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Monday, April 08, 2013

A review of The Wardog's Coin

Jonathan Moeller, Pulp Writer, reviews The Wardog's Coin:
Last year, I read A THRONE OF BONES by Vox Day, and thought it was one of the more interesting new epic fantasy novels I’ve read. The author was kind enough to send me an advance copy of THE WARDOG’S COIN, a pair of short stories set in THRONE’s setting of Selenoth – specifically THE WARDOG’S COIN and QALABI DAWN.

In THE WARDOG’S COIN, the protagonist is the sergeant in a human mercenary company fighting for an elven kingdom against a horde of goblins and orcs. (The story’s name comes from the coin necklace each of the mercenaries bears – they act as sort of a dog tag.) What is supposed to be an easy assignment quickly turns into a death trap once the mercenaries realize the orcs are far more formidable than they expected – and that the elves are not unduly concerned if their hirelings survive or not. The mercenaries’ only hope of survival is through an audacious and risky plan. THE WARDOG’S COIN reminded me a great deal of Glen Cook’s better BLACK COMPANY books, and also had some moments of surprising hilarity – the sergeant’s attempt to get a recalcitrant pig to move is one of them. I did not care for the sergeant’s dialect (it reminded me of the farmer’s final monologue in HP Lovecraft’s THE COLOUR OUT OF SPACE, alas), but that was only a minor flaw in an otherwise good story.

The first story was good, but I think the second, QALABI DAWN, was more interesting.... I rather liked the depiction of the cat-people – their perspectives were truly alien, which is a hard trick for a writer to pull off.
This is just an excerpt, so be sure to read the entire review at Jonathan's site. In related news, I am pleased to announce that Marcher Lord Hinterlands will be publishing the hardcover version of Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy, in May.  The book will be priced at $24.99 and will be approximately 450 pages, as it will not only include the short novel, (modestly updated for the purposes of harmonization with A Throne of Bones), but eight other stories set in Selenoth.

The stories included are: "A Magic Broken", "The Wardog's Coin", "Qalabi Dawn", "Master of Cats", "Birth of an Order", "The Last Witchking", "The Hoblets of Wiccam Fensboro", and "Opera Vita Aeterna".

Those who wish to preorder from Marcher Lord can do so at a price of $17.99. Preorders will also come with a free ebook copy of The Last Witchking, which will be published in May at a price of $1.99; please specify if your preference is epub or mobi.  The Last Witchking will consist of the title story and the two other stories not previously available in ebook format.

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41 Comments:

Anonymous joe doakes April 08, 2013 1:36 PM  

The reviewer makes one mistake. The sergeant's dialect and conversations with other soldiers add essential realism. Do some field research, go to a Jacksonville or San Diego to evesdrop on some Marine Gunnery Sergeants. They speak nothing at all like a Minnesota computer science geek, for example.

Anonymous daddynichol April 08, 2013 1:36 PM  

Vox, would you include a link to Marcher Lord? I'll Google it, but it would help the more lazy among us.

Congrats on your growing and successful literary endeavors!

Anonymous Daniel April 08, 2013 1:37 PM  

Man, when the strongest critique is that it echoes Lovecraft, you are probably doing something right.

Anonymous Daniel April 08, 2013 1:38 PM  

daddynichol - Hinterlands is on the upper left. That's the Marcher Lord imprint.

Anonymous Mr. Nightstick April 08, 2013 1:39 PM  

You ever going to sell signed copies?

Anonymous daddynichol April 08, 2013 1:39 PM  

@ Daniel,

Thanks!

Anonymous David April 08, 2013 1:40 PM  

I think I will hold off on getting Wardog's Coin and just preorder the upcoming hardcover. It looks like Marcher Lord hadn't yet set up the preorder page.

Anonymous VD April 08, 2013 1:40 PM  

Vox, would you include a link to Marcher Lord?

They don't have the preorder link up yet. I will put up a post with it when they do. I just wanted to let folks know, and the review seemed a reasonable time to do so.

Blogger Nate April 08, 2013 1:45 PM  

Ha! Good to see I wasn't alone in the wilderness on the Glen Cook similarities.

The dark camaraderie of the fighting men... you and Glen see eye to eye on that.

Anonymous Rantor April 08, 2013 1:53 PM  

Excellent, more to read. This will be good. Looking forward.

Anonymous VD April 08, 2013 1:55 PM  

I have read me some Cook. Although, to be honest, I tend to prefer his Garrett novels.

Blogger Nate April 08, 2013 2:15 PM  

"I tend to prefer his Garrett novels."

heretic.

Anonymous Ioweenie April 08, 2013 2:15 PM  

Congratulations on a very productive season of writing and publishing. Hope you find it rewarding.

Anonymous Gimlet April 08, 2013 3:46 PM  

It's a fun book. Bad title though. Bob Salvatore would be pleased as it's almost as bad as "The Halfling's Gem" for lame fantasy titles.

Anonymous Gimlet April 08, 2013 4:16 PM  

Um Vox... from the guy who reviwed your book...

or fans of Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Sword & Sorceress", Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, and Jennifer Roberson, here is a new story of a woman's fight against an ancient evil.

When her life is torn apart by sorcery and murder, young Caina Amalas joins the mysterious Ghosts, the legendary spies and assassins of the Emperor of Nighmar. She learns the secrets of disguise and stealth, of assassination and infiltration.

But even that might not be enough to save her.

For the evil that destroyed her family seeks to devour the entire world...

Anonymous jack April 08, 2013 4:58 PM  

On books of war. I just finished Tom Kratman's first in the 'A desert call Peace' series of the same name. Very good indeed. I was impressed and downloaded the next two in the series for Kindle. The book reminded me of Clancy's stuff; yet, perhaps, better. In involved an analog of present day Earth, set on Earth's first star colony wit Kratman's obvious take on present day politics and the war on terrorism. I did like Kratman's ideas of how to set up and train a private army. He should know with his military experience.

I found myself wondering if VD and the Ilk had any experience with Kratman's work.

Anonymous James May April 08, 2013 5:21 PM  

He's talking about this use of dialect by Lovecraft:

"Sucks an' burns, he said, an' is jest a cloud of colour like that light out thar now, that ye can hardly see an' can't tell what it is. Nahum thought it feeds on everything livin' an' gits stronger all the time. He said he seen it this last week. It must be somethin' from away off in the sky
like the men from the college last year says the meteor stone was. The way it's made an' the way it works ain't like no way o' God's world. It's some'at from beyond."

There's nothing at all wrong with that.

Blogger Nate April 08, 2013 5:54 PM  

"Also, Kratman is quite terrible."

That's endorsement coming from you.

Anonymous James May April 08, 2013 6:00 PM  

Well Lusitania Halfnutz, I have to admit I'm not a fan of overly literal thinly disguised analogs that yank me right out of SF and into the NY Times. That means I'm not interested in the great war on planet Ewrup between Craydolf Bitler and Jonah Fallen.

Fred Saberhagen once wrote a novel in his otherwise nominally decent Berserker series that was a recreation of the Battle of Midway, right down to using the actual numerical designations of the aircraft actually used in that battle.

It has my vote as the single greatest act of artistic stupidity in the history of SF literature.

Anonymous jack April 08, 2013 6:07 PM  

Luscinia Hâfez April 08, 2013 5:45 PM

Yeah, um, except The Black Company is actually good.

Also, Kratman is quite terrible.

I don't even have to think about this opinion. Fratman is NOT terrible. If this luscinia person is a female and what I think she is then I can see where Thomas would rub her the wrong way. Good. Another person whose comments on this or any other blog or subject I can just let my eyes id then ignore without wasting time to read.

Anonymous VD April 08, 2013 6:15 PM  

I don't even have to think about this opinion. Fratman is NOT terrible. If this luscinia person is a female and what I think she is then I can see where Thomas would rub her the wrong way. Good. Another person whose comments on this or any other blog or subject I can just let my eyes id then ignore without wasting time to read.

Jack, you may wish to keep in mind that Lucy is the individual who committed this act of literature:

A young woman with close-cropped hair, dark at the roots and bleached almost white at their tips, held with a band and a gold disk pendant amongst silver chains, dressed in black clothes under a white wool cardigan and midnight blue coat came out of the building. “Spies?” she said, momentarily puzzled and starry-eyed, pushing the door shut. Snow fell in flurries, the flakes were melting on our hair. “No matter,” she said, unsheathing a blade. She sighed, and ran after me, stopping and slashing. I blocked it with my pipe. “You don’t have your patron Cleisourarch to help you. He’s dead by Red hands, impaled with a stake and paraded naked and flayed open through the streets of Mediolanum and dumped in the river. You face me alone. Me, the greatest swordswoman in all of Carantania.”"

Anonymous James May April 08, 2013 6:56 PM  

What does her hair signify - a Goth chick? What does a white wool cardigan mean - that she's Gidget? Does the coat tell us she's in the Coast Guard? Does the gold disk and silver chains tell us she worships the Aztec corn god?

Why is it snowing? What does that convey? Melancholy and poignancy? Why? Poetry? Artistic flourish - what?

How can she run after the guy? Was he running? Did you mean "at me?"

Why the pipe - is he Bing Crosby? How could the greatest swordswoman be blocked with a pipe? Are you implying the greatest swordsWOMAN is the issue here and in fact means that is only relative and maybe only 1/10 as good as a guy?

Writing isn't just blah, blah, blah until you come to THE END. Words convey meaning or they don't. If they don't it's just twiddling thumbs til you're dead.

If you want to write dialogue, go to a long comments section with short remarks. Copy and paste it. Add he said or she said after each remark, or none if the speaker is evident by what they're saying.

Add description and thought only if you have a specific reason and intent. Do what Bradbury said and think of 10 things you love and hate. Make the themes of the novel from that. The plot will largely write itself unless you're Ellery Queen. Rewrite the dialogue and ascribe these points of view to the characters so they push one against the other fundamentally.

Bingo-bango! Ya got yer art.

Anonymous jack April 08, 2013 6:56 PM  

@Vox
Luscinia Hâfez April 08, 2013 5:45 PM

Yeah, um, except The Black Company is actually good.

Also, Kratman is quite terrible.

Vox. I read that. My God, my dinner has been ruined and I think the wife was planning something good.
One final high five for Kratman. With this first book of his I've read, and it was a long one, I enjoyed it as much as your fiction. Its nice having another author to get into, while awaiting that Beale guy's upcoming books.

Anonymous jack April 08, 2013 6:58 PM  

Whoops. My ctrl c did not work this time. I meant to refer to the Vox excerpt from our dear Luscinas piece of %&#@&.

Anonymous VD April 08, 2013 6:59 PM  

You just couldn't control yourself, could you. I warned you, Dan/Will/Yama/Luscinia. You're now banned from commenting for three months. You can request reinstatement after that period.

Anonymous Krul April 08, 2013 7:00 PM  

"The Hoblets of Wiccam Fensboro"

The 'Hoblets'? Are they named Flodo and Slamwise?

I haven't yet found Wardog's coin in the Nook shop. I'm thinking of waiting to get the hardcover SA to read all the short stories.

Anonymous VD April 08, 2013 7:04 PM  

The 'Hoblets'? Are they named Flodo and Slamwise?

I'm not into reinventing wheels. I think you'll find the story to be very, very different than anything you might imagine.

Anonymous Meh April 08, 2013 7:23 PM  

Fred Saberhagen once wrote a novel in his otherwise nominally decent Berserker series that was a recreation of the Battle of Midway, right down to using the actual numerical designations of the aircraft actually used in that battle.

It has my vote as the single greatest act of artistic stupidity in the history of SF literature.


I dunno, a lot of those Harry Turtledove "alternative WW2s" come pretty close. I can't even be bothered to read his latest series, I am so fed up with the Patented Turtledove Formula.

Anonymous Josh April 08, 2013 7:28 PM  

Didn't you post that Wiccam Fensboro story several years ago somewhere? Or was it a different story about hoblets or Wiccams?

Anonymous James May April 08, 2013 7:35 PM  

I'm writing "Stafford and His Grey Trousers." Rousing and rollicking fantasy with plenty of hijinx and lard sandwiches. Almond-eyed gentlemen invade Smerl Farbor. Gripe and hokum follow. There is a battle between mechanical bird spiders and robotic mermaids that fire torpedoes from their tits. A-bombs - of course.

I will use the alias of Blitz Fleeber.

Also watch for "Fune." Jenny Bisseret fights fat Bering Marc Conan the Ball Bearing.

Anonymous James May April 08, 2013 7:37 PM  

Alternate history stories now go straight from the author's imagination into my imaginary garbage bin. If that's all the hell one can think of there's always plumbing.

Anonymous Anonymous April 08, 2013 7:46 PM  

Just reread “throne of bones” to see what I missed the first time. Just curious about the graft of the Immaculate/Christianity onto Selenoth. Where is Selenoth’s Holyland and who is Amor’s Constantine. Just curious if you would offer any insights on how the Medieval Church and Republican Rome were synthesized. I also really like web publishing’s short turnaround on more stories. I think this model is the wave of the future.

Anonymous VD April 08, 2013 7:46 PM  

Didn't you post that Wiccam Fensboro story several years ago somewhere? Or was it a different story about hoblets or Wiccams?

Yeah, I posed it here. Revised it slightly, but it's essentially the same if you read it.

Anonymous VD April 08, 2013 7:48 PM  

I dunno, a lot of those Harry Turtledove "alternative WW2s" come pretty close.

I was shocked when I discovered that Turtledove invented almost nothing except the magic in his Misplaced Legion series. I was so disappointed. Never bothered reading anything else by him after the yawnfest that was Crispos.

Anonymous VD April 08, 2013 7:52 PM  

Where is Selenoth’s Holyland and who is Amor’s Constantine. Just curious if you would offer any insights on how the Medieval Church and Republican Rome were synthesized. I also really like web publishing’s short turnaround on more stories. I think this model is the wave of the future.

There is no Constantine per se, although there is a heroic founder who is part Aeneas and part George Washington, turning down a crown to establish the Republic. We've got four very large books to go; there will be more insight into Church and Rome as we go deeper into the story.

I like this model too. I like to write these stories to help me feel my way around, and it gives people bits and pieces of the world that they might not otherwise see. That being said, after these come out, I'm going to focus on Book Two... except for one little surprise towards the end of the year.

Anonymous Josh April 08, 2013 8:17 PM  

ETA for Book Two?

Anonymous VD April 08, 2013 8:26 PM  

Late spring next year or thereabouts.

Anonymous James May April 09, 2013 12:08 AM  

By the way, is there anything in the SFWA's bylaws about nominating racial bigots for the Nebula? I mean, could Adolph Hitler in theory be nominated?

I guess the reality of this has been determined by GRRM being at once attacked and excused in public as a xenophobic racist merely swimming in a sea of xenophobic racists for the crime of not managing his non-white characters in a manner more in line with the worst racial paranoia of politically correct conformist bigots who worship a racial pie-chart in a closet somewhere as long as it isn't these awards I can't win cuz I'm white:

The Hurston Wright Foundation
Black Writers Alliance Award
Celebration of Black Writing
Black Publishers & Writers Awards
New Voices Award
The Dickerson-Du Bois Undergraduate Award
BCALA Literary Award
Asian American Literature Award
Coretta Scott King Book Awards
The Unpublished Writers Award
Black Mystery Writers Awards
National Council for Black Studies Writing Award
AAMBC Literary Awards

Or the NBA

Anonymous Koanic April 09, 2013 7:45 AM  

What no review copy for me, vox? WHere's the love?

Anonymous VD April 09, 2013 10:35 AM  

Dan/Will/Yama/Luscinia, be advised that every time you try to comment during your three-month ban will add another month before you can request reinstatement.

Understand that it is no problem for me, or the others with deletion powers, to spam your comments as soon as you post them.

Anonymous Iron (Stomach) Chef April 09, 2013 3:21 PM  

Your ankles seem to be particularly tasty to this loser, Vox, as he keeps coming back for more and more and more and more and more and....

Must be that they marinate in Italian leather all day. Going to have to try that recipe with my next brisket. Any particular brand I should consider?

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