Tag Archives: A Song of Ice and Fire

Trifecta 102 – Fight The Good Fight

als

“…Righto mum, we’re just off now, let’s hope for some good news. He needs it, we both do. Ok, you too, yep, love you, I’ll catch you later…bye, bye…”.

She doesn’t think I can hear her through there, but I can. The walls in this shoebox of an apartment are paper thin. I may be coming many things these days, but deaf isn’t one of them – not yet anyway. Perhaps that will be today’s news. Christ, I would laugh, if I could. Would I really? Maybe not. No, I wouldn’t.

I can see him out there again today. He’s another one who thinks he can take advantage of my apparently irreversible decline. Scurrying across the frost tinted lawn without a fear or a care. The little grey interloper shows the same cunning and craft I once did: when I was able to walk, talk. Be normal.

“Ready honey? I’ll be there in a moment,” she shouts through from the bedroom.

Yesterday I may have been able to muster enough movement for an answer. Not today. Today looks like it’s the first day of the next phase. I knew it was coming. You want to hear what I’m thinking you’ll need to get in here with me. Haven’t the heart to tell her, even if I wanted to.

Out there he sprints back and forth. Gathering, hiding, protecting. He is looking after his own. When I was playing football for the biggest team in the land I did the same. I had everything. Often wonder if I hadn’t been who I was would she have chosen me, stuck with me now? I’d be lost without her.

He’s now on the window ledge. Staring in.

“You ok,” he’s saying.

“Me? Not really,” I stare back.

“Come on honey, let’s get your coat on. We can’t keep the Doctors waiting.”

As we leave the apartment I look back: the squirrel is gone. I hope he’s there tomorrow. In him I’m free for a few moments at least.

trifecta

These 333 words, based on the third definition of the word ‘craft , form my entry into the Trifecta 102 writing challenge.

Fernando-Ricksen-1

This piece is dedicated to Fernando Ricksen, the former Rangers and Netherlands footballer, who recently disclosed, on live television, that he is suffering from ALS. The outlook for this condition is absolutely frightening. These 333 words are meaningless but as he was in my mind I felt I had to write something. Good luck Fernando. All of us here in Scotland are thinking of you.

Advertisements

Kindle Delights – Taking A Break From the Main Story

Erikson_MidnightThose who have been following me since I started blogging on here will know that I am currently working my way through Steven Erikson’s ten part epic “The Malazan Book of the Fallen”. Well I have just finished book five, Midnight Tides and have cracked open book six, The Bonehunters. Not going to give a review of book five as I don’t think I have the expertise to really critique the work of someone like Erikson. That and I don’t want to give spoilers to those who may be interested enough in my posts to start reading Erikson themselves. With that in mind I would say that what follows contains some minor spoilers, although nothing that would in any way affect your enjoyment of the series. Now onto the point of this blog. That points is to discuss what Erikson chose to do in book 5, namely to move away almost completely from the story so far.

The first four books in the series are all set in the same two locations. There are common characters between all of the books. In short the first four books feel like one large story. It’s not a straight forward tale by any means and the books do cover different, as well as on occasions, the same time periods. However, it is one coherent story. You definitely feel that one continuous epic tale is being woven. The fourth book, House of Chains, ends at a point where you are definitely thinking “I wonder what will happen next?”. Well what happens next is Midnight Tides. The fifth instalment in the Malazan series moves location to a part of our world as of yet untouched by the Malazan empire. Hence we have new characters, new landscapes and new concepts. More importantly we have almost none of anything which was covered in the first four books.

The_Bonehunters_1st_edHaving completed Midnight Tides I have now read the first 50 or so pages of the The Bonehunters. This book takes off a matter of days after the end of House of Chains and thus continues the story we seem to have taken a one book time out from. Truth is I enjoyed Midnight Tides. However, I enjoyed it as I might any other piece of stand alone fantasy fiction. Of course there were tie ins to the other books in the series but so few of consequence that you could have easily read it at any point amongst the previous four. On reflection Erikson did something similar when he dedicated the first 200 pages of House of Chains to the back story of one relatively minor character. At the time this seemed excessive to me and still does. Question is even in a ten part epic can an author afford to move the focus away from the central plot line for so long ? For me the jury is still out.

Problem I had with Midnight Tides is that over the course of the first four books I had bought in to the characters, their issues, their world, their story. To then leave that behind for 700 pages seemed a risky strategy. Perhaps after four books Steven Erikson thought that his readers were already along for the ride. Thus a change of location and the start of what was in essence a completely new arc would be be accepted. Well, I am still reading so maybe he was right. That said I am glad to be back in the world of the first four books again.

From what I have read the characters and locations of Midnight Tides will return. By then they too will feel familiar. Hopefully though when they do return they mix in with the other characters and parts of the Malazan empire we already know. With only four books left after the one I am reading I don’t think we can afford to leave the central story again for too long without potentially losing readers with only a few laps to go. Just my opinion. I’m sure some Malazan aficionados will be scoffing at what I’ve written. No, I am not an expert on fiction and writing styles. I’m just a reader who thought what an author did was a bit strange! Yes, bring us new characters and new parts of your world but maybe do so while not leaving those we have come to know, love and hate out of our thoughts for so long.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malazan_Book_of_the_Fallen

Kindle Delights – Malazan Book Of the Fallen

Like some people. Let me try that again. Like a lot of people I hadn’t heard of George RR Martin and his epic A Song of Ice and Fire before Sky Atlantic started showing Game of Thrones. Straight away I was hooked. Not only into reading all the books in the series but also into the epic fantasy genre. Yes, I had read “Lord of the Rings”. Who hasn’t? That apart though my fantasy reading history was fairly thin. George has probably changed that forever.

After finishing the latest in book in A Song of Ice and Fire, Dance With Dragons I needed more. Well, there will be no more from George for a while. It took him five years to complete Dance with Dragons so even if he speeds up a bit we are still likely to be waiting for another couple of years. I then did what I usually do in this situation. Joined a forum and asked for help. Several authors were mentioned. A few were tried and dismissed. One, Joe Abercrombie, was tried and thoroughly enjoyed to the extent that all five of his books to date have been read. However, I still wanted more. I wanted more epicness. I now think I have it.

Steven Erikson is a Canadian author who I had heard of but ignored as the word was his books were almost unreadable. His masterpiece is the 10 part magnus opus that is The Malazan Book of The Fallen. As I said I had heard of it and been told it was very much a case of like it or loathe it. As it happened I stumbled across a free copy of book one, Gardens of the Moon, and so I had nothing to lose. Straight away I could see why so many people love this work. To be honest I could also see why some hate it. A heady mix of mythology (i.e. gods and things), military campaigns, a vast world of contrasting continents and cultures and more races and forms of humanity, and non humanity, than you could wish to hope for. In short there is a lot going on.

Currently I am about half way through the fifth book, Midnight Tides. Five more to go after this, ten if you include the contributions of fellow author and close friend Ian Esslemont, who co-created the Malazan world. Steven Erikson has actually now begun a new series which is a prequel to the Book of the Fallen. Sounds good but it will be a while before I get there. So to finish. If you want epicness on a truly grand scale. If you want ideas and concepts which at times may baffle you. If you want characters who you are really interested in no matter how good or bad they are. In short if you want a thumping good read then the Malazan Empire awaits.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malazan_Book_of_the_Fallen