Reviews Comments: Take With A Grain Of Salt
Take With A Grain Of Salt
Limyaael is well read in and passionate about the fantasy genre and she is a writer as well as reader. She knows, what she is talking about. Her "rants" cover a wide range of topics, styles and plots. Some are very specific, (Rant about healers), some deal with very basic stuff (making a stand-alone). All of them are written with verve and wit. She hates tropes for the sake of tropes and suspects that many old fantasy cliches are there because the writer just never thought about them. There is an undercurrent of "fantasy could be so much more if..." She is inventive, finding ways to twist an old idea, pointing out how even the most typical fantasy tropes can be bypassed and describing new ideas she has. She is very good at making one aware of tropes used and avoided. But there are two problems I have with the "rants". The first, and more troublesome: She mixes up her personal tastes with objective quality. While she often mentions that the rants are about what she likes, the write ups don't reflect this awareness. She likes clear, clipped prose, therefore a flowery one is "purple". She prefers novels to beginn with a character, therefore beginning with a location is boring. She prefers cynical works and treats idealistic ones as stupid. The other is a personal peeve of mine. Being a writer, Limyaael could talk about her own troubles and successes, speak to aspiring writers as a fellow toiler and encourage new writers instead of intimidate them. But she has a patronizing streak and unfortunately only mentions her works when describing how she did something "right". This style also makes the readers grovel, don't expect much real discussion in the comments. I think new and insecure writers best profit from the rants by keeping firmly in mind what they want in their work. If the rants point out something one only does because everyone does, maybe the story would be better without it? And be also ready to keep a trope, even if it's just been ripped a new one by Limyaael, because no matter what she thinks, you're just as suited to define what fantasy is and should be.
One impression I got when reading her rants was that she was unpleasable. She'd rail against a trope in one rant, and then rail against its exclusion in a later one, and vice versa. For example, I remember one rant on medieval societies described how important religion should be to people, and a later one wondered why so few fantasy characters were atheists or deists. Also, her rant on astronomy showed that she has some strange ideas about what causes the phases of the moon.
comment #120 VampireBuddha 30th Apr 09
Actually, she's right about both religion points. Too many authors don't think about their characters' religious views at all.
comment #131 silver2195 1st May 09
She's also got a habit of CATERGORICALLY DENYING the use of certain devices or character types as workable or potentially interesting.
comment #143 EponymousKid 2nd May 09
Yeah, she has some very interesting and very good points, but she's not right 100% of the time, and I'm not fond of her "I am the arbiter of all things fantasy" tone. It makes it a bit hard for me to read her rants.
comment #211 bluepenguin 10th May 09
She states over and over in her rants that she is just one person and that these are one person's opinions. Yes, she is very opinionated. So what? What did you really expect of something called "rants"? Mostly what these rants accomplish is to give you something to think about and maybe force you to look at issues in fantasy fiction that you might otherwise take for granted. Yes, I think it would be a mistake for any writer to decide that they must please every whim of Limyaeel (or anyone else) or else they won't be creating good fiction. But these essays give you something to test your own opinions against. Do I hate romance in fantasy novels? No, actually I don't hate fantasy romance and I do plan to include romance in my novel. Do I agree with Limyaael about some of the disgustingly trite things that some other fantasy authors have done with their romances? Yes. As a matter of fact I do. I think she's spot on with several problems with typical fantasy romance and because she's brought it up I will now be working harder to avoid those issues. That's just one example. No one should be turning these rants into a holy book, but they are good brain teasers if for nothing else than to force you to examine what your own opinions are.
comment #575 184.108.40.206 11th Jul 09
She's more of a "If you're going to use this trope, you better have a good excuse" person.
comment #1505 220.127.116.11 18th Dec 09
I find her rants helpful in many cases and they generate plot bunnies by the dozens, but one thing that really annoyed me was her beef with individuality. If she's going to criticize its use in fantasy novels, shouldn't she also acknowledge the reason why its so popular? It's imbedded into our psyche as a Western society, and it has proven its merit in real life. She seems to have little sympathy for this, or for the reason that most tropes exist - becuase they work.
comment #1515 NatKitty 21st Dec 09
Firstly, I think you've got individuality and individualism confused. Individuality is actually being an individual; Limyaael is all for distinct and one-of-a-kind characters. Individualism, on the other hand, is the philosophy that the individual is an important entity of its own which has rights that cannot be denied. Someone who practices extreme individualism might be willing to completely destroy a society for the sake of one individual. In any case, it's not so much that Limyaael has a beef with individualism — it's that individualism exists so often in fantasy in environments that do not support it. In the medieval setting that so many fantasy authors like to employ, the community, rather than the individual, took precedence because survival otherwise was extremely difficult, and so individualism was not tolerated. If you could not find your place within the community, you were kicked out and, unless you found another community to join or developed and excelled at the necessary skills to survive on your own, you died. Also, where is this fully developed sense/philosophy of individualism coming from? Certainly not from the environment. Basically, Limyaael has a beef with individualism when it makes no sense in the context of the story. Though also I think it would be nice if she did an article on the merits of using individualism in fantasy. A lot of interesting conflicts could arise from examining individualism in a story.
comment #1524 Kyllorac 22nd Dec 09 (edited by: Melab)
Not all fantasy takes place in a medieval environment. And for what it's worth, making the decision to be an atheist or a deist in a society where religion is very prevalent could well be an interesting thing to explore in a character.
comment #1533 Caligulan 25th Dec 09
Anybody find it interesting that despite how she constantly provides examples of her novels using a trope in an interesting way or avoiding a pitfall, and seems to hold them up as pinnacles of fantasy writing, her novels are really unpopular and nobody ever seems to have heard of them outside of her rants?
comment #9232 captnotatroll 12th Aug 11
"And for what it's worth, making the decision to be an atheist or a deist in a society where religion is very prevalent could well be an interesting thing to explore in a character. " You mean like atheists and deists in the real world in whatever time period?
comment #9262 eveil 14th Aug 11 (edited by: eveil)
"Anybody find it interesting that despite how she constantly provides examples of her novels using a trope in an interesting way or avoiding a pitfall, and seems to hold them up as pinnacles of fantasy writing, her novels are really unpopular and nobody ever seems to have heard of them outside of her rants?" That would be because I have read some of her works before, and there's nothing special about them. She's just the same as anyone who has tried to buck the trend of commonly used fantasy tropes, yet all they end up doing is creating their own cliches and think that they're doing something new and unique when they're really not. Her attitude about it all is just arrogant, pretentious, and obnoxious. This is why I prefer reconstructions over deconstructions.
comment #20808 Rahkshi500 21st Aug 13
I wonder if she has written any books, and if so, what they're called.
comment #20809 doctrainAUM 21st Aug 13
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