Warning Signs

I’ve finally finished reading through my Kansas backlog, and my Things I’ve Borrowed from John backlog, and I’m back to the Books I Got at the Convention backlog. It’s the most inconsistent of the backlogs on my shelf, but I was in the mood for good ol’ sword and sorcery fantasy and there was one sitting ready for me.

Now, these days, it seems fantasy writers are simply incapable of fitting their stories inside the covers of a single volume; in fact, It’s gotten to the point where giving your reader a satisfying experience in a single book is considered a negative. So, the first warning sign was not unexpected: at the bottom of the front cover, we find Series Title: Book One in large type.

The second warning sign was also on the cover — there was an ampersand. Two authors. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it increases risk. Will the voice of the writing be consistent?

I opened the cover and turned to the inevitable map. Can’t have a fantasy novel (er, volume? fragment?) without a map. And… another map. And… a third map. I scanned the maps for anything named “of doom“, but happily I didn’t spot any. There were a few choice names to be found, like ‘Mountain of the Quivering Cromlech’, which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence. But then, maybe in context the silly name will make sense.

Only one more obstacle before we reach chapter one: the prologue. Gotta have a prologue. In the first movement of the prologue we have some tension, a nice chunk of action, a glowing sword, and derring-do. In the second movement we have our hero (of the prologue) riding a horse, thinking back on what has happened since all that action. My guess is that I’ve now experienced the different styles of the two writers.

There’s one guy on the good guy’s team that he doesn’t like the look of, which brings us to the action-packed third movement, which included betrayal, death, an impression of a Greater Evil, escape, and a ninja. Yeah, I’m sure when the story gets back to them they’ll have a different name, but it was a ninja.

And now, on page 37, we reach chapter one, and the story gets off to a leisurely start, including a brief history lesson on all that’s happened between the prologue and the present. There are a whole lot of names and places whizzing past, and I hope I’m not expected to remember them all. The convenient reflection by the hero is followed by action, and we see that while our guy has strengths, he’s got a lot to learn. One of the good guys found an artifact in the woods while they were at it. I hope that wasn’t a coincidence — that will really piss me off if he just happened to run across a key plot token in the woods on the day the bad guys arrive.

It all boils down to this: There are two buddies, and they’re about to begin a quest for an important thing to defeat the evil guy. And there will be ninjas. Not sure if the magical geezer is going to join them or not.

Exactly what I was hoping for.

Note: if you use the above link to buy this book (or a Kindle, or a new car), I get a kickback.


7 thoughts on “Warning Signs

    • Thanks for the heads-up, floater. I think I’ll be closing the forum until I can get it moved into the new WordPress site. phpbb is just too much of a maintenance pain.

  1. After reading last night, I’ve decided to print out a copy of the Fantasy Novelists Exam and keep score as I read. This story is already racking up the points and we haven’t introduced any significant female characters yet.

  2. Ha. Carol Anne sent me over after I posted the following complaint letter on Facebook:
    Dear Authors: Once upon a time, people wrote books that began shortly after the front cover, and actually ended (“and they all lived happily ever after”) shortly before the back cover. What happened to that?

    Signed: A Frustrated Reader Who Is Partway Through So Many Trilogies That She Can’t Keep Track Of Them.
    Looks like we’re on the same page (ha ha) on this one. My particular issue is that I work at a publishing house that does a lot of these. It’s entirely too easy to grab a book out of the giveaway bin, get partway through it & be hooked through the gills before you figure out that this is supposed to be some sort of long term relationship. Gaaaah!

    Of course if the other books in the series could be relied upon to appear in the same giveaway bin in order, it wouldn’t be quite so bad.

    • You know what’s funny? This episode is the first of a trilogy.

      Part 2
      Part 3

      But it’s a trilogy of episodes that each individually provides a complete blog-reading experience: Statement, disjointed narrative, inside joke, poorly-suppored conclusion. All you would expect in a blog episode. If you follow the narrative through the entire trilogy there is extra payoff, (the term used loosely here), but each episode stands on it own.

      • oh noooo!

        Well, at least a blog trilogy, I should be able to finish off in one evening, and I won’t be stuck scrounging the giveaway bins desperately looking for the next one!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *