Brotherband: The Outcasts – Review

I RATE THIS NOVEL, FIVE OF FIVE STARS!

Straight after reading Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, I dove into this book. I finished it quickly and I loved every minute of it. John Flanagan tells a wonderful coming of age story about a Viking boy on his path to becoming a respected member of a Brotherband.

On the very first page, John started a sentence with the word and. Sure, style can dictate whether one decides to do that or not, but most people (including plenty of English professors and a lot of authors) swear by the rule of “Never start a sentence with and or but.”

John often puts had after the start of a sentence, usually after a pronoun or someone’s name. He had, she had, Thorn had. I spotted four sentences in a row at one point that started off this way and it became a little jarring.

During one stage of the novel, the word “lawyer” came into the book and it didn’t feel right. People didn’t practice law in the form of an occupation until the 12th and 13th century, long after the Viking era had ended. The term lawyer wasn’t even used until the 14th-15th century, so reading that word used just didn’t work for the setting the book is in. And yes, I’m a total nerd, why do you think I read fantasy books?

I quickly got over all that though. Why? Because I love it, I can’t describe how much I do. The imagery is spot on and allows me to imagine almost everything that happens beautifully. The battle scenes flow well and even time spent aboard the vessels is interesting. John has done a marvelous job. The characters are well put together and each have their own personalities.

The story is one about Skandians, of Vikings. If follows the story of Hal Mikkelson, born half Skandian and half foreigner and is treated like an outcast. He’s a thinker, a tinkerer, an inventor. When brotherband (groups of Skandians who train together, fight together and die together) training starts, he joins one of the most outrageous brotherbands, one full of outcasts. But he quickly becomes determined to make it so they succeed in the trials to come.

It’s a coming of age story for young Hal and a great one at that. The action, the suspense and the great interaction between characters are brilliant. It is easily the best book I have read all year, for now.

On three separate occasions, I got goosebumps, I teared up a little twice, smiled many times and laughed a few. It might not be the usual kind of fantasy that I read, but I’d recommend it to anyone who would bother listening. I loved it. The end had me wanting more, much more. I’ll definitely get my hands on the next ones in the series and what makes me happy is that there are plenty more to read!

Brotherband: The Outcasts – Review

Shadows of Imeria – April 2017 Update

Happy Birthday to me! Although it was days ago and not today.

Enough birthday wishes, I am sorry to inform you that I was not as productive as I thought I would be, at least not with my writing. I managed to get an extra of 16 hours of work each week and that’s 16 hours less that I can write each week, a tragedy, yes, but it’s okay.

It is almost time. After this year of hard work, 12 months and 8 days of it to be precise, I can almost start editing Shadows of Imeria. I have almost (but not quite) built upon the world enough to start giving better-detailed descriptions of areas, places where the reader can learn about the history of the world over time, etc.  I will still need to work on it for a week or two before I can start my edits though.

There was something I had to do that I didn’t expect though. I mapped the entire journey of the novel out and calculated the time it took to get from one place to another in the way it was traveled (by foot, horse or boat). It was enough math to make my head explode but the results were worth it. This took about four days and I actually enjoyed it when I didn’t feel like my head was going to burst. Here’s a photo of it, I know it doesn’t look like much but it helped make the story so much better, cleaner, and more realistic.

And I should really be honest with you all, I just didn’t give it my all. Next month will be different, it has to be. I’ll work harder, write faster (without losing the quality of course!) and I’ll do my absolute best.

Over the next month, I will finish the worldbuilding side of my journey and I’ll hopefully have sticky notes smeared across the printed pages of my manuscript, many different colors highlighted for dialogue, red pen ink scattered across the margins and gaps in the text for the addition and subtraction of information and quality, and much more. It’ll be one giant paper mess and maybe, just maybe I will get through the whole manuscript. I doubt that though, that’s a lot of work to do.

Shadows of Imeria – April 2017 Update

The Magicians – Review

I rate this novel, Four of Five stars!

I realize it took me forever to read this book, it wasn’t because I didn’t like it, not at all. I had surgeries, I moved houses twice and I managed to read 12 books before I finished this one. Now that I have finished it, I am quite glad.

I’ve heard this series referenced as Harry Potter’s and Game of Thrones’ love child. This isn’t the case, at least not in my eyes. Use our world as a foundation, add magic, add deities, add other worlds and add schools for this magic. Then add a depressed teenager that has lived his whole life in a world without magic, a world that seems to reject him and one that he rejects in turn. That teenager is Quentin Coldwater.

The book begins at a slow pace, a lot of learning for the characters and reader alike and that takes time. Magic is an art in this world and it can’t just be used with the flick of a wand and the muttering of a word, emotions are mixed in, times of day affect spells, you need to learn old and dead languages, there is so much going on with the magic that one would be beyond lucky to learn it all in one lifetime.

It’s a dark, depressing world and even with magic mixed in, that doesn’t change. It is just like the real world and I really enjoy that about it. It gave a genuine feeling of familiarity and realism to my mind and soul, something I could grab onto and carry with me.

But there were things that I didn’t particularly like as well, it was mostly to do with technique.

Lev’s use of “and” is a little draining occasionally. I once counted six ands in a single sentence. On the very rare occasion, there was a small error with the uses of tense. But, perhaps it was my mind just playing tricks on me. A few sentences ran on without a comma or full stop which brought me to re-read certain sentences a couple of times. Although it didn’t happen often enough to get me mad and put down the book, it was still irritating.

Every now and then, Lev would throw information into the story that never really amounted to much. It didn’t change the story and it didn’t add anything enjoyable, It was just information. For example, you read about a girl named Georgia that was almost institutionalized because she told her parents about a school for magicians. The information takes up half a page and it’s for a non-essential character that is never heard from or seen again.

I really wanted to give this book a higher rating. Maximum stars. But with the small errors and repetitive use of the word “and”, and the unnecessary information, I have to give it four stars. I think the editor (if there was an editor hired for the novel) didn’t to the best job they could. It stays at four stars for its brilliant worldbuilding, magic process, originality and great, realistic characters. If I could, it would be 4.5 stars out of 5.

I’ll definitely be buying the next book in the series, no doubt about it at all.

The Magicians – Review

Imagination of the Past

So, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? You hardly hear from me anymore. I thought it was about time you read something that wasn’t an update for my novel or a review, something fun, something witty.

I wish you could all help me because I’m clueless when it comes to that sort of thing.

How about… imagination?

When I was a child, my imagination was intense. Everyone I saw a plane in the sky, I would close my eyes, fly up there and have a look at every single passenger before coming back down. It was vivid enough for me to believe what I saw was actually real.

Remember those days where commercial television would show (I mean, they probably still do but I just don’t watch it anymore) marathons of old tv shows? Well, the Simpsons were on one weekend and I spent the whole day watching it (I was still a child) and by the end of it, I imagined everyone, including myself, to be yellow. I saw it that way for a few hours.

It was incredible, powerful, exciting. That kind of thing drove me to want to write in the first place. To take notes of my imagination, in a way. My imagination intoxicated my body and mind and I continuously thought up new things to try, new games to play, new things to imagine. I even wrote a story in primary school about two fictional greek warriors battling to the death in the middle of a war.

If you combine the love I have for my imagination with my love of history and war along with my love for magic and fiction, then you can understand why I write.

Well in the end the blog post wasn’t witty and it wasn’t fun. It was me though, it was something different and without that, it would be just another blog.

Imagination of the Past

Stealer of Flesh – Review

I rate this novel, Three of Five stars!

Stealer of flesh is another free ebook that I gained by being a part of Book Barbarian, a great newsletter for discounted fantasy and science fiction novels. It sends out a newsletter everyday with a new bunch of discounted books, some being free! But enough about that, here’s the review.

This is the story of Kormac, a slayer of evil, a man of strength and conviction. The story is something I enjoyed, but the way it is told didn’t particularly appeal to me. What did appeal to me was the darkness of the story, great dialogue between characters, interesting plots, fantastic creatures and enough suspense to keep me reading forward. Now, for the parts that didn’t particularly appeal to me. If you don’t want to read complaints and my little annoyances I had with the story, then don’t read on.

Almost right off the bat, I noticed punctuation errors, which would usually cause me to put the book down. But for some reason I continued on, part of me is thankful and the other part thinks it should have been put down.

Another thing I noticed was a large amount of info dumping the author slid into the book as soon as he could.There were times where characters sounded like history professors rather than who they were and descriptions that would lead to a paragraph or two of history.

There was often a lot of “telling, not showing” going on and it sometimes dragged it down. So many “there was’s” “he had seen’s” and “had been’s” spanning the pages and it became quite tedious to read at certain times.

Just a short break from all this to complain about a few pieces that got me wanting to stop reading:
At one point, early in the novel, Kormac says that the man he’s after has one day ahead of him. Afterward, he leaves and follows tracks through the snow. Tracks in the snow, after a full day there are still tracks… seems as though the writer got lazy there.
Too many times was something explained, ” His hand went to the hilt of his sword. If Razhak was present he would need to defend himself.” Of course, why else would someone go for their sword; to put out a fire? To chop some wood? I don’t think so.
Then, a little later, “…men stood stone faced as sentries, their faces like stone…” a little too redundant for my liking.

The main thing I want to say is that it could have been done better. Information could have been added more slowly so the plot advanced faster when it needed it, tense remaining consistent throughout the story (that one really got me a few times…), less vague descriptions, better/proper use of grammar and punctuation, randomly added words in dialogue and narrative (such as a, as, of, them, etc.) and words swapped out for others (there are quite a few of those. Like using ‘clearing’ instead of ‘clearly’ and other such things. Who would say that a werewolf has talons? Not me at least, claws are definitely what they have).

Often times while reading this book I wondered whether the book was professionally edited or not. If not, the author probably should have, If so, the author should hire a better editor.

I apologize for my condescending review, I quite liked the concept of the story told. I just think the delivery was poor. The saving grace was the concept of the story and the fluidity of the action scenes, if not for them I may not have been able to finish the book at all.

One last thing to add, when I finished the novel, I realized that the author’s first language is not English. Knowing that now, I think the story deserves more than what I put it out as in the previous paragraphs. A better editor of the translated work is definitely in order, but once that happens, for either this book or others in his future career, I think his books will become even better. I feel compelled to read the next books in the series one day in the future and will probably do so one day.

Stealer of Flesh – Review

Shadows of Imeria – March 2017 Update

I am close. So close to being able to edit the first draft.

I finished the editing document and have the most important character profiles finished. Now I have to flesh out more of the world’s history and I can finally get started on the second draft. Moving, lack of a comfortable workspace, appointments and many other things have thrown my schedule off track a little but soon I’ll work harder than ever to catch up.

I have cut a character out of the story completely, now he was never even born. I do feel guilt and sadness as I really liked the character, but when it comes to writing, a lot of sacrifices have to be made. In the scenes where that character once was, the best friend/sidekick will be there instead. It’ll allow further growth and development between the two, save me from having to kill the character I cut out and it will make the story flow better.

Shadows of Imeria – March 2017 Update

Shadows Of Imeria – Progress February 2017

I remember, last month I said I would not be able to get much done during the next month (this current month). But that wasn’t the case. I have edited, written and made progress with ten different character profiles. After which, each one has turned into their own person and slowly started to change and grow.

With that, I am almost half-way through finishing the character profiles for Shadows of Imeria. There are another 15 to go after that. Some of the things I learned about my characters even shocked me. For instance, a character I saw as a grumpy man turns out to actually be someone who is soft-hearted and adopted two children that he cherishes. But due to his past, he doesn’t let his emotions show.

I have also created and am still working on a document to help with the editing stage with my projects. It has currently reached 44 pages and is almost 30,000 words. It is quite an extensive document that touches on Setting, Hooks, Emotion, Senses, Character Development, Plot, Subtext, Tension, Scene Intentions, Scene Types, Points of View, and Secondary and Minor Characters. When I start editing, it will be an invaluable document.

Shadows Of Imeria – Progress February 2017