Wednesday, 16 April 2008

The Claw of the Conciliator - Gene Wolfe

This is the second book of what was, apparently, voted the greatest fantasy of all time after Tolkien’s work. It has been described as a ‘masterpiece’, ‘one of the greatest novels ever written’, ‘incomparable’… All I can say is, the people who voted haven’t read much, and those writers I have quoted really should have known better.

For me this is quite possibly the dullest fantasy I have ever read. The language is annoyingly twee. Not the awful mock medieval of Morris and lesser writers who think that is how fantasy should be written; just prissy. It could be argued that as this is a first person narrative, this is the language of the narrator. Exactly my point. He is boring, prissy, totally passive. A wimp. Not even an amusing wimp. The only thing that keeps me reading is the vain hope he gets torn to shreds at some point and the story is taken up by someone more interesting.

The argument that the language reflects the character may hold true, but why go to the bother of creating such a lacklustre set of books? OK, it may all happen in the next two. Threads may be pulled together, something might happen beyond the attempts at meaningful encounter, and the dull plodding in between. I get the feeling I’m going to be disappointed.

And I will be left wondering just how bad the fantasy genre has become that this is considered the best.

(In a rare admission of defeat, I have decided not to continue reading these books. I dipped in the remaining two volumes and just found more of the same. Life's too short. - 26 April 2008)