My Writer's Eye

My Writer's Eye


April 13, 2017

If you for some reason have been reading these blog posts you know that I have been attempting to read more … directed.  Instead of reading for the sake of pleasure, only, I have been attempting to see how things are written, the style, the approach, take things apart of dialogue, setting, plot, pretty much looking at them as a way for me to write better.

So, in my attempt to ‘Write a story that steals your imagination’, I have found the type of stories I really don’t like.  Please don’t hear this as a criticism of anyone’s writings or writing style.  I am saying that it just isn’t my cup of tea.

I do have to say that as I write this I am a bit torn, I didn’t want to put the names of the books out there that I did and didn’t like but then I somewhat feel that isn’t being fair to anyone who reads this and is honestly looking for my opinion.  Yeah, like someone is, HA!

Alright, so I am going to name names; I really did not like Andrew Offutt’s ‘Iron Gods’ it was book one in a trilogy and the edition I had was printed in 1979.  Seriously, I could not get into it.  The language, to me, was more like the old Space Opera novels.  It seemed to take forever to get anything done and it was not for me.  I only made it through the first thirty pages or so and I put it down.  I had picked it up at a used book store so I didn’t feel as bad about not finishing it and I passed it on to any other happy reader at a neighborhood free bookstand.  Happy reading to the next reader I hope it is your cup of tea.

The next book was ‘Carnival of Fear’ by J. Robert King.  First?  I’m a huge fan, player, DM of role playing games and especially of the 1st and 2nd editions of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.  Yep I am one of THOSE people.  I very much enjoy the Ravenloft setting which this book is supposed to be set in.  Yeah, I didn’t see that.  It felt like, to me, that it was trying to be a horror book, maybe something in the vein of ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’.  It just didn’t pull it off for me.  This was another book I didn’t finish, I did cheat and wanted to know how it ended and it had a typical Ravenloft ending, people died and things don’t change type of thing.  The thing that ‘missed’ for me was that I could not get behind the main characters I suppose.  I had no empathy for them.  On the plus side I did like, a lot, the feel for the carnival and I felt that the author did a great job in the descriptions there.  I could ‘see’ them. I also found the cover of this book one of the big reasons I bought it so good job to the illustrator. This book too went to the neighborhood free bookstand and was purchased from a used book store.  I suppose I should credit the bookstore?  Grassroots Bookstore, Reno NV.

Now we have ‘The Whole Truth’ by David Baldacci.  I am sorry to say that I could not get into this book either.  I am not sure if it was the main character was a bit flawed, that it was a bit more hearing things from inside the character’s mind, and I didn’t care that he had a tough upbringing and that the woman he loved had some issues with him?  I doubt that it was due to it being set in Europe for the part I did read, but I suppose that is possible?  It didn’t grab me and I didn’t like the villain.  Weird maybe?  I usually can find something in the villain I like if nothing else to say, ‘That is a cool bad guy’.  I felt that the villain wanted to keep saying ‘I am so much cooler than you’.  I felt like if someone would hit him over the head with a baseball bat all his employees would cheer.  Yep, used bookstore, yep free library stand.
So now you are asking yourself “Dude!  Do you like books at all?”  The answer is yes, yes, I do.  Again, at the used bookstore I found ‘Bound by Iron’ a book by Edward Bolme in the Eberron setting of Dungeons and Dragons, ‘The Inquisitives’ series.  First off?  I have NO idea what ‘The Inquisitives’ series is and I will admit until just now when I was typing this I thought it had said ‘The Inquisitors’.  You know how a mind can correct bad spelling or assume something, that was my mind going to inquisitors instead of inquisitives. 

Now, truth be told because it is just you and me here, I really liked this setting from the first book I read set here “Tales from the Last War”.  I think it was one of the first books I read with my brand spanking new ‘Writer’s Eye’.  You too can get a ‘Writer’s Eye’ at Walmart, 9.95 plus you get the special cleaning cloth for it at no additional charge… 

Something about the setting of Eberron I really liked, it felt, I don’t know low fantasy broken?  A D&D world of high and low fantasy where all the heroes were around twenty-five years ago and the bad guys are winning.  Since this isn’t a review of Eberron I am not going to go into detail here about it but I will link to the setting and YOU can see for yourself. 

I am on page 39 of ‘Bound by Iron’ and I’m sure I will give a thought when I’m done.  It is a four-book series and as of right now I have found the other two on my shelf.  I’m hopeful that the other book will show up, I’m not someone that doesn’t buy them all, even at used book stores.  However, I can also see myself thinking that it would be a three-book series and not a four book one, oops.  I should say that so far?  Yes, I am enjoying it very much. 

Which brings me to the point that I was going to make when I’m comparing ‘Iron Gods’ to ‘Bound by Iron’?  It is the dialogue and writing style that I like in Bound over Gods.  Were the words too big in Gods?  Did it seem that describing the field instead of the street?  Was Gods too much a not so subtle homage to Conan and Robert E. Howard?  Yeah, I don’t know.  All I do know was it wasn’t my cup of tea, coffee, or milk. 

‘Bound by Iron’ seems to have more of a feel of Glen Cook’s ‘The Black Company’ series, very gritty, earthy, and low fantasy.  Since I like Glen Cook’s stories, a lot, might be the reason why this story resonates with me. 

Now before anyone says “How could you not like Andrew Offutt’s story?  What are you crazy?  The man gave us ‘Hanse, Shadowspawn in the Thieves World Series’.  I know right?  I was all ready to like the story but, yeah, just could not get into it.  Wanted to make sure that I put that out there that I know who Mr. Offutt was and that I had every expectation of liking him. 

I had already written a blog post about how much I enjoyed a previous book by Mr. Baldacci so I am not fretful that I might be seen in the wrong light there.  I didn’t like it is all, I am sure there are more than a few stories that people don’t like. 

I’ve got nothing more to say about the Ravenloft book…sorry? 

Let me know if there is a book you think I should read, I’m always on the lookout for something to use my Walmart ‘Writer’s Eye’ on, I mean I did spend all that money on it. 

Other Posts

Book Review: Outcasts of Order

My Book Review of "The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction" by Phillip Athans

Review Night of the Long Shadows

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