Posted in book critique, writing

Why I like Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass

the aeronaut's windlassAs many of my friends know, I love Jim Butcher’s books. He’s one of my favorite authors. I have almost all of his Dresden series, and also his fantasy series. I think he’s talented, creative, and knowledgeable about his craft. Every time I read his books, I’m pretty much guaranteed a wild ride.

So when he came out with a new series, it was a no-brainer for me buy.

When I finally got around to reading it–the book has been out since September 2015–I was not disappointed. But I was surprised.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass

What surprised me the most wasn’t the genre, the length, or the plot. I wasn’t fazed by the elaborate world building. I fell in love with both his characters and the world. I can’t wait to read more. As I said, Jim Butcher’s a talented writer.

What surprised me was the faith displayed by the characters in the book. And not just general faith as in “Something Created Just For a Fantasy World”–but in God. After all faith and spirituality isn’t a strong theme in Butcher’s other books. Dresden certainly doesn’t believe in God, even though he’s seen plenty to make him question that conviction.

I can’t tell how how refreshing it be transported to a world where belief in God is the norm, where respecting people is just how you treat others, and honor isn’t a word you look up in the dictionary. For them, that’s just the way it is. Best of all, the book doesn’t preach and neither do the characters. And this is a fantasy world to boot.

I don’t know if I’d call this book what fantasy Christian writers would call, “speculative fiction,” but I think it’s close enough to fit the bill.

So, if you’re looking for a fresh new world full of flying airships, privateers, and talking cats, look no further then Jim Butcher’s webpage for your next summer read. You won’t regret it.

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Posted in book critique, writing

Critique of Curt Benjamin’s Seven Brothers Trilogy

curt benjaminSince I decided to write fantasy, I’ve made it my mission to read more fantasy books. This weekend, I snuggled down and read Curt Benjamin’s Seven Brothers trilogy. I have to say, it was pretty good. Different, but a great read.

The back blurb said that Mr. Benjamin took “legends, cultures, and traditions of the East to create an epic tale.” I could definitely feel the Eastern influence in the story in the cultures of the different people the main character, Llesho, meets. But instead of turning me off, as some stories influenced by the east have done, I was caught up in Mr. Benjamin’s coming-of-age quest.

During his quest to find his lost brothers, win his country back from invaders and free heaven from invading demons, Llesho crosses deserts, grasslands and a sea. He meets princes, emperors, “mortal gods,” and slaves. He begins his life a boy and a slave. By the end of the tale, he’s not only free, but much more than he ever thought he could be.

Normally, when I do one of these critiques, I include a link to the author’s website. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find one. I’ll just have to settle for pointing people to amazon. If you like coming of age stories and quests against oppressive invaders, I recommend these books. You’ll cry and throw tantrums (I did!), but the ending satisfies. Well done, Mr. Benjamin.

Posted in book critique, writing

Critique of Seanan McGuire’s books

seanan mcguireI have a confession to make. These past two weeks, I’ve been a very poor writer. And it’s all Seanan McGuire‘s fault.

Don’t get me wrong, Ms. McGuire is a great writer, but that’s the problem. Thanks to her October Daye novels, I haven’t gotten any work done. I haven’t done any writing and I’ve barely done any packing. I’ve done nothing except read–read, read, read, as fast as I can, followed by flying trips to the library for more of her books.

Considering I’m moving in a week, that’s a problem.

No, what’s more of a problem is the fact that the library doesn’t have the latest two October Daye novels. Once I finish reading Chimes at Midnight (sometime later this afternoon), I’m going to be out of books. Wah!

I’m seriously thinking about ordering the entire series as an early Christmas gift to myself, but there’s the move to consider. Really, how responsible would it be to buy books while I’m in the middle of moving? What if they get lost in the mail? Besides, I don’t have anywhere to put them. Although, that’s never stopped me before . . . .

Posted in book critique, writing

A critique for Kage Baker’s fantasy novels

 This week I read . . . .

kage bakerEveryone, meet Kage Baker.  Kage Baker died in 2010, but before she died, she wrote several sci-fi and fantasy novels. Her fantasy novels include The Anvil of the World, The House of the Stage, and The Bird of the River. These three novels all take place in the same colorful world. I’m sad Mrs. Baker didn’t have a chance to write more novels in this world. Her world has so much potential for more stories. I enjoyed her pacing, the plots, and the bits of humor she sneaks in every now and then. If her fantasy novels read this well, then perhaps I’ll consider her sci-fi books as well.

Posted in book critique, writing

My new favorite author this week: Catherine Asaro

catherine asaroThis week, I went to the local library and found a new favorite author.

Her name is Catherine Asaro, and she’s written multiple sci-fi and fantasy books. I have just finished reading her Lost Continent series, and I have to say, I’m sorry to see them go. She created a fabulous, wonderful story world for her characters to play around in. Her books kept me up all night because I had to know what happened next. The romance portions of the stories were clean and some of the best I’ve read in a while.

If I had my way, I’d do nothing but read them all day. Alas, someone has to clean the house. Unfortunately.

Posted in book critique, writing

A Critique of Neal Asher’s Dark Intelligence

Every since I finished writing my story, I have a little bit more time to read. Recently, I read Neal Asher’s book Dark IntelligenceIt’s the first science fiction book that I’ve read in a while, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

One of the thing’s I liked best about this book is Asher’s use of language and tone. For a story taking place light years away and centuries in the future, readers are not overwhelmed with fancy language, info dumps, or haughty tones. When I read it, I immediately could tell that the main character was just another guy. Simple, direct, and easy to comprehend. Only later do readers really understand how smart he is.

Another thing I found intriguing were the AI’s. In this story, science and society has progressed to the point where most people don’t worship God–they worship computers. The AIs in this world are more than just computers–they are gods ruling over men. They are all knowing and frighteningly powerful. But what happens when computers get too smart and too powerful? That’s only one of the themes Neal Asher plays with.

Neal Asher also has an interesting interpretation of reincarnation. In this world, death and the afterlife are no longer out of people’s control. Everyone’s memories and identities are recorded on computer chips, which can then be put into clones upon a person’s death. If you die, you don’t have to stay dead. If you don’t want to be reincarnated, your memories get downloaded into a Soul Bank. There, you live on in virtual realities of your own choice and design.

While this story is very well written and kept me wanting to read more. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. The notions of computers being this powerful and smart, or of people having so much control over the human body that they can defy and control death so utterly bothers me. If you have problems with this, or with depraved societies from the far future doing whatever they want with seemingly no consequence–then maybe this book isn’t for you.

Of course, you can’t do anything you want without consequences, nor are you ever truly in complete control. Many of the characters find this out the hard way, and that is also what this story is about.

This book is only the first in a series. If I happen to see other Neal Asher books in the library, I’ll definitely pick them up and check them out.