Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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High, Low, and Middle Fantasy

Okay, so, “high” and “low” fantasy came up here fairly recently. I said my tendency was to define high fantasy as epic or heroic fantasy that also has a more poetic or formal tone; low as non-heroic fantasy that has a grittier or more casual tone.

However, the terms are also, perhaps more commonly, used this way:

High fantasy = secondary world

Low fantasy = contemporary world.

I think that’s an odd usage, as it seems sensible to me to say “secondary world fantasy” if that’s what you mean and then divide secondary world fantasy into high and low; ditto for contemporary fantasy. But fine, either way, this post at Book Riot caught my eye:

MIDDLE FANTASY: A SUB-GENRE FOR ALL FANTASY LOVERS

Okay, I said, what do YOU mean by “middle fantasy?” It’s certainly true that if you have high and low, then you should have middle! Do you mean, um, halfway between secondary and contemporary worlds? Because that would actually sort of be interesting! The Death of the Necromancer might fit, as the world is secondary BUT highly reminiscent of gaslamp London. I’m sure it would be possible to think of plenty more examples like that.

OR, do you mean the novel strikes a tone that is midway between the poetic or elevated or formal tone of high fantasy and the everyday or gritty tone of low fantasy? That could be … lots and lots of books, I guess, including some that reach for a high fantasy tone but don’t quite make it.

So let’s see what this Book Riot Post has in mind — one of those options or something else:

The term “high fantasy” has only been around since the 1970s and describes books that are set in a fictional alternative world (think Middle-earth). Literarily, the term was used to differentiate between real-world and alternative fantasy world …

Okay! So that’s clear. High fantasy means secondary world, low fantasy then presumably means contemporary world. … Yes, that’s the starting point for this post.

Okay, then, what’s middle fantasy? ???

Without reading further, here are some options that occur to me:

a) Portal fantasy, that starts off in the contemporary world but then the protagonist(s) go to a secondary world. We don’t really need a special term for that, as “portal fantasy” is well understood.

b) The world started out as our contemporary world or as our historical world, but WOW is it different now because something dramatic happened. There are lots of examples and have been practically forever. I’m thinking of Ariel by Boyett. The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews also fits this type.

c) The world has some contemporary elements, but the fantasy elements are big and dramatic and always have been in the history of this world. A whole lot of paranormal and UF fantasy falls into this category, including, oh, say, the Others series by Anne Bishop. So do lots of other novels, such as, hmm, well, Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede, say. Zillions of examples, some historical and some contemporary in flavor, but all with lots of important fantasy elements that thoroughly shift the world away from the real world.

d) Something else.

Let’s see how Book Riot defines middle fantasy …

In middle fantasy, the rules are bent, known mythologies and folklores are explored, and magic abounds!

Okay, so (d) then! I hadn’t thought of this option — lots of magic, but it draws on actual mythology and folklore. A perfectly fair conception for the term! Not quite real, known world, but real, known mythology. What have I been calling that kind of fantasy all this time … probably “mythological fantasy,” if I used a term. Not sure I did. That’s probably the term I would choose, rather than “middle fantasy,” because here I’ve come up with three other possible ways to define a chunk of middle ground between high and low fantasy. Given a choice, I prefer descriptive terms that are harder to misunderstand or define in confusing ways. But the category itself seems fair to me.

Let’s see what specific works Book Riot chose to exemplify the category:

Wow, not a single title that I’ve read. In some cases, the book doesn’t really appear to fit the category — a category they just defined! Come ON, this is not a difficult category at all. I believe the post is trying much too hard to stick to very recent titles and also perhaps to titles that echo current events. I’d rather stick to the topic of the post and pick titles that actually exemplify the category.

And to exemplify the category, well, I thought immediately of the Percy Jackson novels. I only read the first one — it was a bit young for me — but it’s a very obvious example.

There are surely lots of others. Let me see. American Gods, obviously. Hounded, by Kevin Hearne.

My actual favorite is the Powers and Dominions duology but Burton/Hetley. Here’s my post about Powers. I should re-read those.

What titles would you put on this kind of list?

Middle Fantasy; eg, contemporary fantasy that draws heavily on mythology or folklore, but is not a retelling:

  1. American Gods
  2. Hounded
  3. Percy Jackson stories by Rick Riordan
  4. Powers and Dominions
  5. Agent of Hel series by Jacqueline Carey
  6. …. What else?

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On proofreading

A post at Kill Zone Blog that made me laugh:

The librarian at an active senior community has been wonderfully supportive and included all my books in their collection. In Eyes in the Sky, she found a typo which she emailed me about. She noted the exact page where it appeared. I opened my copy to that page and read it over and over, searching for the typo. I emailed her back and asked which sentence the typo appeared in. She quoted it. I read and reread her email and couldn’t find a typo in her quote. Again, I stared at the sentence in the book for several more minutes and still couldn’t see it.

I was about to call her, admit humiliation, and ask what I was missing.

At last, my now-bleary, squinting eyes recognized it. The sentence was supposed to read: “Let’s go back to the hotel.” Instead, it said: “Let’s back go to the hotel.”

Wow, does that resonate. I’m chipping away at the proofreading comments for COPPER MOUNTAIN … it’s so tedious that I’m just doing it a little at a time. By now I’ve gone through the typos several of you caught, and I’m working my way through the comments provided by Linda S., who (of course) caught quite a few that everyone else spotted plus quite a few no one else spotted. As always, everyone caught unique typos, many egregious.

Anyway, my point is, if someone just quotes a problem sentence, then when I look at that sentence, I can sometimes stare and stare for AGES without seeing the typo. It’s EXACTLY like the experience described above. Suddenly, all at once, I see that the sentence says “off” instead of “of” or “his” when it should say “her” or whatever.

Sometimes I literally give up, come back later, and stare at a sentence some more before I finally find a completely obvious typo in that sentence.

I guess it’s good to know other authors have the same problem, in a misery-loves-company way. Or an at-least-I-know-this-is-normal way.

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Name generator

Oh, hey, this is kinda neat for anything set in the real world: a character name generator.

No options for “throw letters together to create neat names for secondary worlds,” unfortunately, but plenty of other options. Let me just see … how about a female, virtuous, Andorran princess, born in 1200 AD?

Princess Agnes Glaser (Nessa)
–Agnes: tagged as wise, tagged as witchy, tagged as Catalan
–Glaser: tagged as witchy

Really? I wonder why Glaser is “witchy.”

Princess Monica Belnades
–Monica: tagged as wise, tagged as Catalan
–Belnades: tagged as witchy

Okay, what if I switch the country to … Sweden.

Princess Louise Eriksson (Loulou)
–Louise: tagged as wise, tagged as witchy, tagged as Swedish
–Eriksson: in use in Sweden, in use in Sweden, in use in Sweden

Well, not terrible, honestly. This might be useful for those (many) moments when one gets stuck trying to think of names for random characters.

I saw the link at The Passive Voice blog, btw.

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Floating habitats

From James Davis Nicholl at tor.com: Five Science Fiction Books Featuring Floating Habitats

Five! Don’t you think it should be possible to get to ten?

Well, let’s see …

Venus is so inconsiderate. It presents itself as a sister world, one that would seem at first glance to be very Earth-like, but… on closer examination it’s utterly hostile to life as we know it. Surface conditions would be extremely challenging for terrestrial life, what with the toxic atmosphere, crushing pressures, and blast-furnace-like temperatures.

That’s at the surface, however. Just fifty kilometers above the surface, there is a region with terrestrial pressures and temperatures, a veritable garden of Eden where an unprotected human would not be almost immediately incinerated but instead would expire painfully (in just a few minutes) due to the lack of free oxygen and the prevalence of toxic gases.

Yes, you know, this sort of thing makes me think of this great post from Russell Monroe: What would happen if you tried to fly a normal Earth airplane above different Solar System bodies? The part about Venus is actually my favorite part of that post:

Unfortunately, X-Plane is not capable of simulating the hellish environment near the surface of Venus. But physics calculations give us an idea of what flight there would be like. The upshot is: Your plane would fly pretty well, except it would be on fire the whole time, and then it would stop flying, and then stop being a plane.

The atmosphere on Venus is over 60 times denser than Earth’s, which is thick enough that a Cessna moving at running speed would rise into the air. Unfortunately, the air it’s rising into is hot enough to melt lead. The paint would start melting off in seconds, the plane’s components would fail rapidly, and the plane would glide gently into the ground as it came apart under the heat stress.

A much better bet would be to fly above the clouds. While Venus’s surface is awful, its upper atmosphere is surprisingly Earthlike. 55 kilometers up, a human could survive with an oxygen mask and a protective wetsuit; the air is room temperature and the pressure is similar to that on Earth mountains. You need the wetsuit, though, to protect you from the sulfuric acid. (I’m not selling this well, am I?)

The acid’s no fun, but it turns out the area right above the clouds is a great environment for an airplane, as long as it has no exposed metal to be corroded away by the sulfuric acid. And is capable of flight in constant Category-5-hurricane-level winds, which are another thing I forgot to mention earlier.

Venus is a terrible place.

You should absolutely click through and read about the Cessna flying everywhere else in the solar system, but meanwhile, back to Nicholl’s post about floating habitats — which five does he mention?

Floating Worlds by Cecilia Holland (1976)

Venus of Dreams by Pamela Sargent (1986)

The Clouds of Saturn by Michael McCollum (1991)

Sultan of the Clouds by Geoffrey Landis (2010)

The House of Styx by Derek Künsken (2020)

I haven’t read any of them, though several sound like they might be pretty good! That most recent one sounds grim. All dystopian politics and toxic family relationships. I might be reading too much into the description, but that’s my guess.

Anyway, though commenters at the post mention various others, including stepping sideways into fantasy, I’m pretty sure they’ve missed some science fiction examples. I’m almost positive Kim Stanley Robinson floated habitats or cities in the atmosphere of Venus in 2312, with the Chinese being particularly involved in terraforming that planet. Could’ve been some other book, but I’m pretty sure it was Robinson’s 2312.

I’ve only read a couple of Iain Banks’ Culture series, but I’d be surprised if there weren’t floating habitats in the high-tech post-scarcity utopian Culture. Can anybody more familialr with that series confirm or deny this?

I normally stick to books, but we all remember the floating towns from Firefly, I bet. What a great episode that was. What was the name of it … okay, “Trash.”

I’m sure there are plenty of other SF floating cities. And if we do expand our search terms and look at fantasy, there’s everything from Castle Black to (of course):

Meanwhile! Did you hear about this?

Possible evidence found for life on Venus

From just a few says ago:

The best evidence for life beyond Earth has been found in the most surprising of places – the atmosphere of Venus.

A team led by Jane Greaves, who is a professor at Cardiff University, has detected the presence of phosphine gas in Venus’ clouds. The intriguing thing about phosphine, which is a molecule formed of three hydrogen atoms and one phosphorous atom, is that on Earth its only natural source is from some anaerobic (i.e., non-oxygen breathing) microbial lifeforms. No known geological mechanism or non-biological chemical reaction produces it on our planet, although it is produced deep inside gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn where hydrogen is plentiful and the temperature and pressure extremely high.

Of course, if there’s one thing the past decade has shown us, it’s that there is plenty we do not understand and have never before seen when it comes to geological mechanisms on other planets. Still, pretty neat, eh? Though I will never be satisfied with microbial life on other planets. If we’re talking about life on other planets, I want it to be more like James Tiptree Jr visualized in Up the Walls of the World.

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Recent Reading: Archivist Wasp and Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace

Okay, maybe it took me five years to read Latchkey, but (a) that’s by no means a record for how long a book has sat around on my TBR pile. Not even close. And (b) anyway, the delay was partly because I definitely wanted to re-read Archivist Wasp first and generally, not always, I prefer to delay a re-read until I’ve forgotten a reasonable amount of the story.

You may recall that I really loved Archivist Wasp when I first read it. You can read my comments about that book here. On a re-read, yep, still love the story. If anything, I enjoyed the re-read more because I knew certain things about the ending would be highly satisfying.

So, Latchkey. When I saw the cover, I didn’t realize the town was on fire! Check out the full spread of the cover art. Yep, there is considerable drama regarding the fate of the town in the story. Not exactly from being put to the torch. More on that later.

Now, Nicole says that she poured Archivist Wasp out onto the page in a single burning swoosh of writerly obsession, whereas Latchkey was much more heavily revised during the drafting process. It would be so interesting to see the earliest complete draft, if she started with a complete draft rather than re-writing in pieces, because the final version is . . . hmm. It’s much more cluttered than Archivist Wasp, with different pieces that all have to fit together. And they do! Latchkey is a cohesive whole, with a dramatic frame story of invasion and ordinary battle wrapped around an even more dramatic underlying story about loyalty, commitment, memory, and most of all identity. I wonder if getting that to work is one of the things that had to be done during revision.

Let me see. Okay. So we start with Wasp, now Isobel, more or less integrated into the town. We see a bit of the girls who used to be upstarts and a bit of the other townspeople; we get a pretty good feel for their lives. Let me just mention that I’m extremely glad not to live in that world and definitely would not want to visit. Even when things are going well, this is … well, it’s basically a look at a postapocalyptic dystopian world when things have settled down and ordinary people are just trying to get by and pretty well making it day by day. But even if people are kind of doing okay, it’s still fundamentally a postapocalyptic dystopian world.

During this part of the story, we don’t see the ghost at all. There are reasons for that, which the astute reader will surmise almost at once, though those reasons are laid out explicitly later. Anyway, things happen and a quite horrible, revolting enemy town attacks, and various complications ensue, and the ghost finally turns up about 30% of the way into the story. From then on, the theme of identity becomes really central (though that was always a strong theme, right from the beginning).

The ghost is an even more amazing character in this novel, now that we know him a little better, and come to think of it, so is Isobel. They (and others) get into worse and worse (and worse) situations, and let me tell you, I would have been too tense to enjoy the story as much except the ending of Archivist Wasp implied that Kornher-Stace would pull off a decent ending this time as well. Which she did. Part of it I saw coming, part of it I thought the author would pull off somehow (she did), and part of it I guessed wrong about. Put it all together and it was (almost) as satisfying as the ending to the first book.

Is there room for a sequel? Absolutely. Does the story need a sequel? No. This is a satisfying duology as it stands.

Who would love this book: Readers who appreciate prickly but fiercely loyal protagonists, and like a story that centers friendship rather than romance. Readers who like the sort of thriller where things get worse and worse, but finally wind up with a (plausible) satisfying ending – not necessarily cheerful, but good. Readers who like dystopian settings – this is not exactly a dystopian novel; Latchkey in particular lacks some important defining qualities of YA dystopia; but anyone who enjoys YA dystopias would probably love this story.

And if you haven’t yet read Archivist Wasp, then by all means pick that one up first and then go on to Latchkey.

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SF suitable for adapting to the stage

So here’s a thought: what SF stories, novellas, even short novels, might work reasonably well (or very well) if you tried to adapt them to a stage performance? I guess what you would want is:

–limited number of settings

— limited number of characters

–relatively straightforward plot

–high in drama, probably, rather than slice-of-life, but psychological drama counts

Not that I am an expert in adapting anything to the stage, but offhand those qualities seem suitable. I’m going to assume that special effects are in practical reach for everything and not consider how difficult that sort of thing might be.

So, how about it?

The first author who springs to mind for me: John Varley. He wrote short novels (Millennium) and many shorter works as in, for example, Persistence of Vision. Plus his work would totally appeal to many modern audiences, especially in the themes that deal with gender. It would be a public service to bring his almost completely forgotten work back into the public eye.

The cover of Persistence shown on Amazon is not NEARLY as good as the wonderful cover on my copy, which is this one:

The artist was Jim Burns.

So, as I said, Varley is the very first writer who springs to mind here. But who knows, maybe a close reading with stage adaptations in mind would establish that in fact his stories aren’t as suitable as my first impression suggests. So what are some other works that might be good for this purpose?

Okay, how about Dawn by Octavia Butler? The basic cast is two people for a huge proportion of the story; the basic setting one locked room. Then we do expand out of that room and that limited cast, but not to a huge cast or a vast number of different settings, as I recall.

For that matter, Butler also wrote the amazing story “Bloodchild” that might also do very well. Strictly limited cast and setting, fantastic psychological story.

Here’s a classic that might work very well plus it would be a period piece: “Nerves” by Lester Del Rey. I think the number of characters is about a dozen, and as I remember, the whole thing takes place in a nuclear power plant. Tense, dramatic story.

How about Hellspark by Kagan? Bigger setting, I guess you’d need at least two sets. As with any locked-room mystery, which is what this basically is, there’s a limited cast, plus I expect you could dispense with some of the characters. Plus it’s such a neat story.

Although big in a sense, it seems to me that Weber’s On Basilisk Station might be a good choice. Set almost entirely on one ship, with a relatively small number of important named characters. I think it could be turned into a pretty neat play.

So those are the SF stories that I came up with — what are some you all can think of that might be especially well suited to a stage adaptation?

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Evoking the period

Here’s a post at Crime Reads: HOW JOSEPHINE TEY CRAFTED A MASTERPIECE OF PARANOIA IN POSTWAR ENGLAND

I haven’t read many books by Tey … let me see … Brat Farrar, that was one. A Shilling for Candles. I think only those two, though I liked them both.

Well, here’s this paragraph from the Crime Reads post:

The Franchise Affair has become a wonderfully evocative period piece, including the supposed raison d’être of the plot. Why would the respectable if isolated Sharpes commit such an extraordinarily desperate act? It is the alleged explanation which is so interesting: they were indeed desperate—desperate for domestic help. Marion Sharpe cannot cook, the house is large and too far away for the local cleaners to patronise. This kind of problem, which sounds fairly surreal as a motive for abduction today, appeared perfectly convincing to the middle classes of the late forties: the domestic staff who vanished into the war effort and were expected to return having signally failed to do so.

This makes me want to pick up this story just for that — though the author of the post also talks up The Franchise Affair as a story too! — but as it happens, the two things I most appreciate in murder mysteries are:

a) Character, and

b) Setting

Style would be third in line and plotting a distant fourth. I appreciate a mystery I don’t figure out, but I don’t mind much if I do figure it out, although if the mystery seems TOO obvious, that’s a shame. Still, I’ll enjoy the story no matter how obvious the murderer is, if the writing is good, the characters well drawn and sympathetic, and the setting beautifully evoked. I’m not sure why setting is so important to me in mysteries, but it is, so that’s a big reason I lean heavily toward historical murder mysteries, and also mysteries set in, say, South Africa.

Josephine Tey’s books were written with contemporary settings, which undoubtedly provides that little extra depth of verisimilitude, but of course plenty of excellent historical mysteries are written by modern authors. One of the best examples I can think of where the setting is beautifully drawn while the mystery itself is not that mysterious is Barbara Hambly’s / Hamilton’s series featuring Abigail Adams as the protagonist. I enjoy these books very much even though the murderer is relatively obvious in each of the books.

For wonderful contemporary-ish settings, it’s hard to beat the Tannie Maria series, set in South Africa. Unfortunately, the third book is for some reason not currently available, at least not from Amazon. Not just unavailable in Kindle, but unavailable period. That’s getting to be pretty unusual. Such a shame when it’s a book one would really like to read.

So: if you were making a Top Ten list for murder mysteries with beautiful, evocative, interesting settings, historical or otherwise, what would you put on it? Anything come to mind?

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10 Universal Rules for Writers: can it be done?

There are tons of rules writers are frequently told to follow. Plenty of novice writers take these lists seriously. Nearly all these rules are essentially false, though some have a grain of truth to them. A few so-called “rules” are actually potentially harmful.

An example of the first type is: Never use adverbs. This is clearly just bad advice. You can open any novel by any brilliant stylist and instantly see that this author does in fact use adverbs. Obviously better (but unhelpful) advice would be: Never use adverbs badly. That can be expanded into more useful advice, but that takes a good many words, which is where the short-but-wrong forms of rules come from, I suppose.

An example of a harmful “rule” is: REAL writers write every single day. That’s terrible advice because it’s so often not true, and also can’t be true, and shouldn’t even be true. This is the kind of advice that makes people feel bad about themselves for no reason at all.

But! Is it possible to come up with ten rules for writers which are actually universal? True for all writers, all the time?

I’m betting no. Ten is probably too many. But let’s try.

1.In order to succeed as a writer, you must finish at least some of what you start.

That rule is truly universal. Unless you define “succeed” in some way that invalidates the rule, such as, “If I’m having fun, then I’m succeeding” or something like that. I would prefer not to stretch the definition that far. I would say that it is just 100% true that successful writers must finish some of what they start.

This leads into a second rule:

2. In order to succeed as a writer, you must make your work available for people, including people who are not personal friends, to read.

If you finish projects and stuff them into a drawer and no one but you ever sees them, then you may be a writer, but I don’t know that you can be said to be successful as a writer. Again, if you define “success” in some “but I’m having fun” way, then sure. But I am inclined to think that success as a writer means that some people who aren’t you have to read your work.

I am not at all sure that there are too many other rules that are actually universal. I can think of plenty of rules that would make you a better writer, but that is not the same thing. You’ll be a better writer if you have a feel for correct grammar, word usage, punctuation, and the rhythm of language. But we can all think of highly successful writers who don’t have all, or maybe any, of that and yet there they are, highly successful.

In the same way, you’ll be a better novelist if you have a feel for tension, pacing, character, and dialogue, but most of us can probably think of novels that are highly successful even though they are deficient in one or more of those qualities. I sure can, even some examples that I like quite a bit. There’s a series I like a lot even though I’m perfectly aware the characters are flat; there’s another I’ve read several times even though the dialogue is barely serviceable.

However, I think I may be able to list a couple more rules that are actually universal.

3. You cannot be a successful writer if all “your” work is actually plagiarized. You may be a successful scam artist, but you are not in any sense a writer if you are “creating” “new” “works” via plagiarism.

4. Related to the above, I’m not sure I would say that someone is a successful writer if all their work is ghostwritten by someone else. In fact, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t. I get that having a book ghostwritten is legal and not the same as plagiarism, but the person who puts the words in a row is the writer, and if that’s not the person whose name is on the cover, then the putative author is not the writer.

I can think of one more rule that is (pretty much, probably) universal:

5. In order to succeed as a writer, you must refrain from crazy, borderline illegal behavior like physically stalking reviewers. I imagine we have all seen the occasional cautionary tale along these lines; eg, google Kathleen Hale and there you go. An author may be able to recover from the stigma, but seriously, just don’t get involved in that kind of interaction if you want to be a successful writer.

That’s five! That’s more than I expected to come up with when I started! Can anyone think of any other rules that are actually, or nearly, universally applicable to all writers? Or even all novelists?

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The phrase is not “free reign”

Here’s another post at tor.com, this one by Judith Tarr: Those Handy Equestrian Metaphors

Peeve here reminds me to note that in our essentially horseless society, a particular set of metaphors has slipped loose from its original meaning and caught hold of another that still makes sense. Sort of.

To wit: free rein and its converse, to rein in.

Now even otherwise well-educated writers and editors believe it’s free reign and, by apparent extension, reign in.

Quite right. This is one I’ve noticed more than once, and I do wish people knew where the terms came from and what they’re supposed to mean. Then this mistake would be impossible.

Others that seem especially common and that I have seen recently:

site / cite

phase / faze

peek / peak

Speaking as someone who routinely types random homophones ALL THE TIME, especially when tired, it’s nice to catch this sort of thing and fix it before you hit “post,” especially if you’re trying to make a serious point about something. It’s just hard to take someone seriously when they type “phased” when they meant “fazed,” even if their point is otherwise persuasive.

Anyway, that’s not really Judith Tarr’s point. She’s pointing out that you shouldn’t use metaphors that don’t fit the world you’ve developed, so if you have no horses, there are a bunch of metaphors that don’t work for that world. Good point, and I’m sure that happens, but I’m not sure I’ve seen this problem very often. Or at least, I haven’t noticed it. Can anyone think off hand of a time when you DID notice a misused, inappropriate metaphor that didn’t fit the world the author had created?

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Chronicles of Elantra

Sorry about the lack of posting; busy weekend, lots going on, some of which I expect I will tell you all about fairly soon.

Meanwhile! Here’s a post by Liz Bourke at tor.com: Revisiting Michelle Sagara’s Chronicles of Elantra

This caught my eye because

a) some of you have recommended this series;

b) I like some of Michelle Sagara West’s other work;

c) I fear I could not quite get into the first book of the Elantra series, but I’m willing to try again or even jump ahead and try a book later in the series.

so I’m interested in what Liz has to say about this series. I suppose she must have read the whole thing because why else would she be doing a post like this?

She begins this way:

Those fifteen books … are a satisfying combination of contemporary-feeling secondary world city-based fantasy, and go-big-or-go-home epic. Every single volume has a relatively self-contained arc (at least one major problem, and major frequently means fate-of-the-world, is solved in every one) but the series as a whole has continuing arcs of growth and change for its cast of characters, and especially for its protagonist, Kaylin Neya.

See, that’s the kind of thing that makes me feel like I really ought to give this series another try.

As the series has advanced, Kaylin has acquired a wider circle of friends and allies, and in part, these are what give the books fresh interest and appeal with every new volume. More people bring with them more problems and concerns and their own ways of seeing the world—and Elantra, for all that it’s a single city, is a wide weird world indeed. … The Chronicles of Elantra are enjoyable, entertaining, engaging fantasy novels that always leave me feeling satisfied—and rather reassured, despite occasional horrible things happening, because somehow, it all comes mostly right in the end.

I know some of you like this series — what do you all think of jumping ahead? If you have a favorite book in the series, what is is?

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