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Faramicos
Senior Scribe

Denmark
468 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2005 :  13:34:32  Show Profile  Visit Faramicos's Homepage Send Faramicos a Private Message  Delete Topic
Poll Question:
I have had very mixed feelings about the book and i would love for you all to share with me your thoughts of the book. Please go into detail with your reasons for the votes you cast so that future readers can see whether or not they want to read it.

Choices:

Excellent
Very good
Good
Average
Below average
Fair
Poor

(Anonymous Vote)

"When dragons make war, worlds can only tremble in the shadow of angry wings"

Faramicos
Senior Scribe

Denmark
468 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2005 :  13:41:41  Show Profile  Visit Faramicos's Homepage Send Faramicos a Private Message
As i began to read it i was looking forward to a novel on Elminster in Hell and with that a chance to peak into the demonic plane and learn more about it. What i got was a book mainly about the mind games between Elminster and a Demon Lord. It started very promissing but evolved down a path i didnt like. Seen with a DM´s eyes the book was interesting enough, but i was rather dissapointet with the general storyline of the book. My feelings are that they should have published a book called "Memories of Elminster" if they wanted to share his thoughts with us instead of squeasing them into a book which looked so promissing before you started reading it... There are probably many of you who disagree with me and i am looking forward to reading your replies and seeing what all of you readers think of the book.

"When dragons make war, worlds can only tremble in the shadow of angry wings"
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Kajehase
Great Reader

Sweden
2104 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2005 :  14:01:13  Show Profile Send Kajehase a Private Message
Well, no offence Faramicos, but to me it sounds like you're saying the book was bad because it's something it never was supposed to be. I'm sorry if the book wasn't about what you wanted it to be, but perhaps you should instead judge it by what it is trying to be - a story revolving around showing the humanity of Elminster, while at the same time not alienating the perceived target-audience (hence the many fight-scenes in the memories).

The book was never meant to be a story about Elminster and/or the Simbul whooping devil-posteriors (demons live in the Abyss btw), and to deem the book boring or bad because of it not being this, is a lot like complaining about the lack of depth in the Star Wars-movies, they're fast-paced matiné-adventures - not anything else.

There is a rumour going around that I have found god. I think is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.
Terry Pratchett
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Faramicos
Senior Scribe

Denmark
468 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2005 :  14:41:07  Show Profile  Visit Faramicos's Homepage Send Faramicos a Private Message
You are probably right... But the huge mass of info on the realms that was stored in the novel is just not something i want crammed into a story. They should be in a sourcebook or the like. My judgement is based on my feelings for the book. Also with what the author meant it to be. I just dont like it. But i can see your point and i can assure you that i dont judge the book from the criterias that you mention.

"When dragons make war, worlds can only tremble in the shadow of angry wings"
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
30338 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2005 :  17:31:10  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message
I didn't really care for the novel, myself. My problem was that I didn't see how reliving a shared memory would cause the other people in that memory to relive it, or how this could act as a signal to them that something was awry.

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Faramicos
Senior Scribe

Denmark
468 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2005 :  17:33:09  Show Profile  Visit Faramicos's Homepage Send Faramicos a Private Message
Precisely... It seemed completely out of context to me when i read it... But some authors work in mysterious ways...

"When dragons make war, worlds can only tremble in the shadow of angry wings"
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Faraer
Great Reader

3302 Posts

Posted - 17 Aug 2005 :  18:30:01  Show Profile  Visit Faraer's Homepage Send Faraer a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Faramicos
But the huge mass of info on the realms that was stored in the novel is just not something i want crammed into a story. They should be in a sourcebook or the like.
(Whereas when the 3E Realms line was launched, Sean Reynolds was opining that heavy Realmslore belonged in the fiction rather than the game line!)

Novels are not required to be the simplistic A–Z adventure stories that have held back Realms fiction for so long, and 'dense with information' is not a valid criticism. Lots of books outside write-for-hire franchise fiction are dense with information: take Neal Stephenson's books, to name just one author.

So relevantly, does Elminster in Hell succeed at its own artistic goals, did you enjoy it if you read it, and would you enjoy it if you haven't?

The book's goals intersect a major treatment of the central Realms theme of knowledge and memory with a crisis in the biography of Elminster in which we see who he is when his back is really to the wall. It's reasonable to assume that anyone reading Realms novels is interested in the first, and anyone following Elminster's story cares about the second.

I've not read one criticism of the book in these, its own terms. But I've read several accounts from people not liking the book, so evidently it failed to accomplish its aims accessibly to everyone. I would take these 'poor' votes seriously, though, when someone argues convincingly that the book is badly written or structured, thematically incoherent, lacking good characters, not true to the Realms -- or something other than 'I didn't like it' or 'it wasn't what I expected'. As seems self-evident to me, the memories are the story, as much as the framing narrative is.

Is the title misleading? Like the flashback, the idea that hell is a state of mind is so widely known that it's a cliché. I hope Realms readers are not less sophisticated than watchers of TV movies-of-the-week. Elminster spell-battling devils for 400 pages would not make a good book, and it would be wrong in terms of continuity -- Elminster is not so mighty that he can survive so long in that place -- and in terms of theme, because Elminster is a sage first and an archmage second, and his knowledge and the mutual love for his friends are his real powers, not his skill-at-Art.

But I can say that if you love the Realms, and approach Elminster in Hell without expecting it to be something it's not, you have a chance of experiencing the most profound, ambitious, and moving literary experience that's been attempted in Realms fiction so far.

Edited by - Faraer on 17 Aug 2005 18:32:24
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Faramicos
Senior Scribe

Denmark
468 Posts

Posted - 19 Aug 2005 :  13:32:20  Show Profile  Visit Faramicos's Homepage Send Faramicos a Private Message
First of all, the reason for me to do this poll was to see how many enjoyed reading the book and as the poll is going i think it is clear what the general feeling is. Secondly it is a weak arguement that the book does it job in giving these amounts of information to the reader and therefore should be enjoyed by all... People differs in what they want from a book and that was why i posted this poll, so that i could see if i was the only one not liking it. I can truly understand those who like it and i will be the first to give the book credit for being well written and giving alot of great details on the realms to the reader... But that is just not what everybody wants. I did not enjoy reading the book but that is a question of my mentality towards books and what i want from them, not wheter the book was poorly written or not. And as the poll shows, i am not the only one to think so.

And to the fact that Elminster couldent battle demons for 400 pages i agree with you, but there is so much more potential in the Forgotten Realms setting and in the brilliant authors writting about it, as to provide a book with a exciting storyline going on in Hell...

Hope you understand my points...

"When dragons make war, worlds can only tremble in the shadow of angry wings"
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Faraer
Great Reader

3302 Posts

Posted - 19 Aug 2005 :  17:01:17  Show Profile  Visit Faraer's Homepage Send Faraer a Private Message
Sure. Experience needs no justification, but the poll would have been better phrased in those terms, then, rather than judgements on the book itself. I think this thread will be more useful if we can get more comments as to why and how the book worked for people or on the other hand failed to connect, rather than just collecting a handful of votes.

(I didn't make the argument that you call weak, by the way.)
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ode904
Learned Scribe

Finland
193 Posts

Posted - 19 Aug 2005 :  22:04:35  Show Profile  Click to see ode904's MSN Messenger address Send ode904 a Private Message
Oh, many have voted poor!
I loved the book. It was very..hmm.. intresting.
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KnightErrantJR
Great Reader

USA
5402 Posts

Posted - 19 Aug 2005 :  22:20:09  Show Profile  Visit KnightErrantJR's Homepage Send KnightErrantJR a Private Message
Its been a while since I read it, but since this has come up I'll throw in my two coppers. This was actually my favorite of the Elminster books with the exception of the most recent Elminster's Daughter. While I have liked all of Ed's books, one of the problems with the Elminster books is that about a million plot threads start up and then in the last chapter or two they all resolve in a rapid succession that causes about twenty power groups to show up spells blazing, and you have to take about a week to sort through why this or that group showed up during the climax.

The problem with this is not so much Ed as it its the fact that WOTC is leary of breaking 400 pages with a book, and Ed could easily write a 700 page epic. Thus, in an effort to resolve everything, even minor plot threads that the denser of us readers might not have picked up on tend to resolve wheather we knew they were there or not (oh wait, he was an agent of THEM?). The other quirk Ed has is that he tends to like to create new major characters, so every character introduced is potentially a star, and as such, characters and events don't get flagged with the "this is the main plot, this is the main character" tags that most authors utilize. In and of itself, its an interesting technique, but coupled with the above editorial issue, it can create a lot of "white noise" where you aren't sure who was working for whom, not becuase your stupid, but becuase that plot thread kinda faded to the background when the next one was introduced.

With Elminster in Hell, it was pretty obvious that El and the Simbul were the major players, and the mental digressions made for an compartmentalized introduction of new characters, and screened out a lot of white noise in the book. While the same Ed "twenty power groups in one epic ending" still occurs, at least its pretty obvious that it happens becuase El and the Simbul have just been raked over the coals (somewhat litterally) and as such they are percieved as weak, and various nefarious elements find it a good time to come out of the woodwork.

I liked it, and it worked for me, as it seemed to take some of Ed's natural quirks and play them to their best uses, making them a strenghth and not a distraction. Its not as good as Elminster's Daughter, which for reasons I haven't fully analysed, seemed to be easier to follow dispite no lack of multiple plot threats and newly created "stars."

And don't take any of the above as my not liking Ed's work. Ed's books just require a bit more effort from the reader, and aren't as easy to read when you don't want to push your mind as much. You have to be in the right mindset to follow it, like you would a good thriller or spy novel.

"Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder."--Saint Thomas Aquinas

http://knighterrantjr.blogspot.com/

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Crust
Learned Scribe

USA
273 Posts

Posted - 19 Aug 2005 :  23:42:13  Show Profile  Visit Crust's Homepage  Send Crust an AOL message Send Crust a Private Message
I had this to say about Elminster in Hell about a year back:

quote:

In the heart of a million devils and more, Mystra glared and slew, glared and slew.

A million devils?!?! I think this is the one and only time the figure "million" is used in the FR library. I had a fit when I read this scene. Only Greenwood could command such power in an FR novel.

Elminster in Hell is the most amazing, exciting, and (truly) ambitious novel of the entire FR library, and a warm pat on the back for any reader who has been following Elminster throughout his exploits.

The novel contains moments that are far beyond anything found in any other FR book. The Simbul and her Blood Ring, Halaster, Geryon, Asmodeus, and, of course, Mystra herself battling the minions of Hell... How can anyone not love that??

I understand the dream sequences stray from the main plot line, and I do remember flipping ahead, asking myself, "Man, when do we get back to the hellish blood-letting?" Those memory sequences act as a wonderful pat on the back for any FR reader who has read all of Greenwood's books. It also makes sense at this point that we are given a glimpse of Elminster's mind, considering how Elminster is possibly insane, and even more so after the scouring of his mind. Elminster in Hell gives us a look at Elminster's inner thoughts, and it also lets us see his most prized memories. This is a wonderful thing for a character to give to us. The memory sequences have a purpose, and that purpose goes beyond the novel itself.

My only gripe is that we don't have Nergal in the Book of Vile Darkness. Some of those devils were amazing! I remember Geryon from that old 2E module Paladin in Hell. There's a great picture of him battling a group of epic PCs. Man, I think I might read that book again.

Elminster in Hell is epic, it's ambitious, it's simply amazing. It does something that NONE of the other FR novels do: it challanges the reader.


Not only am I a bit annoyed with the poll, I'm ashamed to see the results. Frankly, this poll says more about the ability of certain posters to understand and appreciate what they're reading than it does about Elminster in Hell. This thread should be deleted.

"That's right, hurl back views that force ye to think by name-calling - 'tis the grand old tradition, let it not down! Anything to keep from having to think, or - Mystra forfend - change thy own views!"

Narnra glowered at her father. "Just how am I to learn how to think? By being taught by you?"

"Some folk in the Realms would give their lives for the chance to learn at my feet," Elminster said mildly. "Several already have."

~from Elminster's Daughter, Ed Greenwood

Edited by - Crust on 19 Aug 2005 23:42:40
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
30338 Posts

Posted - 20 Aug 2005 :  00:21:15  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Crust

Not only am I a bit annoyed with the poll, I'm ashamed to see the results. Frankly, this poll says more about the ability of certain posters to understand and appreciate what they're reading than it does about Elminster in Hell. This thread should be deleted.



I disagree, on all counts. Just because a poster does not like this book, it does not mean they failed to understand or appreciate the book. For an example of appreciating something but not liking it, I thought Shakespeare in Love was an intriguing way to tell the Romeo & Juliet story. However, I hate the story of Romeo & Juliet, so I didn't like the movie.

Different people have different tastes. Look at the Return of the Archwizards trilogy: I think it stunk on ice, but at least one poster here loved it.

And other than Elminster's Daughter, I've never been a huge fan of Ed's books. They simply don't grab me.

It's all about opinion. What one person likes, another may dislike. Just because people have different preferences, it's not a reflection on them.

This thread allows people to discuss their opinion of this book. As such, I am leaving it alone.

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Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
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Crust
Learned Scribe

USA
273 Posts

Posted - 20 Aug 2005 :  01:19:36  Show Profile  Visit Crust's Homepage  Send Crust an AOL message Send Crust a Private Message
Poor is the last word I would use to describe Elminster in Hell, however you define "poor." None of Ed's novels are poor. Come on. The fact that 9 people selected poor is very unsettling.

I would like to know who selected poor, and I would also like an explanation as to why beyond, "Too many dream sequences! Greenwood wants me to think with this novel! Not enough epic spell scouring in Hell..." I'd also like to know how well-read that person is in Realms lore.

Opinion is one thing, but it's important that the opinion be valid and well-grounded, backed by experience, not just a gut reaction. If you think Elminster in Hell is truly poor, you better be prepared to explain yourself.

"Poor" and "I didn't like it" are two completely different things. Maybe that's the problem with this poll.

Lastly, I don't think anyone here has the right to say whether Ed's novels are "poor." It's rude and disrespectful to the person who gave us the Realms in the first place. Shame on yourselves for selecting poor.

"That's right, hurl back views that force ye to think by name-calling - 'tis the grand old tradition, let it not down! Anything to keep from having to think, or - Mystra forfend - change thy own views!"

Narnra glowered at her father. "Just how am I to learn how to think? By being taught by you?"

"Some folk in the Realms would give their lives for the chance to learn at my feet," Elminster said mildly. "Several already have."

~from Elminster's Daughter, Ed Greenwood

Edited by - Crust on 20 Aug 2005 01:22:49
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Kuje
Great Reader

USA
7915 Posts

Posted - 20 Aug 2005 :  01:40:29  Show Profile  Send Kuje an AOL message  Click to see Kuje's MSN Messenger address  Send Kuje a Yahoo! Message Send Kuje a Private Message
Okay,

I'm locking this till I talk to Alaundo.

For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet and excite you... Books are full of the things that you don't get in real life - wonderful, lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat. - Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

My Goodreads page: http://www.goodreads.com/kuje

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