October 18, 2019, 07:33:44 AM

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I have DNF on three fantasy books, including Malice by John Gwynne and Michael Wisehart's The White Tower. I surely would like to find a fantasy novel I actually finish!

Meanwhile, read The Barbary Corsairs by Stanley Lane-Poole. I skimmed over the later chapters, but the ones that were directly on the corsairs had some great anecdotes in them.

And I read a short work by Ellis Peters, A Rare Benedictine, which is a Brother Cadfael story.

Silverlock by John Myers Myers. More picaresque than comic, but there are plenty of funny bits.

Small Press & Self-Published / Re: Medieval History
« on: September 23, 2019, 05:31:33 PM »
After a long delay called Finishing the Novel, I'm back to publishing my history essays. This one is on the Sixth Crusade, which was one of the strangest of them all.


My intent is to publish a new essay every three weeks or so. Not all are on the Crusades, but the next several will be.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What are you currently reading?
« on: September 19, 2019, 05:13:11 PM »
Currently reading Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, mainly because Ray Bradbury identified it as an important influence on his own work.

And reading The Barbary Corsairs by Stanley Lane-Poole, a very old history but one with plenty of colorful anecdotes. Good fodder for the historical fantasy writer.

Started Elantris but gave up on it. Characters didn't engage me, the plot felt like a re-tread, and I was not enchanted with the world. If I'm not hooked by the quarter-mile mark, why keep trying?

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Ebooks (and Readers) > Physical books
« on: September 18, 2019, 05:07:36 PM »
@ScarletBea has the right of it, as do others. Both. Here's an example.

For reading novels, it's almost always ebooks for me, for a somewhat odd reason. I read on my phone. The habit started while I was still working. I could steal a few minutes of reading time. A bookworm's version of a walk in the park.

But I'm also a historian and I have a couple hundred books (did a heartless harrowing a few years back) of scholarly works. I still consult them from time to time. Trust me, the quickest way to know what David Abulafia has to say about Emperor Otto's dealings with the Hohenstaufen is to scan. If all I wanted was the Battle of Bouvines, then sure, a search in an ebook probably does the job. But scanning an ebook is incredibly frustrating because it's so sloooow. Add to that my spatial memory--I can remember that a wanted passage was on the verso page about mid-way down--and the physical book still has it all over the ebook. Then add in something like Jansson's History of Art. Then add the wonderful fact of humans, who will perversely persist in doing as they please.

There's a place for physical books. At the same time, I find reading a novel in a physical book to be clumsy and annoying. And I gave up book sniffing years ago when I learned about archivist's lung. Just sort of lost the charm.

Both. Indisputably.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Ebooks (and Readers) > Physical books
« on: September 18, 2019, 05:00:38 PM »
@Eclipse, that would make you 204 years old. Clearly an elf. You can no longer hide it.

Fantasy Resources / Re: History for Fantasy Writers
« on: September 18, 2019, 03:58:50 PM »
Were shoemakers lazy? What's the difference between a shoemaker and a cobbler? Were they always poor and did they always have elves?

The latest installment in my series History for Fantasy Writers is now up at Mythic Scribes.

Writers' Corner / Re: Always on the move
« on: September 16, 2019, 05:35:20 PM »
The archetype for this is the detective. Go all the way back to Lawrence Block, or look at Michael Connelly, but there are many other authors. Where someone like Hercule Poirot is pretty much unchanged from one book to the next, these more modern authors have each novel quite self-contained, but the main character changes and grows over the course of a dozen or twenty novels. There's not really an overall arc, just the life of the character. My very favorite is Easy Rawlins, in Walter Moseley's series. Not only do we see Easy change, we see Los Angeles change around him.

So, yeah, totally doable. And your notion differs from the detectives in that they tend to stay in one locale, whereas you're picturing your hero moving from one place to another.

There's stuff I'm bored with even before reading it. Urban fantasy, vampires, zombies, grimdark. Beyond that? I guess I'm bored with court intrigue. And village intrigue, for that matter. Most of it just drags.

But really, just give me good writing, which can make anything interesting. Give me a passionate writer (note: earnestness is not the same thing).

I hear what folks are saying about the Fantasy of Yesteryear (this old coot is amused to find the 80s and 90s referred to as "back then" but is tolerant of young 'uns). I do think passion was part of the equation. The whole field was still new enough that one could get away with "Dwarves! In taverns!" and the reader would be right there for the ride.

But I also respectfully suggest that folks may be recalling the literature of their youth. There's nothing that will ever match the music from one's teens and early 20s. You'll never be that rocker again, and you'll never be that reader again. The first horror stories, the first mysteries, the first fantasy novels, these are going to resonate in ways that cannot be duplicated.

I submit as additional evidence the tone of people--I mainly see them in Facebook groups--who read what I regard as mandane, dull, even outright bad fantasy novels, and just rave about them. Greatest thing they've ever read. I'll bet you five dollars to a doughnut that their average age will be younger than the average age of people on this thread. Appalling as it is for me to say, these are the fantasy novels of their youth. These forgettable works will be the ones they remember, and against which they'll measure all their future tropes and boredoms.

And hey, @Eclipse. I don't have mines in Into the Second World, but I do have caverns. Really, really deep ones. I suggest you stay away. ;-)

General Discussion / Re: If your were a D&D character what would you be ?
« on: September 05, 2019, 04:51:34 PM »
I'd be Galstaff.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Page turners
« on: August 30, 2019, 04:29:29 AM »
I remember reading like that when I was young, but I haven't read that way in a long time. Now, with a book I'm enjoying, I take it slow, savoring it. The books I'm not enjoying, my eyes start to slide as my attention wanders. Those are my page turners now--the ones where I'm hardly paying attention, heck hardly even renting it.

In my youth I'd gulp books the way I drank. I'd chug them. Nowadays, I enjoy a book the way I enjoy good cognac, in languid sips.

It could be an interesting challenge, especially if it's not played for laughs. Writing *good* prose that's purple is probably harder than it looks.

Writers' Corner / Re: Word for a troupe of actors
« on: August 28, 2019, 02:22:30 AM »
Yep, agreed, though I have in mind that this particular troupe is neither famous nor well-funded. That's one reason why they keep taking side jobs. If they called themselves the Queen's Players, the queen would get a little peeved.

Today I'm leaning (I lean in various directions on different days) toward an ambiguous name. Something along the line of The Green Wagon Players or the like. Maybe something more ominous, like the wonderfully-named "Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show"

Writers' Corner / Re: Word for a troupe of actors
« on: August 27, 2019, 04:14:03 PM »
Thanks. I'm aiming for a name for *this* group of players rather than for a generic collective noun. But the structure--a *this* of *that*--can work just as well for a unique name as for a general. So, thanks!

Mervyn Peake would be a candidate. Burroughs and Howard could both go toward the violet light.

It's less common with modern writers up to the digital revolution, because modern editors would snuff it out. With self-publishing, it's easy to find prose so purple it goes right off the end of the spectrum. At some point purple shades over into just plain bad.

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