Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Fly

It's so much easier to talk about a terrible book than a good book; with a good book I don't want to spoil the experience for anyone and with the terrible I desperately want to warn people away. So take this review as a warning.
So says "

Having roundly panned Glen Cook last week, I'm in no position to throw stones at negative reviews, and can only observe that there are all kinds of opinion in the world. While I could rebut Das :
And then there's what I can only generously describe as "prose". It gets so purple in the novel that it shifts to ultraviolet. The dialog is amazingly clunky as it switches wildly between common dialog and peppering it liberally with archaic terms. It's all heavily overwritten and made me groan at how painful it was.

Not only is Madouc a fantasy novel that features everything I hate in fantasy novels, it is a bad novel on every level. There is not a redeeming feature in it.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the style of someone who presumes to condemn Jack Vance's prose. We can do no better than conclude with the observation of the great aphorist Samuel Johnson:
A fly, Sir, may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still.
Buzz off,


Unknown said...

Tim, I like this feisty new you! You give 'em all what for, cowboy.

David Isaak said...

That's just plain bizarre on so many levels I have a hard time digesting it.

Why is someone reviewing Madouc at this point in time--and without reviewing the trilogy as a whole?

I just went into the other room and snagged a copy of Madouc. The first thing my eye lights upon is a quote from the Washington Post that mentions "In Vance's work, description itself becomes epic." That says it pretty well.

Vance's playfully complex style, and his carefully controlled variations in diction, certainly aren't for everyone; but only someone with a tin ear would describe it as "purple prose."

David Isaak said...

Oh, sorry--on a closer reading of your post I see why he's reviewing it so late in the day.

But did he read the two books that came before it? How could you make sense of it if you didn't?

Tim Stretton said...

Aliya, I am enjoying these occasional moments of choler, which I find therapeutic. And such a grotesquely wrong-headed review surely deserves both barrels...

David, it's disappointing to see that not only were you and I fooled (no great achievement, perhaps), but the Washington Post too.

Matt Hughes said...

Pearls before swine, and not very grammatical swine at that.