You’ve just taken your first step…

into a larger world. Iconic words for a humble beginning. This first post marks my official foray into sharing my work as a fantasy author with the world. I hope you enjoy it.

Iconic words for a humble beginning. This first post marks my official foray into sharing my work as a fantasy author with the world. I hope you enjoy it.

My Beginning

Since I reading R.A. Salvatore’s Homeland the week it was released I knew I wanted to write fantasy. My two loves in literature, fantasy, and urban fantasy seem at odds in the world of stiff genres. In my mind, they are essentially the same. One focuses on buildings amazing worlds, and the other on taking characters on adventures in a familiar world that has much to show that has never been seen. The characters are the heart of any story, especially in fantasy. Whether fighting a dragon or sailing the high seas in search of pirates, the way a character is changed is the heart of a good story.

fantasy dungeon
Fantasy dungeon entrance.

This site is a place to display my work, but also an outlet for me to discuss a few of my favorite things. I will review and share opinions about books I read here, and I also want to share some resources that other writers may find useful. Articles and podcasts that I think any author would find indispensable will fill this blog.

As an aspiring fantasy author my real-world heroes are R.A. Salvatore, Brandon Sanderson, and Jim Butcher. You may see shadows of their work in my own writing, but I hope to present a voice that also does some things differently. The beauty of fantasy writing is seeing the heart of the writer unfold beneath of veneer of magic and mystery.

Thank you for taking the time to read this late-night inaugural post. If you have questions or just want to say “Hi”, visit the About page to contact me. You can follow me on Facebook or Twitter by clicking here or hitting the little icons floating aroudn the site.

-Andrew

Review – Homeland by R.A. Salvatore

Some important aspects of this story are revealed herein.

I was first introduced to Dungeons and Dragons in the Summer of 1989 and I was immediately hooked. By the time winter break rolled around, I had saved up a little cash and was dying for something to read. My best friend and our DM recommended I read Darkwalker on Moonshae by Douglas Niles. He was a “don’t crease my spines!” kind of guy, and wouldn’t loan me his copy of the book. I wasn’t old enough to drive yet so I had to wait for our next family shopping trip to visit the nearest bookstore. That trip came in early January 1990, right before school started back. I was pumped as I raced down the sidewalk to a little Hallmark store. The Dungeons and Dragons novels were right up front and I headed straight for them. No dice. I was crushed.

The book I wanted was out of stock. I did not want to go home empty handed, so I browsed the selection. There were some Dragonlance titles, but I had already read all of them. Nothing looked that great.

The moment of truth

Finally, I spotted an interesting book with a cover that looked different from every other D&D book I had read. I saw an elf wielding a scimitar on the books’ cover! I had seen my friend’s copy of The Crystal Shard, another Salvatore great, sitting on his pristine shelf, but I wasn’t allowed to touch that one either. Intrigued, I picked it up and read the jacket. It was very interesting.

I bought the book and left the bookstore excited. On the twenty minute ride, I started reading. Seven hours later I painfully rose from the chair where I had been sitting since I got home having stayed up all night reading. That book blew me away. The story that Bob Salvatore unfurled amidst the exotic backdrop of a city full of evil elves was beyond anything I had imagined.

Character Development

Salvatore developed each of the characters so well. The main characters mentor is so heroic and brave that he still ranks as one of my favorite characters in any book. The ruthless way of life that typifies the dark elves was very well portrayed. Salvatore explained the reason for the Drow Elves cruelty so well that I pitied them.

Combat

This is Salvatore’s wheelhouse. His understanding of the mechanics of martial arts and his own study of them balance his incredible fight descriptions seem very realistic. The detail and intense action floored me.

The end

Homeland doesn’t end with a typical happy ending. Drizzt’s victory came at a high price. Salvatore addresses several problems in Homeland common to our modern life. Matron Malice could have had the two most formidable fighters in all the city within her house If she wasn’t so hungry for power. Because she was so greedy, she lost them both.

The Dark Elf Trilogy was written after the Icewind Dale Trilogy as a prequel and backstory for Drizzt. Homeland did a wonderful job establishing Drizzt as the hero millions of people loved so dearly.

Peace Talks by Jim Butcher

Peace Talks: Return of the Dresden

Peace Talks!

Sixteen books in and I still love this series. The Dresden Files have been a lot of fun. Also fun is watching Jim Butcher grow as an author and find his voice with this character. There has been a seven-year hiatus between Skin Game and the much anticipate Peace Talks release, set for this summer. A lot of that was because of personal issues Jim has been enduring. I have to wonder if another big part of it isn’t that Mr. Butcher is tired of the character.

Why so long a break?

I heard Gene Simmons asked one time how much he hated “Rock n’ Roll All Nite“. To my surprise, he said he loved

Peace Talks by Jim Butcher

Peace Talks

that song. He went on to say that the song had made his band millions and millions of dollars and he would play it every night until he died. As long as fans still wanted to hear it, he would play it. Amazing. I hope that I can say the same in twenty, thirty, or forty years. Some of my characters are already on my last nerve.

Regardless of the reasons, I am thrilled about Peace Talks. For those uninitiated, the series started with Storm Front and centers around Harry Dresden. Harry is a real wizard living, and working, in modern-day Chicago. He solves crimes and basically helps people. He is a nice guy with cool powers. Despite very strong world-building, Butcher gives Harry a cast of supporting characters that is amazing!

Characters, people

From Karin Murphy, a spunky little Chicago PD cop who is hip to the supernatural, to Michael Carpenter, a literal carpenter and anointed servant of the Almighty Himself, the depth and variety of characters make the series so much fun.

If you haven’t read the Dresden Files I suggest hitting up your local library pronto to catch up before the summer release of Peace Talks. If you are a fan but are wavering on whether to get back on the T-Rex (inside DF joke), I strongly encourage you to pick up one of the books and re-read it. Summer Knight is the one that I think really gets the series moving.

I fully into to do a Bad Book Review for some of Jim Butcher’s stuff in both The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera.

Bad Book Review: The Warded Man

The Warded Man

by Peter V. Brett

The Painted Man

Book 1 of the Demon Cycle Series

The Warded Man came to my awareness at the worst possible time. Some friends of mine had a lively discussion about this wonderful series they had read. The concept sounded interesting and I nonchalantly put the book in my Overdrive queue. It popped only a few days later and I reluctantly started reading.

I have read a lot of books and I expect the first offering of a new author to have some problems, but Peter V. Brett went right to work. His style of writing about this Warded Man was patient, thorough, and very steady. I didn’t mind that I didn’t know why the book was titled like it was until the last half.

The Warded Man offered plenty of action that fit the well-developed characters daily lives. It all made sense that they would be in the situations they were in. The way Brett lured you into a character’s story before slipping to a new character was smooth and engrossing. The author presented a palette of rich characters and churned away until the heroes floated to the top.

Although The Demon Cycle wasn’t really on my radar, Peter V. Brett was on my long list of new authors. That list contains the names of several authors I am avoiding for fear of finding another amazing author. (I’m looking at you Brent Weeks!)

It’s hard to say much about The Warded Man without giving away important goodies. As I have moved on to the next books in the series I see how well Brett setup the next stories. Suffice to say that this is a must-read for any fan of any genre of fiction, especially fantasy. Go grab a copy! And be sure to keep checking for more Bad Book Reviews.

The Greatest Knight

The Greatest Knight

The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power Behind Five English Thrones

My bad book review this week is about a book that sounds like a pretty normal Fantasy Novel. However, this is a non-fiction book, and is fascinating. The book, written by Thomas Asbridge, is about William Marshal. Marshal, the First Earl of Pembroke, was born during a time of civil war in England and lived most of his life negotiating one type of conflict or another.

The Greatest Knight

The Greatest Knight

I picked this book because much of the idea of the medieval knight that many of our stories are based on originated with Marshal. He was a jouster during the ear when the sport really became popular. He was very good at it.  Marshal was was the younger son of a minor noble and had no land to inherit, yet he would prove to be one of the most important political figures in English history, serving under five different monarchs. That is a stunning number, considering the short life of people in those times and how frequently power changed hands.  Could you imagine someone people Secretary of State for five different presidents?

Thomas Asbridge, The Greatest Knight Author

Thomas Asbridge does a wonderful job taking a historical topic and bringing it to life. He was fortunate to have access to some very good source material, and presented it very well. Marshal’s life looked like a tale from a George R. R. Martin tale (minus the rape and incest). Asbridge didn’t did a lot of research beyond the immediate material to bring us The Greatest Knight. I learned an incredible amount about the time period, as well as many of the key characters central to that age.

The story was told in such great detail that I was inspired to read other material about this period. Apart from our iconic view of the English Knight, The Greatest Knight played a role in the forming of the document that many Western nations would base their governments upon, the Magna Carta.

Without revealing too many spoilers, I encourage you to check out this rags-to-riches heroes tale, that is actually a real life account of the life of a remarkable man.

Please check out some of my other Bad Book Reviews.