Sunday, October 27, 2013

AUTHORized: Anthony Ryan

 AUTHORized is a new segment on this blog that features Authors
 in an interview or guest post

If you were thinking that I didn't plan to revive this blog of mine, well, you’re obviously wrong because my first interviewee on my new segment is someone epic. I mean, someone who writes Epic fantasy books. Yes, an author. But take note, he’s one of my favorite authors currently. So open your eyes and enjoy my conversation with Mr. Anthony Ryan, who authored the book Blood Song.


How did you come up with the Blood Song story?

AR:           I don't generally get flashes of inspiration, just a germ of an idea that gestates over a long period of time until it becomes something worth writing down. Blood Song emerged from a combination of influences including my studies for a part-time history degree, contemporary politics and various musings on the nature of religion. 

How do you build your characters and world?

AR:            I didn't do all that much note taking or pre-writing for Blood Song, for the most part the world and the characters emerged during the course of writing. I tend to see story and character as much the same thing, since one continually informs the other. For me, one of the keys to writing convincing characters is consistency, you have to ensure you don't have them doing things they would never do or saying things they would never say. I find world-building largely a matter of providing enough detail to illustrate those elements that impact the story without piling on so much information the reader gets bored.

Who is your favorite character in your book?

AR:            At the risk of being predictable, Vaelin has done a lot for my career so I'll probably always put him first.

Who do you think is the character in your books who's Anthony Ryan in disguise?

AR:              Frankly none. The only writer in the book is Verniers and I like to think I'm nowhere near as pompous as him. If I was to appear in the story I'd almost certainly perish in the first battle scene. 

Read or Write?

AR:               Read, it's easier.

Given that you're a big fan of Gemmell, what single book of his you want to book push to other readers?

AR:             Wolf in Shadow, on of his earliest books and still his best in my opinion, though they're all great and anyone who likes my work will almost certainly like his. 

What did you feel the first time you knew someone bought your book? How about when the publisher offered to traditionally publish your work?

AR:         I'll always be grateful for that first single digit on my sales report, the fact that someone thought something I'd written was worth their money remains a source of delight and surprise. The approach from Ace which led to my publishing deal was more of a shock, since I honestly wasn't expecting it. Once I'd calmed down though, I found the process of being published a fairly straightforward one, even oddly anti-climactic since my day to day life hardly changed, until I gave up my day job of course. I certainly don't regret it though.

Why chose Science Fiction and Fantasy? 

AR:          I think it chose me. I do read other genres, primarily crime and historical fiction, but science fiction and fantasy remain my first loves. I think I'm drawn most to the infinite possibilities offered by speculative fiction, it can be both escapist and nightmarish, beautiful and brutal, all in the same story.

How do you feel that you book is being compared to other published books?

AR:          It's extremely flattering to be mentioned in the same breath as George RR Martin and Robin Hobb. I also get compared to Patrick Rothfuss a lot, even though I still haven't read him.

What is next to expect from you?

AR:        Foreign language rights for Blood Song have been sold to 17 countries so far, though I think only the Italian version has actually been published. So anyone who doesn't speak English as a first language and wants a copy in their own tongue should keep a close eye on the Amazon new release listings over the next few months. Tower Lord, Book 2 of the Raven's Shadow trilogy, is currently with my editor at Ace and should be published in summer of 2014. I'm currently working on book 3, tentatively entitled Queen of Fire, and hope to deliver it by the end of the year. After that I have a couple of short story anthology invites to meet and I'll be returning to my Slab City Blues stories, which I'm continuing to self-publish. In addition to all that I'll need to start plotting out my next fantasy series, but it'll probably be a couple of years before that sees the light of day.


To know more about Anthony Ryan, you can freely visit him over at his website.

Book Review: Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

Title:         Blood Song
Author:   Anthony Ryan
Genre:      Epic Fantasy
Rating:     ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


I’m taking Maria’s introductory remark: I Highly Recommend Blood Song.

Apparently, I’m having this High Fantasy read-a-thon recently thus my taste on the said genre has just come back, albeit, my purpose was for preparation for our Book Club’s Monthly read which, unfortunately, I failed finishing reading it before the discussion. Anyway, it cannot be denied that I feel so fortunate stumbling upon this book.

Vaelin Al Sorna, Son of the King’s Battle Lord, at the age of ten, he is left by his father at the Sixth Order to be trained to fight and is only provided by his father with his “Loyalty is our strength” belief. But to what point shall he stand his loyalty to his family if entering the Order means leaving and forgetting everything he has?

Mad at his father’s confusing decision, he faces the Order with all it requires even it implies wiping out his past. Upon training he faces trials, gains friends, and even earns recognition but threats to his life linger. How can he be a fully Brother of Sixth Order and servant of Faith if hindrance aren’t just the difficult Order’s tests but emanating death attempts on him brought by assassins. But the question is, who wants him dead?

IF Science Fiction has a military SF novel Ender’s Game, I would like to think this is High Fantasy’s answer to its call. Blood Song – one of the best Epic Fantasy books, in fact Best Military Fantasy piece so far, this century has ever created. It starts with Vernier’s Account. Disorienting at first since it always happen to new books, but once Vaelin’s life story started, you’d be able to spell out UNPUTABLEDOWN.

It is hard for me to shrug off the apparent fact that Mr. Anthony Ryan is a great story teller. He knows when to pull the reader with evocative emotions. He started the story with innocence of a boy and gradually leads me to complex, yet wonderful world. Moreover, he knows where and when the reader regards and disregards what he reads and so he make advantage out of it by giving off very subtle motives and clues that eventually blows out at the very end of the book. Thus, after reading the book, a realization may come that the whole story is just delicately stitched from the very beginning to give way for its explosive ending.

The world building may not as exceptional as it should seem but its contents such beliefs, religions and cultures are nonetheless, flawless and concrete. The countries are strongly discerned and tied with their respective religion and beliefs that could be seen in real world. This is quite of a few books that successfully convert depiction of real situation to the fictitious Fantasy one. The names of the characters may sound odd but distinction among respected people is distinguished through the earned additional name on its Family name. It is one of the unique ways of the book that caught my attention.

The story rotates around brotherhood. Truly, I am impressed by how the word brother exploited without the bond of blood of those who used it. Every time I read the said word among the five main characters, trials, bonds and concern to each other flashbacks. The book indeed not just focuses on World building development but more on Character development. Vaelin Al Sorna is not a genius character but he’s clever enough to be likable. Lastly, Blood Song possesses strong meaning of friendship that seldom books could do.

Yes, this book is no other than an Epic Fantasy. It is a coming-of-age story like other works being compared to it. But one thing I am certain and I can assure you, Blood Song can stand on its own and Blood Song is unique on its own way. It is indeed the next Epic Fantasy book everybody should read.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Legend (Legend, #1)Title:         Legend
Author:   Marie Lu
Genre:      Dystopia
Rating:     ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Disclaimer: The following review contains opinions and quotes from the book that might contain spoiler. Proceed at your own risk.


An ambitious book built with major flaws.

Dystopia is currently new generation’s genre. Though, under Sci-fi sub-genre, authors are hitching along its popularity. I, myself, am fond of reading books under this sub-genre thus reading this book is no wonder why I read this. In fact, Legend has been labeled as one of my future reads before it was released. However, liking a genre doesn’t suggest adoring all books under it.

Two contrasting worlds; two people alike. 
June Iparis, known for being Republic’s one of the wealthiest families, is groomed to be one of the best soldiers of the nation. Although parentless she is, she still has a brother to depend on—Metias. But in an unfortunate event, the world as if falls down to her when the only family left she has reportedly murdered by the prime suspect named Day. 
Day, Republic’s most wanted criminal, remains his statue with a mysterious profile. Known dead by his family, yet he’s living up his life for them. When he finds out that a member of his family has been infected with nation’s deadly virus, Plague, he has to cross devil’s den to have a cure. On the day he gets the cure, an incident happens that tends him to be tomorrow’s prime murderer.

June, who is holding grudge against his brother’s murderer, has to hunt down Day. June and Day are neck to neck outsmarting each other. But eventually, behind the murder of his brother, she finds out there is more story behind it that is likely untold.

I must admit that this book is easy read and tends reader to a nonstop flipping of pages. However, it never covers the fact that it has its own flaws.

Pork is pork but it could be cooked in many ways. Dystopia is dystopia but it could be pictured in many ways. Legend is a ride on to Dystopia’s popularity but it didn’t offer fresh story. Typical government with typical situation. I’m a little underwhelmed by the fact that Legend hasn’t created a signature of its own that it never able to get out from the shadow of other dystopian books.  Moreover, the book’s story is too much transparent that gives reader ideas of what would happen. In other words, the story is predictable. Day’s exclusion on passers list made me conjure one or two most possible assumption. It’s either his wealth status has something to with it and so because of his knowledge, he might be a leader for rebellion.

In addition, I also have the same concern with other readers: the two major characters are described as both flawless that, unfortunately, their point of views and approaches are as if owned by one person. Sad to say, Marie Lu failed to layout and differentiate her characters for this book. Since the book consists of two alternating point of views, neither of them is unidentifiable whose and whose story you’re already reading.

I find the pacing annoyingly slow even though it was action filled. Both characters were too distant for me to get into. There was something with the first part that acts to remind me that the characters are just fake and made of fiction. Perhaps, the characters’ perfection and strangeness might have something to do with it.

Finally, one of my major complains is the world building. Let me magnify it, it’s the test in the story that 10-year old children take up.

“[Someone] gets a perfect score—1500 points. No one’s ever gotten this—well, except for some kid a few years ago who the military made a goddy fuss over. Who knows what happens to someone with a score that high? Probably lots of money and power, yeah? You score between a 1450 and a 1499. Pat yourself on the back because you’ll get instant access to six years of high school and then four at the top universities in the Republic: Drake, Stanford, and Brenan…You squeak by with a score between 1000 and 1249. Congress bars you from high school. You join the poor, like my family…You fail. It’s almost always the slum-sector kids who fail. If you’re in this unlucky category, the Republic sends officials to your family’s home. They make your parents sign a contract giving the government full custody over you.”
Obviously, if the kid passes the trial, he will be assigned to the top universities and undergo a highly specialized training which will eventually suffice Republic’s purpose to serve the nation. If the government is really that clever, why use an intelligence test if they intend to sieve the next great people to serve the nation? Isn't appropriate if trial includes physical test or combat test since some are trained to become soldiers? I doubt actual combat just needs just pens and paper to fight. I doubt actual combat requires interviews and prompt answers to fight. Some children might be intelligent but it doesn't mean they are great at fighting, too. I doubt this thing makes sense to me unless the Republic is just up to creating an army of pure strategists and bunch of scientists. Those who fail the exam get experimented and get killed. My point, why depend the lives of those children on a test that isn't even accurate? This Trial thing is too shallow for me to put a life at stake.

From the last four sentences I quoted from Day’s POV above, if a kid fails he’ll join the poor like his family. The Republic will send officials to his family’s home. They will make his parents sign a contract giving the government full custody over him. Eventually, he will get killed and experimented. I wonder how his parents survive and other poor families in the slum sectors.

I know I was expecting but I’m pretty sure the book could have been better than this.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Ink Refilled! Blotted Pages for The Second Time!

believe  it’s almost a year since the last time I updated this blog. Something happened that I decided to eke out the Rollie as the reader and Rollie as the living man. Before I realize I’m getting further into my personal life let me summarize to you the events I went to, in regards with Rollie as the reader, within the time I forgot to refill my pen to ink the Blotted Pages.

July 2012:Around July, Anniversary of my Online and Offline community (GR-TFG) held the group’s Anniverssary Party. On the same day, TFG’s book of the month Remains of the Day by Kazou Ishiguro Face-To-Face Discussion was also conducted and Former Moderator of the group, Kuya Doni, celebrated his Birthday.

L-R: Miss Ronnie, Mae, Po, Alona, Tina, Maria, Biena, Louize,
Wilfred, Cary, Benny, JL, Angus and ME!
January 2013:    Who said I was prepared enough for it? Long period of time was given yet I thought my nerve wasn't yet ready for it. Finally, after thinking of what would I have to do, moderating a Face-To-Face Discussion finally came to pass. Online and Offline poll, Fahrenheit 451 toppled other nominated books such that Dune by Frank Herbert and Unwind by Neal Shusterman. September 2012, the book won the poll and Last December 2012 Goodreads The Filipino Group opened the online discussion. After three weeks, Face-To-Face Discussion was conducted. Special thanks to Tina for the help. Forgive my laziness, I should be have posted this topic  independently but  I decided not to since it’s already over three months since the event happened.

“So. Are you guys here to convert me or sell me siding?”
― Richelle Mead, Bloodlines


It’s not new to us even since long time a ago the movie adaptation of a hit novel. This past years, we’ve seen some of the remarkable movie adaptations that hit bigtime worldwide such as Harry Potter, Twilight and lately Hunger Games. Though there are books that are exceptionally great, movie adaptations sometimes still ended up to be devastatingly bad.  But this year, what movie adaptation from a book are you dying to watch already? Here are the some talk-of-the-town movie adaptations, with corresponding Goodreads sysnopsis, that came and will come out this year. 

by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

by Stephenie Meyer.

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human.

by Rick Riordan

The heroic son of Poseidon makes an action-packed comeback in the second must-read installment of Rick Riordan's amazing young readers series. Starring Percy Jackson, a "half blood" whose mother is human and whose father is the God of the Sea, Riordan's series combines cliffhanger adventure and Greek mythology lessons that results in true page-turners that get better with each installment. In this episode, The Sea of Monsters, Percy sets out to retrieve the Golden Fleece before his summer camp is destroyed, surpassing the first book's drama and setting the stage for more thrills to come.


by Cassandra Clare

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . . 

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.


by Suzanne Collins

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

In Catching Fire, the second novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before...and surprising readers at every turn.


by Orson Scott Card

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister. 

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives. 
Ender's Game is the winner of the 1985 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Novel.