Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More Thoughts on the Wishsong:The Platypus Reads Part CXII

I'm on page 336, and I have to confess that I am having some trouble staying motivated.  The tone of the work is consistent and enchanting, but the plot incidents and characters leave something to be desired.

Thoughts:

This book is more interesting when Brooks is writing about Jair.  "The Wishsong of Shannara" feels like a book and a half.  There's this main story with Jair that Brooks is interested in and then this under-developed story with his sister that Brooks is obligated to include.  The narrative always seems to flail a bit when we turn back to Brin.   Allanon helps a bit, but Rone and Brin drag and even the Druid can't make up for their lack of depth.  If Brin was a deeper character, then the whole thing could be saved, but she's always a little shallow and paste-board and it's hard to care about her or her journey.  Following this trend, many of the characters that Brin and Rone encounter on their journey feel thin or implausible while those that Jair encounters are a bit more robust.

Slanter the gnome is entirely too petulant to ever have been the big, tough, tracker he's supposed to be.  It's not that he isn't believable as a personality, it's just that his personality doesn't fit his backstory.

The Grimpond is too much like a recycle of the Hadeshorn and Bremen to be used in the same novel.  It feels like Brooks needs filler for the Brin plotline and is flailing.

Jair's supporting cast, especially Garret Jax, are well drawn and work.  He even is able to make the character of Helt non-redundant by deftly inserting the "gentle giant" trope in a place where we weren't looking for it.

Terry Brooks has some sort of obsession with trappers and pioneers in these last two books that's at odds with the medieval fantasy world that he's created.  It is a fantasy world, and a post-apocalyptic one at that, so he is free to people it as he chooses but in the end the world still needs to feel coherent.  Every time a trapper or "old guy living out in the wilderness" appears I feel like we've strayed into another novel.  Cogline's home sounds like someone's retreat house in the Pacific Northwest, not the sort of place where a mad-man and his adopted daughter eke out a bare-bones existence in the middle of some of the most hostile territory since the last novel.

That's sort of a laundry list, but I wanted to get the small thoughts out while they were still fresh.  I have some big thoughts cooking, but they may have to wait until I finish the novel.  Best wishes all until next time!

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