Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Books and Stories Read Just Lately

Ghost Waves: The Pirate Slayers Book one, by W. Everett Prusso
This was a swashbuckling/historical YA tale of 4 youth from New York bound for California that fall overboard a ship in 1846. The book started a little slow for me, building background and setting, once it got going however I enjoyed it. The tale follows primarily 2 teen boys and 2 teen girls Thomas, Matt, Nicole and Elizabeth on their adventure to make it to California and their families.

I enjoyed Prusso's vivid descriptions of sailing and navigation that were woven
seamlessly into the story, so that you learned as the characters learned.
Overall I found myself most captivated and interested in the principal villianess-Vanessa Scrimshaw, she is a pirate captain born of the bitterness between the British and French, who ruthlessly takes whatever she wants-like all good pirates do. While colorful she is not without historical counterparts-she even spins a rather fanciful tale of infamous female pirate Ann Bonny.

I think my biggest complaint with the book is I wanted more of Captain Scrimshaw rather than the main characters (the Pirate Slayers themselves), to me she is a more fully realized character.
I look forward to the sequel Scrimshaw's Revenge.

ORON, by David C. Smith
This book is a heroic fantasy set in the far flung past. Again I had a hard time because of a slow beginning. Smith actually starts this one with a 12 page history of this fantasy continent Ataluma? going through eons. I found myself wondering if he
was hoping to write something similar to Howard's The Hyborian Age. Sorry but he didn't cut it, I nearly put the book down and left it-why didn't I? Because it also had some fantastic interior art by Clyde Caldwell.
While perusing the art I was intrigued enough to keep reading and find out the stories behind the black and whites.
Again once things got going I was interested. Smith comes up with some great ideas for fantasy, the Hero Oron cutting off the hands of the sinister warlord Amrik early and then leaving him was great because you knew it was going to come back and haunt him but how? Smith has a sorcerer come and give Amrik demon hands-excellent-I am glossing over here to get down to the real review.
Oron is as good as most other heroic tales but it drags. Smith seems to be going to the Robert Jordan school of writing in that we get detail on all kinds of things leaving you wondering Is This Important? Guess what? No it wasn't-it was just detailing for details sake. This was written in 1977 the heyday of Sword and Sorcery fiction and yet it's nearly twice as long as anything from that era. I can't help but think that IF this had been edited to the atypical length of most of those books from the 70's this might have been considered really great instead of just alright.

Conan and the Songs of the Dead, by Joe Lansdale and Tim Truman
This is a graphic novel of a 5 issue series. Trumans art is detailed both gruesome and vibrant-that's always a must for me to love comics. I haven't read a lot of Lansdales stuff previous to this but what I have I like a lot-Bubba Ho-Tep is my all time favorite rest home Elvis and JFK versus Mummy movie
ever. Lansdale delivers a rough tale of double dealing and the Cimmerian at his most savage. Somethings I thought were a little over the top but not enough to dampen a good action packed read. Still don't know how Pict's ended up down in Stygia without explanation but the climactic end-the last 2 pages-were classic Conan.

Short Stories I read this week.

The Heroic Fantasy E-zine Flashing Swords is now defunct but I read a couple this last week because the site is still up.
Prayer of the Warrior, by Nathan Meyer
This is a classic example of sword and sorcery, savage and sinister. Vargas escorts a mysterious priestess to a cursed ruined inn. Terrible diabolism and bloody handed mayhem ensues with some great twists. You can read it here.

Homecoming, by Bruce Durham
This is a continuing tale of Dalacroy and Moirya, characters from Durham's excellent Marsh God tale, I'll have to review the graphic for that as soon as can get it. In this short story they return to Moirya's home city and revolution has torn the land apart with invaders in control, crucifying nobles and any that would resist their occupation. One thing I really like about Durhams work that I have read is the light amount of magic involved-don't know why but I prefer magic to have a cost and be a tool that requires more than just saying words aloud. This tale could almost have been set in Renaissance Italy what with all the double-crossings and intrigues. I quite liked it. You can read it here.

Highway Songs, by Angie Lofthouse
This pseudo sci-fi/spiritual tale was just recently posted in the latest issue of Residential Aliens another e-zine. Taking place in the not too distant future a truck driver who just wants to get home, is drawn into a apocalyptic mystery and must help prevent a Native American blood sacrifice ritual looking to bring about the return of Kukulacan. You can read it here
Sacred Places, by Angie Lofthouse
This one isn't contained in any of the previous e-zines but I loved it and you can read it here. How can you go wrong with an archaeological dig in the San Pete Valley for a mysterious Temple of Fire (Jaredites) and unexpected even sympathetic polygamists. I love Angie's writing-when are you going to have a novel available?


Anonymous said...

remeber that time in futurama when fry gets the hands of robot devil?
that was awesome.

Angie said...

Thanks so much, David. I'm really glad you liked the stories. I hope I have a novel available sometime in near future!

ResAliens said...

Thanks for the shout out. Will have to add your blog to my list at ResAliens the Blog! :-)

David J. West said...

I missed that Futurama.

I look forward to it Angie.

Thanks Lyn, I plan on subbing something to you for your next anthology.

Paul R. McNamee said...

I have a Oron book from later in the series. I hope the world building exposition is dropped by then.

What I really liked about Bruce's "Homecoming" is that in a true Robert E. Howard style, he went for a story that was 'historical' if you will. It's his s&s hero, but this story had no magic (that I recall.) It was a straight adventure tale. Not unlike some of Conan's wilderness adventures with the Picts (though, there was some sorcery in those.)

David J. West said...

Thanks for the comment Paul, the only hint of magic I recall was the magic blade in the story that knew of Dalcroy's feelins for Moirya, which wasn't much but was still just a little something supernatural.

Bruce D. said...

Thanks for the extremely kind words on my story, Dave.

As both you and Paul alluded, my S&S stories are purposely light on magic, tending more toward the historical. When it comes to creatures I tend to use those that are less mystical, opting for those grounded in 'realism'. (Well, except for the 'thing' in 'Night of the Meld'... :) ). I'm a firm believer that magic should be used sparingly and exact a heavy price. As for the 'knife', that sorcerous object will be explained... one day...

David J. West said...

I appreciate it Bruce. I plan on catching up with the rest of your catalog.

Melanie Goldmund said...

Thanks for the links to the two Angie Lofthouse stories, Dave. I was completely blown away by them and want to read more!

Voidwalker said...

Lots of reads! I'm more apt to check out the Conan stuff though. My dad was a huge fan of the Conan novels and got me sucked in.

David J. West said...

Yeah, that is the good stuff, and all the great Conan stuff your Dad used to read has all been reprinted in excellent editions just lately. I would strongly recomend the Robert E. Howard's
Coming of Conan the Cimmerian
Bloody Crown of Conan and
Conquering Sword of Conan

Angie said...

Thanks, Melanie! You can read more of my published stories on my blog, Notes From the Writing Chair. There's a link in my profile.

(Thanks again for the publicity, David.)

Brian Murphy said...

Thanks for the reviews. Joe Lansdale is a great writer--the guy tells stories about as well as anyone I've ever encountered. I'll be doing a post on him very soon over at my blog. I actually did not know he was doing some Conan graphic novel work.

Voidwalker said...

I didn't know that. I may have to revisit those reprints for my inner Conan.

David J. West said...

Thanks for dropping by Brian, I definetly think Lansdale brings something special-and while not my favorite pastiche piece it is still miles above others.

Voidwalker-yes they are awesome. I don't know how to compare them to Zelany's work yet (stil haven't read him) but for sheer poetic action prose he is my favorite.