What Makes a Tome Worth Reading?
This post is largely inspired by the tome that I am currently slogging my way through; Jerusalem by:
Characters. Though in many tomes that I pick up I have never read anything by the author previously; for example when I read Brent Weeks' The Black Prism. Prior to reading this novel I had no experience with Weeks as an author, however I assume that the size of the book will allow for a wealth of character growth, until I am proven otherwise. However I am sometimes disappointed by the character development or vast scope of a story; as seen with Jerusalem. In this tome I am finding a great attachment to prior seen characters though not the current characters that are depicted in new chapters. When a novel has many characters, such as A Song of Ice and Fire I appreciate seeing a wealth of chapters from their point of view in order to connect to their plight and efforts throughout the story. I have seen many stories that cover all the point of views and do them well, such as the Light Bringer books by Brent Weeks and Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. The importance of characters to me is for the connection to a story and its plot, along with a more enjoyable experience while reading. The power of connection can help humanity cope with many horrific acts, and through reading and creating a connection I and as I would imagine, you as well, can escape some of the harsh realities of the modern world.
The plot, like a relaxing television show allows us to escape for a short time and enjoy the talents of each other. The plot of most tomes covers a wide swath of time and characters for the reader to bond with and enjoy their tale, which I find to be a key aspect in enjoying a tome. This enjoyment factor is why I read the majority of what I read within the fantasy and science fiction genres, and a lack luster plot can kill the whole mood of a book. Some novels that have woven plot and character development together quite well include, Mistborn, The Black Prism, and The Name of the Wind. Others that have done this poorly include books such as The Kiss of Deception, and Armada by Ernest Cline. This "poor quality" plot that I am speaking of is merely personal preference, however I prefer a novel to include adventure, romance, political intrigue, and a widely imagined world to complete the list. Plotting of a novel is not the issue I find most times while reading tomes, that major issue I have is the pacing of a novel. Along with the purely enjoyable and unique plots of the tomes, I look for some insight into current issues within society. If I am able to find a few discussions of current issues within the novel it adds a layer of relevance to the story, though I do not dock the ratings I give if the novel lacks the social and current relevances. Some current issues I am reading into more whilst reading are poverty, race issues, gender equality, and most importantly the gun violence plaguing our world. When looking in depth for these topics I read non-fiction pieces to provide the in depth conversation regarding these topics, instead of the huge fantastical tomes I read so often.
Within pacing there are many terms with varying definitions attached, such as fast pacing, optimal pacing, slow, and slower than molasses in January. These are all terms that I will use through my reviews and speech patterns to speak about a tome once I complete it, though rarely do i use the phrase "slower than molasses in January". This term is reserved for a special kind of book that regardless of the amount of time and dedication you put into reading it feels like you are making no progress; an example for this would be Jerusalem by: Alan Moore. This slow pacing is not always used as a derogatory term in my book, although it requires a specific mood for me to be in in order to enjoy the "slow burning" pace of the tome. Many other terms such as fast and optimal include a lessor nuanced definition. The term "fast paced" has the connotation and meaning of being fun and adventure filled which moves the plot and tome on with a brisk pace allowing you to complete the novel quicker. Optimal pacing has a vary unique meaning for all readers, my personal interpretation of this term is a simple mix of speedy action sequences and slow burning tensions to create an atmosphere laced with character growth and fun scenes to move the plot ahead. Pacing is a personalized preference that is developed through a reader's time reading and analyzing novels; with tomes it varies it can change meaning drastically as well. With a tome many will prefer to read a fast paced plot driven tome in order to complete the book in a timely manor, however I prefer a slower burning novel to connect with the characters that the author has built.
Three key aspects that is often used to rate a tome's quality often includes characters, plot, and pacing; though these are by far not the only considerations while reading a tome. Other credentials that can be considered when rating a tome's enjoyment factors include language accessibility, dialog creation, and vivid atmospheres; all of these devices can amass into a "perfect" novel that will allow any escape artist of a reader to slip out of reality or delve deeper into reality and examine the current issues. All aspects of a tome come together in an amalgamated mass constructed around paper and ink to allow readers to enjoy and discuss.
This post was again inspired by what traits I look for in a tome such as Jerusalem by Alan Moore, which has been taking up the reviewing time I have to offer.
I would love to know all of your opinions about what contributes to create the perfect tome, let me know in the comments what makes the perfect tome for you.
Until Next time, Happy Reading!
I apologize profusely for the lack of videos these past weeks, I am waiting to find the proper time to film for the channel, by the end of the week I will have a new and exciting video up at MyBookishEmpire on YouTube.com!