A kindred site.

Posts from August 2010

I live in the Bronx. It many ways it's what you think. In many, it's not. This is a 5-minute bike ride from me:

posted on 08.25.2010

Click here for larger image.

This is a photo I took in a newly discovered bookshop (like that one in Salem, Mass) in the town of Nyack only thirty minutes from where I live, just across the Hudson River. When I spotted it, I had to pick up this copy of Sheepfarmer's Daughter, book 1 of The Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy by Elizabeth Moon. I recently had reason to read these books and I enjoyed them immensely. While I already own the massive paperback of the trilogy, I had to pick it up: love old editions of some books and I really dig the original cover art of this one.

Sheepfarmer's Daughter, for those who don't know of it, seems at first like little more than a detailed account of a young woman’s experiences as a mercenary. The plot is straightforward in that way. The setting itself is a fairly generic, low-magic fantasy world, and the story is no more complex than simply keeping track of the many characters.

Despite all that, the story held me. I can't even explain why. There's something endearing about the character of Paksenarrion herself and her naiveté. There's also the camaraderie she shares with her new friends, the recurring moral struggle (fight for money vs. fight for good), and her burgeoning, mysterious powers. The trilogy as a whole dabbles with some common fantasy tropes I'm very familiar with, especially those derived from D&D: orcs, dwarves, elves, dark elves, magic, giant spiders, and paladins. As a Tolkien fan, I approve of Moon's non-preachy way of exploring spirituality, but the books' strength is the recurring contrast between regular soldiers (those serving a group, or themselves) and paladins (those serving a god or ideal), and the interaction between the two.

All in all, I'd recommend this trilogy to anyone who ever liked the character of Éowyn in The Lord of the Rings but felt her personal story was largely untold. Enter Paksenarrion! These books would make excellent reading for Women's Studies in high school or college, if you ask me: an epic tale whose protagonist is a likable, strong female character, and which doesn't for a second read like angry, militant feminism or like someone's agenda.

In any case, the bookshop also has a friendly old dog. All good bookstores should.

posted on 08.15.2010

My third Eberron DDI article is available now: "Taer Lian Doresh: Agents & Enemies." The second and third installments of these 'Explore' articles are usually just fleshed out NPCs for heroes to deal with, usually as foes.

There are three illustrations in this article by artist Craig J. Spearing. And boy was I happy with what he came up with. I mean seriously happy. This guy's good. Just another example of how lucky I've been having my writing pared with top-notch illustrators in this industry.

Like part 1 of Taer Lian Doresh—which is a citadel of fey creatures twisted into nightmares by the realm of dreams—I'm particularly happy with this article. I introduced a warforged agent of the Lord of Blades, an agent of the Dreaming Dark (a quori spirit housed in a human vessel), a bloodthirsty eladrin warrior....and harlequin gnomes.

It's those gnomes I'm most proud of. Clownish, prankish, and sinister, offering choice audience members of their sideshow acts a confectionery potion of dubious intent.

As with a lot of the things I write, it was all made better by the creative suggestions of my brother John. Thanks, bro.

posted on 08.05.2010