J. Wurts, To Ride Hells Chasm. #spoilers#

nj1

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Well, having read a number of posts about how good Janny's books are, I decided to take the plunge and have a look, (I already knew of her work with Fiest on the Empire series).
Anyway, noticing that a few people have recommended TRH'sC, I decided to start there as it's apparently a stand alone novel.

My first thoughts were that there was a bit too much description and the first few chapters were a struggle to descern what the heck was going on :confused:. Thinking back now it was well written if that was the intention of the author to create that atmosphere.
Once I got past that first part the book just grabbed hold and I couldn't put it down :D(except for a few days suffering from a severe head cold :mad:).
I really enjoyed the way the book started out as a mystery as in what happened to Princess Anja and who was the sorcerer's minion?
Then a mad dash for survival from the minions of the Sorcerer through Hell's Chasm. The inclusion of the six horses was genius and to give them names and characters of the own made them all the more real, (you just knew one of them would survive:D).
I also really liked the way this book was tied up. The difficult decision for Anja and healing of Mykkael through the 'song' of the clan was superbly though out. It was nice that he recieved his clan's acceptance since he had feared contact all his life.

The only bits I felt needed more attention was the battle with Devalls honour guard and the lower garrison/ ladies of the court:D.

A few quick questions to anyone who's read more of JA's work,
As this was my first real encounter with her work, are her other books as good?
Does the magic in her other work follow these lines, i.e with demons linked to Sorcerers and shamens/Viziers, spel lines etc?
And what is the best book to read next? (another stand alone or start a series?)
Thanks.
 

dekket

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nj1,

Welcome to wonderful world of reading the works of Janny Wurts.

Yes, her other books are as good.

The systems of magic in each of her bodies of work are all different, although all are very well explained, highly detailed, and well fleshed out.

My first exposure to Janny's work (other than the Empire series collaboration with Raymond E Fesit) was the Cycle of Fire trilogy, which was one of her earlier pieces.

But if you are willing to jump right into a long series, the Wars of Light and Shadow series is (in my opinion) by far the best.
Start with Curse of the Mistwraith (I am currently in the middle of my upteenth re-read).

Enjoy!
 

Clansman

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nj1:

Ditto to what Dekket said! I re-read TRHC just a couple of months ago for the purposes of reviewing it, and prior to my re-read I had forgotten how the pace increases relentlessly towards the end. It is surprising how many people say exactly what you said about description at the beginning, that it seems to bog down a little, and then it really takes off. Most of her books are this way, and you quickly learn to appreciate this style. The reader really gets paid off. However, if a person hates description of any kind (and there are a few), then Wurts is not for them.

To answer your questions:

1. TRHC is, I think, her best stand-alone novel. The others are Sorcerer's Legacy and Master of Whitestorm, and both are really fun reads. SL is particularly fast, and it was her first novel. Aside from the Empire series, she had The Cycle of Fire series which Dekket mentioned, which I liked, but it was not my favourite. Her Wars of Light and Shadow series is by far her best work (I have referred to it elsewhere as her Magnum Opus). If you love epic fantasy, and if you loved TRHC, you will love this series.

2. Her magic in TRHC is unique from her other series. Dekket started a thread on the use of magic in The Wars of Light and Shadow which touches on its main themes, but they are remarkably well-explained and underpinned with a texture that makes them seem real. The magic in Master of Whitestorm is different yet again, and in Cycle of Fire it is an interesting blend of supernatural and scientific.

3. I agree with Dekket, hop right into the Wars. You have eight big novels just waiting to be gobbled up, and the ninth will be released in 2009, so your timing is perfect. Only another 2 novels after that, and the series is finished. There are also some short stories you won't want to miss: Child of Prophecy, Sundering Star, and Reins of Destiny. There is another story coming out shortly. I re-read CotMW in 2007, and am currently in the midst of its sequel, Ships of Merior (among others).

You may want to check out her list of publications at Trystane's Website: host for the Janny Wurts Offical Webpage and the Don Maitz Official Webpage, but keep away from the chat area until you read the books. JW loves to surprise her readers with amazing plot twists, so if you get spoiled, it robs a lot of the enjoyment from the read. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
 

nj1

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Thanks for the replys

I guess I'll be starting the Wars of light and shadow series as soon as i can get a hold of the first one:):) although I think I'll void the web site for now Clansman, at least until I got a better feel for her works;)

I'd like to add that I really liked the way the story was rapped up at the end, I've read many a stand alone novels and in most theres always more than a few loose ends to annoy me, but this one was ended so smoothly that I can't think of a single reason to take the story any further.
and in regard to the magic, what I liked was it made sense when reading it and that she took the time to write an apendix at the end of the book to exlpain the way the magic worked was a nice touch.
 

Clansman

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JW is the mistress of the loose end. Her latest book, Stormed Fortress, tied up loose ends from five and six books ago, that I had forgotten about or ignored. It is mind-boggling how she keeps all of the threads of her narrative straight, and then remembers to resolve them all. I am sure that the other Janny fans (Dekket, Grimward, Procrastinator, Gollum, et al) would agree on this point.

However, instead of just in one book, she has done it over eight books in The Wars of Light and Shadow. Give yourself time in the first book, Curse of the Mistwraith, as it is the set up book for the whole series. The last third of the book really races away though, just like TRHC.
 

Ross

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Tonight, I will finally enter the world of Janny Wurts and I will Ride Hells Chasm to get there;)

Brilliant joke I know.:rolleyes:
 

Ross

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Just finished this while on the coach going to watch the wonderful Sheffield United beat Charlton 5-2 and I have to say the book made my day just perfect:D

Absolutely fantastic read and I have to say thank you to mainly Clansman and Grimward for persuading me to pick her!

Here I come Curse of The Mistwraith.:D
 

Lord Soth

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Well, i have just finished this book and I wastn that inspired to be honest. As I have mentioned in the CotM thread it was her work with Feist which brought me to try her out. Really didnt like CotM and didnt finish but it was suggested I try this.

Dont get me wrong for me it was better (than CotW), but I wouldnt read another of her books, theres too many other authors out there I find so much more appealing.

From my (albeit limited) experience, her writing and plots just do not excite me. I find her female heroins (sp) to to almost too perfect, and her male characters to be visions on what she (in a generalised version of what a woman wants in a man) wants and not realistic.

Some points that really didnt make any sense - the way Jendry continually disrespected Mykkaeland he let him get away with it (I know you will say about the outsider/highter class system but that would be utter **** in this case) was ridiculous, and put there to forward the plot.

The way the women defeated Devalls honour guard was glossed over and just daft, the end where Anja's royal blood line was linked and broke the spell etc etc - all too twee. I even found myself glossing over some paragraphs towards the end - although the fact I have 3 Gemmell books waiting to be read may have spurred me on a little.

Anyway, my foray into Wurt's work is over, think I'll try something else in the future!

LS
 

Grimward

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Hmmm, sorry you didn't like it Soth (have said it elsewhere, but have to repeat it, your namesake is one of my favorite SFF villains of all time!).

I have finally finished Hell's Chasm. Reading it after having the benefit of her evolved style as found in Wars of Light and Shadow, one can see that Janny's experimenting with her devices a bit (example: the "teasers" commonly found as stand-alone plot anchor points in the Wars of Light and Shadow books are used sparingly here, and occasionally embedded within chapters instead. I too thought the use of the horses was absolutely brilliant, and further echo Clanny's comment about tying up loose ends (remember that Mykkael learned early in the book while searching for clues as to where Anja had gone that a team of horses had been stolen....it seemed almost irrelevant at the time, and one doesn't even immediately make the connection when Mykkael first encounters Anja via witch-thought in the midst of horses because it's not yet known that she's traveling with them).

I enjoyed the book quite a bit, although I expected the demon/sorceror/shape changers/minions to make a final appearance and challenge the shamans, Mykkael and Anja at the end, especially after dispatching the Grand Vizier with such relative ease. They never really did, and the heretofore "unknown" demon kind of just joined the ranks of the "known". With the sorceror's bid to subdue Sessalie foiled, it would seem that things are ripe for a sequel, but all indications indicate this will continue to be a standalone story. These minor grievances notwithstanding, it was quite the engrossing read.

One question: I think I missed this in the book, but why do the upper class citizens call Mykkael "Myshkkael"?
 

Clansman

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Quote from Grimward: "One question: I think I missed this in the book, but why do the upper class citizens call Mykkael "Myshkkael"?"

Probably for the same reasons that the Brits say "Darby" and us North Americans say "Derby" (although we say it the way it is spelled).
 

Connavar

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I read this book.


Interesting writing at times but the lack of interesting story,characters made me not enjoy this book. I read around half of it and it coulndt hold my interest. One of those books i had to give up on.

I might read more of this author but not a book like this one.

The lack of interesting characters really put me off. The dirty desert desert bred Captain was too generic, how they mentioned that all time. What no respect for a military leader ?

I have to compare to Joe Abercromie quality series i read recently, even Feist Magician was easier,better reader.

I will read the rated series she wrote with Feist cause i liked those japanese like people in the original book. Also might read her solo works again because her prose was interesting.

Next solo book of hers i read most be faster,more adventure or more interesting story/characters.
 

GOLLUM

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Next solo book of hers i read most be faster,more adventure or more interesting story/characters.
In that case you'll probably want to read her earlier works including the stand-alone novel Master of Whitestorm and the Cycle Of Fire trilogy. The latter series does employ some fantasy tropes but the books are well written and contain an interesting storyline. I feel you're more likely to enjoy those books than her current Wars Of Shadow and Light Epic series....:)
 

nj1

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Seems a shame that you didn't finish it Connavar as the second half of the book really picks up in pace and adventure IMHO. As i stated above the first half was a bit slow, almost detective style, but once the chase is on the pace is much quicker, its almost like two different types of books.
 

GOLLUM

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Yes, I should have mentioned that actually. Definitely picks up in the second half.
 

Fried Egg

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Here is an extract from my review after recently finishing this book:

It is an entertaining, if not particularly original story and the world in which the reader is immersed is convincingly constructed. Janny Wurts obviously has talent, her prose is elegant and her narrative style conventional. The only problem I have with her writing is she lacks economy with words. She embellishes her descriptions to distraction. Situations are described in a many faceted way, from the perspective of different characters. I found her style suited more the first half of mystery and intrigue than I did to the second half of action, in which her "wordy" approach only served to diffuse the tension.

Overall, I did enjoy it, I just wish it was a few hundred pages shorter. I expect I will try something else by this author, probably another stand alone novel.


An interesting point of note here is that I actually preferred the first half of the book and thought it was more suited to her writing style. An opinion that appears to be at odds with what most others think...
 

Clansman

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I liked both parts of the book in equal measure. I am not an action junkie, and intrigue and suspense to me are much harder to pull off than an action story (look at the plethora of Hollywood films that are pure action, but that lack any kind of suspense. The last decent suspense/action film out of Hollywood was The Fugitive. The last really good suspense film was The Silence of the Lambs. Those are almost 20 years old now.

Interesting thoughts, FE. I like her wordy style, as it, to me, does a much better job of putting me into the place of which she is writing. When I read fantasy, I want to be swept into the world, as I was with Tolkien when I was 14. Her descriptive style does that for me. It also slows me down, which is one of her stated aims. You have to read Wurts slowly, or you miss things, sometimes very important ones.
 

Fried Egg

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Interesting thoughts, FE. I like her wordy style, as it, to me, does a much better job of putting me into the place of which she is writing. When I read fantasy, I want to be swept into the world, as I was with Tolkien when I was 14. Her descriptive style does that for me. It also slows me down, which is one of her stated aims. You have to read Wurts slowly, or you miss things, sometimes very important ones.
I'm not saying I didn't miss anything, that could well be the case, but I don't have a problem with slowing the pace of my reading. I often find myself doing that with the textually dense writing of some of my favourite authors like Lovecraft, Dunsany, CAS, etc. In these cases I simply slow down automatically and re-read passages often in order not to miss anything but also simply because it is a pleasure to read. With Wurts though I didn't feel that I wanted to be slowed down. Very much a matter of taste though I think.

Another point of note here, when comparing her writing to the other authors I mentioned, is that these guys wrote mainly short stories and short novels. Perhaps even from these authors it would have gotten a bit much after some seven or eight hundred pages (as was the case with "To Ride Hell's Chasm")? Even the legendary, epic (and exceedingly "wordy") "The Worm Ouroboros" by Eddison is only five hundred pages. Like I said, if only TRHC was a few hundred pages shorter, I think I would have enjoyed it, and her style of writing far more I think.
 

Connavar

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Seems a shame that you didn't finish it Connavar as the second half of the book really picks up in pace and adventure IMHO. As i stated above the first half was a bit slow, almost detective style, but once the chase is on the pace is much quicker, its almost like two different types of books.

The thing is epic fantasy isnt subgenre i prefer, you must capture me with the characters when its slow in the first half.

The writers i have read and enjoyed was slow and better second half but they had characters like recently Glokta in Blade Itself.

I cant waste time on books who doesnt show potential in first half.

Her character work was too weak.

I liked her word style,thats why i havent given up on her after this book.
 

Grimward

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It's a common practice within Wurts' epic fantasy (although certainly not a rule!) for character building to evolve slowly, with a long string of nuances used to both paint the character and also occasionally turn the reader's assumptions about the character upside down. Mykael's character is complex, but not all over the map, and since Wurts takes great pains to describe his rigid adherence to vigilance and discipline, I can see where it would make for a long read if one wasn't interested in that type of character....I can't quite get to "weak", though, Conn.

Can definitely agree, however, with the need to be captured by the characters, in my case regardless of whether the pace of the story is slow or not. Janny usually does a good job of this for me, "annoying" me just enough with what isn't described that I have to read on looking for it, then finding it in the midst of a place least expected. I've learned to let my "capture" here be a constant process during the journey when reading one of her works.
 

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