Tuesday, 12 June 2012

It’s All David Gemmell’s Fault

See, it goes like this. I bought Dad a Kindle. Dad bought the entire collection of David Gemmell books in Kindle format and therefore decided to dispose of all his paperback versions. I volunteered to relieve him of some. 

And, having just acquired more hard copy books, I resolved to have a book clean-up of my own and get rid of those I’m unlikely to ever read again (or will happily download onto my Kindle if I am unexpectedly taken by the urge to read them again).

So I’m hip-deep in piles of books, staring at an inexplicably still full bookcase, and I’m blaming David Gemmell. The fact that it was I who bought the Kindle that started this cascade of events? Pfft! Minor detail.

When we moved into this house I had grand plans to turn the room marked as ‘study’ on the floorplan into ‘library’. I already has 2 6’ x 3’ bookcases, and they were full to overflowing, so I thought a nice 7’ x 5’ bookcase across the back wall would be awesome. Of course, as is the case when you move into a brand new home in need of landscaping and the like, the bookcase had to wait in favour of more pressing budget concerns.

5 months later I’m still waiting. I have books stacked on books in my bookcases. There is literally no spare room. I have books still packed in boxes, too. Probably not enough to fill a 7’ x 5’ bookcase, but I’d be buying more books in the future, right?

Then I bought a Kindle.

One of the books I inherited,
although the cover is not this cool
I will still buy books in the future – Discworld books (not that there’s likely to be many more) because the footnotes don’t read right on the kindle, Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archives because of all the artwork that’s lost in the ebook format, the concluding book of the Wheel of Time because I have all the others in hard copy. But not many. Not nearly as many as I was before.

So when Dad started clearing out his David Gemmell books, it made me think I should do the same. I know, bizarre in the same breath as saying ‘I’ll take those, thank you’, but true nevertheless. I really like David Gemmell and I know I will read those books over and over again.

But there are some things in my bookcase I don’t and I won’t.

My skills as a writer have grown in the last twelve months, and with it my critical editing eye. There are some books I can’t read anymore. And there are some books, that while I can read them once, while they are fresh and new, and the suspense carries me past the writing errors, I can’t re-read because the quality of the writing becomes more apparent. And let’s face it, I’m not known for my tolerance levels. OK, I am, but not because I have a high tolerance level...

I don’t mean to be snobby, only to say it’s harder to turn my inner editor off now. And of course, as one grows older, one’s tastes change.

I can look at my bookcase and concede there are titles there I am unlikely to read again, either because the story no longer appeals to me, or the quality of the writing was lacking. Things like:
  • Katharine Kerr’s Epic Deverry Series and the series that follows (I don’t think it had a proper name even!);
  • Numerous Dragonlance books (although I am keeping a few of the stories that truly captivated me);
  • Margaret Weis’s Rose of the Prophet series, which I slogged through exactly 1.5 times, always a good sign to never attempt to read it again;
  • The Chronicles of the Custodian by Martin Middleton – which not only use the dreaded first person, but involved (from memory) a lot of ‘telling’ instead of showing;
  • A lot of Raymond E Feist’s later books, which I felt grew repetitive and lazy – and to be honest I was tempted to get rid of Magician and its sequels as well. I’ve kept them, pending further thought;
  • Robin Hobb’s Farseer series, the original cause of my deep dislike for first person in epic fantasy – I am never going to re-read this series and I’ve never picked up another Robin Hobb book because of them;
  • All Melanie Rawn’s books, of which the only one I liked was Dragon Prince – also the only one I don’t own;
  • The Andrakis trilogy by Tony Shillitoe;
  • The Acorna series by Anne McCaffrey – I think this is actually YA, and I’m not into a lot of that;
  • Some of Sara Douglass’s later books, which I felt dropped off in quality. I’m afraid I only got halfway through the first book in the Darkglass Mountain series and I don’t think I’ll bother trying to finish;
  • The last of David Eddings’s books, which very much repeated his earlier work;
  • All the Jonathon Wylie books I own, including the Servants of the Ark trilogy; and
  • A few books of which I somehow wound up with duplicates – 2 Harry Potter books, Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, and 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs.
So far I’m up to about 70 books, and I still have a few to check. So you may be wondering what I am keeping. So here are some of the books which were never in doubt:
  • The complete Discworld series by Terry Pratchett (40+ books);
  • The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (and Brandon Sanderson);
  • Brandon Sanderson’s Final Empire trilogy and Stormlight Archives;
  • Brent Weeks’s Night Angel Trilogy and The Black Prism;
  • Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth saga;
  • George R R Martin’s Game of Thrones and sequels;
  • The David Gemmell books I already owned (to which I’ve now added Dad’s cast-offs); and
  • Janny Wurts’s Cycle of Fire trilogy and the Wars of Light and Shadow;
  • The early works of David Eddings;
  • Terry Brooks’s Shannara books and Landover series; and
  • Stephen Donaldson’s Mordant’s Need duo.
So is there something I kept you would have tossed? Or did I toss something you absolutely love?  Can you not bear to part with any of your hard copy books, notwithstanding the advent of ebooks? Or could you not wait to reclaim that space? 
Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Steve Bennett said...

Wonderful taste there.....most of the bottom list is sitting on my bookshelves (including all of the Terry Pratchett)  :)

Marina Fin said...

In recent years I've also decided to cut down my book collection because of space issues. These days if I read a new purchase and know I'm not likely to read it again, it goes straight into a pile to be donated to the library. I've also cleared out boxes and boxes of old stuff I know I won't read again, but some, like David Eddings, have given me trouble. I know I won't read them again, but what about the kids? They're now old enough to read a lot of this stuff. My middle child adores Brandon Sanderson (that kid has good taste!) -- is her fantasy education really complete without David Eddings, cliched characters, annoying cliffhangers and all??

Maybe you need to keep more than you think, for your little one to read in a few years. Even if it's just to show her how NOT to write a book!

Ciara Ballintyne said...

 What can I say, except you have impeccable taste? ;-)

Ciara Ballintyne said...

 Oh, I've kept most of David Eddings's books - the Belgariad, the Mallorean, the Elenium, and the Tamuli series - just because I like the humour, so I think I may be well-stocked for that day :-) I think I actually only tossed one Eddings book - the first book of the Elder Gods series. I was kinder to him than some others.

besides, the Belgariad was the first fantasy series I ever read, so I have a soft-spot for Garion.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

I borrowed that one and wasn't taken by the urge to buy it...

Raonaid said...

Ahhhh... David Gemmell, my husband's favorite author. He would have kicked my arse if I tried to get rid of those.

Though i can tell you that I could NEVER part with my Mercedes Lackey's collection.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

 Mercedes Lackey survived my cull too!

Raonaid said...

Yay!  Took me many years to complete my Valdemar series collection, and some of them signed to boot.

Justin Bogdanovitch said...

Thoughtful choices, Ciara. Figuring out the specifics helps show character . . . I tend to ship off mass market books to friends who I know are great readers. Hardcovers I keep if they are really good ones, but I'm culling a lot, and haven't bought a ton of new books beyond the kindle.

Cheryl said...

I would also have kept the Gemmell, Eddings, the Martin and the Pratchett books, but not the Jordan or the Goodkind ones. The latter are not on the same par, in my opinion, as the others. Jordan starts off well, but gets progressively monotonous and long-winded. Goodkind didn't impress me with the first in the series - too many lucky coincidences for my liking - so I didn't read the rest. Loved the first couple of Shannara trilogies, but felt they became repetitive after that.

MkMartinKing said...

That is a fine collection, I urge you not to 'get rid of the David Gemmell books, I have them all and although I ha net read them in ages, I know I will read them again. Also since Mr Gemmell's untimely demise, lots of his books are valuable collectors items - particularly the early ones.

Terry Prachett, I'd keep Soul Music and the rest of the Reaper books.

Interesting thoughts on Raymond E F, but you've got to keep Magician at least. Great to read between Gemmell books as the difference in 'time' use is massive between Authors.

And the bottom line, we look at screens to much (on iPhone now), your eyes love real books!

Ciara Ballintyne said...

 I don't have them all, only a few, and the only signed book I have is Brandon Sanderson. People just don't come here all that often. Did you know music artists can do a 'world tour' and not even stop in Australia some times?

Ciara Ballintyne said...

 I didn't ditch many hardcovers, but then I don't often buy hardcovers unless I really like them.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

 Ah, I love the Wheel of Time and the Sword of Truth. Yes, Jordan was a little long-winded, but the story is fabulous even if the writing is not and Brandon Sanderson has rectified the long-windedness at any rate. Terry Goodkind can be hit and miss. His first book was clearly the work of a debut author, and he improved after that, but books 5 and 7 really sucked and I was not impressed with his last effort either. When he's hot, he's hot, and when he's not, he's REALLY not. But I do so love Richard. Such an awesome character. You are right about the Shannara books but for some reason I still enjoy them anyway.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

I haven't gotten rid of any Gemmell books, I got more! Dad got rid of his and I've taken most of them to supplement the ones I already had. Which are the early ones preciselyu? I think I've now got all the Drenai books... and I forget what else.

I have kept Magician for the moment, although I may ditch Silverthorn and Darkness at Sethanon. I kept the Erik von Darkmoor series - I did like Erik and Rupert. Ditched all the ones that went with the computer games but kept the Rift War Saga. Kept the ones he co-wrote with Janny Wurts, too.

Screens is the reason I got a kindle instead of reading on the kindle app on my netbook. The kindle has e-ink, so it reads like a paper book rather than a computer screen.

Goran Zidar said...

David Gemmell is one of my favourite authors. More for nostalgic reasons than anything else but Waylander was my ultimate character. I can't imagine a list of greatest fantasy characters that doesn't include him. For me he's what started me down the anti-hero path and I still haven't looked back.

I agree with some of the comments. Don't get rid of Magician. It was awesome - even though you might not reread it then keep it simply for its contribution to the genre. As for may others on your chuck list... good choices. Dragonlance was largely pulp (but I'd never toss the original 6 Raistlin is another character I just loved). I disagree on Robin Hobb but I'd happily take the mistborn books of your hands. I only have eCopies of those and would love paper ones :-)

A tough decision... I don't envy you.

Rayne Hall said...

I wonder how David Gemmell would have felt about e-books. He seemed to need the physical presence of printed books. I used to visit him in his study, where he had a special shelf devoted to the display of his own books, so that whenever he had doubts about himself as a writer, he could gaze at that shelf until the doubts were gone.  No doubt David's books will live on in both electronic and print format.  But when he first started, if he'd then been published electronically only (like most new writers do these days), and without the visual physical presence of his printed books he might have been discouraged. Then we wouldn't have his great fantasy novels now.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

 I love Waylander, definitely my favourite Gemmell character! I tend towards characters like his though.

I've kept a handful of the Dragonlance books - the Twins trilogy because I, too, quite like Raistlin. I don't understand him, but I think it's his contradictions that appeal to me.

The only Mistborn book I'm giving up is the first one because I have two copies. I could always post it to you :-)

Ciara Ballintyne said...

 I'll always have certain books in hard copy, and his are definitely on that list. I am very conflicted about ebooks - I like hard copy books, but they do take up so much space, and ebooks are great for travelling. But I have two full bookcases and I still need a third, so I see no reason why I'll ever get rid of those - but I'll definitely be more choosy about what I buy in hard copy in the future.

Gina Francis said...

When my daughter moved out, I rescued her Valdemar books even though I had already read them twice. I agree with Acorna, didn't read the whole series, had a hard enough time getting through the first book. I love ebooks but I didn't like my kindle, currently reading on my laptop.

A storage unit. All books and you can't tell I took any out of the house! Yes, I've gotten rid of some, just not enough.

Loving your blog (both of them)

Ciara Ballintyne said...

 There's no way I'll part with any books that I still read, but don't see the point cluttering the house up with stuff I don't or won't. Have found a charity in Sydney I can donate them to, so I'm thinking I might do that. Couldn't just toss them, such a waste. Found another 2 boxes in the back corner of the study though that I had to sort! Oops. Have an overflowing tub of books to get rid of, and my two bookcases look just as full as they did before.

I got my kindle because I didn't like reading on my computer. too hard to get comfortable, even with a really small netbook, and not fond of the glare from the screen.

Glad you like my blogs, always something I'll never tire of hearing. Thanks! :-)

Salmaan D said...

 C'mon Ciara... you can safely dispose of almost every terry goodkind book after the Wizard's First Rule. In my opinion it was better than any of his other works. 

You know what i find amusing?  I too refused to read Robin Hobb's stuff because it was first person and i've never EVER read any of her books after about the first 25pages of the first novel. Ironically if you give me other genre's or series (conan doyles Sherlock Holmes or H P Lovecrafts novels and short stories etc) I dont care if its in first person.  But i HATED fantasy in first person. I found it.... contemptible.

Garion was a whiney snivelling "why me grandpa?" bitch of a kid.   But it was still a good series lol

Sparhawk on the otherhand -  was a badass cradlesnatching S.O.B

I've got MOST of feists stuff.. although i'll probably get rid of it.  All of WoT which i'll probably keep.  I think my peice de resistance is the Horus Heresy series. 17  novels plus 18 or so short stories all jampacked full of brutal badassery.  And its not even finished yet?! FTW!

When i was younger i had all of gemmel's works, but i had a drug addiction and kept pawning them at the second hand book store .. :-\    I'm not proud of it, but i once bought this same Pantera cd 3 times and pawned the same cd 3 times!  Ahh trials of a mispent youth.

 Waylander was, I think, the best of Gemmell's characters because he was the least 1 dimensional.  His character/belief and views actually changed across his set of novels.   Druss and some of the others, were relatively one dimensional and about the only thing that changed in Druss's life is that the start of his story he had adversaries and at the end of it, they were all dead. 

Salmaan D said...

 omg it was possibly one of the worst books ever.   And as an unpublished author who hasnt even finished his "debut novel" i'm kind of reluctant to mouth of about other peoples work... but that book... egads.  its the literary equivalent of oxygen thievery.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

 Perhaps you'll think less of me for it, but I do love The Sword of Truth series - OK, except books 5, 7 and the last one, the Omen Machine. The writing isn't brilliant, but I find the story, and especially Richard's character, very compelling.

First person rarely works in epic fantasy, because, well, isn't half the point that it should be epic? And doesn't something on an epic scale usually involve a cast of characters? That may be why you don't mind first in detective stories, because the style suits that story so much better. I find I don't mind it in that genre as well.

Agree about Garion and Sparhawk LOL although Garion did get better. His was an evolution of character from a small boy to a young man. Sparhawk was much older to start.

I haven't read the Horus heresy series. Perhaps this means I should check it out!

You're right about Gemmell too - Druss, especially, never appealed to me all that much. He is very one-dimensional. Waylander was my favourite by far, and then perhaps Skilgannon. Druss was too much of a goody-two shoes.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

LMAO I dunno, have you read much self-published work? While I am not one to deny there are gems in the self-published circles (one of my favourite books is self-published), but a lot of it... a lot of it makes the Redemption of Althalus look like a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Salmaan D said...

The Horus Heresy series is a scifi series set in the 31st millennium. It has many elements of fantasy in it...gods, psychic and magic powers, elves and orks, but also space ships, superhumans, and Bigass machine guns. Think of the Roman legions in galactic conquest with the emperor being betrayed by his son who falls under dark powers and tries to over throw him. First book is called Horus Rising. Www.blacklibrary.com is the publisher.

More to say but phone typing sux. :-)

Rayne Hall said...

Only two book cases and needing only a third? This doesn't sound like you have a problem. For me, it's more extreme. I read extremely fast (500 books a year) and every surface of my home is covered in piles of books. The yearly clearout, deciding which books to give away, is painful. That's where ebooks are a solution. Several thousand books in one small tablet means I can keep them.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

That's AFTER I get rid of all the ones I'm not keeping. I used to read that fast, but when I did I didn't have the money to buy lots of books (and a paperback in Australia will set you back $22, a hardback $50). Now I can afford more books, but because I spend so much time writing, I don't buy nearly as many anymore. But I also don't have any more room for extra bookcases after those three - not if I want to have somewhere to write as well :-)

Ciara Ballintyne said...

Sounds interesting! You're right, leaving comments by phone is just TOO painful.

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