This is topic Ever felt let down by an author? in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by Edward Douglas (Member # 8872) on :
My introduction to the fantasy genre was when, as a teenager, I read THE SWORD OF SHANNARA by Terry Brooks. Tolkien's work made its way into my library after that. I still hold THE SWORD OF SHANNARA in high esteem, and return to it from time to time. It is in fact second on my list of favorites (THE SILMARILLION being first) and I would recommend Brooks' first novel to anyone new to the genre.

That said I now get to the gist of my post. I tried to read Brooks' SHANNARA sequels (THE SWORD OF SHANNARA stands on its own and was not initially intended as part of a series), but I never did get past halfway through THE ELFSTONES OF SHANNARA. I couldn't because somehow his style changed abruptly in the second book and it no longer appealed to me. I moved on. Eddings came next, I believe.

Anyway, I learned years later, from something Terry Brooks said hisself, that when Lester DelRay commissioned his sequel THE ELFSTONES and Brooks sent the manuscript in, it came back with a note telling him that the middle of the story didn't work and that Brooks needed to show more and tell less (emphasis mine). Now remember this was Brooks' second novel. At the advice of DelRay, Brooks rewrote that portion of the book from the perspective of one of its characters. Funny, but that is about when I put the book down and never finished reading it. Probably when my personal disdain for advice like "show,don't tell" surfaced, too, BTW. But that's another thread.

Brooks even admitted that the ELFSTONES was perhaps his best work. I am truly happy for him, but unfortunately, by abandoning the style of his first book that appealed to readers like myself, he lost my patronage at least. His later books may have been done in a style that would appeal to me, however, I will probably never know the answer to that question. I was not going to spend anymore money on Brooks. day. There's even talk of a Shannara movie, but they are going to start with the Elfstones and not the first book. Go figure! Maybe I'm the problem...

Anyone else here ever felt let down by an author whom they really liked (and in some capacity still do), but could not continue with their works? Do you think said author would care?

Posted by Wolfe_boy (Member # 5456) on :
I enjoyed Tom Clancy novels for their intriguing, well plotted story lines.

I have sworn off of him having finished Red Rabbit this past summer.

Posted by Nathaniel Merrin (Member # 9002) on :
Edward, I doubt what I am about to say is completely appropriate for this particular website, but I think I, love, you! <not THAT way, mind you, but still... >
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
Robert Jordan.

I think I covered this in another thread. Couldn't he bring anything to a conclusion? Ever?

Not only ruined WoT, but pretty much keeps me from reading any other series in which the stories don't at least partly stand on their own. Couldn't get into SONG OF FIRE AND ICE. Can't stand to be left hanging like that again.

'Nuf said.

Posted by Smaug (Member # 2807) on :
Gotta agree with you there, Meredith. Jordan was who I thought of as well.
Posted by Sunshine (Member # 3701) on :
Does a television series count, since they have writers?

The show 'Medium' let me down several seasons ago, and I never watched it again. It was the season finale and was awesome until the very end. The main character's paranormal abilities were revealed, which threw her world into chaos and threatened to undo every conviction she was ever associated with (resulting in the release of lots of very bad people). I thought 'wow what a great cliffhanger to start a new season with'. Instead they wrapped it up with her waking from a bad dream. Bastards.

Posted by BenM (Member # 8329) on :
Many years ago, I fell in love with Raymond E Feist's Riftwar Saga and devoured each book. Until, that is, I hit the first of the next series he co-wrote with Janny Wurts and the magic of the first series just fell apart. The style changed, it became comparatively laborious, and I just couldn't finish reading it. To me, that whole "co-author" thing (when in fact, I think the book was really written by Wurts anyway) just undermined his reputation.

But then, that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Maybe I'd change my tune if I tried it again or picked up a different book by him.

Posted by Sunshine (Member # 3701) on :
There is an author named Thomas K. Martin who let me down. I devoured his trilogy and haven't heard anything from him since. If anybody knows him, tell him to get his a@@ back to the writing desk. Thanks.
Posted by Wolfe_boy (Member # 5456) on :
I think that TKM is behind GRRM in the "get back to writing you damn'd fool" list.
Posted by Rhaythe (Member # 7857) on :
James Rollins. I'm sorry, but Monk should have stayed dead.
Posted by Lyrajean (Member # 7664) on :
Anne Rice. Liked her vampire books through the first three but she's let me down ever since.

Apparently she got so famous/rich that no editor had the nerve to tell her 'this sucks! go rewrite it and bring it back in a year.'

She also never really found anything else that was as captivating an idea as those first three books. And kept mikling the same old ideas again and again...

Posted by Edward Douglas (Member # 8872) on :
I loved THE WITCHING HOUR, it is one of my favorite books. My wife likes the vampire ones quite a lot, though I could never get into them. But, yeah, I have to agree with your point about her later works.
Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :
I loved Robin Hobbs assissin trilogy and then the Fool trilogy. I tried the live ship trilogy and gave it up on the second book. I gave her another try with the soldier trilogy (or something like that) and I couldn't finish the book. I quit trying to read her other stuff after that.

Poor Robert Jordan got lost in his own story, but I still read the latest one written by Brandon Sandersond and loved it. I can't help it I started WotF ten years ago and I WILL have an ending!

Posted by Foste (Member # 8892) on :
The first book of Hobb's Soldier Son trilogy was a bit slow and cumbersome to read. It could have been so much better... IMHO.

I loved her stories with Fitz but I can't bring myself to pick up the second book of the Soldier Son trilogy.

Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
Most recently, Vincent Buglosi (if I'm spelling that right). He wrote an extremely thick and, for me, extremely interesting volume on the assassination of John F. Kennedy---then followed that up with a book on impeaching George W. Bush. I was let down from the moment I saw the title.

Fiction? Well, any number of series books have changed drastically in tone and technique, but I can't say they let me down, even when I lost interest and read no more. For example the later volumes of the Alvin Maker series have a different approach and feel than the earlier volumes. (But with that one, I'd love to see another volume.)

I only got to Book Three or Book Four of the Shannara series myself...I don't think I enjoyed any of them so much to regret losing it. (I was moved, to an extent, by the ending of Book Two (I think)---but it still didn't keep me coming to Terry Brooks's work.)

Posted by Crystal Stevens (Member # 8006) on :
I know there are some series I just can't get interested in, but I'll read a different series (or book) by the same author and love it. I've found this true with Terry Brook and Anne McCaffrey.

I loved David Eddings when I first started reading his books. I love the two trilogies about Garion and Belgarath the Sorceror(sp?). Sorry but it's been too long to remember titles. I also enjoyed the Sparhawk books too. Then I read The Dreamer trilogy, and it bombed out. Eddings seems to follow the same routine with the same type of characters and plots. Once you've read one or two of his trilogies, you've read them all. I found this very disappointing because in enjoyed his earlier works so much, but he has to find something different other than putting new characters and new villians in the same tired old story plots.

The only other author that disappointed me was Jane Linskold(sp?). Her Fire Keeper books were great and then slowly slid down hill. I hated it when she tried to change Darien into a man-horse. That just didn't work for me. I hated what she did to him; one of the best characters in the series. Very disappointing.

Posted by babooher (Member # 8617) on :
First, I thought Sword of Shannara was not as good as Elfstones.

I got sick and tired of Robert Jordan refusing to bring closure to anything.

Don't hurt me, but I thought LotR dragged on and I have never been so happy to say I was done reading a book.

There is one story/series that had an ending I'm still really conflicted about. The Dark Tower series by Stephen King ended so horribly/wonderfully/perfectly/pathetically that I am stuck on it forever.

Finally, I think that any story that captures your imagination so completely, that engrosses your very being, is going to have some let down at the end. If nothing else, you're sad its over. A lot of times, I think writers can fulfill the promise they offered at the beginning of the story.

Posted by billawaboy (Member # 8182) on :
Only Jordan cause he had the died; and perhaps Fiest because he seemed to be repeating himself; and OSC with the 3rd Ender book - and maybe Tolkein with the extra long endings and all the allegory (yeah yeah even though he explicity wrote he hated allegory- it's there in spades. Sometimes I wonder if he was being ironical...), or Rowling (yeh, book 7)

The ending is usually where the let down happens. the ending has to be beyond good - clever, spectacular, leaves you with that "sense of completion" feeling. Rarely find it.

One of the best endings I've read recently is the English translation of Peter Suskind's Das Perfume. Such a perfect ending... The whole book is amazing. One of my All time top fav.

Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
Don't hurt me, but I thought LotR dragged on and I have never been so happy to say I was done reading a book.

I gotta say that the tone of the end parts of "The Lord of the Rings" was different than the tone in the beginning parts...I attribute this to its being written and rewritten over about a fifteen-year period, its origins in "The Hobbit," and Tolkien allowing his philosophical and philologic interests to seep into the narrative.

Posted by Edward Douglas (Member # 8872) on :
Though I really like Tolkien (all of his works, not just LOTR) I have to agree with some posts here. It did seem to this reader that the last part of THE RETURN OF THE KING (Book 6) was "rushed". Specifically, the sudden arrival of Aragorn on the ships when the last time you heard from him in the story was on the paths of the dead. It was as though Tolkien had gone way beyond his deadline and just wanted to finish his obligation to Allan&Unwin. My opinion. Still the master worldbuilder, without a doubt.
Posted by MAP (Member # 8631) on :
Poor Robert Jordan got lost in his own story, but I still read the latest one written by Brandon Sandersond and loved it. I can't help it I started WotF ten years ago and I WILL have an ending!

LOL, same here. I drudged through the last seven books thinking the end had to be near. But no, in those seven books nothing really happened. I am glad to hear you enjoyed the last one. I haven't read it yet. I have put so much effort in this series that I will finish it, but the ending better be amazing.

I agree with others who were dissapointed with Eddings. I loved the Belgariad series the others not so much.

I loved The Lord of the Rings, but I think the whole series needed a good edit. There was just so much in it that did nothing to move the story forward, and the extra long ending fell flat for me. I won't read anything else by Tolken.

Posted by dee_boncci (Member # 2733) on :
Many times I've felt let down by an author, even some of my favorites on occasion.

Brooks and Jordan I never much cared for, read one or two and then just said 'no'. Mr. and Mrs. Eddings I liked but once the snarky dialogue starting drowning out the stories I discontinued. But I never "counted" on much from them so never felt let down.

I promised myself I would not get lured into the show v. tell debate on here again, so I'll leave that alone except to say that I agree with Brooks and L. Del Ray.

In hindsight the only true letdowns have been at the end of extended series (Harry Potter and The Dark Tower come to mind) and the letdown had more to do with not having as strong a sense of finality as what I would have liked. As a counter example LOtR felt finished, so finished it had a sense of sadness.

Posted by Merlion-Emrys (Member # 7912) on :
I guess the closest for me would be when Ursula K. LeGuin sort of "retconned" a lot of things about Earthsea in the last couple of books and some of the more recent short stories. She more or less contradicted or killed a lot of stuff from the first 3 books including some things about the stories I really liked.

It was a sort of different thing with Eddings. I really enjoyed The Belgariad/Mallorean and the Elenium/Tamuli. However, when I read the Rivan Codex it sort of hurt my memory of the stories when I found out that at least from my perspective David Eddings is rather a large jerk on various levels.

Then I read The Dreamer trilogy, and it bombed out. Eddings seems to follow the same routine with the same type of characters and plots.

Interesting. I didn't know they had done another series. The last thing I saw of theirs was The Redemption of Althalus which I didn't finish. It doesn't surprise me though. In the Rivan Codex he more or less says he started writing the Belgariad mostly because he wanted to experiment with the tropes of the fantasy genre, and intentionally loaded it with as many storytelling hooks and traps as possible. Later he also basically seems to try and discourage aspiring fantasy writers and basically says genre fiction is written mostly for the money (which seems odd given what I hear from my more recent reading and experiences here.) But it would make sense then that they did yet another series in the same vein. I felt like the Garion books and the Sparhawk books were sufficiently different despite their similarities but another series with the same structure would be pushing it.

I also agree with dee-boncci about some of the snarky dialogue. Especially after the Codex it started to feel like way too much of his own cynical and rather bleak view of life and people bled through into the stories.

[This message has been edited by Merlion-Emrys (edited February 18, 2010).]

Posted by spcpthook2 (Member # 8880) on :
Can't believe nobody has mentioned Terry Goodkind in this discussion. Enjoyed the first five or six. Slogged through the next several took me about two years to come finish the second to last book in the series because as many have said about jordan I wanted to finish the story but I have decided I won't waste money on the last one. May pick it up if the library ever gets it. even at that I'll probably only skim it to get the gist of it.

[This message has been edited by spcpthook2 (edited February 18, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by spcpthook2 (edited February 18, 2010).]

Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
Wow. You stuck with Goodkind longer than I did. And yes, he's another that let me down. I really liked the first one. But I only got to about the fourth before I just couldn't stand the same plot one more time. Did he ever let Richard and Kahlan go through one book together? Or was it always they get separated, Richard suffers but learns something important, then comes back to Kahlan?
Posted by aspirit (Member # 7974) on :
I had the same problem with Goodkind's Sword of Truth series as spcpthook2. I enjoyed the first few books, slogged through the repetitive and completely irrelevant parts, then quit halfway through the second to last book. My husband read all the way until the end and tells me that the final book isn't worth the trouble. Supposedly, for most of the eleventh book, Richard lectures on the world's events since he left the Heartland. It's as if Goodkind's ability to edit--or maybe his editor's willingness to Just Say No--deteriorated as the series progressed.
Posted by Owasm (Member # 8501) on :
My biggest letdown was George R.R. Martin's Fire and Ice.

Jordan has been well documented.

I slogged all the way through Sword of Truth, which was about four or five books too long.

I concur with a Tom Clancy comment above. A little soldier-oriented profanity is okay, but as the Jack Ryan series progressed the language became awful and was a big turnoff. (That series turned into a speculative fiction series towards the end. )

Posted by dougsguitar on :
Goodkind... ditto on all the above. I read all the way to the thing he called an ending and was left wondering 'what the heck just happened?'. The 'just happened' section I refer to included the last 5 books of the series. The resolution was the equivalent of Richard walking up to a magic 'light switch' and giving it a flick... two and a half zillion angry warriors simply... well they were just gone and everybody was happy.

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