Monthly Archives: February 2013

Terry Deary and libraries

Last week Horrible Histories author Terry Deary revealed that he’s not a fan of libraries. He called them irrelevant and revealed that, had the readers borrowing his books in 2011/12 instead bought them, he’d have earned £180,000 compared to the £6,600 he actually earned from the borrows premium. He accuses them of reducing book sales from shops and being unnecessary because of public schools.

This is not an opinion I share. Or, indeed, one shared by children’s laureate Julia Donaldson, fantasy author Neil Gaiman, and, well, quite a lot of others. Deary even went on to defend his comments, claiming that they are only used by the middle classes and that he was talking about access to literature. He also claimed that “no-one is even reading what I’m saying” and accused commentators of spiteful remarks rather than reasoned debate. I saw plenty of reasoned debate in the links provided above and elsewhere, but maybe Mr Deary missed those.

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Review: Exiles of Arcadia: Legionnaire by James Gawley

Exiles of Arcadia: Legionnaire by James Gawley is a recently released novella telling the tale of Primus, a young legionnaire eager for the approval of his absent father, who finds himself learning a lot about the world and the rebellion his father helped lead as he sets out on a mission he feels he knows far too little about. It is set in a world strongly reminiscent of the Roman republic with hints that there’s something more, something magical in the world.

It is a well crafted story with convincing, interesting characters. But I felt it lacked direction; about a quarter of the way in, I realised I didn’t know where the story was going – what Primus’ goals were or what might be achieved. Primus follows actions, reacting to what is going on around him, rather than driving the plot. But then I realised I’d got a quarter of the way into the story before I had noticed this – a testament to Gawley’s strong prose and his ability to generate immersion in a reader.

The story ends rather abruptly; while there is certainly a climactic height of action and tension, and some interesting revelations, there remains the sense that the story is not yet done, merely the first volume of it. There are too many questions left unanswered, too much action promised by the story, for it to be concluded here. But it is strong enough for me to look forward to the next installment.

I found Exiles of Arcadia: Legionnaire an enjoyable, engrossing read and rate it 8/10.

Merlin season 5 finale: a retrospect

While the finale to Merlin Season 5 aired in the UK a few weeks ago, I have avoided discussing it until now, partly because my review of the series overall was only posted part way into season 5, not that long ago, and partly because it has taken me a while to get my thoughts straight.

I understand the season 5 finale has not aired yet in the USA and other locations around the world, so if you have yet to see the final episode of Merlin season 5 and don’t want to know what happened, you might want to skip this post as it will be rife with spoilers. Consider this your final warning.

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The Dreaded Mary Sue

The topic of the Mary Sue comes up occasionally in writing forums. Everyone agrees: you don’t want your character to be a Mary Sue. She’s the worst of the worst, beloved only by the author and despised by the reader. She is the undeniable sign of the bad writer, the demoness, and once part of a story she cannot be expunged; the whole story is doomed to the deepest pit of hell.

But what is a Mary Sue? Now there’s a question.

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