Goblins Swords Elves 2.0

Goblins Swords Elves 2.0

For the last two years my writing input hasn’t been the best. Sure, I’m 60,000 words into writing the second Runeblade novel, but I’m still stuck on the first draft after two years of insanity… And the book keeps growing, and I end up getting stopped for long periods of time thinking my way through the plot. When writing a Fantasy trilogy, it seems like the “easiest” entry to write is the first. (If writing a novel isn’t hard, you’re doing it wrong.)

Since I haven’t been writing as quickly as I would like, I’ve been spending quite a bit of my day exploring the web, going random places and just not being productive, and waiting for inspiration rather than writing. Lately I’ve been trying to figure out where my spark went and how to get it back.

And the solution has been in front of my face the entire time: my blog Goblins, Swords, Elves, Oh My!

Back in 2007 I’d been reading Fantasy Book Critic daily. I’d pore through reviews of the latest Sci-fi and Fantasy tales, but more importantly I would read author interviews and glean all the advice I could to use in my own writing. I would then email authors, asking my own questions about writing and getting book recommendations of writing books.

Then I realized something: I could make a blog where I could interview writers, write opinion articles and share book reviews. Thus GSEOM was born!  And the interviews and reviews always inspired me to keep writing, and they even helped my readers. Plus writing the reviews and op-eds helped flex my writing muscles which have been feeling rather weak at the moment.

This blog still exists, however as you’ve probably noticed I haven’t done author interviews for years, or special articles. Also I’ve gotten into tabletop gaming and D&D, and back in 2008 neither of those hobbies were as popular as they are now.  (Thanks Stranger Things, Big Bang Theory and Critical Roll for bringing board games and RPGs mainstream.)

Thus, dear reader, this blog is being rebooted for 2019 and onward! It’ll be a slow and steady roll-out, first focusing on interviews with authors/game designers/ artists, etc., having more guest bloggers, and occasional articles about tabletop gaming. (Eventually I hope to make a Facebook group forum and maybe do a podcast one day.)

We’ll be starting small and hopefully it’ll turn into something big and beyond what any of us could dream of, God-willing.

In the meantime: Hang onto your butts.

Are you an artist, published author, game designer, or nerdy humanoid that wants to be interviewed, or wants to write a guest post for GSEOM? Send me an email with En Guard! in the Subject line to goblinsswordselvesohmy@outlook.com .

If you want a chance to be interviewed, mention what you do, your inspirations and pictures that apply to your passion. (Like book covers, sketches, costumes, game art, you name it!)

If you want to be a guest blogger, let me know what you’d like to write about, and you knows? I might say yes. 🙂

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The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson REVIEW

The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson REVIEW
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Back in 1954, Poul Anderson released his novel The Broken Sword. Not many have heard of it because a little book came out that year took all the spotlight… Some book called The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

And I admit, I didn’t know about The Broken Sword until a year ago. (Was slightly embarrassed, especially since I’d enjoyed a well-worn copy of the Poul Anderson short story collection The Armies of Elfland in my youth. And I’ve been aware of Anderson’s popular novel Three Hearts and Three Lions, of which I still need to read.)  I found out about it after reading an excerpt of Richard K. Morgan’s novel The Steel Remains that included a quote from Sword:

‘I think you look on death as your friend,’ she murmured. ‘It is a strange friend for a young man to have.’ ‘The only faithful friend in all the world,’ he said bitterly. ‘Death is the only one sure to be at your side.’

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Cover of the 1st edition from 1954. First published by Abelard-Schuman.

I was immediately intrigued, and after reading the synopsis, reading the excerpt, I thought I’d have a go. Though before I go on, this book isn’t as kid friendly as LOTR. Sure LOTR isn’t “children’s literature”, but unlike that Hobbit tale, Sword takes a grittier tone.

That’s to be expected, especially since our protagonist’s father Orm the Strong (No relation to the character King Orm from Aquaman.) is a Viking: and savage he is, raiding the coasts and surrounding lands… Unknown to Orm, one family he decides to slay is the family of a witch. The witch escapes, and puts a curse on Orm that would take his firstborn son away from the world of men.

Before Orm’s child Skafloc is christened, he’s kidnapped by the Elf Earl Imric, and replaced with a troll made to look exactly like Skafloc. Thus, Imric raises the boy…And I won’t spoil the rest.

The characters are what truly makes this Fantasy standout, at least in 1954. The characters do good things, and yet at the same time they’re just as capable of bad deeds as well. The elves are just as bad as the trolls at times, and the trolls are just as heroic in certain scenes. Nowadays, you can find shelves of books with characters like this, but it’s nice to read a book before that was mainstream Fantasy. Best part about Anderson is that he didn’t try to emulate Tolkien’s opus—he did his own thing.

Looking at the setting, I have to say I’ve never seen anything like it. Being a story about

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The cover from the 1977 Del Rey edition, with art by the talented Boris Vallejo… My favorite cover for the tale!

Vikings, Elves and Trolls, one would assume the book would only be based on Norse myth and legend. He also included Celtic, Greek, Irish, and Asian myth just to name a few. I’ve read books where authors attempt to stuff everything from everywhere in a novel and seeing them fail miserably in making their tale into a coherent narrative. Anderson makes it work, and makes it look effortless. (I’ll be studying this book for years to come from a writer’s perspective.)

The plot fires off at a steady clip. It may be a sixty five year old book, it still had plenty of twists I didn’t see coming, except for a few scenes—and unfortunately the ending. The ending feels like one I’ve read far too many times in other books, and in particular the Epic Fantasy subgenre. Is it a horrible ending? Not really.  Just a little bit anticlimactic.

Overall, I give the book 4 stars.

Anderson was a writer decades ahead of his time. The Broken Sword should appeal to fans of Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion novels, Viking sagas, and Lord of the Rings. (GoT fans as well, and fans of Dungeons & Dragon novels.)

10 Years in Print: A Retrospective

10 Years in Print: A Retrospective

Thought I’d share this post from my author blog. Wanted to say thanks for reading “Goblins, Swords, Elves, Oh My!” for all these years. Life would be boring without you. (Also you’ll find details on the 4 year Anniversary sale for Blade of the Broken. Ends December 15th.)

The Writer on Wheels

As I write this post, I’m asking myself if it’s really been ten years. But as I read my piece of published fiction in Words Work Wonders 2008, I don’t think it’s something I would publish now. No matter, that’s what convinced me I could write and be published. And there’s no better place to start than being published in anthologies put out by The Cabin Idaho.

I have these three books on my shelf next to my computer. Reminds me of how far I’ve come, and that there’s shelf space still left.

Both Words Work Wonders 2008 and Words Work Wonders 2011 feature pieces written by participants from the yearly Summer Writing Camps at The Cabin literary center. The short stories and poems are compiled in an anthology in a limited print run. (The poem “Coils” in the 2011 anthology is quite dear to me. I had…

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Justice League MOVIE REVIEW

When I was a kid, I’d always dreamed of a Justice League film. Reading the JL comics, watching Superfriends reruns and the Bruce Timm Justice League series only added fuel to the fire for my dreams. For a while, I was convinced it wouldn’t happen anytime soon, and if it did I’d either be dead or too old to care.

In 2007, there had been rumors of a Justice League film in development with George Miller (Mad Max) at the helm. But when those developments didn’t come to fruition, I was back to dreaming.

Then, 5 years later, Marvel released The Avengers. I remember sitting in the theatre, in awe at seeing characters I’d read in comics or watched on Saturday mornings, fight aliens in New York. Then as a response, DC announced Man of Steel to be released the next year. That ignited the fuel… And now in 2018, and four DC films later—Justice League!

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure how good Justice League would be. (Or if it would even be watchable.) Man of Steel was good, Batman v. Superman wasn’t horrible or good, Suicide Squad was unbearable, and Wonder Woman was the best one out of all of them… I was hoping Justice League would get better reviews from critics, but seeing the reviews the film sounded like a mess worse than Suicide Squad.

Still, I just couldn’t resist not seeing Batman, Superman and Wonder on the same screen as Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg. (Seriously, who thought Aquaman or Cyborg would be in films of any kind?)

Anyway let’s start with the directors. Zach Snyder (Watchmen, BvS) was originally attached as the director, but then tragedy struck and he had to stop. Thus Joss Whedon (Avengers, Firefly) was brought on to finish, and he made some script changes, and filmed some additional scenes.

Visually, the film looks rather bright compared to the other DC films… Man of Steel and BvS looked dark and moody, almost like everything had a shade of gray. Thankfully Whedon & Snyder have added some color. One issue unfortunately is the CGI. At times, Justice League looks a video game. Worse, the villain Steppenwolf doesn’t look realistic or remotely threatening. (The actor Ciaran Hinds did well with the voice, but that only helps so much.)

Script wise, the story is good but not the most original. Just the stereotypical throwing superheroes together who don’t get along and have them form a team… you get the picture. However, there a few genuinely funny moments, and there’s less cheesy dialogue than in previous DC films. (Though it’s easy to tell what Whedon and Terrio wrote, it feels like a cohesive project. Though Avengers this is not.)

If you see this movie, see it for the acting. Specifically from our six heroes: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, and Ezra Miller. (Honorable mentions include Jeremy Irons as Alfred, and J.K Simmons as GPD Commissioner Gordon.) All six seem to have good chemistry, and that’s always integral for team movies. Out of the six, Fisher, Momoa and Miller steal the spotlight. (Cyborg, Aquaman, and Flash respectively.) League is a great film debut for those three. Though I feel bad that Ciaran Hinds didn’t get to play a villain with good lines.

Overall I give Justice League 3 1/2 Stars out of 5. No it’s not perfect, but League is fun to watch for some super heroics! Also don’t forget to watch the after credit scenes.

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence REVIEW

Note: This book is not for children. Yes, it’s about a 15 year old boy. But it’s about a boy thrust into a world of blood and ruin. Not for children, or squeamish readers. If this was a movie, it would be a hard-R. You have been warned.

For the last two years or so, in Fantasy groups on Facebook and beyond, I’ve been hearing quite a bit of praise for Thorns. I put it on my massive reading list for a while, and finally got to it last year. Thankfully I stopped procrastinating about reading it, and finally finished it this year.

The book centers on Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath, heir of Ancrath. When he nine years old, he witnessed soldiers belonging to Count Renar, murder his little brother and his mother, while he watched helplessly from a thorn bush he fell into.

Jorg’s father, King Olidan, refuses to get revenge for the senseless murder, so Jorg decides to take matters in his own hands, and leave the castle to plot his revenge. By age thirteen, he becomes the leader of a group of brigands, and by age fifteen he decides to return home and become King… But some things are easier said than done. (And that’s all I can say without spoiling the book.)

The book is told entirely from Jorg’s point of view, in the first person. (Rare for a Fantasy novel to be told from that view, but Lawrence handles the challenge beautiful.) He is cold and ruthless, yet he’s also very sarcastic and at times made me laugh out loud. And it’s largely the humor that kept me reading, and the unpredictability of Jorg’s actions.

As for Jorg the character, he’s not a large brute that bashes everything that moves that you normally find in revenge stories. He is small and skinny, preferring to outthink and outmaneuver his opponents, giving him a big advantage in a world of darkness and brutality. And thankfully Lawrence writes the antagonists s of the tale the same way, and makes them just as memorable as Jorg.

Another thing different about this tale is that everyone is equally capable of good and bad. A good break from clearly defined and moustache twirling characters.

Even the writing style is refreshing. Descriptions are short, and to the point, moving the story along at a quick pace. As a writer, it’s a style one can and should aspire to.

Overall, I give Prince of Thorns  4 ½ Stars out of 5. If you like your Epic Fantasy on the gritty side or revenge stories, you should give this book and the rest of The Broken Empire series a look. Should also appeal to fans of David Gemmell, Joe Abercrombie, and Scott Bakker.

Blood Skies by Steven Montano REVIEW

11439413Over the past few years, Post-Apocalyptic novels, shows, and films have captured many people’s’ imaginations. Though the usual cause has always been the same: man mistreating the environment , nuking everything , et cetera. But what if the calamity was magic entering our world ?

Sounds like a cheesy concept, but Montano makes it work. He also combines the military fiction and horror genres, with fantasy but it doesn’t feel out of place. The characters are an absolute treat to read. The villains aren’t too bad either.

Also no whiny kids in the plot is a plus! (Looking at you Divergent !) I really hope more post-apocalyptic tales follow suit.

Overall , I give it 4 stars. If you like The Dark Tower series, and novels like Starship Troopers, Blood Skies is for you.

Boise Library Comic Con — My first Con as a guest !

Details about my upcoming appearance at the Boise Public Library Comic Con.

The Writer on Wheels

Click image to learn more! Click image to learn more!

Over the years I’ve gone to a few local conventions, always as a regular nerd and never a super nerdy guest. Well, looks like I finally made it to the Super Nerd Guest Club (Just hope there isn’t a secret handshake.) at the Boise Public Library Comic Con 2015 in the heart of Downtown Boise.

The event is on August 29th, starts at 10 AM- 5 PM. You will be able to find me at the Idaho Comics Group table in the Artist’s Alley. And I’ll be there, chilling with my Tarzan & the Comics of Idaho #2 cohorts.

I’ll be selling and signing paperback copies of Blade of the Broken for the list price of $10.99. I’ll Blank white book w/pathonly be bringing 15 copies, so you may want to buy a copy to bring from Amazon or B&N online. Along with the artist for the script…

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