March 2010 BOTM: The Fade by Chris Wooding

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Erfael, Mar 1, 2010.

  1. Erfael

    Erfael Lemurs!!! Staff Member

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    Hi all,

    This is the thread dedicated to discussion of our March book of the month, The Fade by Chris Wooding.

    I know I've been looking forward to this one for some time, having heard nothing but good things about it. I'll be curious to hear what everyone thinks.

    Discuss.
     
  2. Eventine

    Eventine Uh, Staff Member

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    I just did a search to see what I wrote about this when I first read it it (2007! Gasp! Time flies), and my notes were pretty short: "Imaginative. How I like my fantasy".
    I'm thinking I'll probably re-read this, as it was in my 2007 top 5 and I recall enjoying it.
     
  3. Erfael

    Erfael Lemurs!!! Staff Member

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    I should start this tomorrow. I have about 120 pages of Hobb's newest to get through tonight, and then on to The Fade. Should be a quick read...back with comments soon.
     
  4. beniowa

    beniowa Registered User

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    I really enjoyed this book. The revenge plot is pretty straightforward and you can see the twist ending coming a ways away. But it's really well-written with good characterization and some very cool world building. I loved the subterranean world of the book. Like the LoLL, it has flashbacks interspersed with the present-day plotline to fill in character and backstory and I liked that too. All in all, a very good book from an author that's now on my To Buy Immediately list.
     
  5. DurzoBlint

    DurzoBlint http://tinyurl.com/363ogv

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    Read this last year and I remember being impressed with the book. Especially the little twist at the end of the first chapter as I was:

    under the impression that the character was male until the last line.

    The world building was really good and the route to get to the end was a fun ride. I agree with above, that the ending was pretty obvious; however, in the end there really was not much else that could have happened as things came to a head.

    I read this shortly after reading The Ketty Jay by Wooding and after two great books by him I have added him to the short list of authors I will always buy.
     
  6. Chris Wooding

    Chris Wooding Registered User

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    Yay! I'm a Book Of The Month! :D

    Thanks for picking this one, guys, and thanks for the kind comments. For those reading it for the first time, I hope you like it. I'll be around to answer questions and field abuse if you so desire ;)
     
  7. hawkwind

    hawkwind Registered User

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    I read Fade a little over a year ago. It was my first Wooding book. I thought the world he created was amazing. Very original. Unfortunately I can't comment to much on it since it has been a long while since I read it but it made me pick other books of his like The Braided Path trilogy. The Fade and The Braided Path made me put Wooding in my must buy authors list.


    Chris, I know this is a little off the topic of Fade but I was wondering if you can tell me why your Retribution Falls is still not available in Canada? I know I can order outside Canada if I want but I tend to only by through Chapters here in Canada. Your book still is unavailable to order here. Any particular reason?
     
  8. Hobbit

    Hobbit Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks for dropping in, Chris!


    Here's what I wrote in review back in October 2007:

    Mark
    ----------------------------------------------------

    I did enjoy it. Looking back, that review reads a little less enthusiastic than I remember feeling at the end of the book. Might be that typical Brit reserve!

    In summary this was, to my mind, a brave book which emphasised pace and action with strong characters and glimpses of a different world. It was deliberately not a fat fantasy with a ginormous range of characters and places. The focus was tightly on Orna and her world.

    More recently, and a little surprisingly for me, I now see here what I also saw later in Stephen Deas's Adamantine Palace, though strangely the reaction to Stephen's novel has been much less favourable by some.

    So: going back to Chris's tale here - what works here? Is it the strong characters, the pace, the movement in time back and forth through the book? Something else?

    Mark
     
  9. Werthead

    Werthead Registered User

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    My take from back in the day:

     
  10. Chris Wooding

    Chris Wooding Registered User

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    @ Hawkwind - I honestly don't know; I thought it was available in Canada. My UK books usually get released there and in Oz automatically, through some strange Commonwealth book-sharing arrangement thing. I saw The Braided Path and The Fade in bookshops in Canada, so I can't think why Ret Falls isn't over there. Curious... :confused:
     
  11. hawkwind

    hawkwind Registered User

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    Before the Hardcover came out Chapters was offering pre-order for the release date. But at some point the pre-order was taking out and replaced with Temporarily Unavailable to Order New. It still says that for the hardcover but they do have pre-orders currently for the June 16 release of the Trade Paperback. Hopefully that doesn't change since I have put in for the pre-order.

    Once again guys sorry for going off topic.
     
  12. Erfael

    Erfael Lemurs!!! Staff Member

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    I'll start off by saying I've been looking forward to reading this book for a few years now. I've been hearing how great it is from overseas people (most with similar tastes to mine) here on the forum for some time. I've been patiently waiting for the book to become available in the US for something less than my complete monthly book budget, and it finally happened this spring. So finally, after years of build-up, after glowing recommendations, after having the book on my want-to-read list for something like 2.5 years, I finally got to read Chris Wooding's The Fade. I'm disappointed to say that time and space did not rearrange themselves around me as I read the book. I must have gotten a faulty copy or something. That, or it just couldn't keep up with the monumental hype that circumstances had built up around it. All that aside, I quite enjoyed the book.

    I have to agree with everyone about the world building here. For me, it was the strongest aspect of the work. Increasingly, many people seem to be conflating world building with word count - the idea that to show a world, something new to us, one must spend hundreds and hundreds of pages. This book is so full of different ideas, creatures, cultures, and visions that it feels like it's much larger than it really is and some of the images will be with me for some time. If for no other reason, I look forward to rereading this one in years to come to revisit the visuals this book evokes.

    Pretty often on the forum there arises a debate over what's SF and what's fantasy. Something interesting happened as I read this one: There was a point about two thirds of the way through the book where I forgot one little detail about the worldbuilding, something which pretty much doesn't enter into the plot at any point, and started to think of the book as SF rather than fantasy. I wonder if anyone can guess what that little detail was. I'd even accept an answer from the author.
     
  13. Eventine

    Eventine Uh, Staff Member

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    OK, I've just finished my re-read. It was fun knowing the general structure of the book and getting to look at some of the earlier sections looking for clues, but also revisiting some of the detail which I enjoyed the first time but had forgotten. Some scattered thoughts:

    First up, a structural comment: The numbers as chapter headers are a cool idea. It adds the suspense of a countdown (what happens when we hit zero?) while also providing context for the flashbacks.

    One thing I wonder about is whether Chris intended any allegory in the structure of the society, with a plutocracy at war with a fundamentalist religion seeming very close to a West vs Islam type confrontation, although to me it seems less li me allegory and more like a shorthand to allow the stage to be set in a short amount of time.

    I've long considered myself to be against world building in fantasy novels, I think mainly due to an overdose of big fat fantasy in my teens and early twenties. Having read The Fade though, I'm not sure I'm so much against world-building, but the bloat created by trying to differentiate one pseudo-medieval world from another. The thing I most like about this book is the uniqueness of the setting (Menzoberhowever you spell it fans please don't start on me) - I don't think we see enough fantasy that takes advantage of the fantastic, yet that is achieved here (and in a low page count to boot!)
     
  14. Eventine

    Eventine Uh, Staff Member

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    All of the above plus an imaginative and well realised setting.

    That happens to me a lot, usually with The Next Big Thing each year but most recently with Vandermeer's Finch.

    Ha! I think this is a pretty similar take on what I wrote above. Fancy that!

    I kept this in mind while reading and couldn't come up with anything. Was the two third mark you mention when they got to the surface?
     
  15. Hobbit

    Hobbit Administrator Staff Member

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    (My emboldenness.) I think this is a really important point. Chris might be able to tell us whether that was his intention - I suspect so - and I'm pretty sure that there are some (at Gollancz, at least) that think this too.

    It's also something that I remember from the books of the 60's and 70's that I read when I was younger too. Moorcock's Elric (and Corum and Hawkmoon etc) were like that for me. Short - but with comments, images and ideas that linger long after you've read them.

    Mark
     
  16. Eventine

    Eventine Uh, Staff Member

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    I have a feeling this may be a result of the entrenchment of the "show not tell" rule. When I first read Moorcock (Hawkmoon if memory serves correctly) one thing that stood out was that he told us what we needed to know about the characters straight up, and then whoosh, off with the story. I think we see some of this in The Fade - need to know something about a culture to advance the plot? The narrator tells us rather than messing about with a 100 page subplot to flesh it out.
     
  17. Chris Wooding

    Chris Wooding Registered User

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    Yeah, one of the founding principles I had when I decided to write this book was simply: no infodumping. When I started writing The Braided Path I was kind of sloppy about infodumping, cause I didn't really know any better, and I learned on the way through that trilogy to do it less and less. So when I came to the Fade I wanted the language to be clipped and straightforward, and I didn't want the narrator explaining tons of history to the reader, because a) it's all normal to her and b) she's kind of terse anyway.

    Then I discovered that it's really, really hard to do that when you're setting up a big underground world and the reader has no idea how it works :p

    I have a bit of a babble about it in my blog here. I always like to stuff tons of things into a book in the background, but then I drive myself nuts trying to work out ways to let the reader in on it all without cramping the story. Before, I would have probably done it anyway, but nowadays I do my best not to let anything get in the way of the main drama. If I can't fit it in and make it look like it's meant to be there, it gets chucked.

    I had a similar thing with Retribution Falls: some reviewers thought it was great that so many peripheral things in the world were mentioned but not followed up, as they felt it implied a living, breathing world. Others thought that the lack of detail revealed a shallow world that hadn't been thought out. In fact, it has the most thorough background I've ever done: it's just that I refuse to sit the reader down and tell 'em about it until I can find the right moment to show it to them in a way that involves that particular aspect of the world in the plot. You have to wait for later books to get certain things fleshed out. Some readers like that, some don't. Horses for courses, etc etc

    As to the allegory, read into it what you will; I think it can be looked at in various ways. But the theme of the book is really that of loyalty, and when loyalty goes too far. Whether it's your country you believe in, or a religion, or a person that you follow or a system of government you favour: blind, unconsidered, unexamined loyalty to a cause is a very silly thing indeed, IMO.
     
  18. DurzoBlint

    DurzoBlint http://tinyurl.com/363ogv

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    I don't think you can please everyone all the time. Retribution Falls in my was perfect as far as world building and infodumping were concerned. I think one of the reasons I was fine with it was the fact that I knew more installments were on the way and I could be filled in as I continued with the series. Another reason was that many of the things brought up in the novel had no implications to the overall story as the characters jumped from location to location fairly quickly.

    As for The Fade, the sun burns too hot so, they had to move underground. Not much more you need to know. The various groups and races (right term?) split over time, while we do not know the full details I found that I had the overall impact of the individual groups and was perfectly fine with what was unveiled. Sometimes less is more.

    I have Braided Path and a few other large omnibii waiting to be read, but I am trying to widdle them down and get to it. It will take some time as the pile is rather large at this time.
     
  19. Erfael

    Erfael Lemurs!!! Staff Member

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    I never answered this, did I?

    It was actually the presence of the road-makers. Can't remember what they were called, but it sounded like many of the caverns and such that were used for travel were excavated by sorcerers of some sort. That's what tipped me into fantasy, I think. Aside from that, I don't recall anything that committed it one way or the other.
     
  20. Haliax

    Haliax Registered User

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    (Late to the party, but....) I would call it fantasy as well, but probably more so because I've not read much sci-fi to really identify the split. I think the real point is that Chris does a great job of skirting the boundary between sci-fi and fantasy and makes it work. He does this well in the Ketty Jay books as well.

    The world building has been commented on quite a bit, and I'll agree. I again found it similar to the approach he took in the Ketty Jay books. There was so much to explain, with such a different setting to what we are used to, and he managed to portray this through very little infodumping. Very streamlined experience.

    I also thought the characterization was great. One of my favorite parts of the book was when one of the twins (I'm pretty sure it was Casta) says something along the lines of "We forgot about you. We do that." Mostly I loved that because it was set up so well, and it is something you expect of them. But I also thought it was great because it is one of the flashbacks, and you know and have a better sense of the twins personalities than Orna does. That is one instance, but I found most of the characters to be well constructed and consistent in that way. It was also this that helped me kind of figure out the ending:

    I didn't work out that Casta was the Silverfish, but I did know she was the traitor. And I also figured that Ledo was working on a peace treaty and was not the traitor. The second bit I only figured out 10 pages or so before Orna attacked, but I worked Casta out fairly quickly. From the little detail that we were given of Ledo's personality, I didn't feel that it was in him to betray the Eskarans. And the coldness that Casta had about the war and the certainty that she had that it did not serve the class for it to end, pointed her out to me as the traitor. There were other small things that helped me come to those conclusions, but those were the main points.

    But despite this, we also see character growth, even if it is given to us in a somewhat unconventional way. We see Orna as she is now, and she doesn't really sway in her personality or develop in any way, but her back story reveals much of the growth that she has gone through and kind of reveals how she comes to the conclusions that she does, despite the fact that they are so far from being right, which must have been exceptionally difficult for her to process, given that its her job and lifestyle to find out the truth. She jumped to conclusions without being sure, which IS out of character, but we are given the back story as to why she does this, and it's made to be believable.

    I thought it was an excellent read, despite the fact that I managed to work out the ending. This is something I hardly ever do, and I think figuring it out beforehand kind of dampened it for me. But the journey, and especially the world building and character development, are what made it so special.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2011