“Blue Moon Rising
Simon R. Green is not a fantasy writer. He is the book worlds equivalent of an ambulance chasing lawyer; trying to cash in on a market where (at the time), there was nothing substantial enough to keep his trash out of our bookstores.
After years of reading fantasy novels, it's been nice to see the genre slowly become more acceptable; Not only by the general community but amongst literary critics. It helps that the quality of fantasy books over the last 20 years has greatly increased; In fact, some would argue that we are in new golden era of fantasy and Sci-fi (Jonathan Strahan). Undoubtably the success of The Lord of the Rings film franchise and the universal appeal of the Harry Potter series has helped the fantasy genre build and gain more acceptance. You only need to look at the success of Comic Con in recent years to see what i mean.
It also helps that most of the fantasy books i have read since the early 90's are actually quite insightful pieces of fiction in their own right. In fact, the line between some fantasy novels and some works of mainstream fiction are often quite blurred with most good fantasy books encompassing themes of drama, romance, political intrigue, horror, suspense, mystery and crime fiction in their pages. Often these very themes take more of a role in the central plotting than the actual themes of magic and mysticism.
Because I rarely come across a fantasy book I don't like, part of me always questioned the absolute distain or at a minimum, the lack of regard that fantasy books are held in... And then I read something like Blue Moon Rising and I think:- "no wonder they hate us so".
To say this book was nothing but series of bad clichés would be an understatement. I refuse to read Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels because they openly acknowledge that they are works of fan fiction based on board games that themselves were based on the LOTR. They are the Mills and Boon of fantasy genre and have nothing new to say:- "If you liked LOTR and want to read more stories about elves, dwarves, goblins and heroes, then step right up and let me tell you a tale..." Now like everything in life, I'm prepared to concede that there are some DL and F.R authors that do have something to say and have used those series as a spring board for their career. As Blue Moon Rising was written in 1991, I wonder if Simon R. Green wrote this with the same expectation of spring-boarding his career, because he still (somehow) has a successful writing career to this very day.
In fairness, he wouldn't be the first author around the time to do so. David Eddings openly admitted that one of the reasons he turned his hand to fantasy writing was because he noticed that the Tolkien's novels were up to their umpteenth reprint. But at least Eddings did it well, whereas Green did it badly.
Asides from the unforgivable clichéd plot and just as clichéd cast of characters, this books greatest failing is Simon's inability to write good dialogue. It is just woeful and cringeworthy. Rather than letting the humour flow, he tries to be funny, which is always a mistake. He's clearly a fan of Monte Python, but not the good Monty Python that brought us Life of Brian, but the bad Monty Python of the TV series that at least had the decency to call it a day when it was clear that it just wasn't working anymore. Not only are Simon's jokes devoid of wit but worse, they are so predictable it almost makes you feel sorry for him! Many a time, reading his dialogue that lead to an impending punchline felt akin to watching an imminent train wreck that you could see happening from afar. You are left watching in a state of helplessness as each punchline caused a shattering impact. In some ways it reminded me of really bad 1980's sitcom humour. That end of an episode humour, where all the characters are standing around reflecting on what happened in the episode: someone makes a joke and the whole cast laugh, haha ha! Cut to credits. Well, Green manages to pull these lines out with a frequency that is just nauseating.
Considering the high praise that this book has received, I was keen to jump right in but almost put the book down after the first chapter. So knowing that this book is (somehow) held in such wide acclaim, I decide to push on, hoping that it will get better. It didn't... But it didn't get any worse either and whilst I clearly sound quite harsh now, in order to get though the book, I decided very early on in the piece that I would reserve my judgement to a later day.
is it all unforgivable? If I was being charitable you could give him credit for the basic plot structure. The plot, whilst predicable, still holds some appeal and with this in mind i believe his editor (my god, there is someone else we can hold to account!) should have insisted that Simon accept the help of a co-writer. I withdraw that, he should have been told "Simon, i can see what you're trying to do, and it's clear that there is a plot line we can work with here, but you need to know you can't write worth a damn. So we'll get someone who can turn this into something more palatable, someone who can actually, well, write!" Simon clearly had some potential with this book but if you've read a plot summery, then you've read the most engaging part of the book. The rest is (uncomfortable) padding.
I cringe when I think back to Terry Brooks' Landover Series, and now I can add Blue Moon Rising to my pile of shame.
Considering the high amount of praise this series has received, if my comments have offended you, rather than getting defensive about it, go and read some real greats of the genre. Authors like: George R.R. Martin, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, Terry Goodkind, Patrick Rothfuss, Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint and Sara Douglas come to mind. If you've actually read some of those authors and STILL think Blue Moon Rising stands up there with the greats, then yes, critique me away.
26 Sept 2011”