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Book Review: The Alchemist And The Executioness

March 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Warning! May Contain Spoilers!

The Alchemist And The Executioness is two stories by two authors which share the same world. As such, I have reviewed the two portions of this story separately.

The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Alchemist is a story which follows a beleaguered Alchemist who, after years of failure and financial ruin, discovers a way to destroy the menacing bramble that is plaguing the world and closing in around Khaim.  Magic, forbidden except by those approved of by the local mayor brings bramble, a dangerous plant which poisons those who become entangled by it.  Instead he learns that his invention is going to be used to discover who is violating the ban on magic use using the same principles by which it destroys the terrible plant.

This story is told from a first person perspective and normally I do not like such stories.  However The Alchemist is a delightful read and a surprisingly compelling story with good plot twists which, even though half-expected, are still well incorporated.  The Alchemist is one of those stories that shows you do not need to have action after action after yet more action to have a compelling story.  This story is mostly low key but still well told.

I give The Alchemist four out of five stars and highly recommend it.  The thing I did not like about this story is that I felt it was incomplete and when you read it you will know what I mean.

   

The Executioness By: Tobias S. Buckell

No mincing of words from me on this one. For as much as I loved The Alchemist portion of this story, I absolutely hated The Executioness.   Again, told from a first person point of view, The Executioness exemplifies everything I normally hate about the way these types of stories are told.  The text is droning, like a journal told as it is being written and never gets started while skipping and hoping through the story of Tana as she tries to avenge her boys who are kidnapped by raiders.  The story was just not believable and it was a struggle to complete.

It seemed like there was so little story to tell that the author was compelled to skip forward in leaps and bounds to simply get to the end, and that was anti-climatic to say the least.

I do not recommend The Executioness at all and give it just two out of five stars

Book Review: Green Rider by Kristen Britain

March 16, 2012 Leave a comment

NOTE: Released in 1998, the first story of Karigan G’ladheon has since spawned three more books with the latest, Blackveil, released in February 2011

Warning: May contain spoilers!

Green Rider is considerably better than the last book I read and reviewed, Vengeance by Ian Irvine. The debut novel by Kristen Britain written more than a decade ago tells the story of Karigan G’ladheon, a runaway school girl who gets caught up in the events of a plot to overthrow the King of Sacoridia. She is pursued by those desperate to keep the conspiracy a secret after making a promise to a dying Green Rider to deliver a message of great importance.

The story bounces between the points of view of several other characters, but Karigan is indeed the main character of the story and most of the focus is on her. Most of the character development of Karigan is through her evasion of danger and getting out of tight spots. There are points in the story where things seemed out of sorts. Unfortunately, one of these points is near the beginning when Karigan stumbles upon the Berry Sisters. The whole encounter seems to have just been placed into the story and dropped out of thin air to land with a thud. The impression I was left with was that the entire chance meeting was a tedious way of discussing some back-story elements, particularly concerning the nature of the world’s magic as well as provide convenient and simplistic ways to help Karigan escape from danger later on. The entire episode left me drained in a manner than was reminiscent of Karigan after using her broach for its power of invisibility. It gave me a good reference point to draw on to sympathize with the main character at those points.

I honestly almost did not push on with reading the story because of this point. But I did. The story gets better as it moves on through a myriad of dangers Karigan faces to complete her quest as well as her struggle with not wanting to be the Green Rider everyone else seems to think she is or should be. The story borders on Karigan escaping from too many unlucky situations however, but it does tread the line just enough to not become wholly unbelievable. Some things like the however Anti-Monarchy Society seem to be just thrown in as filler and are dwelled upon too much for their minor role in my opinion. Also, the story seems to drift a little towards the end, especially during the final battle with the symbolism of a board game that makes its appearance several times throughout the book.  Although there are quiet a few pleasant twists.  Even if some of the foreshaddowing as to where the author wants to go is not all that subtle.

If you want to read a typical coming of age fantasy story with some unique elements and a hero struggling to come to grips with her inescapable fate, Green Rider could be up your alley. The plot is certainly believable enough. I give Green Rider three and a half stars.

Found: The short story I wanted

August 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Ok. I have some good news. That short story I wanted to write? You know, the one that instead turned into tens of thousands of words and what appears to be a novel? Well, I have found it within the plot of what I am writing.

It is going to require some changes to the longer story I have been typing out, but I think those changes are going to be for the better. Most of those changes have to do with the way magic is used in the world and a little bit of tweaking of the world history as well. It is amazing how thinking out a small part of the story to make it into a short story of its own allows me to see better ways to do other things within the main story itself. It also solves a couple conundrums I have been having with certain plot points. Putting the ideas for this story down have clarified a lot of the problems.

What happened was I was just free writing and jotting down notes yesterday when I was brainstorming some interactions between two of the novel’s characters. Out popped the short story in the form of a monologue by one of them.

Having happened long before this particular story, of course this short story does not fit into the novel’s full framework. The character’s summary of events in the novel does not tell the whole story so here is the chance for me to do that now and add some depth to this particular character, a female elf whose perspective and actions are only viewed in “Dark Moon” through the POV of the main character. So it has what I think is the makings of a good short story to work on.

It has taken a while to get there. But I have gotten there.

Title not decided on yet. Working title to be come up with.

Ok, Progress Made! But Shockingly Not What I Wanted.

July 23, 2011 Leave a comment

So I have been sitting down the past couple days and have come up with a bunch of information for my fantasy world. I’ve laid down a lot of important things such as how long the year is, what types of magic exist, the size of the world in question, a back story that sets up why there is the conflict that there is, the pantheon of deities and I even came up with a basic story plot based on all this.

But what started happening actually surprised me a little. I sat down to do some free writing and now, 75 pages and 19,000 words later, I actually have the start of a full blown novel! Not the short story I intended to write!

Bear with me while I grunt in frustration. Ugh! Read more…