The Emerald Storm

Fantasy Friday! Why I Like Fantasy

I’ve read fantasy for a long time. I’ve been known to take a break and read other genres but I always seem to come back to fantasy. I guess it’s the kid in me and the love of a good yarn that keeps me reading these stories. But there are other reasons the genre interests me as both a reader and a writer.

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Fantasy 2I got into a conversation after completing my interview the other night about speculative fiction and why it’s useful for story-telling. One of the main points noted about fantasy and science fiction is how flexible these genres can be. A writer can explore all kinds of topics through setting and situation. This is done in science fiction by using technology and in fantasy through magic systems.

As a reader, fantasy attracts me for several other reasons, one of which revolves around courage. So often, fantasy characters – main, secondary or otherwise – are faced with dire circumstances regardless of their magical assets (spells, weapons, etc.). It’s at this point that courage becomes the factor in the story with outcomes that can be either victorious or disastrous. I like to see how a character of any kind might react courageously in the face of these extreme situations.

For instance, in The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf refuses to budge in the presence of both the balrog and the Lord of the Nazgul. Likewise, Eowyn stands up to the Lord of the Nazgul just to defend King Theoden. That’s gripping as well as courageous.

Additionally, I like to read about characters who take on leadership and just do what’s necessary. In such stories, a character might make decisions because they have nothing to lose and nobody else is willing to make that call.

Morguefile.com free photo for Maintaining Wind in Your Writing Sails

Morguefile.com free photo for Maintaining Wind in Your Writing Sails

And then there’s the pure adventure of a fantasy tale. One recent book that captured adventure well was Michael J. Sullivan’s The Emerald Storm which is a tale that largely takes place on a sea voyage. It captures elements of Treasure Island in a fantasy setting. And who doesn’t like adventure on the high seas.

So for me, fantasy is a way of examining people in extraordinary circumstances all with in fantasy settings that add to the wonder and excitement of the story. Sure, I could watch Saving Private Ryan to see the defense of the bridge and the courage it takes – and love it. But put that in a fantasy setting and you can come up with some really good stories. I could read or view ocean voyages like Moby Dick or Master and Commander but add magic and some monstrous critters and it gets doubly interesting.

Why do you read fantasy? What book or movie would you like to see converted into a gripping fantasy novel?

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

The Bow of Hart Saga Release Notes:

BOD Final

The Bow of Destiny is now out on Audible (available in Whispersync for those who like reading and listening) and available on Amazon (and yes, it’s free in Kindle Unlimited).

An Arrow Against the Wind is due out on audio 10/22 and is also free on Kindle Unlimited.

The White Arrow will be released on audio on 11/27 but it’s currently available on Amazon and free on Kindle Unlimited


More Reviews from My Goodreads Shelf

Reviews from my Goodreads shelf appears to have become a regular feature here on Archer’s Aim. This week, I share more fantasy books along with a non-fiction. You might also notice a slight theme between a couple:

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The Emerald Storm (The Riyria Revelations, #4)The Emerald Storm by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like a good sea adventure every now and then so this book in Sullivan’s series was a fresh approach. The author took pains to describe the details of sailing with accuracy as well as the various duties aboard ship. It draws on many of the older tales of sea-faring adventure but in a fantasy format so there are unique aspects to the tale. I enjoyed it and heartily recommend it as a good break from all the land-lubber tales.

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A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read and re-read this series a number of times over the year. Le Guin’s writing voice in this series was incredible, capturing the essence of solitude and fortitude in the face of dangers of one’s own making as well as that of the unpredictable sea. This is an excellent tale of Ged’s adventures from childhood to manhood.

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Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws' Bloody ReignEmpire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan’s Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws’ Bloody Reign by Stephan Talty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book a number of years ago but found it an interesting history of piracy. Though it’s a non-fiction, the book an almost fictive quality since pirates can jump off the page. Frequently, these true-life tales have the ring of events described in fiction, movies and television shows and for good reason – they are the basis of fiction. This book covers everything from the politics behind piracy to the daily lives of pirates. As a fantasy author, I also find this book to be good source material. Anyone reading this book will be both entertained and informed about Captain Morgan.

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Elf KillersElf Killers by Carol Marrs Phipps
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Elf Killers is a solid first effort by the authors as the tale of elves attempting to survive the constant threat of trolls who have a taste for them as food. The story features desperate escapes, tragic loss, cunning bad guys (trolls), intrigue and determination all with numerous twists. I kept turning the pages with interest to see what happened. The trolls were especially portrayed in a unique style that draws the reader along with the inevitable dangers that loom for the elves.

There were a number of flaws on the writing as I thought the trolls language was distracting. While the fights were sudden surprises, these scenes needed a bit more description. There was also a bit more telling than I prefer. However, I did want to continue reading regardless of the flaws so don’t fear the shortcomings. I’m very interested in reading what the authors have already published since this book.

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Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. Sign up for my Archer’s Aim Digest mailing list to receive the forthcoming edition of my newsletter with announcements about upcoming releases and events. You’ll receive my a FREE coupon for my short story e-book, The Black Bag which contains a sample chapter of The Bow of Destiny. You’ll also be the first to have news about my books, especially some free offers this summer related to the upcoming release of The Bow of Destiny, the first novel of The Bow of Hart Saga. Speaking of which, it is now available for pre-release orders on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks & Amazon – Kindle. Additionally, September’s FREE book, What Is Needed is available at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks and Smashwords & Amazon.

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BOD Final Trading Knives 1 What Is Needed 4 Black Bag Cover 7

Maintaining Wind in Your Writing Sails

SailingI recently read Michael J. Sullivan’s book, The Emerald Storm, which is largely centered around a sailing voyage by his main characters, Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn. I enjoyed the book which is part of Sullivan’s series, The Riyria Revelations. I’ll avoid summarizing the book but I wanted to discuss some of the aspects of the story and how these relate to writing a book.

Once the voyage is underway the ship makes swift progress due to a prevailing wind. However, the ship must round a point. But to make this maneuver the ship’s crew must allow the ship to be swept toward rocks while making a planned changed with the sails. After the tricky move is completed they sail into a head-wind which requires tacking. This means re-setting the sails at angles in order to make zig-zag headway into the wind. It’s slower and requires continual efforts from the crew. Sullivan’s technical sailing descriptions in the book are very detailed but used in such a way as to weave them into the events.

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I’m nearing the end of a major revision and realized writing has some similarities to sailing. I’ve found these sailing situations illustrative during my work on The Bow of Hart. With writing, sometimes you’ve got the wind and sometimes you’ve got to tack.

editing2Learning to tack your creative winds is important. It’s either that or do nothing. What are things you can do to tack as a writer? Can you stay productive against headwinds? I’ve had to learn a few things about deep POV and internalization which meant overhauling my manuscript. Then there were several additions and changes that I don’t want to reveal at the moment but which took a lot of time and effort. If you’re willing to make difficult, time-consuming changes and still make viable progress, then you’re tacking effectively. If it’s going nowhere then you need to try something else: look for different techniques, examine motivations, characterization, scenes that go nowhere and lack of emotion in the characters just to name a few.

There are times when there’s risk in the changes you make. Sometimes if feels like you and your book are headed into the rocks. I’ve found that if I keep working, even if it’s slow and arduous, the creative winds will shift in my favor. So keep writing, even into the headwinds and be willing to make difficult changes where necessary.

Book Cover Green Top & Bottom Cover - CopyHave you found you need to make difficult changes with your writing? Have you felt like you lost the wind in your sails trying to complete your book? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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