Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Review - Prince of Thorns

Sometimes nice things happen. I stumbled on Mark Lawrence's Prince of Thorns a while back and immediately put it on my reading list. The first pages were enticing. I also read the related short story, Sleeping Beauty, a very powerful story that was an excellent introduction to the world I was about to enter. So yesterday, during a break, I loaded my Christmas gift card into my Barnes & Noble account and purchased Prince of Thorns and its sequel, King of Thorns. My Barnes & Noble apps (android and Windows desktop) gave me some fits, but they eventually loaded. I started Prince of Thorns and soon passed as far as I had previously sampled and I could not put it down. I finished it shortly before going to bed. It was a wild ride that I highly recommend.

The main character, Jorg Ancrath, is a piece of work. We quickly learn that he was traveling with his mother and younger brother when the carriage was attack. In the process of throwing them all from the carriage, Jorg ends up in a thorny brier patch and watches as first his brother, then his mother, are murdered. The thorns hold him tight making him unable to help. Needless to say, this scars him. Through the course of the book more pieces fall into place to further explain the horrible path he ends up on.

This book is a mixture of Jorg in the present, and the Jorg of four years previous as he starts the journey that he finishes in this book. Now, I don't want to give away too much of the story because that is part of the charm of this book. It is better to read about it yourself. But I will say that he grows and manages to pull several different goals together in a magnificent finale that is perfectly in keeping with his character. Fantastic storytelling.

I will, however, go into a bit more on the world that Mark Lawrence has created. This is our future. How far in the future isn't know exactly, but it is just over a thousand years after an apocalypse destroys the world sometime in our future. From the maps, the sea levels have risen and the world has reverted to a medieval culture. But something about the cataclysm has let magic lead into the world. Not a lot, mind you, but between radiation poisoning and mutation, and the barrier between our world and the world of the dead being weakened, plus some remaining bits of technology, the author has woven a fantastic image of a future where things are more strange than they are in real life. It is a fantastic idea and a combination I have not seen before. As a fantasy author myself, I really loved seeing his world building and found it seamless to the story.

Next up in my reading is the sequel. I actually started it already and am 3 chapters in. It is a little longer but already promises to be just as good.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Recharging Your Batteries

Last year I was rolling along on the sequel to my first books, Counterpoint to Chaos. I made it about a third of the way before I encountered issues. I passed it off to a couple of my loyal beta readers to test the waters. They both loved it, but I'm not sure they see the problems I do. I have poured myself into editing my second book, Jack of Troubles and into a related collection of short stories about a warship captain in that magical world. I am nearing completion. I have a day or two left in writing the fourth short story (which will be the first in the collection) and my editor is almost finished with her edits on Jack of Troubles. I need to get back to that unfinished book, but I have realized that my creative batteries are running low. It is time to recharge them and for a writer that means reading.

That might delay the sequel to Counterpoint to Chaos, titled Masque of Revenge, but I think it will yield a better book. With Jack of Troubled due out later this year and its sequel, Queen of Darkness, written and ready to be edited, and with my need to craft short stories to fill in the blanks, there will be no shortage in my writing output. I hope to take some time and get caught up on some reading, may be write a review or two, and put out a few short stories to whet your appetite, and then be ready to go all out come this fall. National Novel Writing Month in November has always been a good motivation for me and the 50,000 word goal is usually about a third of a novel, so I either write faster or longer... probably longer this time.

So I likely will be quiet, except for some reviews, most of 2014. Be patient, the stories in my head just need to find the right pieces to come out. I have 3 1/3 novels written and 4 2/3 trapped in there. Just the little bit of refresher I have done so far has yielded some good ideas that bring the followup to Queen of Darkness, already titled King of Dragons, better into focus. I hope delving into some of my long reading list will re-invigorate my creativity. I need to make time for this on a regular basis.

It's one of the hazard's of being a writer. I get inspired by the strangest things. Often it is some throw away scene or character that I read about and I imagine how I might tell their story. No two writers approach things the same way and the kernels I find and assemble in my head from various and sundry sources, more often history or real life, gain a life of their own as I plan and again as I write. I don't know just why, but I can plan things out and have things set in my mind, but when I go to write the story, things flow out differently. This great scene in my head (namely the concluding battle at the ruins in Counterpoint to Chaos) changes to fit the characters and setting (and probably my mood on the day I wrote it) and comes out to be quite different, but hopefully no less great, from what I had originally envisioned. So it can be a strange road from inspiration and idea to final product. But without that inspiration, the whole system falls apart. I think that is one problem with Masque of Revenge. I need to recharge a bit and then tackle it again. I'll have to see what I can salvage of what I have written (hopefully most of it) and then go from there. The story needs to be told, I just need the inspiration to make it come alive.

So, watch for Tales of Lord Carvin and Jack of Troubles later this year and a few reviews along the way. I'll be doing a lot of reading before I delve into finishing Masque of Revenge.