The Quest: 2nd reading

Discussion about Wilbur Smith's Egyptian series.

The Quest: 2nd reading

Postby E-Hoog » Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:39 am

I didn't really know in which topic to post this, so here's a new one.

I read The Quest for the 2nd time. The first time was back in, pff, when was it released? Anyway, a couple of years ago I suppose. I remember being disappointed back then. About half a year ago I browsed through the first pages of River God and was immediately hooked once more on the Egyptian series. I continued with The Secenth Scroll, straight into Warlock and then, after some hesitation, I picked up The Quest. And I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. I actually enjoued it quite a lot. I didn't mind the fantasy (never have). The only misgiving I have about it is still his relationship with a child. At the end it didn't bother me that much anymore, but in the beginning (knowing what would later happen) it did a lot. Quite disturbing, but apart from that a surprisingly good read! Did anyone else ever give The Quest another go?

One other aspect bothered me, I just realized. We already know that WS messed up witht the Fenn/Lantana issue, but in The Quest it is mentioned that Jarri was founded by Lord Aquer, the same one who Queen Lostris sent to find the shortcut in the bend of the Nile. Supposedly, she later sent him to find the source of the Nile (the white Nile). I don't remember reading about this in River God. Does anyone else?

Now I will finally read Empress Gold :-)
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Re: The Quest: 2nd reading

Postby Nefer » Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:14 pm

I can't remember if I said this already, but the Quest would be an ok book if we weren't reading about Taita lusting over a kid literally a 100 years his junior - even if it is Lostris come again or whatever. It was odd enough to read it in River God - it was just a bit too much this time around.

And I don't remember Lostris ever asking Aquer to find the source of the White Nile, but I suppose WS through it in there for the Quest.
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Re: The Quest: 2nd reading

Postby Mira » Sat Nov 15, 2014 4:33 am

A second reading of Quest, the first of which left me furious and disbelieving that it could have been the same author that I had dearly loved, hackneyed and amateurish leads and astrays, the sheer temerity to get away with the shoddy penmanship and story development becuase of the name cache, well, let me see...I can not think of any reason at all to subject myself to a second dose of that.


One was chokingly enough...
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Re: The Quest: 2nd reading

Postby Mira » Sat Nov 15, 2014 4:51 am

Oh I forgot...the real reason I did want to respond here...but as a creature of strong opinions and passionate responses...I got carried away with the stronger feeling in the context of quest.

I can tolerate a lot of magic and philiosphical speculations and even wish fulfilling in a story if the characters are well developed and I am able to extend some understanding towards their rational/irrationality of being human or para-human...I think I just made that up...para-human. Huh.

The case of age- for some reason did not bother me...it did not seem like Taita took advantage of Fenn in any way. He had his feelings...but I find it hard to condemn people for feeling what they feel...but it is ultimately the actions based on those feelings that I feel one might judge, as it were...within a spectrum if right and wrong.

I think this modern tendency to police our own feelings has led it all to go underground and lay the ground work for much baffling mental perversity.

And taita's feelings for fenn were if romantic were more imbued with her past as lostris than her present as a physical young teen...so it did not feel sexualized to me. And once you have grown out of the vulnerability of being a child, surely love transcends all? Well, I like to think so :)
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Re: The Quest: 2nd reading

Postby Mira » Sat Nov 15, 2014 5:00 am

I guess I indulge in moral theory...for I wanted to clarify, about feelings and actions.

While I do not think feeling a certain feeling is wrong...say feeling like killing someone in our anger, even when we know we would never act on that feeling, it is still incumbent upon us to examine our feelings....so that we don't continue to hold onto negative feelings and being subjected to them, just because we never would act on them...

So yes, lustful contemplation of a young child by an older person would be completely wrong but I did not think that was the case here either.
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Re: The Quest: 2nd reading

Postby Captain Reactionary » Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:31 pm

On the issue of Taita and sex with Fenn, I think a number of unusual factors are involved.

These days we are hugely sensitive to the issue of young people and sexual contact. A Scouts leader I know once depressed the hell out of me by telling me that the camp for Scouts and Explorers (fifteen years and above I think) virtually needs trip-wires and guard towers to keep them out of each others' tents at night. (And in one case - way before the modern UK laws came in that mean somebody in a position of responsibility can't have sex with someone under eighteen - a thirty year old Leader was rogering a sixteen year old girl Scout!)

Firstly, Taita is dealing with someone he knows has already lead one adult life and she will rapidly grow into a second. Secondly, the person in question is a person of .... how to phrase it.... supernatural significance? There's almost an Olympian feel to the two characters in some respects, but their setting in normal human bodies makes us feel queasy.

Secondly, although Taita loves Fenn/Lostris reborn from the moment he sees her, he doesn't actually "touch" her sexually until she's physically a woman and she most definitely takes the lead in the relationship, by which time Taita's body is that of maybe a twenty five year old, even though physically he's been around for over a century and a half.

Even in conventional stories though, Wilbur's natural raciness never shies away from the fact that teenagers feel (and sometimes submit to) sexual urges a few years before today's sensitivity says they should do. Manfred de la Rey has a couple of passionate exchanges with Sarah when they're about what, fifteen? And Shasa Courtney loses his virginity to a fifteen or sixteen year old girl when he himself is only fourteen. Old Sean Courtney can't be that much older when he and Anna deflower each other on the riverbank in When the Lion Feeds.

This modern feeling of ours in the UK and USA that sex before sixteen is illegal and punishable by castration while before eighteen is slightly queasy (and personally as a thirty six year old, the thought of having sex with most eighteen year olds I know just feel "wrong" somehow) did not prevail in any way in earlier decades. In a lot of European countries the age of consent is WAY lower.

Spain is thirteen. Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Montenegro, Portugal, San Marino and Serbia are all fourteen. Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Iceland, Monaco, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden are all fifteen.

All Wilbur's race underage sex stories (even excluding the supernatural one in Quest) occur in times when the average lifespan was maybe fifty and an unmarried lady of twenty five years was considered an old spinster. Although judged by the standards of 2014 they feel not right in a lot of ways, they don't inaccurately reflect the days they're set in.
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Re: The Quest: 2nd reading

Postby E-Hoog » Mon Dec 22, 2014 5:08 am

Nice post! And I agree with you. But still it feels weird :wink:
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Re: The Quest: 2nd reading

Postby Nefer » Tue Dec 23, 2014 8:23 pm

I get the points you're trying to make, but the fact remains Taita IS an older man, regardless of his body, and Fenn is a child, be it superhuman or just human. To me, that's unacceptable and one of many reasons I don't like this book.
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Re: The Quest: 2nd reading

Postby tedd » Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:05 am

Well I've been re-reading WS's books for the past 12 months and enjoying them more than my first time reads (or even my 3rd & 4th in some cases) I must say that my 2nd go at the Quest has reinforced my early feelings about it - it's his worst book. I couldn't go further than 40 or 50 pages before sliding it back into the shelves - probably never to be read again (not by me anyway!!) With some of the comments above about his lusting after young girls I am reminded of a comment by johnrogers that WS thinks he is himself Taita, even naming his car Taita - and lets face it he is well into his 80s (WS I mean) -
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Re: The Quest: 2nd reading

Postby johnrogers » Sat Apr 29, 2017 4:28 pm

tedd wrote:Well I've been re-reading WS's books for the past 12 months and enjoying them more than my first time reads (or even my 3rd & 4th in some cases) I must say that my 2nd go at the Quest has reinforced my early feelings about it - it's his worst book. I couldn't go further than 40 or 50 pages before sliding it back into the shelves - probably never to be read again (not by me anyway!!) With some of the comments above about his lusting after young girls I am reminded of a comment by johnrogers that WS thinks he is himself Taita, even naming his car Taita - and lets face it he is well into his 80s (WS I mean) -

The Quest was an odd book...I could never understand why WS transformed Taita to be a mystical,magical savant.The series went from historical adventure to a fantasy story.Did not make any sense to me in fact,I still don't get it.
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