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"Books by favorite authors you never managed to finish" Topic

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3,631 hits since 7 May 2012
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Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2012 11:10 a.m. PST

I have read the Flashman books many times over. They aresimply the finest historical novels ever written.
However, I could never manage to get more than 50 pages into his "Pyrates!". The whimsy was just totally overdone. Too cute by a mile.
I got 10 pages into Black Ajax. Boring.

Indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus. grin

Dynaman878907 May 2012 11:16 a.m. PST

None I can think of, but I REALLY wish I had not finished "Homeward Bound" by Harry Turtledove…

Personal logo J Womack 94 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member07 May 2012 11:17 a.m. PST

JOB, by Heinlein.

leidang07 May 2012 11:17 a.m. PST

Glen Cook's Dread Empire series…. It just doesn't do it for me although I've read just about everything else he has written.

It feels too much like a lightly filled in outline compared to most books. And I couldn't get myself to care about any of the characters.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian07 May 2012 11:18 a.m. PST

The Odyssey
War and Peace

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2012 11:20 a.m. PST


Dan Beattie Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2012 11:26 a.m. PST


The main problem with War and Peace is that the author introduces all 20 major characters, and many minor ones, in the first chapter.

Try skipping that chapter. It is a great book (except for Tolstoy's wacky theory of history).

LostPict Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2012 11:28 a.m. PST

Trudging through Last of the Mohicans at present, Uncas may live and Alice will marry Magua if things don't get better soon.

nvdoyle07 May 2012 11:30 a.m. PST

Hm…okay, I've never finished Cyteen, by Cherryh. I love the Merchant/Alliance/Compact setting, read almost every other book in it…but I just can't get into that one. And that's too bad, as it seems to explain a lot of the background of the main 'antagonist' side.

Captain DEwell Inactive Member07 May 2012 11:50 a.m. PST

How did John the OFM finish this post? I gave up!

Pijlie Inactive Member07 May 2012 11:52 a.m. PST

I like Cornwell, but most of his Sharpe books are beyond me. Loved the Alchemist by Coelho, but crashed completely on his Santiago book. MacDonald Frasers McAuslan books lost their charm very quickly, but I love everything else I read from him.

RavenscraftCybernetics Inactive Member07 May 2012 11:52 a.m. PST

Dread Empire seriea -Glen Cook

Bob Applegate07 May 2012 11:53 a.m. PST

The Silmarillion

Yesthatphil07 May 2012 11:56 a.m. PST

I always finish.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian07 May 2012 11:56 a.m. PST


But I liked The Iliad! grin

floating white bear Inactive Member07 May 2012 11:57 a.m. PST

John Irving. (World According to Garp). I either loved or hated his books--there was no middle ground.
Pyrates, Black Ajax and Mr American (America?) were all worth the read. Much better written than Flashman. Rob.

Heisler07 May 2012 12:00 p.m. PST

Cornwell's ACW books. I think I made it through 2 chapters.

Crown and Empire Inactive Member07 May 2012 12:06 p.m. PST

All the Flashmans, like his other ones, but those defeat me. Badly written, badly drawn and thoroughly dislikable 'hero'.

Personal logo J Womack 94 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member07 May 2012 12:06 p.m. PST

The Silmarillion, yeah, that was a snoozer.

Personal logo Landorl Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2012 12:12 p.m. PST

Elizabeth Moon – Deed of Parkensenian (something like that). I lost the book and never replaced it.

There was another series I was reading, but the author died before last book was finished.

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP07 May 2012 12:24 p.m. PST

Michael Moorcock's Mother London. He was probably my favourite sci-fi/fantasy author at the time but I couldn't get through that.

Personal logo elsyrsyn Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2012 12:55 p.m. PST

The wheel of time series. Through about the first six or so books, I could not get enough of it, and could not wait for the next volume to come out. Somewhere between 6 and 9 or so, I just had had enough of it. I'd still like to know how it finishes, and maybe someday when I've got absoluetly nothing better to do for a year, I'll read it all the way through, but in the meantime I just cannot be bothered.


OSchmidt Inactive Member07 May 2012 1:02 p.m. PST

Dear Landorf

I finised the series "The Deed of Paksanarion." Good work, but a few chapters too long. I rarely read fiction any more, but the last book I haven't finishe is Umberto Ucco's History of Beauty.

dampfpanzerwagon Fezian07 May 2012 1:19 p.m. PST

Unseen Academical by Pratchett is the only Disc World book that I was unable to get in to.


Crazyfrenchteacher Inactive Member07 May 2012 1:27 p.m. PST

Andrew Pepper's "Pyke Mysteries", loved everything about the series and read one to four. Book five was released and I only managed to get halfway through it before putting it down (It has remained "down" for the past year).

Dan Beattie Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2012 1:40 p.m. PST

I got fed up with "Game of Thrones" midway through the second volume.

Mark Twain wrote a brilliant and funny essay on how bad "Last of the Mohigans" is.

Karl Marx, "Capital," is pretty turgid.

skinkmasterreturns07 May 2012 2:22 p.m. PST

I loved James Clavell's Shogun and Taipan,but I couldnt get into Noble House.

CeruLucifus07 May 2012 2:45 p.m. PST

I can think of books by favorite authors I didn't enjoy as much, and books I haven't finished, but not a book by a favorite author I didn't finish. (I think the key here is if I get stalled on a book, either the author drops off / never makes my favorites list, or I return to the book later to finish it, or I skim ahead and finish it.)

Going to look through my shelves, maybe something will jog my memory.

Let's pick a favorite author of years ago. Michael Moorcock. Now, once I finished his heroic fantasy material, I went on to what I call his baroque or alternate VSF material (yes I know he crosses genres, never mind about that). Say the Jerry Cornelius books. I read these and had to skim some parts. There were other books, I read to the end but neglected to read others. Now I've learned just because it says Moorcock on it, it's not going to be the same reading experience that the Elric books were. So there are books I didn't read, and some I skimmed, and he's not really a favorite author any more, so … I could say Gloriana, because I think I gave it back to the guy I borrowed it from before finishing, but … see above.

And I could say Heinlein's Glory Road, except that not finishing it when I was 11 was part of how I realized he is really 3 authors, the guy that wrote those great juveniles, the guy that wrote some classic SF, and the guy that did all that experimental stuff because he could. Glory Road is a transition into that later phase. And anyway, 20 years later I did read it all the way through.

And let's pick an author I love to hate, that Song of Ice and Whatever author. The last couple books I had in that series I figured out I had to skim so I did. There have been two more I haven't bought. I haven't watched the TV series. But there aren't any books by him I didn't finish, and I he's not my favorite author anyway.

There were a couple by Steven Brust I don't remember at all, The Gypsy, and Brokedown Palace, but I'm pretty sure I finished them.

And there were some Neal Gaiman books I didn't enjoy at all -- the one about the world inside the wall in the London alley wall -- but I think of him as a favorite comics author, and that was a book … and I finished it anyway.

And there's the later Amber books by Zelazny. Man those were weak … but I skimmed to the end, and had learned by then he wasn't the writer he used to be anyway, so one could argue he was off the favorites list.

Flat Beer and Cold Pizza Inactive Member07 May 2012 3:00 p.m. PST

The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald. But then again, he didn't finish it either. laugh

Forager Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2012 3:37 p.m. PST

Another for The Silmarillion.

I really liked the first three books of O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series but couldn't get into #4 for some reason. Can't recall the name at the moment.

Covert Walrus07 May 2012 4:20 p.m. PST

Paul J Macauley – like his short work, and all but one novel: "Eternal Light" just drags on and on . . .

Making slow going of Vernor Vinge's "A Fire Upon The Deep" as well – despite it flowing from incident to incident, his grand ideas aren't easily picke dup in long format so unless you enjoy the minor threads you don't pick up the story. Well, at least I don't.

Isaac Asimov's "Foundation". A lot of people argue in rooms. Yes, they are shaping dramatic events but all that happens offstage. It actually adapts to radio far better than reading it IMO.

Gear Pilot07 May 2012 4:24 p.m. PST

What Pictors said – Moorcock's Mother London. I've enjoyed (some less than others) all of his other work that I've been able to find, no matter how strange they were.

CorporalTrim Inactive Member07 May 2012 4:36 p.m. PST

"The Lymond Chronicles" by Dorothy Dunnett comes to mind. Started all six books, finished half of them.

Eddison's "The Worm Ouroboros" was another. Loved the Shakespearean flavor of the prose, but once I stalled midway through the book and took an extended break, could not recover.

I too did not survive the George R.R. Martin "Game of Thrones" cycle. I died somewhere after Book 3, just quit caring about the characters and tracking who was who after a while. My current taste in this sort of thing now runs more to Joe Abercrombie, relentlessly brutal but he keeps it focused.

Monophagos07 May 2012 5:21 p.m. PST

I loved Flashman and the MacAuslan stories.

I enjoyed "Black Ajax" and "The Pyrates".

I thought "The Candlemass Road" excellent, as were "Quartered Safe Out Here" and "The Light's on at Sign Post".

I tolerated "Mr American" and finished "The Reivers" for reasons of sentiment (Fraser's last book) but frankly didn't enjoy it.

I have been trying off and on for about 25 years to plow through "The Steel Bonnets", but have a sneaking feeling I will never finish it – dry as dust……..

timlillig Inactive Member07 May 2012 7:35 p.m. PST

The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.

I really enjoy the rest of Gibson's work, but was not able to get into this one.

GoGators Inactive Member07 May 2012 7:53 p.m. PST

Why all the hate for the Silmarillion? I've read it about 7-10 times now. Different from The Lord of the Rings, but Tolkien was trying to create a backlog of Epic Poetry type tradition for the English he felt was lacking.

Besides, Luthien is the Most awesome bad[redacted] elf you are ever gonna meet. Takes out Melkor by herself. Overcomes the Lord of the Dead with song to bring her man back. Tells her dad where he can stuff it. Good stuff.

Now, I did start The Lays of Beleriand and haven't finished it yet. But it has only been 10 years or so. I'll get to it.

Sane Max Inactive Member08 May 2012 1:53 a.m. PST

I really struggled to finish 'The Amber Spyglass'. The only way I could do it was to re-read 'The Subtle Knife' at the same time, sort of to remind me how much pleasure Pullman had given me before, so I sort of owed him one? To this day, while I may have read it, I can't really remember much about the last few chapters.

I have re-read the first two many times since, never that one.

And I found 'Tender is the Night' hard work, gave up less than a third in.

'TommyKnockers' from a man who wrote 'The Stand' ? Hard to believe. What DID happen in the end, anyone?


forrester08 May 2012 5:03 a.m. PST

Flashman novels,fine, and I coped with Pyrates, but his very last book, on the Border Reavers,defeated me-it was in the same vein as Pyrates,only more so, and deliberate anachronisms just stop being funny very quickly.
I used to follow faithfully Alexander Kent's Bolitho series years ago but lost interest-more of the same etc.

Adrahil Supporting Member of TMP08 May 2012 7:15 a.m. PST

Another vote for the Wheel of Time books. I got to about 6-7 but it was hard work. The first couple were very good but the rest became an education on how to make a 200 page book last 800+ pages.

Funny all these votes for one of my favourite books The Silmarillion.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP08 May 2012 7:35 a.m. PST

Why all the hate for the Silmarillion? I've read it about 7-10 times now.

Good for you.
However, to me it read like a rather poor imitation of the King James Bible.
It was simply NOT INTERESTING.

EvilBen Supporting Member of TMP08 May 2012 10:11 a.m. PST

I'm usually quite good (or stubborn) at finishing once I've started, but can't do Brian Aldiss's Barefoot in the Head. Really enjoy most of the rest of his work.

I failed with The Silmarillion the first time I tried, twenty-odd years ago. I managed more recently, partly because I think I was paying more attention to what Tolkien was trying to do, rather than what I was hoping to get out of it. But I did have to be in the mood.

GoGators Inactive Member08 May 2012 10:52 a.m. PST

The mythology of The Simarillion is fascinating to me. It really adds a greater understanding of Tolkien's duel concept of evil you see with the One Ring: that of nothingness and the corrupting influence. I also like the fact that only Eros knows what will happen to elves and men after the End. Personally, I don't believe that the races are sundered forever as many of the characters allude to.

Different strokes and all that.

just visiting Inactive Member08 May 2012 11:11 a.m. PST

R. E. Howard's OTHER (non Conan) stuff: I did manage to finally finish his Solomon Kane stories, but they are rather inferior compared to the Hyborian Age stories. As for Howard's Western genre stories, bleh.

Interestingly, speaking of Tolkien: I can read the Silmarillion easily enough, but my latest rereading of TLOTR has gone haltingly along for several years. I am about to do the scouring/cleansing of the Shire. But I am not enjoying this book as much as in former times.

My favorite historical novelist is Alfred Leo Duggan; but his first book was his best. Several of his later books lack the crispness and pace of Knight With Armour. The closest he came later to equaling that story was Lord Geoffrey's Fancy.

Other writers have effected me the same way, in fact most other writers, to the extent that I can't read more than one or two of their books, and often regret the time spent/wasted slogging through them. For example, War and Peace utterly put me off of reading any more Tolstoy; ditto Hugo, after Les Miserable. I managed to get through James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans; and I tried once before to read Deerslayer, and failed; now I am giving it a determined effort, and it looks like a 50/50 chance I'll actually finish it this time. Then I have the rest of the "Leatherstocking" tales waiting, but I am not hopeful.

I have been intending to give the Flashman books a go; and OFM's laudatory opinion is a plus in that direction, even at this late hour….

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP08 May 2012 1:07 p.m. PST

Another one who had real problems with "The Amber Spyglass" – somehow I just no longer cared.

The Simarillion – only finished the first section, which I did enjoy, but then I hit the buffers.

Jim Selzer Supporting Member of TMP08 May 2012 1:08 p.m. PST

love Dame Andre Norton ( her early stuff got me into space opera) but 3 different times I hav tried to read her witch world series and I can't get hooked in

turtledove's The Fantastic Civil War series is another, I generally like HT's stuff but this one bogged down

abdul666lw Inactive Member08 May 2012 1:20 p.m. PST

Any author of a book I can't finish is retroactively erased of my 'favorite' list (if applicable), hence I simply can't answer. Tolkien disappeared from my 'favorite' list when I tried to re-read LotR and reached the middle of the 2nd book. Trying to follow the Frodo / Sam pair simply exhausted me.

Actually I have very few 'favorite' fiction authors, i.e. whose entire work I enjoy. Poe, Lovecraft, Jean Ray… Pierre Louys, in a totally different field ?

Princeps Inactive Member08 May 2012 1:27 p.m. PST

The Wheel of Time series. I got to about book 5 and just decided I no longer cared what happened.

GoGators Inactive Member08 May 2012 2:19 p.m. PST

I feel the pain of people complaining about Wheel of Time. Someone lent it to me in college. I got real interested in the magic system and started reading the series. You get real bored about books 5-7. Except most other people had the good sense to stop. I didn't. Someone should have told RJ that different clothes do not a culture make. There was also that whole romance nonsense thing… and his increasing one dimensional characterization of women. My biggest gripe was the entire (huge) book where one of the three main characters DID NOT MAKE a single appearance. What the heck, mate?

Someone, at the time, accurately predicted RJ would die before finishing.

Anyway, there is a solution. Read Wikipedia summaries of Book Where You Stopped to Book 11. You'll get the highlights. Then kill off some minor characters in gruesome ways, imagine some romance nonsense, and describe some clothes no one cares about. Congratulations, you have just read those books!

Now, go get book 12 from the library. Sanderson was retained by RJ's widow to finish the series after he died (based on his extensive notes). The writing is better. Events start happening. Plot lines are closed. Book 13 is also out. Book 14 (final "book" was split into three) is scheduled for Jan 2013 (but the date keeps slipping… so don't hold your breath).

For me, this was worth it. An event I had predicted back about book 4-5 (can't remember which one anymore), FINALLY happened in Book 13 at the very end. Vindication was mine after years of frustration.

There is one thing about the Lord of the Rings I can't stand. The movies. Peter Jackson did a terrible job. He left out Bombadil. He took a knife and death-murdered almost all the characterizations. Elrond was made into a giant jerk towards non-elves and his daughter. That's not how he viewed Arwen's staying behind. The hobbits got turned into bumbling idiots. The very worst offense was Strider's character.

Jackson cannot be forgiven for that. Strider was awesome. He spent his whole adult life protecting the innocent and fighting Sauron. Just his appearance in the Palantir confirming his existence was enough to force Sauron into a late game error (launched the offensive too early). Most of all, he was one of the few untouched at the end of the Battle of Pelennor FIelds. Strider is Tolkien's Samuel L Jackson. Peter Jackson turned him into some pansy get-my-but-kicked-by-a -cave-troll also ran. Terrible movie characterization.

Though, he did an excellent job with the scene where Galadriel refused the One Ring. Properly done. Gave the right impression of how powerful she was. I'll give him that.

abdul666lw Inactive Member09 May 2012 10:17 a.m. PST

Nowadays authors are paid at the 1000 characters or 10 pages or something like that. The thickness of their novels steadily increases with their popularity, but with no more actual content in a 750 pages book than in the 200 pages one he / she wrote early in his / her career.

The Shadow10 May 2012 7:49 a.m. PST

I tried to read Stoker's "Dracula" and Shelley's "Frankenstein when I was about 11 or 12 expecting the novels to be more like the classic films. They weren't. I quit, but I was probably just too young to appreciate them.

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