Overall 3.5 (maybe 4) out of 5.
I wanted to sit down and discuss my most recent release for a little bit. As far as purely technical points are concerned, the new cover simply dwarfs the last one by comparison. It is beautiful, and there is little more to say on that matter. Also, I went through the actual formatting of the book a couple more times, so overall I would say the appearance and overall aesthetic of the book has notably increased.
From a narrative point of view, I think that for this book the overall narrative quality has increased as well. While “Of Shadow and Steel” began life as a bunch of smaller narratives, this book steps away from that structure quite a bit. While it still retains a little of that feel, overall the narrative is more seamless and a lot better structured. It flows together a lot better, and this, I think, makes the book that much easier to read.
In this book I continue to build on the ideas from the first book, and there is definitely threads that tie the two books together, which make perfect sense considering it is the second book in a series. If there wasn’t anything tying the two books together, I don’t think they could really be considered a series. As such, I feel a many of the ideas and themes from the first book gained a lot more depth and are generally more well rounded.
This applies to the characters as well. One of my problems with the first book is that all the characters seemed a little flat, as did many of the ideas and themes. There was just a lot left unsaid and unexplored in my opinion. While Of Ice and Darkness introduces a whole new set of characters, I personally feel they are much more human, and a lot less flat. The new set of character just feel a lot more complex, and a lot more alive to me.
It should come as no surprise that a lot of the themes in my book circle around things like animism, ecology, and the environment. There is an element of all these things in everything I write, because these are things that are of great interest to me. For any regular readers of this blog, that is probably the biggest “duh!” statement. Still, all these things creep into my books, along with thoughts about society, humanity, and where we are going as a species. Also, there are questions and explorations of technology, which will become even more central in later books. I have never really considered myself a “hard” science fiction writer, and I am sure a big part of that comes from my background in a social science. Don’t get me wrong, I love science! I think it is an amazing and wonderful way of understanding the world. At the same time, I like to write about things a little less scientific, things like beliefs and folklore, mythology and religion. I do at least attempt to keep my novels scientifically grounded, but there comes a point where you have to take liberties, or have to explore beyond the realms known by science. That’s why it’s called science fiction folks, and what kind of writer would I be if I didn’t take liberties with reality every now and again?
It is often said that practice makes perfect, and I really think Of Ice and Darkness shows that to be true. I have come a long way as a writer, and I have had more time to develop the characters as well as the central narrative and themes, and this is really reflected in Of Ice and Darkness.
In addition, I have come to understand more about my own “process” of writing. I often describe my writing style as “organic.” When I first set off to write the Elder Blood Sage, which is going to be 5 books before I am done, I didn’t really have a master plan. I didn’t plan out the narrative, hell I didn’t even have an outline. I started out with just a character name. I didn’t even have a sketch of that character. I knew nothing about them, but eventually all of this would be revealed to me. In many ways as a writer, I am also a reader, and a reporter in a way. The story unfolds its own way, and I am discovering my creation as I write it.
Well, as I keep writing the character develops, and then the plot starts to develop, and then the whole of the literary worlds start to form. A character runs into a problem, or runs into a concept. Then I have to flesh out that concept, and tie it back into the story. As I keep writing, more ideas spawn more characters, which bring in more things to write about.
The entire story starts to take shape like a giant tree, with one part branching off and growing into something greater. Some of the branches are outside the “core” of the story, so they extend beyond the scope of the narrative. Other branches grow away for a while, and suddenly reappear and are knotted back into the “core” of the story, only to branch away at a later time. Like Celtic Knotwork, a great tapestry, or some huge web, the story forms into a complexity that becomes something greater than any of its parts.
And it all started from something very small, just the “seed” of a story. A character, and the smallest hint of something greater. With 4 books currently written for the Elder Blood Saga, I can tell you that that little seed has turned into a forest. I have one last book to write, and I am really hoping I can bring the fruits of my creation back together to see where this all ends.
Or if it all ends. I cannot really say what form it will take.
If you are at all interested in Of Ice and Darkness, it is available for sale on Amazon, and can be found under the “publications” tab.
Thanks for reading!