The Chimaera Regiment Trailer

Check out the trailer for The Chimaera Regiment, due to be released this Friday, April 18!

You may recognize the images of the book cover and the map, as well as another that has not yet made an appearance (but when you’ve read the book, it will make sense). The music in the book is an original composition by Art Turner, and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s excellent.

Please share this video with your friends in anticipation of the release on Friday!

The Hint of Fiction in the Non-Fiction

21996The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In reading this book, I found that my imagination was taken away, not only with the story of Herman W. Mudgett, but especially with the whole of Chicago during the Gilded Age. This tale of the White City juxtaposed with the Black is not only compelling, but enthralling.

The length of time I have taken to read this book is far more a fault of my own time management than any trouble caused by the length and depth of this work. Mr. Larson’s studious examination of primary and secondary sources makes his work rife with detail that implies a fictional flair, but Larson does not hesitate to cite his sources for every controversial and suggestive claim in the book.

With such high-minded praise, then, it may seem odd that I limited my rating here to four stars. The weaknesses of the work were few and far between (and other readers may not agree with me in the least on their existence at all). The very depth that made the work so compelling seemed at once to take away from its historical accuracy; I had the distinct impression that this or that scene must surely be fabricated, for no one could possibly have known what Mr. Larson posits. At the same time, I have no knowledge of his sources, and his citations strike my untrained eye as legitimate.

There is a certain amount of sensationalism, too, which must of necessity accompany any story about the first American serial killer. It is the same sensationalism, I suspect, that accompanied the discovery and trial of the infamous man, but it is here presented in an oblique fashion. On the one hand, it demands that the next page be turned, but on the other, the great tragedy of these events (and also, perhaps, the great grandeur of the Fair) is faded and colorless in the light of the shocking nature of it all.

Perhaps I am being too harsh, especially considering that I have given five stars to works of far less skill and scope in the past, simply because they entertained me. But at any rate, I certainly enjoyed the book, and if you are a fan of history, you should, too. The full exposure to Mudgett’s evil, though, turned my stomach so much that I nearly put the book down for a time, if only to escape the imagery; Mr. Larson in no way focuses upon the grue, but he does help us to befriend the victims before their wicked demise. So keep that in mind.

On the note that Mr. Larson’s integration of the two focal points of the book – the World’s Fair, and Mudgett’s murders – is either inefficient or ineffective, I will admit that the contrast is occasionally obvious. One, however, could not be properly addressed without examination of the other, and they tie together with sufficient aplomb that the book itself does not suffer.



View all my reviews

Giveaway & Preparation

It’s almost time to release The Chimaera Regiment. I will be releasing the print and e-book versions in the near future (mid-April; exact dates are difficult to establish, given the process), and when that time comes, you will be able to purchase the book from Amazon.com. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to prepare:

  • Request a review copy. I am giving away e-books to anyone who will review the book and post it on Amazon when the book becomes available. You are, of course, always allowed to post the review on your own blog or social media venue. (I ask that you not pass on the e-book to anyone else, but if someone else wants to review it also, please refer them to me here). In order to request a copy, please use our contact form – and make sure to mention that’s why you’re contacting me.
  • Register in the Goodreads giveaway. If you’re more interested in a print copy than an e-book, you can register in this giveaway on Goodreads. This could land you an advance copy of the book. (Ideally, you would also post a review, but it is not an absolute requirement.)
  • Tell your friends. If you know anyone who likes fantasy, especially high fantasy,1 please tell them about the book. Or the book giveaway. Or the option to request a review copy. If you think they’ll like the book even a little bit, make sure that you mention it exists. This would be a great help, because if more people know about it, then more people will get to enjoy it.

Meanwhile, I’m going to continue trying to spread the word myself in anticipation of the release.

If you’re wondering about my plan to produce an audiobook version–you may recall that my original plan was to release the audiobook as a podcast–keep in mind that I am still planning this. All of the episodes have gone through the initial recording stage; the editing stage, however, takes about three times as long as the recording stage for each episode. The episodes are about 35 minutes each, and there are 19 of them, so you can do the math on how much time I need to put into that effort. Since I still have a day job, a baby on the way, and other factors tugging at my time, it will be some time before this is finalized. But I will keep you updated as things progress.

Thanks for visiting, and keep a close eye both here and on TheChimaeraRegiment.com for more news!

 

1“High fantasy” is opposed to “urban fantasy” and “low fantasy.” An example of high fantasy is Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time; an example of urban fantasy is, say, the Underworld film series; urban fantasy is also a subset of low fantasy, in that both are set in the real world, and an example of low fantasy is Pippi Longstocking or Tuck Everlasting or The Green Mile. J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is usually classified as high fantasy, although he adamantly insisted that it was set in the ancient past of the real world; Rowling’s Harry Potter series and C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series are usually classified as high fantasy, but there is some dispute due to their relationship with the real world. Some insist that the real (“primary”) world and imaginary (“secondary”) world must be entirely separate for high fantasy, but the general consensus in this day and age is that involving a secondary world at all is enough to be classified as high fantasy. Rowling’s work, too, is meant to showcase the effects of fantastical events on quotidian (“daily,” i.e., normal) life, like attending school–but since that’s the point of most fantasy, to examine ourselves from a new perspective, I’m not sure how that is sufficient to classify it low fantasy.

All that to say, I’m not claiming that I’m as good as Jordan, Lindgren, Babbit, King, Tolkien, Rowling, or Lewis. I’m probably better than the Underworld film series, though, for what that’s worth.

Han Solo Trilogy, Part 3

111019Rebel Dawn by A.C. Crispin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

NOTE: Many spoilers follow.

There were a lot of things I really liked about this book, so my rating it lower may be a direct result of the ending.

First, let me discuss what I liked. I liked the characters; Han, Lando, Chewbacca, and Boba Fett were all true to form, and I enjoyed the other characters, as well. I liked the interweaving of the other “Han Solo” trilogy. I liked how events in the first and second novels were tied into events in the third. I liked how the book led up to the events in the films (although that section seemed a bit rushed, and Lando seemed to overreact a smidgen). Overall, I liked the book.

But let me address what I did not like. As with the last two books, I don’t care for pulling quotes out of the films as if we weren’t sure this was Han Solo or Lando Calrissian talking. And, as before, I don’t like how often Han uses terms of endearment or nicknames; I just don’t think it’s natural (or necessary) to address your conversation partner every time you open your mouth, so that comes off as a little odd.

Most importantly, though, I don’t like the ending of this book. This is for two reasons. First, I don’t like how everything gets tied up in a neat little bow. The problem of Ylesia is solved forever; the problem of Bria is solved forever; the problem of Boba Fett does not affect later encounters with Boba Fett. Everything’s perfect. It would have made a lot more sense, to me, if things had ended a little more messily. Sure, the trilogy wouldn’t have been as compact and concise, but it would have fit in better with, and lent itself to, the broader Star Wars experience.

Yet this first was the minor complaint. The major complaint I have is how Han reacts to Bria’s death. Here is a woman who, claiming to love him, got his adopted brother killed, stole from him and his friends, got him ostracized by the entire smuggling community on Nar Shaddaa, and worst of all, lied to his face right up until she betrayed him. She stopped loving him the moment she put the rebellion ahead of him – and she started doing that back in the second book. And what’s more is that she kept doing it, for the rest of the trilogy! Nevermind that she never really knew him (she thought he’d forgive her for taking the money and join her in the rebellion, which was plainly ridiculous), and nevermind that it was her abandoning him that made him that way – the worst part of all is that she stopped feeling bad about it when she fell to her lowest point. Throughout the previous book and this one, she felt bad every time she neglected to talk to Han – right up until she stabbed him in the back. Then, she only felt bad because he called her out on it.

Now, I don’t dislike the book because I dislike Bria’s character. She’s excellently written, and the relationship as it unfolds is fabulous, especially because we (the audience) know it can’t last. What upsets me about the ending is that, about two weeks after the woman he loves betrays him for her rebellion – which he is still sure will fail, so she betrayed him for nothing, from his point of view – he learns she’s dead and says, “Well, gee, I regret how things ended. Guess I better tell her dad, and feel bad for myself.” It just doesn’t line up with his character at this point.

Anyway. That ending kind of puts a damper on the whole book (and, in a small way, the whole trilogy), but overall, the book is still a good read.



View all my reviews