Well, I know it’s been a while since the last post went up (about two weeks actually). I’ve been meaning to write this post for over a week now and I’ve just been two busy/stressed/not wanting to do it to actually get it done. As many of you have probably guessed, most of us here at the blog have gotten extremely busy over the past year. Paul is busy advertising his new book (see more on that below), Tom is very focused on his own writing, Selanya and I are both starting Ph.D. programs, Alayna and I have a new baby, Sam recently(ish) started a new job, etc.
On top of this, it’s been over a year since I’ve done any serious fiction writing, and I know that some of the others can say the same. Between the stress of busy and changing lives, shifting interests, and new pursuits we are all feeling tapped out. What started off as a fun and engaging way to build and contribute to a community of authors has become a chore that many of us dread, and this means both that we aren’t as focused on what we are actually doing as we should be, and that we aren’t giving all of you good or consistent material. As such, we have made the decision to end regular posting on the blog. I will (for a time at least) keep it open for people to post if they wish, and I may eventually revamp the blog to emphasize my new interests and focus. However, what this means for all of you is that there won’t be regular writing exercises, advice, or stories going up. This blog has been running for five years, and over that time I like to think that we’ve given all of you a lot of good material and advice to work with, but all human things must come to an end.
That being said, back in November of last year I promised Paul that I would write a review of his new book Drowning the Sands of G’Desh, which is intended to be the first of a series of novels. With everything going on I haven’t had the time or energy to do a full review of the book, but I do want to write something for him. So, given what I’ve read (something like half of the novel) and skimmed (somewhat more than that), Paul has a strong world and an interesting story. Now, this is his first novel, and you should expect that. The book doesn’t have the polish that you would expect from a more experienced writer, and there are some things that stick out quite a bit. So, if you’re looking to replace George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series on your reading list, Paul’s book probably isn’t what you’re looking for. However, if you’re looking for a new author who has an interesting take on the fantasy genre and are willing to read through some rough edges, then I can suggest picking up his novel (available from Abbott Press here). A further brief review and clarification below:
Story and Plot Development:
Paul’s story is fairly interesting. I’m not going to give you the details of his plot (no spoilers), but you can expect a generally well-thought out story that makes sense and is not difficult to follow.
Paul’s characters are interesting, but they suffer from some of the general issues that you might expect in a new writer. Some of his main characters are underdeveloped while others suffer from the ‘super-hero’ complex in that the main difficult the character faces is resentment from others because the character is just so darn good at everything. That being said, even with these issues it’s not difficult to get involved in the characters and they serve as a driving impetus in the novel as a whole.
World Building and Originality:
Paul’s world-building is, I think, one of the strongest points of the novel. First of all, expect unoriginal names. While Paul’s world itself is a strong and well-developed Middle-Eastern Fantasy setting, the names he gives to races, cities, nations, etc tend to be fairly generic. However, the unoriginal names mask a very original setting and world, which I fully appreciate. My suggestion to readers is to just let the names be what they are and enjoy the depth of the setting.
Structure and Pacing:
Paul’s novel follows the story of several main characters and he tends to write each character a chapter at a time. This is not an uncommon technique, but it can be difficult to pace a novel well in this style, and Paul’s novel is no exception. In some chapters the pacing is very strong, but some chapters seem hurried and other chapters seem slow. Again, with the structure that Paul is using this shouldn’t be surprising and I could make the same comment about several of Timothy Zhan’s Star Wars novels. That being said, you will probably have some characters that you like better than others, and you very well may be tempted to just skip ahead to the next chapter that character is in. Don’t.
Style and Form:
Paul’s writing style is somewhat rough, again as you would expect from an author’s first novel, but it is pleasant and easy to read. His form needs work in places and the novel as a whole would benefit from more thorough editing. However, as far as I know Paul did all of the editing on this novel himself, and given that what you see is the work of one editor/author it is quite well done.
So, my conclusion for you is this: if you’re looking for a top-end author to replace someone like David Eddings, George R.R. Martin, Steven Erikson, etc on your reading list, then Paul’s novel probably isn’t what you’re looking for. However, if you’re looking for a fun, quick, easy to read novel that is interesting despite its rough edges, then I recommend picking up Drowning the Sands of G’Desh.