I am an independent author of fiction and non-fiction, and I found this book extremely helpful in learning how to find balance. Chapter 3 ("Reduce OveI am an independent author of fiction and non-fiction, and I found this book extremely helpful in learning how to find balance. Chapter 3 ("Reduce Overload") was the most practical and actionable section for me. In this chapter, Mark encourages you to organize all your various tasks into four types: 1: ongoing work (repeating stuff and stuff you do every day. Admin-type stuff usually ends up in this category), 2: special events (one-time things that need a lot of preparation ahead of time), 3: backlogs (stuff you're behind on), and 4: asset creation (the creative work -- stuff that stays done).
I would venture to guess that many creatives are overloaded with 1 and 2 stuff, frustrated that the amount of 3 stuff keeps increasing, and even more frustrated that hardly any 4 stuff is getting done. That's definitely where I was when I read the book, and Mark's advice on this helped me a lot!
Bonus: the rest of the book is excellent, too! Thanks, Mark!...more
This is the episode that gets Drizzt Do'Urden above ground and into his role as a ranger.
His attempts to interact with the above-ground fauna initialThis is the episode that gets Drizzt Do'Urden above ground and into his role as a ranger.
His attempts to interact with the above-ground fauna initially end with humor (a skunk--oops!), but take a tragic turn when some bad guys essentially frame him for murder. Drizzt spends the rest of the book on the run, always still trying to find a place in his new world. He finally takes up residence with a retired but still highly skilled ranger, Montolio. After making their last stand against Drizzt's pursuers, Montolio passes his mantle to his protege, Drizzt, who once again finds himself journeying alone.
The lead-in to the next book is Drizzt's encounter with Bruenor the dwarf and Bruenor's adopted daughter, Catti-brie. Here was the biggest weakness of this book: Bruenor and Catti-brie's dialogue. Salvatore wrote the dialogue in what I gather is supposed to be a thick, highland Scottish dialect. (Why do dwarves always have Scottish accents? Is that some sort of requirement?) Unfortunately, the dialogue-in-dialect was in turn unintentionally funny and just plain annoying to read. If Bruenor and Catti-brie are major characters in subsequent books of the series, I'm not sure I'll be able to continue. I'll give it a try, but even that small amount of Bruenor-speak at the end of the book was tough. I can't imagine trying to wade through a whole novel filled with that kind of dialogue.
Other than that, though, this was a good conclusion to the Dark Elf origin trilogy!...more
This was my favorite favoRITE FAVORITE childhood book!! I read it when I was in 5th grade. The cover and title confused me: I thought it was going toThis was my favorite favoRITE FAVORITE childhood book!! I read it when I was in 5th grade. The cover and title confused me: I thought it was going to be a Navy-type book, about a ship sinking or something, and didn't get why there was a rabbit on the cover. (I didn't know that a "down" is a hill.)
Nevertheless, I gave it a try and was blown away. That paperback copy literally fell apart from use. I have since owned a few different editions, my current one being a very nice hardcover.
The book is a straight up children's adventure story -- with talking rabbits, yes, but they are real rabbits, not cartoon rabbits. They do rabbity things and think rabbity thoughts. As a child I appreciated it on this level. As an adult, I realized with delight that Adams had also woven fascinating political and social commentary into the story. Not only that, but as a feat of fantasy world-building and culture-creation, this book excels. Absolutely a wonderful book!...more
This was a good second installment in Salvatore's Dark Elf trilogy, which builds on the vivid, strange world he created in Homeland. As Exile begins,This was a good second installment in Salvatore's Dark Elf trilogy, which builds on the vivid, strange world he created in Homeland. As Exile begins, ten years have elapsed since Drizzt Do'Urden walked away from his home and everything familiar. He was driven by his principles: he just couldn't stand the treachery, deceit, and murder inherent in the Drow culture. But even for the long-lived elves, a decade alone in the wilds of the Underdark is a long time, especially when his only companion is a big panther who doesn't talk. Drizzt goes looking for companionship and finds the deep gnomes of Blingdenstone, including a gnome he's encountered before.
Meanwhile, his family back in Menzobaranzan aren't exactly letting bygones be bygones: his despicable and vengeful mother, the well-named Matron Malice, is after him. The assassin she sends to destroy him is someone he would never expect.
The theme of this book--perhaps of all the Dark Elf books--is loneliness and how Drizzt deals with it. For a Drow elf, he's an anomaly: he's principled, morally good despite indoctrination into the wicked Drow culture, so his life growing up was lonely. The only person with whom he had any sympathy, friendship, and mutual regard was his father, Zacknafein. But Zack is gone, and Drizzt is alone in the Underdark. He seeks and finds true friendship, but soon realizes that by drawing close to other beings, he's put them in danger, and in order to protect them he must enter solitude again, this time by leaving the Underdark for the world above ground.
"As I became a creature of the empty tunnels, survival became easier and more difficult all at once. I gained in the physical skills and experience necessary to live on. I could defeat almost anything that wandered into my chosen domain. It did not take me long, however, to discover one nemesis that I could neither defeat nor flee. It followed me wherever I went–indeed, the farther I ran, the more it closed in around me. My enemy was solitude, the interminable, incessant silence of hushed corridors."
My brothers and I (all in our 40s) are reliving our geeky childhood by starting to play Dungeons & Dragons again -- now with our offspring!
We'reMy brothers and I (all in our 40s) are reliving our geeky childhood by starting to play Dungeons & Dragons again -- now with our offspring!
We're really enjoying the 5th edition of D&D. It has a "back to basics" feel to it, more focused on the broader strokes of gameplay than the minutiae of movement, skirmishes, and what-not.
So, in order to catch up on what I've been missing for the almost 30 years that have elapsed since I last attempted a d20 saving throw, I started reading about the various "worlds" in the D&D "multiverse." Little did I know it, but I started with a great one. I began Homeland, the first "Legend of Drizzt" novel, with a bit of skepticism, scoffing a bit to myself, "A Dungeons & Dragons novel? Really? I'll give it a try, but if I feel like I'm reading a transcript of a D&D game session, I'll put it aside."
I was not just pleasantly surprised -- I was really impressed. Salvatore is a good writer: smooth prose style, engaging characters, interesting plot, snappy pacing. This book is also a marvelous feat of world-building.* I was entranced. The culture of the drow elves is truly terrifying and oppressive, and from this dark world a believable hero arises.
Salvatore's only misstep, in my opinion, is the name of the main character, or rather, the fact that it's quite unclear how to pronounce his name. If there's an audio version available, I'd like to hear it; it could be quite a challenge even to a professional voice performer!
This is a good "origin story" for the dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
*Note: I'm not sure how much of the world is original to Salvatore and how much derives from Ed Greenwood's "Forgotten Realms" D&D campaign setting. ...more