My son Luke began writing this book at the age of 9 1/2 and finished it about 17 months (and 40,000 words) later, just before his 11th birthday. He wr...moreMy son Luke began writing this book at the age of 9 1/2 and finished it about 17 months (and 40,000 words) later, just before his 11th birthday. He wrote it all longhand into a series of spiral notebooks. That alone is a remarkable achievement, but the book is REALLY, REALLY GOOD. And I'm saying that not as a father, but as a fellow author.
DRAGON VALLEY is the tale of a handful of lab-created dragons who try to navigate their way through a magical valley to which they have been transported. But it becomes an epic saga -- generations and tribes and alliances and battles, even romance -- over the course of nearly one thousand years in the evolution of the creatures and their offspring. And it's even more than that -- it is a morality play, an examination of loyalty, maturity, acceptance of responsibility, love and hate, courage and cowardice, and ultimately redemption.
Several respected children's authors have gushed about DRAGON VALLEY. One, Kwame Alexander, wrote: "If Rick Riordan were 11, this might be the kind of novel he'd write." Indeed, by reading so many fantasy books, Luke learned how to write from some of the best. He understands things that many writers don't comprehend until well into adulthood - foreshadowing, character development, the rhythm of sentences, metaphors, showing instead of telling, entering a scene at a dramatic moment. These are very adult notions.
So it's a remarkably well-written debut novel by a young author with, in my humble opinion, unlimited potential. And kids seem to be unexpectedly inspired by the notion that it was written by one of their peers. Anyone who knows a fantasy-loving child would be wise to grab a copy.(less)
As an author of creative nonfiction, I occasionally come across examples of the genre and think, "Man, I wish I would have written that." THE KNOW-IT-...moreAs an author of creative nonfiction, I occasionally come across examples of the genre and think, "Man, I wish I would have written that." THE KNOW-IT-ALL by AJ Jacobs (about his mission to read the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica) was certainly one of those books. Brilliantly funny. CARDBOARD GODS is another. I bought the book for the concept -- using baseball cards to tell the story of childhood angst and exploration. Great idea. But I'm writing this rare (for me) review because I just LOVED the way that concept played out. Josh Wilker really knows how to extrapolate profundity from the seemingly mundane, how to turn a 3-page essay into a story that touches the soul, how to turn a phrase as smoothly as Trammell and Whitaker used to turn the double play. Reading CARDBOARD GODS was like watching Greg Maddux pitch, like watching Carew wield a bat. Sure, I was a 1970s baseball card collector,too, and I got a kick out seeing those names and faces -- Ivan Dejesus! Biff Pocoroba! Kurt Bevacqua! -- that were such a vivid part of my childhood. But this book is a very adult reminiscence. And it is written beautifully. So for me, there was some envy and surprise involved in the reading. It was an unexpected home run -- sort of the way Wilker must have felt when Bucky Dent took his infamous swing... (less)
Absolutely one of the most fascinating concepts I've ever come across -- and so well-crafted. Part metaphysical, part mystery. An intellectual explora...moreAbsolutely one of the most fascinating concepts I've ever come across -- and so well-crafted. Part metaphysical, part mystery. An intellectual exploration, a literary masterpiece. (less)
Well, because I wrote this (May 2010 publication), and because I feel it may be my best work, I have to give it five stars -- or else my best isn't qu...moreWell, because I wrote this (May 2010 publication), and because I feel it may be my best work, I have to give it five stars -- or else my best isn't quite good enough.
On one level, TURN LEFT AT THE TROJAN HORSE chronicles my cross-country journey to Ithaca (New York) for a college reunion. But it is also a reimagining of Odysseus's ancient journey, as I pass through small towns with names like Troy (OR), Iliad (MT), Sparta (WI), and Apollo (PA), each with its own fascinating tale to tell.
The book's subtitle is "A Would-be Hero's American Odyssey," and indeed it is a memoir exploring the parameters of a heroic existence -- by delving into the lives of the folks in those tiny hamlets, by examining the universal truths embedded in ancient myths, and through a fair bit of self-evaluation. I would describe it as the memoir of an Everyman searching for the hero in himself.
You can take a look at a fun 2-minute video trailer about the book on my author page or by visiting my website (www.bradherzog.com) or my Facebook fan page ("Brad Herzog's books").(less)