Excellent short story, worth the price of admission. It has shades of Gemmell with some impressive language skills as a bonus. Set in a dangerous rura...moreExcellent short story, worth the price of admission. It has shades of Gemmell with some impressive language skills as a bonus. Set in a dangerous rural village and carried by a mysterious man capable with an axe, there's more than enough here to enjoy and a filling tease for what's to come. Emrys seems to be an author with real promise, and I hope to read more from him in the future.(less)
Yeah, I've been living in a cave for too many decades. I just read this one.
5 stars for an easily enjoyable book, a great denouement, and a great job...moreYeah, I've been living in a cave for too many decades. I just read this one.
5 stars for an easily enjoyable book, a great denouement, and a great job predicting some future tech ('the nets,' video-game-like military simulations, portable electronic 'desks,' communications devices).
If I were being more critical, I'd talk about characters being unbelievable for their ages (for example, Ender read Euclid at 5, Ender and his two siblings are all incredible geniuses, and two kids became the most influential political minds of their day while posting anonymously on 'the nets'), the dream sequences not being terribly compelling, and some situations being hard to swallow (such as most of the other kids being hard on Ender over and over and over).
The writing style is bare bones simple, which is either a good or bad thing depending on your preference. It does make the book quick and easy to read, and in this case the story is more than enough to carry you through. There isn't a lot of depth to the characters or description of the environments, so you end up reading for the story and the (future) world, and it works really great. Ender's Game is very enjoyable, and the book has aged well, too.
Anything that I can finish and really enjoy usually gets a 5 from me, especially when the ending gives me a permagrin that lasts for at least a half hour. Thanks for a great read, Mr. Card.(less)
Scriber might be my favorite fantasy book. It's not dense like Erikson or Martin, but it has the two things I always look for and rarely find together...moreScriber might be my favorite fantasy book. It's not dense like Erikson or Martin, but it has the two things I always look for and rarely find together: great writing with great storytelling.
The best thing about Scriber is the telling of the tale through the voice of the incredibly flawed scholar Dennon Lark. This is first person epic fantasy, and first person is not easy to pull off, even harder when the lead character is a self-hating wimp. But it works. Brilliantly. One reason it works is because it makes sense that Dennon would be telling you a story since he is a historian--first person often feels artificial, but not this time--and because Dennon's humility helps us root for him. And if you're not sure at first, keep reading. You might find the author stumbling a little bit here and there (or not at all), but if you do, don't worry and just keep reading.
Scriber isn't "high fantasy." No dragons (though the characters curse by saying "Damn it to the Dragon!"), no elves, no magical swords. There are wonderful fantastic elements, though, mostly related to a mysterious semi-undead enemy and nature spirits. The story is unconventional in many ways, but it also sticks to some tried and true fantasy tropes (big heroine, big stakes)--in just the right balance of being both different and familiar. The setting feels medieval and the author writes that flavor well. And it's a true standalone story and a fast read (in the good way).
The story features the scriber and a large band of female soldiers. One of the few issues I had with the book was the abundance of characters in that troop. The women were referred to by first name only and, especially early on, I sometimes had a hard time telling them apart and remembering who was who. Another reviewer recently wrote that this wasn't a problem for him, so that could just be me. I have to say that Sylla was my least favorite; she was believable enough but still a bit one-dimensional, but at least she played a good role. Also, I have to say this: Orya for the win. I loved Orya.
The book has two major characters, Dennon Lark and Bryndine Errynson, the leader of the company of female soldiers. No one else gets fleshed out as much as these two. The one limitation I wish hadn't been in the book is that we never got deep into Bryn's head--because the book was written in first person from Dennon's point of view. Bryndine is a memorable, noble character and so easy to root for. I started playing a paladin in a D&D campaign recently and I had to resist the urge to name the character Bryndine (she's really inspiring). On the flip side, though she was very human, she also had few flaws and she never felt quite as real to me as Dennon did. But that's mostly understandable considering the first person pov. Still, I can't help wondering how great it would've been to be able to take a peek inside the mind of Bryndine.
One of my favorite scenes in the book was a meeting between Bryn and Dennon when they first opened up to each other about their vulnerabilities and soon laughed at them--just a beautiful scene full of believable humanity. This is where I think the author's gift for characterization really shone through.
The story is heavy on dialogue, maybe a little too much for my taste, but at least the dialogue was great. The plot sometimes moves forward in ways that are a little too convenient, but I never cared to nitpick because I was having too much fun. The pacing was excellent, although somewhere around the three-quarters point I though it sped up a little too much (after the big return)--this was the only part of the book that felt out of place with the rest, in my opinion. I thought the fight scenes were good, not great, but this isn't a book about fight scenes.
This is a book about a man struggling against the shame of his past and trying to uncover lost truths about his world's history. It's a book about a colorful band of women warriors. It's a book about a heroine as noble as any you've read. It's full of great worldbuilding, heaps of mystery, and mature, skillful writing. And it finishes with a great crescendo.
As a horribly picky reader, I almost never find books that come this close to being perfect for me. That's one of the reasons why I became a writer myself, because I wanted to at least try to take readers on the kind of journey that I want authors to guide me through, the kind of ride Ben Dobson just led me on. I've talked to Ben some since I started reading his book, but I didn't know him before I picked up Scriber for free in the kindle store.
I just want to be clear in saying that although Ben and I are both independent authors writing in the same genre, and although I only write reviews for the rare books that I love, this review has nothing to do with a prior relationship with the author (we had none, even though he had already read my book and I didn't know it) and everything to do with me loving this outstanding book and wanting to recommend this book to everyone. So this is just a guy named Moses, telling it on the mountain:
I've never found a free or cheap ebook as good as this one. It's fantastic, and I'm so glad to have found a new favorite author. Ben, thanks for a great story told well. And sorry to be selfish, but I really hope you write more books as great as this one.(less)
I picked this up because the author has always impressed me at Kindleboards with his intelligence and his professionalism. This novelette met my high...moreI picked this up because the author has always impressed me at Kindleboards with his intelligence and his professionalism. This novelette met my high expectations.
The story begins with some fantastic, eerie ambience. It progresses to a well-drawn city, where the setting itself becomes like a character. Then the mystery unfolds as new characters are introduced. We get a sword fight, followed by a great scene that explores a psychic confrontation. And this leads to a haunting ending that is appropriate to the tone of the entire piece.
Though I loved the story's pacing, I would've liked a little more fleshing out of the major characters, though that's more of a nit-pick than a real criticism. Williams' characters are distinctive and interesting. One other possible nit is that while the major character is some sort of paladin who serves a goddess (though that paladin element is in the background of this story), that aspect of the character doesn't ultimately play a major role.
After reading this, I'd love to read a longer work from this author. My sense is that he'd do an amazing job with a larger story. I found no major element of this story lacking, and the author did a great job with the elements of suspense, mystery, pacing, and setting. I'm really looking forward to more from him.(less)
A brilliant retelling of some of the major events in Norse mythology, and thus an ambitious and worthy--and ultimately significant--literary effort. V...moreA brilliant retelling of some of the major events in Norse mythology, and thus an ambitious and worthy--and ultimately significant--literary effort. Vasich brings to life things like the Norns, the gods, and ultimately Ragnarok. He brought to life the wolf Fenrir, the stonemason who offered to rebuild Asgard's wall, and Hel. Vasich has a special ability to imagine and write about mythic events, as you'll see in the final battles between Fenrir and Tyr, Thor and Jörmungandr, Heimdall and Loki.
Vasich successfully brought his major characters to life, mainly Loki and Odin. The secondary characters (such as Tyr, Balder, and Freya) weren't drawn as well, but the good news is that Loki and Odin always seem to carry the day whenever either of them were involved with a scene, and they seem to show up in at least half of the book. The book suffers a bit in the second half from Loki's relative absence, but I still enjoyed every new element introduced.
With Loki, we get to experience his ups and downs, his hopes and rejections, his realizations and transformations, and there is a pleasing element of sympathy for the devil here. With Odin, we experience his unique problem, knowing the future while possessing a profoundly passive acceptance of that future (or, at least, that's how he's presented here). This makes Odin a frustrating figure, but Odin's attitude is a perfect representation of the Norse outlook and what makes Norse mythology unique. I found myself wondering what would've happened if Odin hadn't believed so much in Ragnarok, and maybe the author wanted us to think about that, too. Because Odin's vision of the future became self-fulfilling in so many ways.
What didn't I like? The copyediting on a grammatical and sentence level was mostly very good, but also occasionally problematic. I think the author could benefit from a better copyeditor. The proofreading and formatting were great, though. I found very few typos, which is outstanding. The writing was excellent, although a bit distant with a somewhat omniscient style (the book is mostly written in a more current third person limited, though).
Having frequent point of view changes with no conventional protagonist made the reading a bit slow for me. I agree with what Hepius said in his review on this, as well as his comments about skipping the italicized parts (which function as spoilers for Vasich's rendition of the myths). However, I think Vasich still did the right thing here. To retell this mythology requires multiple points of view, and he wrote them well. It's just that this same technique distances the reader from the story a bit. Nonetheless, I'm glad he wrote it in the way that he did. I just read it in daily chunks rather than being swept through the entire story over a short period of time. Your mileage may vary. Even read in chunks, there's plenty to savor here.
My last complaint is that the reader often has to wait, to read about the same event multiple times through multiple points of views. At times this technique was used well; at other times I felt it slowed down the pace too much. The book is written in relatively short scenes, though, so you never have to wait for anything for too long, and it's nice to see things from different angles.
I came into this book knowing very little about Norse mythology, and I feel incredibly thankful to the author for writing these stories as he did. This book allowed me to explore the myths from a tight narrative perspective, to experience the major players and the events in a way that not only brought the tales to life, but which also feels like a modern continuation of the myth. Vasich takes some creative liberties with the mythology (and he favors Loki and Odin as he does so), but I feel this only keeps the stories fresh and alive. People who have read Norse mythology will enjoy his twists on the familiar, and people unfamiliar with Norse mythology will get to experience such a grand tale in a thrilling way. A brilliant effort, and one that deserves to be a classic resting on every bookshelf with space for works on Norse mythology.(less)
This is the full novel (120,000 words/384 pages) promised by the much shorter excerpt novella, ‘The Black God’s War: A Novella Introducing a New Epic...moreThis is the full novel (120,000 words/384 pages) promised by the much shorter excerpt novella, ‘The Black God’s War: A Novella Introducing a New Epic Fantasy.’ The novella is still available for free at all the major e-bookstores and it has its own page at GoodReads). Thanks for checking out my work!(less)