By his own admonition, Richard Morgan is not a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Sure, he liked it as a kid, but as he’s matured, Tolkien’s black and white view of the world has faded from relevance. Morgan recently published an article on Suvudu about The Lord of the Rings, where he thinks the true heart of the story lies and why Tolkien dropped the ball so badly in the telling of it.

I’m not much of a Tolkien fan – not since I was about twelve or fourteen anyway (which, it strikes me, is about the right age to read and enjoy his stuff). But it would be a foolish writer in the fantasy field who failed to acknowledge the man’s overwhelming significance in the canon. And it would be a poor and superficial reader of Tolkien who failed to acknowledge that in amongst all the overwrought prose, the nauseous paeans to class-bound rural England, and the endless bloody elven singing that infests The Lord of the Rings, you can sometimes discern the traces of a bleak underlying human landscape which is completely at odds with the epic fantasy narrative for which the book is better known.

The orcs are disenchanted, poorly informed and constantly stressed by the uncertainties that lack of information brings. They suspect that the war might be going badly for their side, and that their commanders, far from being infallible, seem to be making some serious errors of judgment. They worry that if their side loses, they can expect scant mercy from their victorious enemies. They mutter their misgivings sotto voce because they know that there are informers in the ranks and a culture of enforcement through terror bearing down from above. They also seem possessed of a rough good humour and some significant loyalty to the soldiers they command. And they’re not enjoying the war any more than Frodo or Samwise; they want it to be over just as much as anybody else.

For me, this is some of the finest, most engaging work in The Lord of the Rings.

The great shame is, of course, that Tolkien was not able (or inclined) to mine this vein of experience for what it was really worth – in fact he seemed to be in full, panic-stricken flight from it. I suppose it’s partially understandable – the generation who fought in the First World War got to watch every archetypal idea they had about Good and Evil collapse in reeking bloody ruin around them. It takes a lot of strength to endure something like that and survive, and then to re-draw your understanding of things to fit the uncomfortable reality you’ve seen.

Well, I guess it’s called fantasy for a reason.

I only wonder why on earth anyone (adult) would want to read something like that.

It’s certainly worth a read, and it’s interesting to contemplate how Morgan’s thoughts on The Lord of the Rings may have affected his writing of The Steel Remain.

You can read the whole article HERE.

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

The Sirens of Titan

AuthorKurt Vonnegut

Pages: 336
Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback
Release Date: 1959
ISBN-10: 0385333498
ISBN-13: 978-0385333498

My brother loves Kurt Vonnegut. Like really loves him. So, doing my older brotherly duty, I more or less ignored the fellow and his works. My brother would urge me to read them, and I would nod my head obligingly, all along just knowing just how much I could grind his gears.

He’s a clever brother, though, and so this past Christmas, wrapped up nicely under the tree was a copy of The Sirens of Titan, my brother’s favourite book by Vonnegut. Now, I might be a big enough asshole to ignore his suggestions, but not so much that I would neglect a Christmas gift. My hands were tied and my brother finally won, I picked up my first Kurt Vonnegut novel without really knowing what to expect.

Oh, how a fool I feel now.
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John, at Grasping for the Wind, is up to his old tricks again with another meme. Considering the success of his last one, I figure it’s better to get in on the ground floor of this one.

Here’s how it works:

Find a favorite book, movie, or videogame review (Science fiction and fantasy related) that you have written, no matter where it was posted, and add it to the following list. Make sure to repost the whole list, because in doing so, we accumulate what the reviewers themselves think is their best work, and give each other some linkages, increasing everyone’s rankings.

The Book Review Meme @ Grasping for the Wind

1. Grasping for the Wind – INFOQUAKE by David Louis Edelman
2. Age 30+ … A Lifetime of Books – A COMPANION TO WOLVES by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
3. Dragons, Heroes and Wizards – ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE by Robin Hobb
4. Walker of Worlds – THE TEMPORAL VOID by Peter F Hamilton
5. Neth Space – TOLL THE HOUNDS by Steven Erikson
6. A Dribble of Ink – THE SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Hopefully this one turns out as successful as the last one. I’m always curious to see what people consider to be their best (or favourite) review. For me, it was a toss up between Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind, Joe Abercrombie’s Last Argument of Kings or Paul Kearney’s The Ten Thousand.

David Anthony Durham, author of Acacia: The War with the Mein, sent me the beautiful cover for his upcoming novel, The Other Lands, the second novel in the Acacia Trilogy.

The Other Lands by David Anthony Durham

Also included was a synopsis of the novel:

The apocalyptic struggle against the conquering Mein now won, Queen Corinn rules over the Acacian Empire of the Known World with a stern hand—aided by increasing mastery of the occult powers contained in the Book of Elenet. But far across the seas the mysterious inhabitants of the Other Lands seemingly control the fate of her empire—supported as it is by an underground trade in drugs and slaves. When she sends her brother Dariel on a secret mission across the hazardous Grey Slopes to investigate, it begins another cycle of world-shattering and shaping events.

I loved Acacia: The War with the Mein and cannot wait to get my hands on The Other Lands. Durham says he’s just putting the finishing touches on the manuscript and that a Septermber release is looking likely!

Peter V. Brett, author of The Painted ManSince his debut novel, The Painted Man (called The Warded Man in North America) was released late last year, Peter V. Brett has been making quite a name for himself. Considered by many to be the best Fantasy debut since Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind and right up alongside other debut’s such as Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora and Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself, Brett’s first novel has a lot to live up to.

Peter and I cover a lot of things in the interview, including the fact that a large part of The Painted Man was written on his PDA, why it’s okay for an unpublished author to tackle a trilogy, how life has changed since becoming a full time writer and why he’s not writing 900,000 words a year.

But you don’t want to hear that from me, right? Hear it from the man himself, instead.

The Interview

Peter, welcome to A Dribble of Ink! To start things off, why don’t you tell us something that we don’t know about Peter V. Brett.

   I had really long hair and wore heavy metal t-shirts in high school.

Now how about something we don’t know about The Painted/Warded Man

   The first draft had a totally different (and in my opinion, shit) ending about building warded roads, and didn’t introduce Rojer and Leesha until they were adults. In retrospect, it’s no wonder why no one wanted to buy or represent that draft.
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