Epigraphs and new poll

Monday, November 23, 2009

Now that the dust is almost settled, we can move out from The Gathering Storm hype... while waiting for my review :). My last poll asked the readers whether or not they are going to read Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson latest opus and the majority is going to, at least by judging with my "non-scientific" poll.

Let's follow with my next interrogation. Many writers (and correct me if I seem mistaken), mostly in fantasy literature recently, are putting epigraphs at the beginning of their chapters. Epigraphs are used to set an atmosphere, suggest a theme or simply give some information.

Some writers like Joe Abercrombie are using real world famous or "infamous" quotes (and an interesting back story for Monza in Best Served Cold) while others are working with epigraphs to add essential information for the story (a la Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy). R.A Salvatore used a kind of epigraph in his Drizzt Do'Urden novels to add insights from the PoV of the drow himself. R. Scott Bakker and Steven Erikson (only in his first few books) are including this writing tool to insert historical facts from their created world or citations from wise imagined philosopher of the past. I'm not sure if we can consider Scott Lynch interludes to be a part of this but anyway it's an fascinating inclusion.

There's one of the uses of epigraphs that I don't really like and if you've read my reviews of Erikson's novels you know that it's poems. It's not that I hate those but in as much quantity as in the two latest Malazan novels, I don't think it's compelling. The same applied for me when I read the songs in LOTR.

Usually, I read all the epigraphs and it's generally worth it. It can be of great help when in need of more "meat" for world building. And you, do you like to read epigraphs at the start of a chapter?


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