Stonefather


Curiosity has gotten the better of me ever since I learned that Orson Scott Card would be writing a new multivolume fantasy saga. There has never been this many ongoing quality fantasy series out there, and I was eager to see what sort of tale Card would come up with.

Hence, when I discovered that the novella Stonefather was a prequel to the Mithermages series which will soon be published by Del Rey, I jumped on this opportunity to get an early read and a peek at what's to come. Stonefather will be published by Subterranean Press in October, and it will be illustrated by Tom Kidd.

From the very start, this one didn't work for me. The narrative is reminiscent of the countless generic fantasy quest books which gave the genre such a bad name. Moreover, the characterization and the dialogues are juvenile in tone and a pain in the butt to follow. I found myself shaking my head and gritting my teeth on several occasions. In terms of style, think about post-Elenium David Eddings, with puerile dialogues along the lines of those between Richard and Kahlan in Terry Goodkind's Wizard's First Rule.

Card's worldbuilding was the only facet of the novella I enjoyed. In addition, the imagery his prose creates is at times evocative. And yet, no matter how interesting some of the concepts turn out to be, the entire mood is thoroughly killed by the poor characterization, especially Runnel, the main protagonist. The supporting cast is comprised of unmemorable characters such as Lark, Brickel, and Demwor.

Stonefather is an uninspired and lackluster effort by one of the contemporary masters of SFF. Not only does it read like an 80s fantasy book, but a bad 80s fantasy book at that. One can only hope that the forthcoming Mithermage series will show more promise. Otherwise, this has the potential to be even more disappointing that Raymond E. Feist's Conclave of Shadows volumes.

Authors such as Robert Jordan, George R. R. Martin, Steven Erikson, and many others have elevated the fantasy genre to new heights in recent years. In order to compete with his peers, at least if he wishes to write at that level, Orson Scott Card must come up with something much more impressive and exciting than Stonefather.

The final verdict: 5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe, and http://www.subterraneanpress.com/.

18 commentaires:

kendall said...

I'm very curious about this series, too. The novella sounds disappointing; well, that's okay--the price probably would've kept me from buying it anyway.

I hope to see a review from you when the first book's available; hopefully it'll be better!

Arrgh said...

You're one of those people still offended that he said something not PC about gays aren't you?

That last rant you went on about hype sounded like petty revenge because you didn't get an ARC.

Going downhill lately.

King Rat said...

Orson Scott Card's writing has gone way downhill since the mid-90s. I wouldn't expect his series to be any better than the novella.

Larry said...

Arrgh,

I didn't see anything in there that was a reference to the author's political views, so why would you presume it would be a factor? And I believe Pat did receive an ARC for the other - he just didn't receive it first. Oh well, so commences my troll feeding ;)

Pat,

I know you can't do it in this case since you're an ocean away from your home, but providing a few quotes in regards to the "juvenile" dialogue would have given me a better idea of the poorness of the text.

Arrgh said...

***I didn't see anything in there that was a reference to the author's political views, so why would you presume it would be a factor?***

It goes hand in hand with the Goodkind Derangement Syndrome (google the Bush Derangement Syndrome variant for more info) so often on display here.

Anonymous said...

fantastic book cover though

Larry said...

Pat may correct me if I'm mistaken, but I believe he personally is somewhat of a conservative himself, at least in comparison to most Canadians. Plus I thought I remember him liking some of Card's earlier novels. But I could be mistaken.

Patrick said...

arrgh: I've never had anything against OSC, so I don't know where this is coming from. Naturally, I don't agree with everything he says, but I never did rant about the author, about gay people or religion or his political views...

As for the Morgan ARC, as Larry said I got one. Living in Canada means that I received it 2 weeks later than my British counterparts, though.

In any event, I wouldn't give a writer a raw deal just because I don't agree with his political views. If the book sucks, it simply sucks. Goodkind is a dumbass, which is why I have no qualms about quoting him when he puts his foot in his mouth...

Gotta catch a train to Warsaw. Talk to you guys later!;-)

Jorro said...

Cool cover, though ;p

so what about the return of the CG contest already!

Ellestra said...

So what's up with this Friday the Thirteenth?

It's almost like time travel :P

Rodric Oliva said...

OSC reminds me a lot of Goodkind, actually. He's another writer who let's his personal opinions , in OSC's case political and religious and in Goodkind's philosophical , not only get in the way of his writing but to actually interfere with it.

Ironically, their heavy handed attempt at force feeding me neocon ideology or mormonism or objectivism through fiction only made me despise their respective views despite whatever overlap my own opinions might have had with theirs. A fitting analogy to reading the SoT series is a functionally retarded man in sopping wet adult diapers chasing you with an Ayn Rand bust and screaming "OBJECTIVISM!!" in a heavy and nearly unintelligible lisp every 2 minutes.

And OSC's "Empire" is the book Cheney would plagiarize if he ever had to write a novel.

Aura said...

I usually enjoy reading OSC's novels, though I have to admit that Empire was a letdown. The last novel of his I really liked was Street Magic, but his early scifi are my favorites.

As for Stonefather, I will probably still give it a try...

RobB said...

Pat,

Out of curiosity, have you read any other books by Card?

Rob

Patrick said...

Hey Rob,

Yes I have, though it's been years since I last did so...

weariedjuggler said...

Ouch...all this talk of religious and political views has me a little wary of commenting...hmmm... Good review Pat, I'm sorry to hear the book disappointed you. I'll probably try a different book next time I want to read some Card.

Tommy said...

I am halfway through last story of the Wizards short story compilation - OSC's Stone Father.

I like it so far. IMHO, it doesn't really bear any resemblance to Eddings' Redemption of Althalus or other sorry tripe.

((spoiler)) When Runnel discovers his special talent, it gets a little hokey, in the standard oh-my-gosh-I-have-powers way, but besides some clunky dialogue everything seems pretty well written.((/spoiler))

I like the setting, the incidental characters, the main characters...I intend to read the Mithermage series when I can get a hold of it.

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Farseer said...

I love this writer's early works, but I agree that the quality of his novels sunk deeply in the last part of his career.

I wasn't expecting much from Stonefather and, while I agree with Pat's review, on the whole it exceeded my expectations. The characterization was not very good (what has happened to the writer who used to create such memorable characters?), the main character was a Mary Sue, getting extremely powerful with no effort, and some dialogues, especially the early ones between Lark and Runnel, are cringe-inducing. But the world-bulding made up for it, and I ended up enjoying the story.