Archive | February 2013

Very Inspiring Blog Awards

A couple weeks ago I was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blog Award by Sophie E. Tallis at Sophie E. Tallis (Thank you very much!). This is like the third or fourth time I’ve been nominated for this award. I haven’t gotten around to posting this notice since then, so I’ll do it today. I was going to go the full distance and nominate fifteen other bloggers (as the rules require), but that is just way too many. I’ve already nominated all the bloggers I follow in the past, so I tried to pick some new ones, but I only came up with six. Anyway, here goes:

Inspiring

The Rules of the Award are as follows:

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. State 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 bloggers for this award and link to them.
  5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

First, seven things about myself:

1. I own a cat named Confucius.

2. I have a black belt in the martial arts (though, I am seriously out of shape).

3. My favorite color used to be green (it is now black).

4. My favorite number (as a kid) used to be 2100 (and that’s pronounced twenty-one hundred, not two thousand one hundred).

5. My favorite monster as a kid was Godzilla.

6. At one point in my life, I wanted to be a Ninja (didn’t think too hard about the assassination bit).

7. I was a philosophy/math major in college.

15 blogs is way too many; as I said, but I’m only going to nominate six. So, in no particular order I give you:

1. http://margueritemorris.wordpress.com/ A vampire blog. Gotta love it.

2. http://dlsummers.wordpress.com/ A fantasy blog.

3. http://jezstrider.wordpress.com/ A freelance writer.

4. http://ajmotia.wordpress.com/ A blog with a few dragons in it.

5. http://thedarkglobe.wordpress.com/legends-undying-the-beginning/ A multi-artist site dedicated to showcasing the work of various artists.

6. http://branwenreads.wordpress.com/ A new book review site.

Movie Review: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

I’m sure most of us have been exposed to the story of Hansel and Gretel at some point in our lives: the movie “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” builds on the original fairy tale by following the adventures of the brother and sister as adults. They have grown into, not surprisingly, witch hunters, bent on revenge for the wrongs done to them in that old house made of candy (yes, the candy house is in the movie). They have grown into the foremost experts on hunting down and killing witches. In the movie, Jeremy Renner plays Hansel; Gemma Arterton plays Gretel, and Famke Janssen plays the evil Grand Witch, Muriel. Don’t worry. There’s also a good witch, Mina, played by Pihla Viitala.

 

The plot is pretty basic. A witch epidemic is plaguing a certain town in the woods. A large number of children (twelve to be exact) have disappeared, supposedly because they were abducted by witches. Hansel and Gretel must track the children down and rescue them before the Blood Moon—a special moon that occurs when the moon is eclipsed turning it red; at such a time, the witches’ powers are at their highest, and they have a predilection to perform strange, barbaric rites and rituals, including—you guessed it—the slaughter of innocent children. It’s up to Hansel and Gretel with the aid of Mina, their new sidekick, Ben, and even a large, very powerful troll named Edward, to stop them.

 

Highs and lows? There really weren’t many highs. It was an okay action/fantasy movie with a few clever/cheesy one-liners here and there. I will give them credit for making the movie “R” instead of “PG-13.” Make the cut-off decisive so that no one foolishly thinks they should bring along young children to this “enchanting retelling of a classic.” Thank you. Not like “Red Riding Hood” from a few years back. As for lows, nothing really sticks out by itself, but the whole movie consisted largely of fist-fighting, gun-shooting, and spell-blasting—lots of violence. There was one gratuitous nude scene and some swearing as well. Hence, the R rating. The plot was okay. I walked away wishing they had focused more on the mystery surrounding the children—it’s not that they didn’t explain it, they did; I just felt it had more potential than what they delivered to us. It had the chance to be a good mystery movie too, but they went the way of action-flick. Which is okay, I guess.

 

Anyway, I’ll give the movie three stars out of five.

Book Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

The sixth book in “The Chronicles of Narnia” series is entitled “The Silver Chair.” In this book, the original heroes of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” have all disappeared from the Narnia-scene. The mantle has been passed to Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole. Eustace is a return visitor from book five; Jill is a young girl he befriends on Earth at Experiment House (I gather that Experiment House was an experimental school of Lewis’ time that tried to structure a school around strictly scientific principles; I also gather Lewis did not think much of it). On Earth, they are fleeing from some bullies when they escape into Narnia. They find themselves on top of an enormous cliff (the cliff is actually in Aslan’s Country, which, although on the same world, is not technically Narnia). They have some difficulties and Eustace falls off the cliff; he is rescued just in time by Aslan who appears and blows Eustace on the currents of his breath to Narnia. Then Aslan tells Jill that he is sending them on a quest to rescue Prince Rilian, King Caspian’s son, and that she must learn and memorize four signs they will encounter on their quest. She does so, then Aslan sends her on the currents of his breath across the ocean into Narnia.

 

Once in Narnia, the two children flub the first sign and let King Caspian set off on his journey without ever speaking to him. They learn that Prince Rilian disappeared ten years ago searching for the great green serpent that bit and killed his mother. No one knows what became of him. Shortly thereafter, with the blessings of an Owl Parliament, the children set off on their journey to find the prince. They encounter a marsh-wiggle—which is kind of a long, thin, man with a few frog-like features (webbing on the feet, etc…)—named Puddleglum who joins them on their mission. After several adventures involving giants, gnomes, and other unusual creatures, they find Prince Rilian being held under the enchantment of a witch. They manage to break the enchantment and then confront the witch.

 

And here’s where I have a difficulty with the story. Perhaps I’ve played too many D&D games and I just know you don’t let the spell-caster cast a spell on your party! But, while Eustace, Jill, Puddleglum, and Prince Rilian look on, the witch takes some powder, throws it into the fireplace, and then begins to play a musical instrument (I’m not sure which one, it may have been a lyre), and they do nothing! I mean, oh wow, what is this evil witch who uses MAGIC doing!? She threw some sweet smelling powder into the fire. Hmm, now she’s picking up a musical instrument.  Hmmm. Should we try to stop her? Nah. Anyway, I’ll let you read the story to figure out what happens next.

 

Overall, I found book six in “The Chronicles of Narnia” to be at about the same level as the other books in the series: most likely a good read for young children, but lacking a little too much in substance for adults. Again, I’ll give it four stars out of five for children, and two and a half, or maybe three for adults.

 

This post originally appeared on Shelfari on 12/30/12.

Fantasy Literature: Many Characters, One Thread

As most (or all) of you know, I recently wrote and published a book entitled “Drasmyr.” It is a dark fantasy novel featuring a vampire named Lucian val Drasmyr. I have previously written about the difficulties that arise when you write novels featuring multiple major characters. However, upon reflection, I think I have had something of a revelation. I think I discovered that you can write about more characters, if you have fewer story-lines. To be honest, I wasn’t aware of this when I wrote the novel, but upon looking back at it, it appears to be true.

 

In my novel Drasmyr, there is really just one vaguely defined main story-line: namely the conflict between Lucian val Drasmyr and the wizards guild. There are a couple other lesser threads in the background (the rise of Korina, to name just one, and the fall of Clarissa, to name another), but each of those fits into the main thread in some fashion. Everything in the story relates to the main thread. And yet, I tell the story from a number of different perspectives. Sometimes, the perspectives are limited to just one or two sections, but throughout the book I bring you in to a number of different characters’ minds. Just to name a few: Lucian (of course), Clarissa, Korina, Coragan, Galladrin, Borak, Regecon, Ambrisia, Toreg, and Mathagarr. That’s ten different perspectives throughout a book that is only 360 pages (according to the kindle stats—450 if you go by the hardcopy in my binder) long. It shouldn’t work (And to be honest, there were a couple complaints, but most of them said that once you adapted, everything clicked into place). But I think it does work because there is only one real story line. It’s like ten different windows looking into the same room. Each has its own unique perspective, but the contents are largely the same and, therefore, do not entail the amount of confusion so many different perspectives would normally engender. There is a cohesive thrust to the story that you can follow regardless of who’s mind you are currently in.

 

Anyway, this brings me to my point: namely, a story needs focus. It needs direction. To that end, there is a balance between story threads and characters that a writer must strive for. I think many “literary” novels have a single main character and a single main thread; this gives you an extremely focused and compelling read. A lot of more modern fiction has a handful of characters, each one with its own story thread. It all makes sense, because the reader only has to juggle a few characters/threads at a time, and this gives you a less-focused, but more complex, and I think equally compelling read. Drasmyr, however, is different from both these patterns. I don’t know if anyone else has written anything with a similar pattern (like I said it was kind of a subconscious thing), but I think it is kind of intriguing to note that. It’s a unique mix of focus and complexity.

 

Anyway, those are my thoughts today.

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