Sunday, August 20, 2023

Serial Fiction

Not every intricate, worthy Fantasy tale comes in novel form. There are Fantasy games such as Golden Sun, RuneScape, Fire Emblem, and Radiant Historia whose story is the game. Then there are games like League of Legends whose story is unveiled a piece at a time with each Champion's individual tale, and Magic the Gathering whose story arcs are published in the serial fiction format - coming out a bit at a time, chapter by chapter, over many years.

Then there is actual serial fiction, authors who chose to publish their works online in such a manner instead of in a traditional novel or book series. I have never dealt much with such Fantasies, but they deserve note. So I will post now about one which I am a diehard fan of, and another which recently caught my interest.

"Long, long ago in Neraland, the pious human built a great tower to show the respect to their goddess Nera. Goddess Nera was deeply moved by human piety; to reward them, she opened a door at the top of the tower. This ethereal door connected to another world; it was known as—Heaven Eye. However..." Beginning with the former, GhostBlade is a fantasy comic series, the only one I read, and one of the most unique stories I have ever come across. Bearing some trappings of traditional Fantasy, such as an epic journey in a medieval-style world it diverges in so many ways as to be almost staggering. When one starts reading one is uncertain whom to trust. Princess Yan of Haiqin and Kain the Silver Knight, certainly, but the rest are wreathed in shades of grey and mystery with much cryptic foreshadowing as to the future.

Even the journey is uncertain, and the world's history, and the world itself, is incredible, filled with distinct cultures and issues and reflect real-world concerns while still being true escapist Fantasy. For the characters are as real, as deep, as conflicted, as any I have ever read. I wish I could say more, but I do not want to deprive readers of any surprise, no matter how slight. But I can say this: the story makes you think, and WLOP (the author) clearly has a long story in mind, one as intricate and stellar as the art which brings each character, their emotions, and the world of Neraland itself to life. On a final note, the tale is unfinished, and a nightly ritual of mine is to check whether new chapters have been published.


Now to the one which recently caught my interest, that being the Legends of Icaria. Since I have just begun, I can only say so much, hence I will let the author give the introduction: "Icaria is a place of magic, both old and new. It's a land of human and Fae and the natural political and religious disputes that result from struggling to find a balance of place and power. I hope you'll walk her shrouded mountains, marvel at her sea plains, mourn her deaths, sail with merchants up Emak, trek the Great Stone Way, and engage with the factions across the land." The bottom line being that while I cannot yet speak with certainty to the overall uniqueness of the plot, I know good writing when I see it and the author clearly has the depth of vision, dedication, and skill that defines true Fantasy authors.

A good reminder that Fantasists tell their tales in their own way, one which they feel best suits their story and that they get the most enjoyment out of. And speaking of enjoyment, I anticipate getting some in the land of Icaria. Also, and this is a key point for serial fiction readers, the author posts new chapters often. The Prologue was published in June and Chapter 11 was published 8 hours ago, and plenty of other posts including but not limited to A Short Compendium of Icarian Prophecy and An Excerpt from Faen Customs and Culture. Remember what I said about dedication and depths of vision? Well, in my extensive experience with the Fantasy genre I know that only those with both write such pure world-building texts in addition to their regular work.  

Ghostblade has gone on for years and has a dedicated and well-deserved fandom, and I hope Legends of Icaria earns its stripes the same way. But, as with all online serial fiction, whether it is an established comic or a new tale looking for readership, we can only hope that the authors keep at it until the story ends.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

I just started Seasparrow by Kristin Cashore

A busy vacation forcing one to do weeks worth of homework in the single week prior can certainly derail a person's reading, but now the ship is righted for I just started Seasparrow by Kristin Cashore, the fifth book of her Graceling Realm Series.

As ever, it is a delight seeing old friends again in Bitterblue, Giddon and Hava! En route by ship back to Monsea after their adventures in Winterkeep, issues of translation and sailors' secrets seem like child's play, but the journey back is destined to be as hazardous as the one to. If it is not Queen overboard it is Queen shipwrecked, and I have a strong feeling that ice, mountain passes, and the finer points of moral responsibility will be the least, or the least complex, of hurdles they must cross before they finally get home.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Quote of the month

"And yet you can glimpse the tale there in all those books. It slips out unexpectedly like sun on a cloudy day, a shimmer of light across the world. And then it’s gone, but it never fades that quickly from your heart. The heart remembers." - Patricia A. McKillip

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

A private message to my former students

Greetings my friends!

If you are a former student of mine and are asking how can I possibly give you a private message on a public blog then you are absolutely correct. I have therefore written it on a separate page accessible via this link; it is password protected, and password is the answer to the Grandmaster Riddle – which I trust you all remember. The first letter is lowercase. If you write it in uppercase it will deny you access and tell you "the page you were looking for in this blog does not exist."


Ian Adler