Book Review – Three Parts Dead, by Max Gladstone

Three Parts Dead, the first volume of Gladstone's Craft Sequence, is a good book, a clever book, a beautifully written book. On some occasions it rises to greatness. On other occasions I thought it had some problems. There’s more good than bad, and I would certainly recommend it, albeit with some very minor caveats. The main... Continue Reading →

Book Review – Best Served Cold, by Joe Abercrombie

Bear with me here. I’m going to start my review of Best Served Cold by talking very briefly about another of my favorite books, China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station. My favorite aspect of PSS was Mieville’s relentless use of language to impart an overwhelming feeling of grime. For all its cast of entertaining characters, for me the star of... Continue Reading →

Elanor and the Trail Junction

(This is a companion piece to Kira and the Gold Coin from a few years ago.) It is late morning in the Hundred Mile Wilderness, a section of particularly uninhabited forestland in central Maine that is best known for containing the most challenging section of the Appalachian Trail. My family is staying at the Gorman... Continue Reading →

Book Review – John Crowley’s Little, Big

Only once before, I think, have I finished a 500+ page book and discovered I could not easily describe what it was about. (That was David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.) But it has just happened again, with the odd faerie-tale Little, Big by John Crowley. I chose the book on the strength of multiple recommendations (and... Continue Reading →

Asking People to Punch You

I'd like to talk a bit about Beta Readers. A Beta Reader is someone willing to read a draft version of a book and offer their opinions to the author. While it’s a bonus to find a Reader who is themselves an author or editor, there are no qualifications beyond a desire to think critically... Continue Reading →

Ye Olde Language of Fantasy

I’ve started listening to the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, Sanderson being a conspicuous gap in my coverage of modern fantasy. I noticed early on his use of the word “ashmount” to describe what I assume are volcanoes, and that observation prompted me to write this piece on the use of vocabulary and... Continue Reading →

Showing, Telling, Filtering, Grounding

“Show, don’t tell.” If you’re a writer or have ever taken a writing class, you’ve heard this advice, probably many times over.  Readers want drama, not dry explanations. Give them something they can visualize!  Don’t say “Joe became angry.”  Say “Joe slammed his fist down on the table. His face turned an alarming shade of... Continue Reading →

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