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Literary Glance: Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

February 8, 2018

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown has a limited audience for a bestselling novel.  It’s science fiction, and it’s the fourth book in a series.

First of all, it’s tough to make science fiction appealing to readers who aren’t naturally drawn to it. Movies and television can do it if they throw in a bunch of attractive actors and actresses getting naked, but otherwise it’s difficult.  This is reflected in the sales so far for Iron Gold.  Last week it debuted at #3, which might seem shockingly high, but this is the fourth book in the popular Red Rising series, so a bunch of fans of the series bought the book the first week.

Now it’s the second week and Iron Gold isn’t even in the top 15 anymore.  That doesn’t mean the book sucks (though it might; I’ve read only the first part).  It just shows that the fan base for this kind of novel is very devoted but also relatively small (compared to other genres).  Several novels (mysteries, thrillers, and literary fiction) have been on the bestsellers lists for over ten weeks.

25 years ago, I would have been all over this book.  It starts off with an intergalactic armada invading the capital planet of a fading empire, and the scene is brief but effective.  25 years ago, I loved books that started off like that. But it’s not 25 years ago, and I feel like I’ve read all of this before.  If you haven’t read a bunch of science fiction already and you like this kind of stuff, this book might be right for you.  But I’ve already read a bunch of Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle, Orson Scott Card, David Weber (especially the Honor Harrington series), and others that I can’t think of (and would bore people who hate science fiction).

My other issue with Iron Gold is that it’s the fourth book in a series and I haven’t read the other three.  Even though I could follow the battle sequence at the beginning, I had no idea what was going on politically in the universe of this book.  There’s a huge cast of characters listed on the first few pages, and I thought, whew, I’m not ready for all of that yet.  I’d have to commit to three other books before I could get to Iron Gold, and I don’t do that very often anymore.

I mean, I haven’t even read the Song of Ice and Fire series yet because it’s so long (and unfinished).  If I’m not willing to read Game of Thrones until I know the series is done and I won’t be left in eternal suspense, then I know I can’t commit to Iron Gold and the books before it (and after it) until the whole series is completed.

I know my reading habits are unusual.  I won’t read a series until it’s completed.  I won’t read a series that goes over three books.  I rarely read more than three books by the same author.  I intentionally begin reading a lot of books, but I don’t finish them unless I really like them.  I’m not saying everybody should share my reading habits.  Some people think I’m too nitprickety about the books I read.

There are benefits to my nitprickety habits.  I’m familiar with a lot more titles than most people.  I don’t waste time with books I’m not interested in.  I return books to the library very quickly.  I don’t feel like I have to keep as many books in my house, so we’re not as cluttered.

25 years ago, I would have had all four Red Rising books in my house and book shelf space ready for the rest of them when they were published.  But it’s not 25 years ago.  And I don’t think I have four of anything anymore.

*****

What do you think?  Do you find yourself getting more selective about what you read as you get older?

2 Comments
  1. I definitely buy fewer books. I also read fewer books, but that is partly due to my attention span, which has been shortened by my most excellent iphone and all of its glittering toys. I like your idea of reading just a little of a book and stopping if it isn’t really grabbing you. Thing is, there are definitely books that I’m glad I stuck with.

    • “Thing is, there are definitely books that I’m glad I stuck with.”-

      That’s a good point. I’ve probably missed out on a few good books because of my philosophy.

      I guess I can always return to a book when I find out later (from somebody else) that I was wrong about it.

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