Friday, February 27, 2009

On a Sadder Note...

Well, the poll is closing, and The Wise Man's Fear was the clear winner. Unfortunately, it's not coming out in April. In fact there's no publication date for it as of yet. Patrick Rothfuss explains in his blog.

At least it's going to be good. And long. Very, very long.

Okay, to give you an idea of what 300,000 words is like, take this for example: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was only 250,000 words long. So it's looong.

Yeah, that's pretty much all I had to say. Bummer, huh?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"PENDRAGON Prequel 2" review

PENDRAGON 10 is coming May 12. It's big. It means business. And it's spawned a trilogy of prequels that span the whole of Halla. So please, while you wait for The Soldiers of Halla, here's PENDRAGON Prequel 2.

No, I'm not using its full title. End of story. Drop it.

On the territory of Veelox, Aja Killian is in trouble. A classmate of hers has infiltrated Lifelight with a virus program. It's a game, called "King Hruth's Maze". And Aja's being framed. So with the aid of a man by the name of Press, she must enter the game, save a trapped student, and escape the maze. Oh, and by the way, find out what her purpose really is. But watch out! Saint Dane's influence on Veelox is strong...

Elli Winter lives on the territory of Quillan-- a territory run by deadly games in which the citizens compete for food. One day, not too long after her husband dies, Elli is swept into the hands of Quillan'd revolutionaries. She goes from becoming a cleaning lady to an integral part of excavs, missions to dig up lost books as a part of Mr. Pop. Don't know what Mr. Pop is? Read The Quillan Games, book seven in the PENDRAGON series. But can even the enigmatic Press, telling her stories of other worlds, help her when an excav is ambushed by dados?

Sixteen-year-old Alder is out of luck. He's been training to become a Bedoowan knight on the territory of Denduron for years, but no one has ever taught him. He's an overweight, bumbling oaf who can be easily beaten. That is, until an old man, Wencil of Peldar, decides to really train him. But can Alder complete his Great Ordeal-- going down into the poisonous air of the glaze mines to find a ring inside a room marked with a star? And who is this man named Press, who claims to know the secrets of the universe?

Prequel 2 is written by Walter Sorrels. He doesn't try to be like D. J. MacHale, but his style isn't a bad one. In my opinion, it's better than Prequel 1, which I believe I rated too highly. I'd give Prequel 1 an amended rating of 7. The extra 1.5 points accounted for the fact that I got to read about characters I haven't read about in years. But a 7 is what the book on its' own earned.

With that settled, I'd like to point out how well Sorrels teases the reader with familiar characters and plot elements that echo throughout the entire PENDRAGON series. No, it's not as good as a real PENDRAGON, but it's well worth the $7.00 I paid for it. A definite yes, but only if you're a PENDRAGON fan.

My rating: 8/10

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Writing a Fantasy Series, Part Two

Writing a Sequel
So you've made it through book one of (insert number here). Now what?

Fresh Meat
Chances are, by now, readers are fairly well-acquainted with your world and the characters that inhabit it. Hopefully, they've grown to love them as well-- or hate them, it doesn't really matter. So they want to see their old friends again. But don't just do the bare bones minimum. (The bare bones minimum, by the way can be put into an equation: original plot - same settings +new characters = sequel! It's that easy!)
The bare bones minimum isn't fun to read, and sincce most fantasy series aren't duologies, you'll want readers to come back (again). Yes, introduce new characters. It'll add depth to your story and help keep it from being boring. Yes, put in new settings. It'll keep readers more immersed in your world. But don't do this at the expense of totally abandoning the old ones. They're good, too.
But make your story interesting. Make it fresh. Make it new. For example, The Well of Ascension starts after where most series end. It's about rebuilding and acting nobly in the face of civil war, but it's about much more as well. The Rise of the Wyrm Lord took a risky move, sending a completely new character into the fray. Not only new to the story, but a different gender as well. This must have presented some interesting POV challenges for Wayne Thomas Batson. Which brings us to...
Point of View
Now, there are several ways to address the POV issue, and none is any more right than the others. There's the first-person view, which is hardly ever used in fantasy (notable examples being The Name of the Wind and Percy Jackson and the Olympians). Then there's the ever-so popular second-person POV. Yes, I'm being ironic. The only book I've ever read that used this POV to any major extent is You Don't Know Me. Not a fantasy, but very, very good. Third-person limited view can be seen in The Underland Chronicles, Harry Potter, and Charlie Bone. Third-person omniscient view, however, is the most commonly used (i.e. Mistborn, The Lord of the Rings, and PENDRAGON, as well as The Inheritance Cycle). Which one's working best for you? You'll have to decide. Though it's not done commonly, a series can switch from limited to omniscient POVs-- here's looking at you, Inheritance.
A Little Pinch of Darkness
Sequels tend to edge toward the darker side of life. This gives a nice way to set the book apart from its prequel, but just remember: a little pinch of darkness will do. Don't get too begged down in the heavy shadows or else your readers will get too depressed to really enjoy the book.
On Poetry and Songs
Use with caution.
Dangle that Carrot!
The second book in a series doesn't need to end with a cliffhanger. But make sure the readers are tantalized by the prospect of another entry in the series. Dangle the carrot in front of their noses, and they'll follow you wherever you go.
Do it tastefully, of course.
Part Three: The Penultimate Novel coming soon!

Monday, February 23, 2009

On the Oscars...

Honestly, I haven't seen any of this year's nominations for Best Picture or Director. Why? Because the Academy annoys me. They gave the Oscar to Heath Ledger. They had to. And WALL-E won the Best Animated Feature. Otherwise, the Academy ignored the two best movies of 2008. If I had my own Oscars, The Dark Knight probably would have snatched Best Picture and Director. Oh, and Best Original Score. Seriously, listen to the music. It's great.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ted Dekker: A Year in Anticipation

Well, he's doing it again. I don't know how Ted Dekker sleeps at night and still manages to dish out so many books a year. But he does. Here's a look at 2009 for Ted Dekker:

BoneMan's Daughters: They call him BoneMan, a serial killer who's abducted six young women. He's the perfect father looking for the perfect daughter, and when his victims fail to meet his lefty expectations, he kills them by breaking their bones and leaving them to die. Intelligence officer Ryan Evans, on the other hand, has lost all hope of ever being the perfect father. His daughter and wife have written him out of their lives. Everything changes when BoneMan takes Ryan's estranged daughter, Bethany, as his seventh victim. Ryan goes after BoneMan on his own.But the FBI sees the case differently. New evidence points to Ryan being BoneMan. Now the hunter is the hunted and in the end only one father will stand. Coming out April 14.

Lunatic and Elyon: Johnis, Silvie, and Darsal found the Books of History, and now it's time to return home--but five years have passed at home, and nothing is as it was. The Horde has taken over Middle, Thomas and the rest of the Forest Guard are in hiding, and a strange new force is challenging everything they thought they knew. Should the Chosen One continue to follow his heart . . . or is his heart finally leading them astray?

Darsal is trying to love the Horde as Elyon asked her to, but she's torn between this new mission and her original one . . . especially now that Johnis and Silvie no longer seem to be on her side.
The Chosen Ones are facing their greatest threat--extinction--and only by Elyon's grace will they survive to tell the tale. Coming out June 2.

Green: Book Zero of the Circle Trilogy. The beginning and the end. Comes out September 1.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

"Mistborn: The Hero of Ages" review

Once upon a time, there was a man named Brandon Sanderson. He worried he was not the writer everyone thought he was, for he had written two bad, unpublishable books. But then he decided he wanted to put out a trilogy in three years to show that yes, Brandon Sanderson could write a series, if only you will trust him.But he knew that trust was hard to come by, so he decided to Preserve the best barts of both of his worst books and Pull them together to create Mistborn. And-- what do you know?-- it worked. Really, really worked. Really, really, New-York-Times-bestselling-author really worked. Why? Because it's good. He wasn't Ruined by this challenge. Instead he became a Hero to all writers.

This is the final book in that trilogy. Oh, and if you didn't get any of those in-jokes in the first paragraph, then go away, and don't come back until you've read all of them. They're good. It's worth it. **And there are serious spoilers from here on out.**

Here we go: The Hero of Ages.

Years ago, Vin killed the Lord Ruler, ending his thousand-year reign. But it turns out that might not have been the best idea. Now the Deepness has returned in the form of lethal mists, alongside powerful earthquakes and heavy ashfalls. She and her husband, Elend Venture, now a Mistborn after the events at the Well of Ascension, must travel all over the empire to find clues the Lord Ruler left behind. Maybe these will show a way to defeat Ruin, the force Vin freed at the Well. Ruin is out to do as he promised he would, long ago: bring about the end of the world. And Vin can't talk about it with anyone, or else Ruin will find out her plans.

Now, this book is filled with drama. There are revelations everywhere that make you go, "Oh, wow, of course!" I can't really describe how good it is. This is what fantasy is meant to be. All of the glowing praises I lais on the first two books still stand, but multiplied tenfold. Simply put, Mistborn is not a reading experience to be missed. I purposefully haven't outlined much of the plot so you will be just as surprised as I was reading it. Don't miss it. It has given me complete faith in Brandon Sanderson to finish A Memory of Light, the last book in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time saga. Now I need to go find Elantris somewhere...

My rating: 10/10. Read it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Writing a Fantasy Series, Part One

Now, there's a lot of fantasy out there, and it's seldom found alone. There are tons and tons of series. Here's the question: what makes them great? Part One of this series analyzes how to begin a fantasy series in a way that doesn't leave readers, to put it mildly, annoyed.

The Starting Line
Most fantasies have a prologue in the beginning of the first book, either to explain what's going on or to plunge right in. These two very different approaches can both work very well, but not necessarily. Some examples of the "slow dipping-in of your toes" method are The Wheel of Time, which shows you a moment in history for one shining moment before giving the reader a hundred pages of introduction; and A Song of Ice and Fire, which gives a brief chapter of action before letting you know the characters (many of whom you will grow to know and love before they die in horrible ways). The "oh what the heck, let's just get with the story already" method can be seen in The Door Within, which starts, "The first sword missed Aidan's head by an inch"; and Mistborn, which starts, "Sometimes, I worry I'm not the hero everyone thinks I am". Notice really dynamic opening sentences in these examples, another good device to use.

Now We're Cooking With Gas
The hero(-ine) now is faced with some huge problems, whether it's fulfilling a prophecy (Gregor the Overlander), saving the known--and unwkown--universe from the hands of a tyrant (PENDRAGON), or perhaps just surviving in a magical boarding school (need I even say his name?). It's coming up with these missions that gives your story momentum, and if it's too boring, you'll lose the reader before they even start. And, since there's probably some good stuff in there, that's never a good thing.

The Star-Studded Cast
A good fantasy needs good characters, be they djinn (Children of the Lamp), dragon riders (Eragon or Pern), half-bloods (Percy Jackson and the Olympians), kings (The Cry of the Icemark), living legends (The Name of the Wind), or talking animals (Narnia). If the characters are lacking depth, then the story will fail, no matter how good the plot. So make them breathe.

Tune in soon for Part Two!