A Week Away From WAW

This is my big announcement face. 
It’s for big announcements. 

Usually when I’m working 25+ hours on my other job, I take Mondays as an extra day off, but I’m posting today because I have what is, for me, a reasonably large announcement.  

I’m putting Writing About Writing on the shelf for one week. Specifically, this is the last post you’ll see until Tuesday Sept 1st, at which time you are likely to get the absolutely last call to vote in our Best Contemporary Fantasy Poll. I will still update the Writing About Writing Facebook Page with memes and puns and shenanigans. 

What’s going on? A few things. Mostly involving writing, but the need to do some of that writing away from WAW. In the past, I could just do both, but with the pandemic on and me getting two to three times more hours nannying than is conducive to full time writing, I’ve got to set aside one type of writing for a while if I want to do another.

1- I will be back. This isn’t one of those hiatuses that a blogger never returns from. I just need a week while I do other shit. 

2- There was never going to be a Friday post anyway. It’s time for me to write an Inside Scoop newsletter for my Patrons. Those are three pages and they have to cannibalize a full post. 

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3- This is the last week I’m going to try to expend my social capital to try convince folks HOW to vote and I’m going to do it in a couple of NOT Writing About Writing posts. That means WAW has to take a break since I’m currently Job 2ing too much to do both. 

If you’re on my Facebook page, it also means that you will see a few extra reruns for the next week. I don’t promote NWAW posts on that page (other than occasionally pointing out that the entire blog exists) because it’s NOT about writing.

After this, if I run into people who declare that they will cede their power, I’ll be working around them. Whether I find their reasoning valid is growing more and more immaterial and the struggle is less useful than energy put in other directions. I’m going to start focusing on getting folks registered, getting out the vote, and helping folks navigate the tremendous amounts of confusion being stirred up (quite intentionally) around mail-in-voting. 

4- Due to some strange circumstances, I need to do ALL my shopping for the next couple of weeks in the NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS. It’s got to last. Which means I’m hitting a different store each day and stocking up, and that is coming right out of my writing time.

5- Payroll is coming up and as much as I’ve tried to write smoothly through my clients‘ schedules, I can’t. The inevitable pair or trio of eight-hour days kicks my ass.

6- When I get back, I’ll be putting up FB gems from the bottom of August and resolving our poll, but then I will immediately taking the FRIDAY off for Labor Day. (I usually either don’t take a special day off because I have ALL Mondays off, or I take the Tuesday off.) But this time around I’ll do Friday from the other end and hit the ground running on Tuesday.

7- I’m in a very safe place from the California wildfires and I can run my air purifier to help with the smoke that gets into the air of my apartment, but there are other things kind of GETTING to me. I can’t even go out for a walk right now, and for a couple of hours every day, the inability to open the windows means my apartment gets pretty warm and I just want to crawl down on the floor and not move. It’s messing with me. I might drop the ball. 

8- I really need to write a post at the not absolute last minute because my Early Access tier on Patreon has been infinitely patient with me during this pandemic. 

So….I will see you in a week from tomorrow if you only follow this blog. However, if you follow everywhere I write, you might just think, “He sure is writing a lot about politics lately.”

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.