Jan. 17th, 2011

zodiacal_light: Pray to all space that you may never meet me in my thousand other forms... (nyarlathotep)
For all that Pierce tries to tackle sexism and racism, and even, lately, attempts to tackle heterosexism, she never really seems to tackle classism much at all.

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zodiacal_light: A map of Tortall (tortall)
What broke Tortall.

There's a sharp difference between SotL and later Tortall. SotL is often treated like the kink in the works, like it is what messes up canon and forces Pierce to come up with really bizarre deuterocanon that doesn't work with her own texts, but I have a problem with that view. SotL came first. Later canon should have to fit with it, not the other way 'round.

SotL had a Tortall that had a completely different culture than later Tortall, in ways that it is implausible to postulate cultural evolution in such a short time span. SotL, to my brain, had the more interesting world, a culture that didn't map to any one of our times, and that had some interesting things of its own. There seems to be no trace of slut-shaming in SotL, for example; the closest we come is Coram being mildly worried in LR after he runs into Liam and Liam remarking that no one would talk around her anyway, she's too good with a sword. For all that it would be an easy charge to make against Delia, or an expected one to make against Alanna, it never happens.

We're also shown things like a militant Goddess cult that is still not powerful enough to prevent women from having their futures decided by their fathers, and so on.

All this gets broken by later canon or deuterocanon.

It all gets broken, basically, because Pierce wants to write stories set in a world culturally much more like ours, with sexism that follows the exact same patterns ours does, and heterosexism that follows the exact same patterns ours does, and so on. And then she also decides, at the same time, to go run with the Goddess cult to the breaking point, and simultaneously postulates a world where women have a ton of rights, including the right to determine fully their own partners and even jobs.

Um.

The Goddess cult thing is just insanely ridiculous, and reads, actually, like it would fit better over in Emelan.

As for the other way, the major way, Pierce starts shattering her own canon, it really starts to seem after a while like Pierce wanted to write thinly-veiled versions of our world with a fantasy pseudomedieval gloss. Suddenly, we have to have US-style progressives and conservatives, both of whom are bang-on caricatures of progressive views of US political sides. Suddenly, we have to have a world that criticizes slut-shaming not subtly, by just not having a culture that does it, but directly, by having modern slut-shaming show up as an issue. Suddenly, we have to have awkward talks on the sleeping-with-the-boss issue. In SotL, only a certifiably insane person thought of bringing that up at all, and it's treated there like a line of attack wholly unheard of.

It almost feels - hell, forget the almost - like Pierce has systematically stripped out all the interesting bits of Tortallan culture, to make it more and more "medieval" and more and more a platform for addressing some checklist of "real-world scenarios". Hell, she even does that with the magic, taking away all the interesting unexplained bits and hammering out an unconvincing explanation for them all (oh, they're all just wild magics. humdrum stuff) and then going more and more into Standard Fantasy Territory, complete with crazy fantasy names that read like a virus-addled spellchecker autocorrected her work.

PotS is still my comfort reading, and WM sometimes is, but those feel like a completely different world from SotL, which has finally become, or perhaps always really was, my favorite Tortall series overall. I can see why Pierce wanted to tell PotS especially in the Tortall world as a contrast to SotL, but she should have kept to the damn canon she herself as created. Hell, she should have stepped off her damn soapbox before writing anything after SotL.

I do love Tortall, though I often wonder why after posts like this. I will continue buying and reading her books unless everything turns into a DotL-style scramble. But more and more, I have to separate the Tortall of TIQ/PotS/DotL and the deuterocanon from the Tortall of SotL, because more and more they are becoming just flat irreconcilable.

I really, really wish Pierce had either kept to her own canon and written different books, or set everything post-SotL in its own damn world. Or, hell, a hundred years or so in the future.

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zodiacal_light: Humour: Because angst is not jolly. (Default)
Alix

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