Saturday, October 31, 2009

Putting the Pen Down

In other good news, I've put down the metaphorical pen.

Fallen, the play I have been working on since June, is now done.

At least the first draft haha. 

But it is completed and done and finished and done and finished and completed and I very happy. I am happy with the words and the ending and the characters and a myriad of other things my tired brain can't think of.

It will, of course, in the end need tinkering and retooling and revising and editing and other english major terms.

But for now, it is done, and that makes me happy.

Now I turn south to Editing, a city of revising miscreants, who always take back what they've said and carry around erasers, to edit things that may or may not be words, but can indeed be changed.

Hope people have read my review from before and for those interested, I will hopefully be writing up my review of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson's Wheel of Time novel, The Gathering Storm, next week.

Until then gang!

Review: Servant Of A Dark God by John Brown

So I was thinking to myself the other day, I say, "Self! This blog is awesome and we do awesome things on it, but we can do even MORE awesome things if we put our minds to it!" 

So Self and I sat down and we seem to have to come to a pretty awesome conclusion.

I love to read; it's been a thriving, burning, some would say ridiculous passion for many, many years. And boy-howdy am I proud of it. I love it. I started young with that young about the snowman, and other such books, but it wasn't enough. Luckily, Pop got me hooked early; not on drugs, but something as equally addicting: Fantasy novels, and comic books. My gateway drugs were the Chronicles of Narnia, and old Red Circle characters such as The Comet, The Web, The Inferno, all of those guys. Both works are filled to the brim with classic tropes; Narnia for it's epic story, solid, unshakeable heroes and heroines, and fantastical items, people and creatures. The superheroes were powerful, defiant and laid down the law with their chiseled jaws. These led me to Archie Comics and Lord of the Rings, to Spider-man and Redwall and so on.

Until I hit Neil Gaiman and his novel, American Gods. Ho-lee Shit . . .

That's the book that turned me and my notion of fantasy on our heads. These could be dark places, filled with malevolent forces and tricksters, overflowing with mythos and legends, some past, some modern. From there, the door was opened and I devoured everything I could under this heading, this new type of fantasy. Some select among the bunch are The Sandman series, Wheel of Time series, A Song of Ice and Fire, Dark Tower series, Mistborn series, Name Of The Wind and so many, many more. 

And a new one to the fold, John Brown's, "Servant Of A Dark God."

Brown's book falls, in my opinion, under the heading of the aforementioned titles, as a dark fantasy, brimming with hidden lore, ancient power, old threats and new heroes. It is the first in a trilogy and I would say Brown does exceedingly well in crafting a tale of family, magic, duty and power.

Servant Of A Dark God follows Talen, a young Koramite farmer who lives with his family; Da, his brother Ke, sister River and cousin Nettle, who is a Mokaddian. They live peacefully and work hard to make a living, in a world where Koramites are looked down upon by Mokaddians, and must do what they can to please them. The plot begins when a local Koramite family is accused of Slethery which is the illegal use of lore (magic), usually to tamper with a thing's Fire, the accumulation of a person's living days, Soul or Body. A great hunt is mustered to catch the Sleth and their children; Talen and his family are drawn into the conflict and must come together, despite hidden secrets, and survive.

Meanwhile, an ancient evil has risen, one whose Mothers had once herded and cultivated humans for their Fire, and she intends to continue the tradition.


This is a good book. One of the better I've read this year. It's astonishing the amount of backstory and thought that went into crafting this book. John Brown is able to take a simplistic setting, a quiet opening of pants gone missing, and slowly introduce a world filled with magical rulers, evil gods, Fire and lore, and a beast made of stone and earth, more on him later.

One of the things I truly loved about the book, was the aspect of family. Introducing characters separate and then bringing them together is a tried and true approach to character development. Brown opting to follow the story through a tight-knit family, brought me into them instantly. Characterization is huge for me, in both my reading and what I write. As a family, the book already opened with the characters familiar with one another and I felt that connection right off the bat. 

Another thing that really impressed me was the magic system. I always respect an author for taking the time and consideration to craft and hone a really intricate but exciting magic system, something I am attempting right now. Two of those examples would be the three entirely different magic systems from Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn system (highly recommended), Allomany the first among them, and the incredibly scientific yet magical system of Sympathy from Patrick Rothfuss' Name Of The Wind. 

Brown's use of magic through the use of weaves, lore and especially Fire is complex and interesting, the surface barely being scratched in this first novel. We know men can multiply their natural abilities using Fire or special weaves, such as the dreadmen, but as shown through one of the Divines, or The Mother, there are things our heroes barely know of. Add that to the fact that men may be born with different abilities and we've yet to see what Talen may fully do, I am patiently impatient to see what there is to come.

Victor's Crown for the win, just saying.

One thing that I think Brown is missing at some points, is a lack of cohesion in some aspects of the government and hierarchy of the world, and some points in the story. I understand leaking out small details about the world over the course of the story, of course, you want to slowly engage the reader in your world, no worries. I felt at some points however, the action of the story, and the detail of the world somewhat muddled together and I became a tad lost as to why things were happening. I saw a bit of the same in the plot, where I became lost as some characters suddenly were elsewhere and I felt maybe some time could have been given to transitions, or maybe I did not notice it at first. Either way, both are fixable by either a quick look in the glossary in the back, or backtracking a few pages to catch yourself up; neither of which deter from the book in any significant way.

Lastly, I must say, Hunger has to be one of my favorite characters in the novel. A beast made of stone and earth, inhabited by a dead Divine, and possessing the soul of an anguished father, Hunger is one of the most dynamic characters of the novel. I applaud Brown's use of humanizing him; it was horrible to witness his realization about what happened to his, "family." Kudos sir!


Servant Of A Dark God is a successful novel for John Brown, and I wish him all the best in its sequel, Curse Of A Dark God due out sometime next year; I await it eagerly. Filled with ancient threats, family struggles, powerful magic and a giant beast of earth and stone, what's not to love? Do yourselves a favor and go pick up this book, you won't be disappointed.

4.5 Stars out of 5!

PS: I will be shortly posting this on Mr. Brown's Twitter, which is how I found out about the book. We've chatted back and forth a couple times, and he seems like a pretty swell guy. Hope he likes the review and that we can keep in touch!

The Day The Pumpkin Came and Went

Y'know, I was going to do a blog on news in my life and a blog on reviewing one of the new awesome fantasy books I've read, but seeing as it's Halloween, I feel inclined to let you know what I think of it, as a young adult now and not a toddler of yore.

I still love it, I do. The atmosphere is impeccable; you can taste the darkness in the air, the slight hint of something being off. As though something has bridged this world, this night, and some other place, that is slightly more off then this one. A world of frights and ghouls, a place where a whisper in the wind is more a living thing then a breeze, a place where pumpkins cast looks of wariness and authority, backlit by crimson and orange light. It's a time to let your mischief run wild, become the impostor, release the Id, let loose the shackles you hold on indecency and craziness and let yourself run into the night.

Now, I'm done waxing poetic, but that's my take on Halloween; it's a time of dressing up by dressing down, of offering an ultimatum to uncertain individuals. "Trick Or Treat," = "Give Us Candy Or Else." Though that's been toned down a day due to terrorism scares and economic collapse, the basic message is the same for all you kids . . . until you hit your teenage years. 

It's strange, who wouldn't love dressing up and walking around at night with friends being given basically free food? Don't they realize that this is the kind of scheme third world countries would die for? How could you ever think for a moment, "I'm getting way too old for this."

Because at some point along the line, for 80% of the teenage population, Halloween becomes two different things. For guys, it's who can do the most damage, and for girls, it's who can show the most skin and still be legally allowed outside and not solicited as a lady of the night. This holiday of trickery, mayhem and sugar rushes turns into one of debauchery and scantily clad ladies! 

Not that I mind all of this, a little bit is fine, because we do grow older, and guys want to mess around, and girls want to flaunt what they got, I understand. But seriously, ladies and gents? Wrapping caution tape around your breasts, IS NOT A COSTUME! Wearing shorts so short you can feel the hem when you cough IS NOT A COSTUME! And gents c'mon, I'm all for a good time, but pulling the fire alarm at 4 in the morning isn't fun, it's goddamn stupid. 

I don't know . . . maybe it's me who is behind the times. I'm still sitting waiting for the Great Pumpkin while Pig Pen and Charlie get into a drunken brawl down on Ontario because Pig Pen hit on his little sister . . . (Yes, I just matured and ruined classic, iconic characters of our past because it drives home a point.)

But I don't care. I know enough of the 20% that still loves free food and good company and I'm not giving up on Halloween. Sure, maybe twenty years down the road I should consider maybe not doing it, but I have a feeling when I'm married and I have kids, I'll be dressing up too and trick-or-treating with them. Either that or imposing a Daddy Candy Tax, you know, like the British did.

Either way, I'll be enjoying Halloween. And hope all of you do as well.

Happy Halloween Internet. I really do like the Myspace costume.

It's super scary.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sweating Out My Demons

"Good evening my soulless minions of the world," he said in his best Warren Ellis impression voice, which turned out to be nothing more then a sort of disgruntled yet wise British sort of voice.

Hope all is well with all of you. I'm doing well, just plodding onwards and upwards with all things in my life. Tonight I feel like I should be busy but I'm not . . . it's a strange feeling, being so busy then coming up with a day when you are not, I feel like I need to be doing something, so I'm here.

A train of thought pulled into the station tonight and I wanted to explain it to y'all, if anyone's interested. If you're not then just sit there patiently and then we'll do what you want to do.

I have two friends, both of them were great friends with each other; great friends with me as well, but these two clicked in a way only found among legos or remote controls. And then college happened. And then more things happened. And now they are no longer friends.

One wants to make peace, the other does not. It's a strange thing to watch, to see the battle but not be of it. It is a regrettable thing to see happen and it really does sadden me to think that this can happen to the best of us. That even the best of us together can be torn apart by the worst of human sentiments. 

And they know that this isn't a judgment in them, that's not me. But to me, friendship is an organic thing. It is neither by the will of one or the other as to where it goes. It's a marriage, a polygamous one, yeah, but a marriage nonetheless. Actions, decisions, thoughts, events occur not by the will of one, but of two. 

So I sit here scratching my head, when now, months later, one extends the olive branch and asks for new beginnings, maybe even a hello. And I tear that hair out when the other refuses, blaming her reasons on some weird code or arrangement she believes she is following. And maybe ultimately, that is better for them. But I say again, things can never change among two people, two friends, unless they are both willing to come out and extend their hands to each other, trusting that this time will be better.

So that's what I got to say about that.

In other news I am trying to get back to the gym, sweating my demons out, (oh Marty that was your title! - Yes I know I am SO smart). It sucks and it's terrible, but hell, it's what I got to do. And I know if Mike was here he'd kick me in the groin and throw me out a window if he learned I had no time for it.

I know, I'm exaggerating. 

Anywho, off to do some writing. Is it homework? Is it fun-work? SPIN THE WHEEL AND FIND OUT!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Star Skin Edit

Well, Mom raised a good point. 

The big bad Copyright Monster is strong in its own right, extremely so sometimes. Yet against the Jerk On The Internet, it stands no chance. 

So thanks to Mom,always filled with good ideas, I have taken down the story. But I have saved it, and may again put it back up here once I do some official copyrighting and whatnot. Until then, please feel free to email me at asking to read it, and I can send it to you =]

Thanks! Now off to an open mic!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hey Internet, I'm Still Alive!

Wow . . . I'm embarrassed. 

Seriously, wow. I'll just stand over here and feel bad about myself. 

It's been almost 3 weeks! 3 WEEKS! Holy Mackerel Andy . . . I'm so sorry Internet . . . it's like I've been on a business trip but never updated, linked, posted or wrote while I was away. I've been so freaking busy it's not funny.

I will now feel Shame and Shame's second cousin, Disdain, from you, my beloved Internet Community. I will serve penance for exactly 15 minutes, as that is how long it takes for me to write this blog. Should I finish early, I'll submit myself to Torture by Rick Astley for the remainder of the time. But, onto my life . . .

My life has been a roller coaster of a whirlwind of a hurricane of craziness, improv, science fiction, Mistborn, women, reslife, theatre, classes, family, friends, and now a proposal. (Not one for me or from me, but for dear family; more on it later.)

I was in a production of Plays In Process last weekend; Mom and Dad and Brendan came on up, so that was a good time, Brendan got to meet all the Sketchys and we had a great time. I'm glad my brother is doing well, least the one I can keep tabs on. Mike is off hopping around Germany, his computer being eaten by German Unternet Demons, so he's offline for now.

Speaking of Sketchys, we had our big Freak Show the other night, our show co-sponsored with us and the Theatre Council. It was a great time and I'm especially proud of my Sketchys. As Improv Chair, I feel like Papa Duck sometimes, taking care of them and helping them prepare for the shows. So I was and still am extremely proud of them for their great job.

Aside from that, just crazy times around. Went to an audition workshop where a beautiful, honestly, brutal woman told me how to audition so I appreciated that. Saw Shakespeare Abridged, a hilarious show up at Siena, great job to all of them and especially my friend Matt. Also, saw Toy Story 1 and 2 in 3D; damn they still hold up after all these years.

This weekend holds for me meeting, reslife, homework, and doing a lot of writing. Let's hope I can do it well. Thanks for being here for me Internet, I appreciate it. Talk to you sooner then before. Later!