5.13.2006

"Dear Miss Snark"

Miss Snark has noticed some of you prefer phrases other than "Dear Miss Snark" when writing to your dear Miss Snark.

Always interested in helping you to be correct in all ways, Miss Snark offers up, courtesy of The Amulet of the Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud (a book you should read RIGHT NOW) the following phrases stolen from a message bearing imp who
"goes my course, never pausing, unless I am so to fortunate as to be waylaid by your good grace and squashed under a stone":

O Most Glorious Person of High Repute
O S/He Who is Terrible and Great
Miraculous One
Exalted Being
O Most Beauteous and Merciful One
O Most Awful One*
O Brilliant Ray of Starlight
Lord of All You Survey
Oh Ace One

This book is hilarious. If I don't post for the next two days, don't worry, I'm reading. How the hell is it this guy isn't revered like J.K. Rowling?? Or am I just late to the party?


*Miss Snark's fave

32 comments:

Eika said...

Oh, those are good books. I highly recommend the second as well, although the third isn't as stirring. And that book.... it's great, the whole series, but they also tend to stay quietly in the back of your head... something like a Djinni who doesn't want to be summoned.

Courtyard Sqaush said...

J.K. Rowling ...
*drool*
OH, wait ... I did start to read 'Samarkand,' and it was awesome. For some reason, I didn't finish, but it's in my 'to-read stack.' I think you bring up a good question ... But, then again, J.K. Rowling is ... J.K. Rowling ... J. K. Rowling ... J.K. My-hero-even-though-she's-not-the-best-writer-but-is-still-really-good-at-writing-a-totally-captivating-and-believable-story-and-has-some-really-nice-descriptions Rowling.

- ER - (as Harry says) ... That also would describe you, Your Awfulness.

Inkwolf said...

Ooh, I love that trilogy! Truly excellent books.

Gina Black said...

Thanks for the heads-up on the book. My son the voracious reader had never heard of it.

Spiraling.Xenophile said...

Oooh. *looks at reading pile* It's one of the next ones...

Queenmelda said...

Hail, Most Awful One and She Who Must be Obeyed*

I had the same thought when I read these and my analysis is as follows:

1. Not as huge as JK because he's just a little too damn sophisticated. Some of the analogies and references in his books would go straight over the head of his younger readers. And Bartimeus, is a very OLD Djinni, so I think some of his thoughts strike home more forcibly to the grown-up reader. In fact, although I'm sure kids would enjoy it, I think this is just as much a book for adults.

2. The main character is not really Nathaniel, but Bartimeus, who is a bona fide, indeed jaded grown-up. The Harry books are written entirely from Harry's point of view, which I think makes the identification deeper for the kid audience. B's wry take on the world is immensely amusing, but perhaps not as captivating for the 11yr old.

(In case you are wondering, I have thought about it in depth because I am working on a book for this age group. Never hurts to analyse the bits of the JK phenomenon that ARE calculable.)

Also, yes, a little late to the party. He's sold brilliantly. Not as stratospherically as JK - but then, who has?


*One of my personal favourites. Are you familiar with Rumpole?

Judy said...

I am currently reading the second book of the trilogy...and have the third waiting close by!

One of my favorite parts of the first book was the aside to Rawling... where the comment is made that magicians are always apprenticed to a Master magician and never taught in schools, of all things. That one line made me laugh out loud.

I'm afraid my housework (not to mention my OWN writing) is suffering terribly as a result of discovering Stroud.

Bernita said...

And one should not neglect to close as :
"Your most humble and obedient servant, O Queen, I remain..."

Eileen said...

I think you left off:
O giver of liver cookies and poop patrol

I'm assuming this is how KY greets you.

Christine said...

Yeah, he's fabu. I haven't gotten to Gollem's Eye yet, it's on my to read list over the summer.

If they make a movie out of it, then he'll be like JKR. I hope they don't though - I think that would ruin it.

Pixel Faerie said...

He's good. :) I've got him on audio for my PDA. Garth Nix is another one that gets overlooked a lot. Cornelia Funke as well. All great writers.

Anonymous said...

Oh She Who Illuminates Our Darkness,
Might I ask how an agent deals with co-writers? Co-writers who also have solo works?
And might you answer?
humbly,
Barbara

Courtyard Sqaush said...

My middle-aged teacher loved the Bartimaeus books, but I found it a bit harder to get into because of the language. It was really more aimed at adults than kids. As a teen, I know the reason Harry is loved so much: Rowling really understands what it's like to be a teenager now. Bartimaeus is nicely written and intriguing, but Nathaniel isn't as "normal" as Harry.

Also, I completely disagree about Garth Nix. I picked up his 'Keys to the Kingdom' series and felt like shooting myself when I was halfway through. It was horrible.

And ... Artemis Fowl. I didn't like this book because of its lack of description. Plus, the main character is extremely annoying.

LJCohen said...

My nearly 13 yo son (and voracious reader) loved these books. They're on my to be read list, just haven't gotten there yet.

Miss Snark said...

FYI, Killer Yapp calls Miss Snark "Mad'am Hatter"

Anonymous said...

O mighty one, who, while being brilliant in all other things literary, is late to the game,

Yesss! I love this trilogy. Jonathan Stroud is a genius. The voice of Bartimeus is perfect. Love his asides.

Welcome to the world of Those of Us Who Know.

Kendall said...

Interesting comments, esp. on Stroud's series v. Rowling's. I know plenty of adults that have read Rowling; I'm not sure if anyone I know's read Stroud, however. And while I don't know about what ages either author aims at (if any), Rowling's books seem to be marketed at the whole spectrum. (Hell, my parents enjoy them!) Stroud's seem to be marketed mostly to YA. I only ever see him in the new YA books section, while Rowling's show up in the regular new [adult] books section.

Maybe that's just some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, though...and/or Stroud's simply mis-marketed. He's on my list to read, but is marketed so YA that I keep putting him off! Thanks for the recommendation, Miss Snark...I'll bump him higher up the list.

Anonymous said...

Then there's "She who must be obeyed" from John Mortimer's 'Rumpole of the Bailey'.

Bella Stander said...

Rumpole lifted "She Who Must be Obeyed" from the classic adventure novel SHE by H. Rider Haggard.

Anonymous said...

OMG, bella stander, I read SHE and thought it was ghastly, and therefore remembered nothing. But I should have remembered She who must be obeyed.

From the anonymous who attributed it to Mortimer.

Anonymiss said...

Harry Potter is a fantastic series, but a lot of its success is blind luck. JK is a great author, but she isn't the best. Sales of books don't usually reflect how 'good' a book really is - the Da Vinci Code, for example, is not all that well written, and Dan Brown's other books languished prior the explosion in sales. The success of Harry Potter is partly due to the books being irrefutably wonderful, but also partly, if not mostly, fad. The books became a phenomenon due to great marketing, word of mouth, movies and merchanside.
Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy is also brilliant, but he's an Australian author backed up by Allen and Unwin, a small Melbourne publisher - for an Aussie author to have topped the New York Times bestseller list is pretty damned amazing, considering the level of marketing he had behind him. The Keys to the Kingdom are aimed at a much younger level, but they're also fantastic - I enjoyed reading all of Nix's books as much as Harry Potter. Pullman's Dark Materials fantasties, Colfer's Artemis Fowl series (c'mon, he's _supposed_ to be annoying), Snicket's Unfortunate Events (for the love of God, _don't_ subject yourself to the movie - but these books are full of hidden gems), the Samarkand series, Barry Jonsberg's The Whole Business with Kiffo and the Pitbull, Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Scahar's Holes (is that how you spell his name?)... Anyhow, I've got a little off track. I don't really remember what my original track was even going to be... But really, it bothers me when I hear 'Harry Potter this' 'JK is the best writer ever' 'Give JK a Pulitzer prize'. There's a world of amazing YA fiction out there. The thing is, I'm a librarian - it worries me to meet people who read the same books over and over and over again, without even considering others. It's great to see people reading Harry Potter (who wouldn't!) but don't fall into the trap of thinking it's the best thing you'll ever read - you'll be missing out on so much. Besides, as writers, you should be getting off your butts and reading something on the front list.

(also, before you rile about 'hey, no one ever said Harry was the be all and end all' - Don't. I think this rant was directed more towards the school group that came through thismorning - still, make sure you don't fall into the trap.)

Anonymous said...

How about,

O She Who Wades Through Much (But Takes No) Shit?

Sarah said...

The Bartimaeus Trilogy is amazing! Probably over the heads of younger kids, yes. But I adore Jonathan Stroud, and I can't tell you how happy it makes me that the Lady of All She Surveys feels the same. ^_^

rkcooke said...

Sheesh, Anonymiss.

Look, a lot of the books you mention are darn good, but when you call 'Potter' wonderful but in the same breath credit its success to "marketing, word of mouth, movies and merchanside (sic)" well, you damn with faint praise.

The movies were WAY later than the phenomenon, as was merchandise. So that leaves us (in your words) with marketing, word of mouth and 'fad.'

Marketing helps, as does fad. But neither will give a book or series legs--only writing will do that. And I submit that Rowling has written well.

And who ever said they were only reading Potter?

Inkwolf said...

Okay, my take in why Rowling sells better than Stroud:

#1 As was said before re Bartimeus, too sophisticated for the audience that the books are doomed to be marketed at.

#2 The main character is not exactly sympathetic. Nathaniel IS the main character, and he is always teetering on the edge between good and evil. Bartimeus, as fun as he is, is merely the POV character, and of a very alien nature.

#3 Very few continuing-narrative questions. There are a million questions every Harry Potter fan has about the next book, and at least a dozen characters people seriously care about enough to worry what will happen to them. The Bartimeus trilogy has only three characters who matter and closes its narrative with each book. There were some questions left unanswered at the end of Book 2, but not enough of them to fuel thousands of intense and bitter fan debates online. And with Book 3 finished, there are no questions left to ask.

By the way, for those of us who enjoy young fantasy, you might want to try Erin Hunter's Warriors series. It's quite fun, and a unique idea: it's the story of four clans of feral cats fighting amongst themselves. It's not as good as Stroud, but a good read for Harry Poter/Tamora Pierce readers.

And nobody's even mentioned the incredible Diana Wynne Jones, author of the Chrestomanci series, Dark Lord of Derkholm, Homeward Vounders, the Dalemark Quartet, and countless other brilliant youth fantasy books. You want to know where JKR absorbed some of her ideas from, read Jones.

just Joan said...

I read the Bartimaeus trilogy. At first, I wasn't sure I liked it, even after reading the first book. I read the second book and when the third came out, I bought it so I could read it right away.

I must say, the more I read, the more I liked them. Bartimaeus' character is hillarious!

While I liked the books, my son didn't. I think the difference (as others have mentioned) between Stroud and Rowling is that J.K.'s books are more for everyone and Stroud's are more for adults.

I'm happy to know that the Most Awful One enjoyed these books, too!

HawkOwl said...

I have to recant my earlier comment. The runner-up would have to be A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.

Well, it could be a lot of things.

Inkwolf said...

Another reason I forgot to mention that HP is more popular than Bartimeus...

#4. Harry Potter is set in a dream-come-true fantasy world which people can happily imagine themselves into. Nathaniel lives in a much less inviting and friendly world, somewhere that's nice to read abotu, but you wouldn't want to live there.

Cynthia Bronco said...

So, nice day isn't it? Hey, Great blouse! By the way do you know which agent represents Jonathan Stroud?

Leslea said...

I totally thought of you while reading that section. Great series. I liked the first book best, but the whole series is worth the time. I think he doesn't get Rowling treatment because he hasn't been marketed in the US like Rowling was. Now, ban him due to the use of demons in his book, and we might get somewhere...

Anonymous said...

God yes, Diane Wynne-Jones is a wonder.
Yes, the Potter stuff is pretty derrivative.
We hit it just too late, and couldn't get through it.
I read aloud to my daughter about 45 minutes a night. Started when she was about 2; she's 16 now.
It's just a joy.
Anyway.
We also loved Diane Duane, both the young wizards and the cat wizards. And Nix, and Pullman.
And Ursula LeGuin, anything.
I'll run out and get Stroud now.
(We're half-way through Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog, so I'm looking for the next book.)
But the thing about reading aloud, is that it really points up problems in writing.
Sure, you can do some covering by artful reading, but after awhile it just degenerates into late-night snarking sessions.

Anonymous said...

You have to read the book on tape version with Simon Jones (of Arthur Dent fame) reading. He embodies Bartimaeus's tone and attitude magnificently.