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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Seven Princes - John Fultz

Around these parts I commit myself to finishing everything I start.  Why, you ask?  Because I think it's important for me to help my reader make decisions about what they should buy and what they should avoid.  If I only read things that I enjoy, how will I ever fulfill the second half of that commitment?  I'm also loathe to spend 800 words eviscerating someone's baby.  Thus, Cheryl was born.  Cheryl is my imaginary personal assistent who helps me "review" novels I really did not like.  Instead of just doggedly attacking a novel's failures, I try to have some fun with it and get some laughs.  Hopefully it's taken the way I intend it.

What follows is the conversation I had with some figures of legend about John Fultz's debut novel, Seven Princes.  It's a novel I really wanted to like, but didn't.  Cheryl urged me hold the post until after Christmas, I agreed.  This is my third installment of posts featuring Cheryl.  If you enjoy this one, I suggest finding the Cheryl tag on the right sidebar for the others.

                             

Best fake personal assistant that
fake money can fake buy.
Justin: *buzz* Cheryl, what's on today's agenda?

Cheryl: It's Christmas, Mr. Landon.

Justin: Right.  So it is.

Cheryl: You're doing it again, aren't you?

Justin: Huh?  What do you mean -- "it"?

Cheryl: You're going to make fun of someone's book.

Justin: I'm a reviewer Cheryl.  My intellectual integrity demands that I represent things as I see them!

Cheryl: It's Christmas, Mr. Landon!  Christmas!  Do you want your little blogger friends to call you the Grinch?  They will.  In fact, I heard Larry from OF Blog of the Fallen call you an abecedarian!

Justin: A what?

Cheryl: I had to look it up.  That guy's a real windbag.

Justin: Oh who cares what he thinks.  I need to get this review for Seven Princes written.

Cheryl: Oh poor John Fultz... I really should send him a fruit basket or something....

Justin: *hanging up on Cheryl* John Fultz's Seven Princes is an attempt to write a modern myth in the spirit of....

*buzz*

Justin: Jesus Chri... er... Yes, Cheryl?

Cheryl: Mr. Landon, Gilgamesh is on the line.

Justin: I'm sorry, did you say Gilgamesh?  Like the ancient hero of Mesopatamia who's been dead for 4,000 years?

Cheryl: How am I supposed to know?  He just said Gilgamesh.  He said you'd know what it's about.

Justin:  Better put him through...

Cheryl: Mr. Gilgamesh, I have Mr. Landon on the line.

Justin: Uh, Merry Christmas?

Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill some baddies
Gilgamesh: *grunt* Me English not so good.  Have Beowulf here, too.

Beowulf: Greetings peasant.

Justin: I'm actually a professional, King of the Geats.  Not som...

Gilgamesh: I not care.  We talk about book.

Justin: Uh, Seven Princes?

Beowulf: My grunting compatriot and I have heard that someone has tried to write a modern novel in the style of the ancient epic.

Justin: You could say that.

Beowulf: I did say that.

Justin: It's an expression.

Gilgamesh: Argh! Enough wordplay. Enkidu smart, but no here.  Gilgamesh smash.

Beowulf: Calm yourself my ancient friend.  We called yon' Professional to ensure our legacies as kings of the ancient epic are intact!

Justin: Right.  Well, as I said, Fultz certainly tried to interpret the ancient epic into a modern story.  All of his characters are infallible.  Super-strong, full of magic, seemingly invulnerable, and entirely unchangeable.  Incredibly convenient things happen time and again in a contrived manner that benefits these heroes...

Gilgamesh: What wrong with that?

Beowulf: Seems like my kind of tale, yon' Professional.

Justin: Hmm, I suppose it would.  Fultz never pays any attention to non-heroes because, well, just about everyone in the novel is a full blown hero.  Additionally, the consequences of their actions on the wider world are ignored.

Beowulf: Stories make legends!  My deeds are known throughout the centuries!  Why should anyone care about the man who cleans my mail?!

Justin: Yes, right.  That's the thing... modern readers are looking for deeper, more intimate, stories.

Gilgamesh: Ah, deeper and intimate... Gilgamesh see.  Like when Enkidu and me turn off the lights...

Justin: Oh good lord, no... bad Gilgamesh, bad!

Beowulf: I must agree with yon' Professional, friend Gilgamesh.  For the nonce, please refrain from further mentions of lights.

Justin: What I meant is that telling a story about supermen running around bashing things without any conception for cause and effect or character building just isn't something that I want to read these days.  The only reason your epics hold a place in the pantheon is because of what they tell us about the past.  Fultz's epic of a made up world with uninteresting made up characters doesn't tell us anything about the past, and because it's a shallow story about killing monsters it doesn't really tell us anything about anything.

Gilgamesh: Beowulf, did puny 'modern reader' call Gilgamesh story bad?

Beowulf: .... yon' Professional begins to resemble Grendel, methinks.

Justin: Uh.. ahem.. c'mon guys... what I meant was Fultz's novel is no threat to the stories of old.  While his sentences are well formed and he describes all the action superbly, he lacks the same gravitas of your epics which occupy a vital place in cultural history.  Furthermore, because the novel lacks any modern sensibilities when it comes to character or plot it falls flat.  Maybe this would be a big hit in the 80's, when fantasy was still nascent, but today?  I say resoundingly.... meh.

Gilgamesh: That better. *crashing noises*

This movie sucked. Don't
tell Beowulf!
Justin: Uh, did you just drop a rock?  You know we're on the phone right?  You can't actually hit me with a rock.

Gilgamesh: Heh, Beowulf... this guy no understand metaphysics, do he?

Justin: *grumble* Everyone's a critic.

Beowulf: Good bye, yon' Professional.  We'll be in touch if there are more threats to our legacy.

Gilgamesh: *grunt* Now, where Enkidu and tent?

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11 Comments:

At December 28, 2011 at 8:00 AM , Blogger Paul Weimer said...

:chuckle:

I think Gilgy was smarter than you give him credit. He's even a Civilization IV leader!

 
At December 28, 2011 at 8:28 AM , Blogger RobB said...

Well, you made it to the end of the book. I didn't. Sad because everything else I've read from Orbit over the past 12 months has been terrific.

 
At December 28, 2011 at 8:37 AM , Blogger Justin said...

I agree. Orbit had a great 2011. Interestingly the book isn't poorly written... Fultz is a good writer... I just found the whole thing under developed from characters to plot to setting.

 
At December 28, 2011 at 9:52 AM , Blogger RobB said...

Eh, I found some of the early passages a bit clunky. The characters didn't work for me at all, not one of them. When I can't identify in some way with at least one character, apathy enters and what's the point of continuing?

 
At December 28, 2011 at 11:20 PM , Blogger Mieneke said...

I'm sad you didn't like this, as it sounded really good from the blurb :-( The cons you gave (no character or plot) are biggies in my opinion, so I guess this one can go off my list if the reviews all reflect yours!

 
At December 29, 2011 at 8:28 AM , Blogger Neth said...

ahhh...this is the first time I've read one of your Cheryl posts. I for one think it's an excellent way to present a negative review - I enjoyed it.

I'm not sure if the author would, but hey...whatever.

 
At December 29, 2011 at 9:07 AM , Blogger Scott said...

Justin, this review is EXCELLENT! Love the format wholeheartedly. So well done.

 
At December 29, 2011 at 9:37 AM , Blogger Larry said...

The word I would use is "veverica." ;)

I like this format a lot. Reminds me of the VanderMeer/Evil Monkey spoofs of stupid/funny stuff in the wacky world of writing. If you haven't read those yet, you might enjoy them. I will wait with unbated breath for more Cheryl reviews :D

 
At December 29, 2011 at 9:39 AM , Blogger Neth said...

Larry, I was very much reminded of VanderMeer and Evil Monkey as well.

 
At January 9, 2012 at 3:47 PM , Blogger Bryce L. said...

Sorry I'm late to the party. That was hilarious. I will not be reading this even though I too thought it looked interesting. Thanks for getting me out of that one.

 
At January 9, 2012 at 8:43 PM , Blogger Michael J. Sullivan said...

I found it very entertaining...actually would help to lessen the sting. Here's hoping that Cheryl won't be necessary to intervene on any reviews about my books ;-)

 

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