Friday, November 23, 2007

Well, I finally managed to finish reading this incredibly complex tale. I am both floored by the sheer magnitude of this undertaking and a little weary. This turned out to be a LONG book. But don't let that stop you. It is the most imaginative and compelling fantasy I have read sense Tad Williams published Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. I regret that I cannot, in good conscience, give it an all out 5-star rating. But . for me, it lacked a certain joy in the reading that all my 5-star ratings give to me. I remained aloof from the characters, just not quite able to identify completely with any of them except perhaps the tragic father.

Acacia is a kingdom that has, for generations, ruled the Known World. They have subjugated, through combat. magic and treachery, all foes that they have ever come up against. But that was long ago and Acacia has devolved into an extremely corrupt bureaucracy with a weak and accepting monarch who is the current hereditary ruler. He lives with his 4 children and his memories and is ineffective as a ruler. Unfortunately, the conquered have not forgotten their subjugation and one peoples, up-rooted and disinherited after their defeat by the Acacians, have generations-long memories. Part of their defeat was a curse that doesn't let their dead leave the world. They remain conscious and able to communicate their dissatisfaction to their heirs forever. As you might imagine, the heirs find this highly motivating. These heirs form alliances and make deals that are even more heinous than the political expediencies the Acacians have used to hold on to their power over the years.

Oh my goodness, is there a list of intrigue here; Alliances and deals formed with never seen, but assumed evil foreigners; a trading monopoly with allegiance only to its own interests, and a promise of payment for a drug that keeps the populous unrebellious and working for its next fix...a payment in children; a mortal and deadly enemy with alliances with stronger, and more demanding cultures. All of the players have differing emotional baggage, and all have strong and strongly written characters. This is an epic fantasy novel that covers a broad and diverse history of a unique and vastly corrupt world.

My only problem is that there are no innocents, no nobility, no lifestyle worth sacrificing for. Frodo saved Middle Earth, but Frodo essentially did it to save the Shire and the Hobbit lifestyle. While the lifestyles in The Known World are diverse and fascinating, they are all corrupt and vain, except where they are pathetic and miserable. I found it hard to identify with any of the characters that survive long enough to make it to the end of this first piece of the story. All that noted, I still give this a very strong "Read" recommendation. This is only the first part of what promises to be an extremely well-written, well developed story. My feeling is that it is going to be "required" reading for the self-professed fantasy fan. And, at The End of this first book, there are still some fascinating stories that leave you wondering what is going to come next.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Arrrghh! Only 2500 Words and Writer's Block?

Gosh, I'm barely through introducing my main characters and am trying to set up the background on which the story plays out, while building personlaity into the non-narrative characters...and BAM! I can't think of a word to say or rather type. I can go into rather boring detail on the world I am building, but that would actually detract from the story. I need to build indentifiability with one of the main characters - a females character - and I am just drawing a blank. I am going to try jumping ahead in the story and write later chapters - see if that works. Will keep you informed.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I have joined in the race to see if I can write 50,000 words by the end of November. I proabably will win a Pulitzer for best novel, or a Pftui for best cat tray liner, but either way I'm going to write this month just for the pure pleasure of finding out if I can do it.
Its evidently quite the big deal (those in the know already know I'm a rookie - nonw of the proper in-speak patios is issuing from my fingertips), and it looks like the guys that do this go way out of their way to make it fun. Check it out: National Novel Writing Month.

I have posted the first few paragraphs of my epic on site. You can find me as - of course - Texasboyblue. Then you can read it and tell me it sucks...or not...depending on your perspective. I'll keep posting here and making the rounds of blogs, but if its a bit slower than normal, you'll know why.

A Rose by Any Other Name...

I posted on another blog a few days ago in a thread about "Nerd Chic". (If you want to see the post, head on over to Fantasy and SciFi Lovin' Blog.)My user ID on the blog sever is "texasboyblue". One of the other posters asked where I got that moniker. He likened it to a porn star stage name. While I am flattered (sorta), as my grandfather used to say, "It just ain't so."

I am the rarest of American breeds. I am a native Texan having been born in Austin, Texas over 40 years ago. I have lived all my life in one Texas municipality or another and I am guilty of being as over-weeningly proud of these facts as any other native Texan you might meet. That at least explains the "texasboy" part of my ID...

Several (don't ask for a specific number) years ago, I began playing spades (the card game) at The Zone. It was a Microsoft site, so you had to have a Hotmail ID. At the time I was living in San Antonio, so my user ID was texasboy_sa. Years later, I was needing a new user name for a website I was playing with and darned if texasboy_sa wasn't already taken (by me). So, I came up with a variant: texasboyblue. It became, as these things do, my default username. I use it on all kinds of accounts.

So, when I signed up for, it was the handiest tag. Pretty mundane, I know. Maybe I'll tell everybody its my stage name in my next blog...