Earlier this week I was making one of my regular trawls through the shelves of my local Waterstones. I was once again searching for what I like to call “bus fodder”; something to read on the bus into work. I do enjoy being able to slip out of reality, into a world of sublime fiction and not have to face the ghastly horrors of the daily commute. During my trawl I saw that Patrick Rothfuss’ The Wise Man’s Fear had been released. Having enjoyed his previous book The Name of the Wind I went to pick it up and have a bit of a look at it. Upon picking the book up my initial reaction was simply that of “Christ! This book could choke a whale!” For you see, it is an extraordinarily large book. I have come to expect hardbacks to be slightly larger and more hefty than there soft-backed brethren but this struck me as something that, if push came to shove, could be used to quite easily kill a man. I’m sure the book is wonderful but since I already had four books in my hand (one of these being an equal large collection of H.P. Lovecraft’s works) and facing the trek back to work carrying them I decided to put it down and get it at a later date. It did get me thinking though…
Fantasy novels have always been somewhat epic in nature. But more and more often this seems to be overflowing from scope of plot into sheer enormity of text. I’m starting to get the feeling that some authors might be doing it on purpose just so they can swing it around and scream “Look at the size of my massive
cock book!” Or not. It just strikes me as a bit unnecessary, as if some authors find brevity an utterly alien concept. I think the world needs more of it, Shakespeare did say that “brevity is the soul of wit.” I feel that Tolkien and his fantastically large Lord of the Rings is in some way to blame. But at least he had the excuse that “it was three books really. It just happened to get all squished together”. But these days everyone’s hurling around fantasy trilogies where each volume is the size of the venerable LotR. I can’t help but scream silently inside. Primarily because such grand tomes wont fit into my coat pocket. That, and after a while I get a bit fed up of inane detail. Yes, I understand you are after immersion but do I honestly need to read about your characters eating breakfast every bastard day? Where are all the dragons and fireballs! I care nothing for a character’s penchant for scrambled eggs and bacon. I want to see him cutting off people’s head and sticking them on spikes!
While in Waterstones on the trawl and contemplating the asphyxiation of sea mammals with flattened wood pulp I also picked up Triumff: Her majesty’s hero by Dan Abnett. This book is absolutely tiny, at 7″ x 4″ x 1″ (Yes I’m using imperial units, this isn’t science so I can get away with that sort of shit). This book quite happily fits into my coat pocket. By volume it’s probably only a quarter of the size of some of the recent literary behemoths. Yet despite it’s somewhat diminutive stature it is amazing. I wont bore you with my crude attempts to review it, suffice to say that in its slim confines it manages to beautifully elucidate and brand spanking new setting and carry off quite an enjoyable story of intrigue, swashbuckling and heroism. And it doesn’t need a couple of thousand pages to do it.
This entire diatribe isn’t off course based on hard solid facts. It’s based on my nothing more than niggling feelings and perceived environs. That is to say, it’s probably bollocks. Anyway, as the tittle of this entry suggests, size doesn’t matter. Although releasing a thousand page epic is certainly big, it’s not necessarily clever.
(It’s also more expensive for me to buy, but that’s neither here nor there.)