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Posts Tagged ‘Swords’

Top 10 Books I read in 2012

December 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Comments on this list before I begin.  First of all, this is not a top 10 list of books published in 2012 that I read.  This is a top 10 list of books that I read in 2012, regardless of year published.  Only books that I read for the first time in 2012 qualify for the list.  For example, I reread The Black Company by Glen Cook. which I have rated at 4.75 stars and my #18 favorite book.  However, because it is a reread, it does not qualify for this list.  Lastly, these are my opinions, and my opinions alone. Read more…

What’s Hot On Audible.com In Science Fiction/Fantasy?

August 19, 2012 Leave a comment

According to the email I received this morning, this is what is hot on Audible.com for audio books:

Most Wished For Science Fiction & Fantasy

Take a peek at what your fellow listeners are wishing for. You might discover a book you never even knew you wanted! Read more…

Book Review: Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan

July 19, 2012 Leave a comment

WARNING! MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!

Rise of Empire is the second book in the Riyria Revelations trilogy and, once again, we are back to follow the exploits of mismatched thieves Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborne. Rise of Empire is, in my opinion, a much better story than Theft of Swords, the first book in the trilogy. While Theft of Swords had its moments, and was far from a bad story, Rise of Empire is cleaner, crisper, more intriguing than the first novel. Back story out of the way, the reader gets a tale of good quality that entertains.

Read more…

Review: Theft of Swords by: Michael J. Sullivan

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Warning! May contain spoilers!

Michael J. Sullivan creates a set of superb characters in Royce and Hadrian, a pair of thieves who get a little too greedy at times. Or at least Hadrian does, and he then drags Royce along with him. I don’t think I can stop saying enough good things about the way the two main characters are constructed, how they maintain character all the way through the novel and are delightful to follow. Royce and Hadrian are surrounded by a cadre of supporting characters that by the end of this first volume have various levels of depth and are used to develop the level of political intrigue that is going on within the story’s world. Some of the other characters appear cartoonish. But this is not because of poor writing. It is merely, in my opinion, because of trying to cram so much into the novel and delve into so many of the side relationships that affect what Royce and Hadrian are involved in. Perhaps in some places these departures from the story as seen from the viewpoint of the main characters could have been done without. Without these side trips I think the story would have flowed better.

While the story opens in an excellent fashion, I love the interaction between Royce and Hadrian and the hapless highwaymen they encounter, the first half of the book does slog along at times as huge boulders of back-story are dropped with a plop into the narrative. And there are points of droning dialogue recited by characters who just seemed to be waiting for an opportunity to expound upon what they know of a situation. There were points in the story where I kept thinking of Syndrome from the animated film The Incredibles who humorously quipped, “You sly dog! You got me monologuing!” because it seems so silly at times. But as the story unwinds, things get significantly better. The second half of the story is tighter and much more captivating thanks in large part to the back-story having been over and done with mostly in the first half. Back-story dropped in the second half of the book flows much smoother with the narrative. If you are struggling through the opening half I assure you it gets better towards the end of the opening act. I will not say that the story was not without points where I had to stop and forcibly make myself resuspend disbelief before continuing, but those moments are minor enough to be overlooked. They happen in every novel I have ever read.

I was however a little disappointed in the ending of the first book. The first book in the Riyria Revelations series is prime example of what is common today among epic fantasy series. It is a book that at the end of it really has no end. There is just the cliffhanger for book two to pick up from and you feel like you have fallen off a cliff between chapters. Major plot points remain unresolved. The final battle with the supposedly mighty beast is light, quick and seems to be more of an anti-climax than a true climax. It was just another point on a slow journey through the story and an invitation to buy the next book of the series. My personal preference is for a more solid resolution at the end of a book, even if it is part of a planned series. I understand however that this is the current trend of the industry.

At the half-way point of the book I was not sure if I would be interested in the continuing adventures of Royce and Hadrian. By the end of the book I was much more interested in what these two thieves would be up to in the future. But not right away. I have put book two of the Riyria Revelations on my “to read list” but have opted to take a break and read some other stories before picking it up. The first book was just too long for me to want to delve right in to another tome on the same subject and I need some time to unwind from it.

I give Theft of Swords an over all rating of three and three quarters stars out of five placing it solidly above your typical fantasy story but not quite in the level of the more elite books of the genre. It was oh so close to getting four stars at times but the issues I discussed drew it back down from that level.

Post from Audible for Android

April 13, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m listening to Theft of Swords: Riyria Revelations, Book 1 (Unabridged) Part 2 on #Audible for #Android. Get the app free: http://audible.com/wireless @audible_com

Arrrrgh! Info Dumps! And Complaints About Them!

April 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Every novel has them; the often dreaded info dump. Long paragraphs of backstory crammed in either as uncomfortable, droning dialogue between characters or pages of omnipotent exposition on past events are supposedly frowned upon from the opinions I have been gathering. Yet, surprising, every novel that I have read in recent memory has contained them. For something so universally reviled, it sure does get included quite often as a tool an author to pass information on the reader.

I refer to this as the “And then …. Nothing happened” part of the story. For example, I am reading Theft of Swords right now and I swear that, literally, nothing of great importance has happened in quite some time. I just got done with a passage of the book where there was a long discussion about the various gods of the world just to get the reader informed about who they are. Interesting from a backstory component, but a little uncomfortable and seemingly out of place. That followed what amounted to a lot of travel to the location of a secret prison, which itself followed a lot of information on a monetary that was burned down.

Don’t get me wrong. So far the book is good even if I think some of the recent info dumping currently going on could have been broken up. But I hear it all the time from people who think they know so much about how to write that these sorts of methods for conveying backstory sink a story’s chances of being published. Obviously not!

I am told by people, other writers mostly, that I have too much info dumping in drafts they are critiquing. They tell me how such sequences are too long. They tell me how I must take them out or never be published. Then I show then passages from books where there are info dumps three times as long and make he obvious point that those books were published. I ask them how is their opinion valid in the face of evidence to the contrary. To that question I get a lot of convoluted answers, but never any that really answer the question.

People might complain about info dumps in stories, but the facts are that they exist. And they exist often. And the funniest thing is some of my fellow writers who are critiquing my current works are some of the worst offenders because I have been reading their drafts as well. One lady, for example, complained that a three paragraph sequence (3/4 of a page) putting some backstory forth was “too long” just as a “general rule of thumb”. Yet her most recent work has nearly 4,000 words, some fifteen pages, of backstory dumped in one instance!

I am sure that there are horrendous examples of the info dump that are unreadable. I know, even though I cannot think of them off the top of my head, they exist. I think most people that hate the dumping of backstory remember only the worst of the worst and then proclaim all as bad.

I do not fear using the info dump however. In my own writing I try to keep them small and within the flow of the story and not let the reader get drawn too far away from the here and now and what the characters are currently doing. Hopefully I am succeeding so that my own little info dumps don’t get lumped in with the worst of them.