Book Review: The Faded Sun Trilogy

 

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Hello again, my lovely readers. Spring is in full swing, and I have another book review to share. A writing colleague recommended the series The Faded Sun by C. J. Cherryh. It’s a science fantasy three-book series. I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum for any interested readers. 🙂

The Faded Sun Trilogy

Premise

The Faded Sun series is a sci-fi story with subtle elements of fantasy in the background. Each book is average length—around 250 pages.

If I could explain The Faded Sun in a few words, it would be—sci-fi, desert, and culture. The premise reminded me of Dune by Frank Herbert, with the desert setting, science fiction elements, and how one of the characters becomes indoctrinated into a desert tribe.

While the idea beyond the book didn’t feel completely original, Cherryh put her unique spin on it with the sheer depth and description of alien races and their ethics.

Characters

There are two main characters: Niun, a young mri (one of the alien races in the desert worlds) and arrogant desert tribesman, who struggles to find his place among his people; and Duncan, another youthful human soldier, who becomes attached to the mri, eventually joining the desert tribes.

The dialog exchanges between the main characters felt dry at times and difficult to follow. There were a few excellently written spots, of course, which invested me, emotionally in Niun and Duncan.

One of the best facets of The Faded Sun is the relationship between Niun and Duncan, how it evolves over the course of three books. They begin as enemies in book one, distrustful of each other. By book three, they are bonded through kinship as brothers.

The villains were a lawful alien species called regul, who viewed the mri as a threat and wanted to wipe them out. That said, there was no fixed antagonist, rather, it was a faction of regul that changed from book to book. Because of this, I had trouble bonding (as a reader does to a villain) to the antagonist group.

Magic System

There wasn’t any magical system in The Faded Sun. I honestly felt a little disappointed, as this was listed as a science fantasy book. I suppose you have to expect that in a purer breed of sci-fi. I wrote a guest post on science fantasy and magical systems, if you’d like to check them out.

Romance

Again, being a strict sci-fi book, The Faded Sun did not include any romantic elements. Although there was a strong brother-to-brother relationship between Niun and Duncan, which I found to be adorable and well-written.

Conflict

This is where The Faded Sun shines. Chapters are filled with tension-inducing paragraphs, and Cherryh finds clever ways to challenge her characters; in particular, Duncan’s ordeals when he goes from human to mri are rife with conflict—and an interesting illustration of how adaptive and resilient humans can be.

Overall Summary

The Good

The relationship between the main characters, the conflict, and the sheer depth of alien culture presented in this book are the best aspects of The Faded Sun. This set the proper tone for a sci-fi trilogy—and it was, in some ways, philosophical.

The Bad

The dialog exchanges were usually dry, too long, or lacked sufficient emotion from the characters. Other segments of the trilogy felt like filler without much going on—parts that could have been removed or rewritten for better effect. The prose was okay, but I caught a handful of typos—and the pacing was mediocre. The antagonists also felt ambiguous and were hard to “love to hate”.

The Ugly

Parts of The Faded Sun read vaguely similar to Dune, and the side characters lacked sufficient background or emotion for the reader to sympathize. I would have also liked a more unique and fully explained technological system, rather than “generic” or “taken for granted” sci-fi technology.

My rating for the trilogy: 3/5 stars—average

The Faded Sun isn’t anything special, but if you’re a writer or sci-fi geek, you will enjoy the explanation behind the mri and regul culture. It personally gave me some ideas for my own alien races, and how to convey them to the reader. I would recommend this book for that facet alone; just don’t expect amazing dialog or characterization.

Thank you all for reading. Have you read The Faded Sun? I would love to hear your opinion on it in the comments below. Love and gratitude to my readers. 😀


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Poetry, Writing Tips, and More

tree tunnel at daytime

Hello, hello to all my readers. It’s only a week into March and it has been a busy month. I’ve worked on my beta manuscript nonstop, seeking feedback and writing, revising chapters—you know the drill. This journey has been a long one, filled with pain and joy.

If you’re interested in beta reading, check me out on betareader.io here. If the link doesn’t work, look for an ebook with a green gem on it. Betareader is a great website for beta testing longer novels.


I’ve posted some dream segments from my beta manuscript involving the main OC, Pepper Slyhart. They’re a bit poetic and romantic, as they involve her love interest, Tarie Beyworth. The antagonist is a dragon queen, seeking to control Pepper’s heart. You can check out my latest one here.


Although it’s March, it’s never too late to celebrate fantasy and science fiction. 😀 February was #Fantasymonth, and I wrote a fun piece about my interests as a fantasy reader. If you feel so inclined, you can participate in the game here.


Last, but not least, I created a simple list about writing a protagonist, building tension between character and plot, and how to bring it all together. You can check out that post here.

That’s all for now, my lovely readers. The rest of this month promises to be a productive one. In the meanwhile, stay cool and persevere in whatever your dreams are. Love and gratitude. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantasy Book review, Mistborn #1: The Final Empire

mistborn-vin-christian-mcgrath-art

Hello to my readers. I hope you all had a lovely Holloween. I’m attempting a new type of post—a book review of other science fantasy works I’ve read. This review will focus on Mistborn book 1: The Final Empire. I wanted to read the second book—The Well of Ascension—before I finished this review. I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum.

With that said, let’s delve into Brandon Sanderson’s world of intrigue—a perfect start to November!

Mistborn, the Series

Premise

Mistborn is an epic fantasy series that spans multiple books. The story also incorporates some dark fantasy elements. Each book is long—and well worth it. Expect to invest time in each installation if you so desire.

If I could describe Mistborn in three words, it would be—gloomy, epic, and intricate. There is a sense of adventure too, though most of the plot takes place within a capital city.

Characters

The main character, Vin, struggles to understand herself in a turbulent world of war, oppression, and darkness. She meets many characters in her journey, most that popped out of the page for me, the reader.

Sanderson did an excellent job with the characters. The cast came off as likable and amusing. There were a few scenes where I laughed and had to reread for the fun of it. Sanderson knows when to cut the tension with old-fashioned comedy relief—an essential element in manuscripts, by the way.

The villains were sadistic enough—and arcane enough—to warrant interest. The antagonist in book 1 is practical a god who survives decapitation, experiences immortality, and can manipulate thousands of people at will. Talk about a challenge for the protagonist!

Magic System

The magic in Mistborn is intriguing—an alchemical system where a person burns metals within the body. Each metal provides a specific power when burned. The effect is usually temporary and limited by the metal resources at hand.

Superhuman feats are common in Mistborn, so, expect some Avengers-grade thrills. The action blew me away and kept me reading. It is refreshing to see supernatural action mixed it for once rather than the usual sword or gun fighting.

My one complaint is that the action is a little confusing with all the unique terms. Brandon Sanderson could have improved on the readability during these scenes. I sometimes skimmed over the fight scenes because they weren’t easy to follow.

Romance

The romantic interest for the main OC, Vin, starts late in the book and builds up gradually. It may not read like the best romance novel—and came off a little flat to me—but it fits in well enough with the plot and characters.

Romance does play a stronger role in the second book, Well of Ascension; admittingly, Sanderson did a better job of it in the second installation.

Conflict

Mistborn is rife with conflict—another good detail of the book. I couldn’t go ten pages without feeling sympathy, pain, or anticipation. Sanderson knows how to keep the pages turning—never a dull moment.

I sometimes compared the feeling to Dragonlance—another favored series of mine.

Overall Summary

The Good

The characters, magic system, conflict, and atmosphere of the book are my favorite elements of Mistborn. It set the proper tone for a dark fantasy epic novel. I imagine I’ll be rereading it again in the future.

The Bad

The action/combat scenes were confusing, and the romance was not deep enough. I feel Sanderson could have developed these scenes more. Regardless, they weren’t terrible and never impeded the book’s flow beyond a few pages.

The Ugly

There were a few graphic scenes in Mistborn, some which made me pause (not in the wrong way, mind you). I’m all for gore and blood if it helps add dimension and immersion to a book. That said, this book isn’t nearly as extreme about it as Song of Fire and Ice (another excellent book, by the way).

Still, Mistborn isn’t for the light of heart. After all, it is a dark fantasy novel to some degree—and I still enjoyed it.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars—outstanding

Thank you all for reading. This review post was a first for me. If you have any feedback, comments, or suggestions, let me know in the reply boxes below. Love and gratitude to my readers. 🙂


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Lately, I’ve been live streaming creative writing on Twitch. Sometimes I stream other media too. Come check me out sometime.

For more information on dark fantasy or other types of science fiction, be sure to check out my guest post here, hosted on Richie Billing’s blog. Cheers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is reading? 5 ways to stay focused.

How do we define reading? If we asked that question decades ago, anyone would say it is the study and consumption of a physical book. In the modern age, the average person doesn’t read many books anymore. Instead, they peruse more abstract avatars of information on tablets, computers, and iPhones. The way we read has transitioned as we entered the 21st century. Hard and soft cover books are viewed as traditional, while digital ebooks are the norm.

While ebooks are faster, more convenient, and cheaper to produce, they are a drastic shift in how our eyes and brain absorb information. Humans are still new to this change, and the effects of staring at a blue screen translate data differently than a paper page does. Further, the average attention span has shortened to around 8 seconds since the fast advent of digital tech. Short messages crowd online media and people want the facts ASAP, rather than slogging through at a traditional pace.

5 ways to remain focused in our busy world of technology:

  1. Stay hydrated – Our bodies run on water and the added electrolytes help the body process the information we absorb. Most people require half their body weight in ounces every day (I find that drinking 12 to 16 cups a day works for me). Get a Brita filter if you can.
  2. Exercise – The act of exercise stimulates our circulation, allowing new blood into the brain and better cognition.
  3. Monitor and limit too much EMF exposure (if possible; we’re all guilty of this to some extent) – Too much information can be a bad thing, especially if presented on a screen. Try taking breaks or parsing out your digital time. A good rule of thumb is once every 20 to 60 minutes–stand up, stretch, and stare out the window for at least a minute. Take a walk if you have to.
  4. Meditate – Long known for its positive influence on focus, meditation is an ancient remedy for a distressed and burdened mind. Even small bouts of 10 to 15 minutes may prove helpful. Your mileage may vary.
  5. Mindfulness – This goes hand-in-hand with meditation, as mindfulness keeps us in the present moment. You can do this even when not meditating.  Simply stay in the current environment and don’t let your thoughts wander. Unfortunately, it’s harder than it sounds, trust me.

Are we losing the ability to read and focus in the traditional sense? Or is this a stepping stone in human evolution for the better? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!


Sources:

http://www.medicaldaily.com/human-attention-span-shortens-8-seconds-due-digital-technology-3-ways-stay-focused-333474

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/i-have-forgotten-how-toread/article37921379/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/

https://leaderonomics.com/functional/stay-focus-digital-world

https://greatist.com/live/five-minute-meditation-for-better-focus

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/how-mindfulness-can-improve-our-focus-and-productivity.html

 

What/when/how do we read?

Reading on a routine basis is essential for one’s writing skill. That said, what’s the best media to consume and how? Here are a few points to consider:

  1. Genre – Some proponents say to stick to your style. For example, if you compose fictional horror, you should read only those types of novels. Others say that perusing anything will help with the writing process.
  2. Media type – There are media sources to consider. Most often these include novels, movies, video games, manga, comics, and so forth. Some people find that specific media work better for them, while another may claim that novels are best.
  3. Time and place – You should identify the ideal time for your reading. Different people absorb specific material at choice times better than others. The environment may have an impact on the reading session.
  4. How much – Another subjective parameter that varies between people. Regardless of how much you read, maintain a steady schedule that’s in balance with your other duties. Keep track of your progress and set goals.
  5. Time management – Make a list of reading and writing goals for the day. Fulfill them in an appropriate order to the best of your ability. If you can’t get to everything, pick up where you left off the next day. Keep your schedule steady and ongoing (but break when you need to). You can devise your own method like this and find what works best for you.

It’s entirely up to you how you enrich yourself. Experiment with different types and see what works best. You don’t have to be a conformist who reads only books; try blog articles (like this one) or skim over something you’ve never considered before. Keep a journal and record your progress. The results may surprise you. Cheers.


How do you read and when? What types of media do you consume and how much? I’d love to hear in the comments below. Thanks for reading. 🙂