Why Fantasy Swords belong in Fantasy (not elsewhere)

Fantasy swords look cool, but are they any good?

Fantasy with Historical European Martial Arts | Tim Eveland

Mega swords, super swords and all other kinds of made-up dragon-slaying swords belong where they rightly exist–in fantasy! But why do they belong there, and not in real life? In Earth’s historical reality, the European one-handed arming sword has become a well-known and predictable symbol. But in popular medieval fantasy, whether it be in video games, books, movies or comics, the European sword has become a target for unpredictable creative reinvention!

historical swords verses fantasy swords

Unlike real historical swords, fantasy swords, in a generic sense, don’t care about proper weight distribution, an important factor medieval swordsmiths took seriously. The classic medieval arming sword, shaped like a cross, has developed into a very specific shape that is the optimal design for hand rotation when you consider key pivot points in the sword’s geometry.

The two YouTube videos below by Roland Warzecha explain the secrets of sword geometry in way more detail than I’ll be…

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Book Review: Blackwing by Ed McDonald

blackwing1

US and UK book covers.

“The sky was sobbing, long purrs of sharp, cold nightmare as the dawn broke. At least the rain had abated.” 
This is a description of the dawn sky over the Misery. There are other descriptions of the Misery involving the wind howling through cracks in the sky, bronze and purple bruise colours and more. Descriptions of the Misery are as elusive to their precise meaning as they are evocative. I love it this way and I’m content not to have a full grasp of what the Misery looks and sounds like – I enjoy the sense of mystery and depth.

The Misery is the region of the land left “polluted” after Nall’s Engine does its worst. The engine is a super weapon with an immense destructive power. It is the only thing that can hold back The Deep Kings, beings with god-like power, their massive armies and other magical nightmares such as the Darlings. The Darlings appear as delightful children that are actually horror novel type creatures with sickening magic that can rip through men and other wielders of magic like the proverbial knife through butter. They feel no remorse.

Our hero Captain Galharrow commands his Blackwings, a group of men and women soldiers and a sorceress in the hopeless defence of their land. It’s hopeless because Nall’s Engine is a hoax – it no longer works and the Deep Kings are learning this. Their armies and agents are moving to conquer.

I love Blackwing as it is a hopeless quest full of emotion with a hero who is downtrodden, a drunk, has lost almost everything he cares about (wife, children) and is but a pawn played with by his masters. His great redeeming quality is that he cares deeply about those under his command and will sacrifice almost anything that is his to save them. They are all he has left to cling onto.

For me, the “Holy Grail” of stories is one that gives me an ending I don’t see coming. Blackwing does just that. Great job Ed!

Normally I find stories written in the first person like Blackwing don’t work that well for me as I know the protagonist who’s words I’m hearing must survive the tale or be speaking from beyond the grave. Given how merciless life is on the wall by the Misery death for Galharrow would seem like a gift. I assume he will never get this gift as he is the narrator.

Blackwing is fine grimdark fantasy with plenty of gruesome scenes that will not suit every reader. Lovers of dark fantasy will have a great time in the Misery.

No question, 5 stars from me.

BIG charity anthology book launch on Facebook March 3rd to March 4th

Please join me at the BIG charity anthology book launch event on Facebook featuring 3 books:

OMP Fantasy at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited
OMP Thriller at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited
OMP Fiction at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited

The One Million Project is a collective of creatives offering their work to raise money for international charities engaged in Cancer research and supporting the homeless.

Register your interest here on Facebook for the BIG charity anthology book launch

As a contributing author (look out for The Silver Warrior in OMP Fantasy) I will be hosting on Saturday, March 3rd from 4pm to 5pm US Central time, 10pm to 11pm UK Time when there will be a chance to win an eBook copy of my recently released fantasy novel The General’s Legacy

How The Last Jedi honors rather than destroys the Luke Skywalker character (SPOILERS)

WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE LAST JEDI IN THIS POST.
If you have not seen this movie and don’t want parts of the plot spoiled read no further!

Watching Luke Skywalker hover over Ben Solo, green light sabre casting a ghastly glow on the older Jedi’s haunted face, was a heart-rending scene to see for two reasons. Firstly, Mark Hamill’s performance of this broken Luke Skywalker we barely know is sublime. It’s heart-rending for another reason. I still remember being 7 years old and sitting silent and spellbound next to my dad until at the end of Star Wars (A New Hope). Then I looked up at my dad and said “But the baddie got away” as Darth Vader spins off into space in his Tie Fighter.
Luke Skywalker was the very first hero that I engaged with in a movie – a dramatic story – a story that was not a cartoon-like Jungle Book or Robin Hood.
This is also why the first blog post I ever did on this site was a story structure break down of A New Hope. It’s here if you are interested in the subject of writers craft.

I’d like to rationalize what has happened to Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga. Any other aspects of the movie are outside the scope of this discussion otherwise it will turn into something that takes hours to read.
I’m telling myself this is how The Last Jedi honors rather than destroys the Luke Skywalker character.
If you are finding what has happened to Luke hard to accept, maybe this will help. I hope so.

Luke Skywalker is not an unimportant side character existing just to support the new protagonist Rey in this story. Despite Mark Hamill saying in at least one interview that Luke is no longer a protagonist in the story, at least in The Last Jedi, I believe he is. Here’s why.
The second movie in the trilogy is about testing the protagonists and showing their old ways of working and their weaknesses failing them in reaching their goals in the face of the antagonist. This is so that they must overcome those weaknesses and do something they have never done before to resolve the conflict – so that we don’t know if they will succeed in the final movie.
In The Empire Strikes Back Luke defied his mentors, didn’t complete his training, failed to rescue Han, lost a battle with Darth Vader, lost a hand and discovered the (second) greatest villain in the galaxy is his father. Ouch! That’s heart-rending. And utterly brilliant. An impossible act to follow. It works because there is really no greater failures you can heap upon Luke at this point in his story. We feel for him.
For The Last Jedi, what would you do to throw catastrophic failure at Luke in the strongest possible way?
The answer, in my view, is exactly what Rian Johnson did and boy it hurts to watch it.
On the one hand, Rian dishonors the character of Luke Skywalker by having him go against his character as we knew it by considering killing Ben Solo. On the other hand, it ticks the box for visiting the strongest possible failure on him which is required in the story at this time. His goal is to become a Jedi master and teach others. His failure is more than losing his new students. He was also the trigger for that failure in his moment of weakness. And then he cuts himself off from the force and everyone he loves. Luke’s failure is absolute and complete. By the end of the story, he fights back and protects his friends once more redeeming himself. Sure, it would have been cool to see Luke go out in a blaze of light sabers but that is not really the Jedi way. Remember the Luke that tossed aside his light saber refusing to kill his own father. He won without that weapon. In The Last Jedi, he wins with a force power we’ve never seen before. A little anticlimactic maybe, but it is appropriate for the nature of a true Jedi in the end.

From a story mechanics point of view what happens to Luke Skywalker is perfect, even if not everyone likes it or we find it hard to accept.

The Last Jedi honors the Luke Skywalker character by treating him like a protagonist. Failure is thrust upon him and he rises from it giving the farm boy from Tatooine one more character arc.

Do share any thoughts in the comments below. I know this is an emotive subject in the Star Wars fandom and there are many other aspects of the movie that could be discussed. Let’s try to keep the scope down to how Luke Skywalker’s character is portrayed.

Book Review: Mistborn The Final Empire


I’ve heard the Mistborn series described as swords and sorcery. It has sorcery “in spades” – the fascinating and innovative Allomancy. Think magical power from metals. I’m not sure the swords part really qualifies. The setting strikes me as more 19th century than the traditional psuedo-medieval worlds we most often find in fantasy. The Final Empire is a fun magical romp through a world broken by past events still shrouded in mystery that I’m keen to penetrate by reading more books in this series.
The overall style and the age of the heroine (16) make me think YA Fantasy but with enough sophistication to appeal to an adult audience. I would have liked more showing in the writing style, especially in action sequences, than the telling we often get. As a result, there were times I felt force fed events rather than experiencing them. I’m done with criticisms now.
The Final Empire was thoroughly enjoyable. The main character Vin is a wonderful blend of strength and naivety with a special but unschooled ability in Allomancy. Her world view is delightfully distorted by her tragic backstory. This gives her an understandable problem trusting anyone and she must overcome this on her quest to end The Final Empire. The Lord Ruler (the Emporer if you will) is immortal and apparently invincible. How can they possibly succeed?
This is a trope Sanderson also uses in Steelheart. If you love Mistborn The Final Empire and have not read Steelheart yet I recommend adding it to your “want to read” list.
Ever envied Spiderman’s ability to swing through the buildings on his web strings? Wait until you discover how the Allomancers use their ability to travel with speed and style…
Vin’s mentor Kelsier teaches her much about Allomancy and sends her to learn from others with different specialist skills. The story never gets bogged down in this training. It’s woven into the storyline. Of course, there are some things a true hero/heroine is going to have to figure out for themselves. Kelsier is a key player in this story are there are many scenes from his point of view. The grand plan at work in this story is his, but he can’t do it alone.
Mistborn The Final Empire takes a street urchin and member of a gang of thieves into a world of nobility and espionage, magic and mist. Vin takes on a second identity, Vallette, the only identity her love interest, a son of the enemy ruling class, knows her by. What could possibly go wrong…
The right questions are answered in this book by the end but there are plenty of others left open for future books. Vin grows as a character but there is still plenty of room to see her grow more.
This is a fantastic story that will keep you guessing until the end – how can you kill the invincible Lord Ruler and exactly what is the power of the eleventh metal?

4.5 stars from me overall, but rounded up to a well deserved 5 for Goodreads etc.

The One Million Project Fantasy Anthology

Almost 2 years ago I was invited to contribute to an anthology of 40 fantasy stories along with other traditionally and self-published authors. I’m honoured to be among them!

February 20th, 2018 is release day for the anthology titled OMP Fantasy that is available for pre-order today with a paperback edition coming very soon.

The One Million Project goal is to raise £1,000,000 over time for two international charities, Cancer Research (UK) and EMMAUS, a charity for the homeless. In future, there will be fundraisers and several launch parties are being planned across the globe (London, Scotland, Florida, Texas etc) for April. A variety of creative arts projects are underway, but for book readers, two other anthologies may be of interest – OMP Thrillers and OMP Fiction.

Discover new authors and indulge in some quick bite short fantasy stories with the OMP Fantasy anthology while raising money for worthy causes.

Get OMP Fantasy

Look out for The Silver Warrior from me. Discover the adventure Quain from The General’s Legacy had on the way to the Battle of Beldon Valley and how he got the Silver Warrior nickname.
Each story has its own cover inside the book!

If you like thrillers and general fiction, check out OMP Thriller and OMP Fiction

 

Do you like to write reviews of books on Amazon and/or Goodreads?

Swords and Sorcery with the pace and excitement of a thriller sound good?
I have advance review eBook copies of The General’s Legacy single volume edition available.
My target is to have 10 or more reviews on Goodreads and Amazon in the first few days of release on February 28th, 2018 and more by the end of April.
Super-easy loading process guaranteed to get the book onto whatever eBook reader device you have.
Check out the reviews for the existing two-volume edition here The General’s Legacy, Part One: Inheritance on Goodreads and here The General’s Legacy – Part Two: Whiteland King on Goodreads
Apply here for a review copy https://adrianhilder.com/contact/ and I will reply with details. Alternatively, contact me via a Goodreads message. I will need an email address for you.
Happy reading!

The Book – a poem by Ann Burgess

This poem struck a cord with me so on a whim I thought I would share it with the kind permission of the author Ann Burgess.

The Book

With each stroke of the pen
With each line typed in
With the imaginations growing
My life begins and I am born.
I come alive with every word
Whether it be truth or something
Absurd.
With every reader my life goes on
Through the years I live.
Sometimes upon book shelves I gather dust.
But my waiting I hope won’t be too long.
Someone will find me and open my world
To discover my hates, loves and song.
Once more I am born.
In thoughts of children, women and men
My character will love again.
I am the hero, the villain the friend
I am the one that kept you till the end
I made you cry and made you laugh.
I took you into the future or carried you
Into the past.
I shall live on until the world dies.