There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

Book Recommendation: The Queen’s Thief series by M. Whalen Turner March 22, 2014

Filed under: Reading — thereanddraftagain @ 9:12 pm
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QueensThief

It’s no secret THE QUEEN’S THIEF series by Megan Whalen Turner is my favourite YA Fantasy series of all time. If you haven’t read these books yet, I’d like to convince you to do so today.

What is this series?

There are 6 books planned in THE QUEEN’S THIEF series and four of them are already out: THE THIEF (published in 1996 and awarded a Newbery Honor in 1997), THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA (published in 2000), THE KING OF ATTOLIA (published in 2006) and A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS (published in 2010). Additionally, two short stories have also been published as extra content: EDDIS (2007) and DESTRUCTION (2011).

What is it about?

Eugenides (or Gen) is the main character of this series, although he isn’t always its focus or its narrator. He is “The Thief” from Book 1 and we follow his journey from the prison of Sounis to the court of Attolia.

Who are the other characters?

One of the strenghts of this series is its cast of characters: the mysterious, oh-so-clever and beautiful Queen of Attolia, Sophos, the young heir of Sounis and the focus point of Book 3, the always helpful Queen of Eddis, the indispensable Magus… the reader never knows who to trust and who to like, for everyone is ultimately so very flawd and human in these books.

Where does it take place?

Attolia, Sounis and Eddis are three small kingdoms at war with each other. Megan Whalen Turner drew from Ancient Greece, the Byzantine Empire and 16th Century Italy to create them. Somewhere beyond the sea, the Mede Empire (inspired by the Persian Empire) is ready to conquer them. Unless they can unite under one banner – or rather, behind one ruler.

What’s so special about it?

 As you may have noticed, Megan Whalen Turner isn’t in a hurry to publish these books. She takes between 4 and 6 years to carefully craft each installment, which results in beautiful writing, incredibly clever plots, wonderful world building and complex characters. Each book is a little masterpiece of YA Fantasy fiction.

So go ahead and read them!

EM Castellan

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The Beginning of a Tale December 21, 2013

Filed under: Reading,Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 6:00 am
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Hello, Readers!

You know, occasionally we here at There & Draft Again come up with some crazy lunatic insane fun ideas. I’ll take the blame for suggesting this one. We’ve decided to present you with an on-going tale. Each month, one or more of us will add to this tale for your readerly enjoyment (we hope). Of course, it’s a fantasy tale, but it will be totally organic in its growth so who knows where it will wind up. To keep off this little venture, I have written an introduction of sorts. Fine. I’ll call it what it is. *duhn duhn da duhn* The Dreaded (dreaded dreaded dreaded) Prologue (prologue prologue prologue). Do you like the echo machine? It’s cool, no?

Okay, on with the tale which I shall title: Okay, I don’t have a title for it yet. We’ll work on that. Enjoy!

PROLOGUE

Once upon a time, and a very long time ago it was, too. . .

Isn’t that how all Fairy Tales begin? But this isn’t your run of the mill fairy tale. Oh, there are fairies, and tales by the plenty, but nothing ordinary lies in wait. You doubt, I know, but allow me to set the scene and begin the telling, and let us see where the words will take us.

Under a crystalline blue sky a woman walks amid the runes of a once great fortress. This is Corrin. Dressed in the greens and browns of the forest, lithe, tall, her black hair bound in a tight braid, she is young. Too young to remember when the spires that lay in crumbled heaps beneath her feet once pierced those late summer clouds gathering above her. Nor does she particularly care. Ancient lore never held her interest.

Those clouds, however, and the heaviness to them, those caught her eye and she frowned.

“Rain. It always has to rain.”

Something scampers over tumbled rock and rotted wood behind her, dislodging a small avalanche. She turns her gaze over her shoulder, unconcerned. In two more breaths a long-legged Wolfhound surges over a pile of rubble and bounds toward her, tongue lolling from the side of its mouth.

“Nice of you to join me, Cafyl,” she says, and though her tone drips with sarcasm, her eyes speak of love and the bond of true companionship. She points skyward. “It’s going to rain. Again. There will be no trail to follow.”

Again.

She mumbles a curse under her breath, idly scratching the hound behind the ears as he rests his huge head against her waist. After a time, she shoulders her pack and resumes picking her way across the runes.

With my luck, she muses to herself, the rain will hold off until nightfall, and I’ll be stuck in the open with only a pine tree for shelter and no hope of a fire.

But she has no one to blame. She has set this task for herself. There is no fame or glory to be found in its success. There will be no celebration in the city on her return. No statue in her likeness will be commissioned of the royal sculptor. Truth be told, the great likelihood  is that no one has even noticed she is gone.

“You, they will miss,” she says to the hound. “Great Cafyl, how will they manage the hunt without you? But Corrin, daughter of dirt and nothing? Too few will wonder where she’s gotten to.”

And so Corrin leaves the runes and continues north, following a trail she will lose to the coming rain.

Less than half a league behind her, a figure pauses in the shadow of the trees, and gazes down the hill at the remains of a once glorious castle. The hooded head turns to track the progress of the receding duo: a girl and a hound. An eager light shines where eyes might be. As the wind picks up, it brings with it the first hint of a coming storm.

And so begins the tale . . .

Watch for the next installment(s) next month. Happy Holidays!

~ K. L. Schwengel

 

Gaslamp Fantasy September 25, 2013

Hi everyone,

This post was inspired by Kate’s post on Dark Fantasy. Much like her, I have a favourite Fantasy sub-genre: mine is Gaslamp Fantasy. The name was coined in 2006 by webcomic artist Kaja Foglio to differentiate her work from steampunk fiction. Gaslamp Fantasy is what I write, and what I love to read.

What is “Gaslamp Fantasy”?

Gaslamp Fantasy (also known as Gaslight Fantasy or Victorian Fantasy) designates stories set during the 19th Century, from the Regency to the end of Queen Victoria’s reign. It is a sub-genre of both Fantasy and Historical fiction, and it comprises elements from both genres.

How is it different from Steampunk?

The main difference between Gaslamp and Steampunk is that Steampunk is technology-focused and Gaslamp is magic-focused. Also Steampunk will often favour adventure when Gaslamp will focus on a mystery.

What books are examples of Gaslamp Fantasy?

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (2004)

The Magic Most Foul series and The Strangely Beautiful series by Leanna Renee Hieber (2009-now)

The Sally Lockhart Quartet by Philip Pullman (1988-2004)

Temeraire (aka His Majesty’s Dragon in the US) by Naomi Novik (2006)

The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray (2003-2007)

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (2012)

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells, An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (2013)

So tell me, have you heard about Gaslamp Fantasy before? Is it a sub-genre you enjoy reading? Let us know in the comment section below!

EM Castellan

 

What’s in Your Wallet . . . um . . . on Your TBR List August 31, 2013

Filed under: Reading — thereanddraftagain @ 5:40 am
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I’ve been a reading machine of late. It helps when I’m noodling plot problems, or am eyeball deep in edits. My brain gets to relax and wander in someone elses world for a change. Some of the reading I’ve been doing has been of the Beta/Critiquing kind. I always feel honored when another writer puts that kind of trust in me. And it’s fun to get a glimpse at what the rest of the world is going to have to wait a while to see. Neener, neener.

*ahem*

So, ah, anyway, I thought I’d share a few of the books I’ve gobbled down to give you all something for your own reading lists. I’ll stick to those in the fantasy genre as that’s what we’re all here for. I won’t review them here. Some I have reviewed on my blog, Amazon, GoodReads, etc. And some I still owe reviews for. Suffice it to say, if they’re on this list, I loved and highly recommend them.  Unless I note otherwise.

First, I have to say, for some reason I’ve jumped into a lot of series lately. I have a love-hate relationship with series. I love them because if I like the characters and the world I don’t ever want their tales to end. I hate them because there is usually a wait until the next book comes out. An agonizingly long wait which I find myself on both sides of. So though I understand it completely, I’m terribly impatient.

I’ve also found myself leaning toward the grimdark fantasies. They have a tendency to put you smack-dab in a character’s skin to the point of sometimes being uncomfortable, which is why they get a bad rap from some reviewers. I’ve always figured, if you don’t like it, don’t read it. No harm, no foul. Every book is definitely not for every reader.

Okay, onward. Here we go:

Coldness of Marek by Rachel O’Laughlin

The Crown Tower by Michael J. Sullivan — Actually, the whole Ryria Series. This one and The Rose and Thorn (Release date in Sept) are prequels. Three other books are already written and can be read first without ruining anything. In fact, it made The Crown Tower even more enjoyable.

Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick

Broken Aro and Broken Prince by Jen Wylie

The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged, and Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie

The Last Swordmage by Martin F. Hengst

So, there you have it. The one thing all these tales have in common, besides being well-written and engaging, are strong characters and excellent world building. Many of the characters are flawed seemingly beyond hope which only fuels my page-turning addiction. Quite a few of the authors incorporate a dry sense of humor which I am partial to as it pretty much echoes my own. Have you read any of the books on my list? Have some that I may have missed by similar authors? I’m always open to something new . . .

~ Kathi

 

 

Deus Ex Machina in Fantasy fiction June 1, 2013

Filed under: Reading,Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 10:03 am
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Hello everyone,

today I’d like to mention a writing device known as the Deus Ex Machina, which happens to be often used in Fantasy fiction.

prince caspian aslan lucy

What is a Deus Ex Machina?

“A Deus Ex Machina is when some new event, character, ability, or object solves a seemingly unsolvable problem in a sudden, unexpected way. The term is Latin for god from the machine and has its origins in ancient Greek theater. It referred to scenes in which a crane (machina) was used to lower actors or statues playing a god (deus) onto the stage to set things right, often near the end of the play.”

Any examples?

There are many in Fantasy fiction, from Aslan saving the day in every book of The Chronicles of Narnia to the dragons’ magic only working in times of need in Eragon. However, J.R.R. Tolkien is the one who used this device extensively in all his stories. In The Hobbit, Bilbo and the dwarves are saved time and again by the miraculous interventions of Gandalf and the Eagles.

The Hobbit Eagle

The Hobbit Gandalf

What’s wrong with a Deus Ex Machina?

After all, coincidences do happen in real life, and the reader wants the hero to win, doesn’t he? Yes, but the reader is also entitled to a satisfying ending. And a Deus Ex Machina rarely provides it, because the coincidence feels unnatural and lazy. As if the writer couldn’t sort out his own plot, and he resorted to pulling a god out of his hat to save the hero and solve all the plot holes.

So should you include a Deus Ex Machina in your Fantasy novel? Why not. But know what is it and when to use it. Know that it’s a trope readers are acutely aware of and they rarely forgive.

Do you use a Deus Ex Machina in your novel? Does it feel like  you’re taking the easy way out by using it or not? Feel free to leave us a comment below!

And happy writing!

EM Castellan

 

The future of High Fantasy January 2, 2013

Hello and Happy New Year!

I have mentioned it before on my blog, but I’m always surprised to read that some agents will represent all Fantasy sub-genres except High/Epic Fantasy. As if High Fantasy was a narrow market without a future.

So today I ask: what is the future of High Fantasy in 2013?

As YA High Fantasy author Sarah J. Maas explained in 2011: “High fantasy isn’t dead. If you say it is, you’re not looking in the right places. Perhaps the good stuff doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves, but it’s out there, changing perspectives and broadening imaginations, reminding us of what it is to be human, and daring girls who love nail polish and boys to dream of something more.”

In 2013, and to prove this point, I am therefore eagerly anticipating:

– the third season of Game of Thrones on HBO (April 2013)

– the second Hobbit movie (December 2013)

– the latest Adult releases by Robin Hobb (March 2013), Mark Lawrence (August 2013) and Brandon Sanderson (October 2013)

– the latest YA releases by Leigh Bardugo (June 2013), Sarah J. Maas (August 2013) and Rae Carson (September 2013)

– debut books by Elizabeth May (May 2013) and Myriam Forster (February 2013)

… and I’m hoping for many discoveries and surprises!

What about you? Which High Fantasy book/TV show/movie are you looking forward to in 2013? Leave us a comment below!

EM