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October Daye series by Seanan McGuire - review and spoilers I finally got around to reading Seanan McGuire's October Daye series and I have to say it was only okay maybe a bit less for me. 

There are currently 8 novels in the series so far but it is probably not worth reading that many of them not unless you really really really like Faeries. 

Rosemary and Rue (book 1)

The first book starts off well - our intrepid knight/investigator is following a pair of kidnappers - sounds good so far doesn't it.  We add in the fact that October (AKA as Toby) is also a half-fae but she keeps her identity secret from her fiance and from the world.  Yes, it is an urban fantasy but here in this world magic and faeries are hidden from the general public such that no one knows that they exist - so you can imagine that part of the story if it takes part in the human world well either have a way to hide things from the general population - of course humans being human no one would believe faeries actually existed and so would explain it as a hoax any way. 

But back to the story, Toby falls into a trap of sorts (it happens to the best of us) and gets transformed into a fish for 14 years (the book starts in 1995) and so we time jump 14 years into the future.  Now it gets a bit muddy for me.  Long winded self reflection and explanations about faeries really doesn't add to the story or characterization.  14 years has passed and there is no reunion between her former fiance and daughter - who call her a deadbeat - rather than feel excited that she is not dead - and all of this is glossed over in a few sentence - McGuire doesn't even show any of the action between daughter+fiance and Toby. 

A lot is made of the faeries and what they are like - while interesting to some degree almost takes away from the story and plot.  So Toby who after 14 years as fish decides to punish herself by staying away from her liege lord Sylvester (who by the way - it was his wife and daughter that were kidnapped and who Toby was searching for) and works as cashier at a late night grocery store.  No anger at being turned into a fish for 14 years no wanting revenge for this, no real explanation to what happened to the wife and daughter of Sylvester who were later found after 12 years -- nothing for us - although it leaves us (the readers) wondering huh - whats happening.  We never get to be her daughter (Gilly) or her fiance. 

Toby of course gets involved in a case - a murder case of an important faery and while she doesn't want to get involved a magical curse forces her to seek out the murderer and solve the case - after all she is a former knight and detective.  So our intrepid heroine jumps into the case if only to save herself.  Through out the story Toby is horribly outclassed in terms of power - every faerie we encounter is more powerful than she is - the only thing she has going for her is that she is the daughter of a blood-faerie (who is quite powerful) - so she can taste the last minutes of how someone died - perfect for a detective. 

While Toby seeks information we are treated to some of her past and her interactions with other faeries - including old lovers and former clients (or grateful faeries that she helped in the past) that assist her in small ways.  The biggest difficulty with the novel is that it tries to be a detective novel but sadly falls short of this - the mystery and suspense for me at least is rather poorly done - there is no real detective work on the part of Toby - she just jumps from one thing to another thing without any leads and without any contemplative thought that a detective would have.  Add to this she complains about the faeries and the fact that they don't give straight answers - but she has worked for faeries her entire life so she should be used to riddles, games and metaphors that have deeper meaning - BUT sadly she just complains. 

Eventually she solves the case - the villains die as does a few innocents along the way - Toby feels sad - but she lives since she solved the case.  Toby is likeable overall but she is so ineffectual at times that it is a wonder she is able to solve anything.  She has guts and she is stubborn but really has no brains or brawn - when she can't figure things out she just wanders in circle and the plot stalls as she tries to figure things out - which she can't do. 

Book 2: A local Habitation

Toby is back being a knight/detective for the faerie community and Sylvester asks her to check on his niece - who is a countess ( Sylvester can't go because of border disputes with another faerie ruler and if he goes it might cause war between the faerie states - so he sends Toby to see what is happening).  An easy diplomatic mission of sorts - which Toby tells us she can't do well - as she likes to punch first - but really she is not much of a fighter - although brave.  We are thrown into a mysterious faerie county that is having troubles - for example January (the niece -- did McGuire run out of names - another person named after a month???) - can't reach her uncle through the phone lines - but can't leave her county to talk to him because it will leave it unprotected - but she doesn't send someone either - weird! Toby talks to Sylvester on the phone while in the area (outside of county that January rules) but while in it she also can't connect to Sylvester although oddly she is able to phone other people - this should clue her in - but sadly it doesn't.  Murders follow as Toby and Quentin (her side kick that Sylvester stuck her with to train him) - try to figure out what is happening - but Toby barely being  a detective has no way to figure it out - her powers are not working on the blood - which usually is able to reveal how they died - but sadly it doesn't so Toby has no way to figure it out differently - no forensic skill what so ever - for a detective she is really quite a lame duck.  We learn a little bit more about the faeries - which is interesting - but the long almost pointless way that Toby attempts to solve the case is annoying. 

Eventually she does solve the case but not with out a few more deaths - too much pointless faerie  politics that doesn't make any sense - for example - if she suspected a hostile faerie lord of wanting the land she could have investigated him - but faerie politics doesn't allow this - so no detective work to see if this is true or not. 

McGuire tries to add mystery and suspense to urban fantasy and for me it falls quite short.  Toby is barely a detective - with almost no detective skills - although a knight - she doesn't fight like one - and she is barely insightful enough to put the clues together.  While it is good to read a urban fantasy that is not about an apocalypse or uber characters - at the very least it needs a main character that is at the least a lot brighter than Toby is - yes she is brave or fearless - but with neither the brains or brawn or magic to back it up - it is amazing that she survives any encounter. 

Overall it really needs a good edit - a lot of miscellaneous information about faeries and more suspense building is needed. 

6/10 stars

June 12, 2015, 05:37:32 PM
Re: I request your wisdom kind sir/lady - old-new books to read You might try Guy Gavriel Kay's novel - Fionavar Tapestry (trilogy) or anything from him. 

Steven Erikson's Malazan series - epic

If you haven't read Raymond E Feist - try his first series the Rift War Saga or the Empire series (with Janny Wurts)

Katherine Kerr's Deverry series (first 4 books)

Trudi Canavan's Age of Five Gods

July 13, 2015, 06:07:46 PM
Re: The best coming of age fantasy heroic books You might consider Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar world - starting with "Queen's Own" a trilogy and her latest series in the Valdemar world  "Collegium Chronicles" (5 books in this series) and perhaps "Last Herald mage" trilogy.  Each of the series follows a young teen growing up in the Valdemar world. 

If you don't mind  YA you might consider Tamora Pierce's novels/series.  All of her books are fantasy and have young protagonist growing up during the course of their adventures.  Some examples: Song of the Lioness (4 books), Immortal series, and Circle of Magic series. 

And there is David Eddings' Belgarid series - which has a young boy growing up as well. 

October 07, 2015, 10:53:35 PM
Re: Reasons you'd not let your child hang out in a Grimdark Novel?
From what I have read of grim dark fantasy - one obvious reason not to let children read this type of fantasy is that it offers only a negative view of things.  Characters succeed by being ruthless, cruel and unforgiving - and who wants to reinforce these type of negative traits in children who are open to what they read.  In most cases heroism and idealism is crushed under the heel of tyranny, madness and those ruthless enough to not have any heroism or idealism in them - the weak and idealistic fall while those that are depraved and ruthless survive and prosper - not lessons that you want kids to learn.

That’s an interesting view on Grimdark. I don't agree with you about it or your take on fairy tales but hey if we all thought the same...

Grimdark at its best is bringing some of the stifled wildness back into the literary world. Actually most of it is not as grim or dark as the Viking sagas or the Kalevala if you want grim the Finns really bring it. Randomness and meaningless are good watchwords for it Sh*t most definitely Happens and you are not guaranteed a happy or moral ending. Thankfully.
I don't think Grimdark is all negative by any means and well written characters in the genre can be kind and compassionate, if they weren't the would be nowhere near as believable. Logan nine fingers is a lovely chap you just wouldn't want to be round his alter ego.

Fairy tales pre 1850's were not about lulling children to sleep more about scaring them into obedience while teaching them the world was a bad and dangerous place in a gentler way than explaining the harsh realities of what lay ahead for them in life. The Victorians took to the idea that scaring children to death was a bad idea and we have cosseted the little darlings to the point where they are now as neurotic and risk adverse as their parents. Getting scared in a controlled environment is a good thing it reminds you that you are alive without the risks of being in a real situation. The same reason horror movies sell is what makes gory and grizzly fairy tales appealing to kids.

Sure I can agree with you that grim dark brings some freshness to the fantasy genre and sure some characters are great characters (e.g. Glokta a great character) - but would you allow children to read grim dark? The blood, the graphic violence, the tortures etc plus the less than heroic ending where grimness wins out - sure it adds a level of realism - because who wants happily ever after all the time - but would you let kids read these types of novels?

As for fairy tales, original fairy tales are dark and they were meant to scare children -- not the sanitized version of the Victorian era or the Disney fluff.  For example, Cinderella's step sisters cutting off their toes to fit in the glass slipper - these tales are meant to scare children but they also have a moral/ethical message behind it - they are not just meant as horror stories for kids they are meant as lessons be it about morals/ethics or about growing up and the dangers involved in them.  Children learn from these lessons so that they don't do them - horror without a moral/ethical message is just a scary story that thrills but doesn't teach. 

January 25, 2016, 04:42:22 PM
Re: How realistic do you want your fantasy? What do you mean by realism in fantasy? Do you mean that the laws of physics and thermodynamics etc should all work the same? For example, can't cast a lightning spell - since you'd really just electrocute yourself and lets not say anything about making a fireball, summoning demons/gods, teleporting or for that matter flying. 

There is already a degree of realism in fantasy - the motives behind characters - are all relatable otherwise we (the readers) wouldn't be able to really enjoy and empathize with the characters.  Or do you want realism in terms like the bad guys winning and interesting characters losing or even dying - as we see in games of thrones -  good writing does this already - so there is already a degree of realism.  Or do you mean a bit darker realism like in grim fantasy - where heroism is not that heroic? Or do you mean realism as in the writer and characters showing the struggles of a quest - like dealing with weather and finding food?

For me, there should be a balance of realism - magic cannot solve everything although like technology it should be useful to some extent (otherwise whats the point in making a magical world) - there should be struggles and hardship - pain and disasters and some hope all mixed in - in order to make the story that much more interesting and engaging. 

As for your second question - it depends on context - I really don't need paragraph long explanations "Blah blah blah" about why this creature is this way or why that works or doesn't work -- unless the information is critical to the story most long winded explanations (for example - there was one series that went on and on about faeries and why and how they acted) is for me at least not needed. 

February 24, 2016, 11:53:20 PM
Re: How realistic do you want your fantasy?
Yes I meant fireball and lightning spells originally but I'm also interested in the other thoughts you brought up and what the other posters have brought up as well, thank you for explaining it better then me.

If you reading about a wizard in a fantasy setting do we really need to know how he cast fireballs shouldn't you just go with the flow as it isn't historical fiction it's fantasy or do we need the magic explained.we don't seem to question dragons flying, immortals,magic swords from ancient times,talking animals the reader just believes mostly.

As a reader do I need to know the mechanics behind lets say a fireball.  No, not really - I am more concerned with the difficulty of learning the spell and the amount of studying one has to do in order to become a wizard.  If the story does not need an explanation then writing about the physics/metaphysics behind it might put a lot of readers to sleep.  That is not to say some understanding is not helpful or interesting as in the case of the Mistborn world where Sanderson explains his magical system or for that matter in Hogwarts with Harry Potter - what was more interesting the hows of magic or the struggle of the students attempting to control flying the first time -- really the physics of a flying broom is nuts.

I think that for readers and authors as long as magic/metaphysics are governed in some way that makes sense then readers will except it.  For example, why isn't everyone a wizard - since you can do so much - like fly and teleport - build castles - and get rich and powerful -- as long as the author explains it in such a way that it makes sense as to why everyone is not a wizard/warrior/thief or cleric (or whatever class character) then understanding the metaphysics behind why a fireball really should not work is less important then the apprentice wizard struggling to figure out how to combine "bat guano" with other ingredients to make a fireball. 

Compare it to science fiction for a moment - do we need to really know how space ships travel faster than light or have unlimited energy (as force shields are really an impossibility without limitless energy).  Explanations are easily given through super science without readers really asking most of the time - can anti-matter really exist  - although science fiction does add a bit more of the techno-babble to its story when it explains things - really "dilithium cyrtals" to power the Enterprise.  How much realism is needed - sometimes less is better - there was one book that explained how Jedi's got their powers - and it was horribly done - sometimes less is better as it took away from the uniqueness and mysticism of the Jedi.  Although there was one chapter I recall that explained the building of lightsaber - that was somewhat interesting and explained the rarity of the crystals used to build it - explaining why lightsabers weren't used by the common soldier - as its really an incredible weapon even if you are only using it to cut down doors - much more effective than a blaster. 

I think saying magic exist in this world is usually enough to explain why dragons fly (magic as part of nature ie natural to the world; or a byproduct of a magical god) is enough for readers - the minute details of spell casting might also be interesting - "why can't I cast this bleeping fireball" - is more interesting than the metaphysics as to why it happens - assuming anyone would be interested - although it might make an interesting appendix into the metaphysics of a magical world as to why 'bat poop' is needed to make a fireball - here is a simple metaphysical explaining of how a fireball might work:

..... hmmm... lets see poop contains methane when it breaks down so using another ingredient (lets say a bit of mold as a metaphysical metaphor for bacteria) it makes the guano break down faster (concentrated breakdown instead of natural) and this concentrated breaking down of guano causes a large amount of methane to be released all at once (explaining why a fireball causes such a huge explosion) - which is then controlled by another ingredient (lets say a ring to hold the gas in place) then using the bird feather to push the methane outwards (ie throw the potential fireball) - then using static electricity from a rod and wool being rubbed together it ignites the methane which causes the methane to explode....  and you get a fireball... wow

I recall reading a book where a writer explained the physics of superpowers (eg superman or spiderman) and it was an interesting read - but it really was just a book about superpower physics and how it worked - interesting and fun to read to some degree but you couldn't really put an entire metaphysical explanation in your own novel - wouldn't be really practical.   

Back to realism in fantasy - how much the author puts in and how much the reader need I think depends on the structure of the story.  Too much realism I think takes away from the story - do I really need to know the nuts and bolts of a journey - no not really (not unless it adds to the story - eg more "military" fantasy might get into it a bit more explaining how much mules an army needs to travel in order to feed the soldiers as its not practical for soldiers to really forge every night) - but as a reader I would like some realism - for example for a newbie adventurer what he/she thinks of sleeping outside with trolls and whatever roaming the darkness - eating cold food - or even lighting a fire that first time (if they forgot to bring flint or doesn't have a firespell handy) - I think these things would add to the atmosphere of the story.  I think of magic sort of like tech - it's useful - nothing like a handy fire spell on a cold night or a ward (to protect from the things that bump in the night) but really wards are just a glorified alarm system or trap but magic should not make a journey too easy - otherwise why would the quest journey be such fun to read. I think we read in part to see the character sort of stumble and suffer and grow and overcome obstacles on their journey as much as we read for the adventure of the story. 

Do I need to know all the grittiness of a battle or looting - no - but some of it might be interesting especially if it adds to character growth or to the story ( you can imagine a story where a main character seeks revenge for a past sacking of a city where his/her family dies or is injured in some way and are seeking vengeance against a kingdom/emperor etc - and the journey they have to go on to achieve this.)

February 25, 2016, 04:24:17 PM
Re: What did you read in February? Come share your list and thoughts Innkeeper Chronicles (books 1-2) by Ilona Andrews - this was a different take to an urban fantasy you could almost say it was an urban sci-fi instead as it had some sci-fi elements disguised as fantasy and some fantasy disguised as scifi.  It was a light fun read with some suspense with some new takes on the usual vampire, werewolf and assorted supernatural creatures - who in this series just happen to be all aliens.  This series is posted online and each week a new chapter comes out and as such fans can comment on the story with the latest installment in the series.  Our main character, as you can guess is an innkeeper who runs an inn for intergalactic guests - the inn and the host are magical - imagine being to shape your inn to accommodate any type of guest and situation.  A light and fun read. 

Princess Novels (books 1-4) by Jim C. Hines -- this month I also got around to completing the 4 books in the Princess series.  A somewhat different take on some favorite princess characters - Cinderella (aka Danielle), Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.  But the princesses are not your average damsel in distress - they kick butt with their gifts - both magical and physical as the tackle the problems that arise in each of the books.  I enjoyed the diversity of the characters - not all white and blond - e.g. Sleeping Beauty
Spoiler for Hiden:
being I think Middle Eastern in appearance (also from her name) and being a lesbian
.  Hines takes the classic stories not the Disney versions and adds a twist while continuing their respective stories e.g. the stepsisters cut off their toes to fit into the glass slipper.  Overall an enjoyable twist to a classic fairy tale story about 3 princess and what happens after happily ever after sometimes is not so happy after all. 

Brotherhood in Death
by JD Robb (mystery) - book 42 in the series is average in terms of story and plot as Eve and Roake have to deal with a series of brutal murders.  Overall an average read in the series in which I was really rooting for the bad guys (the killers in the story) instead of the victims (murdered victims).  Eve and Roake are efficient and brilliant as ever and of course solve the murders and the root out the reasons behind these brutal murders. 

February 29, 2016, 06:15:19 PM
Re: Is Sword & Sorcery outdated? And how can it move forward? To answer your question about whether or not S+S is unappealing in the 21st century, I think you first need to look at its covers. 

Just the image that you put up - shows why it has fallen out of favor to some degree.  Here we have a muscular almost unclad barbarian in a powerful pose but we also have another image of a woman - also scantily dressed but in a very passive position - like a very weak damsel in distress or a prize to be won. 

I think that S+S need to update how it imagines this world to some degree.  In the 21st century do these images appeal to the masses anymore? No we need to read about muscular barbarians and damsels in distresses as prizes to be won - no, I don't think so - or at least not ones that are so obvious in its portrayal of gender differences. 

While some might argue that S+S has had strong female characters - and I can agree that there are some - eg Red Sonja etc - these woman warriors are also treated almost like sex objects - is a bikini chain mail really a practical armor to wear – although you might say that the male warrior is also in a bikini as well but oddly enough he is almost never posed as a sexual object and more of a naked bloody barbarian warrior hero.  I think as readers we are searching for more than this in our stories and cover art. 

That is not to say that S+S does not remain popular to some degree in different mediums even if it does less well in printed word medium.  Conan and Red Sonja as comic are still being produced and still have a following. 

For S+S in fantasy – I think it needs to evolve or at least change to some degree and I think it has done that.  Do we really need the half naked barbarian slashing and hacking through his latest adventure or do we want something a little bit more complex than a bloody battle followed by looting and winning the damsel in distress. 

I think we can see S+S still in popular fantasy: Sub-genres like grim fantasy has sort of taken the traditional S+S and just made it darker with less heroism and honor and more darkness and selfishness.  While other sub-genres like the thief / assassin protagonist (still with the essence of S+S) has moved away from the strapping muscle bound barbarian to a more “anti-hero” character that is a little more sophisticated and worldly but still skilled in doing there job. 

While more traditional S+S might not be published as frequently – there are many fantasy novels that still possess some of the essence of the sword and sorcery genre in their own stories.  When we read about individual adventures by thieves, mages or assassins – these protagonist characters continue the trend of sword and sorcery – it’s just that they no longer rely on the muscle bound barbarian nor the scantily clad female to sell books. 

March 05, 2016, 08:13:34 PM
Re: Questions for super star Jen Williams? So, I just got around to finishing book 1 The Copper Promise and I do have some questions and thoughts about the novel - a semi-review of the novel is included as well - be warned some spoilers. 

Spoiler for Hiden:
Overall for me it was entertaining - which is a good thing in a novel.  3.75 / 5 - which rates as better than average read but still missing something for me.

The good parts - I enjoyed the dungeon diving like a classical RPG.
Spoiler for Hiden:
But for me it could have been a bit more fleshed out (the dungeon scenes) - yes there was the quirky guardians and the mold and tentacles but what it really lacked for me was magic and a greater sense of danger for a place that was so dangerous.  Also the lack of magical items or gold - made it feel sort of a wasted trip.

What was missing - you ask?

That's a little difficult to fully explain but let me try. 

First, at times
Spoiler for Hiden:
there seems a little disconnect between chapters.  One example - was when Sebastian and Frith decide to go their own way leaving Wydrin behind by herself.  What does she do - she goes home (nothing wrong with that) but then she decides to do a con on a pirate island - which goes very wrong - this rather miscellaneous chapter felt like it was inserted just to get Wydrin's brother injured so she would have to find Frith in order to heal him.  I sort of what wanted to know what happened after the pirate fiasco but not much was mentioned of it.  And then there was the chapter where Frith after using scrying magic is able to locate Fane decides to ignore everything to go after him - while he is painted at times seeking revenge for his family - he knows that the dragon is a bigger threat - for me it just felt odd the placement of this - as if the author needed to finish this little side story in order to complete the main story of the dragon.

Spoiler for Hiden:
- was odd - I didn't really get why magic was no longer available really? Did the locking away of the dragons really limit the availability of magic? But there was one dragon not locked up.  Was it because the mages used it all to trap the dragons? But that would mean that magic was a non-renewable resource and could be exhausted.  And did all the mages die at the end of the conflict with dragons? It sounds quite odd that all of them would die - but even if the masters died would all the apprentices die as well? What happened to all these great mages? Even if they died naturally as no one can live forever - you train students.

Question: Why did magic disappear with a dragon still in the world? Is magic non-renewable resource and exhaustible? Where did all the mages go? Did they not have students? or is it that powerful magic has disappeared leaving only small magic (ie magic glasses)?

Spoiler for Hiden:
Spoiler for Hiden:
Okay one odd part for me and this concerns that magic glasses that Wydrin got - was the odd reaction by the maker of the glasses - she scoffed at the use of them - thinking it would be a horrible thing to have to be able to see the truth.  But if she was monitoring what was happening with Fane and co - then how come she did not realize that the magic of the gauntlet was an illusion - and as such truth magic would allow Wydrin to see through it.  Personally, I thought this was quite clever of Wydrin to think of this - probably the best part of the novel which really showed just how clever and insightful she could be. 

While still on the topic of magic - there are demons and dragons
Spoiler for Hiden:
(although they are referring to themselves as gods) - so where are the good guys ("angels") - while I can understand why a dragon might be considered a god - considering its power and who can really understand a dragon after all.  If there are demons in this world there should be an opposing force against it - evil shouldn't be unopposed - it just felt odd to me - as a world should be balanced between forces of evil and something more benign. 

Question: If demons exist (that means there is evil) why are there no angels/benign higher powers?

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Seal scene in the dungeon
Spoiler for Hiden:
- was it me or was it rather forced - its hard to imagine a friend saying break the seals and they do it - even after breaking one and finding really nothing in the jar - they continue to break one after the other as if possessed which they were not - just a friend saying break them - odd very odd.  You would also expect the seals to be better protected and lets not forget the guardians coming too late to stop them from breaking the seals (even though they were hard to break in the first place).

The resolution
Spoiler for Hiden:
of the novel - for me was probably the most anti-climatic scene that I have read in a while.  Okay I get that the dragon was pissed off and decided to chase them around the globe but it was really odd that it didn't notice anything.  And then after setting it all up - its gone - "poof" and the threat it gone - really quite an anti-climatic non-battle for me.  While the chase scene was cute it seemed to lack the tension of a battle - and it felt odd that the dragon could not catch the griffins or even come close.

The romance
Spoiler for Hiden:
or lack of it or maybe calling it  "the required romantic tension that all good fantasy novel has but missed the mark in this novel" - yes I get that Wydrin likes men who are difficult to deal with - and I don't mind the lack of romance at all but if she realizes that she is like that and that Frith is not that great of a catch - regardless that he is a Lord (although that probably never factored into why she likes him) why like him - and if you like him why not do something about it - the entire "romance" felt rather like an after thought in the story and for me at least didn't flow well. 

Spoiler for Hiden:
- of all main characters he felt the most fleshed out - a former knight (because of his broken vow of chastity and with another knight as well -- so does that make him gay?)  with a chip on his shoulder - willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good or at least to atone for his own deeds - especially since he was involved in the problem (ie the release of the dragon).  I can see him taking up the demon armor to save the masses (although he wasn't able to save anyone in the first battle when he donned the armor).  The annoying thing about Sebastian was his unwillingness to share where he got his armor after he meets up with Wydrin again - I get that he is embarrassed about telling her where he got the armor (because of what happened with Fane and co) but he it seemed odd given that Wydrin was hunted by someone else using a part of the armor - after he found out about her being hunted. 

So we have the former knight character and then we have the lord-turned-newbie mage adventurer character with a huge chip on his shoulder
Spoiler for Hiden:
(the required newbie adventurer in a team of season adventurers - required character for all fantasy adventure novels).  His motivation was easy to understand and although not a great person he was responsible to some degree (he healed Seb from near death and Wydrin's brother and the griffin even knowing the cost).  He was more heroic then given credit for - but at times he felt incomplete as a character - his motivation was revenge - but even that felt sort of like a half motivation.  The revenge scenes - for me at least - could have been a bit more bloody with a bit more satisfaction or lack of it.  He felt like a character needing a purpose which he lacked. 

Wydrin -
Spoiler for Hiden:
there is nothing I like more than a quirky, semi - foul mouthed - adventurer that knows what she likes and is not afraid to say it.  Virgin princesses /witch characters are so overdone.  But I wondered about her as I continued to read the novel.  Was she the token female character in the fantasy adventure - yes she was clever and skilled but really the story could have been solved without her.  She was the most normal of her companions /characters that we meet in the story - because she really had no motive besides gold - and that was a weak motive as it was glossed over.  It felt like she wanted to be a mercenary but she was a bit too moral to do some of the darker deeds (ie burning and killing the drunk pirates) and no looting or treasure hunting while in the dungeon really.  Did Wydrin really have a part in the story or could she really have been anyone to fit the role of the third member of the party.  I wanted more cleverness and sass from her but was sort of let down in the end. 

Gallo (the fourth member)
Spoiler for Hiden:
felt more alive (for a dead guy and a character that only really appeared briefly in the second chapter - he had more motive then either Wydrin or Seb) then most of the main characters.  His ending was anti-climatic and a bit sad - as he got no personally resolution (and I get that sometimes you don't get that in grim fantasy) but the lack of understanding by Seb or Wydrin rang a bit hollow as Wydrin did let him travel with her in search of Seb.

Which sort of leads me to Wydrin's own small conflict with Roki
Spoiler for Hiden:
(a small side subplot) - I get the need for revenge by Roki - what I don't get is why didn't she kill him when she could have.  Yes she needed to show the people that Fane's guards come to defeated but wouldn't killing him of been a better impact instead of leaving him partially maimed leaving us of course with his need for revenge.  And then the entire subplot of Roki's revenge happens and it just feels forced - I get that bad guys are not the brightest people in the world but Wydrin doesn't worry about it at all even after meeting back up with Frith and Seb - not telling them she is being hunted across the globe by this semi-mist killer.  What bothered me was the lack of action on her part - no help from the glass shards she put in her blade - no looking for another set of magic glasses or something - she just taunts him to kill her in person and while that works - she forgets about it - and walks right into a trap.  I really didn't enjoy the Roki revenge subplot - felt really quite forced. 

For a novel about adventures and gold -
Spoiler for Hiden:
as it seems Jen Williams wanted them to be almost mercenary in quality was the lack of the mercenary quality in the characters.  Yes Wydrin got paid and hung around until she got paid - but there was very little looting of dungeons - and at times the gold just felt like an excuse to hang around with Frith. 

On a brief side note - why the name "The Copper Promise" - who was the promise made too?
Spoiler for Hiden:
Was it the Copper Cat - which I initially thought - so who was the promise made to? What was the promise?
Spoiler for Hiden:
I thought it had to with either Wydrin because of her colorful nick name or about money (and her love of it) - but in the end - it just left me wondering about the title. 

This might sound odd but my favorite characters in the entire book
Spoiler for Hiden:
had to be the brood especially 'Thirty-three (aka Ephemeral) and 97 (aka Talisman) - I was even sad when Talisman died the way she did.  I really wanted to know what else would happen to them and how there individual personalities would grow - would they eventually become dragons as well given time? The humorous part of the entire brood with names was that Sebastian a former knight (who might be gay) was at the end the father of an entire group of female dragon-soldiers. 

Another question for Jen - will the brood show up in later novels? What will happen to 33 aka Ephemeral and her sisters?

Adventure - yes it had it - quirky characters yes -
Spoiler for Hiden:
although a bit more fleshing out was needed - some grimness (although I wouldn't call this novel grim fantasy)
- big bad guy - yes it had it - but I wanted more magic, more gold and more sass. 

On to book 2. 

March 13, 2016, 05:48:41 PM
Re: Lots of reading - shooting ourselves in the foot? I read a lot but for me each book/series is a unique voyage into a new world.  That is not to say that some worlds are quite lacking in some of the things that could make it that much more engaging for me to visit their world. 

Let's take the urban fantasy genre as an example - I read a lot of UF - and the basic requirement is somewhat similar - its based in this world and is mostly recognizable, magic in some form is available - either in terms of actual magic or in the characters (ie vampires, werewolves, whatever monster you like), action, bad guys (big or small) and some romance perhaps.   But each of the UF I read are unique - and yes some are much better in terms of characters, world-building (yes, even UF has world-building), plot, structure of the story, writing etc.  When I read a series that could potentially be much better than what it is - it is for me a bit sad - things like bad plotting, horrible character development, 100s year vampires/werewolves acting like teens, unbelievable romance (ie why would you fall for that person), characters too stupid to see what is in front of their face, unbelievable coincidences, overly powerful characters; badly written love scenes that really have no place in the story etc - really makes sigh in sadness - it could be so much better but its not - and so I drop the series usually after reading a few books in a given series - with the hope it gets better - most do not.

 Is this pickiness? Somewhat - but its a pickiness for a story that can transport me to another world - suspend my disbelief; have a minimum of good writing and editing; when I question things or say that is just too stupid or unbelievable that it ruins the narration - it really annoys me and so I move on to another book/series. 

I think new novels need to be well written and plotted with interesting and engaging characters and worlds.  Do they have to be the newest unique thing - no - but it needs to engage the reader.  Even if the novel uses some cliches and re-hashes old ideas as long as the writing is solid and the story engages us (requiring of course good writing, world building, characters etc) then the likelihood of it doing well is much better and readers will enjoy it even it is familiar in some way. 

For example, role-playing game (RPG) novel - such as Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Pathfinder etc - are all structurally similar in terms of stories - but readers still enjoy these worlds and the niche that they have in the fantasy genre. 

I think when writers try to be overly new and inventive in their writing in terms of stories, world-building, shock-value (lots of violence or it is just weird in someway), or structure of the story (e.g. multiple narrators etc) then the book will either be a hit or a clear miss (and/or something in between - but if its just so-so - the publisher might not ask for the next book).  I think all genres need some of kind of new blood to its genre but the "same-old thing" still sells and attracts readers - because it is proven to sell and to attract readers. 

For example: a certain romance publisher even has guidelines for their books - so it all fits nicely together - so the writer cannot really deviate too much from what is acceptable for their type of book.  Sameness still sells it just requires a little difference in terms of plot development and characters for each new novel - when you pick up a certain romance publishers novel - you know that in the end it will be happily ever after. 

For fantasy -sameness can sell and does probably quite well.  As a reader, I enjoy familiar worlds - like RPG novels - or Sword and Sorcery /adventure novels - reading for me is not really about the latest novelty (although that is nice as well) it is about being drawn into a world and being entertained. 

Novelty can be entertaining but a well written fantasy with the familiar also has a lot of charm.  For me, as long as it is well written without some of my pet peeves when I read then I will enjoy regardless if it is familiar or a novelty.   

March 20, 2016, 04:58:56 PM