Posts Tagged ‘swords & sorcery’

A separate category of tools/weapons used to successfully slay dragons are those magically created, blessed, etc., just for that purpose. Some examples include items in RPG and video games that do extra damage to dragons. Swords of Dragonslaying, if you will.

Many of you will recall the Dragonlance series, published by TSR starting in 1984. The titular weapon was magically blessed to kill dragons. Dragonlance was initially a campaign setting for D&D, but the writers hit upon the idea of also writing novels set in the land of Krynn. It became a shared world, similar to the anthology series Thieves World, which was highly influential in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Dragonlance introduced a couple of great writers, Tracy Weiss and Margaret Hickman. Many of their characters are beloved even today, like the tortured mage Raistlin. In addition, the series broke ground for the blossoming of secondary merchandise and story-telling attached to D&D. This kind of spinning-off is commonplace now, but it was an exciting development at the time.

If you want to know more, there’s a really good Dragonlance chronology here.

Another writer of the 1980s who dealt with dragonslaying is Barbara Hambly. In her 1985 novel Dragonsbane, a hedge witch (Jenny Waynest) and her fairly Scottish husband (John Aversin) bring a dragon (Morkeleb the Black) to the verge of death when Jenny treats John’s weapon with a virulent magical poison. However, John is also wounded by the same blade, and Jenny must heal Morkeleb in order to ensure John’s survival. Through this experience, Jenny’s minor magic is boosted considerably. For a time she assumes the shape of a dragon to travel the stars with Morkeleb. However, Jenny ultimately reclaims her humanity.

If you know of other books or movies incorporating special anti-dragon weapons, I’d love to hear about them!

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My last post was a picture of a sheet metal dragon sculpture at the local fair, but what I didn’t know was the book I’m currently reading also has a metal dragon in it. Interesting how life makes those little connections, isn’t it?

The book in question is Codex Born, by Jim C. Hines. This is the follow-up to Libriomancer, in my opinion the best book of 2012. I’m saddened and amazed that it wasn’t nominated for anything.

Hines is one of those writers nobody seems to have heard of, but you should. His specialty is skewering tropes such as dungeon adventuring (Jig the Dragonslayer series) and TV girl detective teams (Princess series). The books are silly and funny and touching in just the right measure. Unlike many writers, who seem to follow whatever bandwagon is going by, Hines does his own creative thinking. Better yet, he asks his readers to think.

Magic Ex Libris is his current series, urban fantasies where libriomancer magic is based on books. These magi can reach into books and pluck out any item as long as it will fit through a physical copy of the book. Queen Lucy’s healing cordial? Check. Lois McMaster Bujold’s truth serum? Check. Magic-detecting sunglasses? Enchanted swords? Ionic pistols? Check, check, check. The concept is especially brilliant because Hines nods to so many living authors who are sure to notice him and nod back.

The trope he skewers in this series is broader than ever before, and comprises the entire way female characters have been treated in entertainment. If you’ve been reading SF news and blogs in 2013, you know that sexual harassment and discrimination has been a huge topic. Hines manages to personify the problem in Lena Greenwood, a dryad accidentally brought forth from the pages of a trashy novel.

Lena is exactly like smany female comic and movie characters: beautiful, kicking ass, yet compelled to be the “pefect mate” of whoever she’s romantically involved with. Lena struggles in this book to figure out how she can have any control of her own life, while Isaac, the actual protagonist, tries to figure out how he can love her without preying on her.

Oh, and they’re both trying to keep a horde of magical Devourers from reaching Earth. The dragon — you knew I’d get back to the dragon — is not so much a personality as the magical construct of a dead libriomancer whose magic was stolen and warped. The dragon is put together of cast-off machine parts, but despite this is extremely impressive in its limited time on page. Look for it.

In fact, look for any book by Jim C. Hines. Jig the Dragonslayer and the Princess books are suitable for all ages. Magic Ex Libris contains more sex (it’s urban fantasy, but pretty tame compared to most of the genre) and some discussion of power in sexual relationships which is likely to lose younger readers. Parents should give it a read and decide if they want their kids under 16 to do the same.

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The final episode! Skalah alone stands between Vingrel and victory, with just one uncertain ally.

The episode is on my web site, but I’ve been encountering some sort of loop on Podbean and haven’t been able to load the episode there. I’ll have to try again tomrrow.

As always, I would love to hear from anyone who’s got questions or comments.

Time notes: Introduction, 0:12; Chapter 7, 0:47; End credits 13:04; Total run time, 14:26

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I have some news to share before I get to my regular Sunday podcast. First, I have some new followers. Welcome! I’ve got a hunch some of you were attracted by Yamata no Orochi, and its connection to the master villain Orochimaru from Naruto. I assure you, I plan to follow up on that thread next week. Even if that isn’t the case, I hope you’ll enjoy my blog.

In addition, I have been nominated for the Lovely Blog Award. Thanks so much to A. P. Roberts for the nod. I’m pleased to accept, and I’m currently putting together the seven questions and pass-on nominations, so look for that to be coming, too.

Now we come to my usual Sunday offering, my swords and sorcery podcast, The Weight of Their Souls. It’s the penultimate episode! Vingrel turns the battlemaid Jerromie against her companions, and the battle goes from bad to worse. You can download the most recent episodes from Podbean, or if you’re coming in late the entire series is on my web site. I hope you’ll enjoy the story. Any comments are welcome.

Time notes: Intro, 0:12; Chapter Six, 0:52; End Credits, 9:47; Total Run Time, 11:10.

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In Episode 5, the company expects Vingrel to make another try at Jerromie, but it’s Urzel who vanishes in the night.

You can listen to my podcast on Podbean or my web site, though space limitations mean I can only have a few episodes at a time on Podbean. If you wish to download the entire series, get it from my web site.

If you’re enjoying the story, please tell your friends about my podcast. Or even tell me! I could use the attention, believe me.

Time Notes: Introduction, 0:12; Chaper 5, 0:52; End Credits, 11:17; Total Run Time, 12:39.

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Here we go with Episode #4! Skalah leads the company to a wayhouse, where he hopes to find shelter. But will they escape from Vingrel that easily? You can listen to episodes on Podbean or my web site.

We’re half way through the story now, so please let me know what you think!

Time notes: Introduction, 0:12; Chapter Four, 0:54; End Credits, 11:45; Total Run Time, 13:07.

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Last episode, Skalah was paralyzed by fear and unable to help Jerromie against Vingrel’s assault. Now Urzel explains Vingrel’s true identity. Skalah remains unwilling to take action, and that sets him at odds with his companions.

You can download episodes from Podbean or my web site, and I’d love to hear what you think of the story.

Time notes: Introduction 0:12; Chapter Three, 0:55; End Credits, 12:07; Total Run Time, 13:30.

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The story continues as Vingrel gives enchanted mead to his unsuspecting comrades. What wicked scheme has he got going? You can listen on Podbean or my web site.

As always, I’d love to get comments on the story.

Time Notes: Introduction, 0:12; Chapter 2, 0:57; End Credits, 12:14; Total Run Time, 13:36.

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“The Weight of Their Souls” is a swords and sorcery novelette. In this Nortonesque fantasy, a group of ragged survivors try to make their way home after an epic battle of good vs. evil. There are seven episodes in the series, and they will be posted on Sundays until the end of May, 2013.

The first episode is available through Podbean or on my web site.

If you enjoy this podcast, please leave feedback and tell your friends about my work. Thanks!

Time notes: Introduction, 0:12; Chapter 1, 1:35; End Credits, 13:05; Total Run Time, 14:35.

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This post will be another digression away from dragons to talk about why I’m podcasting some of my fantasy tales.

Fellow blogger Nila White released a great post about the demise of Night Shade Books and how it affects their authors.

It’s certainly maddening to hear of publishers cheating authors, or setting up self-publishing imprints that forge partnerships with notorious scam publishers, as in the case of Archway, an imprint of Simon and Schuster that’s run by Author Solutions. Talk about a Hydra!

The whole circumstance of the publishing industry makes self-publishing more and more enticing, but it’s my experience that the follow-through is even more important than the initial setup. You have to treat it like a business, and some of us fear the business would suck all the time away that we need to just finish our stories.

One of the best pieces of advice I got was from Elizabeth Moon, who told me (paraphrasing here) “Never go any farther than you can afford to.” She was talking about traveling to conventions in order to promote my first book, The Magister’s Mask, but the advice applies equally to self-publishing ventures.

Self-publishing is touted as quick and easy, but it isn’t free! In fact, many self-publishing outfits are scammers, too. Hopeful authors can rack up thousands of dollars for a minimally edited and poorly produced book that turns off many customers. Just because it’s self-published doesn’t mean you can ignore the bottom line.

The reason that I podcast, rather than self-publishing my books, is because the expense would simply be “farther than I can afford to go.” Podcasting, on the other hand, is something I can do by myself, with equipment I already have, and on my own time.

For instance, I put together my first podcast, Masters of Air & Fire, in the two weeks of a winter break. I did my second, The Dragon King, at the start of summer vacation, and my latest during this last spring break.

Speaking of The Weight of Their Souls, I have a couple more steps to go through, but I expect to start posting episodes on Podbean next Sunday. I hope you’ll check it out!

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