Mark Lawrence

HareBrain

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My question is why would you tell me I'm wrong (or lying?) about what I attempted to do? I tell you that the book challenges the reader to respond to a complex character and form their own opinion. I tell you the challenge is to mix together the issues of his guilt, crimes, youth, charisma - to consider how long a shadow crimes of youth cast down our years - to consider to what degree if any youth and background extenuate - to see what elements of the character resonate with readers - to examine our own reaction when the evil-doer is charming and how that contrasts with our feelings when a coarse and ugly villain does those same things - I say all that and people often appear to insist that whilst they end up hating/disliking/condemning Jorg ... _I_ am desperately trying to make them love him? Surely that would mean I've done a piss-poor job of it? :D Duh, if I wanted to make everyone love him why wouldn't I just make him an nice person who does nice things? I can't follow the logic of that line of thinking.
But surely the reader's reaction to Jorg will be very much coloured by the fact that Jorg is the viewpoint character. Readers want and attempt to identify with viewpoint characters, it's a basic fact of reading life, and you need them to do this otherwise they won't engage with and therefore finish the book. You can argue that you don't want readers to like him, but that strikes me as being disingenuous. By writing him as the viewpoint, you have automatically made him more sympathetic than he would be as a similar non-POV character or as someone the reader meets in the street. So I would suggest it's not a real challenge, or at least you've stacked the deck in his favour.
 

Mark_Lawrence

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But surely the reader's reaction to Jorg will be very much coloured by the fact that Jorg is the viewpoint character. Readers want and attempt to identify with viewpoint characters, it's a basic fact of reading life, and you need them to do this otherwise they won't engage with and therefore finish the book. You can argue that you don't want readers to like him, but that strikes me as being disingenuous. By writing him as the viewpoint, you have automatically made him more sympathetic than he would be as a similar non-POV character or as someone the reader meets in the street. So I would suggest it's not a real challenge, or at least you've stacked the deck in his favour.
The original inspiration for the book was Burgess' A Clockwork Orange - also first person. The power of first person is undeniable - it can be subsumed into the 'charisma' part of the discussion.

I'd rather we didn't reach immediately for words like disingenuity, it sets a pointlessly adversarial tone. When you say "can argue that you don't want readers to like him" that in itself is misleading. It implies that I'm arguing I want people not to like him. In fact I'm not arguing anything - I _know_ what I was aiming for. And here I am telling you. I was aiming for a balance - for the questions of liking and approval to be grey - for different people to make different choices in the matter.

I was certainly interested in the power of 1st person writing to win over a reader despite their natural revulsion to the character's deeds. I was interested to see how many readers would be engaged by the character, how many would like him, how the cards would fall. I had no interest in pushing the equation so far past the tipping point that there was no question left, no ambiguity. That would be dull.

The fact so many people shout 'You want us to love him - but I don't." seems to imply that it all worked out quite well.
 

The Judge

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I can see why no one has ever bothered to ask you questions about the book. Let's just say you write well, but logic, or courtesy, perhaps isn't your strongest suit.
 

Mark_Lawrence

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I can see why no one has ever bothered to ask you questions about the book. Let's just say you write well, but logic, or courtesy, perhaps isn't your strongest suit.
As a professional scientist I would hope logic was one of my strongest suits.

As someone wrongly accused of quite distasteful aims you see what level of courtesy you achieve.

& people ask me questions about the book daily. They just don't ask the questions we've just exchanged views on - as I pointed out. And I suspect the reason for that omission is simply that as we've just seen, the issues are so easily refuted they're left clutching nothing but arguments about tone ... which seem ironic!
 

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But surely the reader's reaction to Jorg will be very much coloured by the fact that Jorg is the viewpoint character. Readers want and attempt to identify with viewpoint characters, it's a basic fact of reading life, and you need them to do this otherwise they won't engage with and therefore finish the book.
I would just like to point out that is not true of all readers. Certainly not in my case. I don't always need to identify with the protagonists of a story. It can be just as enjoyable reading about interesting characters, who one doesn't identify with in the least.

I certainly realise that many readers do want that out of reading and will never enjoy a book where they can't. So be it, such readers should avoid books such as this. But I think it's worth pointing out that not all readers want the same thing out of reading.

Also I think that many readers are uncomfortable with characters who aren't clearly and distinctly portrayed either as heroes or villains. They don't like it when a character is simultaneously likeable and detestable. If a character does something that they regard as unforgivably evil, they don't like it when on the next page they find in other ways they are likeable. I suppose it makes them uncomfortable. They don't want to like someone who is so evil.

But isn't that more realistic? Most likely even the most villainous people in history would have had likeable aspects to their personality. I don't see why Mark should be lambasted for making such a character the protagonist of his book.
 

Ursa major

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Most likely even the most villainous people in history would have had likeable aspects to their personality.
Agreed, FE.

It strikes me that the most implacable doer of 'evil' would not so much be the cardboard-cutout villain, who does things because he or she believes themselves to be 'evil' and they do "what evil people do", but someone/a group of people who has/have convinced themselves that what they're doing is for the 'greater good' (what ever meaning they bring to 'greater' and 'good').
 

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I would just like to point out that is not true of all readers. Certainly not in my case. I don't always need to identify with the protagonists of a story. It can be just as enjoyable reading about interesting characters, who one doesn't identify with in the least.
Doesn't consciously identify with, sure, but I thought readers tend to identify to some extent at a subconscious level, or at least their brains make them try to, with pretty much any character in an immersive (close-third or first-person) text. I'll take your word for it that you don't, but I think I do whether I want to or not (e.g. with all the viewpoint characters in ASOIF, whatever I think of them as people). I accept that I might have made a massive generalisation based on my own experience.

It strikes me that the most implacable doer of 'evil' would not so much be the cardboard-cutout villain, who does things because he or she believes themselves to be 'evil' and they do "what evil people do", but someone/a group of people who has/have convinced themselves that what they're doing is for the 'greater good' (what ever meaning they bring to 'greater' and 'good').
True. To choose the easy cliche, a skilled enough writer could easily portray Hitler as a sympathetic (though, er, flawed) character who genuinely believed his decisions were for the benefit of his people.
 

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1/ Who ever said that there is no ethnic diversity in the Europe Jorg inhabits? That’s somebody else’s invention, not mine.


2/ Why on earth is the population of a repopulated Europe a thousand years in the future after a slate wiping nuclear war supposed to reflect what’s there now? Ethnic cleaning? A nuke cleanses the ******* top soil! It doesn’t care what colour the skin it burns off is!
I didnt really mean the ethnic cleansing comment, it was hypyrbole. There is ethnic diversity in the world of the series. There is that Moor in the second book, Africans like Nuban. What i wondered was why there was no black,asians who belonged in Europe and didnt come from the outside? Group of non-whites who were people of Ancrath or Arrow?

Did make you it this way because you were making the readers think it was medevil Europe and not future Europe? The Nukes killed alot of people but why didnt the colored Europeans survive in any number? You cant make a future of modern Europe where there is no diversity of people who call the future France,Europe their homeland. It doesnt make sense unless the world is not our future Europe but a fictional second world where the people can be all white or green for all i care.

It must reflect the now because its not likely all Europeans like me will go back to Africa in the future.

Maybe there is better explaination in the third book or maybe there isnt i for why Europe looks so different in few 1000 years.

The magical negro was a stereotype i expect to see in modern fantasy. Nothing to diss this book for. Its nothing too positive but you take the stereotype,clichè for what it is. Im not bitter about how Nuban was written,died. I dont expect book like this to be social realism....
 

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I didnt really mean the ethnic cleansing comment, it was hypyrbole. There is ethnic diversity in the world of the series. There is that Moor in the second book, Africans like Nuban. What i wondered was why there was no black,asians who belonged in Europe and didnt come from the outside? Group of non-whites who were people of Ancrath or Arrow?

Did make you it this way because you were making the readers think it was medevil Europe and not future Europe? The Nukes killed alot of people but why didnt the colored Europeans survive in any number? You cant make a future of modern Europe where there is no diversity of people who call the future France,Europe their homeland. It doesnt make sense unless the world is not our future Europe but a fictional second world where the people can be all white or green for all i care.

It must reflect the now because its not likely all Europeans like me will go back to Africa in the future.

Maybe there is better explaination in the third book or maybe there isnt i for why Europe looks so different in few 1000 years.

The magical negro was a stereotype i expect to see in modern fantasy. Nothing to diss this book for. Its nothing too positive but you take the stereotype,clichè for what it is. Im not bitter about how Nuban was written,died. I dont expect book like this to be social realism....
It's easy for me to imagine a few generations after an apocalyptic event society degenerating into intense tribalism, and ethnic cleansing quickly following that. Fighting over scarce resources, territory, and the general animosity of the mob toward "the other" would lead to it. Also those crackpots in our current society who like to accuse certain groups of being a fifth column working to subvert society would probably be given much more credence when society actually was brought down to a desolate, smoldering ruin. A lot can happen in a thousand year dark age. Some day I wouldn't mind reading a book or two on that period. (I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic fiction.)
 

Connavar

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It's easy for me to imagine a few generations after an apocalyptic event society degenerating into intense tribalism, and ethnic cleansing quickly following that. Fighting over scarce resources, territory, and the general animosity of the mob toward "the other" would lead to it. Also those crackpots in our current society who like to accuse certain groups of being a fifth column working to subvert society would probably be given much more credence when society actually was brought down to a desolate, smoldering ruin. A lot can happen in a thousand year dark age. Some day I wouldn't mind reading a book or two on that period. (I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic fiction.)
Yeah im not saying Mark should have used more non-white people in that Europe but that something like your explanation would have been nice to have in story in any of the books. Tell how future post apocalyptic have changed about "the other".

Thats what nagged me and thinking you cant make just another pseudo medevill European world if its our future.
 

chopper

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Yeah im not saying Mark should have used more non-white people in that Europe but that something like your explanation would have been nice to have in story in any of the books. Tell how future post apocalyptic have changed about "the other".

Thats what nagged me and thinking you cant make just another pseudo medevill European world if its our future.
i haven't yet read these books - still on the TBR pile, but i'd guess that a post-apocalyptic society would probably quickly lose the ability to refer back to the past. look at Dark Ages Europe (before the Renaissance, in other words) - they'd pretty much lost all knowledge of Greek philosophy. Riddley Walker (by Russell Hoban) does a bloody good job of showing how names, traditions, history etc are all changed/warped/lost after an apocalypse). it would make sense for a nuked society to not be able to tell the reader the full story of how it became to be like this, even if the author himself knows the story (and he must, of course).

hope that makes sense.
 

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Like dismissing First Law because Glokta tortures,abuses that gorgoues merchant women.
My impression of Glotka is that he was the only one of the group who changed and cared for something other than himself by the end.

I say try for yourself. You seem to like this genre.
I think I probably will - The Judge linked to the Tor review, and the second comment was from someone at Voyager claiming the book had gone to auction. Certainly the publishers saw value in it, so I should look to see if I can see that.


Heh - so many things to address :)
Many thanks for the replies, Mark - certainly I appreciate you responding to the comments when no doubt some of the arguments feel a little old to you.

One of the first things to note is my discovery that people like to use any book that has a high profile in order to bang a gong about whatever issues are most prominent on their mental landscape.
It's unfortunate that such arguments tend to be unbalanced, hence hoping for something better here on chronicles.


This ‘magical negro’ business seems to me a codifying of the simple truism that an outsider can offer new perspectives. And gosh yes, people from other cultures, people imported from different countries, people raised in very different circumstances can sometimes provide that perspective. The finger pointing over it seems wholly bizarre to me.
Ah, we should have got you to post that suggestion in the Magical Negro thread. :)
 

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The Nukes killed alot of people but why didnt the colored Europeans survive in any number?
A thousand years offer opportunity for endless explanation of the situation you descibe - but the simplest and most obvious is that the 'thousand suns' killed everyone in the region - no survivors - with the lands repopulated from outside by new tribes centuries later.

It's not true though that the whole of Europe in this distant post-apocalyptic future is 'white' - simply that at age 9 a particular prince closetted in a castle in an age of assassination remembered seeing very few ethnicities different from his own. Consider that in the first (IIRC) city Jorg visits he records: The people thronged, loud in voice and clothing, bright silks, garish jewellery made of glass and base metals, flesh of all colours on display in wide swathes. Men and women as light as me, as dark as the Nuban, and all shades in between. None as pale as Sindri and Duke Alaric though. Those, I think the sun would melt.
 

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I think I probably will - The Judge linked to the Tor review, and the second comment was from someone at Voyager claiming the book had gone to auction. Certainly the publishers saw value in it, so I should look to see if I can see that.
As far as I know every fantasy publisher in the UK of any size bid for it. Tor certainly did. I don't know if that review was volunteered or if Tor asked that particular reviewer to review the book. Either way it wasn't the ideal publication day present from Tor, but it has earned me lots of sales. The comments here offer several examples: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/reviews/prince-of-thorns-2/#comments
 

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A thousand years offer opportunity for endless explanation of the situation you descibe - but the simplest and most obvious is that the 'thousand suns' killed everyone in the region - no survivors - with the lands repopulated from outside by new tribes centuries later.

It's not true though that the whole of Europe in this distant post-apocalyptic future is 'white' - simply that at age 9 a particular prince closetted in a castle in an age of assassination remembered seeing very few ethnicities different from his own. Consider that in the first (IIRC) city Jorg visits he records: The people thronged, loud in voice and clothing, bright silks, garish jewellery made of glass and base metals, flesh of all colours on display in wide swathes. Men and women as light as me, as dark as the Nuban, and all shades in between. None as pale as Sindri and Duke Alaric though. Those, I think the sun would melt.
Yeah i remember that part and the trouble is the lands in the books is tiny part of whole Future europé. There are mostly french,spanish,german part.

I guess i would like to have seen all those shades to get the picture that the world is bigger than few South europeen lands.

Im not one of Those critics that take one part to dismiss the books.

I enjoyed the second book very much, respect You character writing more now.
 

ratsy

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Well, where else can you get the Author to stand up and answer questions like this. If anything I really enjoyed reading these back and forths. I live in a very multicultural city and to be honest I never really focus on race in books.

A lot of good points were brought up too. I think one of the things that is bugging people so much about Jorg is the face that he is written in first person. We get to hear his inner thoughts but never are they anything but controlled and never self deprecating. I will call him the polar opposite of Fitz from Robin Hobb. And although we learn he was under a "spell", he doesn't seem to have remorse for anything.

It seems that since bleeding in a briar patch, watching his family get butchered, he has snapped. Life has no more value. Even among his Brothers! They seem to be as eager to kill one another as a common enemy.

We have to remember, the time is different, it is not a fantasy world, it is a post apocalyptic world. Things and situations would be different. If any one has read "The Road" it is a fantastic book but they are always worried about being killed and he has to protect his little boy from sickos remaining. Same sort of thing, survive a nuke, worry about the murderous gangs that lurk beneath the ashes!

As for Glokta, I really enjoyed his character. Abercrombie has a way of making you love all of his characters though. Logan being one of my all time favs

All in all, I can take this book much more in stride than say Paul Hoffmans which i recently had to put down. Now that was just too much senseless killing for me. Both stories could be put in the same genre but Mark's comes off much less offensive to me and I do look forward to reading the second book.
 

Jo Zebedee

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Whilst I wouldn't say I'm an out and out feminist I would certainly have a strong belief that females are portrayed in a lot of sff, particularly fantasy, in a way that makes me uncomfortable. I particularly have problems with GRRM's portrayal, and have avoided Jordan given the feedback on the forums.

So, a trip to the local library, which seems to have had a recent delivery of sff and has a pretty good range for once, and i've picked up a copy of Prince of Tides, and am curious as to what I'll find...
 

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