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NotJustAHatStand

People say life is the thing, but I prefer reading*
 

Lord of... something or other

As I've said before (and probably will again, many times), I'm a reader. I will read most things, but I like to think I have quite high standards - I read literary fiction, and am trying to read as many classics as I can. The Significant Other is more of a light reader - he likes fantasy, science-fictiony kind of stuff, but I'm working on him. Why, just the other day I caught him sneaking a look at Pride and Prejudice...

Despite about 18 years of reading anything I could get my hands on, I had never read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, so when the S.O. and I got together, he encouraged me to try reading them. I did, and I loved them. When I saw his bookshelves crammed with what he said was more of the same, I got very excited. Here was a whole new bank of stories that I'd never read! (At this point the S.O. started backing away slowly, wondering how he could rectify the terrible mistake he'd made in getting involved with a twitchy bibliophile like me)

I started off with a David Eddings series called The Belgariad - it was great, kinda similar to LOTR but different characters, countries etc. I tore through the series and looked excitedly for my next read. I settled on something by David Gemmell I think, and got tore in. Well, this next one was just great, kinda similar to LOTR, but different names and... Hey! That's weird, this plot's almost exactly the same as the last one!

And then I realised. Here was another story about a bad wizard who has made a single object that will either destroy him or turn him into The Dude, and promptly misplaced it. Now it seems to me that if you're going to make something that gives your enemies the ability to turn you into a cloud of vapour, you keep your eye on it... but that's just me. Then there's the cantankerous old wizard who keeps the fabric of the universe together, the unlikely hero who comes good in the end, and the clown who's really a sensitive, tortured soul. Together they battle on in the face of seemingly insurmountable difficulties, but what's this? At the last minute, everything works out ok, the bad guy is turned into a harmless cloud of vapour, the unlikely hero becomes a king with a gorgeous queen and plump blonde children, and the wizard, robed in white, oversees all this with a kindly, Santa-like smile.

I can see the attraction of these stories, but it kind of takes the fun out of reading the book when you know the good guys are going to win out in the end, in EVERY SINGLE STORY. I know there are variations, but the plots seem to be broadly the same with similar themes, and after reading 3 or 4 of these books you get a creeping sense of familiarity - 'haven't I read this before?', kind of thing!! I guess it gives you a bit of a fuzzy glow when, after the monumental struggle between good and evil, you get the happy ending you're hoping for. Maybe in this sense these books reflect our hope that everything will work out ok in our own lives...

But I'd still rather read about Pip's misadventures in Great Expectations.

I am a literary snob, and I'm proud of it.
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*Logan Pearsall Smith



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