Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What I like reflects WHO I like


I've been thinking about this a lot lately and I think I figured out today what my problem is with some books.  I love the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. I love David Eddings' Belgariad. I can't get through... That's not true, I could. I just don't want to, the Tad Williams Otherland books and I'm currently not enjoying the Song of Ice & Fire by George R. R. Martin. I can't think of a bigger contrast in book styles. Another series I enjoyed, in case I'm accused of not liking epic fantasy, is the Lord of the Rings. I liked that one.

I like good guys. I like honor. I like loyalty. I like friends who stand by their friends and are willing to do anything for them. I like when friends can trust each other and act on that trust even in their absence because they know their friends and family are honorable, reliable, and trust-worthy. I want to BE that person. I hope that I am. I  hope that my friends recognize me as a reliable, trust-worthy, honorable person who will help them. I want the things I read to be like that. The books I enjoy have those kinds of people in them. I like to spend my time with those sorts of people. I like to surround myself with those sorts of people. I like to be friends with people I strive to be worthy of. I like my friends to want to be worthy of me. I don't want a relationship where either of us thinks the other is a skeevy back-stabbing, conniving S.O.B. I like idealists. I like people who strive for an ideal.

I don't mind if the people in the books have faults and insecurities. I don't mind if they're not perfect. I don't mean to imply I only read space-opera type things where everybody's perfect and bigger than life. I enjoy those too. The Lensmen series by E. E. "Doc" Smith is an excellent example of bigger than life heroes who are hyper-good, hyper-honorable, and who have no faults at all. I really like that series but it can't help but be pretty one-dimensional.

The Vorkosigan series, and another series I like is the Empire of Man series, AKA the Prince Roger series, by David Weber and John Ringo. Those characters have flaws but they strive to overcome them. They work to be worthy of each other and of an ideal. They work to improve themselves and those around them. They're trying for something great.  David Weber's Honor Harrington has a female protagonist who tends towards space-opera levels of perfection (except for the two books in the middle where she's just beaten down for two books and I didn't enjoy them at all... there was nothing good happening in them, she just suffered and suffered losses and even her victories were painful. No fun to read... but I read them.). She's almost a little too perfect, too one-dimensional.

But that's my thing. In my life I want to be someone people can trust and rely on. I want to help people. I want to be someone people want to be around and someone who people enjoy being around. I want to be worthy of the friends I choose. I want them to be worthy of me as well. The players in the Song of Ice and Fire aren't worthy of anybody. There are no heroes. They don't aspire to anything grander than survival by any means necessary... and that's not fun to read about. I feel like I'm dirtier after reading those books. There are a very few exceptions. I like Bran.  But one person in a cast of 24 isn't enough to drag me through the Song of Fire & Ice books. Perhaps if all his chapters were chopped out and put together into a single book "Bran's Tale" I'd read that. Maybe Jon Snow's as well. He's likable. I don't care about anybody else in the series and actively dislike most of them.

So, I'm closing the one I'm reading and I'm not opening any more of them. There are plenty of books and stories out there that I'll enjoy that I don't feel like I have to make myself read. I don't get enough time to read to force myself to read things I don't enjoy. I'll go to it when I've read all the things I enjoy and want to read. Once that list is done then maybe I'll go back to the Song of Ice and Fire.
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