Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"When I Played in the Sandbox, the Cat Kept Covering Me Up." -- Rodney Dangerfield

Greetings, y'all! Dave the Troublemaker here, with another exercise in vapidity.

Thought I'd wait a couple days for the uproar to die down a bit before moving on with life. It certainly has been an experience. It certainly hasn't been limited to the comments section of my blog. Over at the EatFeats site, the thread discussing this issue is about to top 100 comments, and is still growing, including comments from most of those that participated in the event. Very interesting to me. The most interesting details of this "controversy" I don't feel comfortable mentioning yet. Some behind the scenes stuff going on that I don't want to jinx by blabbing about it out of turn. I'm sure I only know a tiny bit of it in any case. I mean, who am I other than just some schmoe that happened to be filming the right thing at the right time? If something good comes out of this for the industry, then I'll consider it a good thing...

Making progress on the camp video already. It would be cool if I could get it done in the next week or two. If I do get it done soon, you should all chip in and get me a prize or something...

I finished The Red Wolf Conspiracy, by Robert V.S. Redick last night, and let's just say, by biggest fear was realized... here's the review...

The Red Wolf Conspiracy, by Robert Redick: A Review
This will be a strange review for me to write. The bottom line could be summarized thus: the first 85% was among the very best novel reading/writing I've ever fed to my brain. It was terrificly written: great characters, terrific setting, wonderful action, an awesome sense of internal consistency, and was written with confidence and clarity I haven't seen anywhere else. I was all set to give this book the highest of possible praise, and implore you all to drop everything and find a copy.

Then the bottom fell out...

It was almost as if another writer took over. I feared the possibility that the tale would fall apart, but the closer I got to the end, the less likely I felt that would be. I mean, it just was such a great read, and showed no signs of stopping. Imagine my shock when one baffling storyline choice sent the tale careening out of control, only to be sewn up nicely (and quite unsatisfactorily) in a nice little bundle. I don't know what happened! How could the author go from such overwhelming quality and success to tripping and falling down the rabbit hole? I've never seen such a turn-around in a book before. I've had books fail to hook me, I've seen books that hiccup and stumble and finally peter out, I've seen books start off slow and build up to a wonderfully fulfilling conclusion... but I can't think of another example of a single book starting off so well, holding onto that level for so long, and then dive-bombing into the abyss like this one.

So, do I recommend the book, or not?

There are many, many characters... usually, that is a negative with me, but Redick is so masterful at introducing them and making them ridiculously memorable, I had no problem at all tracking the characters (literally a couple dozen major characters). It was like an ensemble movie done right... like a Murder on the Orient Express, where many different characters are introduced and then thrown together in a single place - in this case, an ancient, oversized, magical boat (the Chathrand) sailing on a multifaceted mission. It is a fantasy tale, complete with magic and kings and villains and grit and intrigue. Plots intertwine, wars are planned, attacks are survived, lies are told (and unraveled) and difficult situations overcome. To try and talk about even a sampling of the characters would take way too long.

But a point is reached where it turns from the sublime to the ridiculous, almost on the turn of a dime. For those that have read this before, it was where the youths dive on the shipwreck. Let me leave it at that. That won't spoil anything for anyone else, I don't think. From that (ridiculous, incongruous) point onward, loose ends are tied up so neatly and with such speed, it left me crestfallen. The ending was just silly to me. Silly and forced, and it just felt different than the rest of the book. It left me wondering if a different author took over the book. Or maybe for some reason the author was forced to change the ending he had in mind. Or maybe he just grew sick of the story and felt compelled to force an ending. There must have been a very strong reason for the story decisions that were made at that point. It truly left me baffled.

So, again, how do I present a review? Do I recommend the book? Most definitely. An incredible, complex, highly successful story, with outstanding characters, deftly handled. Just prepare yourself for what might be a precipitous drop toward the ending. Perhaps you'll be just fine with the ending, who knows? All I know is, at this point, while I can solidly recommend this book based on the strong positives, I am very hesitant about reading the next book in the series, The Ruling Sea, which just came out in hardback in February.

Summary: 4/5 In spite of (what I felt was) a shocking drop in storytelling in the end, I still think the strengths of the book make it as close to a "must read" as possible, to my mind. It would be interesting to hear the author speak on the writing of this book, to see what the dynamics were behind the story choices he made in the ending. He obviously is a terrific, confident author.


So that's that.

I have so many projects going now, that I'm trying to juggle, it's crazy. Not sure what to address next... I'd flip a coin if there were only two choices. Guess I could roll a 20-sided die...

I better head off for now. I trust all of you are doing well. Lots more to talk about, but I'll let it all cook more before spilling it here.




Abbie said...

yay dave, glad the camp video/slideshow is coming along great! maybe we can use some of the audio of the rap as background music :) I'm suppose to type up the words, but I haven't gotten around to it yet... let me know if you need them or anything and that will spurr me on, lol :)

Rebekah said...

The quote/title for your post is great. I laughed pretty hard.

Hope you're having a great week!

Rebecca said...

I am looking forward to reading The Red Wolf Conspiracy. I'll probably download it onto my Kindle! But will I be tempted to throw the book across the room like I almost did when George RR Martin killed off Ned Stark?...or all the other major players in that family? Grrr...it brings up bad memories.

I love all the controversy you are stirring up! I am too much the coward, and avoid conflict and disgruntlement.

Can't wait to see the camp vid.

logankstewart said...

Yahoo answers cracks me up.

I just floated over to the linked thread and wow, you've got that place in an uproar. Awesome. I don't know what could be done about it, but still it's pretty cool.

Sorry the book wound up flipping on you. It sucks when that happens.

Vye said...


Just because Dave usually forgets to post a spoiler alerts doesn't mean you should. tisk tisk... :-P


It's crazy how you always get all kinds of attention on this blog. heh. Good stuff.

logankstewart said...

By the way, I was watching tv with Keisha the other night and one of the characters said something about setting up a Google Alert and I immediately thought about your blog. Apparently people really do use it for something.