Friday, October 29, 2010

_Sometimes the Magic Works_ by Terry Brooks

This week’s article is a review of a book by Terry Brooks about writing. I thought I would share this review again since Nanowritmo is coming up. Enjoy.

Ever wonder where writers get their ideas, or how do they write books? Many people believe writing is easy and they can some day write a book too. Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks is a book that can answer these questions. The book is a combination of an autobiography about the author’s writing career and advice on writing books. Readers will get fascinating insights about the author. Writers will find a lot of good information about writing books.

Terry Brooks is a veteran Fantasy author with many books to his credit. He burst into the Fantasy genre with The Sword of Shannara and went on to publish several other books in the genre over the years. Once a lawyer, he became a full time writer after the success of his first book. In Sometimes the Magic Works, Mr. Brooks talks about the successes and failures in his career along with lessons he learned about writing and the publishing industry.

The opening chapters talk about Mr. Brooks’s early years. He explains how he was not all there, meaning he does a lot of daydreaming. This plays a lot into his writing. He talks of the importance of writers having to be in the real world and in whatever world they imagine to write about for their books. Another chapter covers his story about how publishing a book is partly luck. Readers learn that writing something is a major drive to a writer to produce works of enjoyment for the reading public as well as for their own pleasure.

Later chapters talk about the ups and downs in an author’s career. Mr. Brooks covers this with his experience with Hollywood in being asked to write a novelization for a movie. The entire experience is eye opening and leaves him frustrated. He learns excellent lessons that aspiring writers can heed for their careers.

Many other chapters provide valuable information for aspiring writers. Mr. Brooks covers the importance of outlining for some writers and thinking your novel or story completely through to the end before actually writing. He talks about beginnings and endings of novels. Talking about his time spent with his grandson, he tells the reader about the precious lessons to be learned from the imaginations of children. Writers should remember these lessons for their own creativity.

Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks is an enjoyably helpful book. Readers of Mr. Brooks’s books will learn some interesting things about this author’s life and career. Writers, whether beginning or accomplished, will gain considerable information about writing and the publishing industry. This small book is packed full with good information, humor and insights about writing. I highly recommend this book to Fantasy readers and aspiring writers.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review of _Lord of the Isles_ by David Drake

A thousand years ago, an island sinks into the sea by magic. One sorceress saves herself by traveling to the future by her magic. She ends up on the island of Haft, setting dangerous events in motion. This is the beginning of an Epic fantasy series begun in Lord of the Isles by David Drake. Mr. Drake has written many books in both the Fantasy and Science fiction genres. His books are full of action and plenty of lively events. This book is entertaining because it has an action plot, interesting characters, and a grand setting.

Books of any genre need action in their plots to draw a reader into the story. Some Epic Fantasy books start out slowly, taking many chapters before the action begins. Lord of the Isles has an action plot that begins right away. Tenoctris, the sorceress from the past, is washed up on the beach of Barca’s Hamlet. Her presence triggers events that will change the lives of four young villagers. The King of the Isles’s rule is in jeopardy. His queen practices dark magic again st him. Magical forces are building toward a dangerous confrontation. Mr. Drake takes all of his plot threads and weaves them into an action story. Chapters change to different viewpoint characters as he tells the story of each character from their point of view. Each chapter leaves a character on a cliffhanger, adding to the suspense. Action is a major part of each chapter.

Another entertaining factor of the book is the interesting characters. Four young people have their lives change rapidly. They come from a small village of sheep herders and fishermen. Garric reads poetry while herding sheep. He discovers new fighting abilities after leaving the village. Cashel, Garric’s friend, grows with a new magical talent. His quiet strength helps him through many difficult situations. Sharina is the daughter of murdered nobles and embarks on a dangerous trip to her new destiny. Ilna is drawn into darkness with her talent of weaving. The hermit Nonnus is a loyal protector of Sharina with a dark past. All of these ch aracters have flaws and grow throughout the story. They contribute to the entertaining pleasure of the book with likable characters going through challenging events.

Finally, the book’s grand setting adds to enjoyment of reading it. The setting is a strong piece of world building. Mr. Drake created a world with a vast history and interesting cultures. This world is made up of islands that form one nation with a king. One of the intriguing cultures is the Floating Folk. They are tribes of people that live on :boats tied together on the sea. Wherever the currents take them, they go around in a yearly cycle. The Folk hunt whales for their food and building materials. Islanders live in cities that are thousands of years old, which the author makes you see with his vivid descriptions. This book’s descriptive setting brings the story to life. It helps increase the book’s entertainment high.

Lord of the Isles by David Drake is an entertaining Fantasy because of its action plot, interesting characters and grand setting. David Drake is an excellent Fantasy author with a good imagination and who creates an impressive secondary world. He delivers a gripping Epic Fantasy that is the beginning of a new series. I recommend this book to readers who love action and intrigue. Be sure to check out the other books in the series.

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Friday, October 01, 2010

Mermaids in Fantasy

They roam the seas of our imaginations. Half woman, half fish, mermaids are mythical denizens of the ocean. Their presence in our myths reflect our continued fascination and fear of the mystery of the sea. Mermaids, mermen and other mer-folk vary in their appearances in myths and folk tales. Some are helpful, saving lives. At other times they are dangerous, luring humans to their deaths with siren songs. Mermaids appear in Fantasy too in a variety of media.

One of the most famous stories of a mermaid is the fairy tale of “The Little Mermaid” by Hans Christian Anderson. The mermaid falls in love with a human prince. She trades her voice to have legs on land, but can not tell the prince of her love. He marries another woman and she ends tragically like in many fairy tales. This story has inspired several retellings in different forms. Authors such as Charles de Lint use it to add a different twist to the story. Walt Disney Studios made it into a popular, animated musical movie a few years ago, though much of the power of the story is removed by this treatment.

Mermaid’s Song by Alida Van Gores is an Epic Fantasy of an undersea world. The Balance has been stable for years, guarded by the Seadragons. Now only two are left while evil is rising to destroy the sea world. A Between must be chosen to serve the dragons to help restore the Balance. Once the chosen were the Merra, but they are few in number due to an ancient betrayal. Elan is the young mermaid who must find her destiny and save the world. This book is a fascinating story of the ocean with magical creatures and a very different heroine.

Another book with mer-people is Poul Anderson’s The Merman’s Children. In this book the world of Fairy and humans interact closely. Four children of a merman seek their destiny by searching for their father to get some answers from him. It is a story about their lives and the destruction of Fairy at the end of the Middle Ages in Europe. They are persecuted by humanity as magic vanishes from the world. The author writes a strong tale of love and sorrow in a plain, but vivid prose. There is a powerful sense of poignancy in the book.

Mermaids have been the subjects of some popular movies too. Like Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” “Splash” was a funny romantic comedy some years ago. The mermaid fell in love with the character played by Tom Hanks. She follows on to land with some amusing scenes throughtout the movie. There is an old black and white movie about a mermaid also. “Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid” tells the story of a middle-aged man that finds a mermaid. He keeps trying to hide her from his wife and friends with many funny results.

Mermaids and their brethren are found in the mythology and folklore all over the world. Fantasy authors have used them to tell interesting stories of magical undersea worlds. Whether helpful or drawing people to their deaths, they express the human fear and awe of the mystery of the ocean. There are web sites where you can find more information and stories of mermaids. Go explore the undersea worlds.

Web sites:

http://www.seatails.com

http://users.javanet.com/~frodo/mermaids.html

http://mermaids.net

http://rubens.anu.edu.au/student.projects/mermaids/homepage.html

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