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All right, I actually managed to finish the "Author's Definitive Edition" of this book, with a little help from Audible.com, and my iPod's 2x speed function. And let me tell you, it was a CHORE to get through even still. So here's a review of the new version of this book. (Note, I was never able to finish the originally published version of this book because it was just so bland and generic)
Let's start out by going over what is better about this version of the book. There were a couple things.
First of all, the horrible juvenile attempts at humor are, for the most part, gone. And good riddance to them. That was just AWFUL. So good job Mr. Orullian on listening to fans and leaving that shite where it belongs, on the cutting room floor.
And Sutter's Abrasive, highly irritating personality has been toned down quite a bit.
And that's about it. Those two aspects of the book are better than the original version. Everything else is either the same, or much, MUCH worse.
This is something I didn't really talk about in my original review, but before I get started on what's way, WAY worse in this book, I'm going to talk about it now, because it has a lot to do with why this version is so much worse.
Okay, so, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Wheel of Time, to name a few, all follow the same basic story as this one. A person from the ass end of nowhere is caught up in a quest that will take them far from their home and through many dangers and toward some sort of goal. Each of these stories starts out with a person of authority, someone who uses magic, and is old and wise, telling the protagonist that they have to leave home and why it's important that they do.
"Luke, the Empire murdered the only family you've ever known to get their hands on these droids. We must take them to to the rebel leaders on Alderaan immediately, and make sure that the Empire never takes them from us."
You know what the quest is, get the droids to Alderaan, and keep them away from the Empire. You know what's at stake, Luke's family has been murdered, and so will he if he's caught with the droids. You can see why he's leaving, and what he hopes to accomplish by doing so.
Lord of the Rings:
"Frodo, the Black Riders have come to the Shire for that ring that your uncle left you. I fear it may hold some great evil within it. To protect the rest of the Shire, you must meet me at an inn in Bree and we will continue on to Rivendell to enlist the help of the elves in solving this mystery and keeping the ring out of the hands of the evil things that seek it."
You know what the quest is, get the ring out of the Shire so more experienced and learned people can figure out what to do with it. You know what is at stake, Black Riders are terrorizing the Shirefolk in search of the ring and will kill to get it back. You can see why he's leaving, to protect the Shire from those that would do evil to get the ring.
The Wheel of Time:
"Rand, the Trollocs attacked your village because they were looking for you. You have to come with me to the White Tower in Tar Valon for your own protection, to keep them from attacking your village again, and so that the entire Aes Sedai Order can put their efforts into finding out why."
You know what the quest is, get to Tar Valon to find out why the Dark One is hunting Rand. You know what's at stake, Rand's life, those of everyone he knows and cares about, and perhaps even his soul. You can see why he's leaving, much of the village was burnt to the ground, and many people were injured in the attack, some, or all, might die in a second attack, and there might not be anything left of the village afterward.
"Tahn, you need to come with me. We're leaving the Hollows."
"Because I said so, that's why. Now start running."
You do not know what the quest it. You have no idea what the eventual goal is, or why it is important to reach. You have no idea what is at stake because you haven't really seen anything to let you know that there's any sort of real danger. You don't know why he's leaving. Some guy just showed up and told him he had to, without giving any reasons at all for it. And I read over half of this book in its original form, and even that far into it, the author hadn't gotten around to answering these most basic of questions about what's going on and why.
Do you see the difference between doing it well, and not doing it well? Do you see how The Unremembered just completely failed on a basic exposition level, which then made every single thing that happened after that point confusing and pointless? I get the whole need for mystery and tension and all, but you still have to let your readers know what's going on, if only to let them know what the goal is. Why are these characters leaving home, and where are they going? What is the point? What do they hope to accomplish by leaving? We need to at least know this much if we are expected to give half a damn about what's going on.
And what does this have to do with the Author's Definitive Edition, you ask? Plenty. You see, the author was on one extreme end of the spectrum of terrible with the original version. This time around, he's on the complete opposite end. Through dialog it's clear that the characters know what they're doing, and have some idea of what might be at stake. The problem is THAT THE AUTHOR STILL HASN'T BOTHERED TO TELL US, THE READERS ANY OF IT!!!!!
This version of the book is considerably shorter than the originally published version, and you can see why almost immediately. The first 25% of the book has been almost completely removed. Now, I don't know about you, but, I kind of like to, you know, be introduced to the characters in a story, and introduced to the world that the story takes place in. I don't particularly care for being dropped in the middle of a chase where I don't know what's happening, or why, and I don't know who any of the characters are, or why I'm supposed to care about them. All of these things were just completely cut out of the book by the author for some reason, and I just can't see why he would have done something so utterly stupid. Yes, the characters were either bland and generic, highly abrasive, or horribly offensive stereotypes, but at least we knew who they were are people. We knew what drove them, and a bit about their personalities and relationships with each other. The world was somewhat interesting, and the author did a generally good job of introducing it to us. Now, it's like starting on book 2 of a series. You have no idea what's going on, no idea who any of the characters are, how any of them are related to each other in any way, and you don't even realize that some of the characters are even there at all until several chapters later when they just start talking out of nowhere and you're like, wtf, who is this guy? Has he been there all along, or did they just meet him?
The original beginning was bland and generic, and the characters were equally so, but at least it WAS a beginning. At least we were introduced to these people, and told about how they are related to one another. We knew something of the world, and the dark creatures that walk in the night. We have some back story on the world, and were introduced to a pretty cool villain in what I still say was the best chapter in the book. (and it was cut from this version... wtf...) In short, though we didn't really know any real details on the quest or why they were leaving home, we did know who they were as people, and saw how they got themselves into the position where they were being chased and separated.
I just don't get it. Why would the author do something like this? It's just utterly stupid. He, in effect, cut the legs right out from under the story before it even began. What editor actually signed off on this? An editor doing his job would have said something like this to Orullian, "Yeah, I see what you're trying to do there, but it's not going to work, and this is why. So, if you're set on changing up the beginning of the book, let's sit down together and figure out a better way of doing it." That editor should be ashamed of himself, and should resign immediately, because he is utterly incompetent at his job. This is not how good storytelling works, and if he can't rein in an author doing something this idiotic with his book, he has no business being an editor.
All in all, this version of the book makes Peter Orullian look like an utterly incompetent writer. I just cannot understand why he would do this to his own story. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. He, basically, made it completely impossible to care about the characters, or what's happening to them. He cut out the entire beginning of the book, and didn't make any changes to the rest of it to make up for the loss.
I'd like to compare the Author's Definitive Edition of The Unremembered to a video game that came out a while back. Final Fantasy XIII. Now, the Final Fantasy series was once knows as a series with epic stories, excellent characters, awesome villains, beautiful music, and cutting edge graphics (at the time of each game's release, they're not so impressive by modern standards). But Final Fantasy XIII was seen by pretty much all fans of the series as the last nail in the coffin of a once beautiful thing. The "writers" of the story of this game, for whatever reason, decided that exposition is for wusses, and didn't give any... at all... ever... in the entire fucking game. So you are dropped in the middle of some sort of action scene with characters you know nothing about, doing... something... because reasons. And these are vital plot and character elements that you NEVER find out in the entirety of the game. You have to spend about 20 hours reading ingame datalogs that tell you what's going on and why if you want to know, and they are a friggen chore to read through too. Not to mention the fact that they don't all unlock at the beginning. You have to play all the way to the end of the game to even know what the hell was going on at the beginning by reading datalogs outside of gameplay.
Why do I bring this up, you ask? BECAUSE THIS BOOK IS EXACTLY THE FUCKING SAME NOW!!!! If I sit down to read a book I expect the author to introduce me to his characters, and tell me who they are and why I should give a damn about them. I expect to have some idea of what they're doing, why, and what's at stake if they fail. These are BASIC storytelling elements, the bare bones of a plot, and they are utterly absent from this piece of shit book. I never really got a feel for who the characters are as people, how they knew each other, why they cared about one another, or why I should care about them. It made the book just utterly mind-numbing to sit through. And on top of that, there were WAY more characters than there needed to be, and not enough personality to go around.
Do not read this book. Seriously. Don't. It is beyond terrible and the author shows how incredibly incompetent he is through the whole thing by showing how he doesn't know the first thing about telling a story, or building his characters. Any aspiring authors out there, take this book as an example of everything NOT to do while telling a story.
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