Monday, December 31, 2012

On Endings and Winnings

Happy last-day-of-the-year! I mean, New Year's Eve.
(For your amusement: yes, it took me several minutes to come up with the right name for today, despite the calander that hangs right beside my desk. I kept thinking it was Christmas Eve, for whatever reason.)

I wanted to post a book review today of the entire Inheritance series, because in a perfect world I would have managed to finish all four of this heavy series. (By heavy, I mean pagewise -- 600+ for each book, with the possible exception of the first, Eragon.)

Instead, I am about 100 pages into the last book. I have been reading this series for nigh on three weeks: and yes, I just used nigh. I am feeling somewhat ready to put down this series and pick up a new one.

On the other hand, it's been so long... jumping into another world feels weird when you're so immersed in the current one. That's one of the reasons I can't read two books at once -- trying to maintain two worlds simultaneously feels impossible. Putting down one book, after commiting yourself to it, is like the end of the year -- "the ending of an era, and the turning of a page" (Tim Mcgraw, "My Next Thirty Years"; yea, I just quoted a country song).

But this is not what I really wanted to talk about. The ending of a book, of a world, is universally recognized as emotionally traumatic (with the exception of those people who think readers are weird). For some reason, I feel like talking about battles and winning and/or losing.

As I read the first three books of Paolini's books -- not to pick on Paolini, or Eragon for that matter -- that the good guys seem to win every battle. In a war, you don't win every battle -- you win some, you lose, but you don't win all.

I wonder if this is a common trait in fantasy, and I when I look back at the (vast) amount of fantasy I've read, I kind of think this is common. I can't think of any particular book or series, I just can't help wonder if this is one of those things like having a king, or having dragons be fierce/evil, or having some quest for the Magical ____ [fill in the blank] to save the entire kingdom.

Again, I don't mean to pick on Paolini. His is probably not the first. But you have to lose occasionally. (And more than you lost a lot of soldiers, but you pulled through in the end. I mean an actual lose, as in you were forced to retreat while the other side cheers in relief and victory.)

I don't know who made it alright to pull this off, but there's only so far I'll suspend questions. With the Inheritance series, I'm willing to overlook this question and keep reading because of all the other stuff going on -- namely, magic and elves and quick-learn-everything! -- and because I've commited myself to the series and gosh-darn-it, I will finish reading it.

Anyways. My point is, you win some, you lose some. But you don't win all. I don't knwo why some things are fantasy traits, but if I ever end up writing a book involving war (which seems likely), I will have to find a way to balance the battles more evenly. Winning is cool, but I like losing almost more so than winning -- losing teaches you a lesson.

I think my little rant is over now, or at least I've exhausted my short attention span on this blog post. What do you think of this? Do you like winning or losing more?

And again, have a blessed New Year's Eve! :)

[EDIT: As of today (Sunday the 6th), I have made it through more of Inheritance, the last book -- they do lose a major battle. And I can think of a couple of skirmishes they lost that I didn't consider too important in the scheme of things (as compared with the whole "defeat Galbatorix" thing -- for example, the Ra'zac and Brom in the first book).

Also, I now think of a few more examples -- namely, Lord of the Rings and Sparta. Man, freakin' Sparta was outnumbered and defeated the Persians anyways *grumble grumble* But that's a real-world thing. Pardon my history geekiness. It might also be a movie, but I don't watch movies often and couldn't tell you for certain.

I now kind of think LoTR started this screw-reality thing, but that might just be because I want to beat Tolkien over the head with the Fellowship of the Ring, for making Frodo leave Sam like that.]

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