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The Sword of Bedwyr
I am in the habit of keeping a mediocre fantasy novel on my desk at work, so that I have something to read during long compiles. If the book isn't mediocre enough, I won't want to put it down at the end of the compile. Unfortunately, I run across the occasional book that far exceeds my standards of mediocrity. R. A. Salvatore's The Sword of Bedwyr, book 1 of the Crimson Shadow, is traffic-accident fantasy--the sort of book that's so bad that I finish it out of sheer morbid curiosity.
Our Hero, Luthien Bedwyr, is the son of a nobleman of Eriador, a Generic Medievaloid Country that is suffering under the crushing rule of a (surprise!) tyrant wizard-king. Luthien runs away from home and takes up thieving in the company of Oliver deBurrows, a "highway-halfling" who talks like a mixture of Daffy Duck and the irritating Frenchman in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (This is not a good thing.) They are enlisted by a Generic Elderly Wizard to go up against a Generic Evil Dragon; they then proceed to befriend generic elves and dwarves and battle evil orcs^H^H^H^Hcyclopians.
In other words, the entire book consists of cliches badly stitched together. The dearth of originality in The Sword of Bedwyr is only exceeded by the lack of basic writing skills. I don't see how this book could pass a freshman creative writing course, let alone get published (with a hefty advance, from what I hear--unpublished authors, take heart).
Recommended only to people who think that Terry Brooks would be a really keen writer if only his literary style weren't so sophisticated.
By the way, I've chucked my mediocre compile-book policy; I decided that really long books would work well too and waste less of my time on crap. Now I'm 300 pages into Dhalgren...but I'm not getting a lot of work done.
-- Christina Schulman.
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