Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book Review: Sword in the Stars, Part 1

I finished Sword in the Stars a few days ago!  Here are my thoughts on the book, more or less in the order they came to me while I was reading it... since I have so much to say, I'm going to split it into two parts, so it's not so overwhelming!

About the book...
Title: Sword in the Stars
Author: Wayne Thomas Batson
Series: The Dark Sea Annals
Genre:  Fantasy

My thoughts...

* It has a good opening chapter.  The very first sentence grabs your attention: "Alastair Coldhollow tried to wipe the blood from his hands but failed."  The rest of the chapter introduces mystery and intrigue that instantly makes you interested in the story.

* Myriad, the fantasy world of the book, seems to be a well-developed world.  There is diversity among the different races and people groups.  There are bits of literature and history that start off every chapter.  (I especially liked the "Books of Lore"; the equivalent of the Bible in their world.)  There is a developed geography.  (Although, I found the geography a little -- just a little -- hard to visualize without a map.)  Batson also created a complete dating system for the world, and even a speech dialect!  It feels like you could just step into "Myriad", as if it were a real place.

* I found it interesting how the book deals with the Alastair's (the main protagonist's) past.  It is a mystery at first that you have to discover as you read.  This aspect of the story reminded me of Behold the Dawn (click here to see my review for that book).

* One thing I didn't like:  "Gorracks", one of the creatures/races of the story, looked too much like "orcs" to me (especially since they played a similar role in the story that orcs play in Lord of the Rings).  It seemed like the word "orcs" with a bunch of letters added in.  Maybe other people wouldn't make that association, but I did.

* The characters in this book are the best characters Batson has ever made.  I felt like the characters in The Door Within, Isle of Swords, and Isle of Fire were a little bit flat, but these characters were entirely dynamic and three-dimensional.  My favorites were probably King Aravel and Alastair.  When I heard (or rather, read) their names, an entire image and personality came instantly to mind; almost like with real people.  I found myself COMPLETELY, ENTIRELY drawn in to these characters; sitting on the edge of my seat to see what would happen to them, and watching with total suspense and intrigue as some of them revealed certain dark secrets (you'd have to read the book to know what I'm talking about).  I was glued to the story; grabbed by the throat, and it would not let me go... the reason, though, was because of the characters... much, much more so than the plot.

* Although... (this is in continuation of the last point), I would have to say that it took until I was about 1/3 of the way through the book before it really grabbed me, and it got really good.  You've got to get through the first third of the book... just trust me.  Just read through 1/3 of it, and if you're not hooked by then, well... that's probably not going to happen, so I'll leave it at that.  =)

Original 3D art by Wayne Thomas Batson: Shepherd Hollow, from the Dark Sea Annals

* About 1/4 of the way through the book, King Morlan (the antagonist) did not feel very scary to me.  He was not an exceptionally convincing villain yet.  But then, about 1/3 of the way through, this changes entirely.  He has an encounter with "Sabryne", the source of ultimate evil in this story (seems to be the equivalent of Satan), and King Morlan becomes a different person.  The evil in the book (which also includes Cythraul, another villain who I thought was creepier than Morlan) gets really creepy, even violently disturbing.  Sabryne, Morlan, and Cythraul are very "Batson-style" bad-guys, reminding me of Batson's other great villains: Paragor from The Door Within and Bartholomew Thorne from Isle of Swords/Fire.  In fact, the evil in Sword in the Stars was possibly the most disturbing out of all Batson's books so far.

* Batson uses some familiar fantasy creatures (like dragons), but he also creates a lot of his own.  Some of them are based off of familiar fantasy creatures, (the Willowfolk, for an example, are a lot like fairies), and others are completely of his own making.  It creates a somewhat fresh feel to the familiar genre.

* I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the theme of redemption in this story!  The way he deals with redemption is immensely, profoundly powerful.  It's worth reading the whole book just for this.

* The book is very imaginative.  Batson sure has quite an imagination.  =)  I found it inspiring, too... especially the way he developed his characters... it inspired me with my own fantasy story.  (I intend to begin writing my fantasy story after I finish my futuristic novel.)

* I think this is the first time we're seeing Batson's own, unique fantasy writing style really develop.  With The Door Within Trilogy, he was writing his very first books; just starting his writing career, or just putting his foot in the water, if you will.  With the pirate books, he was developing his craft some more; but they weren't actually fantasy.  Then, he wrote the Berinfell Prophecies with Christopher Hopper, and developed his craft a little more; but the books weren't completely his own, unique works.  Now, with The Dark Sea Annals,and he is finally writing his own, unique fantasy stories.  While I was reading the book, I couldn't really say, "This is Tolkienesque," or "This is very Lewis," or "This is very any-other-author;" all I could say was, "This is Wayne Thomas Batson."  I feel like in this book, he's showing us his real, true fantasy style for the first time.  (Not that The Door Within Trilogy was not Batson's real fantasy style; it just wasn't as developed yet, I don't think.)

* There's some fun symbolism and foreshadowing throughout the book that literature people would like.  (I expect that is caused, at least in part, by the fact that Batson is an English teacher...)

That's all for now... I'll tell you the rest of my thoughts later!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Picture of the Month

I might not be able to blog for a while.  Something has crashed on my computer...

Monday, April 4, 2011


I normally refuse to do tags, but I decided to make an exception, and waste a few minutes of my time filling out this one. The tag relates to whatever story you're writing, (in my case, a speculative novel about what America would be like hundred years in the future), which I thought might be fun to fill out. 

The entire tag is 75 questions long, but I'm not going to fill out the whole thing. To see an example of the entire tag, click here. Feel free to waste a few minutes of your time, too, by filling it out on your own blog. :-)

1. What’s your word count?Just over 29,000 words.

2. How long until you finish?
I'm guessing sometime within the next half year or so.

4. Do you have an outline?

5. Do you have a plot?

6. How many words do you typically write a day?
I feel like I've had a good day if I've written at least 500 words. I don't think I've ever written more than 1,000 words in a day.

7. What was your greatest word count in one day?
About 1,000

8. What was your least impressive word count in one day?
One word.  :-D That's because I was editing, and while I actually changed a lot of things that day, the net gain of words -- when factoring in all the words that got deleted -- amounted to uno.

9. What inspired you to write?
That's funny. I don't even remember when I first started writing. My mom says it was Beatrix Potter when I was three years old, but believe me, my writing style is nothing like Beatrix Potter now. :-)

12. Which character is most like you?
The main character... I'll just call her "A", because I'm not going to disclose her name yet. :-) :-)

19. Is there magic in your novel/story?

21. Does anyone die?
One character does. Actually, as a matter of fact, I just wrote the sentence that killed him yesterday. That was how I concluded my writing session of the day.

26. Have you dreamed about your novel/story or its characters?
The main story line was based off of a dream, actually.

31. What was the last thing your main character ate?
Uh... some pasta, I think. And it was a good thing, too, because she was somewhat in danger of starving to death. :D

36. Are there any explosions in your novel/story?

37. Is there an apocalypse in your novel/story?
No... but I'm thinking there might be, if I write sequels to this story.

51. Is there humor?
Some lame attempts at humor. But they're not very common.

52. Is there tragedy?
A little bit.

56. Does anyone in your novel/story wear glasses?
Hmm... someone may end up wearing glasses later in the story, but I haven't written that part yet.

60. How many people have asked to read your novel/story?
About four or five, I reckon

64. Does anyone bleed in your novel/story?
Yes. Not excessively. But they bleed.

65. Do any of your characters watch TV?

67. Do any of the characters in your novel/story use a computer?

This is one hundred years in the future.  Practically everything involves computers. :)

69. Did you cry at killing off any of your characters?I haven't yet.

70. Did you cheer when killing off one of your characters?
Ha! No.

72. Describe your ending in three words.
It's a secret. :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Blog!

I just realized... two days ago was the two year anniversary of my blog! 

Happy 2nd Birthday, "Pursuing the Truth!"

I hope you all will join me for many more years of seeking, proclaiming, and defending the truth!

Over and out,

America's Next President?

Donald Trump (above) is a self-made millionaire who may run for president on the Republican ticket in 2012.  While he has no political background, many people are finding him attractive because of his enormous experience involving money and finances (a worthy presidential quality for attacking the present financial situation in America), and his no-nonsense, assertive personality.  

Just out of curiosity, what do other people think about him?  Do you like him?  Dislike him?  Despise him?  If you're a Republican or conservative, would you vote for him?  Are there other potential Republican candidates that you would rather vote for?  I welcome all honest comments.

WOW!!! A chance to win a MILLION dollars! You don't want to miss this!!!!

What?  It's April Fool's Day!  You really thought I was being serious?!

I hope you have lots more opportunities to laugh today.  It's healthy to laugh!  ;-)

Over and out,