Rethinking Reading and The Darksword I

The Darksword Trilogy: Volume 1

The Darksword Trilogy: Volume 1

I recently decided that my reading was a bit haphazard. After completing a list of must-read of books I was left to my own devices trying to discover profitable reading material from the vast storehouse of literature. That was frustrating, to say the least. Too much to read, no context to appreciate what I was reading. After a few attempts I decided to limit myself to a particular era and supplement my reading with history, philosophy and poetry from the same era. After contemplating this for all of two minutes I settled on the French Revolution. History has always been a murky subject for me, but this was the fog among the murkiness; I couldn't make heads or tails of this event. Couple that with its enormous influence on the rest of European history, my ignorance of this era left me feeling historically inadequate; a feeling, I'm sure you agree, that is quite despicable and disheartening.

Sadly, there is no standard list of "books you must read to understand the French Revolution." Consequently, for now, I have limited myself to books written between 1770 and 1820. Happily, I have found this era full of great works that are not too ancient to be difficult to read or understand. On the side, I began reading a book on European history to give me a context for this literature. Most of this historical material I have read before for my coursework, but it is much more engaging when I don't have to read 100 pages a day for an assignment.

To the book at hand: Clearly The Darksword Trilogy is not from the 18th century. For some time now I have considered writing a fantasy novel. I have a robust pre-history that is ever expanding, a wonderful set of characters (in my opinion) and a basic plot for at least one book. One problem. I almost never read fantasy. I love Lewis and Tolkien more info

but I have yet to enjoy other fantasy authors, not that I have tried all that hard. Discerning this weakness my friend Steve Fitz. has taken it upon himself to recommend fantasy novels for me to read for my education in the subject. He has gone through great travail, at my behest, procuring a wide range of authors and styles for me to read to give me an understanding of the genre and its readers. As I did not want to be overcome by this pursuit, I have committed to read 1 fantasy book for every 3 literary novels I consume. (Steve, for his part, has allowed me to recommend 1 piece of literature for every 3 of his books he reads. Lord of the Flies is the first for him.)  Forging the Darksword was my first in this pact.

As I doubt many of my readers will be interested in this particular work I will make my comments brief. The writing was mediocre. The author's use of metaphors reminded me of Max Payne. Remember those great one-liners? "The night was cold, cold like a gun." In this book every breeze, bush, and bucket of water was personified, which became very grating over time. All the dialogue was broken up with enumerable details of body position, facial contortions, lip licking, breathing style and sweat rate. Come on! Just let the people talk for once! That being said, the story was decent, and the characters, while not believable in the least, were fun. I did learn a lot about conduits, life magic, and the differences between warlocks, mages, druids, and sorcerers. All important information.

The true frusteration of this book was that the author resolved almost nothing in the end. The climax was the death of a relatively minor villan with no change in situation for any of the major characters. If I enjoyed the book this would entice me to read on, but as it stands I doubt I will pick up any more of this author's books anytime soon, if ever.

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  • Fitz

    Series (esp. fantasy series) often resolve nothing, or very little in the first book. By the end of the series the main character will have saved two different planets. At the end of the first book, he is just playing in the forest with his new buddies.

  • If this book is any indication, you’re not kidding. In one sense that creates a very unsatisfying ending, but at the same time that lack of satisfaction longs to be fulfilled in another book; assuming, of course, that you enjoyed the first book. I partially felt like a good ending could have redeemed this books inadequacies, but the ending fell so flat it only confirmed everything else I already felt.
    And, I must note, your book was not that way at all. The story both satisfied and enticed. Is that too much to ask?

  • Have you tried any of “The Wheel of Time” series by Robert Jordan? In my opinion the first seven are about as good as it gets. The series is 12 long.

  • Sadly, I have not. I’m sure they will be coming soon enough as most people I have spoken to mirror your feelings about the series.

  • Feist. You must read Feist. Steve must have mentioned this to you. As for Wheel of time, I can bring you book one if you want…

  • Bring book 1. What is THE book to read by Feist. Steve has recommended him to me but I can’t get him to give me a specific “greatest” book by Feist. Perhaps you can improve upon his negligence and recommend a single book for me to start with.

  • Like most fantasy books you must read in series. I would start at the beginning…Magician is the first in the Krondor series!

  • I take it back, I read Magician Apprentice and Master. Not bad but not knock your socks off either. Perhaps he has a different series that is not related to the Magician books I could try?

  • Later on his writing gets better and the story start moving. If Feist doesn’t do it you could always try Modesitt. He wraps everything up in one book-every time…

  • Have any Modesitt recommendations?

  • Adam, since you enjoyed Frankenstein so much you should stick to “sci-fi” writings like that. I personally cannot stand most sci-fi or fantasy, but it turns out that I may have just been reading the wrong writing styles. I loved Frankenstein as well and we’ve had conversations in the past about books such as The Time Machine. Other books such as Drakula (just as different from the movie depictions as Frankenstein is) are written in a style similar to Frankenstein or The Time Machine. A story of someone telling a story or recapping research done or evidence found, but very subtle when it comes to actual chase or fight scenes.

    In a way, this makes this genre more believable to me. We’ve all read good scholarly accounts and scientific papers on dozens of real events so we know the formula. The formula becomes very strong when it is used to convey fiction as we’ve been brought up to believe this tone and style of writing as truth. So check out Stoker’s Dracula and also H.P. Lovecraft is an interesting horror writer. Again, though, don’t expect Texas Chainsaw Massacre or kids riding on Luck Dragons, all the same though, expect to be constantly reminding yourself that it’s made up, as the tone and form of writing is very “fact” based.

  • I will have to pick up Dracula soon. I have been pondering writing voices and such lately and you make a good point about these book. I also feel like I should pick up a mystery novel or two to see how they develop. Right now my only experience with mysteries in story are from television and I am sure the methods of plot development are much different. Good stuff.
    BTW you’re right. The Never Ending Story was a horror film.

  • I’m telling Chrissy you said that.