Resurrection of a book club – The Darkness that Comes Before

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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  1. Avatar Aaron W
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    I’ve read a lot more than this, and I’ve really enjoyed the books so far. Even within the first nine chapters, though, there are lots of examples of sexual abuse that even I found pretty shocking and almost gratuitous. In particular, on page 180 in chapter 7, there is a scene where Xerius recalls an encounter with his mother in his youth where she climbs in bed with him and pleasures him. While I would consider myself far from a prude, I found this treatment to be particularly salacious and unnecessary. I think this particular detail is important to understand Xerius’s character, but it could have been treated in a different way to get the same result. Do others agree? Is this treatment of sexual abuse gratuitous or is it necessary to understand the character of Xerius?Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Aaron W
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      I think it’s absolutely gratuitous. And there are worse moments. I think this improves drastically in the second trilogy, but it hurts these first books and their mainstream appeal.Report

      • Avatar Aaron W in reply to E.D. Kain
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        Yeah, there’s definitely a rich and interesting history (I spent an hour reading the appendix one night), but it’s definitely a mark against the trilogy. We had this debate about GRRM’s books a few months ago, but I think in this case it’s much more gratuitous. Almost all of the female characters except maybe Esmenet (and even then) fall into awful misogynist tropes. I know it’s women in a highly patriarchal society, etc. etc. but if I were a woman reading this series, I would probably be turned off by the treatment of women.Report

        • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Aaron W
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          Agreed. It just goes too far too often. Fortunately this is much less the case in the second trilogy. I suspect sales of the books were hurt by it, which is too bad because it’s a fantastic series. One of the best written fantasies out there. I’m not sure that Bakker meant to be sexist, either. It reads as a little immature. He’s obviously a very smart dude but his take on patriarchy is too “edgy” and dark. He tries too hard.Report

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