Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Getting a chance to read...

I admit, I don't read as much fiction as I would like. Not at all.

So, that helps explain why it is I am just starting in on my discovery of Karen Hancock's work. One would think, as an aspiring female Christian Fantasy author, that Hancock would have been one of the author's I'd have tracked with all along. Well, finally, thanks to inter-library loan, I have finally begun her Legends of the Guardian King series, having just finished The Light of Eidon.

I won't give a synopsis here, but here's a link: http://www.kmhancock.com/Eidon.htm in case you want to research on you're own.

My reaction?

World: Ms. Hancock created a convincing world with enough detail that I could visualize the locales in which she placed the characters, as well as the local inhabitants of those places. She took the time to create the macro-scale relationships between cultures and governments as well as to get down to the micro level so much as to mention the peculiarities of local cuisine. I found the world a nice blend of exotic and familiar, which she achieved only using "human" characters.

Characters: I cared about the fate of just about all the characters woven into this story. (Almost...the only character I found a bit flat was Philip. And Clarissa was irritating, but I am guessing that was by design.) When characters died or turned out to be on the wrong side in a plot twist, I was saddened at the "loss" of those characters. Ms. Hancock does a great job of crafting the friendship between Abramm and Trap, which I found genuine and a good story driver.

Plot: The Light of Eidon has no shortage of twists, a lesson I hope to take away from the book for my on writing. The plot moved forward well and quickly, and perhaps my only gripe were places where we got summary instead of scenes. (I know we can't show it all and expect to end up with a publishable wordcount, but still, I consider it a compliment to the writing that I didn't want to miss a moment of interaction between these characters.)

Some who read Hancock's work, from what I've heard, have a little trouble with some of the more "adult content" in the text. Yes, there's violence, and some gore (though none of it did I find gratuitous) and yes, there is some immoral sexuality employed by major characters. However, where this morality issue comes up, I believe that Hancock handles it by not letting it slide without repercussions, showing remorse in the offending character, and also by having the behavior occur at what was a spiritual low point for that character. So, while I know it sparks debate, in my opinion, the use of sexual content in the context she offers has rhyme and reason. It's not there simply to titillate.

On a more general note, I found it interesting that Karen Hancock managed to use both adverbs and clauses that start with -ing and get published. (Tongue firmly planted in cheek here!) But seriously, I am heartened that the so-called "rules of 21st century writing" that many would-be writers bang over others' heads don't seem to hold sway here. There is hope for the well placed adverb! ;)

So, overall, I give the book a strong affirmative nod, and I'll be hitting up those inter-library loan folks for the next book in the series. Of the time I've spent reading fiction this year, I'm glad that The Light of Eidon graced some of it.

3 comments:

  1. I LOVE Karen Hancock! Arena is her first book and probably my favorite Christian Scify/Fantasy ever...sorry mr Peretti. I was working at a Christian bookstore when it came out and I wrote to her and she replied to me with the promptest and kindest letter answering all of my questions as a writer. She also gave us a whole bunch of signed autopgraph stickers to keep on hand at the store. I just thought that was the frosting on the cake. A great writer who took the time out for, and who obviously still relate to me. Imladrisnine

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  2. It's always refreshing to hear about an author who is gracious and personal! Looks like I'll have to keep working my way through her body of writing. :)

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  3. The Guardian King series is one of my favorites. I was pleasantly surprised to see she was allowed to get away with the adult content, because it was totally central to the character's development (coming from a legalistic tradition -- in the course of the story he forsakes all the rules of that tradition).

    And as for writing "rules" -- many of those are legalistic shibboleths imposed on writers by people who've seen so much bad writing they think the way to prevent bad writing is to add more rules. Following "rules" doesn't make for good writing any more than following "rules" makes for good religion. One must rise above rules and reach for meaning.

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