Trailer Idea for The Republic of Thieves

An idea for the start of a movie trailer for Scott Lynch’s The Republic of Thieves:

Exterior shot of hotel. It’s a calm early morning and not much is going on. We hear coughing and retching.

Switch to interior: Man is lying in bed and puking his lungs out into a bowl. Another, rather large, man attends him. Magically, out of thin air, an older woman appears (go nuts with the special effects here to let the audience know this is a fantasy setting).

Sick man: Come to kill me, mage? Too late; I’m already dying.

Woman: My magic can save you. But you have to do me a favor.

Sick man: Yeah? What?

Woman: You’re the best con man in the world… and I need an election fixed.

BOOM! The audience’s attention is now snagged; the rest of the trailer just has to not mess up.

Wow, Hemingway Sux

Review of A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway.

Astoundingly bad. I read most of the first chapter, then the first paragraph of the second chapter, then discarded the book. If an author can’t prove himself minimally competent after a chapter, to hell with him. Really, a medium-length paragraph should suffice to demonstrate competence.

I shall provide some examples from this… thing. Normally I focus, not on the details of word choice, but on higher-level aspects of a novel such as plot, characterization, pacing, theme, and so forth. The details of the writing are of secondary importance (generally speaking) and are often given far too much attention in critical commentary. However: the details of word choice are a minimum condition for an author to be a good writer. If you can’t write an English sentence that doesn’t call attention to itself with its horrible, strained awkwardness, you can’t be a novelist. Not in my universe, anyway.

Alas, here is the first paragraph of the “novel” (you have to put that word in quotes when you’re talking about garbage of this appalling quality). The really bad part is the last sentence, but I have to include the entire paragraph, because if I just inflicted the last sentence on you, you might suspect that it reads better in context. Actually, it reads worse in context, as I will explain in a moment. You know you’re got a bad writer on your hands when ripping passages out of context actually improves them. Anyway, here is the first paragraph:

In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves.

God, how astoundingly bad! You have to be trying to write badly to produce sequences of words this disgusting. One should read this only through leaded glass, and with trained medical professionals standing by.

As to why the last “sentence” would be better out of context: Note that we’re told about the fucking soldiers marching three times in this paragraph. It’s not merely redundant; it’s ludicrously redundant. However, if you read the last sentence out of context, you’d only encounter the marching soldiers twice, so the redundancy would be moderated. A similar point is true of the leaves. Enough with the fucking leaves, you weirdo! What, do you have a leaf fetish or something? Or it is a dust fetish? Damn, that’s bad. I mean, how bad does your writing have to be for it to be improved by being stripped of context?

Here it is again, with some of my thought processes while reading. I can’t include all my critical thoughts because it would quadruple the length of the paragraph:

In the late summer of that year [God, just stop! What year!? Seven words in and I’m already irritated. If you’re not going to tell us the year, then why not just say, “In the late summer”?] we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun [Why the fuck are you telling me this? Also, how can a river bed be dry? Is it seasonally dry? Like there’s only water during the spring runoff from the mountains?], and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. [If the water is running swiftly, and deep enough to appear blue, it’s presumably not the dry season. If it is, we need this explained. Overall assessment: WTF?] Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. [Brace yourself; here comes the monster:] The trunks of the trees too were dusty [Yes, obviously the dust would cover whatever it touches. We get that.] and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road [You already mentioned that.] and the dust rising and leaves [Already mentioned, thanks.], stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching [FUCK! Third time you’ve mentioned them!] and afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves.

Not to be judgmental, but God, that’s bad. Wait, that is judgmental. Oh well. And I love that last “except for the leaves.” LOL. He’s pretending we need to know that “except for the leaves.” As if it has any real purpose there. Is this supposed to be profound or something? The road was bare… Except for the leaves, man. EXCEPT FOR THE LEAVES!

But if you think that’s bad, try the second sentence of the second chapter. You might want to take a shot of vodka first. Ready? Here we go:

The mountain that was beyond the valley and the hillside where the chestnut forest grew was captured and there were victories beyond the plain on the plateau to the south and we crossed the river in August and lived in a house in Gorizia that had a fountain and many thick shady trees in a walled garden and a wisteria vine purple on the side of the house.

Yes, that’s one sentence. Fuck, that’s bad. Now what’s wrong with it? Actually, you already know what’s wrong with it – it’s (1) incoherent garbage and (2) breathtakingly pretentious – but it’s worth dwelling on a little. A sentence is basically one complete thought. (This is a simplification that’s good enough for my purpose here.) If it meanders all over the place, it’s a bad sentence. (Unless the author knows what s/he is doing and does it with a clear reason in mind. But plainly that’s not what’s going on with this sentence.) Now as I said, I usually don’t focus on the sentence level in reading a novel, but that’s because most novelists can write good sentences. Their sentences aren’t so bad that they force you to spend time diagnosing their deficiencies. The rule of thumb is that you should not focus on individual sentences for the same reason you don’t focus on the workings of your refrigerator: Because these things are supposed to function so well that you don’t have to think about them. You only think about the workings of your refrigerator when it stops working. So it is with Hemingway and individual sentences. They call attention to themselves and force us to talk about them because they’re so very bad.

To continue: What’s wrong with that sentence is that it attempts to contain more than one thought. Hemingway rambles from military victories to a house where he lived to the fact that it had a fountain, to the color of certain flowers in the garden. These things are not connected to each other. In fact, the only thing I can think of that would excuse this writing is that the narrator is supposed to be mentally damaged, and so this incoherent stream of thoughts is deliberately incoherent. I am going to make a mental note to look this up after I finish writing this review. It would go a long way – though not all the way – to justifying this horrible writing. The reason it wouldn’t go all the way to excusing the clunkiness is that the narrator’s mental deficiencies should be established before we get too far into the novel. We shouldn’t have to wonder why the prose is so very bad; we shouldn’t have to imagine possible excuses for the author. It is the author’s job to make the situation clear with reasonable alacrity.

It needn’t be totally clear at the outset. Some hints that the narrator is not mentally normal would suffice at first. Some obviously misspelled words, or a reference to having been institutionalized, or a reference to a nurse that insisted on the narrator eating his meals on time. Something, for God’s sake, to allay our fears about the garbage we are reading. In fact, subtle hints, applied correctly, can be more interesting than an explicit revelation at the start. E.g., it might gradually unfold that the narrator used to be mentally normal, but sustained an injury in the war that has damaged his mind. That would be tragic, but would certainly help to make the point that war is bad, etc. (I’m assuming here that Hemingway actually has a point. I have nothing to go on other than the novel’s title, which suggests it may be thematically anti-war.) I find myself hoping that this is in fact what’s going on, because if it’s not, I’m hard-pressed to explain the cult of Hemingway other than as a deliberate joke by the world’s literary establishment on the rest of us.
[LATER: I’ve checked various summaries, and there’s nothing about the narrator being brain damaged. So the writing IS actually as bad as it seems at first! God!]

A good test of whether something SUX is to ask yourself this: If it came out that the whole thing was an Emperor’s New Clothes joke on the world, how would you feel about it? Would you say, “Wow, that was really subtle; I’m not ashamed that I fell for it.” Or would you say, “Damn it, I always thought that was BS; why didn’t I call it out?” (If you see something, say something!) If your answer is the second one, you have good grounds for suspicion that it is, in fact, just BS.

In the movie Housesitter there’s a scene in which a con woman improvises some BS. Later, one of her friends says, “Wow! You’re a genius. You’re like the Ernest Hemingway of bullshit!” To which I respond, no, that title’s already taken; Ernest Hemingway was the Ernest Hemingway of bullshit.

Ass-kicking chicks are cool, but why?

From Heinlein’s Friday to Underworld’s Selene to Sanderson’s Vin to my own modest (*snrk*) effort’s Lilta, there’s something about chicks who kick ass that’s cool. But what is it? No one has ever defined the quality that makes ass-kicking chicks so very excellent.

Feminist grrrrrrl power? No, it’s not a political thing. Besides, it doesn’t matter whether the ass-kicking chick is kicking female ass or male ass.

Violation of expectations? Maybe thirty years ago! But nowadays what’s more common than chicks kicking ass? So no, that’s not it.

What, then? What, Fleet? Please enlighten us with your superior insight!

Very well, since you said “please.”

It’s the lack of ego.

See, being physically tough is part of masculinity. So when a man kicks ass, he’s more masculine as a result. Or anyway, he’s perceived as more masculine. For a man to kick another man’s ass means he, the victor, has out-manned the other man, so to speak. So even if he’s not thinking, “Ha! I’m more man than you,” he might be thinking it, for all we know.

Now contrast this with women. Since kicking ass is not part of the definition of femininity, a woman who kicks another woman’s ass is not thinking, “Ha! I’m more woman than you,” or “Ha! I’m more feminine than you,” or whatever. There’s no female ego thing that is on the line here.

This leaves open the idea that the woman is kicking ass only because she has to. Indeed, the best female ass-kicking scenes, in fiction or movies, have this quality: The woman is a good guy in a situation in which she has to fight her way out or die, or something like that. This applies, e.g., to Heinlein’s Friday, who never picks a fight in that book; she only fights her way out of bad situations when they descend on her.

Notice that when it’s drawn off into messaging, in the nature of a woman kicking a man’s butt to show that Girls are just as tough as boys!!! it becomes boring message fiction. Yawn. Suddenly the fun is gone.

There is more dignity and drama in a person fighting because she has to than because she’s like, “Whoo hoo! I kicked your butt!”

You have to love that scene in True Romance in which the young woman kills the professional hit man who was sent to kill her. He almost does her in, and she takes a lot of damage. But in the end, she kills him. And you’re like, “Whoo-hoo! Thank goodness!”

“But wait,” you say. “Men can kick ass in an ego-free way too.” Well, maybe, but you never really know. And even if a man doesn’t pick a fight, he can still be glad in a male-ego way that he won it. Note I’m not saying that there’s necessarily anything wrong with being happy about winning a fight – that depends if the winner is a bad guy or a good guy. Nor is there anything wrong with being glad specifically in a male-ego way. But it can be a distraction from the drama you, the author, are trying to create in a fight scene. And it changes the emotional tone of the fight.

Undeniably, the emotional sense of two men fighting is different from the emotional sense of two women fighting. If we want the reader to be focused on good versus evil, or something like that, we don’t want the irrelevance of “Ha, I kicked your ass so I’m more of a man than you!” distracting us.

And that is why chicks kicking ass is a cool thing: It’s pure kicking ass, devoid of ego distractions.

Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and Art

A pounding, furious Shakespeare, a blizzard of passion, romance, rage. This is not youthful passion viewed through a polite filter of iambic pentameter. This is just youthful passion; savage, wild. Did Shakespeare himself intend this play to be this raw, one wonders? Or did Baz Luhrmann see something in this drama, this wild thing, that not even the Bard himself fully realized was there?

Shakespeare has been part of the canon for so long that we tend to treat him like grandma’s fragile antique china; if we handle him too roughly, we fear, he’ll break. Boy, is this wrong. Of all the authors who aren’t breakable, Shakespeare’s probably Number One. “We have to analyze him with delicate, careful, refined sensibilities,” we think, “or we’ll shatter his subtle– ” No. Shakesy is robust, rough, strong, bold. He’s not grandma’s delicate china dinner plates; he’s the bull rampaging in the china shop.

We also tend to be overawed by Shakespeare’s towering reputation, but that too is mistaken. If you let professors of Literature (no doubt inadvertently) make you afraid of Shakespeare, you’re mistakenly thinking Shakesy belongs to Literature professors. No, Shakespeare belongs to you and me. Everyone can understand his plots, which are about things like love, power-lust, jealousy, revenge, war, etc. They are things all human beings intuitively comprehend well enough to follow along, even those who have never been in a war or been in love, etc.

Baz Luhrmann saw all this in Romeo and Juliet and put it into his production of the movie. He perceived, or perhaps remembered, what’s it’s like to be madly in love at age 14, when you have no emotional control, when your skin has not yet been thickened up by the scar tissue we all inevitably accumulate with experience, when you are not experienced enough to have a “been here before” distance on love.

Shakespeare is not mannered, or rather, sometimes he is, but the manneredness is just a part of his style (sometimes). His substance is brutally, nakedly human. Baz Luhrmann saw that in Romeo and Juliet, and made sure it made it onto the film.

(The main genius here is Shakespeare, obviously, but Luhrmann is also a genius for seeing through the fog of reverence that surrounds Shakespeare and producing R&J the way it should be produced, as uncontrolled young love.)

For another good example of this, consider… Beethoven. “An evening of music!” you say. “How charming! I shall purchase tickets to be seated in the center of the seventh row. I look forward to tonight’s performance with pleasure! Perhaps some wine and cheese later!” BEWARE. Beethoven is not polite, and you are at a performance of the mighty Third Symphony. (Yes, I said Third. If you attend a performance of the famous Fifth, you know what to expect. If you go to hear the Third, you have no idea what’s about to happen to you.) Beethoven is about music that slams out of the orchestra and punches you in the face, hard. After you stagger to your feet, you spit out a couple of teeth, wipe the blood off your chin, and say, “Holy Shit, that music isn’t polite! It’s a force of fucking nature!” Welcome to the Beethoven club, noob. From the grave, Ludwig says, “You’re welcome.”

Why weren’t you expecting that? Because again, Beethoven is such a classic, he is so totally part of the canon, that you think he’s fragile, like your grandma’s china. Wrong. See, the thing is, some artists get to be in The Canon because they deserve to be. What did Beethoven see that let him compose music like that? For one thing, he saw that music is not supposed to be polite. Fuck the string quartet! Music is supposed to be expressive. And that means, among other things, that it’s supposed to get your attention. Boy, does Ol’ Ludwig know how to do that! Those opening notes… no, you can’t call them that… those opening blasts of the Third… You won’t just put your cell phone down; you’ll drop it to the floor in shock. And off you go.

Before you know it, you’re on the musical equivalent of a roller coaster, and not just any roller coaster either, but the Extraterrestrial Nuclear Chemical Warfare Superman Death Spiral. This is the one that doesn’t just have the usual pro forma sign saying, “People with heart conditions shouldn’t ride this ride.” It’s the one that actually has a history of lawsuits because of all the people who went into ventricular tachycardia while they were on it. And several virgins emerged from the end of the ride pregnant, somehow. Yeah, THAT roller coaster. (Why doesn’t the music world warn you about this one? I think it’s because it’s more fun for them when they don’t. They probably attend performances of the Third just to look at the expressions on the n00bs’ faces. [Note to self: I should totally do that.])

The point is, Ludwig had a definite vision of how music should be, and he gives it to you, hard.

That is how to do Art.

Another kind review of The War of the First Day!

From Bob R. Milne of Beauty in Ruins:

The War of the First Day is an epic fantasy novel that has something of a Mistborn feel to it, with the comic book sensibilities of a Dr. Strange or Green Lantern. …Magic permeates the tale, from beginning to end, and it drives the plot as much as it accentuates it. As for the sorceresses, they are both the heroes and the villains, locked in a rebellious conflict that began with an act of near-genocide, populating a story that is almost wholly female-focused.

…It’s predominantly focused on the war between two factions of witches – a war of attrition that’s full of massive battles, covert operations, and scenes of torture and interrogation… It would have been easy to let the magic and the spectacle overwhelm the story, but Fleet keeps his characters at the forefront, developing them quickly and significantly throughout. There’s also a lot of thought beneath the story, with some interesting themes on the power of knowledge… logic, and even cryptography, not to explain away the magic, but to provide context and a deeper meaning.

…The writing is fluid, with some nice terms of phrase, and the dialogue is worthy of the action, which is where this veers back towards epic fantasy and away from comic book clichés.

I was hoping for a lot out of The War of the First Day, and I am pleased to say it delivered. My only regret, in fact, is that I let it linger on the shelf for so long.

Review of Last Call, by Tim Powers

This novel is an excellent example of magic being incorporated into a modern setting so convincingly that you find yourself half believing it.

In the Las Vegas area, a game of power is played out over the course of decades by a small number of people who can use magic. (Magic affects everyone, it is implied, but very few people are aware of this.) The magical system, based on the Tarot, is heavily Jungian; it is powered by archetypes of the conscious and unconscious human mind. The story involves figures like The Fisher King and The Fool, as well as greater powers like Artemis/Diana, Dionysus, and Death.

Those who understand the ways that these archetypes are linked to the human soul can use them to their advantage… but this often – or always? – requires some sort of sacrifice or trade-off. The girls who are trying to assume the role of Artemis cannot ever touch meat or alcohol – literally never; one time in their life and they’re permanently ruined for the goddess role! The man who (unwittingly) plays the role of the Fisher King can’t touch alcohol without it slowly killing him, etc. This is because they are in opposition to the god Dionysus, the god of wine.

As often occurs in this subgenre, the magic is presented subtly at first. In the opening pages, we’re not even sure if the magic is real or if the man who is trying to use it is insane. Later it is presented as if it’s merely magic in the psychological sense of allowing you to influence other people. Soon enough, though, it becomes clear that the magic is quite literal, e.g. the main villain can kill people and take over their bodies; he inhabits them.

In one astounding sequence of scenes the hero, Scott, gives in to his craving for alcohol. The spirit of alcohol, Dionysus, appears to Scott in the form of the ghost of his late wife, and Scott’s plunge back into drunkenness manifests in his mind as a sexual orgy with her. At some level he knows this, knows that what seems to him like wild sex with his wife on the hotel’s sweat-drenched sheets is really him drinking himself well-nigh into a coma. But the illusion seems real, and Scott doesn’t much care. When it’s over and he has started to recover, he thinks, If that was sex, I am ready to gladly embrace Death.

Incidentally, this scene is an excellent example of a literal event and its metaphorical meaning blending perfectly. An addictive drug as seduction could hardly be portrayed more vividly. And of course, as with all good metaphors, the metaphorical reading is optional; the scene functions perfectly well as a literal manifestation of Dionysus using magical illusion to attack one of his enemies.

(This example also gives the lie to those who claim to find no value in the fantasy genre. Addiction as a psychological attack could not be presented so forcefully without magic, because we need Dionysus as a literal enemy to make this scene possible at the literal level. And of course, it can’t function metaphorically if it doesn’t function literally. I rarely bother arguing with idiots who disdain fantasy – a certain level of idiocy deters one from bothering – but sometimes it’s irresistible. While I’m on the subject: In the Harry Potter series, Hermione Granger has to protect her family from her enemies, who might strike at her family in order to strike at her. To protect them she must erase all knowledge of her from their minds, so that even mind-reading enemies cannot link them to her. She uses a magical spell to permanently delete herself from her parents’ memories, and never sees them again. Such an emotionally wrenching scene would be impossible without that magical spell.)

Scott and his wife’s ghost, or rather the illusion of his wife’s ghost, then drive out into the desert (for reasons I’ve forgotten). As they’re tooling along, Scott opens a bottle of wine and says to her, “Would you like some of this?”

“I am it, darling,” she replies.

After they’ve reached their destination and are searching an abandoned building in the desert, the image of his wife begins to decay. Soon enough, it is apparent what it really is for Scott. He looks at the crouching skeleton, decorated with a few scraps of hanging flesh and surmounted by a malevolently grinning skull, and realizes, This was indifferent Death. This was nobody’s ally.

In terms of the plotting, I have only one objection (SPOILER WARNING): Scott has lost his eye and his father knows it. So his father doesn’t recognize him when he shows up again in the 1969 Assumption game? It doesn’t even occur to him that the guy with one eye might be his son? Come on, Powers! This could have been dealt with somehow, e.g., Scott is self-conscious about his eye, so he wears shades. People have been known to do this in card games! The same objection applies to the second set of Assumption games that are played circa 1990. Seriously, another player with one eye? His father doesn’t notice or get suspicious? Aargh!

But overall, this is a very good novel indeed. I cannot recall ever having read anything quite like it. I suppose some of Stephen King’s fiction from the 1970s and 1980s has a similar combination of narrative propulsion and magical peril, e.g. The Stand.

Powers wrote two sequels to Last Call, but this novel is so good that one fears a sequel might be a let-down. I intend to re-read it before I take a shot at a sequel, so that before I have to absorb more material, I can re-absorb the pleasures of this ka-pow of a book at a leisurely pace, instead of the furious pace at which I first read it.

Review of Nothing Lasts Forever, by Roderick Thorp

The movie Die Hard was very loosely based on this. The novel is much darker than the movie. The novel manages to be both didactic and cynically amoral; there are no good guys in it. The Marxist terrorists are just Marxist terrorists; they’re not glamorized at all. But at the same time, the corporation whose building they take over is also portrayed as a bad guy, looting the third world and engaging in arms dealing to fascists, etc. It’s weird. There’s a hint of “capitalists are evil and corrupt and deserve everything bad that happens to them,” but it is also made plain that the Marxists are nothing but killers who enjoy killing, and that when people like them obtain power, the next thing that happens is massacres and genocide. This is stated explicitly. Therefore, Thorp really does not seem to be taking anyone’s side. Also, instead of the cop’s ex-wife in the building, it’s his daughter, and she dies at the end, plunging to her death along with the head of the terrorist gang. Gah, why? Is there a message there? Or is it just a tragedy? It’s hard to tell what Thorp intended.

I think Hollywood made the right call when they transferred this to the screen. They removed the cynicism and political aspects (is nihilism political?) and turned it into a battle against a group of common thieves. In other words, they turned it into a good action movie.

Pacing and structure: The beginning is horribly slow. Nothing interesting happens until page 40, which is when our hero first hears screams from elsewhere in the building. Before that, it’s just a bunch of largely purposeless ruminations about his professional and personal past. It tells us the hero is familiar with anti-terrorism methods, but that could have been handled in less than a page. PAAAADDING! I admit it; skipped ahead. The Los Angeles Times called the novel, “A ferocious, bloody, raging book so single-mindedly brilliant in concept and execution it should be read at a single sitting.” Well… once it gets going, sure. In fact, I did read it in one day. But the beginning suggests that the first draft wasn’t long enough and Thorp had to pad it out.

I’m not sure who the target audience for this novel would be now. Even if you like the movie, that’s not a good reason to read the novel because the movie is significantly better. I think perhaps the best candidate for this is an aspiring Tinseltown screenwriter who would like an example of how to take literary source material and turn it into a movie. Unlike many other cases that come to mind (cough, The Hobbit cough), Hollywood’s choices in conversion here were spot-on.

Third review of The War of the First Day!

Oh my goodness, I’m having a good week! Hard on the heels of the review I posted yesterday…

Gordon A. Long of Renaissance Writer has reviewed The War of the First Day and he gave it 5 out of 5 stars!

Some excerpts:

“The War of the First Day” by Thomas Fleet

I am always impressed when a writer takes a stand and sticks to it. In the case of “The War of the First Day,” the whole book is about women. The only males are unnamed enemy soldiers of the cannon fodder variety. Interesting that the author is a male. It’s worth a read just to find out how he approaches it.

All the nastiness of this war is created by women. Witches, to be precise. Ultra-powerful witches who can move at breathless speed, fly, fight viciously with knives, and beat and torture each other with great gusto. It is the story of a woman who desires the ultimate in knowledge and is willing to risk the whole world in its pursuit…

The main character, Lilta, is an apprentice witch who develops nicely over the course of the story. As the war of attrition continues through the frozen land, she snatches what time she can to pore over books of magic/mathematics/logic/cryptology, trying desperately to learn enough to decode the ancient texts and find out what scheme the enemy is trying to get away with. She also grows into her own skin, moving towards the powerful witch she will become.

…There is plenty of conflict and well-described action, balanced by the discussion of ideas. At the deepest level the conflict is about logic and communication. “If this is true, then that must be.” … And all of it is encoded in the great parchment of the world: the pattern of leaves dancing in the wind, the sound of rain on the roof, the swirl of the waves. It’s hard to describe. Ya gotta read the book.

If you are the kind of person who would like to be able to understand the term, “The world is a self-referential text,” then this book is for you. By the end, you will know. For everyone else, you can pretty well ignore the philosophical physics and enjoy a good war story.

Second review of The War of the First Day!

Stuart Aken has reviewed The War of the First Day and he gave it 5 out of 5 stars!

Stuart’s link (sans stars) is here:
The War of the First Day, by Thomas Fleet, Reviewed.

Stuart’s review at Amazon is here.

Some excerpts:

The War of the First Day, by Thomas Fleet, Reviewed

Fantasy with a difference, this novel, set in a world of witchcraft, is remarkable for its language and surprising use of logic. The story is told through the first person point of view of an aspirant witch caught up in a civil war among her sisters. There is the usual fantasy ingredient, essential to my mind, of good versus evil, but this is modified by the clever characterisation that depicts the good witches as flawed. No one here is perfect…

Regarding the characters, I found them all, mostly women, to be utterly credible in terms of their personalities even though their actual existence is, of course, entirely fanciful. They are drawn with consistency and made real by their desires, hopes, dreams and mistakes. …I forgot this book had been written by a male author as I was so immersed in the world described by the female protagonist that she became very ‘real’ to me…

Having not read a book similar to this, I can’t compare it with another. But I can say I enjoyed it and I’m sure many readers of fantasy will discover this is a good read. It isn’t a book that fits easily into a subgenre, and that suits me fine.