Saturday, December 15, 2012

A GoodReads review

D.M. Dutcher reviews A THRONE OF BONES:
It's hard to sum it up since so much goes on in the book. At 800854 pages, it's long, and the first MLP hardcover release. The length doesn't feel too tedious though, with only the start of the book dragging a bit. Once it gets past discussing the upcoming goblin fight, it gets much better, as each new character has their own story and part to play.

The world is very interesting too. It's sort of a fusion of Rome and medieval Europe-imagine Rome with its legionnaires and patricians with a church like in Thomist times and Vikings mingling with supernatural creatures like elves and werewolves. The main focus is on Rome though, and it adds a lot to the book by setting it apart from the generic fantasy land it could be. It's not just the gladiators and phalanxes, but he gets the ethos of each nation and group right. You get inside their heads, and it's well done indeed.

I also found that it fixed something that I didn't like about Game of Thrones. One of the issues I had with the first book in that series was that the supernatural and fantasy aspects felt tacked in, as opposed to purely human drama. Vox though always makes the fantasy part noticeable if not prevalent. This isn't just "let's make it fantasy because we really want to tell a historical fiction story and ignore the parts we don't like," but magic and fantasy have as much a part to play as the intricate machinations between nobles. If anything, you wish there was a bit more focus on it. The elves in particular....

All in all, it's a good, epic fantasy novel. It was better than I expected. If you like more traditional Christian fantasy fare that is clean and more aggressively spiritual (if not evangelistic) you may not like this. But people who like well-written fantasy and Christians who are okay with more realism and edginess to their books will probably enjoy it quite a bit.  
I'm pleased to see that readers are understanding that THE ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT series is not traditional Christian fantasy fare.  It was never intended to be, any more than it was intended to be a mindless attempt to do to GRR Martin what Terry Brooks did to JRR Tolkien in his Shannara series.  I'm still amused by the charge that I am simultaneously mimicking Edward Gibbon and R. Scott Bakker(1); while it would still be wrong, one would do significantly better to assert the book is the bastard love-child of J.B. Bury and Joe Abercrombie.  If critics want to claim that I am a derivative writer in the vein of the retrophobes, that is certainly their prerogative, but I would expect they might at least have the perspicacity to get the genuine influences right.

The reviewer is correct.  The ethos of the book is definitely more concerned with the martial values than the Christian ones.  This is the natural result of half the perspective characters either being military officers or what could reasonably be described as military intelligence.  When I write my characters, I always attempt to focus on their current concerns rather using them as a vessel for some larger point.  This is why the Marcus Valerius who is actively engaged with theological matters as part of a Church embassy led by a pair of noted ecclesiastic intellectuals is simply not going to be anywhere nearly as concerned with such elevated matters while commanding a cavalry wing in the middle of a battle involving some 30,000 combatants.

(1) In all seriousness, Bakker would probably be the last of the epic fantasy writers that I would attempt to mimic. Well, no, that would definitely be Jordan.  Then Erikson, simply because I don't even know how I would go about trying to imitate him. But I can't mimic the best thing about Bakker, his florid, but absorbing style, and I can't imagine wanting to imitate any of his plots or his characters.  His worldbuilding is competent and reasonably substantial, but it doesn't take a form in which I have any interest whatsoever, nor does it have anything in common with mine.  Moreover, a simple look at the publication date of Summa Elvetica should make it obvious that Selenoth(2) is a world I created long before I'd ever heard of R. Scott Bakker.

(2) I will send a free hardcover to the first person who correctly guesses what computer game served as the original inspiration for the name of Selenoth.  This offer will stand for one week.

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Blogger Nate December 15, 2012 9:24 AM  


Anonymous antonym December 15, 2012 9:38 AM  

Now that this novel is finished, do you have any plans to write another nonfiction book?

Anonymous VD December 15, 2012 9:41 AM  

I don't know. I was contacted by a publisher two days ago who was wanted to ask me about one non-fiction concept, but I don't know how interested I am in that right now. My next non-fiction book will likely be either very small and esoteric or related to economics.

Anonymous Roundtine December 15, 2012 9:53 AM  


Blogger A Wiser Man Than I December 15, 2012 10:37 AM  

So we'll just have to keep waiting for The Irrational Feminist...

Anonymous jay c December 15, 2012 10:37 AM  

Warcraft: orcs and humans

Anonymous ivvenalis December 15, 2012 10:42 AM  

All right, the review sold me. Although it's going to be a while, as I'm not quite done with my backlog from the Borders liquidation.

Anonymous Kickass December 15, 2012 10:44 AM  

The Legend of Zelda?

Anonymous Kickass December 15, 2012 10:45 AM  

Love it, PLEASE do a book called The Irrational Femminist!

Anonymous Kickass December 15, 2012 10:47 AM  

Oh, I missed "computer".

Anonymous Khyron December 15, 2012 10:57 AM  



Vox did you know there is a site ripping off your blog content?

Anonymous jack December 15, 2012 11:00 AM  

I would like to see an action novel/non-fiction, if that makes any sense, concerning hardcore econ set to rollicking, swashbuckling fiction. Make it modern day and find a way to save our USA economically speaking. Do it and I will buy 10, hardcover, for the liberals on my list that I admire in every way except their politics and sense of real economics.

Anonymous Russell December 15, 2012 11:03 AM  

Rebel Moon Rising?

Anonymous jack December 15, 2012 11:04 AM  


Just went to that imitation site Khyron mentioned. Its just weird and brief. WTF? I'm insulted; In place of Vox. He should not lower himself to the perusal of such...

Anonymous kawaika December 15, 2012 11:26 AM  

Battle Raper or Eve.

Anonymous enna December 15, 2012 11:44 AM  


Anonymous Mr. Nightstick December 15, 2012 11:45 AM  

FYI, I just contacted Amazon customer service and they readily gave me the updated version and associated it with my account.

Blogger Positive Dennis December 15, 2012 12:23 PM  

Russel, very funny.

Anonymous ridip December 15, 2012 1:05 PM  

Well, reading the book I was going to guess you played, Legionnaire.

I wasn't originally thinking of the Chris Crawford game, but some Avalon Hillish war game I played in the early 80s although I can't seem to find a reference to it. I don't think either Rome at War or Strike Legion are that old.

Blogger IM2L844 December 15, 2012 1:40 PM  

So we'll just have to keep waiting for The Irrational Feminist...

I like it, but I would prefer more of a Rocky & Bullwinkle-esque style of title.

The Irrational Feminist Or The Return of the Great Deception: You too can be like God

Blogger bethyada December 15, 2012 3:47 PM  


Anonymous Unknown Commenter December 15, 2012 4:51 PM  

Title: "The Irrational Feminist. That's not funny!"

Anonymous stg58/Animal Mother December 15, 2012 8:53 PM  

I will take being a knock off of Gibbon any day over GRR Martin. Knocking off Gibbon would still leave you in the top 1% of modern writers.

Blogger bethyada December 15, 2012 11:16 PM  

Or League of Legends?

OpenID contemplationist December 16, 2012 12:21 AM  

I'm guessing 'Battle for Wesnoth'

Anonymous Daniel December 16, 2012 6:29 PM  

I'm going to guess the inspiration coincided with your reading of Guardians of the Flame, and so your computer game inspiration might have been Ultima IV, since that would have been out during that era.

So...Britannia (or Sosaria in general?)

Anonymous The CronoLink December 16, 2012 8:25 PM  

Haha, League of Legends is an awesome game but it would be a mess if turned into a book.

Blogger Gerald Benard December 18, 2012 7:02 AM  

"It has been a while since I have heard only silence, and I enjoy it greatly"

Myst - Selenitic Age

Blogger Gerald Benard December 18, 2012 7:02 AM  

"It has been a while since I have heard only silence, and I enjoy it greatly"

Myst - Selenitic Age

Anonymous Stilicho December 18, 2012 12:24 PM  

Why does the phrase "The moons of Selenoth" keep occurring to me? Perhaps it was in ToB or AMB.

OpenID mycropht December 19, 2012 1:48 PM  

If I knew you were trying to mimic Bakker I'd avoid the book like the plague. I cannot stand Bakker's work.

Anonymous WaterBoy December 19, 2012 5:00 PM  

RE: The Irrational Feminist


RE: The game


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