Martin vs Erikson: a few observations

I am a great fan of Steven Erikson. The Malazan cycle is the best ever written bar none. I like Martin too, just not as much as Erikson.

With that said, it may seem that the two authors have a lot in common: they write fantasy that goes against many of the genre clichés, they are prone to kill characters nonchalantly, they have lots of blood, war, sex (not so much Erikson in truth) and gritty scenes. They may seem very related as writers. I believe they are only superficially so.

While they have many traits in common, Martin wrote a world that is basically our world with magic, dragons and weird stuff happening. It’s very plain to see that the 7 Kingdoms are medieval Europe and Essos is Asia (the near east, precisely, plus the russian steppes). This is a lot in the tradition of the early fantasy writers who used our past to create their fantasy worlds. Tolkien, LeGuin, Vance all did this, more or less. Erikson’s world is wholly different from ours; it is inspired by it (the Malazans being the Romans, the Seven Cities continent being the Arab world etc.) but it has only elements of it, there’s not a clear connection between any of the continents of the Malazan world and ours. Same as per the people inhabiting it, in Westeros the North is England, Dorne is like Spain or Byzantium, King’s Landing is Rome and so on. Not the same can be said about Erikson’s serie: you have steppes and black people right in the middle of Quon Tali along with redheaded, “scottish” folks. Nomadic people are in every continent, slavery is not (in stark contrast with Martin) and people intermix freely even between humanoids (again, compare this with Martin’s world where everybody weds in his/her own country but for the royals, exactly as in the middle-ages). Erikson and Martin have very different concepts of what a good fantasy book should be like even if their objectives may coincide. Namely, not following the fantasy clichés and writing a story that could be real. Both have succeeded, but in very different ways.

SPOILERS ALERT!

Another similitude between the two authors is their way of killing characters. Lots of. In every book. Malazan fans claim that Erikson’s deaths are more and sadder than Martin’s. The former is true, the latter is too but up to a point. That point is the Red Wedding. Before that I’d say that every death in Westeros was as sad, if not more, than in the Malazan world. Before that scene some important characters died but overall the structure of the story remained fixed: there were the Starks, the Lannisters and Daenerys far away on Essos. Simple. This reflected our own past when there were 2 kingdoms fighting each other with allies of both helping them to win the war. With the Red Wedding that structure was dropped, now there’s nobody to openly oppose the Lannisters. This made the story more unpredictable but also slightly pointless. Martin seems to have taken a turn after the Red Wedding towards killing off characters just for the fun of it. While the Stark’s deaths were indeed sad, I’d say even sadder than most of Malazan’s deaths, after that no death generates the same amount of sadness because the readers have got that Martin is doing it just for the show. Don’t get me wrong, I believe Martin knows where he’s going to and will write a worthy finale (if he’ll ever reach it…). It’s just that no deaths now feels important, everything precipitated since the Starks were put out of the fray and now I feel like he could kill Tyrion or Jon Snow without me shedding any tear (and I love both characters). It’s like he’s playing with his readers now, just to have fun, and this is very detrimental to the story and its quality. Sometimes I feel cheated.

Compare this to Erikson: he kills less important characters than Martin. Whiskeyjack, yes, Trull, yes, Coltaine. Many are thought dead but in truth aren’t, like Kalam and Brys. He never kills off a whole faction as Martin does with the Starks. He does kills in higher numbers, extreme massacres that wipe out entire nations. But he does just to prove his main point, that the world sucks and honest people die by the score while dishonest ones keep living. He instead prefers to highlights the lives of single soldiers and normal folk, making you love them, grow attached to them, and then wiping them out of the story. I bet a lot of you cried at Bottle’s sacrifice for the sake of his comrades, or even at T’Amber, despite being not of the talkative kind. That’s where Erikson surpasses Martin, greatly. In Martin you cry only when somebody who was supposed to be good dies because there’s somebody else who is supposed to be bad. Even if neither are plainly stated it’s extremely obvious that he wants you to hate the Lannisters and love the Starks so whoever dies while opposing the bad guys makes you, obviously, sadder than Joffrey’s death. But are we crying because we loved the character or because of the meaning he/she had in the story? Did any of you cry because Oberyn Martell died or because his death meant Tyrion’s too? The latter I’d say, in both questions.

It’s exactly the same reason why I remember all the deaths in Malazan books while I have already forgot most of GoT’s. In Martin there’s a meaning beneath the story, you feel there’s something good in the world that fights against the evil forces and every death that accomplishes more evil than good is more sorrowful than the others. Nobody cried at Tywin’s death but a lot are angry at the death of a pretty vicious and selfish character as Oberyn was. Exactly because the Martell were opposing the bad ones while Tywin was among them. In the Malazan world there’s not a clear distinction between the good and the evil and it’s not even hinted that there’s a definite thing that can be considered good or bad. People act according to their desires, ambitions and dreams. Whether any of those are good or bad is left to the reader to decide. Like in our own real world. That’s why when Erikson kills some character you feel bad for him or her, because of what kind of person they are in the book and not because that means the evil forces are going to prevail. Because there aren’t evil forces in the first place. And most deaths in Erikson are even unimportant to the development of the story, precisely like 99% of the people who have died in our own world are: uninfluential outside of the small circle of those who knew the deceased. Whiskeyjack dies but the malazans occupy Coral nonetheless. Coltaine dies when the seven cities folks have already been saved; he could have left his warriors protecting the refugees and save himself but as he was an honourable man he fought until the last man and was crucified. Trull Sengar’s death is of little importance for the rest of the story. Yet most of the readers cried at each of these deaths (and if you didn’t, what kind of person are you? :) ). Exactly because they loved the character, regardless of its importance in the big picture.

This is why Erikson is a better writer than Martin. One is all for the show, the other is for the meaning.

And besides, Martin hasn’t yet mastered the art of making characters die in the most stupid ways. Really stupid I mean. Like Trull. Try to kill Tyrion by making him stumble upon a blade and see the internet erupts in rage :)

1 day ago 4 notes URL
  Tags a game of thrones got malazan steven erikson george martin writing fantasy book
Comments


D630/blscd

As a ranger fan, blscd looks promising (and faster!). Still pretty raw and with only the basic features but if you want something better than “cd”, there it is.

2 days ago URL
  Tags linux ranger blscd file manager
Comments


cjbrowne:

raydelblau:

did-you-kno:

Statistics show that people who take the Myers-Briggs personality test have a 50% chance of falling into a different category if they retake it 5 weeks later. Source

the MBTI is absolute bullshit and i laugh at people who take it seriously 

I’ve been saying this since before it was cool to say this.
There is no such thing as “personality”.  It’s like “talent” and “laziness” - a concept made up to make interpersonal relationships easier at the immense cost of truly understanding other people.
I’m increasingly falling under the impression that “gender” and “sexuality” come under the same umbrella, but I can also understand why some people want to clearly define their gender and sexuality.

cjbrowne:

raydelblau:

did-you-kno:

Statistics show that people who take the Myers-Briggs personality test have a 50% chance of falling into a different category if they retake it 5 weeks later. Source

the MBTI is absolute bullshit and i laugh at people who take it seriously 

I’ve been saying this since before it was cool to say this.

There is no such thing as “personality”.  It’s like “talent” and “laziness” - a concept made up to make interpersonal relationships easier at the immense cost of truly understanding other people.

I’m increasingly falling under the impression that “gender” and “sexuality” come under the same umbrella, but I can also understand why some people want to clearly define their gender and sexuality.

3 days ago 3,124 notes URL
  Tags mbti personality
Comments


Dear Malazan fans, please stop depicting Kalam and Quick Ben as white or fairly light skinned. They’re black. Or very dark skinned at least. The Malazan series is the one that does away with most of the fantasy clichés, on purpose, with no sexism, empresses instead of emperors, people of all skin colours hanging together, lesbian soldiers, no dwarves/elves/little people so why can’t you accept that 2 of the most awesome characters don’t look like you, average white male from western countries?

Please accept it.

1 month ago URL
  Tags malazan fantasy cliche fandom
Comments


r4vi:

Before tumblr

r4vi:

Before tumblr

1 month ago 2 notes URL
  Tags world cat day cats book
Comments


Your children have the right to know that something besides pop music exists.

Frank Zappa (via compressionhead)

(via dailyzappa)

1 month ago 198 notes URL
  Tags quote frank zappa
Comments


Dungeons & Dragons Saved My Life

newyorker:

Jon Michaud on the “significantly underappreciated” benefits of Dungeons & Dragons: http://nyr.kr/1r9HrYb

“Though its detractors see the game as a gateway to various forms of delinquency, I would argue that the reverse is true. For countless players, Dungeons & Dragons redirected…

(Source: newyorker.com)

2 months ago 395 notes URL
  Tags d&d depression
Comments


Found out, finally, that I can’t easily follow comprehensive tutorials that include the whole specs of a language but I’m best with smaller, get-started-in-x-minutes tutorials and then working on a project to put into practice what I’ve learned.

And, I fucking hate video tutorials. Let me read FFS!

2 months ago URL
  Tags tutorial programming
Comments


This is an API for the world cup that scrapes current match results and outputs match data as JSON. No guarantees are made as to its accuracy, but we will do our best to keep it up to date.

World Cup…in JSON (via napolux)

(via napolux)

3 months ago 1 note URL
  Tags world cup football json api
Comments


Lessons learned

letstakeatumble:

. Bathing isn’t optional

. No matter how much you clean after yourself, if there’s hair on the floor it is yours. This is especially true after shaving

. There is no such thing as too many couch pillows

. Pizza is not breakfast

. Cold pizza IS NOT breakfast

. Coke and m&m’s isn’t a valid form of food

. Courtains must exist in every room

3 months ago 1 note URL
 
Comments