Monthly Archives: July 2012

Drasmyr Group on Shelfari

Drasmyr Blog TourJust a note to let everyone know I have started a discussion group on Shelfari.com for my dark fantasy novel, Drasmyr. The name of the group is, of course, “Drasmyr.” The group number is 98574. And this link should take you to it, provided you have a Shelfari account.

Reminder: Book Review Blog Tour Approaching

Drasmyr Blog Review Tour

Check out the Drasmyr Blog Review Tour.

Reminder: Goddess Fish Promotions will be sponsoring a blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” during the latter half of August. The tour will begin on August 20th and will last until August 31st. It will be a Book Review Only Tour, meaning that every visit will be a review of my book. Below is the blog tour schedule, as it stands now: currently 5 slots remain to be filled. Hopefully, we’ll get word on those shortly. I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur. Also, make sure you check out the sponsor of the whole tour–Goddess Fish Promotions–it wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Also, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a small box of metal miniatures from the Vampire Wars Series. It consists of four metal miniatures of vampire counts and vampire slayers. They are excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.

Blog Tour Schedule

 

Thanks. And hope to see you on the tour!

Book Review: The Last Great Wizard of Yden

I received the book “The Last Great Wizard of Yden” by S.G. Rogers as a prize from a web-site contest. I read it, and figure I’ll review it here. It was in ebook format, and I read it on my phone.

The book tells the story of Jon Hansen whose father is kidnapped and whisked to a parallel dimension by the evil wizard Efysian. It has magic, wizards, dragons, and a number of mystical beings.

I’m hoping it was intended for a young audience (13 or 14), because it would be an enjoyable book for that reading level. Not so much for a more mature or sophisticated audience. Although there was a lot of good humor in it, and as an adult reader, I don’t think it was bad, but the writing was a little weak. The story was there. All the sentences, individually, were perfectly respectable sentences (although perhaps S.G. Rogers used a little too much passive tense), but the whole was lacking something. The descriptions were not very vivid. On the plus side, because there was so little vivid description, a lot of ground is covered in the book. But the epic battle at the end, a perfect opportunity to show off one’s writing talent, took place in no more than two paragraphs.

Beyond the flaws in the writing, there were a couple flaws in the story. The most egregious was the character of Efysian. All sorts of references were made to him suggesting he was a great and powerful wizard, nearly invincible… but it was never explained why. I wanted to know how come he was so powerful; what was his story? Those details were lacking, and that had a significant negative effect on the book—not one that I think the very young would notice, but I, as an adult, found it somewhat irritating.

Overall, I would give this maybe two and a half stars to possibly three out of five for an adult reader. However, if the audience is a younger group (say 12 or 13), I’d give it four out five stars. It was funny, clean, and a decent adventure.

This review was originally posted on Shelfari.com on 3-26-2012.

Magic versus Science in the Fantasy World

It has been said that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” (Arthur C. Clarke—and while I’m quoting him, check out this site listing some of his other quotes, some are pretty good). I would tend to agree. I’m quite convinced that a modern computer would be regarded as a magical device by a secluded tribesman, or—going even more primitive—a monkey. They would be baffled by how such a device works, explaining it, no doubt, with recourse to mythology and mythic powers (assuming monkeys can even entertain such thoughts). I was about to propose a corollary to the above quote, then I did a search on the net and found this site: it is quite interesting; it seems the corollary evokes quite heated responses from the scientific community. I’m going to give my corollary anyway: “Any well-developed system of magic is intended as a form of alternative technology or science.” I’m not saying the magic actually works here on our lovely planet Earth, but rather, the magic as described in a fantasy setting is postulated as working in a situation where alternate rules apply. It could be an alternate planet, or more probably, an alternate universe.

 

There may not be practical utility in noting this, but I find it interesting. It kind of occurred to me as I worked on developing my world for my fantasy books (the first of which is “Drasmyr,” a dark fantasy featuring a vampire bent on destroying a wizards guild, now available for free at Smashwords). I’m also, on the side, developing a pen and paper RPG game to go with it. Anyway, the system of magic is complex and detailed. Let’s take potions. In my world, wizards can make potions. Generally, the process involves obtaining various ingredients and combining them so that their properties interact and evoke a desired result. The basic assumption behind this is that each of the ingredients has certain properties which can be harnessed with diligent effort. Is it not unreasonable to assume they are using an alternative Periodic Table or something similar that operates according to their own rules, so that alchemy in a fantasy world is something like a “parallel” form of Chemistry or Pharmacology? Magic in the fantasy world generally is not something quick and simple; it takes years of study and discipline for a human being to become a wizard and learn magic. Of course, using magic to blast something with a ball of fire might be stretching things a bit… but if we can have electric eels in this world, a fire-wielding spell-caster in an alternate reality might yet be feasible. And the rules that govern the fire-wielding spell-caster will no doubt require years of diligent effort to master. At this point, I don’t see much of a difference between science and magic: it is simply different rules give different results. Well, at least, in theory. In terms of practicality, it would be impossible and really foolish to try to spell out all the rules of a magic system at the same level of detail that we have for modern science. That would be the work of lifetimes, for something that doesn’t exist.

 

Additionally, if you play with the rules too much, and you follow them strictly out, the resulting universe could very well be unintelligible to us. No one wants to read very much about a “gak that blops a trebid.”

 

Thoughts, anyone?

Reminder: Upcoming Blog Tour

Drasmyr Blog Review Tour

Check out the Drasmyr Blog Review Tour.

Reminder: Goddess Fish Promotions will be sponsoring a blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” during the latter half of August. The tour will begin on August 20th and will last until August 31st. It will be a Book Review Only Tour, meaning that every visit will be a review of my book. Below is the blog tour schedule, as it stands now: currently 5 out of 10 slots are filled. Hopefully, the rest will follow. I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur. Also, make sure you check out the sponsor of the whole tour–Goddess Fish Promotions–it wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Also, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a small box of metal miniatures from the Vampire Wars Series. It consists of four metal miniatures of vampire counts and vampire slayers. They are excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thanks. And hope to see you on the tour!

Old Movie Review: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” is a fantasy, adventure film set during the time of the height of the Persian Empire. It, like several other movies in recent years, is based on a computer game. Nevertheless, it delivers a solid film experience. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the hero, Dastan, Gemma Arterton plays the beautiful heroine, Tamina, and Ben Kingsley plays the villain, Nizam, brother and cupbearer of King Sharaman.

The movie begins in a sort of Aladdin-esque way, with the young Dastan living on the streets causing problems for the guards. But things change quickly, and because of an act of extreme courage, Dastan finds himself taken into the home of King Sharaman who adopts him as a son. Fast forward a decade or so. The heir to the throne, Prince Tus, is misled to attack a holy city and is successful due to the efforts of Prince Dastan. However, things are not what they seem, and soon, Prince Dastan finds himself on the run with the beautiful Princess Tamina, accused of murdering King Sharaman. At first, Dastan is prepared to go to any length to prove his innocence, but soon finds out that much more is on the line than a simple assassination would make it seem. Indeed, the fate of the whole world may be at stake.

Overall, this was an excellent movie… assuming you can accept the whole time-traveling bit. The special effects were superb. The acting was good. And the story was intriguing and easy to follow. All good things. It was made by Disney, so it is family-friendly.

It wasn’t a pinnacle of cinematic glory, but I can’t think of any major flaws in it. I liked it enough that I bought it and I throw it in the old DVD player periodically.

Anyway, I’ll give it a solid four and a half out of five stars.

Fantasy Literature: Creativity Run Amuck: When The Details of Your World Bewilder

Drasmyr Blog Review Tour

Check out the Drasmyr Blog Review Tour.

I am currently reading Brandon Sanderson’s “The Way of Kings.” It’s an interesting book; so far, I don’t think I like it quite as well as I like his Mistborn series, but it’s still interesting. There is one thing, I’ve noticed, though that I would describe as a weakness. I won’t review the whole book here (partly because I’m not finished yet), but I do wish to address this particular defect. Basically, I think Brandon Sanderson is suffering from too much creativity. Seriously. I really do.

He’s invented a whole new world, which is not unusual for a fantasy author. But the problem is he’s populated it with so many things specific to that world, the reader cannot keep track. I’m sure when he plotted the details out beforehand, it made perfect sense… and I’m sure it’s all internally consistent. But I can’t keep track of it all. And I’m a reasonably intelligent person. It’s not just as simple a thing as throwing a few extra moons orbiting his world. No, it’s deeper than that. To be honest, I don’t know how many moons he has. I know there are at least two, but more probably three or four. He refers to them by name, which is not uncommon, but not frequently enough for the reader to really get a feel for them. But that’s just moons. Everybody has multiple moons on their worlds now. He goes further, though. Our standard earth week is replaced by a different one—again, in itself, this is a small detail. There is an abundance of plants and animals unique to his world. Again, no problem there. He even went so far as to develop specific plant materials for clothing that are unique to his world.

Looking at it from a world designer’s viewpoint, it all makes sense. It’s just that it’s a bit overwhelming. I can’t keep all the details straight, and to a certain extent, that is detracting from my enjoyment of the book. I remember when I read “The Lord of the Rings,” and there was a reference to “October 3rd” in the first book. Of course, it makes absolutely no sense that a completely alien world would use the same month and date as we would now (of course, Middle Earth was supposed to be an Earth of an earlier epoch—but I digress), but at least that made it easier to follow. Fantasy tales taking place on alternate worlds shouldn’t share some of the things we take for granted on this world. But how far should you take that point? Should we write like this:

It was the erp of Echma, in the sel erp-thann-quiat. “Asglick morlack” Vitr said. “Gunth gwit creyl.”

 

What does that mean? I dare you to figure it out. It’s all perfectly logical. “Erp” is a numerical value, because you know an alternate world wouldn’t use the same names for numbers as we do. “Echma” is the name of the month, or month equivalent. “Sel” means year, though I can assure you, it does not consist of 365 days, each lasting 24 hours. “Erp-thann-quiat” is the numerical value of the year in question. “Asglick morlack. Gunth gwit creyl” could just as easily be “Good morning. It’s been a while.” as anything else. The important point is that they are not speaking English. Like I said, it all makes sense, but it doesn’t make for entertaining reading.

Good fantasy writers will know how to strike a balance between realistic variety in the description of their worlds, and keeping the work as a whole readable. Another example of  creativity gone too far happened in Tad Williams’ Shadowmarch series. In that series, he made the mistake of giving multiple names to each of his deities. The justification was, of course, that different cultures would use different names for the same deity—kind of like how the Greeks and Romans named their respective pantheons in our world. This makes perfect sense from a logical point of view, but it makes reading the book a little more difficult. There were four books in the series, and I think I only had one or two of the deities figured out by the time I finished, and that’s not a good sign.

Of course, Brandon Sanderson and Tad Williams are both excellent writers; but even the best of us make mistakes. But I think this mistake is serious enough to be worth pointing out.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for today.

Upcoming Blog Tour

Drasmyr Blog Review Tour

Check out the Drasmyr Blog Review Tour.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Goddess Fish Promotions will be sponsoring a blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” during the latter half of August. The tour will begin on August 20th and will last until August 31st. It will be a Book Review Only Tour, meaning that every visit will be a review of my book. Below is the blog tour schedule, as it stands now: currently 3 out of 10 slots are filled. Hopefully, the rest will follow. I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur. Also, make sure you check out the sponsor of the whole tour–Goddess Fish Promotions–it wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Also, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a small box of metal miniatures from the Vampire Wars Series. It consists of four metal miniatures of vampire counts and vampire slayers. They are excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.

Blog Tour Schedule

August 21: Indie books at shardpubs blogspot
August 22: DanaSquare
August 24: White Sky Project

Thanks. And hope to see you on the tour!

Drasmyr Now Available on Amazon

I’ve finally uploaded my ebook, “Drasmyr,” to Amazon. Like I’ve said before I have the business sense of a stone. It took me a while to figure out that it might be a good idea to put my work on the web-site with, oh about, 70% of the market share for on-line books, or whatever it is. Anyway, its up and available for those looking for a good read. From my understanding, Amazon doesn’t do free ebooks, so I had to sell it for a price: I decided to go with $2.99 for now. The book is still available at Smashwords for free.

Book Review: A Tale of Two Cities

This isn’t really fantasy literature, but the setting is kind of what? late Medieval, Renaissance–I can never get my history straight.

 

Anyway, I stumbled across a couple of reviews for “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens that gave it a measly two stars out of five. I can only surmise that the reviewers were… shall we say… not very sophisticated readers. If you are looking for blood and gore—actually this book has it: it deals with the French Revolution—but it just doesn’t dwell on it in the same way that modern fiction does. The bloodletting is left in the background and not examined up close. I originally read this book when I was in high school. At the time I enjoyed the book, but I don’t think I fully appreciated it. I didn’t quite get the foreshadowing techniques used (which may have been, actually, over-used) at the time, but I thought it was a good story. This time through, though, I really got a picture of the story as a cohesive whole. Everything in “A Tale of Two Cities” relates to everything else. It’s a great book. And a literary classic.

 

There are a number of crucial players in the story, including Charles Darnay, Sydney Carton, and Lucie Manette. There are others, but I will limit my discussion to those three. Lucie Manette is the love interest in the tale. She is a beautiful young woman who marries Charles Darnay, a French aristocrat who basically gave up his way of life because he was disgusted with the abuses of the aristocracy. Sydney Carton is a dissolute lawyer who is also in love with and devoted to Lucie Manette. What I liked about the book is its exploration of the concept of nobility. On the one hand, you have the aristocracy of wealth; those individuals who make their living on the backs of the common man. Then there is the concept of nobility as it should be; nobility as it is exemplified in Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton. Charles Darnay knows there is trouble in France, but he leaves the safety of England and goes back to help one of his family’s servants who ran into difficulties on account of his employ in the Evremonde (Charles Darnay’s real name) family. He braves the perils of a blood-thirsty country to help a former servant out of a sense of honor and duty. Then, there is Sydney Carton. He is a pitiable character throughout much of the book, but then he goes and meets one of the best deaths in literature. Again, exemplifying a nobility in character as opposed to mere wealth.

 

Anyway, the book was great. My only complaint is that I think it used a tad too much foreshadowing. But it definitely helped me in my own writing; it gave me a better sense of how everything in a novel is supposed to relate to everything else. A novel isn’t just supposed to tell a story. I’ll give “A Tale of Two Cities” four and a half stars out of five. I’ll definitely check out the rest of Charles Dickens’ work.

This review was originally published on Shelfari.com on 2-27-12.