to.

Ehh, it was a while ago now and I don’t have a good memory for details. I knew I was probably making a mistake trying to detail stuff, but honestly, everything that happened short of the deaths was obviously going to happen.[/quote]

Understood…and at the end of the day you are certainly entitled to your opinion on the matter.

Understood…and at the end of the day you are certainly entitled to your opinion on the matter.