Saturday, December 31, 2022

New Year's Eve

As 2022 rolls away I think it is only fitting to look back on this year's accomplishments:

  • The Nine Realms series by Sarah Kozloff
  • Prince of the Blood by of Raymond E. Feist
  • Terciel and Elinor by Garth Nix, prequel to his Abhorsen series
  • The Last Keeper, Book One of J.V. Hilliard's Warminster Series
  • Escape from Falaise, book #5 of the Ranger's Apprentice: The Royal Ranger series by John Flanagan
  • In the Serpent's Wake by Rachel Hartman, sequel to Tess of the Road
  • Volumes three through six of the Novels of Tiger and Del by Jennifer Roberson, one of the few series I have given a second chance.
  • Five Little Pigs by Dame Agatha Christie
  • A rereading of Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia A. McKillip, who was lost to us this year.
  • The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta
  • The Murder at the Vicarage by Dame Agatha Christie
  • The first two books of Jaclyn Moriarty's Kingdoms and Empires Series
  • Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
Of course, this was also the year I joined the hallowed ranks of Fantasy authors with the publication of my own book, The Last War: Book One of the Cynnahu Saga! With luck I shall publish book two, Dragon Guardians, ere my next New Year's Eve post. (The rough draft is fully written, but editing takes time.)

I have started Vorodin's Lair, Book Two of J.V. Hilliard's Warminster Series

"Crimson flags borne on horses of white, see them ride, ye children of light." – The Ballad of Eldwal

I have started Vorodin's Lair, Book Two of J.V. Hilliard's Warminster Series.

Almost a year ago I read the first book, The Last Keeper, at the author's request for an Official Book Review but once I get hooked on a series I stay till the end, and by the Ancients am I hooked in and by the magical and marvelously deep realm of Warminster! So do I reunite with Princess Addilyn Elspeth and Last Keeper Daemus Alaric as they, with a pair of mercifully not-beheaded friends, make for the scholar city of Abacus on a quest guided by Erud. But Graytorris the Mad will not let them make it unhindered anymore than let the rest of the realm escape unscathed, for treachery blooms like the dark flowers on Bone Elf daggers. Daggers already watered in blood as this epic, unique, and unpredictable saga continues.

"The blade of betrayal, the sharpest of weapons, is wielded not by your enemies, but by your friends." – Warminster the Mage

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

I have finished the Nine Realms series by Sarah Kozloff

I have finished The Cerulean Queen by Sarah Kozloff, the fourth and final volume of her Nine Realms series.

After an era of war and injustice, corruption and fanaticism, peace has – like Queen Cerulia the Gryphling – returned to Ennea Mόn. A peace long-fought, well-earned and exquisitely detailed, the Nine Realms series that chronicles it is one of the most stately, dignified fantasies I have ever read. For while its plot, partial grittiness and modern themes steps a toe or two into the grimdark, Sarah Kozloff maintains the high-minded moral integrity I associate with Tolkien on a journey that for the characters spanned over a decade. Making this series more in the vein of Mercedes Lackey in that it shows the best and worst of humanity, as well as the sacrifices good people must make to see their people through to an earned dawn.

Spirits Blessings to you Queen Cerulia & Commander Thalen, Percia & Marcot, Tilim, Stalhia, Ciello, Chronicler Sewel, Norling, Peddler, Gunnit, Spinner Destra, Nana, Healer, Cerf, Tristo, Wareth and all the rest of the Raiders, all the Queen's Shield, Rector Meakey and the rest of the Scholairium, Lemle, and so many others. To those righteous who passed, may your Spirits guide your souls.

"When danger through the realm may reach,
The Nargis Nymph allots to each,
A Talent for the Times."

Friday, December 16, 2022

Goodbye, Pokémon Master Ash

We never thought it would happen, but it did. As of the end of the Pokémon Season 25, Ash Ketchum realized his dream and became a Pokémon Master. Which is why, while there will be a 26th season, Ash will no longer be the main protagonist.

After more than two decades Ash's journey has reached it's final chapter... It is hard not to feel a little emotional as so many of us grew up with him - even as he remained forever 10. For myself, I remember being introduced to him and Pokémon in Kindergarten, watching the very first episodes with my friends even as we haggled over Pokémon cards. Pokémon was a cornerstone of my childhood, the first and only adventure series I either watched or read before I got into Fantasy literature. I followed Ash on his journey. 

I still remember, vividly, watching Pokémon the Movie: 2000 for the first time, namely the awe I felt at the climax with Lugia's song - the first time I ever recall feeling that emotion. I remember going to the theater to see Pokémon 3: the Movie, and literally shouting with excitement as Charizard battled Entei. I remember crying with my sister at the ending of Pokémon Heroes (the 5th movie). With my friends I memorized and sang the new theme songs as he ventured into Johto then Hoenn, borrowing their VHS tapes to watch at home. I collected Pokémon action-figures (which I still have), played and beat Crystal Version, kept collecting and trading cards. Then stopped for a while.

I had not lost interest, but life got busy and I was never enough of a TV person. I still watched the VHSs then DVDs, never finishing Heonn but seeing the first chunk of Sinnoh. Until, in my final years of High School, I saw that Sinnoh had ended and found a website where you could watch every episode from every season for free. So I watched. Every day when I got home from CRLS I sat at the computer and watched two episodes. I followed Ash on his journey, watched all the movies, until I was all caught up. Because, and I say this without shame but rather with intense pride, I LOVE Pokémon. For its eternal lessons of wholesome friendships and determination so powerful they can overcome impossible odds. Lessons I learned later in Fantasy, but Pokémon was my first teacher.

So I say now, feeling blessed to have been part of it and bittersweet that it is over, congratulations Ash. I will miss you, Pikachu, Brock, Misty, May, Max, Dawn, Iris, Cilan, and all the rest. It is the end of an era. Thank you Ash and Pikachu for being such a huge part of everyone’s childhood. (I still have some season catch-up to do actually, but knowing that the journey has a final ending changes things for me emotionally.)

(By the way, I still have all the songs memorized in addition to my cards, the latter of which I still look at from time to time, remembering the hours of trading and shrewd deals that earned me each and every one from so many dear friends.) 


Thursday, December 15, 2022

Quote of the month

"When you choose the fight you must take the consequences, win or lose." - Bain of Black Rock sept of the Shaarad Aiel

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Readers' Favorite Book Reviews of The Last War (The Cynnahu Saga Book 1)

Not one, but three more 5 Star reviews for my book The Last War! All by reviewers from acclaimed review site Readers' Favorite. You can read them per the above link, or continue on here.

Review #1:

"The Last War is a work of fiction in the epic fantasy and adventure subgenres and forms the opening novel of The Cynnahu Saga. It is intended for the young adult reading audience and was penned by author Ian E.S. Adler. In a faraway fantasy land plagued by war, the threat of a new invasion sets events in motion for this to be the war to end all wars. Two youngsters and three talented mages set forth on a quest to save their land from the serpentine threat of the Naga, but the riddles they must solve to traverse dangerous lands and collect all the pieces of the Song are only the beginning of their challenges. Author Ian E.S. Adler has found a superb balance between a fantasy adventure novel that is accessible and appealing to young adults, and one which is suitably complex and immersive enough to also grip adult readers from start to finish. I particularly enjoyed the ensemble cast of characters and the mixture of ages, which bridges the gap nicely between the young heroes who have much to learn and the older wise mages with echoes of the classic fantasy heroes that young readers will no doubt go on to enjoy in the future. The worldbuilding is also a highly engaging aspect of the work, with Adler putting a great amount of detail into the history and culture of Cynnahu, so much so that every battle-scarred vista becomes cinematically real in the reader’s mind. Overall, I would certainly recommend The Last War as a superbly engrossing series opener, and I cannot wait to see what the author has in store for us next."


Review #2:

"The Last War: Book One of The Cynnahu Saga by Ian E.S. Adler takes you on an epic ride into the world of fantasy. Peace had reigned in the Archipelago of Cynnahu for hundreds of years. Now ancient serpentine foes, the Naga, cut across the waters of Cynnahu, seeking to unleash destruction upon humanity. Guttural screams and hisses can now be heard closer than ever, and a great fleet of dark vessels can be seen fast approaching the westernmost isle of the Archipelago. The island's defenders are outnumbered six to one by the enemy, and even the most astounding magic from a mage will not be enough to keep these snake folk at bay. When the dying groan of the defender's captain echoes across the island, all know that it's a lost battle. With every mile that the Naga invades, doom for humanity draws nearer. Hope stirs on the heels of fear. A group of two young people and three mages are on a quest to summon an ancient power that ended a war thousands of years ago. Humanity may have a chance to escape the impending catastrophe if the team succeeds in its quest. The story is set up with a prologue to give readers a basic understanding of the setting. You learn the history of these lands and how the first human mages arrived with great might to save them from a race that had oppressed humans for a long time. The author also visually sets the stage with a precise map to help you get into the story and keep you from losing your way. Whenever a challenging term or concept is introduced, Ian E.S. Adler uses footnotes crafted in easy-to-understand language to provide explanations. This is a great way to guide the reader without disrupting the flow of the story. Even though this book has a large cast of characters, they all had important roles in advancing the plot. Even so, you will choose your favorites. My favorite character was Sakura. I liked her ability and quickness to learn new skills, despite her youth. With war looming, every fighting skill she learns will be vital to her survival. With a fiery mage for a teacher, she'll be the best. Or will she? The Last War takes you off the grid for the epic adventure you are seeking. Grab a copy and enjoy."

Review #3:

"The Last War by Ian S. E. Adler is the first book in the Cynnahu Saga. The Cynnahu people have a heritage rooted in a war that saw their ancestors taking over the land from the Dragonkin. Now history seems to be repeating itself as the Cynnahu people are facing a war with their long-time enemies, the Naga, who have decided to invade. A prophecy comes to light that tells of the Last War between the two enemies with salvation for their people coming in the form of five chosen ones. As the five are drawn together, they discover their true destiny and undergo rigorous training. At the heart is an ancient riddle that serves as a catalyst for the prophecy and as a guide for the characters to follow. The riddle features hints as to what's to come in the story, the Hour of Doom, and a reference to one that shall fall in Elderland. But will it be enough to stop the invasion of the Naga? Fine details stem from classic fantasy elements such as swords, magic, war, fantastical species such as the Naga, and destiny. These elements work to create a world that draws you in with lovely visual images. Magic is heavily featured, rounding out the culture of the Cynnahu and the world to create a fantasy atmosphere. Several instances of magic are seen in training and used in battle with various spells that conjure up the four elements. These are subtly included by Ian S. E. Adler which makes magic feel like a natural part of the world. The world has a rich history that ties back to the Cynnahu's ancestors who took over the continent after wiping out the Dragonkin. This history is deeply rooted in the progression of the story with Adler weaving in various details such as the diary of Gwydara, various texts read by Aneirin, and letters that refer to the prophecy. The focus of the plot is on the war between the Cynnahu and the Naga which is where each character is found, training for their destiny, digging into the prophecy, and with individual journeys that push them to become heroes. The plot is character driven with the growth of the protagonists rooted in the destiny they were handed. Dive into The Last War which delivers a fantasy adventure through a vivid world with great details, magic, a map, prophecy, and characters seeking their destiny."

Saturday, December 3, 2022

I have started The Cerulean Queen by Sarah Kozloff

I have started The Cerulean Queen by Sarah Kozloff, the fourth and final volume of her Nine Realms series.

At long last the Queen has returned! But tis one thing to reclaim the Nargis Throne and another to keep it, leaving Queen Cerulia of Weirandale to deal with traitors by the hundreds and foreign fire-worshiping fanatics by the thousands, not to mention returning order to a realm long corrupted.

"Remove your cloak and boots, weary traveler,
And rest. For you are not fully returned.
Land, walls, or brooks don't guarantee welcome,
And a nation - or a family - must be earned."

Friday, December 2, 2022

My author logo

Call it marketing if you will or vanity if you must, but paying $10 for an official author logo (courtesy of GetCovers, the same people who designed the cover for The Last War) is ten dollars well spent.

Monday, November 28, 2022

My father and I have finished Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

My father and I have finished Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder.

"Nine on the island, orphans all. Any more, the sky might fall." Somewhere between Faerie and fable, reality and mystery, lies a mist-wrapped island paradise where nine orphan children – and only children – dwell, the number maintained as every year a driver-less green boat brings a toddler and takes the Elder. But the island is wreathed with questions no less than mist, namely where do the toddlers, the Cares, come from and, just as importantly, where do the Elders go? Questions Jinny must wrestle with as her duty as the new Elder and the rules of the islands come into conflict with her innate curiosity and love of home. How would I describe this book? As a deeper, wiser successor to Lord of the Flies. A book which wraps justified curiosity around and yet against unexplained rules and magic, where love of home wars with fear of the unknown on a battlefield of mystery and responsibility.

Farewell Jinny, Ben, Joon, Oz, Eevie, Jak, Nat, Sam, and Ess.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Fire Emblem Heroes: Book VI Ending

A true Fire Emblem ending. There are no bridges that cannot be built between enemies, no war that cannot end in peace and friendship. Better yet, these friendships overpowered the gods themselves. Tis a joy seeing the Askr vs. Embla storyline end this way!

I have finished A Broken Queen by Sarah Kozloff

I have finished A Broken Queen by Sarah Kozloff, volume three of her Nine Realms series.

The Ninth enters the fray with Her Agent Spinner just as the Free States are on the verge of being just that again, though not without cost. Meanwhile, poetic irony stack up in Weirandale as friends and enemies attend a wedding. But, most importantly, the catamounts are purring.

"Though dusty sits the Nargis Throne
While tyrants befoul and bluster;
Though citizens do their yoke bemoan,
And the Fountain’s lost its luster:
Someday the drought shall be broken,
And the wondrous Waters course clean,
One dawn the words shall be spoken,
As the long-lost heir becomes queen."

Thursday, November 24, 2022

A quote or not a quote, that is the question

Any true fan of Fantasy is well aware of the quote "Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?...If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!" Indeed, I have used it here on this mostly humble blog any number of times. Yet today I learned a frankly startling fact. That despite all one reads across the internet, even in such places as Goodreads, this quote was not said by J.R.R. Tolkien. Almost.

Almost? How can a person almost not say something? Did Tolkien say it nor not? Well, the answer is he both did and did not. Technically speaking, he did not. Here is the whole quote:

"The oldest argument against SF [Sci-Fi] is both the shallowest and the profoundest: the assertion that SF, like all fantasy, is escapist. This statement is shallow when made by the shallow. When an insurance broker tells you that SF doesn’t deal with the Real World, when a chemistry freshman informs you that Science has disproved Myth, when a censor suppresses a book because it doesn’t fit the canons of Socialist Realism, and so forth, that’s not criticism; it’s bigotry.  If it’s worth answering, the best answer is given by Tolkien, author, critic, and scholar. Yes, he said, fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape? The moneylenders, the know-nothings, the authoritarians have us all in prison; if we value the freedom of the mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can."

The writer is none than the late Ursula K. Le Guin, author of The Earthsea Cycle and The Annals of the Western Shore (& the woman to whom I owe my own Cynnahu Saga), as part of her collection of essays published in 1979 entitled The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction. So why is the quote credited to Tolkien, particularly since Le Guin is among the most respected Fantasy authors who ever lived? Well, as one can see, in the quote she is paraphrasing Tolkien, specifically his comments on escapism in his On Fairy-Stories essay (which I highly recommend):

"I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which “Escape” is now so often used: a tone for which the uses of the word outside literary criticism give no warrant at all. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls? The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it. In using escape in this way the critics have chosen the wrong word, and, what is more, they are confusing, not always by sincere error, the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter." – J.R.R. Tolkien

In sum, despite Le Guin making it clear that she is paraphrasing Tolkien, the lion's share of the original quote is 99% of the time credited as a direct quotation from J.R.R.Tolkien – and with an exclamation point tacked onto the final sentence. So, is it a Tolkien quote? Almost. Technically he did not say it, but it is someone else directly paraphrasing something he did say (the quote of a paraphrasing of another quote, as it were) making it arguably more of a Tolkien quote than a Le Guin one insofar as the content goes. I am not going to split hairs here, but I think we can all agree that Le Guin clearly paraphrased Tolkien brilliantly seeing as 99% of the world believes it to be a literal, verbatim quote of his. Also, it is easier crediting it to Tolkien than writing the following:

"Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?...If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!" – Ursula K. Le Guin paraphrasing J.R.R.Tolkien

(Side note: This is my 500th post on Stars Uncounted!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Quote of the month

"Honor is a wonderful thing, but it is a means, not an end. A man who starves with honor does not help his family, a king who falls on his sword with honor does not save his kingdom." - Prester John of Erkynland

Friday, November 11, 2022

My father and I just finished The Whispering Wars by Jaclyn Moriarty

My father and I just finished The Whispering Wars by Jaclyn Moriarty, book two of her Kingdoms and Empires Series.

Well, this was certainly a book. A sequel and prequel to book one, and yes I am quite aware that is SUPPOSED to be an oxymoron but, as with so many things, Jaclyn Moriarty bends the lines - and very nearly literally the Kingdoms and Empires themselves - in absolutely fascinating ways. Do not let the whimsical, sometimes downright childish tone of this book fool you, for not only it is complex in matters both magical and mundane, it also portrays quite compellingly the horrors of war from a point of view other than that of soldiers. That plus the class differences between the entitled wealthy and the orphaned poor, and how these barriers were overcome by a group eclectic children. A goodhearted idiot, twins always readings newspapers, an mean-spirited prig, a girl who wants to fly, a boy who rides laundry shoots on his birthday, and a girl who cannot abide violins. Oh, and a pair of future children who have hopefully learned to respect linear causality.

I would say goodbye save for the fact that I am quite certain I will see ye Children of Spindrift in the next books.

(By the way, Jaclyn Moriarty obviously had WAY TOO MUCH FUN writing this book. A book and series that continues to channel the spirit of the great Diana Wynne Jones.)

Sunday, November 6, 2022

I once again finished playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Crimson Flower & Cindered Shadows)

Garreg Mach Monastery
I once again finished playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

As before, I played Edelgard's Crimson Flower route, for, as I explained upon first finishing the game (see the above link), I deem Crimson Flower as the canon Three Houses ending. Making it an honor to once again fight for and attain the world envision by Edelgard von Hresvelg alongside the rest of the Black Eagle Strike Force. Indeed, I know all players of Three Houses will agree that the game is special because of its amazing cast of characters, our students at the Officers Academy, who become cherished friends. This could be said of most any Fire Emblem game of course, but replaying Three Houses made me realize that Garreg Mach Monastery almost feels like a second home. Its grand vistas, the library, the side-by-side lake and greenhouse where one can garden and fish, the student dormitories where social classes mean less, the Training Grounds where knights and students alike come to hone their combat skills and hold a monthly tournament. The marketplace by the front gates where merchants (like Anna) gather which leads to the Entrance Hall, the Reception Hall on the first floor of the main building where social events such as the Ball during the Ethereal Moon are held, and of course the Dining Hall where I enjoyed many a meal with my students.

Like I said, one comes to know and care for Garreg Mach and all who dwell therein; a gaming Hogwarts, as it were. Yet, like Hogwarts, Garreg Mach has many deep places, secret passages, and hidden lore. Which brings me to the question of why I chose to replay Three Houses, the first video game I have ever done so. The answer? To discover one of its deepest secrets. Abyss.

“We're the secret fourth house in Abyss. The surface world turned its back on us, and we did the same in return.” – Balthus

Yes, I replayed Three Houses in order to play its Cindered Shadows route for the first time and see how the incorporation of the Ashen Wolves House into the Black Eagles would change the story and battles. That, and makes new friends in Yuri, Constance, Hapi, and Balthus of the Ashen Wolves along with the rest of the Abyssians who dwell beneath Garreg Mach. And in meeting them, in exploring this safe haven for those who have been shunned by the people on the surface of Fódlan, I saw further evidence of the crimes of the Church of Seiros.

Hence it was a joy not only to get to know the Ashen Wolves, but also felt right to have them join Edelgard in her quest to destroy that which which had confined them. The Black Eagles and Ashen Wolves together building a world where none need ever again hide from the sun because they know too much, were a failed pawn, or have abilities that "threaten stability". A place where a Shadow Library of banned books need not exist underground.

In short, I loved the Cindered Shadows route... yet not only for the aforesaid reasons. I said on first finishing Three Houses that battles themselves were "a tad lacking due to the ability to turn back the hands of time and seeing where each individual foe will strike next; meaning it was less challenging, despite the fact that it was the first FE game I played on Hard Mode." This still holds true for game as a whole since, on replaying it, I found even the few battles I judged truly hard the first time to be far easier – though this might, I admit, be more than partly owed to having the Ashen Wolves in the army. Constance and Hapi are mages of devastating power and mobility, while Yuri is a sword artist equal to Felix and a healer (and thief) besides. However, Cindered Shadows was a true tactical challenge on the level I expect of and love about Fire Emblem, with a storyline that kept me on the edge of the couch.

But all things come to and end, even replayed games with a new side-story added. Fódlan is united and free from an antiquated class system under Edelgard's meritocracy, those who slither in the dark are dead, and I am feeling both happy and wistful as I shall miss my friends both old and new, Garreg Mach and Abyss. (I also think Abyss and the Ashen Wolves had greater story potential than they were used for, but I can say nothing on that without revealing spoilers.)

Peace and prosperity to you, Edelgard & Byleth, Hubert & Bernadetta, Ingrid & Felix, Petra & Linhardt, Ferdinand & Dorothea, Yuri & Constance, Caspar, Hapi, Leonie, Jeralt, Ashe, Hanneman, Alois, Manuela, Ignatz, Lysithea, Shamir, Gilbert, Annette, and Claude. To those who died, good people and former students blinded by the enemy's deception, may Sothis guide your souls. (I regret to say that I did not save as many lives this round as I had hoped, but I did save a couple who perished before.)

Saturday, November 5, 2022

I just started A Broken Queen by Sarah Kozloff

I just started A Broken Queen by Sarah Kozloff, volume three of her Nine Realms series.

That not all scars are visible is not news to me, but what is is the finally learning what befell Prince Mikil – and where he is now. For just as the princella has choices to make that will decide the fate of nations, so the choices of others, and the Spirits, matter as, slowly, those touched by Cerulia of Weirandale much choose not only what they believe in but whether and how to fight for it.

"Like dice thrown down by callous Fate
Or flotsam tossed hither and yon,
Adrift, each tumbles 'til winds abate,
And struggles yet to go on."

Thursday, November 3, 2022

I just finished The Queen of Raiders by Sarah Kozloff

I just finished The Queen of Raiders by Sarah Kozloff, volume two of her Nine Realms series.

All will burn indeed, and this time Oromondo got more fire than it could handle. But not without price to Thalen's Raiders, Cerulia, and Ennea Mόn itself as the war threatens to enter a new, catastrophic phase. To say nothing of Weirandale as the roots of corruption begin to sprout the promised briars of revealed truth and rebellion. Point of order by the way, the Free Staters on both fronts proved that brains best brawn any day.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Tai'shar Manetheren!

 Everyone likes good music and Fantasy fans have a particular fondness for it; blame/credit Tolkien for all the amazing songs he wrote and included in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Amazon's The Wheel of Time adaption has done something similar, creating an original song entitled Weep for Manetheren. A good song with varying renditions of it are all over YouTube, but this particular version I think deserves special attention. Why? Because it is sung in the Old Tongue, and to translate the original song, fit it to the tune, then master the pronunciation enough to sing it takes a special kind of dedication. Tai'shar Manetheren! Carai an Caldazar! Carai an Ellisande! Al Ellisande!

Monday, October 10, 2022

I just started The Queen of Raiders by Sarah Kozloff

I just started The Queen of Raiders by Sarah Kozloff, volume two of her Nine Realms series.

They say the best way to learn is by experience, which means if Cerulia of Weirandale is to win back her mother's throne as a rebel guerilla fighter she must first learn guerilla warfare. Which translates to joining Thalen's Raiders in a volcanic land of fire magic fighting against devout fanatics in a mission that could conservatively be called suicidal and accurately the best option available for all parties – namely Weirandale and the Free States – concerned. For my experience tells me that suicidal predictions are no match for brilliant battle tactics.

"Alone, who firm of feet can stand
'Gainst tugging tide or greedy gale?
Yet brace and plaited hand in hand
Companions can survive travail."

Sunday, October 9, 2022

I just finished A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff

I just finished A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff, volume one of her Nine Realms series.
If there are two classes of people I despise it is the corrupt and the treacherous, which means those who are both have a very 'special' place in my heart. Thus, though the Waters still flow, hope drains from the common people of Weirandale as an aristocracy whose only interest is power and wealth suck the realm dry of mercy and decency. All while, ironically, Fire-worshiping religious maniacs pursue a war for food and a scholar prepare to take the fight to them. Yet princella Cerulia lives and, in her, hope remains. But the time for quiet hiding has passed.
"Though dusty sits the Nargis Throne
While tyrants befoul and bluster;
Though citizens do their yoke bemoan,
And the Fountain’s lost its luster:
Someday the drought shall be broken,
And the wondrous Waters course clean,
One dawn the words shall be spoken,
As the long-lost heir becomes queen."

Thursday, October 6, 2022

My father and I just finished The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty

My father and I just finished The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty, book one of her Kingdoms and Empires Series.

Okay, let me me clear here; we have read a LOT of books over the better part of three decades, but NONE of them has so confounded me as to how and what to write about it once we finished. On Lantern Isle Bronte receives a special book from a very loud librarian, a book which one need only shake for the words you are looking for to fall out. Frankly, I could use that book right about now but, lacking it, I will try my best. It was a madcap adventure that went beyond the mere whimsicality such as is often found in Faerie (though this tale does not occur in Faerie) to the point of a nearly new sub-genre of Absurdist Fantasy. It was laugh-out-loud and groan-aloud. It was an utter joy and the closest to a Diana Wynne Jones book that we have ever encountered, which is the rarest and highest praise we can give a majestically spellbinding work that was a circus of surprises of every conceivable kind and a perfect ending. 

Splendid work Bronte for following those Faery cross-stitch instructions through Aunts and ice-cream, dragons and detective work, water-sprites and Whisperers, pirates and strange paintings, all the way to shaking that book to finding those three words. Until next time! (These are not the three words.)

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Quote of the month

"There are always choices when you use your brain instead of your brawn." - Carmen Sandiego

Sunday, September 25, 2022

My first official Author Interview

Okay, so a couple weeks back (more or less) I posted the about the third Editorial Review of my book The Last War (The Cynnahu Saga Book 1) done by Literary Titan. Well, Literary Titan always interviews the authors whose books they review, so below is mine. Here is a link to the actual interview on their website if you prefer.

To Create My Own Earthsea

The Last War follows five heroes as they embark on dangerous quest to rediscover the secret of the Elder Song. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Strange as it may seem, I found out about the Elder Song a bare moment before Loremaster Aneirin did. I knew from the start that the five were going to summon the power of the Dragonkin using the Shrines, but how they were going to achieve that – i.e. the setup – was a mystery to me until a heartbeat before Aneirin heard of the Elder Song. However, while the setup came organically in that sense, the Cynnahu Saga itself is directly inspired by the late Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle; in short, her Archipelago inspired me to create my own.

I remember first reading The Earthsea Cycle in elementary school, hearing the mage Ogion of Re Albi say “To hear, one must be silent.” And I still remembered those words when I took the series up for a second and third time, years later. While the rest of my generation went to Hogwarts with Harry, I traveled by ship to the School of Roke with Ged.

Isn’t that interesting? I openly and sincerely adored Middle-earth and idolized the wizard Gandalf, but it was Ogion the Silent who I related to: “He spoke seldom, ate little, slept less. His eyes and ears were very keen, and often there was a listening look on his face.” I also remember being struck with the fact that Earthsea was an Archipelago, the first I had ever encountered in a Fantasy, with no true main continent to journey across; rather the journeying was done by ship, in the soul, and on different Isles each of which had a special distinction – its own personality, if you will. I was so struck that even at so young an age I decided that if I were ever to write a Fantasy book then it would take place upon an Archipelago. I knew I wanted a mages’ school, a ruling Archmage, and ships. Interesting is it not? I idolize The Lord of the Rings, yet never felt the need to create my own Middle-earth.

Your characters are all unique and detailed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Most simply came to me, cliche as that sounds. However, I tried to have them represent something I felt needed a voice. Archmage Hoth is my idea of an ideal leader. Myrriden is a single father who is not afraid to show how much he loves his son and surrogate daughter. He represents rank, power and skill coupled with humility. Emrys is not unlike myself at his age, nervous and following the rules fervently, yet possessing an inner flame and smarts. He is not the stereotypical brash “boys will be boys” hothead and is instead deeply thoughtful. Sakura is a girl who had everything she loved taken from her in an instant, and now seethes with a need for vengeance. She represents trauma that takes time to heal but is smart and would fight to the death to defend her still living friends. Volcan is the mysterious and unwillingly funny figure you can utterly trust and who keeps surprising you, because every good Fantasy needs such a character.

Stormlady Mica leads the blue warriors because I have noticed that, in Fantasy, women tend to use their wits and magic while the men lead the actual glorious cavalry charge; women have the special powers while the men use swords. This is hardly an ironclad rule and, even if it were, there is nothing wrong with it – indeed I love countless books that employ this storyline tactic. But I wanted to flip the coin. I wanted a woman wearing armor and leading the land’s most elite warriors into white-hot battle while the men wrestled with matters of magery.

Loremaster Aneirin in the scholar in me, for I love historical research and adore archeology. Yet just as much he – and the grey nobles in general – portray my firm belief that the best societies are deeply aware of their own history and learn from their past. Instead of trying to gloss over or justify the genocide of the Dragonkin, most modern Cynnahu folk – thanks to the Loremasters – are appalled by their ancestors’ deeds. Furthermore, I prefer wars won in ways beyond mere military tactics and/or magic as otherwise it is boring. Which is why Aneirin uses his scholar’s training to unravel ancient mysteries, his work being crucial to the war effort and the quest for the Elder Song despite never fighting.

Did you plan the story before writing or did it develop organically while writing?

A bit of both. I had what I like to call beacons – major events I wanted to happen because they were turning points in the story – but getting there was up to me. I was like a ship captain sailing unknown waters towards the distant lighthouse then, upon reaching it, setting out for the next. So I planned the story insofar as the beacons went, but everything in between developed organically while writing.

This is book one of The Cynnahu Saga. What can readers expect in book two?

Book two, Dragon Guardians, will hopefully be out by this time next year. Hopefully. I am making no promises as life has a horrid habit of getting in the way, but the book is fully written – meaning all that remains to be done is editing. Indeed, even the rough draft of book three, Mages’ Legacy is complete.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Vorodin's Lair is out

“Crimson flags borne on horses of white, see them ride, ye children of light." The Ballad of Eldwal

Vorodin's Lair, Book Two of J.V. Hilliard's Warminster Series is out! As some may recall, I wrote an Official Review on Book One, The Last Keeper, and loved it, so I am greatly looking forward to jumping back into that marvelous and unpredictable realm. After I finish the Nine Realms series by Sarah Kozloff, of course. In the meantime, I have a soft spot for book trailers (which is why I made one for my own), so here is something fit to get one netted and hooked on J.V. Hilliard's most excellent work.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Dragon Is Withered

I have, to put it mildly, spoken extensively regarding the Spirit of Tolkien that birthed and continues to run through the best of modern High Fantasy, as well as its conspicuous lack in the Grimdark genre founded by George R. R. Martin in what I name the Treason of the Intellectuals and Isengard. But I am not here to further litigate Fantasy literature today. Rather I shall post a musical rendition of the song "The Dragon Is Withered" which the Elves of Rivendell sing as Bilbo and Gandalf return to the Shire from Erebor at the end of The Hobbit, for I feel that it conveys so well that bright morality of Fantasy's Forefather.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Third Editorial Review of The Last War (The Cynnahu Saga Book 1)

Another (5 Star!) editorial review for my book, this one by Literary Titan and blessedly without spoilers so feel free to read it. Here are the key parts, though:

"Adler created a rich and imaginative world populated with interesting and well-developed characters encompassing the depth of their history and mythology. Fans of the fantasy genre will be enthralled by the level of detail and visual delights that bring this story to life, pulling the reader right into the action. It’s a satisfying read that focuses not only on war and action but the wisdom and strategy the young characters, Emrys and Sakura, must face when solving puzzles and challenges.

The author invests much of the narration with dialogue, creating a colorful plot and development throughout the book. This technique gives the characters more dimension so that we understand their motives, while the storyline never falters and will keep you turning one page after the next. While this action-packed, strategic tale follows what many readers may find to be a familiar fantasy storyline, it’s a rich, vibrant tale with unique characters and a fantastic world will keep you looking forward to the next installment."

Monday, September 12, 2022

I just started A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff, volume one of her Nine Realms series

What talent hides unseen within each breast?
Begrimed, bejeweled, and all the rest,
Till soothing sun calls forth a sleeping bud,
Or rain reveals the gold beneath the mud.

I just started A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff, volume one of her Nine Realms series.
My quest for unique Fantasy has led me to here, to a realm threatened not by a Dark Lord (at least, not as far as I can tell) but by a corrupt aristocracy. To one princella Cerulia of Weirandale who must win back her mother's throne as a rebel guerilla fighter. But first she must recruit an army, ally will spirits, and discover her own secret magic because nothing is ever as simple as it appears. Especially not the complex things. Oh, and did I mention Fire-worshiping religious maniacs from an ancient militaristic realm?

Saturday, September 10, 2022

I just finished Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta

I just finished Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta, the third and final book of her Lumatere Chronicles.

When I first began this series I had grimdark suspicions of it, yet not only was I wrong, it turned out to be one of the most memorable series I have ever read. A harrowing yet amazing Fantasy that is unquestionably unique in its own way and to the point that I do not think I have ever read such a tangle of love, pain, and politics. Filled with a heartrending magic in its curses, prophesies, and gods' blessed dreams, woven together with such emotion and complexity both political and arcane that it was at times surreal and always unpredictable, it was a joy, after so much death, sorrow, and regret, to watch love, peace, and forgiveness triumph as a new generation is born to Charyn and Lumatere.

A toast to Finnikin of the Rock & Isaboe of Lumatere, Lucian of the Monts & Phaedra of Alonso, Froi of the Exiles & Quintana of Charyn, Gargarin of Abroi & Lirah of Serker, Arjuro of Abroi & De Lancey of Paladozza (and his children), Trevanion of the River & Beatriss of the Flatlands, Perri the Savage & Tesadora of the Forest Dwellers, Sir Topher, Rafuel of Sebastabol, and of course Vestie of the Flatlands and Tariq of the Citavita and Jasmina of the River. You broke the curses and will beyond doubt bring peace to Charyn and Lumatere.

Friday, September 2, 2022

My father and I just finished The Murder at the Vicarage by Dame Agatha Christie

My father and I just finished The Murder at the Vicarage by Dame Agatha Christie, the first of her Miss Marple books.

With both Holmes and Christie's Poirot under our belts, we entered this ready to try and solve the crime ourselves if possible. Yet more interesting was observing Miss Marple's own style of detective work. Poirot likes to differentiate himself from Holmes by saying that, rather than hunting for footprints and clues, he uses his little grey cells and just sits and thinks to solve cases. However, while not as physically active as Mr. Holmes, M. Poirot does his share of clue-finding in addition to thinking. Miss Marple, however, is pure greys cells making her in truth what Poirot claims to be, solving by watching and thinking in the epitome of the detective style Poirot lauds. Natural enough since Miss Marple is a little old lady.
Point of order, the actual difference between Christie's detectives and Mr. Holmes is not that Holmes does not sit and think; indeed, he spends whole nights doing nothing else. Rather the difference is that Sherlock Holmes also gets down and dirty, a master of disguise and expert boxer ready to physically grapple with criminals if he can catch them in addition to being a chemist plus much more. I am of the firm opinion that Dame Agatha Christie developed her style of detective to properly differentiate from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes. A differentiation she mastered in the character of Miss Jane Marple.

Amazon's Rings of Power is out!

Well, the time has come at last. Amazon's Rings of Power TV show is out and can be watched on Prime. Now at last we can determine whether they did justice to, and the show is worthy of, J.R.R. Tolkien. Initial reviews appear mixed, but I have a feeling it will end up like their The Wheel of Time adaption – i.e. you either love it or hate it.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Second Editorial Review of The Last War: Book One of the Cynnahu Saga

I am thrilled to announce that Feathered Quill Reviews has reviewed my book, The Last War! I am not going to quote the whole thing here as it contains spoilers seriously, only read the whole review if you are at least halfway through the book so here is the gist of things:

"Adler has built a complex and detailed fantasy world full of adventure and excitement that keeps readers turning the pages. The author provides explanations of what people perform in their jobs that go along with their titles, such as Dragon Guardians, Isle Masters, Loremasters, and Mages, to name a few. A strong and ideal cast of characters who are dealing with grief, sacrifice, tricky interactions, and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds populate the story. The characters also undertake risks, whether it is being involved in battles where magic plays a part or in trying to overcome outside forces and internal challenges when it comes to solving the secret code in ancient writings...The Last War is a gripping fantasy story that pulls readers into a magical world with nonstop action and suspense that revolves around an armed confrontation of epic proportions."