Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: _Wreck of Heaven_ by Holly Lisle

Lauren and her sister Molly must fight to save the chain of worlds again in the second book of the World Gates trilogy. _Wreck of Heaven_ by Holly Lisle picks up where the first book ended to start a new effort to protect Earth,  Oria and other worlds from the dreaded Night Watch. The author provides another entertaining read in this second book of a series. It has realistic characters, a fast moving plot and strange magics.

Characters are important in stories to give readers someone to identify with through the book. These characters must change and be as human as possible. Realistic characters in this book make it interesting.  Lauren is a widowed mother thrust into danger with her son. She must use her magic again to save the boy and her world. In constant conflict, Lauren must choose between being a mother or duty to save Earth. Molly, Lauren’s sister, has a more difficult problem. After coming back to life, she must contend with the terrible knowledge of not possessing a soul. The book is focused on these two characters, but they receive help from secondary characters like Teo and Pete.

A fast moving plot keeps the reader engrossed to get to the end of a book. This story picks up a few weeks after the events in the first book. Lauren is trying to put her life back together and reassure her traumatized son. A messenger from Oria comes to tell her that her sister Molly is alive and wants to speak with her. Shocked by the news, Lauren struggles about getting involved in another problem. She eventually travels to Oria, meets her sister and they learn about the Night Watch, which is a group of soulless beings like dragons who feed on the deaths of worlds. The plot keeps moving quickly with a lot of action between short interludes of quiet moments. Ms. Lisle is a keen weaver of the plot that keeps the reader hooked until the end.

Finally, the author created strange magics to help give the story a lot of action to keep the book interesting. Magic is done by a person’s will, but they must travel to a world lower on the world chain then theirs to do magic. Use of magic must be done carefully because there is a feedback energy to the upper worlds that might create a disaster. Another interesting magic is the resurrection of certain beings all tied into gold metal. The use of this magic renders the wearer immortal but without a soul. Complications created by these magics helps the characters strive for creative solutions to difficult battles. Ms. Lisle’s creations of magic engenders the book with lively action.

_The Wreck of Heaven_ by Holly Lisle is an entertaining book because of its realistic characters, fast moving plot and strange magics. Holly Lisle is a talented Fantasy author that brings her books to life with plenty of action and tight prose. She keeps the second book of the World Gates trilogy interesting with having a lot of things going on in the book. Readers will find this book an exciting read. It is not a stand alone book, so readers will need to read the first book Memory of Fire to understand what is going on with the story. Enjoy the books.

Friday, July 04, 2014

On Writing Fantasy: Worldbuilding

Middle Earth. Valdemar. Mythago Wood. Midkemia. Amber. A reader hears these names and it conjures images in their mind of Fantasy worlds where epic battles took place, quests happened and heroes triumphed. In Fantasy writing, world building is an essential aspect of creating memorable stores that remain with readers for a long time. It takes time and patience. Some of the steps to strong world building are reading, thinking and research.

Reading is an important step for help to build memorable worlds. Read in the genre is which you want to write. This will give you ideas on what is being done, but this can lead to imitation. Try to avoid this. Don’t limit your reading. Keep it general. Read many different things like history, geography, cultural anthropology, etc. Mythology is helpful for adding a mythic element to your world. I find “Archaeology” And “Discovering Archaeology” magazine inspiring for ideas. Reading different things gives your brain a broad base of information to create a realistic world for your novel or story.

Another important step that leads to better world building is thinking. Take the time to think through the details of your world. World building isn’t just drawing a map. You must develop many things like a magical system, cultures, religions, and many other elements that make up a viable society. Reading different things helps here, but be careful. Try not to rely on role playing game manuals for your world building. They are insufficient to a writer’s unique imagination. Keep a notebook and write down the details you come up with of your various creations. You might not use all of the information, but it will help you keep track of inconsistencies and bring your world to life. I keep such a file on my ˛ computer to refer to while working on my novels.

Lastly, research is an important step in building your Fantasy worlds and cultures. It helps create believable worlds by using details about it. Also, it keeps a writer from making silly mistakes. For example, some writers have had horses that can run over fifty miles without rest. A real horse would die from such treatment. You can’t write about a sword maker without some idea on how weapons are made. Research is time consuming but very helpful. A good place to start is in the children’s section of a library. Here you can find books that explain things simply. From there, move on to other books, magazines, and the Internet. Try to confirm a detail you want to use by two independent sources. One caution: Don’t let the fascination of research take you from your writing. Combining the three steps of reading, thinking about your Fantasy world and research gives a writer a foundation for building a memorable story. With time and patience, you can create a detailed world that will propel your characters to their destinies.

These are just some of the basic techniques for world building. A writer can pick up more as their experience grows. So keep writing and imagine your world to its fullest. Maybe some day you’ll find your world will invoke memories when its name is mentioned.