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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

A bestiary of hate

And why it is increasingly important to provide Amazon reviews for books you really like.

Now, some authors firmly believe you should never engage with a critic of your books.  They've got a sound basis for this belief, because most authors are sensitive little wallflowers who can't bear criticism, so when they do respond to it, they tend to overdo it a little.  Or a lot.  The prime example, of course, being Laurell K. Hamilton, whose epic hissy fit was ironically more entertaining than any of the novels she inflicted upon the general public.  Her predecessor in the sexy corpse genre, Anne Rice, also provided another well-regarded classic in the annals of authorial peevishness, albeit one handicapped by the virtue of it showing at least some signs of the sanity entirely missing from Hamilton's masterpiece.

Given that I have been the beneficiary of the constant attentions of various anklebiters and more substantive critics for some years now, I am considerably less upset than most writers when it comes to negative readers.  They're bound to come, particularly when an author is as free with his own opinions as I am.  But that doesn't mean that I am any less inclined to permit reader absurdities go unchallenged, particularly when they are putting them out there in public in an attempt to influence the decisions of potential readers to give my books a shot or not.  Also, given that I am a polemicist of some notoriety, I am more conscious than most of how some purported "reviews" are nothing more than polemics by other means.

Everyone has a right to their own opinion of every book.  Tastes and intellects differ considerably.  But no one has a right to not have their opinions mocked or criticized.  Now, most of those who have read and reviewed A THRONE OF BONES have expressed a generally favorable opinion of it; some have even written of it in a superlative manner.  Most consider it to have surpassed their expectations.  Not these three reviewers, however, who claim to have found literally nothing of merit in the novel:

THE DELICATE CHRISTIAN FLOWER

"I was looking forward to reading it. I was sorely disappointed to find profanity, and vulgarity and a few other things I found objectionable. If you are into Christian fiction, this is not the book for you."

Translation: "All books with bad words are bad.  Don't read them."

My response: hey, at least her opinion is based on fact and is reasonably consistent, given that she also gives a glowing five-star review to a children's Bible that leaves out that unimportant bit about Jesus's death.


THE EVERYDAY ANKLEBITER

"This book is bad. So bad that I was moved to leave my first amazon review and I couldn't just put it down and move on to the next book in my pile, I had to move on to something I already knew was exceptional, like Tolkien. Since zero stars is not an option, I can at least take some comfort in the fact that I had to give "A Throne of Bones" one star in that it pushed me into something more worthwhile."

Translation: "I hate the author, so I'll just fling some imaginary crap and hope it sticks."

My response: Trolls are going to troll and anklebiters are going to snap at ankles wherever they can.  Keep in mind this first-time "reviewer" appears to be the same guy who was dumb enough to claim, on this blog, that the novel was a structural imitation of Gibbon - whose work covered the imperial Roman period some 200 years after the Republican era I utilized - and a literary imitation of R. Scott Bakker.  The fact that the "reviewer" is a fan of Bakker's who is still bitter about my failure to genuflect before Bakker in the nihilism debate is, no doubt, entirely unrelated to his review....

The strange thing about The Everyday Anklebiter is that he apparently has never stopped to think that there are thousands of readers of this blog who are perfectly able to do what he has done in purposefully tanking the ratings of authors they don't like.  This sort of negative review isn't merely abusive, it is dangerous to the entire review system, given its potential to start a reviews war.

If you have an Amazon account, I would encourage you to report this as abuse. I have already done so.  Personal vendettas belong on the blogs, they have no place on public book review sites.


THE OVER-HIS-HEAD GUY

"The author show no imagination. He basically just copies imperial Rome at the time of the Roman Catholic church. Neither one of which I find entertaining in a fantasy setting. If I wanted to read about Roman Legions and the Church I'd buy a history book. I'll get through it eventually and maybe it will get better but if the first 20% is this bad I can't imagine how it's going to redeem itself. Don't waste your money or your time. It's the worst book I've ever read and I've read about everything."

Translation: tl;dr

My response: (laughs)  Imperial Rome copied at the time of the Roman Catholic Church... that pretty much says it all.  But it least it is an honest review, as clearly, if the idea of combining Rome and fantasy bores you, A THRONE OF BONES is almost surely the most boring book you could ever hope to read. 

No book is for everyone because we all have different tastes.  Some read fiction, some don't.  Some love history, some find it tedious in the extreme.  But these reviews should help underline the importance of reviewing the books you like, especially those books you love.  So, later today, I'll be posting a review of a book I recently read that I really liked, and which I would recommend reading.

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124 Comments:

Anonymous Kickass January 08, 2013 7:18 AM  

This sort of negative review isn't merely abusive, it is dangerous to the entire review system, given its potential to start a reviews war.


Getting ready to unleash the hounds then? Wheeler would be great at this.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 7:29 AM  

Getting ready to unleash the hounds then?

No, not at all. Just to be perfectly clear, I don't want anyone to write a falsely negative review for any reason. I think the reviewer should take down the review because it is an abusive, disingenuous, and potentially dangerous review. He is perfectly entitled to dislike the book for any reason, including his dislike of the author. But then he should be honest and say so. He is not entitled to claim it is a terrible book because he is still butt-hurt about my opinion concerning R. Scott Bakker.

After all, if he is so entitled, so is everyone else. Would he think his choice to post that sort of review was a wise idea if Bakker suddenly had 100 one-star ratings of his latest novel? Or even just enough credible-sounding one-star ratings to drop the book from a 4-star to a 3-star? I would hope not. But that is the path he is exploring.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 7:31 AM  

I think the reviewer should take down the review because it is an abusive, disingenuous, and potentially dangerous review.

By the way, I should note that I voted that review as abusive and would encourage everyone to do so. Note that I did NOT do so for the other two reviews, as I do not consider them to be abusive in any way, merely misguided.

Blogger Heuristics January 08, 2013 7:33 AM  

Letting people know of good books is definitely a good idea. Thanks for letting me know of the Game Mechanics book (on this blog a few days ago). I am 1/4 into it so far and the advice to think of game mechanics in terms of discreet vs continuous physics as well as thinking of the game economy as feedback systems have opened a new clearer mode of thinking for me. Will help a lot for the game I am currently creating.

Anonymous Anonymaus January 08, 2013 7:37 AM  

No, I simply did not like the book and thought it was unoriginal in the extreme. I generally agree with your economic and political views (but do disagree with your views on fantasy) so there is no need to ascribe hate or malice where it doesn't exist.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 7:47 AM  

No, I simply did not like the book and thought it was unoriginal in the extreme.

That is patently not true. Notice that I correctly identified you. You dislike the book because you were predisposed to dislike it on the basis of the nihilism debate, which is why you first produced several obviously irrelevant justifications for your dislike on the blog, then switched to other justifications once you were called out on their inaccuracies. Your attempt to claim that your opinion is simply based on the merits is obviously disingenuous.

Furthermore, to call it "unoriginal" is simply laughable. You clearly went well out of your way to publicly trash a book for personal reasons. That is the definition of abuse by Amazon standards.

I don't object to people disliking the book for whatever reason. But the nonsensical and dynamic nature of your criticism demonstrates that your dislike for the book is neither legitimate nor based on the book itself.

Anonymous Rantor January 08, 2013 7:51 AM  

@ Anonymous

Did you read the book jacket/description before buying? Legions and the Church are mentioned.

Anonymous Syfy fan January 08, 2013 7:52 AM  

Is A Throne of Bones on Audible.com?

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 7:53 AM  

Is A Throne of Bones on Audible.com?

No, it is not.

Did you read the book jacket/description before buying? Legions and the Church are mentioned.

Anonymaus isn't The Over-His-Head Guy, he is The Everyday Anklebiter.

Anonymous Luscinia Hâfez January 08, 2013 8:01 AM  

Christ on a pogo stick, Vox. Can't you accept that you're not as brilliant as you think you are?

Anonymous Syfy fan January 08, 2013 8:03 AM  

The Over-His-Head-Guy pretty much rants against every novel he has reviewed anyway.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 8:13 AM  

Can't you accept that you're not as brilliant as you think you are?

I invite you to consider the illogic inherent in that statement. And why can't you and other people who dislike me accept that I am not only not a terrible writer, but I am actually improving as a novelist over time?

Do you not realize that your continued ranting is only going to make you look more and more ridiculous over time as I continue to work hard and improve? I am not only a very good reviewer, I have a pretty accurate idea of where my work stands in comparison with others.

A Throne of Bones is far from perfect. But it is a damned sight less imperfect than a number of other epic fantasies out there. And it is my recognition of those imperfections that will help me continue to improve the series as it continues. I'm not at all butt-hurt by legitimate criticism. I seek it out. But reflexive accusations of terribleness and unoriginality aren't just provably false, they are, as criticism, totally useless.

As critics, people like you and Anonymaus are totally useless in every regard. Doesn't that bother you in the slightest? You're not harming me at all, do you still not realize that? By all means, be critical. But make it substantive. Make it meaningful. Make it useful, it not to me, then to the prospective readers.

Blogger Kentucky Packrat January 08, 2013 8:28 AM  

I was terribly worried about the person who looked at A Throne of Bones who also looked at "Play Something Dancy", thinking that we had someone reading foo-foo femlit and Vox. Then I clicked on the book, and found out it's about a guy's tour as a strip-club DJ.

I'm just sitting here stunned and amazed.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 8:36 AM  

I'm just sitting here stunned and amazed.

The word for which you are looking is "eclectic". Let's not forget the old Psykosonik connection, now, shall we?

Blogger Markku January 08, 2013 8:38 AM  

Great, now we're going to have all kinds of Ilk clicking Play Something Dancy to confirm the story, resulting it being the first listed similar book for many months to come.

Blogger JD Curtis January 08, 2013 8:38 AM  

Reported as abuse and was glad to do so.


Anonymaus, I would suggest that you do not let personal vendettas drive you to such lengths whereas you would potentially affect somebody's livelihood.

Blogger Markku January 08, 2013 8:42 AM  

I'm just glad it wasn't These Italian Shoes Are Made For Prancing.

Anonymous Anonymaus January 08, 2013 8:45 AM  

I don't object to people disliking the book for whatever reason.
 
Apparently you do.  You misread my motivations, but since there’s nothing more to say about that other than “did so”/“Did not!”, we can just leave it at that.  
 
But reflexive accusations of terribleness and unoriginality aren't just provably false, they are, as criticism, totally useless.
 
There wasn’t anything in A Throne of Bones (the first half anyway) that I hadn’t read, in some form, somewhere else.  At no point did I say, “Oh, wow, that’s original” as I sometimes do when reading sci-fi/fantasy.  Not sure what else to tell you except that your inability to accept that its possible for negative reviews of your work to be legitimate is unseemly, especially for someone who wants to head a national writers association.   

Anonymous Luscinia Hâfez January 08, 2013 9:01 AM  

The only reason negative reviews aren't hurting your sales is because the only people who would read A Throne of Bones post here and/or on World Net Daily.

Blogger Markku January 08, 2013 9:02 AM  

For the reasons you listed, two stars would have been credible. One star, that you say actually means zero, is not.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 9:04 AM  

There wasn’t anything in A Throne of Bones (the first half anyway) that I hadn’t read, in some form, somewhere else. At no point did I say, “Oh, wow, that’s original” as I sometimes do when reading sci-fi/fantasy.

Yes, the fantasy genre is simply rife with church politics these days. And your latest justification is certainly fascinating; lacking what you sometimes find therefore makes a book uniquely terrible?

Not sure what else to tell you except that your inability to accept that its possible for negative reviews of your work to be legitimate is unseemly, especially for someone who wants to head a national writers association.

In your attempt to conceal the disingenuous nature of your "review", you're inadvertently revealing your dishonesty. I have expressly declared the legitimacy of two of the three negative reviews, even if I happen to disagree with their particular reasoning. It is obvious that to say I have an "inability to accept that its possible for negative reviews of your work to be legitimate" is an outright lie.

The observation that your "review" is illegitimate and an abuse of the Amazon review system in no way indicates other negative reviews must also be illegitimate or that I cannot accept them as legitimate. The fact that your "review" was so easily spotted and identified under a different name even though you changed the details of your criticism should make its problematic nature obvious even to you.

Anonymous Outlaw X January 08, 2013 9:04 AM  

I reviewed it Vox the best I could and left one reviewer a comment.

Anonymous Outlaw X January 08, 2013 9:06 AM  

I should have said left some advice for him.

Anonymous dh January 08, 2013 9:08 AM  

VD--

I frequently use a popular site to bid on win freelance work in a different (non-publishing) related world.

One thing I like is that other than reviews from client, the only real credential is that they will do a fairly rigious online test of what you say your credentials are. As far as I can see, the questions are randomized, pretty good at determining if what you claim is true, and timed. The questions also appear to be fairly google proof, in that they randomly change up the wording and the exact composition of the test.

Do you think there is any hope that Amazon will or would implement something along these lines to verify that the reviewer as in fact read the work? "The verified buyer" was a good step, but there are plenty of enemies would happily pay $3.99 or whatever and e-book costs as a throw away to wreaking havoc on your online reviews.

Good luck - the wild world of public reviews is something weird to behold.

Anonymous Peter Garstig January 08, 2013 9:11 AM  

I have yet to finish the book and therefore yet to write the review. But I can already tell you that I'll praise this book endlessly, just because the author happens to loose his fantasy football league to me.

You see, next to the anklebiters there are your fluffy bears.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 9:13 AM  

The only reason negative reviews aren't hurting your sales is because the only people who would read A Throne of Bones post here and/or on World Net Daily.

That's not true. The basic logic also seems to escape you, which is that a writer who can command a larger audience than the best-selling SFWA president is probably going to have an amount of general appeal beyond his core audience.

As one well-known figure in the SF/F field said to me a few weeks ago, what he sees as the probability that I am going to become a major writer in the genre is just about going to kill some people. But by all means, keep telling me how terrible I am. I mean, what do you think I use as motivation when it is 2 AM, I'm tired, and I'm not really in the mood to crank out another three pages so that I can meet an insanely ambitious schedule?

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 9:15 AM  

Do you think there is any hope that Amazon will or would implement something along these lines to verify that the reviewer as in fact read the work?

Not really. They're selling books either way, they don't care which ones.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 9:16 AM  

But I can already tell you that I'll praise this book endlessly, just because the author happens to loose his fantasy football league to me.

Okay, now that stings, you son of a bitch. Seriously, what were the chances that both Arian Foster and the SF defense would go south on me at the same time? I was thinking about that the whole time I was watching Foster carve up the Bengals defense for 150+.

Anonymous MadPiper January 08, 2013 9:18 AM  

Craving originality is a bit foolish for any reader. Unless you have only read a single book in a genre.

In fantasy I look for a world that is varied and interesting, consistent and believable characters, and antagonists worthy of my and the protagonists respect. If I finish the book with a sigh of contentment, the work was a success to me. Last week I finally read A Magic Broken and was quite pleased. And that is sufficient.

Anonymous Anonymaus January 08, 2013 9:18 AM  

The fact that your "review" was so easily spotted and identified under a different name even though you changed the details of your criticism should make its problematic nature obvious even to you.
 
I would imagine the reason it was easily spotted as me is because in our last conversation I posted as both Anonymaus and Ryan Anderson.  But good eye!!! 

Anonymous Stickwick January 08, 2013 9:20 AM  

The Over-His-Head-Guy pretty much rants against every novel he has reviewed anyway.

He claims to have endured ten - ten - of the awful books in Hamilton's series in the faint hope that one of them would eventually reach the artistic heights of the first one. A reasonable person would have stopped at two or three, but he persevered and lived to tell the tale:

"This book was horrible."

"Now, this one was really bad."

"I'm sick of books like this."

"Pitiful. The series keeps getting worse."

"This is the worst one yet!"

And so forth.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 9:20 AM  

I reviewed it Vox the best I could and left one reviewer a comment.

Um, Outlaw, the whole idea is to READ THE ENTIRE BOOK first, and only then review it. Granted, these one-star wonders often don't bother to do so, but the object is to convince them to write honest reviews, not imitate their methods.

Take it down, please, and only post your review after you have read the book. If I wanted everyone to post meaningless five-star reviews, I would ask for them.

Anonymous RedJack January 08, 2013 9:23 AM  

I just finished TOB, and enjoyed it. I can see it wouldn't be for everyone. If you dislike late Roman Republician drama and early Medeval Church politics, it will not fit your style.

But it was different. Having religion be a big part of the politics of the realm felt a lot more "real" than the typical epic fantasy. Now putting religion in your story may hurt you, as you will offend some because the Church isn't X,Y, or Z, but it is a better reflection on how people are than say, Jordan.

Yes, I had to throw that in. The last book was released and I will read it. If only to kill it off.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 9:29 AM  

I would imagine the reason it was easily spotted as me is because in our last conversation I posted as both Anonymaus and Ryan Anderson. But good eye!!!

Amusing. I only remembered you as Anonymaus. And I think recognizing that Ryan Anderson is William R. Anderson is not quite as obvious as you apparently believe it to be. It was less obvious to me than the way you shifted your Roman timeline after discovering how ridiculous it made you look here on the blog.

I'm genuinely curious. Have you ever actually read any Gibbon or did you simply manage to forget that he didn't write about the Republican period, when they had consuls instead of emperors? That small difference appears to have escaped Over-His-Head Guy as well.

Anonymous Outlaw X January 08, 2013 9:30 AM  

Take it down, please

Done, but not taking down my comment to the other reviewer. I am a smart ass by trade.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 9:30 AM  

Thanks, Outlaw. I appreciate the enthusiasm, I do. But it's a game that isn't worth winning that way.

Anonymous Peter Garstig January 08, 2013 9:31 AM  

Okay, now that stings, you son of a bitch. Seriously, what were the chances that both Arian Foster and the SF defense would go south on me at the same time?

Foster/Peterson straight up?

Anonymous Kickass January 08, 2013 9:35 AM  

Listen Anony, I once did an intensive article regarding the rights of office workers to pray in their workplace. I got fan mail and then I got the lone idiot critic who wrote to my Editor and everyone on the mast they could find to tell them how horrible my article was and that I should be fired. They also requested their letter be published. When asked what exactly they objected to or to provide some kind of evidence for where I was wrong they answer that if they were contacted again they would sue us.

Nanah I don't like you and your work sucks doesn't cut it when the work is easily viewed by others and can be evaluated by agreed upon standards.

Yeah, you can say you just don't like it. But we all know you just don't like Vox.

And Vox, reconsider. They don't have to false reviews. We could, as an army if you will, just make sure that our voices are heard on certain literature that we never bothered to review before.

Anonymous Josh January 08, 2013 9:36 AM  

People seriously dislike the book because of the Roman influences? That was one of the things I liked most about the book.

Anonymous Josh January 08, 2013 9:40 AM  

He claims to have endured ten - ten- of the awful books in Hamilton's series in the faint hope that one of them would eventually reach the artistic heights of the first one. A reasonable person would have stopped at two or three, but he persevered and lived to tell the tale:

The reader as masochist, apparently. That is, if he actually read any of them in the first place.

I'm wondering what the feedback would be if I gave twilight a one start review that simply said, "gay"

Anonymous harry12 January 08, 2013 9:43 AM  

THE OVER-HIS-HEAD GUY writes: "...and I've read about everything."

I like to read reviews and I treat the above statement as commensurate to another review I read that gave one star to a ( decent ) video card because: "I paid for two day delivery and it took three days!"

Trivia: UNESCO counted 328,259 new titles and editions published in the US in 2010.

Anonymous Josh January 08, 2013 9:52 AM  

I like to read reviews and I treat the above statement as commensurate to another review I read that gave one star to a ( decent ) video card because: "I paid for two day delivery and it took three days!"

Those people are fantastic. I especially like the people who favorably comment on the quality of the product, but still give it one star because the shopping was late or the box was beat up. I recently read a review of a resort where, even though the reviewer praised the rooms, the pools, the bars, the beach, the restaurants, she ultimately gave it one star because one of the waitresses was rude to her on the last day and it "completely ruined the vacation for me."

Blogger Full of Bile January 08, 2013 9:55 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous zen0 January 08, 2013 10:00 AM  

It seems that Anonymaus resents the one-star review of his character.

Anonymous scoobius dubious January 08, 2013 10:08 AM  

"Don't have to explain myself to you,
I don't give two fucks about your review.
This is the modern world that I've heard about..."
--Paul Weller

Why worry about this sort of thing in the age of digital mass democracy? It's rare for people to be able to say something more than "I liked it/didn't like it" which means very little, except that an author is pleased to have given pleasure to the ones who liked it.

Back say 80 years or so ago, when you had people like Cyril Connolly or Harold Ross actually performing the role of knowledgeable gatekeeper, you could be pretty sure that a piece of criticism in a well-regarded venue would, at the very least, display some sort of grounded knowledge of what the heck they were talking about. The bad side was, it was a pretty restricted system. Now we have a highly unrestricted system, and the ratio of bullshit to non-bullshit is unendurable. What is one to do?

I say, resort to private literary supper clubs. I'd rather chat with the local moral equivalent to Lester Bangs over a half-decent port and a lamb dopiza, than wade my way through a bunch of cranky faceless complainers on the internet. At least it would be pleasant, and art is at the very least about certain types of more refined pleasure...

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 10:08 AM  

We could, as an army if you will, just make sure that our voices are heard on certain literature that we never bothered to review before.

Oh, if they choose war, we will give them war. We will give them war of a scope they do not anticipate. But we will not choose war when peace is still an option.

Even 20 reviews would be enough to make a difference. 60 could sink most books completely. Especially since most of the books I have criticized heavily are not five-star books. The last two books in the Bakker series only have 45 and 55 reviews, averaging 3.9 and 3.5 stars. They've been out for years; AMB has 68 reviews and averages 4.4 stars.

That also tends to show the effect of the negative reviews. AMB is actually rated higher than ATOB: 4.4 to 4.2. I think that's simply ridiculous... and I wrote them both.

Anonymous Anonymaus January 08, 2013 10:22 AM  

It was less obvious to me than the way you shifted your Roman timeline after discovering how ridiculous it made you look here on the blog.
 
No, that is not why at all.  It’s been 10 years since I’ve read The Decline and Fall and 15 since I’ve read the CMH.  I appreciate you pointing out the error in detail, but as I said originally, it was a tongue in cheek comment and really had nothing to do with the spirit of my criticism at all.   
 
One last thing I would add, expectations played a big part in my disappointment in A Throne of Bones.  It was difficult to review it objectively, but I was not biased in the way you apparently think I was. 
 
AMB is actually rated higher than ATOB: 4.4 to 4.2. I think that's simply ridiculous... and I wrote them both.
Bakker wrote both The White Luck Warrior (4.2) and The Judging Eye (3.6).  I was disappointed in A Magic Broken, but not enough to review it, but I felt it was better than A Throne of Bones.  Martin wrote Game of Thrones and a Dance with Dragons, so I’m missing your point here. 
 
if they choose war...

Who in the wide wide world of sports is "they"?

Anonymous Daniel January 08, 2013 10:36 AM  

Back say 80 years or so ago, when you had people like Cyril Connolly or Harold Ross actually performing the role of knowledgeable gatekeeper, you could be pretty sure that a piece of criticism in a well-regarded venue would, at the very least, display some sort of grounded knowledge of what the heck they were talking about.

t.s. eliot would have begged to differ. The vast majority of "professional" criticism is a genre of vary narrow popularity. Democratized criticism is a marketing measure. The truth is that books with 3 stars sell worse than otherwise equivalent 5 star books. It is a numbers game, though.

There are a tiny number of great critics - it is a rare gift, as it is a skill of limited compensation.

S.T. Joshi and Matthew David Surridge are good critics alive today. The things they do well are: contribute to the content of the book, add additional details, insights or ironies, frame a context by which to better understand the book and identify and contextualize any areas of failure.

Between just those two, I have read a hundred, if not hundreds of their reviews. I couldn't name one book they "recommended" and yet they nevertheless have both recommended scores of unread books and illuminated many of the ones that I have read.

Good books are rare, but good critics are even more rare, and it has always been so. The Amazon review process is useful for the book buyer, and has the secondary benefit of providing the reviewing reader a catharsis or extension of the reading experience, but it is hardly the place anyone would turn to for great criticism.

Not that I'm a great critic, but I'm capable, and I would suggest that, simply based on the ham-handed reviews of my own that I have posted at Amazon is that the medium is not conducive to well-crafted original expression: either folks import their good criticism from elsewhere, or they dash off an email style critique, for the most part. Again, because it is a mass marketing channel first and foremost, not a thought leader.

Anonymous Daniel January 08, 2013 10:47 AM  

I was disappointed in A Magic Broken, but not enough to review it.

Oh, go on, cupcake. Let me just say that as a reader, the fact that you have decided to pervert criticism into a chronicle of your personal shortcomings and disappointments is simply dismal. Can't you just keep it in your fuzzy diary with the lock on it instead? I promise not too peek.

It is literary acumen like yours that causes me to imagine Orwell's proverbial boot stamping on a human face forever...and sympathize entirely with the boot.

Anonymous the bandit January 08, 2013 10:48 AM  

I have been delaying my Throne of Bones Amazon review. I enjoyed the book and will be giving it 4 stars, but it's going to take a second reading to shift my intuitive impressions into cogent criticisms. Since I know the author is trying to improve his craft, and since he actually reads the reviews, I want to provide some substantive feedback even in a positive review.

IMHO, the review averages for AMB and TOB are accurate.

Anonymous scoobius dubious January 08, 2013 10:49 AM  

"t.s. eliot would have begged to differ."

Ah, but T.S. Eliot was ahead of his time, which meant by definition that he wasn't quite competent to judge the views of his contemporaries, who were merely right on schedule. Or maybe catching up.

Relativity, and what-not, I think some chap named Einstein wrote a book about it once. ;-)

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 10:53 AM  

Who in the wide wide world of sports is "they"?

The sort of "reviewers" who gave one-star reviews to TIA unread. It's simply astonishing how I miraculously manage to write much better books when they aren't goring someone's ox.

TIA has 33 5-stars and 27 1-stars. Only 21 of the three stars in the middle. Someone clearly is not reviewing the book honestly. And when you read the reviews, it becomes pretty clear which group hasn't actually read it. And they tend to read rather like yours; at least you admitted you hadn't read the whole book instead of making it obvious through your lack of knowledge.

I don't think anyone should even consider writing a review of a book they have not read in its entirety, nor should Amazon permit such reviews. It's irresponsible. I don't even put a book on my annual reading list here unless I have read the whole thing.

S.T. Joshi and Matthew David Surridge are good critics alive today. The things they do well are: contribute to the content of the book, add additional details, insights or ironies, frame a context by which to better understand the book and identify and contextualize any areas of failure.

Surridge is excellent. He has pretty good taste too.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 11:07 AM  

Since I know the author is trying to improve his craft, and since he actually reads the reviews, I want to provide some substantive feedback even in a positive review.

I appreciate that. But don't fool yourself... all authors read the Amazon reviews. Most of them simply grit their teeth, wipe away the tears, and try to forget them.

Being a polemicist, I'm perfectly comfortable telling a reviewer that he's being a complete idiot, so long as he gives me a reason to do so. Note that I haven't complained at all about the reviewers who believe that curses or Romans make a book a bad one. I happen to disagree with their metrics, but from their perspectives, their negative reviews are both fair and consistent. Who am I to say they are wrong?

Anonymaus, have you read Summa Elvetica? Do you also find it shows the same lack of originality as ATOB? It is set in the same world, after all....

Anonymous Anonymaus January 08, 2013 11:16 AM  

I have not.

Anonymous Daniel January 08, 2013 11:16 AM  

Ah, but T.S. Eliot was ahead of his time, which meant by definition that he wasn't quite competent to judge the views of his contemporaries, who were merely right on schedule. Or maybe catching up.

For the sake of all that is holy, do not tempt me to take a dangerous tangent into a pet theory about Eliot, relativity, the Shroud of Turin and H. Beam Piper's "suicide."

It was quite bad enough the first time.

Anonymous AmyJ January 08, 2013 11:16 AM  

"I don't think anyone should even consider writing a review of a book they have not read in its entirety, nor should Amazon permit such reviews. It's irresponsible."

I used to believe the same thing - until I read a free e-pub "mystery/thriller" offered through Amazon that was, without a doubt, the filthiest, most depraved book I have ever had the misfortune to read. Got about 10% of the way through before deleting it off my Kindle in disgust. I posted a short 1 star review, mostly to warn off other readers who - like myself - may have been interested in the criminally misleading premise and three disingenuous 5 star reviews, clearly written by friends of the author.

Is it irresponsible to alert potential readers to false advertising, even though you didn't finish the book?

Blogger Latigo January 08, 2013 11:23 AM  

Ah critics, the modern world does not like critics yet; as I have grown older (I hope a little wiser) I see the need for true criticism. I am talking about receiving criticism from people who actually understand what has been done; while leaving out personal bias.
Certain critics are just a bunch of whiners who have never completed anything, except maybe a poorly written term paper. I don't know I just have always had problems accepting someone's opinion on a subject that does not understand how to get from point A to point B.
To create something in today's world that does not sink into moral relativism or nihilism is wonderful indeed. The law applies to all of us, whether we are writing a book or building a home, there are no short-cuts.

Anonymous scoobius dubious January 08, 2013 11:42 AM  

"do not tempt me to take a dangerous tangent into a pet theory about Eliot, relativity, the Shroud of Turin and H. Beam Piper's "suicide."'

Heh, that sounds pretty inventive -- are you quite sure your real name isn't Georges Perec? At any rate it sounds like a lot more fun than my crazy theory about Lawrence Sterne, casino design, the Siege of Malta, and Ian Hunter's loss of his guitar on a train in America right before he wrote "All the Way from Memphis."



Anonymous bbtp January 08, 2013 12:00 PM  

"No, that is not why at all. It’s been 10 years since I’ve read The Decline and Fall and 15 since I’ve read the CMH. I appreciate you pointing out the error in detail..."

Roman Republic vs. Roman Empire isn't a matter of "detail". It's like writing about the "Kingdom of America". To someone who has internalized the relevant history, it is a schoolboy error. It shows that the person who's made it never had more than a skimmer's grasp of the topic.

You might try to save yourself by arguing that the Empire maintained the fiction of the survival of the Republic by formally retaining Republican institutions long after they had ceased to wield real power. But this would fail because ATOB has meaningful, hotly contested elections much like those in the real late Republic.

Good thing we don't have comment ratings here or I suspect I'd get one star for this one...

-bbtp

Anonymous scoobius dubious January 08, 2013 12:04 PM  

"It's like writing about the "Kingdom of America".'

Oh, just give it another coupla years whydontcha, I think you'll be utterly astonished what the Left is capable of...

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 12:08 PM  

You might try to save yourself by arguing that the Empire maintained the fiction of the survival of the Republic by formally retaining Republican institutions long after they had ceased to wield real power. But this would fail because ATOB has meaningful, hotly contested elections much like those in the real late Republic.

But in Anonymaus's defense, how would he know that? He didn't read that far....

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 12:09 PM  

Is it irresponsible to alert potential readers to false advertising, even though you didn't finish the book?

I think so. Perhaps the whole thing has a twist that you're missing. Finish the book, then write the review. That would be my suggestion. The alert will be much more meaningful if you actually fall on the grenade.

Anonymous Anonymaus January 08, 2013 12:11 PM  

Bbtp; the error was regarding which modern historian wrote what, not what historical period was used as the backdrop in A Throne of Bones.

Blogger Nate January 08, 2013 12:13 PM  

Speaking of Hate...

Suck that ya damned yankee Papists!

Roll Tide.

Anonymous Floarid January 08, 2013 12:21 PM  

"I am sick of ankle biters not praising me - sycophants, attack!"

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 12:21 PM  

the error was regarding which modern historian wrote what, not what historical period was used as the backdrop in A Throne of Bones.

Not so fast, sport. Still trying to play these games? Seriously? I mean, you are familiar with the advanced technology of "cut-and-past", right?

Anonymaus: "I've not read any of his work, but I'm not sure you should be critical of someone being derivative?"

VD: From whose work does mine derive?

Anonymaus: "Structurally, Gibbon for one, which makes the novel completely uninteresting and therefore unreadable in my opinion."

VD: If you're down on Gibbon, then it should be no surprise that you didn't think much of the novel.

Anonymaus: "Where'd you get I'm down on Gibbon? It's the unoriginal use that spoils your novel."

Anonymous nordicthunder January 08, 2013 12:21 PM  

fwiw, I'm just now getting around to ordering my copies and amazon is out of stock, surely a sign the book is doing well. looking forward to reading this,

Anonymous Anonymaus January 08, 2013 12:24 PM  

And?

Blogger JDC January 08, 2013 12:27 PM  

@nordicthunder - I order mine a couple of days ago, and it said out of stock - but it came today. My 6 y/o son was so impressed with the cover he asked if he could hang it up in his room.

Blogger Nate January 08, 2013 12:34 PM  

"And?"

And it means if that is your standard for "unoriginal" then I should very much like to know what is "original" enough for you to find entertaining.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 12:57 PM  

And?

And your claim that the "unoriginal use of Gibbon" in a novel that quite clearly didn't derive from Gibbon in terms of either structure or content indicates that you are completely full of crap.

You don't seem to grasp that I am completely aware that you are bullshitting. You clearly don't know a damn thing about Gibbon or Roman history, much less enough to claim that I am using it in an unoriginal manner.

Anonymous bbtp January 08, 2013 12:59 PM  

Anynymaus: And?

What do you mean "And?" Gibbon's history begins with the Empire. See for yourself: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/731/731-h/731-h.htm#link2HCH0001

It's strange to call Gibbon a "modern historian" at all. Modern compared to Rome, perhaps, but he's usually considered the father of scientific historical methods because, when he wrote in the 18th century, his rigorous sourcing was novel, and thus highly influential upon later times, such as ours.

Anyway, point is that no one who's ever read both Gibbon and ATOB could claim that ATOB has anything in common with Gibbon. Different period and thus subject matter; vast differences of style and tone; ATOB has nothing in common with it.

-bbtp

Anonymous RedJack January 08, 2013 1:05 PM  

Anonymaus

Go back and read Gibbon. Really read it. There are a number of places you can download it for cheap, or buy the hardbacks if you would rather. Spend some time reading it.

Gibbon's books, which are good, deal with the fall of the Roman Empire. Not its birth and the death of the Republic. For that, go read some of JB Bury histories of the later Republic. There are many other places that you can find information about the late Republic, which is a much more interesting (IMHO) period than the Empire.

Now, you don't to like the Throne of Bones. But getting some decent background would at least help you understand why saying Vox ripped his prose from Gibbon is a bit stupid. Bury? Maybe. Gibbon? Not quite.

Again, read Gibbon. Read JB Bury and any of the other great Classical Historians. If for no other reason than to help yourself understand the periods in questions.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 08, 2013 1:19 PM  

"I don't think anyone should even consider writing a review of a book they have not read in its entirety, nor should Amazon permit such reviews. It's irresponsible."

I once wrote a 1 star review of a book that I had only made it a third of the way through, but I felt prefectly justified in doing so. The criticism was that the characters were of the thinnest cardboard and the writing was anvilicous in the extreme, with the author apparently having gotten confused about whether he was writing a novel or a screed on behalf of radical environmentalists. It actually made the plot and characters of Avatar seem complex and engaging by comparison.

Perhaps the book got better later on, but frankly, the first third was unreadable, so unless you started half-way through, I don't think it would make any difference.

Oddly enough, the only other reviews for the book were three 5-star reviews that didn't sound like they had read any of it, just gushing about how wonderful and compelling the story was. The author was a college professor - I assume the 5-star reviews were from his grad students looking for a good grade.

Anonymous Anonymaus January 08, 2013 1:20 PM  

And your claim that the "unoriginal use of Gibbon" in a novel that quite clearly didn't derive from Gibbon in terms of either structure or content indicates that you are completely full of crap.
 
Right, like I’d said before (and before, and before…), what I’d meant was it was the unoriginal use of the history that was the problem with your book, and like I said before, thanks for correcting the detail regarding which historian’s work it was.  Both in the original post, and again now.
 
You clearly don't know a damn thing about Gibbon or Roman history, much less enough to claim that I am using it in an unoriginal manner.
 
This isn’t true, but unfortunately my initial flub will continue to let you hide behind the idea that I don’t. 
 
Gibbon's books, which are good, deal with the fall of the Roman Empire. Not its birth and the death of the Republic. For that, go read some of JB Bury histories of the later Republic.

Redjack; (sigh...)  I’ve read both (well, CMH through 5), it was an error on my part due to being hasty and having some distance between now and when I’d originally read them.  I understand the period in question.  I temporarily forgot which historian covered it…  None of this changes the fact that I found the unartful and unoriginal overlaying of Vox’s world with our history to be offputting.  Why is this so hard to understand?  But thank you for your concern. 

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 1:32 PM  

This isn’t true, but unfortunately my initial flub will continue to let you hide behind the idea that I don’t.

Hide behind the idea? You confused the Empire with the freaking Republic! How much can you possibly know if you don't know that? But let's set aside the point that you're now talking content, not structure, and continue with the prosecution. Your original charge was that the book was derivative. What historian did you actually think I cribbed from, since you are now claiming that you did not mean Gibbon? What historian did you actually mean?

And let's test your knowledge of Roman history. You've read far enough in the book that you should be able to answer it if you know it. Upon which historical Roman figure is the character of Valerius Corvus loosely based?

Anonymous RedJack January 08, 2013 1:34 PM  

Anon,
Because at the end of the day, we rip each other apart here much more than the newbies. So making slips on who wrote about what period gets the Ilk fired up like blood in the water does to sharks.

Getting back to the subject at hand, TOB is in many ways, a deritive plot. So is just about everything else. Most of the plot lines started from real things happened, and were put together in the stew so to speak. The same way that reading The Game of Thrones is like a bad history of the War of the Roses and the Hunnic invasions. Now if you are not that into the period in questio, or even TO in to it, that is a problem.

Just about all fantasy has a basis in real history. The Lord of the Rings resembles a lot of Norse legends and Wanger's opera. So much so it was seen as unoriginal at times.

But, for me, what TOB did was present a rational world in a way the GOT did not. There wasn't a lot of pure nihlism in TOB. Most of the characters had goals and ambitions that made sense for why they would do some things. GOT got lost somewhere, and characters all became amoral idiots. Which was to bad because I think Martin had a good idea of where he was going at one time.

Now for a spoiler.
Vox be very, very, careful how you handle the orcs and the Watchers. Don't do what Butcher did in his series, and use them to paint over story problems and turn it in a Last Stand type of story. Butcher let the Vord eat his world in a way I hope you do not. Great evils to fight are one thing, using them to paper where the ideas ran out is another.

Anonymous VryeDenker January 08, 2013 1:35 PM  

I don't think there is any reasonably objective reason to give the book in question less than three stars*. Three stars would mean that the book is coherent, yet uninspiring and unoriginal. Two would mean the author has lost the plot fairly severely, and one would mean he's a teenager writing fanfiction. I hardly believe that would be a fair or accurate summary of A Throne Of Bones.

Anonymous bw January 08, 2013 1:36 PM  

you have decided to pervert criticism into a chronicle of your personal shortcomings and disappointments is simply dismal. Can't you just keep it in your fuzzy diary with the lock on it instead? I promise not too peek. - Daniel

+1

Anonymous Luscinia Hâfez January 08, 2013 1:43 PM  

People are giving it one star because the rest of the story is as bland and as boring as the preview, I guess.

Anonymous bbtp January 08, 2013 1:49 PM  

I’ve read both (well, CMH through 5), it was an error on my part due to being hasty and having some distance between now and when I’d originally read them.

"I merely confused the titles of The Guns of August and The Guns of Navarone. Actually, Barbara Tuchman and Alistair MacLean are quite distinct in my mind."

-bbtp

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 1:50 PM  

Vox be very, very, careful how you handle the orcs and the Watchers. Don't do what Butcher did in his series, and use them to paint over story problems and turn it in a Last Stand type of story. Butcher let the Vord eat his world in a way I hope you do not. Great evils to fight are one thing, using them to paper where the ideas ran out is another.

No fear of that. Seriously, I already know what I'm doing with them. You don't seriously think I'd be that predictable, do you?

People are giving it one star because the rest of the story is as bland and as boring as the preview, I guess.

It's so amusing to watch you continue smashing your face into the wall, Danny boy. But hey, anklebiters gonna bite.

Anonymous bbtp January 08, 2013 1:57 PM  

People are giving it one star because the rest of the story is as bland and as boring as the preview, I guess.

"People who haven't read it are giving it bad reviews because IT SUCKS!!!!!!"

-bbtp

Blogger Markku January 08, 2013 2:02 PM  

Danny boy

Was just going to say that. Dimwit Dan is the easiest to detect revenant I've ever seen.

Anonymous jack January 08, 2013 2:08 PM  

Nate January 08, 2013 12:13 PM

Speaking of Hate...

Suck that ya damned yankee Papists!

Roll Tide.

Now Nate, I live in AL, watched the game, and was surprised at how inept ND seemed. That is, until I reminded myself that it was a top tier SEC team taking on a northern school. Usually that is a recipe for embarrassment for the non-sec players. What surprised me was an article [NYT I think] about how the ND coach had adopted the SEC model for building a team. From that, and I had to assume it was more or less true, I expected more. That said, the ND coach may not have had enough time to get it right. Or, more likely, he did not have southern, SEC inspired, troops to man the lines. All the technique in the world can't make up for a certain hardness of purpose and pride in conference to take onto the field.

Sorry for the adding to of OT that Nate started. Its his fault. And, the Crimson Tide's.

Anonymous jack January 08, 2013 2:12 PM  

@Markku:

I had to look up the definition of 'revenant'. It was worth the trouble.
Ghostly, eh. Heh, Heh.

Blogger Markku January 08, 2013 2:22 PM  

Ghostly, eh. Heh, Heh.

That's not really the point, but rather the annoying tendency to come back from the dead.

Blogger Bogey January 08, 2013 2:28 PM  

@VD

The elements of history and religion is what makes Throne of Bones appealing to me.

As a reviewer I feel like my back is up against a wall. I can either give a book a completely legitimate review of say 3 stars (which means I like it, but see some flaws) or notice that the overall curve is going towards 2 stars and feel obligated to give a 5 star review to bring the curve back to 3 stars.

I could only write a review for the books that I think deserve 5 stars, but what would that do to my credibility if I only appeared to give positive reviews?

A personal blog could be the answer to forgo the star system all together, but then again I know how important the Amazon reviews are for authors.

Anonymous jack January 08, 2013 2:33 PM  

@ Markku: That's not really the point, but rather the annoying tendency to come back from the dead.

Yeah, preach it brother! You know the most annoying part; thats the stink left behind after they leave.... whew! takes a stiff one, preferably a decent Kentucky bourbon, to cut the odor. Might take two or three...

Anonymous Daniel January 08, 2013 2:37 PM  

Alabama earned it this year. I had always hoped for a better matchup, but 'Bama, A&M and probably even Georgia would have beat any other team in the country by 15 (maybe, possibly, not Oregon by that much, but still would beat them). Once the exceedingly crappy 2012 SEC (by its own standards) filled its slot (instead of insanely getting two from the same division last year) it was game over.

I just wish it had been against a team that wasn't prepared to concede the field in the first 2 minutes. If nothing else: those 'Bama players earned the right to be watched, and I don't know anyone besides me who was left watching after TD #2. They missed a great, great exhibition of talent on one-half of the field. But even I would have preferred a game.

I'm confident Northern Illinois would have fared better at least until half-time. ND was that pathetic in every phase of the game. They made Michigan look sound.

The impossible game I really would have liked to see was Ohio State and A&M. Meyer and Sumlin (and Kingsbury) would have put on a real coaching show, but of course, A&M would have had to remember to tattoo Florida early in the season, and OSU would have had to have skipped the tattoo business altogether.

Anonymous Red Comet January 08, 2013 2:38 PM  

That last guy deserves a review abuse report more than the second guy. If you read a book in a genre or on a subject you admit to not liking and then take the time to write a bad review anyway, either you're a troll or a moron.

And did Laurell K. Hamilton write that piece exactly like that or is it copied from somewhere else? I'd like to find it hard to believe a published author would write an impenetrable wall of text like that.

Anonymous Daniel January 08, 2013 3:15 PM  

You don't suppose these mouthbreathers were possibly inspired by today's announcement of the 2013 Hatchet Job of the Year nominees (last year's pictured), do you?

A year's supply of potted shrimp is the only motivation that makes any sense. Unfortunately, it looks like this reviewer is going to go hungry yet again.

Anonymous AXCrom January 08, 2013 3:15 PM  

I am not quite through ATOB yet, but having finished SE and AMB most of ATOB I discovered something new. Historically, dwarves have been my least favorite race in fantasy fiction. However, spanning these three works Lodi has become probably my favorite character in these stories, which surprised me. I hope he gets more POV time in the forthcoming books.

Anonymous Anonymaus January 08, 2013 3:37 PM  

You confused the Empire with the freaking Republic!
 
No, I didn’t.  I’ve made it clear what I was confusion about, but you apparently have chosen to misunderstand that and rather than doubt your intelligence, I must question your motives and looking back, it appears your entire strategy is “misunderstand for advantage”. 
 
You've read far enough in the book…
 
I put the book down close to a month ago, so I’ll pass. I’m sure you’ll be able to “misunderstand for advantage” however you see most fit.  Knock yourself out.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 3:37 PM  

As a reviewer I feel like my back is up against a wall. I can either give a book a completely legitimate review of say 3 stars (which means I like it, but see some flaws) or notice that the overall curve is going towards 2 stars and feel obligated to give a 5 star review to bring the curve back to 3 stars.

I completely understand. I am generally a strict grader myself. My solution is to be generous on the stars, since the people who don't bother to read the reviews need to see the grade on the curve, and going into more detail in the review itself, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses. I've never quite understood, either as a writer or a reader, when someone gushes about a book, then gives it 4 stars for some trivial reason.

"I loved it. It's the best book I've read this year. But the capital of Minnesota is St. Paul, not Minneapolis. 4 stars."

The stars are the comparative aspect of the review. If you give a strict 3-star rating to a book you really like while Jane Schlockmeister's fanboys always give 5-stars, the casual readers will wrongly conclude that Schlockmeister's book is the better one. Whereas, if you really feel the book is worth a 3.5, you can give it a four, explain yourself in the review, and the serious readers will take your review seriously despite the generous rating.

As a general rule, you can't equate perfection with a 5 in 5 star ratings because if 5 is reserved for those rare one percent books and 1 for the 9 percent dreadful ones, there are only 3 stars to divide the other 90 percent. That's why I prefer using a 10-point rating system in my blog reviews. Of the 66 books I read last year, I gave 9 of them 5 stars. Only one or two of them would have been a 10/10. But they were all distinctly superior to the books on the 4-star list.

This probably merits its own post at some point.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 3:40 PM  

I’ve made it clear what I was confusion about

Yes, hence the question. What historian did you confuse with Gibbon? You haven't answered the question. It's a pretty simple one, why aren't you answering it?

I put the book down close to a month ago, so I’ll pass.

(laughs) I'll bet. So, you're willing to write a review asserting how unoriginal the book is and how slavishly and tediously it imitates Roman history, but you won't answer a very simple and obvious question about a major perspective character....

Imagine that.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 3:43 PM  

And did Laurell K. Hamilton write that piece exactly like that or is it copied from somewhere else? I'd like to find it hard to believe a published author would write an impenetrable wall of text like that.

You clearly haven't read her books.... Or realized that we live in a world where EL James is not only a published author, but a bestselling one. You have to see Charles Dance reading EL James to truly appreciate the horror that is her writing.

Anonymous Anonymaus January 08, 2013 3:48 PM  

I thought it was clear, Bury's who you likely used, but for all know you just listened to Mike Duncan's podcast.

I wrote the review several weeks ago.

Anonymous bbtp January 08, 2013 3:55 PM  

I put the book down close to a month ago, so I’ll pass.

If you know Republican history, this question shouldn't be hard to answer. Corvus is the guy who keeps havings heads chopped off, wins an election, doesn't want the socii to have citizenship, incurs his brother's undying enmity, etc. Do you see any parallels with any historical figures here? If not, don't look it up in Gibbon...

-bbtp

Anonymous JartStar January 08, 2013 3:56 PM  

I don't think anyone should even consider writing a review of a book they have not read in its entirety, nor should Amazon permit such reviews. It's irresponsible. I don't even put a book on my annual reading list here unless I have read the whole thing.

How about a good skimming?

Anonymous Kickass January 08, 2013 3:57 PM  

To WARRRRRRRRRRR!




Anonymous Kickass January 08, 2013 4:01 PM  

@ Daniel
"you have decided to pervert criticism into a chronicle of your personal shortcomings and disappointments is simply dismal. Can't you just keep it in your fuzzy diary with the lock on it instead? I promise not too peek.- Daniel"

You just made her cry.

Anonymous athroneofcrap January 08, 2013 4:05 PM  

Aww poor Vox ("Cruelty Artist") got a boo boo reading his reviews and needs a quick, circle jerking ego boost. Ilk, do your duty!

I haven't read the book, but considering Vox's style of writing on the blog I don't even want to start. How many times is the word "demonstrable" in the book?

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 4:08 PM  

I thought it was clear, Bury's who you likely used, but for all know you just listened to Mike Duncan's podcast.

And yet, you're wrong again. As much as I admire him, I didn't use Bury for anything except names for minor characters... and names from the Cambridge Medieval History. Which, you will note, begins with Vol I. The Christian Empire, which is to say, Constantine in 476. Your mistake, citing Gibbon, as bad as it was, was actually closer by about 378 years.

Nor do I know who Mike Duncan is. Exposed again, I'm afraid.

Anonymous Anonymaus January 08, 2013 4:14 PM  

So not Bury's CAH #9?

Anonymous Daniel January 08, 2013 4:18 PM  

Good night, Ryan. You could have spent this time defending the indefensible much better, by say, simply reading a book.

But, goodness knows that you'd give it 1 star because the pages gave your marmoset thumbs a few paper cuts and the words inside used too many letters that don't look anything like Ryan Seacrest's butt.

Anonymous athroneofcrap January 08, 2013 4:22 PM  

If you know Republican history, this question shouldn't be hard to answer. Corvus is the guy who keeps havings heads chopped off, wins an election, doesn't want the socii to have citizenship, incurs his brother's undying enmity, etc.

I get the impression of a plot bogged down in boring political procedure to show off Vox's encyclopedic knowledge of stuff that no one really cares about, peppered with juvenile sub-plots involving two dimensional characters in unlikely dramatic conflicts. But hey, that could describe plenty of best selling popular novels these days, so maybe your writing is improving!

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 4:31 PM  

So not Bury's CAH #9?

No. I've long wanted to buy a set, but never quite got around to it since I had to replace my CMH. I've only ever even seen the set once, about 15 years ago at a used bookstore. Almost all my reading in the ancients is the original sources in English translation. For example, Corvus's speech in the Senate is revised Cicero... although that is not the answer to the question posed.

Anonymous VD January 08, 2013 4:40 PM  

Don't even attempt to pull that sort of nonsense, Anonymaus. Read the rules.

Anonymous Stickwick January 08, 2013 4:54 PM  

Aww poor Vox ("Cruelty Artist") got a boo boo reading his reviews and needs a quick, circle jerking ego boost. Ilk, do your duty!

This is bad even for anklebiting. I know MPAI, but this post has brought an extra-special subset out of the woodwork. MPAI, but SPABI (some people are blithering idiots).

Blogger Duke of Earl January 08, 2013 4:56 PM  

I enjoyed the book and just put up a review. Hopefully Amazon will post it soon.

Blogger Beefy Levinson January 08, 2013 4:59 PM  

Amazon's rating system for dummies:

5 stars = I didn't read it but I agree with the author's opinions on politics/history/culture/sex.
4 stars = Outstanding
3 stars = Okay
2 stars = Crap
1 star = I didn't read it but the author's opinions on politics/history/culture/sex offend me.

Blogger Markku January 08, 2013 5:03 PM  

How many times is the word "demonstrable" in the book?

Zero search hits for words starting with "demonstrab".

Anonymous Anonymous January 08, 2013 5:05 PM  

Just found a fantastic example of idiot internet atheist:

Flip out

Keep clicking on "read more of this thread". Hillarious.

Anonymous scoobius dubious January 08, 2013 5:35 PM  

I promise to give your next book five stars if it's called "A Throne of Scones" and it's loosely based on the Edwardians, with knock-offs of Oscar Wilde and Chesterton as perspective characters. Wilde survives his disgrace and imprisonment, and returns to the City of Nodnol from his exile in Sirap across the Lennach Sea, only to unexpectedly become a notable military leader and advisor to his clandestine lover, the up-and-coming Lord Hillchurch, as the stormclouds of a Great War begin to gather on the Bontinent.

Hey, wait a minute, maybe I'll write this one myself! Somebody get me Rupert Everett on line two!

Anonymous Daniel January 08, 2013 5:44 PM  

Yikes, Scoobius. I think Brian McNaughton already wrote that one, but his was called THE Throne of Scones.

It is a speculative novel written from the perspective of Jeffrey Aspern, if he had opted instead to address his letters to Penthouse.

Anonymous J. Doe January 08, 2013 6:05 PM  

I imagine that some of the opinions and reviews, both positive and negative, might have gone in another direction had Vox published ATOB under a nom de plume unfamiliar to the blogosphere. Live by one's reputation, die by one's reputation.

Blogger Bogey January 08, 2013 6:31 PM  

Thanks for the "kinky fuckery" made my day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3POYx6IeeI&feature=endscreen&NR=1

Blogger Gray Falcon January 08, 2013 7:12 PM  

Been meaning to send in a review ever since I devoured ATOB, and this post made up my mind. Though I am in agreement with your criticism of modern "wormtongues", I've also read a fair bit of fantasy and SF over the years, and approached the story with a critical eye. Happy to say I was not disappointed. It is a MUCH better work than Summa Elvetica (which I also enjoyed), and I can't wait for the sequel.

Anonymous Anonymous January 08, 2013 7:47 PM  

I'm gonna wait till three books from this one to read your work since you plan on working really hard. I got that free novella on Christmas and it wasn't rich enough for me language-wise.

Anonymous zen0 January 08, 2013 10:53 PM  

Jamie R. was right. Vox is a troll. He put out his bait, hooked a sucker, and played him for the crowd.
Excellent. A fisher of anklebiters.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 09, 2013 12:37 AM  

That's why I prefer using a 10-point rating system in my blog reviews.

I agree, but I'm more inclined to go the other direction and use a 3-point scale.

3 - Outstanding. I may re-read it someday
2 - Good. I enjoyed it, but doubt I'll ever pick it up again
1 - Don't Bother. Bleech, who told this clown he could write?

I think if you go more fined graned than that, personal preferences start to muddy it. Maybe two reviewers think a book is good, but one likes river voyages so he gives it a good-plus, while the other is Vox and he gives it a good-minus.

I could however go for a 4th star:

4 - transcends it's genre.




Anonymous Daniel January 09, 2013 12:45 PM  

I agree, but I'm more inclined to go the other direction and use a 3-point scale.

A local bar/eatery got 1 star out of 3 from the city newspaper and made a big poster celebrating the fact. It says something like "We got a WHOLE STAR for quality from some moron at the CityView (John Doe)."

Cracks everyone up when they come in, and hasn't seemed to hurt business. I wish I could remember the name, because that's the funniest part - a reviewer getting a very public negative review.

Blogger Didact January 13, 2013 9:23 AM  

Hey Vox, on that subject, I posted my own review of A Throne of Bones here:

http://didactsreach.blogspot.com/2013/01/book-review-throne-of-bones-by-vox-day.html

Long story short, I genuinely enjoyed the book, and actually by the time I got to the bit where Marcus's older brother was murdered, I went back and read Summa Elvetica to get the full background to the story. The storyline makes much more sense once one reads both books, but ATOB was quite an achievement.

Definitely looking forward to the next installment in the Arts of Dark and Light.

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