Saturday, February 28, 2009


For several years now, I've read a great deal of fantasy fiction (and a little sci-fi). This has led me onto websites such as sffworld, as well as several blogs (I'll eventually have the blogs I am most confident with linked on the page). I have been led to begin my own blog, though nothing as comprehensive as the ones I already follow. More than anything, this is an effort at enforced self-discipline to get off my backside, or get on it I suppose, and begin to construct the story I've collected endless litter on. I say litter, because the drawer is full of notes on the backs of envelopes, small notebooks, large notebooks, a symbol drawn on a kleenex and even a page from a phone book written on with a sharpie. I don't trust my memory to recall what seemed a great idea at the time, and so, end up writing down notes on all kinds of unnoteworthy articles.

Of late, I've read a great deal concerning the delays on books by George Martin and Patrick Rothfuss. While I purchase both in hardcover, I don't feel like a fan. Perhaps I just don't wish to identify with a group generating such a level of opprobrium aimed at the previously mentioned authors. It is my position that both authors are, at the very least, excellent at their craft and their stories are well beyond above average. Any other reason to berate these gentlemen I would dismiss as peripheral and state that my observation in the previous sentence, in my eyes, earns each a pass. However, my own level of concern rises when I realize, "How long will it take me to put my mess together?"

Thus the self-imposed blog. Will I write organically, or shall I proceed from an outline? Who the hell knows? I suppose I will just do it and attempt to suspend the auto-analysis and wait to be pigeon-holed. That having been said, and all other nonsense aside, I'm reading:

Cry of the Newborn - James Barclay

I am completely satisfied with this work by Barclay. Yet, I can see how some would not.

The action and pace are not of a level that will attract, and maintain, the interest of the A.D.H.D. fantasy fiction reader, a larger than expected demographic. This is not to state that it's pace is slow. In fact, I would say it's just right, being neither too fast, nor too slow. After all, all things in moderation. Granted, my progression thus far only accounts for the first 350p., yet the feel of it is constant - no lags, jolts or bumps.

The characters within the tale aren't, to this point, the deepest I've encountered. I would say that they are as deep as they need to be for this story. Again, smoothly constant.

Concerning the aspect that I think is best concerning this work: the factions. There are numerous entities involved in weaving plot threads, agendas and objectives into a dynamically flowing progression. These various entities are political, theological, heretical and ethnic in nature.

To Barclay's credit, it's done without any pseudo-intellectual condescension which attempts to plunge an author's worldview done your throat. Seriously, I can really appreciate that [pet peeve/hypersensitivity issue: I can, and will, do my own analysis, thinking and opining]. Barclay does this while simultaneously revealing the aspects of each character that makes them praiseworthy and ignoble.

I get the sense that most offerings in the genre today do this in a slightly different fashion. I tend to see other authors casting their characters in various shades and degrees of flagitiousness - crowded mosaics defiantly proclaiming, "Nobody's perfect" (e.g. Bakker). Barclay leaves you seeing the individual in a slightly different light; as human. His characters aren't perfect, but neither are they wretched and/or hopeless. The proliferation of cookie-cutter stories characterized by their gritty realism leaves me wondering, "What critical analaysis, in the current time, would an excellent story receive were it to, once again, employ a good or evil character?" Would a chorus of protestation chant "Ureal!" or would accolades shower the author's innovation? I digress...

As I continue through Barclay's story, I'll update my persceptions on this work. I had hoped to plow straight through Barclay's Ascendants series. Due to an abundance of discussion on sffworld concerning Bakker's The Judging Eye, I may wait to start Barclay's concluding work in the series, A Shout for the Dead.