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December 14th, 2006, 01:40 PM #1
I thought Scott Bakker was good until!?!?
I read a book on the first crusades. The Crusades in the bood are step by step exactly like the first crusade in real life. The books are good, but He doesn't even try to change the story, in fact remove the magic and change the names and it could be use as a brief history of the first crusade.
It starts with the history with the north being christian/Inrithi and the south Muslims/Fanim and you have the Turks/Kian gaining territory on the empire Byzantine/Nansur. Then the Pope/Maithanet call a holy war, where instead of elite troops they get whole families, towns, mercenaries, and troops which are lead by a few top generals, some of whom are famous for fighting infidels. This crusade gathers in the empire and the emperor is caught off guard by the size of the army and scared that a army of this size will take the lands for themselves, but decides to take advantage of them by threatening to cut off food supplies. Sound fimiliar yet? So are army agrees to the bribe and they go on there way. The first enemy town Nicaea/Iothiah, they siege, that is taken by the Byzantine/Nansur by the use of boats and telling the Muslims/Kianene that surrender to us and we won't let the fanatics tear you apart.
By the way that is the story of the crusade not of Bakker but you can see how they are identical. Anyway you get the drift. The real crusades go through the desert and lose heart and religion gets there spirts back up by a miracle and they too have a general that is proclaimed price of a city even though the pact with the Nansur/Byzantine and the big siege of Antioch and the enemy reinforcements that come a day late.
The point is that he follows the real events step by step and when reading fiction it should have a amount of originality. Why because I pretty much know how the rest of the books go besides the interaction between Moenghus and his father. But all the "epic" is gone because there is no story as long as his book are centered around the crusade. Now I am scared to read more about the crusades that happened in real life in case it will give away more of the story. It’s one thing basing a story off real life events but it’s another using real life events to write your story for you.
December 14th, 2006, 02:12 PM #2
Not to disprove your point, but Bakker has stated on many occasions that the First Crusade was a major example for him. He consistenly quotes Harold Lamb as an author people should read because his book on the First Crusade was so good.
As for myself, I am fairly well aware of the Crusades and certainly acknowledge some of the parallels. That said, Bakker adds so much to his world and his characters ( the marvellous Kellhus in particular) and has a great overall story arc which has little do with the Crusades. I think you will clearly see Bakker move away from the Crusades parallels with the next book, Aspect Emperor because the supernatural elements, including other races like Nonmen, become more present.
For me, Bakker is a tremendous writer and the parallels to the Crusades do not detract. The man's worldbuilding is vast and he has a deft way of handling a story and characters.
December 14th, 2006, 02:36 PM #3
I don't see why that knowledge should be detrimental, it's not a pervading main theme throughout books two and three, as it gets overshadowed by Moenghus, the consult, and finger lickin sorcerous antics. Yet you will enjoy it more if you turn off the historical buzzer in your brain
Its still a theme mind, just not the dominant one.
There are some sumptuous scenes for you too enjoy, not least one of th bloodiest and grittiest scenes in a book i've read, look for it in the Warrior prophet.
December 14th, 2006, 02:39 PM #4
It just doesn't seem that vast anymore. I still recommend him and still think of his books as some of my top 10 but to take so directly from actual history seems kind of weak to me. It's like he took the story of the crusades and then put some icing on the cake which are his characters. And I would disagree to say he used parallel of the crusades. He took directly from the crusades, the major plot is the same. It's the same story with unique characters, names, and magic thrown in. Anyway, I wish I could change my title cause it sounds like I don't like him. When I just meant that the "parallels" with the crusades and how similar they are, to me, takes away from the story
Do you have any links to articles that Bakker talks about this? If I read them it might make it easier for me to understand.
December 14th, 2006, 02:43 PM #5
December 16th, 2006, 12:39 PM #6
Are you really saying that you were unaware that fantasy fiction routinely draws from history and the folklore, legends and religion of ancient cultures for its creations? Because you'd be hard-pressed to find a fantasy story, category or non-category, that doesn't make use extensively of such source material.
It is common practice for secondary world fantasy to use templates from history or mythology as fodder for reinventing worlds in which various ideas and themes can be explored and played out in certain ways. Usually they mix stuff together, and Bakker certainly does this, drawing on several eras of history. George Martin uses the War of the Roses and several other war conflicts as a framework. Tolkein used elements of the history of Britain and mythology from Scandanavia and Germany, such as the Ring Cycle. Robert Jordan borrows from the Christian Bible and other sources, as does C.S. Lewis' famous Narnia series. Just about every vampire story steals something from Bram Stoker's Dracula, which he in turn based on history and Eastern European folklore. The story of King Arthur borrowed from numerous Celtic mythologies and historic events and in turn has launched the story of many an orphaned farmboy. And all of these stories will often draw elements from the modern day in which they are written, reflecting aspects of our own current world.
This is what writers do. It is an original and creative synthesis, drawing dozens of different strands from different sources and then weaving them into something totally its own story. So it's hardly strange that you read a story about a holy crusade and discover that it has similarities to holy crusades that have occurred in history. Bakker has created his own situation, with his own characters, his own fantasy elements, conflicts and world structure, to explore the issues he finds interesting. Inspired by the First Crusade certainly, but his own story. Though there are historical novels and historical fantasy novels that deal with the Crusades, and those are probably very interesting too.
If you go looking for similarities between authors and history or an author and other authors, you will certainly find them. But that seems to me to be ignoring what each author is creating with their own weaving.
Last edited by KatG; December 16th, 2006 at 04:26 PM.
December 18th, 2006, 04:46 AM #7
Agreed, there are very few original story lines out there, most stories are based on some sort of good vs evil idea and te flavour varies with the author's. I think it's why I enjoyed Anne Bishop's Black Jewels Trilogy, due to the slant on the whole idea. The authors take stories or ideas and add their own ideas and thoughts to them, changing them making them retold stories. IMHO anyway.
December 18th, 2006, 05:15 AM #8
I'm having a hard time seeing your problem here. Better tell all those historical fiction writers they've got a biiiiig problem....
December 18th, 2006, 09:14 AM #9
I have to agree that liberal use of actual history and myths and the like is a long honored 'tradition' in fantasy literature and the Bakker has done nothing that many, many authors have done before him. Where you see the direct parallels to the Crusades as a weekness, I see them as a strength.
As others have said, his books do begin to loose many of these parallels as the story goes on and becomes more of Bakker's own.
As for articles written by Bakker about this, I'm not sure, but Wotmania has done a few interviews and interactive Q&A sessions with him that has some good stuff in them. You may also find some info in the Bakker forum here and at his own forum.
December 18th, 2006, 01:07 PM #10
While I agree that it's inevitable that fiction writers will draw upon parallels in real life for their stories, I also kind of agree with the point of this thread. It's one thing to draw a couple of similarities in characters, plot generalities, themes, etc... It's sort of different when we're talking about specific events, or battles that are won in a specific way. I also agree that Bakker is a very good writer, but when you originally think that he came up with the whole story out of his own head and then find out that it's (not so) loosely based on the Crusades, it detracts a little from his stature. A good example of 'basing' a story on something else would be what Martin does basing ASOIAF on The War of The Roses.
December 18th, 2006, 05:44 PM #11
Well that's a valid reaction. It's just one that I don't agree with, for a number of reasons:
1. I don't know of any authors who make up settings purely out of their own heads. And most authors do extensive research of one kind or another for the purposes of their work. A considerable number of fantasy writers are historians or anthropologists or folklore specialists. Others are not professionals in these areas, but are history enthusiasts. A fantasy writer is not required to be a historian of any kind, but I don't see the point in penalizing those who are.
2. I don't see why borrowing material from myths and fairy tales is somehow more valid and okay than borrowing from history.
3. I don't get why it's okay for Martin to be inspired by the War of the Roses and to take actual factual details and events from that war and rejigger them for his story, but it's not okay for Bakker to do the same thing with his work.
4. If an author has a city that vaguely resembles any actual city on Earth, I don't feel that this invalidates his story. Especially since he probably deliberately chose that resemblance to explore aspects of that type of city. If an author puts a city in the trees or the sky or underwater -- types of cities that don't exist, but have been used by other writers -- I don't think that invalidates his story either. If an author writes about a marsh, I don't consider this to be a lack of imagination just because the Earth contains marshes. As for king/emperors who are nasty or religious leaders who call for massive holy wars, I hardly think they are specific to only one incident in history.
5. I know that authors don't recraft historic events because of a paucity of imagination or because it's "easy." Instead, these authors deliberately chose these events because they find them fascinating -- the human dramas of it, the consequences, the mirror/connections with current day events and the thematic symbolism of such an event. Fantasy writers doing historical fantasy take the event and twist it into a new shape involving fantasy elements. Fantasy writers writing secondary world stories may do the same thing, but additionally reshape it by creating a different setting and context for the event so that they can pursue other emotional possibilities. It requires a fair amount of skill to do -- it's actually easier to just make something up instead of transferring aspects of historic events -- and can produce something very powerful. Something rooted in truth can certainly have as much to say as something rooted in myth or parable.
Last edited by KatG; December 18th, 2006 at 08:10 PM.
December 18th, 2006, 07:35 PM #12
In some ways it's also the same criticism that's levelled against Terry Brooks "Sword of Shannara": it didn't draw from Tolkien. It copied LotR step-by-step. Some may disagree, but again it goes back to how much inspiration is too much and borders on simply copying. That's a matter of taste and opinion, but it need not be an either you can be inspired or everything must be utterly original situation.
December 18th, 2006, 08:36 PM #13
From my reading, they "dislike" or are disappointed with Scott because his book didn't draw upon the First Crusade, but was a moment-by-moment recreation of it.
In some ways it's also the same criticism that's levelled against Terry Brooks "Sword of Shannara": it didn't draw from Tolkien. It copied LotR step-by-step. Some may disagree, but again it goes back to how much inspiration is too much and borders on simply copying.
As for copying plots -- plots are free. Anyone can do their interpretation of a plot, and it is then their own. This is also something authors have done for millenium. It also has nothing to do, IMHO, with a lack of inspiration or ability.
Again, I'm not objecting to people being disturbed by the extensive use of history in a story. I'm just saying that I don't share that view and putting up the counter-argument. People can decide for themselves if it bothers them or not.
December 18th, 2006, 08:48 PM #14
Last edited by Rilzik; September 6th, 2009 at 01:56 AM. Reason: Adding thanks and spelling
December 18th, 2006, 11:40 PM #15
Well, here's a quote from Debra MacDonald which makes a valid point why Bakker used a point in history to create his story:
For another thing, when it comes to dealing with large important issues (things like slavery and freedom, for instance) fantasy has some advantages that realism doesn't. Fantasy is the genre in which metaphors and symbols can be given life and physical existence. Instead of dealing with ideals and abstractions at one remove, the writer can introduce them directly into the tale as independent actors.
For example, everyone knows that the Crusades was a political and religious war between the two major religions: Christianity and Islam. However, by taking the concepts out of a specific context and placing it in his own, he can dissect the reasons behind such a war without being accused of bias.
Well, that's my view on it...
Last edited by estranghero; December 18th, 2006 at 11:42 PM. Reason: Not enough food in the system!