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About the William Carter Saga...


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I'm planning to use this blog to discuss what I'm reading - both online and in print - so rather than launch with a whole "blah, blah, my goals and objectives, blah" post, I figure I'll start right in talking about the stories. Today, I read the conclusion of Carter's Recourse: William Carter VI by Christopher Patrick Lydon. If you don't want to be spoiled on the ending, stop reading now!Ok, before I get into the Carter saga, one caveat is in order: I am a tough critic. This is something that a number of authors have already learned about me when I've worn my editor's hat. You want a direct, honest, critique? Come to me. You want coddling "You're the bestest ever" feedback? Find someone else. Chances are that I may pick apart some author, story, chapter, or book that you like in this blog. Feel free to debate me, but if all you have to say is "It's not easy to write a good story, you should give these writers a break!" or "I love the story, and you're an idiot," don't bother. Just because I like dissecting frogs, so to speak, doesn't mean that Kermit isn't my hero.And on to Carter's Recourse: William Carter VI...again...WARNING: SPOILERS!!!I started reading the William Carter saga as it was first being posted online, and while I can't remember how long ago that was, it surprises me a bit to see just how LONG this damn series is! And while I'm glad to see Book VI come to a close, I can't help feeling that the ending was just a little bit rushed. It's hard to say that for a story that's 44 chapters long! Worse - I find the ending somewhat...unsatisfying.Still, even assuming that this ending sets up Book VII or Carter's Shadow Part Deux, rather than ending the series, it reminds me a little bit too much of the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where Angel is brought back for a last 'moment' with Buffy, and the heros go out with an 'epic' fight that isn't all that. [Without even getting into the pathetic fight issue, I'll briefly note the Angel problem: Angel is heralded as Buffy's great love - Buffy as Angel's - and it ignores the last 3 seasons of Angel OR BTVS.]I had hoped that William Carter VI would explain the military/intelligence conspiracy in greater detail, rather than featuring stock villains. And without any more information presented in the story, I'm not sure I find the 'resolution' all that plausible - how Carter gets back to Canada with the help of Brody OR how Marc waltzes in to play the martyr. The details needed to be tidied up to finish this sucker, and it was done with probably a little less craft than had actually set up in the conflict in the first place.I like the William-Andrew pairing, and Andrew is probably my favorite character in the entire saga. I wanted Will to wind up with Andrew, not Marc. That said, the manner in which Marc backs off from Will to hand him over to Andrew struck me as totally inconsistent with what had happened previously in the series. "Like a big brother?" Uhmmm. No. Will is a big brother to someone: Peter. Will and Marc have always suffered from being in different places in life, but that's not the same thing.I also had not re-read the initial books to see how the storyline arcs from I to VI, but looking back now at the end of Book I, unless I've misunderstood the time frame (which is confusing to the extent this series leaps years ahead at times), it seems that we already know that after the Major dies, William and Andrew wind up together. I had totally forgotten this while I was reading Books IV, V, (and even VI), which feature/include Will's relationship with Marc. I like the William Carter series, but I think it suffers from an identity crisis sometimes. Some of the books are interpersonal relationship-oriented, focusing on stories of coming out or growing up. Some of the books are mystery plot focused, where the relationships take a back seat to the 'story.' Christopher Patrick Lydon is a good author who can craft an interesting story and complex characters. When it works, the ability to overlap these different genres makes the Carter saga a very enjoyable read. Unfortunately, I felt like the ending to Book VI tried to mix the two with less than successful results. Book VI is a mystery plot story. It focuses on the politics, military, and intelligence involvement that surround Will Carter. It is NOT a relationship story, and using it as an offhand tool to manipulate Will back together with Andrew (and away from Mark) struck me as entirely hollow.

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I agree about the ending being rushed. I think he said that he's abandoning these characters for a good long while, and maybe in an effort to just get the damned thing wrapped up, the ending got a little pinched. I'm not complaining about the length at all-on the whole I thought it was a great story, and I was always happy to see 4 or 5 new chapters. But having said that, we were already up to 40-some chapters, and so much time was spent setting everything up, building the conflict, and then the final conflict was crammed into a couple chapters. Why not go ahead and flesh it out a little more?

 

I've said all along that I was going to be very unhappy if Will and Andrew didn't end up together in the end. We had so much invested in Andrew, having known him from a teenager, and to me Marc always just felt like a plot point more than anything. Will had to find himself, prove that he could be his own man, and his own protector, and maybe he couldn't do that with Andrew around. But Marc wasn't really helping him do that, either. If anything, he was dragging him down. I do think that Marc realized he needed to let go, but I agree that the whole rushing in to save Andrew thing was a little forced. I don't think that you can't mix the mystery and the relationship story, but this was more like an entire mystery with a little relationship stuck on at the end, just for the sake of saying "Okay, there, they're back together, it's finished." It's true that there isn't anywhere really left to go with these characters, at least the main ones, in terms of another story in the series, but I do think that this one could have been a little more involved.

 

Val

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Guest Kitty

Posted

lurker, thanks for the "spoiler alert" at the beginning of your post. I've read the rest of The William Carter series, but after the first couple of chapters of "Recourse", a little voice told me to wait until the whole thing was finished and then read it all at once. Maybe because I had a feeling some things were going to happen in this one ....

 

Kitty

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You should have seen the amount of mail I got DEMANDING that resoloution.

 

My original version had Andrew acquiessing to Marc.

 

Personally Marc is my favourite character out of the relationships. I hated having to cut his legs out from underneath him to appease "Bunny boiling super fans" (Grins seriously I had someone send me a threat that I would meet an unfortunate end if I didn't put them back together in the end)

 

I think I addressed a lot of my problems with teh Will - Andrew coupling in Carter's Shadow, which btw was the last on I wrote, i actually released them at different points becaus eI was never quite satisfied with Carter's Recourse, and vowed to finish it and get it over with.

 

Yes I am plannign on a sequel to Carter's Shadow, and I considered Recourse a nessecary evil to get to where I wanted. (I know my speelling is awful but hey I have an editor)

 

My best character out of the series has to be West, I decided to write a book about the man my father wanted me to be, and what that man would be like. And suddenly I had this willful spirit of a character on my hands. I am looking forward to working more there in the future without the "Shadow" of a much earlier work hanging over my head.

 

I like being able to craft something, thus the Falcon Banner I needed a break from teh "Formula" that was becomming detrimental and tired in the writing.

 

Now as for the ending of book one, you have NO idea how much I came to hate that one chapter. I made a mistake in writing it, one I paid for ultimately in the end of Recourse by having to sacrifice the ending I wanted for the one that had been set. You are perhaps right, it is a tad rushed there, but when you have no room to maneuver you are stuck in a track leading, ultimately to one conclusion. And god did I hate that :P

 

TIP: NEVER write the future (Bad Chrissy...bad).

 

On the whole i would love to see your reaction on Shadow alone, which I think was the gem out of the series, and certainly the most fun to write.

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As a reader, I'm somewhat irritated that Mr. Lydon felt so pressured to change his story. After all, it is his story. Readers who think they should be able to drive the story's plot line should just write their own. Sounds like I was in the minority, because I didn't think Will and Andrew should end up together. Although I liked Andrew as a charactor, I felt he was obliviously self-centered during his relationship with Will and wasn't the person Will needed to balance himself. I wasn't really sure Marc was the right person either, but he was much more in the right direction.

 

I did like Shadow very much, and think West is an excellent charactor. I look forward to another story centering around him.

 

Just my thoughts, for what they're worth.

 

Sharon

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Thanks Sharon,

 

When I started to write the whole Carter thing it was originally just one book Carter's duty, which is why Carter's duty is so awkward and felt so out of place, it was the first book written. I was writing it about the end of a relationship.

 

 

However I wrote Carter's Army as a way to put Duty into perspective, that gave rise to Vanguard, both got released first. This set a very different tone for the series.

 

Carter's war, my first real attempt at a serious, plot driven book, wasn't originally supposed to be a Carter book at all. So you get some seperate situations there, a new setting, a new love interest, and in many ways a toughter, more grown up Will. So I adapted it, brought it into the series as a way to show how Will was able to grow outside of the relationship.

 

Marc was always supposed to be a very broken individual, insecure and clinging onto Will for all he was worth.

 

This led to Fortress. Fortress I liked because suddenly I had an opportunity there. Andrew vs Will. Both behind the scenes working against one another for other people. I wanted to put to bed, in my mind, the relationship. But again I had the chapter that will not die hanging over my head... hate hate hate that chapter.

 

So when I finally had things resolved in my mind, Carter and Marc, Andrew moving on.... it wasn't what the fans wanted. So I launched almost immeadiately into book VI...uggh what a pain, so much to do there, so many plot threads that needed tying together. I stopped almost 80% through it, needing to take a break, any kind of break.

 

Thus Shadow came about.

 

I was having serious difficulty with again the Main relationship, yep I had mail by the bushel load demanding the reunion. So I went back and examined Will's relationship with Andrew just before thier break up, and I had an idea.... Peter.

 

I stated in my earlier post that West was a paragon character, he is what my father wanted me to be. I had no idea about him going in, he wasn't based on anyone, just... him.

 

And that was how I wrote him, an easy going (to a fault,) guy. Hippy Parents, drug dealing brother and a boyfriend that can't stand him. Then as I wrote I realized, if I was the man my father wanted me to be, I wouldn't be afraid to tell him I was gay, it wouldn't matter... and I found bam that's what West had done. I padded all of this with one overriding sense of duty. West represents so many young men and women tha thave pledged thier lives to defending us, and yes sure they want to go home, but at the same time, they have a job to do and they will do it.

 

I am babbling now. I'll stop, thanks for reading it :)

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Thanks Sharon

 

You're welcome :D

 

When I started to write the whole Carter thing it was originally just one book Carter's duty, which is why Carter's duty is so awkward and felt so out of place, it was the first book written. I was writing it about the end of a relationship.

However I wrote Carter's Army as a way to put Duty into perspective, that gave rise to Vanguard, both got released first. This set a very different tone for the series.

 

I found this really interesting, that you wrote them out of chronological order. It does put an interesting spin on Duty.

 

 

I wanted to put to bed, in my mind, the relationship. But again I had the chapter that will not die hanging over my head... hate hate hate that chapter.

 

I had no problem with that little peek at the future. As I read the next several books, it made perfect sense that, althought they were no longer a couple, Andrew would lend his support to Will when his father died. At least that's how I look back on the ending of Book I.

 

 

I am babbling now. I'll stop, thanks for reading it :)

 

By all means, babble anytime you like. I usually do.

 

Sharon

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