Monthly Archives: May 2014

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Announcement: Upcoming Blog Tour for The Children of Lubrochius

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Book Tour for The Children of Lubrochius by Matthew D. Ryan (me), a Fantasy book available now. The tour will run June 9 – 27, 2014. The tour will consist of guest posts, promotional blurbs, interviews, and perhaps the occasional review. Throughout the tour, The Children of Lubrochiuswill be available for 50% off at Smashwords for those who use the appropriate coupon. I will be awarding a $20 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $10 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn host.

The list of tour sites is currently under development. We will keep you informed as we get more information. Remember to check out Goddess Fish Promotions; it wouldn’t have been possible without them!

June 9: Andi’s Book Reviews June 10: Rogue’s Angels June 11: Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews June 12: Books and Other Spells June 13: 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, and Sissy, Too! June 16: MAD Hoydenish June 17: Our Wolves Den June 18: June 19: June 20: June 23: June 24: June 25: June 26: Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock June 27: Mismatched Bookends

World-building Athron: The Magic System: Some Basics

In the gaming system I used in Athron while world-building, I spent a considerable amount of time on the magic system. The nuts and bolts are formed by the spellcraft, rune lore, and alchemy skills augmented with the energy skills. But there is more. Not much more, but a few additional skills I feel are worth mentioning. Specifically, scholars in my system have access to a Scroll Lore skill, Command Item skill, and Item Lore skill.

 

Scroll Lore allows wizards to create their own scrolls. Basically, the wizard inscribes a spell from a specific spellcraft on a piece of parchment or vellum or what-have-you. Thereafter, the wizard may use the scroll in lieu of casting an actual spell. The advantage comes in the form of an energy savings. A scroll only requires the expenditure of as few as one energy point when it is used. Casting a spell with spellcraft requires far many more. The initial construction of the scroll, of course, requires the same amount of energy as casting the spell, but then the wizard may rest as many days as he likes and restore his energy levels. Such will give him more access to more spells when in the depths of a dungeon with a bevy of scrolls at hand.

 

Command Item is a skill that allows a wizard (or anyone else with the skill) to summon up and control the magical abilities of an enchanted item. If your sword bursts into flames upon command, it requires an effort of will to activate that function. There is not a guaranteed success to such an activity. No, it is based on a character’s or creature’s Command Item skill or its equivalent. Increasing the skill increases the chance of success.

 

Item Lore is a skill that allows a wizard (or anyone else with such a skill) to study a magic item that he or she has found over the course of adventuring or in the course of a novel. It requires a certain period of time to examine and study the item in question. If the character does this successfully, he or she will unlock the mysteries of the item and learn all its special abilities and powers.

 

The final skill in the system is a skill called Magical Lore. This does not translate well into a novel; it is more specifically a gaming skill. Basically, it increases the modifiers bestowed on other skills. For example, a high Magical Lore skill will increase the effectiveness of a character’s Rune Lore or Scroll Lore or what-have-you.

 

Lastly, the system allows for minor access to the spellcrafts through two additional minor skills. With these skills, the character can gain limited spell abilities. It’s difficult, but not impossible, for a warrior character to gain access to a limited form of flamecraft, or some other spellcraft. Theoretically, a warrior could have normal access to flamecraft, but it is prohibitively expensive in terms of experience and skill slots, so it is almost unheard of. These minor skills are a little easier for non-scholar classes to use than full-fledged full access major skills.

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Announcement: Upcoming Blog Tour for The Children of Lubrochius

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Book Tour for The Children of Lubrochius by Matthew D. Ryan (me), a Fantasy book available now. The tour will run June 9 – 27, 2014. The tour will consist of guest posts, promotional blurbs, interviews, and perhaps the occasional review. Throughout the tour, The Children of Lubrochiuswill be available for 50% off at Smashwords for those who use the appropriate coupon. I will be awarding a $20 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $10 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn host.

The list of tour sites is currently under development. We will keep you informed as we get more information. Remember to check out Goddess Fish Promotions; it wouldn’t have been possible without them!

June 9: Andi’s Book Reviews
June 10: Rogue’s Angels
June 11: Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
June 12: Books and Other Spells
June 13: 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too!
June 16: MAD Hoydenish
June 17:
June 18:
June 19:
June 20:
June 23:
June 24:
June 25:
June 26: Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock
June 27:

Movie Review: Godzilla (2014) (3 *’s)

Godzillais one of the latest remakes of popular films from the past—well, actually the plot is unique, so perhaps it’s not a remake per se, but just a new story based on that most famous of all monsters: Godzilla. I was a big Godzilla fan when I was a little kid; I even had a big green Godzilla doll/toy that terrorized many a smaller dinosaur figurine in my sandbox in years gone by. Great fun. Anyway, there have been numerous Godzilla movies through the years. Sometimes Godzilla plays a big bad mean monster threatening to destroy the world. Other times he plays a kind of heroic monster that saves humanity from other nasties. In this movie, he plays a good monster.

 

The plot is pretty basic. There are two malevolent prehistoric beasties that kind of remind me of the monster from Cloverfield. They are out and about ravaging the world, heading on a b-line for each other to mate and propagate. And, of course, the female is carrying several hundred eggs which will devastate the world if allowed to hatch. These creatures feed on radiation; in fact, that’s how they were reanimated. Godzilla is an apex predator from those ancient times when such monsters were common on the world. Now, he rises again to hunt the creatures down. But can even he handle two such monsters at the same time?

 

Strengths: it’s always fun watching gigantic monsters tear apart human cities with ease. The plot was simple and easy to follow with a share of twists to increase the tension throughout. The acting was fine and there were no glaring loop holes in the plot. And perhaps the greatest plus: Godzilla used his breath weapon three times! Weaknesses: I think I may have outgrown my youthful zeal for Godzilla and other monsters. I found this film kind of boring. I’m sure the very young, however, will enjoy it. And it is clean—no sex or profanity; I believe it is PG-13 simply because of the violence. The human drama I found tedious. I go to see Godzilla to see Godzilla stomp things—kind of like the same reason I see The Hulk—not to see how normal people deal with the crisis of a moving mountain of death.Maybe I’ve just seen that type of movie too many times. It doesn’t do anything for me anymore.

 

Anyway, if you’re an adult this movie is worth maybe two or two and a half stars out of five. If you’re a little kid, it is probably worth three and a half or so.

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Announcement: Upcoming Blog Tour for The Children of Lubrochius

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Book Tour for The Children of Lubrochius by Matthew D. Ryan (me), a Fantasy book available now. The tour will run June 9 – 27, 2014. The tour will consist of guest posts, promotional blurbs, interviews, and perhaps the occasional review. Throughout the tour, The Children of Lubrochiuswill be available for 50% off at Smashwords for those who use the appropriate coupon. I will be awarding a $20 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $10 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn host.

The list of tour sites is currently under development. We will keep you informed as we get more information. Remember to check out Goddess Fish Promotions; it wouldn’t have been possible without them!

World-building Athron: The Magic System: Some Basics

The magic system of Athron, developed when world-building Athron, is based on the gaming system I was working on for a time. As a result, it is a rich system that perhaps is too complicated for world-building a novel. So be it. I will still present what I can here.

 

First, like many gaming systems, there are two different types of magic: scholarly (as in wizards and mages, etc….) and priestly (as in priests and clerics). Technically, I suppose the priest system isn’t magical; it is more prayer-based, but in terms of game mechanics they are quite similar. Anyway, I will start with the scholarly magic.

 

There are three major skills that scholars can enhance that relate directly to magic use: crafts, rune lore, and alchemy. Crafts refer to spells that are incantations consisting of a series of hand gestures and spoken words that harness magical energy. Rune lore is the study of runes: arcane symbols that are inscribed upon inanimate objects that provide magical enhancements. Alchemy is the study of potions and their making: a wizard with this skill can combine a variety of ingredients to fabricate different types of potions each with a different type of effect. Each of these major skills (crafts, rune lore, and alchemy) exists as a subset of a spell type like fire, earth, water, or wind. That is, there are flamecraft spells, fire runes, and fire-based alchemy. Similarly so for earth and the others. All three of these skills are fueled by energy. If a wizard casts a flamecraft spell, he uses so much energy. If he makes a fire-based potion or inscribes a fire rune, he uses so much energy. A wizard can increase his skill in energy to increase his potential power. A powerful wizard will have great amounts of spell energy at his disposal allowing him to produce incredible works of magic from his pick of magical skills.

 

Each of the spell skills bestows certain benefits as the skill in question increases. For example, increasing skill in a spellcraft will permit the spell-caster to learn new spells. Increasing skill in rune lore will similarly allow the spell-caster to learn new runes. And again for alchemy. Likewise, failure rates—something which rarely comes up in a novel, but may prove more important in an RPG—are decreased as the skill level increases. Going from this it is clear that a well-rounded wizard will have a formidable array of abilities to bring to bear against a problem; perhaps she has a spell to resolve an issue, or a rune she can inscribe, or maybe a potion to imbibe. Her options are many, and that makes a wizard a potent force in both the novel and the game.

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Announcement: Upcoming Blog Tour for The Children of Lubrochius

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Book Tour for The Children of Lubrochius by Matthew D. Ryan (me), a Fantasy book available now. The tour will run June 9 – 27, 2014. The tour will consist of guest posts, promotional blurbs, interviews, and perhaps the occasional review. Throughout the tour, The Children of Lubrochius will be available for 50% off at Smashwords for those who use the appropriate coupon (to be announced at a later date). I will be awarding a $20 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $10 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn host.

The list of tour sites is currently under development. We will keep you informed as we get more information. Remember to check out Goddess Fish Promotions; it wouldn’t have been possible without them!

World-building Athron: The Physical World: The Moons

One of the entertaining aspects of world-building is developing the physical characteristics of the setting. Usually this involves drawing a map—which is fun in its own right—and deciding about what kind of “natural wonders” might be needed in your world. For instance, in Athron there is a series of chasms on one part of the map that are inhabited by certain nasties. It is a vast, extensive network of chasms that warrant special attention. They stick out (although I have not mentioned them yet in my books—it hasn’t come up yet). Similar wonders can be found in other books like Piers Anthony’s Xanth series which had the Gap Chasm, among other things. Or the multiple moons of Krynn and, if I recall correctly, Pern.

 

In my world, I, too, have multiple moons. Two, in fact: Silgaren and Neerie. Silgaren is the larger of the two. It is white, or silver, depending upon how the light strikes it, and it is fairly similar to our own moon here on Earth both in size and general features. Neerie, though, is another story. It is a smaller moon, about half the size of the other, and is a brilliant golden in color. It also has, what appears to be, a cracked surface, not unlike the aforementioned chasms above, but larger and more extensive across a clearly visible section of its surface. It is a great topic of debate on Athron for two reasons: 1) the cracks on Neerie’s surface are an enigma. No one can figure out where they came from or what they mean. And since space travel is not in the near future, the cracks are destined to remain an enigma. 2) The color of the moon is the color of gold. Many a sage has speculated that that means the entire moon is composed of gold. In some records it is referred to as “Neerie: The Torment of the Gods.” It is believed that the gods placed a golden moon above the mortal world to torment the greedy with their thoughts of avarice in the night.

 

A final thought regarding moons. For a while, I was a bit confused by the phases of the moon. But I think I’ve got it figured out now. For a while, I was thinking that the phases of the moon might be dependent upon the size of the moon and its distance from its respective planet. But that’s not the case; it’s just dependent upon the angle between the locations of the moon, the sun, and the planet. If the angle is zero, the moon will be either full, new, or eclipsed (I think). The important thing to remember is that all moons, unless self-luminous, will follow the same phases as ours. New. Waxing. Full. Waning. New. Etc… I had to think about that (I haven’t studied astronomy in quite some time). Unless, of course, you throw in another star. In that case, I have no clue.

 

Also, the periods of the moons need not be the same. In fact, it’s probably better that they not be. I’m not sure (like I said, my astronomy is very rusty) but an identical period might (and I mean might) imply an identical orbital distance. In other words, an inevitable collision. Of course, in a world where magic is involved, that can be fixed.

Book Review: Words of Radiance (Brandon Sanderson) (5 *’s)

I’ve said it before: I’m going to kill Brandon Sanderson. I didn’t want to get sucked into a coming ten book series of ginormous books as I expect The Stormlight Archive to become. I read and reviewed The Way of Kings some time ago. Words of Radiance continues the story of the Knights Radiant, the Heralds, and the world of Roshar (is it Roshar or Roshone?). Anyway, this book weighs in at 1080 pages or so. Not quite as long as The Way of Kings, but still a behemoth in its own right. I enjoyed every moment of it.

 

This is the part where I normally summarize the story. I hope you don’t expect me to do that with this one. Book Two of a series. Weighing in at 1080 pages. Four major characters and a plethora of minor ones. There’s just too much awesomeness to pack into my short review. I still think Sanderson went overboard on the developing the unique world motif, though. I’m still not sure about the moons. There’s at least two and one of them is purple. That’s about all I could gather. And I’ve forgotten what crem is supposed to be, just collected sand and mud, I guess. There’s a war brewing between the Parshendi and the humans of Alethi. There’s high storms periodically ravaging the country side (imagine a long lasting hurricane strong enough to hurl rocks and boulders). There’s hordes of spren which are proving far more integral to the story than I originally thought. Most importantly, Sanderson has been focusing on some moral ideals like honor and such. I like stories that do that, and Sanderson does it quite well. Makes me want to believe we can be better people.

 

Strengths: the writing was superb. The characters were rounded and well-developed. The conflict and crises were engaging and thoughtful. And the plot was mesmerizing. Sanderson is, by far, the best author I’ve read in a long time. Weaknesses: it might be too grand an undertaking. He doesn’t suffer from George R. R. Martin’s overabundance of characters yet, but he does have quite a few, particularly in the Interludes, and I’m not sure how all of them relate to the main story. It might get away from him. But I hope not.

 

Anyway, I’m giving Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance five stars out of five.

Book Review: Assassin’s Apprentice (Robin Hobb) (4 *’s)

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robing Hobb is an unusual fantasy story in that the main character is an apprentice to a king’s royal assassin. If you are going to read the book for enjoyment, you’ll have to put on the shelf any moral reservations concerning assassination you might have. It sounds like a dark and nasty profession, but the way it is presented in the book, it is almost respectable. I admit I liked the characters, including the assassins, and once I got into the book, it flowed quite smoothly.

 

The main character is a young boy named Fitz, the bastard son of the king-in-waiting, a prince named Chivalry (that was an interesting little facet about the book: all the royalty were named after the virtue they were supposed to embody in their lives. Thus, you had King Shrewd, Lady Patience, Prince Verity, Prince Regal, etc….). Fitz is a young man with an exceptional array of talents. He has both the Wit (the ability to bond with and essentially telepathically speak with animals) and (later in the book) the ability to Skill (much like the Wit except it applies to humans). The story begins as a first-person narrative on Fitz’s part like a memoir. His earliest memory is being dropped off at a royal outpost by his grandfather. The grandfather is apparently tired of supporting the bastard son of a royal personage and consigns Fitz to the care of his father. Then the grandfather disappears from the story, and the story of Fitz’s life in the royal household begins. At first, he is all but ignored and simply under the care of Prince Chivalry’s loyal stablemaster Burrich. Then he comes to the attention of King Shrewd who wants to put him to use as the next royal assassin for the king, and his training begins.

 

Strengths: the characters were well-developed and existed in a well-proportioned number. There weren’t so many that the reader got confused, nor were there too few that the reader got bored. It was just about right (cue Goldilocks). The writing was superb, the character development excellent, and the plot and storyline were good and engaging. Weaknesses: hmmm … I can’t think of any at the moment, except, it did take me a while to get engaged in the book. There was just something about it I didn’t like at first. Also, the “magic” system of the Wit and the Skill I thought was kind of lacking. I prefer fireballs and lightning bolts like in AD&D. Oh well. It was still an excellent book.

 

I’ll give Robin Hobb’s The Assassin’s Apprentice four stars out of five.