Rant from January 2005

Was wondering if I should pick up Haydon's new book and this rant arose in my mind.

[January 2005]

When I read fantasy, I'm not looking for cheap romance or instant gratification with some random pretty boy. What I want most out of any book is realism. I'm searching for escapism and it's hard to do that if you can spot all the flaws and plot holes at a glance. I want a world that is solid, with a history, with language, culture, economical issues, politics, and goddamn sewerage systems. Magic is fine but too much of it makes the plot seem weak, like an excuse to cover some author failing.

Furthermore, I want characters that are believable. People have flaws. In the words of a fanfictioner whose name I forgot; 'Character flaws are what makes us loveable.'

Some of you may argue with me here, along the lines of 'But Arithon is so damn perfect, are you sure you're not being hypocritical?'
To which I reply; 'Arithon is not perfect! If I met him in real life, I wouldn't like him. He's moody, quick tempered and it's so difficult to get to know him. Furthermore, even if I finally got on his highly select friends list, the man is far too much the 'puppet of pity' for me to be able to stand him for five minutes.'

Which leads me onto my real subject at last. I recently got my hands on a copy of Elizabeth Haydon's Requiem for a Lost Star and devoured it all. In reflection I realised that I've lost my fondness for her writing and for her characters somewhere along the line. The Achmed that now lives in my head is different from the one in hers. For one thing, he's not so much of a love sick puppy and more the sarcastic bastard that I believe he was born to be. But the main reason for my distaste is that she has created, although her more loyal fans deny it, a Published Mary Sue, one of the greatest horrors of the Known World.

It's subtle but it's there. She's jaw-slackingly beautiful, with hair the colour of honey and a figure to mob for. She has, get this, eyes the colour and sparkle of iridescent emeralds (I have nothing wrong with green eyes, mind you. It's common enough.) She's a brilliant sword fighter despite having only learnt it all in a year. She's an entrancing singer with a voice of an angel. She's kind, loving and adopts every second orphan she sees on the streets. She's clever and know much lore which may come in handy for the less learned of the party. She possesses the Daystar Clarion, the elemental blade of Ether and Fire, AND furthermore she has an elemental connect to Fire, which not only makes her more hypnotic to watch but gives her the ability to command it at will.
Shall I go on? Yes, there's actually more.
She is physically perfect. Yes. Perfect. She is charismatic although she does not know it, and in her ignorance she appears even more beautiful. She used to be a whore but having left all that she is now a gracious queen. Fuck this. She's a half-elf! I mean, Lirin. But we all know it's just another name for elf, for heaven's sake. Give it up already.

Yes, my friends, I am talking about Rhapsody. Even her so-called flaws are perfect: she gets emotional about children, her friends, her lover, her people (i.e., everyone.) She's always thinking about others and placing them ahead of herself but it's never really disastrous for Rhapsody because everyone just loves her so goddamn much. (Yeah, so quit attempting to steal Arithon's Compassionate Loser of the Year Award.)
Nothing terribly bad happens to her. Sure, she gets kidnapped and nearly looses her baby, but it only serves as a plot device to make others around her love her even more. Oh, Rhapsody doesn't whinge, because that would indicate that she's thinking about herself again. She just picks herself up and continues on, showing such strength of character and determination that sometimes I think she hasn't learnt anything at all.
She makes me sick.

Which is a pity because it was her character that first got me into the first few pages of /Rhapsody, Child of Blood/. I liked her back then, when she wasn't perfect and when she was just a frightened little girl down on her luck. She had a cuteness about her that didn't appear cheesy or false. But then after that baptism of fire... I dunno, the author gave her too many changes at once and turned her into the flaming goddess of love and mercy.

You know, that's not to say that I don't like all of Elizabeth's writing. Sometimes the woman is pure genius. Achmed. She claims that some of her fans like him because they've mistakenly labelled him as a "romantic hero" but I like him because he isn't. He really is an ugly son of a bitch with a nature to match his appearance. What other author could come up with a main character that was such a complete and utter jerk when he doesn't look like a fucking playboy? I mean, that was until she made him go all gooey.
She has interesting ideas, and I like the world she's created. Although I get the feeling that she hasn't completed the details of the picture yet, what little bits that she has worked out seem pretty solid. I like the religion and the musical culture behind it all, although I feel that her attempt at creating a language fails laughably short. I can speak old Cymrian! I just have to type like an AOL user!

It seems sad to me, but I think Threshold may have been her best work to date and it wasn't even about the current storyline. The style of it, the language, the characters, everything about it seems so much more sophisticated than the work she's producing now. I'm glad I read that first before I read /Rhapsody/, because I would never have liked Elizabeth Haydon if it were the other way around.

Oh yes. And I wanted to add something else. That whole crap about Ashe and Achmed? Honestly, I think Rhapsody deserves Ashe in all his fucking glory. The flawed beauty of Achmed's character would be wasted on someone so goddamn perfect as Rhapsody. Stay single, man. You don't need her even with her "calming vibrations," for heaven's sake. *rolls eyes*

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