Sean Russell - give me the scoop

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Jay_T, Jun 10, 2005.

  1. Erfael

    Erfael Lemurs!!! Staff Member

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    Well, I've gone on and on elsewhere about how much I like Russell. I still haven't read all the way through the latest trilogy, but all of his older stuff I've read and loved.

    One thing about the length between books: He does publish other novels, cowritten with another author under a joint pen name, T. F. Banks. Here's a link to just one of their books: http://www.sfsite.com/seanrussell/the thief-taker.htm

    I'm not sure if you knew that or not, but that may have something to do with the time between books.
     
  2. Eventine

    Eventine Uh, Staff Member

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    I recently finished up the Swan's War trilogy and found it to be very well written, and would suggest others try it. I haven't read any of his older stuff but am keeping an eye out for it.
     
  3. Severn

    Severn boss of several cats...

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    Well I'm reading his World Without End duology and it isn't a pretty experience heh. I mentioned elsewhere that at times it's boring me near to tears, but it has improved I confess, ever so slightly toward the end of book one. And I'm vaguely looking forward to book two now. I'm definitely going to read The Swan's War trilogy and already own book two.

    World Without End gripes - slightly spoilerish, but not much:

    Tristam (main character) and his freaking countess (love interest). He moons over her like some school boy of 14 with a crush. Maddening! Boring! Who cares?!

    Endless sea voyages where nothing happens. Need I say more really?

    Dry language. 18th century be damned - a bit of a spark would've helped things along quite nicely. Given that the Swan's War trilogy has been compared to Kay, and I'd flicked through book two before buying it and I can see that, I'm surprised this duology is so horribly dry. There was no need for it. Just because a character lives in a pompous world, doesn't mean the writing has to follow suit.

    I like the fact though that the society, after rejecting magic, has embraced scientific principles and reasonings - that's a very interesting take. Just a shame about the bone-dry writing, which coupled with the other gripes I have, have made for an arduous read of World Without End. I'll report back once I've read Sea Without A Shore.
     
  4. BarVybe

    BarVybe Registered User

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    Ahhh thanks for finding this for me!

    I had no idea about the pen name, so i'll look that up.

    World Without End / Sea Without Shore is very very dry and slow paced but in the nature of a Dicken's novel - meaning its intentional and the writing style rather than just a bad story or poor writing. In fact i find the writing mesmerizing from a technique / master of language standpoint. I personally found the detail of the life at sea, the flora / fauna, the small details of 18th century type world and the slow unfolding of the mysterious nature of magic and Tristam's heritage to be wonderful - i ate it up. But definitely required patience and i found the prequel had lost quite a bit of that for me (in part as already mentioned because there was very little mystery in it).

    Russell's ability to change style is very cool - the Swan's War is totally different in scope, style and subject matter. I also loved the Initiate Brother books.
     
  5. Jack

    Jack Hyperpower!

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    Minor Spoilers for book one, nothing you haven't read, Severn:

    Yeah, as I said in another forum, this was difficult for me, especially because the Duchess screws every character she meets in the book. I've never bought the idea that female characters have to have sex with someone to get power over them - if I remember correctly, Queen Elizabeth I was a virgin, and also, well, the freaking Queen of the British Empire; she used her own chastity against her enemies. That aside, I agree that Tristam's mooning can get quite ridiculous, but, having said all these bad things about Tristam and the Duchess and their "relationship", by the end of the duology, something happened inside me and I started to like the Duchess and was appreciative of Tristam for seeing the good inside her - I think this is purely a credit to Russell's storytelling ability. If you decide to stick with it, I would be very interested to know if your opinions change by the end of book two.
     
  6. Severn

    Severn boss of several cats...

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    Homer:

    I've just started book two, about three chapters in, and I'm finding several things have happened:

    Tristam is no longer mooning so much - probably because he's er getting some on a regular-ish basis, and has had his weird experience courtesy the 'natives'. No time to moon when you've been beaten up!

    I'm used to the writing style (never was a fan of Dickens, classics be damned); and am finding, like you, that my sympathies toward the Duchess are already softening. Softening sympathies don't translate into 'like' - but then I enjoy having characters I don't like. It's when I'm annoyed by characters that I have problems. I think it's safe to say that Russell really is a good writer, perhaps better than good, and after reading this thread I'm even more interested in the Swan's War trilogy.
     
  7. hedgeknight

    hedgeknight Ser Duncan the Tall

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    I got about 60 pages in - boring as hell. And many other comments have said it's an "okay" read, nothing stunning or life-changing. With all the other great books out there, don't waste your time - read something else.
    -g-
     
  8. Legend

    Legend Banned

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    Beware the publisher blurps that call him one of the leading fantasists of the generation and how lyrical his prose is amongst other sky high praise. It is not. It is just marketing, like what good wine bottle these days doesn't have a golden label. The covers vary between Aust and USA. It's is a load of bullcrap that fools only the unwary. Elizabeth Hayden's Rhapsody had more high-ranting praise on its covers and flaps than a Sith Lord has fleas, and it was mostly drivel boredom.

    The Swans' War Trilogy is nothing you haven't seen before.

    The One Kingdom is almost pure boredom. Russell's site has said how high his appreciation for LOTR is; perhaps he was following in the time honoured tradition of Fellowship's equally pure boredom. You don't get a map as scenary can change, so that makes for a bit of fun. But it's just bloody boring, with insufficient action. Two medieval families have fought for centuries; a wizad family asleep for millennia has awakened. One brother is nice, the other is evil, the sister is both.

    The Isle of Battle starts galloping, and is far more engaging. Characters have made partnerships with spirits they shouldn't have to avoid death, and now there are consequences. The brotherly rivalry heats up, and there is far more action. The con is, you must wade through the first boring book to understand the set up. The pros are worth it.

    I just finished The Shadow Roads over the weekend. Much like the second book, there's plenty of action, and if you thought the plot of Death wanting to walk the land at the end of the second was cliche, at least you get a little surprise that Death is more human than you thought. In this book, they race the bad brother from finding their slumbering father and making a soul eating monster that is invincible. In the meantime, the two families are drawing closer to war.

    The ending is as you would expect: good wins, bad loses, peace is restored. Happily ever after. The problem is, the three cousins who travel down the mystical river first two books are very back seat in the third; the other characters steal the show. I see nothing "lyrical" about this writing or prose, and is in fact quite trite and average in storyline. Chapters flow fast as they are short, often just pages.

    However, there are some good scenes that prove Russell can be quite snappy and snazzy, like the chapter Michael resumes command of his family's army after being ursurped. At other times, where was the editor from stopping "Prince Michael" being mentioned trilogy long? Can he not be called just Michael?

    Is the trilogy that bad? No, it simply nothing you can't read elsewhere, and is best called light reading and nothing too serious. You can find it engaging, but the throne fued can't be compared to Martin as Martin does two things: his pace is blasted slower, so there are more books, and his examination is more closer. you just can't compare the two. What Martin takes his grand time in, Russell cuts to the chase faster.

    All up, if you want a light read of storyline you've seen before, give it a go, remembering, what the first book lacks the other two are more exciting.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2006
  9. Severn

    Severn boss of several cats...

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    Alas.

    In the end my experience with Sea Without A Shore was not pretty. I felt like every word was a prolonged sentence (bad pun, I know, but it's true) and by page 380 or so I thought 'stuff this' and actually skipped right up to page 550 so I could find out what happens at the end. And honestly - I didn't feel like I'd missed a thing! I don't usually do that, very rare, and rather disappointing.

    The annoying thing is that I could feel the book's potential glimmering away, and that the technique Russell choose to write with killed the story. Perhaps it is merely personal reading preference as others have genuinely liked the duology. But it seemed so obvious that Russell thought 'oh, I'm writing a story mirroring 18th century conventions; therefore I'll write in the vein of a classic,' which I feel was a gross mistake.

    Well, eventually I'll give the Swan's War trilogy a go and see what comes of that.

    K
     
  10. algernoninc

    algernoninc Now I'm an axolotl

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    I would not give up so easily on "The Initiate Brother" and "Gatherer of Clouds" - maybe they are not historically correct in portraying the japanese / chinese myths, but this is fantasy, not historical chronicles. I found the oriental setting refreshing after so many arthurian clones of Tolkien, the prose elegant and concise, the characters believable and well fleshed out. My only reticence comes from the plot which I found predictable and weakening in the final chapters after the great build up in the first part. Anyway the comparison to Guy Gavriel Kay is closer to the mark than the ones to Jordan or Martin.
    I have also read the first two books in the Swan's War, but I would hold my judgment until the last one.
     
  11. Mithfânion

    Mithfânion Lord of the Wild Hunt

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    Bumping this, because I saw his Initiate Brother duology, of which one part has been out of print for years now, is being reprinted in July 2013 by DAW, as a trade paperback omnibus.
     
  12. algernoninc

    algernoninc Now I'm an axolotl

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    I was hoping for news about a new book or series, he hasn't put out anything in years.
     
  13. Mithfânion

    Mithfânion Lord of the Wild Hunt

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    Last edited: Nov 11, 2012
  14. suciul

    suciul Read interesting books

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    am a huge fan of his pseudo-historical fantasies too and read all 6 a few times each (in the 90's he was one of the very few fantasy authors I read as pre-Martin I never liked that decade Brooks/Feist/Jordan offerings or the portal/dream fantasies so in vogue then); sadly his Jordanesque Swan series bombed so he could not get a contract any more, but as Mith noted he has been writing naval fiction as S Thomas Russell; he also wrote some historical crime in collaboration

    I wish he could write more historical fantasy as he had a great gift for atmosphere and characters, intrigue, twists etc; not that much action true but action in large doses bores me anyway
     
  15. algernoninc

    algernoninc Now I'm an axolotl

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    I didn't think to check his aliases. thanks.