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Offline Iume  
#1 Posted : Friday, January 20, 2017 1:59:11 PM(UTC)
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I recently sat down and thought about books 1 through 3 and as I did so I realized that Tom was becoming more passive than I thought during the alpha and beta readings. A lot of this is fueled by recent stories I've read and how main characters are being given their MacGuffin vs earning it and how affects the story -- mainly because the former seems to be so common in litRPG.

This led to some thoughts about problems in the first three books that I never really thought about before.

In book one I could ostensibly argue that Tom had a goal and that he made decisions and took actions to meet that goal.
  • He wanted his freedom, and when an accident gave him the opportunity he took it and sought to maintain it.
  • He wanted to learn more about how a wizard links to demons so he took the opportunity to learn. Of course this was very much prompted by Maelen rather than being a goal (he could have wanted to sneak into Freehold as a human to find out more about demon summoning.)
  • Sadly when he finds out about the state of demon servitude he has the attitude that it is not my problem / I only want to fix it for myself approach. He does argue with Jenn but he doesn't want to actually do anything to fix it.

Overall book one felt like it had a better journey and better pacing not because more time to spend at editing it and polishing it, because it had a series of goals along the way whereas book two didn't until the very end. Three returned to having a series of goals which culminated in an overarching goal (and when I think about it book one did not have an overarching goal at the end).

Then we come to book two. What did he actually earn?
  • Mount Doom as a defensible base is given to him.
  • The d'orcs and orcs loyalty is given to him.
  • The power of Mount Doom is given to him.

At no point did he have a goal and actually earn it. He did manage to hold on to what he was given, but that is not the same as earning since something must be sacrificed before payment is given for it to be earned. In fact book 2 is just a giant fetch quest except no one told Tom what he was fetching or why. When confronted with the looming prospect on PTB ( powers that be) and unhealthy interest in him I think that it would have been better if Tom had asked Tizzy or Boggy for advice on a location to hide out in an infinite realm. Tizzy could've led him to Mount Doom as a supposedly abandoned base or there's some other excuse, but it would have been a consequence of Tom's choice rather then it just falling in his lap. Think about it, the plot needs Tom to be in control of Doom so when they go on vacation Tizzy leads them to Doom.

In book 3 he has a goal again. That goal is to reestablish domain in the material realms and establish a border/protection/buffer/nation that his people can thrive in. Admittedly there is a lot of side stuff that is completely irrelevant to that plot thread or only sets up stuff for book four (which is not released yet so it really didn't go anywhere and I'll have to reread bk3 just to recall who/what/why in bk4 which is a writing problem RJ had in WoT) that I still think should have been cut and handled some other way. I get it and understand why it was chosen to be in book 3, but.... see problems it caused for RJ.

Sidenote, if the Rod priests knew that a linked item could home in on Talarius then why didn't they bring War Arrow along or some of his personal gear instead of needing Melessanc to do the d'oh moment? Surely there was something in his tent? Spare armor or weapons?

So, in the interests of streamlining book four, what is its synopsis? Not the summary, but just the synopsis. Not the fetch quest, but the goal that Tom will set out to achieve by his own will rather than falling into it or being given a MacGuffin and told to hold onto it.

Edit: A lot of my complaints can be waved by saying "oh but Tizzy was manipulating things", only that is starting to be overplayed. Tizzy needs a setback / minor derailment and Tom needs to start controlling his life. After all didn't Orcus dislike the manipulation of the gods in people's lives? Seems like what Tizzy is doing is very similar.

Edited by user Friday, January 20, 2017 2:21:03 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Offline The Author Guy  
#2 Posted : Friday, January 20, 2017 5:30:11 PM(UTC)
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Yes, this has come up before and it does seem to be a problem in the way you are looking at it

--however---

I cannot repeat this enough. Demons of Astlan is a single book split into lots of parts. It has to be looked at in the whole, not in the parts. Taken book by book as you do here, you will not see the forest because of all the trees in the way.

I actually would consider the "book" Demons of Astlan to be a "coming of age" tale, not a quest per se. And while there are several people coming of age (at various ages) it is about Tom finding himself and eventually taking charge of his life.

So, you are eminently correct in your analysis. He's very passive, and he has to be continually kicked in the butt to do anything. Which, I might add, is what you have to do to most teenagers and young adults.

Very few people really "get their act together" until they are forced to by circumstances. When they finally are out on their own, not in school and not living with their parents. And even then, the first few years "on the job" are passive until they get things figured out and understand what they want.

Tom starts the book near the end of his 16th year, about 2 earth months later, he turns 17 around the Oath Taking ceremony. One month later he has to rescue people from the Unlife and meet up with people who think he is screwing with them.

So, my argument is, he's got all this crazy shit coming at him, and he's barely had the chance to get his feet underneath himself, let alone to assert himself. However, I think you will see in book 4, he starts to assert himself, however, as in book 1, it is still under some false pretenses as he will be acting as Orcus. He needs to define who he is, resolve this phoenix cycle business and come to terms with his situation. And there will be a new adviser to help him/annoy him with exactly this. Someone with a more Zen like philosophy/perspective.

He's basically going to be doing that through the rest of the books, the biggest "shocks" have now come, for the most part.

Offline EyeDeKay  
#3 Posted : Friday, January 20, 2017 5:49:44 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: The Author Guy Go to Quoted Post

the biggest "shocks" have now come, for the most part.

I'm shocked Laugh
Offline Tizzy  
#4 Posted : Friday, January 20, 2017 9:23:52 PM(UTC)
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I mean how much more shocking can it get than to be revealed that you are, or are being mistaken for, the grandson of Zeus? and that everyone closest to you thinks you're a god pretending to be a demon prince, but not everyone knows you are a god, some just think you are a demon prince, or a human and you have to keep everyone convinced of what they currently believe, not to mention that you are the step-brother of the gods that had you killed, or that you've got a prison in your basement with your mom locked in it?

So, at least, what bigger shocks could there be?

Short of Tom taking a shower at Doom, things get really steamed up and when he exits the shower he finds that he's in his old bedroom in NJ and that this had all been a crazy dream? I mean, it worked for Dallas????

However, there could still be aftershocks....
Offline Dirk Flamberge  
#5 Posted : Sunday, January 22, 2017 12:15:39 AM(UTC)
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Sounds like a nightmare, the bad dreams, not the horse of the underworld.
Offline Tizzy  
#6 Posted : Sunday, January 22, 2017 3:41:00 PM(UTC)
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Indeed!
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