Posted in writing

The Crowthistle Chronicles–a critique

iron-tree-cvrOn and off for the past two weeks, I’ve been reading on Cecilia Dart-Thorton’s books. I’ve only read books one and two of her Crowthistle Chronicles, and if the library has books three and four, I hope to finish out the series soon.

The Crowthistle Chronicles follows the Jovanson family, starting with Jarred Jovanson. Jarred leaves his desert homeland in search for adventure, and falls in love with a girl from the marsh. His heritage, however, continues to haunt him, as he is the grandson of a powerful and evil sorcerer, and the world will not leave him alone. Nor will it leave his daughter, or his granddaughter, or any of his other family, alone.

Dart-Thorton is a talented writer, who kept me turning pages well after my bedtime, and who made me cry at the end. I also marveled at all the research she had to have done, because her world is full of faeries, trolls, witches, and every other folk-tale creature that goes bump in the night. These creatures are many and varied, and she weaves them into her story seamlessly, creating a full-bodied universe I would love to keep exploring.

I really hope the library has the other two books, because I want to know how Asratheil, Jarred’s granddaughter, breaks the family curse. If not, well, I guess I’ll have to suffer. Or order the books.

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.

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

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.