Saturday, April 12, 2008

RotS Reviews VII

The classic tale presented at the end of Return of the Sword is "Red Hands" by Harold Lamb. It's a good story but it demonstrates some of the problems of old classics. First, the word choices and phraseology are unfamiliar and I found myself just skimming over some sentences and trying to pick up the meaning in context, which was not always easy to do. Second, old books, stories, movies, etc. tend to meander for a while before starting in on the action. This one is no different. The guts of the story is a battle against river pirates. The two characters who meet for the first time and join the fight go through three or four pages of introduction that were interesting enough to read but in my opinion unnecessary. Third, old stories were usually the first to do such and such, which is why they became classics, but by the time we get around to reading them they may seem old hat. The plot twists have been played out in other stories and the characters have been portrayed several times before. That doesn't make "Red Hands" a bad story, it just means that it's now a classic; it has value as a story that was king of it's day but... a new day has dawned.

3 comments:

KEANAN BRAND said...

I hear ya.

Stories I loved as a kid--Moby Dick, The Count of Monte Cristo, Ivanhoe, Treasure Island, and the rest of the typical classics--are all books I read repeatedly in the years before my family purchased a television (when I was sixteen).

Now, I want a story that's crisp, active, and less inclined to give me the history of the world before I reach the first line of dialogue.


By the way, I enjoyed "Raven Kill" and am halfway through with RotS. Good stuff!

Howard von Darkmoor said...

Yet, as has been pointed out by another person elsewhere, no other story could have ended RotS as sweetly as Red Hands does:

"Charny laughed joyously."

Now that is how you end a book of heroic adventure!
:D

Scriptorius Rex said...

Yes, and it sort of sums up the discussion on SFReader at Ehart's forum. What are some of the principles of good S&S? One of them is a hero who kills several bad guys and laughs when the victory is accomplished.