Thursday, October 31, 2013

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby

              Six word description? How about seven words? A line from the book:

To suspect one is to suspect all.

              Aaaah! What can I say? This is one of the most amazing books I've read in a long while.

              Solveig is the king's middle child. Her sister Asa is the beautiful one. Everyone admires her. Her little brother is the heir to the throne. Everyone adores him. But she is just Solveig. And all she wants is to make her father proud. When the king goes to war, he sends the royal children to an ice fortress for protection with his most trusted servants. But when the fjord freezes them in from invaders, have they locked a traitor inside with them? Who out of all the people Solveig has grown up with and trusts possibly be the traitor?

           This book is probably set in a Nordic or viking tribe. I'm not very good at history, but I kind of figured that's where it was set because of the references to Odin, Thor, and other related gods.

           The plot was amazing. Tension everywhere. Even though the characters were physically icebound and not moving, the story moved fast. I know it's supposed to work that way. But it just feels strange and amazing that a story can do that after reading so much fantasy in which movement of the plot partly relies on progress in the traveler's physical journey.

          The mystery of who is the traitor, was developed well. I admit, the answer was somewhat expected in ways. But the whole book was so well written, every word so calculated and weighed, that sometimes it was hard to tell. And even if you knew, you could excuse Solveig for not knowing without thinking her stupid.
           The king's skald, or storyteller, joins them in their hall and so it was very interesting to see how Kirby weaved stories of viking lore (stories about Thor, Loki, Fenrir, etc.) into the book. Solveig becomes the skald's, Alric's, apprentice. I loved reading her thoughts on stories and storytelling.

           To go with the stories. The use of symbolism was everywhere. Oh, I loved it! How it was done and used. Wonderful. Solveig's end interpretation of wolves and stories and,- ah! You must read it.

          The characters. I love the characters. So much. I have never seen a book with such a clear change in almost all the main cast.

           I'll give you some of my favorite.

           "In life the hardest decisions often have to be made more than once. But each time, it gets easier." -Ole
           I liked Ole. He was very human. He's intelligent and merciful. He's quiet and sees what others don't.

           "Never trust a storyteller," he says. "We're all of us liars."  - Alric

           I loved Alric. Maybe it's because he tells stories. But even though he does tell pretty lies, there's truth in what he says at times. I like the edge and uncertainty he added to scenes. He was a master at deception and getting along with whom ever he choose, so Solveig was never quite sure when he was telling the truth or not. And I love that quote. For reason of my own.  ;)

               Hake. He was so awesome! For some reason when I picture Hake, I picture Gobber the Belch from How to Train Your Dragon. Except Hake has all of his limps and teeth. He was so honorable.

           And how I fear that day, for I know when I look into my betrayer's face, I will see someone I thought I knew. And I will still love them.

           Solveig was my favorite. This is one of those rare times when the main character trumps all the side characters for me. I relate to her well. She was an introvert who no one noticed. She told stories. She was one of those people who sees the bad in you and loves you anyways. After she's done being disappointed in you, that is. She is fiercely loyal, though 'fierce' is not a word you would normally think to describe her with. I really liked Solveig. Then I read the above quote and loved her even more. And, wow! She changed so much throughout the book. And it was done realistically. Maybe everyone didn't change. Maybe it was just Solveig and the way she perceived the others that changed that makes it feel as if everyone else changed too.

           The ending! Wow. The person you least expect. Not the traitor. But the wolf. Wow. (You have to read it to 'get it'.)

            And now I want a raven, and you must go read the book. Uh, please.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Moods of a Writer

           It has been brought to my attention that writers possess the capacity for many different moods. They generally are categorized as very moody people. And most other people (non-writers) don't understand this since they catch the writer in one mood and believe that he is this one way all the time. But when the writer's mood changes it confuses people and they think something is wrong. There may very well be something wrong, but since it has to do with writing, they rarely understand. And attempting to cheer up a writer has proven dangerous.

           For the non-writers out there, I have listed the moods of a writer. So you can understand and better care for the writer in your life.

1. Love the Book!

           When and why:
This usually, but not always, occurs when the writer first has a new idea for a Book.
           The Results: The writer normally acts very ecstatic. He may do some wild things, like tap dance on the roof, stare smugly at the wall, or put on his best British accent. That is, when the writer is seen. You will find him buried in his favorite writing nook for long periods of time more often than anywhere near the public eye.
            What you can do: Give the writer his space when he appears to be writing (the definition of the term 'appears to be writing' has proven to be very broad and includes "staring out the window or into blank space"). Smile and nod when the writer spouts off gibberish about imaginary people with a stupid grin on his face. The writer usually feeds himself when he comes out of writing. And don't mention the word 'sleep.'

2. Bored with Book.

            When and why:
This occurs during varies times for too many reasons to list.
             The Results: The writer tends to avoid writing. When he does write it usually has a lot of the "staring out the window or into blank space" going on. The writer will fall into other endeavors, especially book-reading, and other hobbies that vary from writer to writer. He may be seen in public more often, but he normally looks rather put out and lonely since all his characters (translation: imaginary friends) are currently not speaking to him. The writer appears to be a forlorn-looking exile.
            What you can do: Be your writer's friend since he feels lonely. But don't ask how the Book is; he will become rather grumpy. Let the writer bring up the topic himself. If he actually does so, be prepared for a lot of complaining. Just put your best sympathetic face on and all will be well.

3. Frustrated with Book.

           When and why:
This is a between stage. Depending on the writer it might not last long between moods 2 and 4. Some writers might even skip mood 3 completely. One of the main reasons for mood 3 may be what is commonly known as writer's block (writer's block: an absence of creative and inspiration; when the writer, his imaginary friends, and the Book are not on speaking terms).
           The Results: The writer is easily irritated. He can blow quite easy, but does have a grasp on common sense still. Like during the love-the-book stage, he may do some wild things: brush his teeth upside down, take long, long walks, listen to only one song all day, and so on. Normally though these crazy antics are more a search for inspiration instead of the results of ecstatic discovery.
              What you can do: Stand back. Don't mention the Book. Don't ask questions about the crazy antics (unless you want to join in). And- prepare for the coming stages.
4. Hate the Book

   When and why: The writer is completely out of inspiration and creativity. Often times it comes when attempting to write, the middle part of the Book. Otherwise, one of those imaginary friends more than likely has set off some bomb and thrown the writer's plans sky high.
           The Results: The writer is beyond reasoning with. He is more than grumpy or irratiable. The writer is furious. He may mumble to himself in the corner. But speaking to him is like waking a dragon. If the writer actually speaks to people (real people), it is normally unintelligible ranting.
            What you can do: Leave the writer to himself, and refrain from calling the mad house.

5. Grr to the Book
             When and why: This is the calm after the storm, but the writer is still on disagreeable terms with the Book and Co.
                The Results: The writer's fury has passed and turned to the moping stage. He is still emotionally unstable. But now it's more likely to be tears instead of temper. His aversion to the Book has not died yet. The writer will rarely be seen writing. He will try to find other  pursuits to distract himself from the Book and its rebellious state. Often the writer reads, watches television, finds a fandom, etc. If it has to do with story, and not his story, the writer leans toward it. If the writer is curled in the corner of chair with a hard face, more than likely he is stewing about the book.
           What you can do: It's hard to say at this point. If the writer appears to be stewing about the Book, confrontation could be risky. If the writer appears happily employed in some other pursuit, joining him is also good. Never bring up the Book. And if the writer does so, again put on your sympathetic face, and be prepared for a one sided conversation varying from deflated to frustrated and back to hopeless.

6. Love the Book. . . Again
           When and why: The writer has found a break-through in the Book. Inspiration. Creativity. A new plot angle. Reconciliation with the imaginary friends. Or a new imaginary friend. The reasons vary and are often hard to pinpoint.
             The Results: The writer returns to stage one. Sometimes with more enthusiasm than before, other times less. All the same he is more determined about finishing the Book.
            What you can do: Rejoice with the writer. Take part in crazy antics. It's always fun. But be aware that this just begins the cycle over again. If you've stuck with your writer this far, you are either a poor, miserable family member (and I feel for you) and/or the most wonderful and rare friend on the face of this earth (in which I congratulate you and would award you a metal if I had any).

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


           Today, let's take a smallish break from the song challenge. I'm already a song or two behind. Why not one more? :P

            How about some snippets? Since I've actually been writing. These are all from the Oddball story in his POV.


         "On the left-"
         "Which side is that?!"



           The jungle man pointed at them and shouted.
           "See- I don't know what that means, freaky man!" Rocky said.

            Jungle man nodded and his many warriors appeared again. Just great. Time to make a plan B.
            Running wasn't an option.

Rocky held his hands up. "We didn't do anything. Is it illegal to walk around here?"
           Oddball elbowed him. "Shut up."
           Jungle man and the girl spoke some more.
           "What are they saying?" Rocky said.
           "I don't know. But let's hope she's apologizing for you disturbing the peace."
           "What was I doing?"
           "Hey, nobody's going to apologize for my singing. It needs no-"
           "I will." Oddball waved to the girl and Jungle man. "Hey, Jungle man, my friend here-"
         Rocky whacked his hand out of the air. "What? Are you trying to make it worse?"
          "No. Better."
           The girl looked at them. "What's happening here?"
           "Look what you did, Rocky," Oddball shook his head. "All your singing, if that's what you want to call it."
          "Hey now-"
         "Ay-oh!" the girl said. "You're kinda surrounded by angry warriors, all with their arrows trained on you. What do you have to say for yourself?"
We're used to stressful situations. But he didn't say it, even though it was really tempting.

           The girl shrugged.  "The Daroon tribe is always looking for someone to pillage and behead. Nothing to worry about."

          "Um, we're a little lost," Rocky didn't give the snake head a second glance. "Would you mind taking us to the nearest-"
         "Road," Oddball said.
          "- village." Rocky looked at him.
         "No problem." Peril wiped her sword clean on the ground.
         "Preferably a friendly village," Oddball said.
         "Yeah, like not the Daroon's village," Rocky said.