Tag Archives: magic

Review: The Second God by Pauline M Ross

The Second God is the seventh book in Pauline M Ross’s richly fantastical Brightmoon world, and serves as a sequel to The Fire Mages’ Daughter. Five years after a devastating war with the Blood Clans, Drina, her lover Arran and her husband, Ly-haam the living god of the Blood Clans, have settled into a routine, but when a second living god appears in the Clanlands and a mysterious golden army attacks Bennamore’s neighbours in the east, Drina, Arran and Ly must bring all their powers to bear, united as one, to protect Bennamore and aid its allies.

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One characteristic held by many good books, I think, is to want to keep reading it after you’ve already finished it. That is how I felt last night as I climbed into bed – “just one chapter, maybe two, then I’ll go to sleep,” I thought, before remembering I’d already finished reading it. That’s not to say the book felt incomplete – far from it, it ended brilliantly – but that I could easily continue reading more in that world, and in Ross’s style, if there were more to read.

Ross has a great strength in her style of prose. It’s engaging, well-paced and eminently readable. She has the skill to know when plain language is needed, but the vocabulary to expand when the scene calls for it.

The Second God is a well-balanced adventure. Drina’s position within society, as the Drashona’s heir, lends itself to the political elements of the plot well, and Ross skillfully avoids the pitfall of making the political elements dry or uneventful, masterfully weaving in these parts of the story with the more hands-on aspects of Drina’s role: flying about the world on the back of a giant eagle to observe, discuss, fight or learn.

Whenever I read books by Pauline M Ross I am delighted to explore more of her world. It is an abundantly complex world about which there is always more to discover. Its magic is enchanting and it is filled with cultures whose development and society are influenced in different ways by that magic and its various facets, as well as geography and history. The beauty of the world is enhanced by the optimism with which Ross writes – even when circumstances are dire and threats loom, there is still a sense of joy and hope which brings a refreshing contrast to the gloomier outlooks of a lot of modern fiction.

As with all of Ross’s works, The Second God explores romantic relationships within different social frameworks to those found in Western Earth cultures, and this time takes it a step further than The Fire Mages’ Daughter by adding a new magical component. But as always, the romance is perfectly integrated into the plot, an essential element of it. As someone who tends not to read the Romance genre, I felt it was handled well.

The Second God is an exciting, captivating read showcasing Ross’s signature positivity, unconventional romance and inspired worldbuilding, with a strong plot and enjoyable characters. I rate it 9/10, and eagerly await the next one.

I received a free ARC in exchange for a review; and can only apologise that the review was so late.

Review: The Dragon’s Egg by Pauline M Ross

The Dragon’s Egg is the sixth book in the Brightmoon Annals by Pauline M Ross. Like its predecessors it stands alone, introducing a new cast of characters and bringing in a few from previous books to help the protagonists along. As with the previous books, this latest fantasy adventure explores the strange magics of the Brightmoon world, and how the civilisation from before a mysterious ancient Catastrophe sought to preserve magic as they faced down their own extinction.

Disclaimer: I recieved an ARC (Advanced Reader/Review Copy) of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Continue reading Review: The Dragon’s Egg by Pauline M Ross

Review: The Fire Mages’ Daughter by Pauline M Ross

After reading The Fire Mages at the end of last year, I was eager to read more from Pauline M Ross, and I picked for my next read the sequel to that one, starring as its protagonist Kyra’s daughter, Drina.

Drina is a rather sickly girl with a strong attachment to her mother, so when she is summoned by the Drashona (equivalent to a queen) who wishes to assess whether she would make a suitable heir, Drina isn’t too happy about it. Drina finds herself trained as a diplomat, and in this role meets with the new living god of the Blood Clans – a mysterious people possessing a strange and threatening type of magic. When Bennamore goes to war with the Blood Clans, Drina must protect those she cares about and see through the complications to bring about peace.

fire mages daughter

Continue reading Review: The Fire Mages’ Daughter by Pauline M Ross

Review: The Fire Mages by Pauline M Ross

The Fire Mages by Pauline M Ross is an imaginative fantasy novel which tells the story of Kyra, a young village girl with an ambition to become a scribe and have the ability to write spellpages – and leave her boring village behind. She meets interesting and mysterious characters, learns about magic, and travels far and wide as she learns more about magic, the politics of her home country, and herself.

fire mages pauline m ross

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Progress report: One Million Words, week 12

This week I’ve slowed own a little. 3,568 words. It’s been a busy week, not necessarily in terms of work (I’ve only had my standard two shifts this week), but in other things. My fiance got a job and has been doing lots of overtime, and I’ve been the taxi for him since he doesn’t drive. I’ve been helping my brother with something – he’s just started a university course via distance learning and isn’t used to things like formatting documents and putting references into assignments. Then, with my fiance at work, I’ve had to take on the bulk of the housework. And yesterday we went to visit friends a couple of hours away.

That sounds like an excuse, but it’s not. I still managed to write every day, even if it wasn’t as much as last week. It is, perhaps, a reminder that I cannot increase my output week on week without occasionally dipping down again.

I am now at 42,501/1,000,000 words total or 4.25%.

Day by day summary

Monday: 277 words

Tusday: 219 words

Wednesday: 1,121 words

Thursday: 487 words

Friday: 368 words

Saturday: 508 words

Sunday: 588 words

Analsysis/The story

Aside from Tuesday – when I was writing away from home, and thus in my notebook rather that at my PC – I have continued working on the Kell serial chapter 2. It has become far longer than I anticipated, though there’s room for cutting. The simple matter of characters going and doing a thing and solving a problem grew a little beyond my original plan for it, and I found an organic way of introducing the key magical element of the story in a manner that is far better than previous attempts within the story. However, that introduction to an element is what is taking up a lot of words. I may seek to find a way to end the chapter earlier, with the problem it was setting up solved, and the events of the third chapter following on directly with the consequences of chapter 2’s solution revealing the magical element. I’ll have to see how it works, but for now I’ll just keep going until I find a good enough place to take a break.

In terms of when I’ve written the most this week, it’s nothing new. The days I’ve been busiest, I’ve written least. The day I wrote longhand I wrote very little indeed, but spent as long on it as any other day. The day I had pretty much free and clear and set aside a couple of hours earlier in the day for writing, I managed a lot more words.

Take away points

  1. Last week and earlier this week I attempted to introduce a key story element too early, but quickly realised my error and corrected it. Now I’ve found the right time for it in the story, it’s working organically and flows well. So it pays to let myself try something and delete it the next day if it wasn’t working.
  2. I write verbosely. A chapter I had imagined to be 5,000 words long is now over 10,000 words (albeit at least 1,000 words of that is crossed out, struck through, not to be used). I already knew I was quite wordy in my writing, but this seems to be doubly true when I don’t have much of a plan. Editing this will be a lot of work.
  3. Given the above, I wonder if I’m cut out for short form stories. I think I work best when there is space to expand, but I shall have to practice keeping things tight if I want to keep wordcounts for individual stories down. I do already read some short stories, but perhaps I need to read more, and more critically.

Progress Report: One Million Words, week 7

This week’s total is 3,241, not too dissimilar to the last few weeks. My average is 463 words a day this week. My streak stands at 43 days.

My total for the challenge is 21,027/1,000,000, or 2.1%.

Day-by-day summary

Monday: 366 words

Tuesday: 301 words

Wednesday: 591 words

Thursday: 304 words

Friday: 354 words

Saturday: 635 words

Sunday: 690 words

Continue reading Progress Report: One Million Words, week 7

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I started reading The Ocean At the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman on Sunday evening. I stopped reading it when I could no longer keep my eyes open, having got more than half way through. Yesterday, on Tuesday, I finished reading it half an hour after I got home from work. So it’s safe to say I enjoyed it.

ocean at the end of the lane coverThe Ocean at the End of the Lane starts with George, a man in his forties, having come from a funeral and returning to visit the place where he grew up. What he finds there is a duckpond which is also an ocean, and the key to memories of a time when he was seven and he learned that the world was more magical, and more dangerous, than he realised. The book contains menacing beings, enchanting visuals and a family of very intruiging women. And also several cats.

It is a powerful story about memories, about childhood, and about how perspectives change between childhood and adulthood. I also think it is about belief: belief in friends, in oneself, and to a certain extent in things that aren’t seen.

It’s taken me as long as it has to write this review because it’s very difficult to come up with new and different ways of saying “it was awesome” for the length that I usually like to write a review. When writing is this good, it’s hard to pick out anything in particular to comment on; it’s hard to think about the writing at all, when it is written so seamlessly that mere words go unnoticed within the magic of the story.

So I suppose that makes a good starting point: the flow and pacing were spot on. There was no part where I felt the writing moved too slowly or too quickly for the content of the story. I finished this book in three sittings, and at the end of each I stopped for reasons which are not the fault the book – sleepiness, dinner being ready, and, okay, yes, the third one is the fault of the book; there was none of it left.

The only occasions I did have enough self-awareness to notice the writing was twice when I noticed how well chosen particular phrases were to give an impression of a visual in a masterful economy of words.

One of those visuals, of a scattering of candle flames and silk, really encapsulated one side of the magic of the world: it is full of enchantment and wonder. It is beautiful and beyond reason, and there is a comfort to its presence. The other side of the magical world mirrored it perfectly, with sinister creatures which felt genuinely creepy and dangerous, even before they actually became dangerous.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane gives also a very good example of how a prologue and epilogue can be used effectively to frame a story, while being both relevant to it and slightly outside it. They brought the story full circle, and gave insight into the characters and the world which could not be told from the perspective of the seven-year-old George.

This is a book I want to read again. It’s definitely going on my favourites shelf (the top shelf, alongside Howl’s Moving Castle). I am not at all surprised that it won the National Books Awards 2013 Book of the Year award. And after everything I have written above, I suspect you will not be surprised when I rate it 10/10.