Lessons from My Reading

M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Does a "Hausfrau" Character Weigh Down Your Book's Pace?

   Wasn't going to review another Mercedes Lackey book, but Blood Red intrigued and puzzled me, especially when I contrasted it with her other new release, The House of Four Winds. The book plods and plods and plods some more--while the action and fights with vampires and werewolves keep coming.  

   Blood Red is an elemental magicians book, the tenth in the series. While I like the series, but this is definitely not the most engaging for me, even with her  take on good and bad werewolves. *shrug*

   Then, I saw a picture of Angela Merkel carrying her briefcase somewhere, but she was wearing a tunic and pants, not her dumpy, ill-fitting blazer. [Does she try to imitate the male politicos in their suit jackets?] Whatever, Merkel looked like a "hausfrau" going shopping rather than one of the most powerful people in the world.

   So, what do I mean by "hausfrau". Not just the uptight Germanic cliche. But more along the lines of practical and no nonsense. See the job, and get the job done. Plod. Plod. Plod. While the trait's a virtue, it does for a dull book make. At least, that's the reason I used to explain why I kept putting the book down to go look or do something else.

   Blood Red is long on the "hausfrau" factor as the story line slogs from one fight to the other. Rose, the main character of Blood Red, is a stoical, but clever Master Huntsman with earth magic, who readily acknowledges much of her success is based on her male opponents underestimating her.

   Even the potential romance is even keeled. The whole book felt tired, like all the plot ideas had already been used once too many times. Maybe tighter editing would have helped. Maybe it doesn't happen because Lackey is an author diva.

    The same might be said about the princess from a minor principality main character in The House of Four Winds, the opening shot of her new series about a passel of princesses needing to go out into the world to seek their fortune. The romance is a central part of the book, but it also proceeds at a slow pace amidst a mutiny on the high seas. Granted Clarice/Clarence is masquerading as a master swordsman, but that doesn't stop her from finding true love while fighting for justice for the underdog seamen on an ill-fated ship.

   Did love the corruption factor, though.

   Descriptions of life aboard a sailing vessel and an interesting major villain keep The House of the Four Winds moving faster than Blood Red. Villains are central to the plot of Winds since there are several who are integral in moving the plot forward.

   Was disappointed because I couldn't lose myself in either book, and I don't think it was because Lackey seems to be mining the German world view for a break from the stodgy Brits. I've seen Germans get emotional, even loose it. Neither of the books main characters seem to have enough depth to do something unexpected.

Recommended as light reading, if your looking for something that'll engage your brain without overtaxing it. Both books are competently written, but with flat characters who fill their roles adequately, eh. I'd buy the books used or maybe for your reader. Read excerpts and more reviews on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. A must buy if you're a rabid Lackey fan.

~~#~~
My Writing Rut 

    Am wondering why I can't just write the current chapter of On the Run. Pillar has been assigned to take care of a great-aunt, because she's hopeless at working magic. It's a crucial scene, but I can't seem to make any progress. Every time either character opens their mouth, I have to go back and make an adjustment in previous chapters. Ugh.

   Then, I have to keep going back over the same words to make sure they are saying what I think I want to say. Yeah, I'm still working on the same chapter I started last week. Of course, I've written my daily quota of new words. But the darn things were all revision and had to make up for the words I deleted. Worse, the revisions were spread over four chapters, including one at the beginning.

   Maybe if I outlined to a deeper depth I wouldn't spin my wheels so much, ya think? Problem: I'd loose the element of discovery which is one of the reasons I write. I definitely don't write for fame and/or fortune.

   Did get a Trapper Tremaine story outlined, complete with mystery solution...and ending. It's an early history Andor story, with a mage dog figuring into the story line. Working title: Trapper Tremaine: Trial by Accusation.

   If I didn't know me, I'd think knowing too much about the ending of my stories slows down their progress.

   Oh, Vengeance progresses slooooowly. Hope to get it to the copy editor this week.

Think "slow" is my new middle name.




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