Fear is an Easy Sell

When I’m not writing, I’m a teacher. You can probably guess what I’m certified in – my specialty – without too much trouble. It doesn’t start with M and doesn’t require a Periodic Table if that helps at all – although I am getting better and better with my Stoichiometry (just ask my students).

I’ve noticed a shift over the last several years, and it is something I am concerned about and that is fear.

You see, I have a daughter who turns three in January and she’s starting to give orders. Not real orders of course, but the ‘this goes here, that is mommy’s, put it down daddy’ kind of orders. The ‘I’m trying to make sense of this world that has more to it than gravity and light’ kind of orders.

This means that, soon, she’ll start asking questions. Both my wife and I have discussed this turn and we’re not sure what to respond as she kicks into trying to understand and comprehend that bigger world. Whose perspective will be better for her.

The reality that I see is a wonderful and amazing place to explore. People are, in general, good folks with interesting stories who merely want an ear to listen or tongue to speak – an opportunity to share. There are fascinating stories out there with most people and, if you listen to them, chances are you can find someone or something to relate to with them.

The world is a similar place. There are wonderful places to explore – mountains to climb, trees to crawl through, parks to visit, etc. It’s an adventure that, if you take the time to examine, will give you something to relate to and remember.

Forest Blog

But…that’s not the attitude that most people have. I remember growing up that most of the attitude wasn’t quite as bright and springy as mine, but there was something still there: hope.

Now, though, I see something different: fear.

Fear has replaced that in many of the students that I interact with. I do have the over-the-top macho kids in my room, but when they get confronted, that attitude dissolves. There’s no guidance. Similarly, when I work with some of my co-workers and talk with some of my friends, fear has become a unifying factor. Rather it’s a worry for the future of the country, a job, or what’s going to happen tomorrow, it’s become an overlying part of things.

Yoda Fear

Even the TV shows have it more now. We call the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles more ‘mature’ and ‘deep’ than their 1980’s counterparts – and that’s true. But at one point our entertainment was meant to entertain the kids and not us.

Don’t take this the wrong way – I love shows like TMNT and Avatar: The Last Airbender. My daughter loves My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Daniel Tiger (and Daniel Tiger is NOT in one of those ‘more mature’ categories in the slightest. It does have a sense of hope and excitement). But at one point the excitement came from wondering how Mikey was going to take down the Shredder this week and not if he was going to.

Our heroes are easily defeated. That only used to happen in the two-part episodes.

The same holds true of entertainment for adults. I’m really enjoying Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Once Upon a Time, and Agents of Shield (my TV shows are a bit limited – I have Netflix and not cable is my excuse).

There isn’t anyone to save us anymore and, while some of the shows do examine a person pulling themselves out of defeat and saving themselves, more often we are faced with a failure that we have to deal with.

And maybe that’s true. There is a lot of truth to the fact that, often, we are going to have to deal with meeting in the middle or the short end of the stick. That is life.

I don’t really have a problem with that. I wish there was more hope and adventure to my entertainment than there is – and I might be missing something (feel free to share). But it doesn’t usually feel particularly hopeful when I am watching.

Except maybe NCIS – because at some point, they have to deal with Gibbs and Gibbs doesn’t mess around.

Gibbs

But now, we’re not even getting the stick. We’re learning to be afraid to even reach for it.

It’s fear we’re being sold.

And it is an easy sell.

Look at Game of Thrones. Nothing against Martin – he’s clearly a writer with talent. I personally don’t particularly like Game of Thrones, but it’s popular and well written. But it boils with two things – sex and fear.

It’s an easy sell.

Even worse is the sudden advertisement of giving in to fear. Back during the first trilogy, I don’t know that there was anyone who was excited to be a member of the Sith (and yes, this is a specific cultural example. Sue me). The villains of the movie and the universe as far as Star Wars is concerned. Now, it pops up everywhere.

keep-calm-and-join-the-dark-side-132

Ignoring the Sith vs Jedi argument (that’s for another day as well), now matter how you look at it, they are the created antagonists of the films. We get strong implications (and sometimes visuals) of them casually murdering people. These are not people that would normally be a group that folks would want to join.

But they have embraced their fear and gained power for it. We’re embracing our fears, but it’s leaving us weaker – at least thus far.

I wonder if that isn’t because fear is so primal to our beings. It’s hard to establish a hopeful attitude – it takes convincing someone that there can be something better over the hilltop or beyond the horizon even though all of their current experience says otherwise.  You have to life yourself up to have hope, to examine the best that could be coming and work for it. It takes a tremendous amount of work.

 

Say what you like about Donald Trump, but he is definitely a Presidential hopeful. He’s putting in that effort and he’s trying to find ways to get to that ‘better’ that he sees. So is Bernie Sanders. And that’s all the politics I will mention for this post because I’m not going to get into the conflict of hope that comes from perspective. I’m sure it is one of the causes, but that’s a post in and of itself. Fear has that as well, but to a lesser extent.

Fear doesn’t. Fear says ‘that’s bigger, be scared’, ‘that’s faster, be scared’, ‘that’s different, be scared.’ It’s unifying and, relatively, universal.  And universal means easier to sell, easier to control. Some of those pundits that claim our new culture of fear is part of a government/corporate/etc conspiracy to control us and I can’t help but wonder in the back of my mind if there isn’t some truth to that claim. Fear does make for easy control and focus – hope, joy, and other ‘working’ emotions are not easy to create and hold in place.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for the day. I will leave you with this one:

desmondtutu454129

Book Review: Greek Key by K.B. Spangler

 

GK Cover

Buy it HERE from K.B.’S A Girl and Her Fed Store (I imagine she gets more for it here).

Buy it HERE on Amazon (Because sometimes it is simply easier)

So, I have talked about the A Girl and Her Fed universe before. If you read any of my reviews about the Rachel Peng books, then you will be running into some familiar faces here.

We have Speedy and Hope as the primary protagonists this time around. Rachel’s not the focus here and we are, instead, introduced to the universe through Hope’s eyes and seeing her try to solve a mystery that has a lot more to do with the origins of how OACET and the ghosts work in the A Girl and Her Fed universe.

I’m not spoiling much in this review, but if you haven’t read A Girl and Her Fed yet, you might want to back out and go read it before you read on because some of this will go into spoilage as to how the rules of the Universe there work.

SPOILER TAG

SPOILER TAG

SPOILER TAG

The main mystery revolves around an artifact, a piece of the Antikythera mechanism, that is commented on in both the comic and in the Peng novels. They have a piece of a machine that is out of place and out of time for the development of the period. Hope, Speedy, and the Ghost of Benjamin Franklin (I’m not sure if that’s a title or not…maybe I’ll tweet the author to ask) have been discussing the limits of how a ghost can work and how time flows in the A Girl And Her Fed (AGAHF for short) universe.

It boils down to this: ghosts can move backward and forward in time. However, this requires a great deal of power. A ghost gets its power from his/her effect on the world. Also, a ghosts power appears to be limited to the culture in which it was created. This means that most ghosts are quite limited in their power.  Benjamin Franklin’s ghost is very powerful in the United States (as are the other ghosts of the Founding Fathers. And Lincoln…oh dear lord, Lincoln). However, when Hope travels outside of the U.S., Franklin can’t follow / can’t manifest  (side-note: given his years in Europe, I wonder if he can manifest there as well…).

We already know from AGAHF that Franklin can time travel. He did it to help Hope play the stock market so she didn’t have to focus on gaining money and could instead prepare for the coming of OACET and Sparky and a few other slightly more world shattering elements coming to the U.S. (and the world) than whether or not she could pay the bills.  Of course she originally thought he was a drug induced hallucination, but that would be getting off topic and into AGAHF rather than Greek Key.

Panel Post
I’ll just leave this here as an explanation Image is Copyright (C) K.B. Spangler

 

The point being, his power lets him jump forward in time and, unlike many ghosts, he can bring back elements of what he finds in the future. In the comic, he brings back a ring that is linked to OACET so she can call in help from Sparky whenever she needs it. This takes a tremendous amount of power and the ring is only a small thing.

The mechanism piece? It’s a bit bigger. Which means a lot more power would be needed. Not only that, but we’re looking at a time jump that would make Doc Brown jealous.

And without a DeLorean.

Or a Flux Capacitor.

This machine piece that they have found, however, appears to have come from someone a bit more…universal. Think mathematics. Like Universal mathematics.

It’s Archimedes. Yes, that Archimedes.

I told you it was Universal Mathematics.

This has everyone baffled and a bit worried as it was found in a stash that was being supervised by the main antagonist of AGAHF.

Hope, being one of the few who knows the ghost connection in OACET, decides to investigate and she takes along Mike. The pair are psychic and are able to use that ability to tap into the ghost spectrum – though neither is particularly good at it. You do what you can with what you have.

Then we run into an archaeologist, Atlas, (who’s probably not on the up-and-up) and his sister, Darling (who’s definitely not on the up-and-up) and they get involved in examining the mystery as well.

Helen of Troy also ends up entangled.

It’s…complicated.

The story is also a lot of fun. As a fan of AGAHF, I got a lot of satisfaction out of reading the story. Hope is a fun character and Speedy is a highlight as well. They play their typical roles, but those roles are written quite well.

Hope is a strong protagonist. It is immediately obvious that she is in charge of herself and her choices; there’s no damsel in distress here. No one is ‘letting’ her do the things that she does. She is doing them through her action and through her conscious choice. It’s a good message and one that shouldn’t have to be said, but I’m pointing it out because that message is often lost in other media and stories. Hope’s a character that is strong on her own and she happens to be female.

Speedy is still a hyper-intelligent Koala. I don’t really feel the need to elaborate there, but he is enjoyable. However, I’m a Speedy fan and I hear there are those that disagree with him. That’s your choice – I can assure you that he doesn’t care in the slightest.

The mystery of Archimedes’ machine is the central plot of the story and its practically a character in and of itself. The jumping and shifting of ideas and ‘OK, that didn’t work, next plan’ is a lot of fun.

For me this book had a lot to tell. It establishes quite a bit of the rules for the AGAHF universe. The world building is fascinating and I enjoyed those elements a lot.

My major complaint comes from only two elements. My first is Hope’s attraction to Atlas. It seems overplayed and not especially relevant to the plot. I get that it is part of the character of Hope to be easily distracted, but I just did not like the Atlas bit at all. It’s a personal element, but I feel it detracts from Hope’s character to have that be a focus of her distractions. The rest of her jumps, however, are hilarious and/or plot related and I enjoyed them, but the Atlas ones didn’t ping right for me. Maybe it’s my sense of humor.

Which brings me to Atlas himself. As a character and an antagonist (I won’t go far enough to call him a villain) he’s in the gray area. It could be argued that he’s not even really an antagonist so much as a stumbling point. He’s a pretty face and something for Hope to get distracted by given his amazing Mediterranean body and that’s pretty much it. There is some effort at characterization by having him have a rivalry with his sister, but it doesn’t come off as particularly effective. His reveal and subsequent plot related items come off as convenient and/or out of place when reading and that appeared to defeat the purpose of having him in play. He helps the plot along and gives Hope a few things to think about, but it doesn’t really bring out anything new or interesting in the characters and so he falls flat.

On the whole, though, Greek Key is a strong novel with an interesting mystery. Hope, Mike, and Speedy make up for the lack of a traditional antagonist by fighting with the mystery surrounding the Archimedes device. The solution is a fascinating twist and turn as Spangler develops her world and reveals new and fascinating bits about how the world works in her universe of ghosts and government. For AGAHF fans, this will be a lot of fun. For inductees and those new to the universe, it will be an exciting adventure with a strong protagonist and companions that will lead you into a complex and fun world.

Characters: 4.0 / 5
Plot: 5 / 5
Action: 4 / 5
Value: 5 / 5
Writing: 5 / 5

Overall: 4.2 / 5

 

 

Life on Ramen

I have always been about creating. I love to write, to create adventures and characters with my friends through RPGs and LARPs, to produce plays and portrayals through acting on stage. All through my life I have created.

One such creation that I had was called Life on Ramen. It was a sprite comic that I produced while I was in college. Keep in mind – this was during the hay day of sprite comics. We had Bob and George on the one hand and 8-Bit Theater on the other. It was an awesome time. If you had MS Paint and a few sprite sheets, you could make a webcomic.

Mine was about myself and some of my friends and our various insanities. I called it ‘Life on Ramen’ because I was in college and that was pretty much my only non-campus sustenance. I found the comic very funny and I put a lot of work into updating it on GeoCities. You know, back when GeoCities existed.

It was the first piece of something I had created that I shared outside of my personal bubble. I put it up on the internet and I joined some webrings (does anyone remember those? 🙂 ) and I posted it for feedback and fun.

It was something I had never done before – exposed myself like that to a strange audience. I remember being a little scared of it, at least at first, but also excited. I had hoped that I would find some folks who liked it – there were certainly enough 8 and 16 bit Sprite comic lovers out there at the time.

There wasn’t a lot of original content to it, I will admit now. But as I gained new skills and software (thanks Ferris), it improved. I had some fun characters and some, in my opinion, funny humor. There were a lot of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moments – which I still find funny.

Any how, I thought I would share this memory of my first time putting my work out for public critique and see if anyone else wanted to comment. What was your first time sharing something publicly like? What made it exciting or interesting to you?

Book Review: Red Hot Steele (Daggers and Steele Vol. 1)

 

Cover Steele

But the book on Amazon HERE!

Things here have been a little bit crazy as of late, so I haven’t had a lot of time to write.

I have, however, had a lot of time to read. So, I grabbed up my tablet and looked through for something fun but different. The cover for this one caught my eye and it was on a promotion for $0.00 so I downloaded it.

It’s a crack!

This is a detective story that is playing with all of the tropes of a detective story while throwing in elements of fantasy. Apparently there is a movement towards fantasy-crime novels (something I didn’t know) and this was my first full dip into it.

The plot is, pretty much, a standard NCIS, CSI, etc plot. Someone’s been murdered and Jake Daggers (our narrator) has to solve the mystery. Unfortunately (at least according to his perspective at first) he’s just had his long time partner replaced with a newbie fresh from the academy. To make matters worse, the newbie is a woman and an elf. So he has to deal with the newbie and a murder. Lots of fun.

The plot is pretty much straight out of those style outlines, but that’s to make room for the characterization. Daggers is clearly the focus and it shows. He has a fantastic characterization and reading him is just like reading the old detective serials that used to be on the radio. I can hear Howard Duff’s Sam Spade as I read the novel and it’s fantastic. Daggers is not a fantastic role-model – some of his views and perceptions are out of that same era and it makes for him to be very much a throw back of the era. This is particularly true regarding his partner, Steele. And while his view of Steele changes over the course of the story and becomes somewhat better, that doesn’t happen for women in general. It’s a part of the character and the setting, so it makes for good characterization. Daggers has faults – lots of them (women just being one), but he is overall a likable character with a strong voice.

Steele, his partner, does a fair job of standing up to him and its pretty obvious that the rest of his team (there are four total agents on Daggers’ task force) don’t share his archaic views. She even calls him out a few times but, unfortunately, they don’t stick. The rest of the team just let it pass, so it Daggers does come off as a bit of a bully that the reader is expected to excuse. For the most part, I am a forgiving reader and I am anticipating that this will change over the course of the series. It’s an easy place to have character growth and development and I cannot imagine that the author won’t take advantage of it.

But back to the team. The team is interesting, though most of our experience is with Daggers and Steele (imagine that!). Steele gets some screen time and it becomes clear that she’s not going to take Daggers lying down – yet she sometimes lets things slide that make this inconsistent. It’s a significant flaw, and, again, I’m assuming the author is going to fix it eventually.

The answer to the puzzle becomes a bit obvious as the novel gets close to then end, but its still a good solution and fun to reach. The ‘getting there is half the fun’ trope really holds sway through the novel, and the novel is a lot of fun to read.

Despite the flaws of the story, this is a fun book to pick up and read if you enjoy shows like NCIS or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. For the price of free, you really have no excuse not to.

Characters: 4.5 / 5
Plot: 3.5 / 5
Action: 4 / 5
Value: 5 / 5
Writing: 4 / 5

Overall: 4.2 / 5

 

 

 

Book Review – Sworn to Ascension

Sworn

Click HERE to buy a copy of Sworn to Ascension on Amazon.com

Please note, I was given a copy to read on my Kindle for a Review

Book Six of Courtlight continues the drama and characters that we have grown to love.

So, I won’t bore you all with character details or bits and pieces on the major trinity. If you’ve been reading Courtlight, then you know the three major names and the secondary characters as well. So I won’t go through the introductions of everyone and assume you know them by now. If not…maybe you should check out a different review. I have reviewed them all so far, so feel free to check mine! 🙂

Anyway, this picks off almost immediatly after Sworn to Defiance. Ciardis Weathervane is struggling to balance out the bond she has formed with her two significant males – Imperial Heir Sebastian and Kith daemoni Thanar both of whom she is soulbonded to. One soulbond is rare enough but two of them is starting to strain Ciardis’ abilities. Given that Sebastian and Thanar both want her attentions and cannot manage to agree on much doesn’t really help matters. The struggle within the trinity is the major character conflict within the story and Edun does a fantastic job of using it to add stress to the characters and allow for growth as the three explore their limitations and understandings of each other.

Outside of the three is the mission to the fabled city of Kifar – a city lost to the empire in that no one goes there anymore. It doesn’t help matters that it is on the other side of a desert and that, within that desert are marauders that, you know, murder imperial citizens to keep them away from the city (or so it appears). Add in a rather irate dragon and the fact that the ‘Emperor’ wants Sebastian dead (or so it is speculated) and you have a setup for a good plot.

And Vana has a major appearance in the story. As I said in a previous review, I really like Vana and the growth she causes in Ciardis. Sworn to Ascension is no exception to that rule. Vana provides some excellent insight for Ciardis to consider AND moves forward several elements from previous books that were left unresolved. And, you know, she gets to be Vana and that’s just awesome.

It is clear that Edun has some very detailed ideas of where she wants her characters to be within the plot and the events. Furthermore, it is also clear that she is having a *lot* of fun playing with her characters and allowing them to bounce off each other in unique and interesting ways. The main trinity (Ciardis,Sebastian, and Thanar) are all given excellent opportunities to grow by the secondary character trinity of Terris, Christian, and Raisa. The interactions within the characters are more complex than in previous novels, but it doesn’t feel forced. Terah Edun seems to have a real talent for characterization and interaction and it is in full force for Sworn to Ascension. I often didn’t realize how far I had read in the book until after I turned off the app to go to bed – that’s how much fun I was having with the characters.

The only major flaw in the story is that it doesn’t feel like much is resolved. The conclusion is a bit weak in that it doesn’t feel like there was any major progress on the ‘outside’ conflict related to Kifar. We get several major details dropped (I won’t spoil them) and then a big ol’ smasher and the story ends. It practically screams ‘SEQUEL COMING’ – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it falls under the flaw category because it does feel more ‘hanging’ than any of the previous Courtlight novels.

Still, Sworn to Ascension is an excellent book with some amazing character writing. I was swept up in to it and lost track of time so well that I had to brew 3 cups of tea and only drank one of them hot – I’d forgotten the other two times. Grab this baby up.

Characters – 5.5/5
Plot: 5/5
Action: 3/5
Value: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Total Rating: 4.7/5

Book Review – Concealed Power

Concealed Power

Click HERE to buy Concealed Power on Amazon.com

K.J. Colt’s premier novel in the Healers of Meligna is a solid start with a few hiccups along the way.

You have to give the protagonist Adenine credit – if I were thirteen and had to deal with the series of tradgedies that she faces at the beginning of the novel, I think I would have lost my mind. Add on to it that I’m blind (or at least treated that way – more on this in a bit) and I have full justification for curling up in to a ball and crying. Adenine, however does not do so and, instead, manages to find ways to adapt as life throws curve ball after curve ball at her. I won’t spoil too many here as the curve balls make for the majority of the fun of the story, but make sure you’re thinking and being as suspicious as our protagonist.

The world setting is, unfortunately, somewhat generic. We have a town that doesn’t especially stand out in terms of fantasy literature. We’re in a nation recovering from a war and a death plague, but there isn’t a lot of detail given to those events to make them stand out from other such starters. If there is any weakness to this story, it is that the setting feels generic for a good 1/2 the book. We start to see some unique details begin to emerge, but the story finishes (I won’t say ends as there are a pair of sequels) just as we begin to get in to the uniqueness of the world.

Fortunately the characters make up for it. Adenine herself is a round and fully developed 13 year old and entirely believable in that role. Similarly, her broken mother, her Doctor, and her friend/Dr’s assistant, are all given opportunities to develop and be explained. Each of them has a unique personality and, more than that, are given opportunities to screw up/make significant mistakes that Adenine is able to pick up on that first alert the reader/Adenine that something funny is going on. These hints all cascade around you and when the puzzle finally breaks your brain goes AH! and wants to re-scan it to see if it was really set up that far back. You’re even more satisfied when it turns out that “Yes, yes it was.”

The characters are the selling point here, and the major tool that the author uses to engage the reader. There are some graphic scenes and some parts that are a bit scary (13+ please, at the minimum) but, on the whole, this is an enjoyable piece of fiction/literature that you should enjoy especially at the ‘free’ price it is currently listed.

NOTE: This story is also available in a pair of bundles linked at the end of this review.

Characters – 5/5
Plot: 4/5
Action: 3/5
Value: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Total Rating: 3.95/5

Click HERE to buy it as a part of the EPIC Bundle (14 Fantasy Novels for $.99)

Click HERE to buy it as a part of the Healers of Meligna Boxed Set ($5.99)

White Tower

Click HERE to buy The White Tower from Amazon.com!

I bought the paperback version of this novel from a local vendor (sorry Amazon. I love my little stores too) and finally had a chance to sit down and read it. On the whole, this is a good story with a lot of fun elements to it.

The story opens in a classic fantasy opening with Damion being tasked by his father with a quest that, at 11 years old, he doesn’t really understand. However, that there is terror and Dad involved, he commits to the promise of delivering ‘The Key’ to the White Tower.

Jump forward and Damion is now a young man working on a farm when his promise to his father comes back to his mind, setting him off on a quest to finish what it was he was supposed to have done more than a decade ago. Unfortunately, things don’t go especially smoothly as a number of complications arise. For one thing, the farmer’s daughter has a son who decides to follow Damion. For another, he has absolutely no idea where the White Tower is. Add on to that a rather sinister figure hunting for him and a little bit of young adult attraction and you have all of the elements of an excellent story popping up.

Damion is an interesting and fairly well developed character, especially for a premier novel. Some of the ‘first’ books that I read on my Kindle forget that ‘first’ is often ‘last’ and will forget to have an identifiable protagonist. Not so in The White Tower. Damion is a pretty well rounded character who reminds me, more than anything else, of Peter Parker – he is determined but flawed with a great deal of heart and concern for others. He’s not an excellent swordsman or a lone-wolf adventurer; he is an every man with the flaws that entails. And those flaws do actually matter – the cost him opportunities and respect in many cases when he meets someone with a greater skill set than his own. Damion recognizes that and works with what he has. His determination to ‘always keep his promises’ is noble, but also comes in to conflict with the story as well and creates for some good character dynamics.

The secondary cast, on the other hand, is a bit less rounded. The Princess and her bodyguard are memorable, but not as well developed as our protagonist. She reminds me far too much of Princess Leia in ‘A New Hope’ when Luke and Han show up and she doesn’t really move on from that state very well. There are some moments of character development, but they feel a bit forced to me. Our main antagonist (I won’t spoil the book with specific names here because it is somewhat important to the plot) is similarly evil. How do we know he is evil? Well, he uses mind control and crushes windpipes right at the get go and only gets worse from there. So, he is easily identifiable as evil and we know not to like him.

The world, on the other hand, is very well developed. It appears to be a sort of post apocalypse world. There are instances of the old world occasionally – broken down roads, some bits and pieces of electricity, even a minor villain named Holland – to hint at the fact that *something* happened in the past that resulted in the downfall of humanity that has left us in a sort of lurch. There are hints and some good revelations in the story (again, I try not to do plot spoilers in reviews) but that really only deals with the layout. The culture and societies all have unique elements and interact believably. There is a lot of the depth to this world and I look forward to reading the sequel.

Given the ending, I am assuming a sequel at least.

On the whole, this was a fun read. I strongly encourage readers to pick up a copy of ‘The White Tower’ for an excellent Holiday read. 🙂

Characters – 3.5/5
Plot: 4/5
Action: 4/5
Value: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Total Rating: 3.95/5

Book Review – The Third Kingdom (and some on Terry Goodkind)

So, I’m getting back on the horse.

The summer is over and I can finally sit down and write again! YAY! I’ll be watching for more challenges and really working on my book over at Scrib. I’m going to get this sucker done.

But that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here for a Book Review. I normally don’t do ‘full on’ New York Times style authors, but I wanted to do something on The Third Kingdom because I really liked the Sword of Truth books. I like them enough that my mother got me a signed copy of ‘Faith of the Fallen’ (my favorite in the series). There was a LOT of fun and adventure in the series. I may even have named my daughter after Kahlan.

Terry Goodkind finished the Sword of Truth series with Confessor. I really did enjoy the series and had fun reading it. There were some slow parts, but I made it through the Wheel of Time, so that’s not really a major issue.

However, after reading The Third Kingdom, it is clear that Goodkind is tired of writing Richard and Kahlan.

The series has always had a certain amount of violence and direct confrontation about the action and reaction of suffering, pain, and emotional trauma. I expect that in a Sword of Truth novel. But now? As I read what happens, it feels like Goodkind just isn’t happy with being stuck in this world anymore. Given his devotion to the ideas of freedom and choice, I can’t help but think that he is beginning to resent writing more and more about these two characters.

I’m not saying the novel isn’t good. It’s as well written as any of the other other Goodkind novels I have read (and much better than Pillars of Creation in my opinion). The villain is interesting, the introduced characters have talents and quirks that add some depth to the world of the Sword of Truth. I liked the plot – Spoiler alert: Not quite Zombies are present – and the action, like all of Goodkind’s books, comes at an excellent pace. The fighting is vividly described and fun to read as it whirls around.

But Goodkind comes accross as tired and resentful. Maybe I am reading too much in to it, but it feels that way every time he is forced to address Richard and Kahlan. Since Richard is the main protagonist, this happens fairly often. I like the series, but I don’t like the tone of this novel. I’ve got a copy of Severed Souls here to check out, but I’m going to go through some other works first to clear my head and see if I’m reading to much in to The Third Kingdom. I guess we’ll see.

Writing: 5/5
Characterization: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
Flow: 3.5/5
Value: 5/5
Total rating: 4.5 / 5

Book Review : Sworn to Conflict (Book #3 in the Courtlight Series)

Sworn to Conflict

Click HERE to buy this book
OR click here to buy the first 3 books in the series in a set!

Click HERE for my review of Book 1 in the series

Click HERE for my review of Book 2 in the series.

Notice: I was provided a copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

When last we left off, Ciardis Weathervane had fought with some pretty terrifying monsters, discovered she had a brother, felt betrayed by…well, a lot of people (it seems to be a consistent issue for her), and had drained her powers pretty well.

We pick up in a completely new area of the Empire – the Northern Border. This is the same border that is referred to in the first two books in the series as the place where the Empire’s soldiers have been fighting for decades. Ciardis isn’t sure how she got there and things go downhill from there. Physically, she pretty much collapses from materializing there sans appropriate clothing; mentally she’s out from being power drained, and emotionally she’s out of juice as well. The end of Sworn to Transfer (sorry, no spoilers) has left her in a very vulnerable state.

That vulnerability comes in to play several times throughout the story.

Essentially, she meets some of the Kith (monsters as other books would call them, essentially non-humans) that have been aiding the humans in their war in the North, and gets dragged in to the politics between these Kith (I’ll get to their commander, Inga, in a second), the General of the Imperial Army, Prince Sebastian, and, believe it or not, her Brother.

To say that the situation is murky and somewhat tense would be an understatement.

Anyhow, there is a great deal of conflict going on for Ciardis in this book. The primary conflict that drives it is her internal questioning of who to trust when stories don’t match up between the various factions. She also has to reconcile what she sees with what she has been taught in the Empire about the North and the Kith. Her brother and Prince Sebastian aren’t helping matters. Both of them strike at her when she is vulnerable (or at least when she perceives herself to be vulnerable) in different ways and the contrasts in how they treat Ciardis are extremely telling about their characters.

Now, in my last review I said that one of the flaws present was a lack of development on the part of the secondary cast. I am happy to say that this is not the case in Sworn to Conflict. Prince Sebastian is given several interesting times to shine that show different aspects of his personality and ability to handle conflict. I think that putting General Barnaren in as a contrast to Sebastian was excellent on Edun’s part – it really gives Sebastian some excellent contrast to show off against. He is also contrasted with Ciardis’ brother – a sort of Khan style antagonist – whom Ciardis is extremely curious about. This is not to say she immediately trusts him (that would be foolish on her part), but there is some definite development and reaching out there on the part of Ciardis which is contrasted well with her relationship with Prince Sebastian.

And then there is Inga. I am in love with Inga. She is a Frost Giant who leads her Kith in the War. She is also herself – regardless of the situation. Even in situations where ‘herself’ is going to cause more conflict than good. She brings out opportunities for Ciardis to question why she is making the personal choices that she is and, similarly, gives plenty of opportunities to show why those questions should be asked. And answered as Inga sees fit. Inga gets her own character arc here as well, which is interesting in its own right (and would probably have made a great ‘companion’ novel to boot).

The only “flaw” (and I use the term flaw here loosely”) to Sworn to Conflict is that there is a LOT of worldbuilding and history explored in its short pages. I had to, occasionally, take breaks to let my brain process everything that was being thrown at me. It wasn’t that it wasn’t interesting (it was); it just came at me so fast that I am truely hoping that I did not miss anything for next novel.

Sworn to Conflict is a fantastic continuation of an already excellent series. Pick it up – you won’t regret it. (If you haven’t already gotten the first two, they’re on sale as a group pack now!).

Writing: 5/5
Characterization: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Flow: 4.5/5
Value: 5/5
Total rating: 4.9 / 5

A Practice Solicit for My Book

A century has passed since the War of the Three Kingdoms was fought. A century since the arcane and the divine crossed blade leaving the world in the hands of the Gods. Born at the end of the conflict, Alista Traakard has been lead to ancient, arcane secrets by her Goddess. Standing against the changes to her church, Alista flees with only her sword and a tome.

Hard work and smart business are the trademarks of the Carlyle family and separate them from the other noble houses of Darien. As eldest son, Deacon Carlyle stands to inherit his father’s business empire. Princess Serena, however, appears to have other plans for the kingdom – plans which don’t include the Carlyles.

Vicor Traven is more like his elven bodyguard than any half-orc should be. His desire to see the world conflicts with the rigid structure and discipline his father, and people, demand. Trusting to fate, he and his bodyguard have escaped Vicor’s rigid life to experience more of the world than Traven’s father would ever allow.

When the three come together in one of Darien’s seaports, it appears to be coincidence, but is it? Or is someone seeking to alter the balance of the world as it stands and cause the pendulum to swing freely once more? “