Updates and poll - Fantasy names

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This week is kind of quiet on the SFF front. I corrected some problems with the new template but so far so good. I also added the author list and updated the blog-roll. Look for reviews of Spellwright by Blake Charlton, Winterbirth by Brian Ruckley and Burn Me Deadly by Alex Bledsoe soon. Now for some author updates :
  • Patrick Rothfuss announced a publication date for his second novel, The Wise Man's Fear, follow-up to The Name of the Wind. The book "should" be released on March 11, 2011. The information comes from the man himself (posted here). The third manuscript he sent to his editor was much improved in his opinion.
  • For those of you that are interested in Richard Morgan and his implication with the game Crysis 2, there's an interview with the guy at VG247 (here).
  • Steven Erikson fans, if you want some updates for the Malazan series and the writing of the final book, The Crippled God, go on to Life As A Human, where Erikson write posts every couple of weeks since February.


Let's return to the polls. The last one was the most popular so far with "How many books do you read in a year?" as the question. Here are the results :

1 (4%) - Less than 10
3 (14%) - 10 to 25
9 (42%) - 25 to 40
4 (19%) - 40 to 60
4 (19%) - More than 60

Looks like I'm among the thickest of the crowd and as I said before, thanks for the audiobook to add to this number. I didn't consider myself a fast reader since English is my second language but 25 to 40 is not so bad.

Now for the next question. As I mentioned in my review of The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe last week, I didn't like the use of worldly names. This is not a major problem but I prefer unusual names. Characters named Mike and Kyle tend to stand out too much from the context of the book. I know that in some instances, this is normal since the protagonist can come from the real world through some portal, but I'm speaking about fantasy world people.

However, there's the complete opposite of the spectrum. Some names in fantasy are way too "special". With too much apostrophe (or any other punctuation) or impossible combination of letters, things can get difficult to follow. I prefer a balance between "alien" names and simple imaginative occurrences. Erikson is a good example with K'Chain Chemalle, Anomander Rake, Karsa and all the Malazan marines nicknames (although he sometimes gets out of bound). But then even some not too complicated names can get tricky. Ruckley's Winterbirth blood names can be hard to follow at times.

There's a knack for G's and K's for many writers and it can be seen as a lack of originality but I think that it's just a part of fantasy literature as much as elves and dragons. One of the great ideas in naming in the last few years for me was R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing series. Simply by switching the first and last name, he created just a small additional layer to his worldbuilding to better immerse ourselves in his imagined world. Moreover, there's coherence in all his naming choices. I think that it's something basic that can spice up the recipe.

By the way, the inspiration for this didn't come only from my latest reads but also from this post on Mark Charan Newton blog. The discussion is more about the origin and meaning of the names processed by the authors but it's still in line with my question.

So this is it : What sort of names do you prefer?
  • I don't care
  • Real world related
  • Completely original but simple stuff
  • Exotic names, even hard to pronounce


Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

This has been a big week. I am so excited to hear we have a Pub. Date for Patrick Rothruss. I am looking forward to finishing the story I started and ended with out a close. I hope a lot of people didn't give up on him.

I had to vote in you name poll too. I like having different names, but they don't need to be extravagantly long names. I like being able to remember a character with a different name. Kind of makes them stick out in my mind and a little special too.

Unknown said...

I like the new look, it inspired me to get a new look for my blog as well.

Keep up the great work.

Phil said...

@Melissa : I think that if Rothfuss comes up with something as good as The Name of the Wind, many of those who gave up will probably turn their coat.

This "naming style" seems to be what most people love too, me included (yours is a great way to put it by the way). But I'm not sure that's what most writers do...

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