Martin vs. Erikson

I really wouldn’t say that Martin is “all around competent”. While I really enjoy his depiction of the Western Kingdoms or whatever the main continent where the main events take place is called, his depiction of the Eastern nations really leave a lot to be desired, because they’re totally crap and the way he writes them makes them seem like they’re made entirely out of paper without anywhere as much history and lore as the main setting. A single castle in the main setting has more history to it than entire cities in the East.

I don’t know if it’s because his interest in medieval kingdoms doesn’t extend to the Middle East and Asia, but they’re pretty bad, at least in the first three books. I don’t know if it gets any better in the 4th book. I’ll be controversial and suggest that maybe Martin just doesn’t really think much of Asian cultures. Who knows?

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.

Of course it’s unrelated to the events of the first book. They’re happening simultaniously on two different continents. Do you really need that spelled out for you? It even says so in the beginning of the book. That’s as bad as faulting Alistair Reynolds for doing the same thing with Revelation Space and Chasm City.

Furthermore, I think that the argument people often level against Erikson, in that his characters are “uncompelling” by contrast to Martin is fucking bullshit. Just because he puts a lot more effort into the setting and plot doesn’t make his characters any less compelling. It’s like arguing that better graphics result in less gameplay, and people do argue this a lot. For shitty, uncompelling characters, one needn’t look further than Tolkien, and I dare say that the world Erikson envisioned is far more compelling that Tolkien’s numerous trees.

Erikson managed to create a fantasy world totally unlike anything else, with characters and a setting that doesn’t happen to be plucked out of a generic European kingdom. Not that there’s anything with Martin doing it. Martin does it very well.

I’d also like to reiterate the fact that the poll is more retarded than a Darwin Award winner for being so incredibly polarized.

In terms of Erikson writing about events and things without providing backdrop I come down on the “yeah” side. He tells the story like someone in the real world would. He does not break the action to insert ten pages linking the piece in to the background. Instead later in the book or even in one 2 books later you get the context that makes the earlier event sensible. It proves he has a plan - 10 books and a sweeping epic of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. The payoff actually means rereading them is huge fun full of “aha” moments where you now get a new understanding of what is going on.

It will be interesting to see how Toll the Hounds will be received.

From the first comments it seems it’s a much slower and tamer book compared to the others, but the writing should be above everything Erikson wrote up to this point, with the main plot nudged in the corner to focus completely on some minor and major characters. And with an explosive conclusion that takes off 150 pages from the end (in the longest book in the series).

Sadly only a subset of readers who already love Erikson will read it, so we won’t be able to see a “fresh” point of view on it. I expect this eight book to polarize even more the readers, but the fun (for me) of Erikson is exactly how each book feels different and tries to explore different ways instead of sticking to the same path and retread endlessly.

I wish I had actually seen Dragonball Z so I could use that comparison myself.

Well, since you explicitly defy me: I can’t say I was moved by anyone in the three first Malazan books I read. There were a couple of characters I found somewhat interesting, and about half of the remaining I didn’t find actively annoying.

Also I wouldn’t call five or so a ‘multitude’, considering the sheer number of characters.

This did not bother me at all. I’m actually glad he managed to restrain himself from going into excessive detail about the eastern nations, which were at that time mostly a sideshow, and keep the focus on Westeros. It looks like he’s lost that ability to refrain from superfluous stuff now, which is what made the last book so bad.

The reason that I don’t find Erikson’s characters compelling don’t have anything to do with the effort he puts into the setting and plot, it’s more to that he generally can’t write characters I find compelling.

Honestly, I’d probably be able to enjoy Erikson if he just focused on the setting (which, though a bit too D&D epic-level-like at times, is different enough to be interesting) and kept the character stuff to what would be absolutely necessary.

Iskaral Pust, deeply layered and complex? In Deadhouse Gates, at least, he was barely even a caricature.

Odd Charles, I enjoy Ice & Fire mostly due to not being able to easily predict what’s going to happen, one of my pet peeves in storytelling mediums. To each his own.

Iskaral Pust is layered but not deeply, and it’s not complex. I put it there because I was thinking how he could compare to Kruppe, but still being a total different character (where Kruppe is pretending, so he can hide who he really is, Pust is instead really insane and not pretending at all. Where Kruppe is master of himself, Pust is mostly a puppet).

It’s a caricature, but I find it entertaining and interesting. He is maneuvered, but you are never sure how much he puts of his own and how much he is driven. He isn’t “flat” and has an aura of uncertainty. You can’t dismiss him as an innocuous character, yet he appears as so. And these mixes feelings are mirrored by all other characters that interact with him.

So what you can consider a “fun interlude” is also something more. So interesting.

Reading House of Chains right now, got to this part last night. It made me chuckle.

In Erikson’s world, even taking a piss is EPIC!

   A soft cluck, then the demon wheeled about and lifted a hind limb. Two penises dropped into view from a fold of flesh.
   Twin streams reached down to the sodden carpet.
   Kalam reeled back at the stench, back, out through the flap and outside into the chill night air, where he remained, on hands and knees, gagging.
   A moment later the demon emerged. Lifted its head to test the air, then surged into the shadows - and was gone.

A glance back showed steam or smoke rising out from his tent’s entrance, a whispering crackle slowly growing louder from within it.
A sputtering burst of flames erupted from where his tent had been.

Icarium, Trull, and Fiddler, each are worth more than any ten characters in Martin’s books, IMO. With the exception of Tyrion, of course. And there’s probably 30 more characters better than any character in Martin’s works.

But it’s no brother-sister sex!

Frankly, both authors could use better editing and more focus. Glenn Cook’s first Black Company book alone is a lot better than anything either Martin or Erikson has written, while having less than half the page count of either of their shortest books.

I found Icarium to be perhaps the most aggressively crap character in the three books of Erikson I read, although there were several contenders. I don’t think Martin’s characters are anything special, but they get the job done, at least.

What is your big hangup there, anyway?

Highly recommend Black Company to fans of either Martin or Erikson. I never thought about it, but there are some definite similarities between the Bridgeburners and the Black Company.

I don’t know, seems pretty straightforward. Incestuous royalty is tired and staid and predictable, entirely unlike, say, a character with amnesia driven to discover his hidden dark past, which is fresh and unpredictable and unlike any other world ever.

You know, I’ve tried three times to read that book, and I eventually get tired of it and stop. And it’s not even a long book.

I found Icarium to be perhaps the most aggressively crap character in the three books of Erikson I read, although there were several contenders. I don’t think Martin’s characters are anything special, but they get the job done, at least.

Actually, I was going to mention Icarium and his sidekick, but I couldn’t remember his name. Mappo?

What is your big hangup there, anyway?

Because I think it’s a huge black mark against the book series? I mean, it’s on the same level as furries or slashfics as far as I’m concerned. And there’s other incest themes too.

True, he’s not the most original of the characters in terms of motivation. But the execution is. So maybe he was a poor choice. Swap Icarium with Mappo straight up, then. If that’s his name.

Mappo Runt, yeah. The character whose sole role is to look worried and think worried thoughts interspersed with making reassuring noises at the amnesiac searching for a dark past.

Who I will admit has better characterization than the Kelly Gods temp worker who replaces him, who I nearly started playing a personal drinking game because of. Down a shot every time he spits in his hands and rubs them through his hair.

I enjoy them both. Their styles are so different I don’t like to compare them side by side. If pressed though, I would prefer Erikson simply because he has continued keeping up the quality and has done so quickly. Consider A Game of Thrones came out, I believe, three years before Gardens of the Moon and the 8th Malazan book is about to come out.

You’re taking a blender to your credibility. Not liking Martin and then not liking The Black Company? You can dislike one or the other, but not both.

For my money, the Black Company is simply the best fantasy book ever written from the grunt perspective.

I just want to say that this synopsis totally rules.

I agree completely. You don’t have to contrast his characters with Martin to find them “uncompelling.”

Again I agree, people do argue that a lot. However, sometimes it’s just less gameplay resulting in less gameplay, and the whiz-bang factor of great graphics alone doesn’t carry the same weight for everybody.


Very true. The poll is certainly less intelligent than even really stupid people.

Oof… I don’t know if I dislike you enough to recommend viewing it.

Let me summarize DBZ:

A bad guy shows up. Good guys appear on the scene, fight him one on one or en masse, and lose. Main good guy puts up an epic fight, takes some clothes off so his power rating shoots up to 9000, and puts up a better fight, but loses.

Bad guy starts contemplating ruling the earth or how to destroy it or launching a fighting tournament or something to stall.

Other good guys train to fight. Their power rating shoots up to 11000!

Main good guy is recovery from his beating. This recovery and training and occasional lackey fight is milked for about 10 episodes.

Final fight starts. Friendly lackeys get their asses handed to them. Main good guy fights bad guy, is about to lose or die, then suddenly his black hair turns blond and his power rating breaks the power rating meter! He then proceeds to beat the snot out of the bad guy, who usually tries to suicidally blow up the planet or something like that.

Next season, it all starts over again. Fight, main good guy out of commission, lackeys train, lackeys fight, lackeys lose, main good guy comes back, main good guy’s hair turns blond and ZOMG has electricity going through it, so naturally, when you literally have electric blond hair, you can kick the world’s ass.

Season 3, repeat. Main good guy glows white or something stupid.

OK, so other than everyone being epic and continuously becoming more epic, it’s not really a whole lot like Erikson.