Friday, February 1, 2013

In Savage Lands - Book Review

In Savage LandsIn Savage Lands by Jason E. Thummel
S.E.Lindberg rating: 5 of 5 stars

J. Thummel is a great storyteller. With “In Savage Lands” he invites you to be carried away. Trust his craft. Three words summarize this memorable short story collection:

Tour: Feeling the need to escape? Not looking for a 700page starter to an endless series? Then read this. Across these tales you will have many guides ready to take you away: veteran fighters willing to martyr themselves, nameless heroes with just causes, amoral fighters looking for revenge, na├»ve and overmatched victims, sentient swords, dragon hunters, and even those possessed by demons! And where will these characters take you? A splendid variety of locations (from deserts, high seas, mountains alien worlds, highland battlegrounds).  Beyond the thrill of exploring these destinations, there is an additional level of suspense provided by the storytelling.

Mystery: Although these tales are best classified as heroic fantasy, “mystery” best describes the author’s style. Almost every tale has a delightful, believable plot twist or dose of irony; sometimes many are delivered overtly, via unexpected perspectives. If you read them sequentially, you will become acquainted with this style quickly; then you will enjoy another level of suspense, knowing that every tale has a unique spin waiting to be revealed...not knowing what it is.

Magical: Every story is laden with fantasy creatures, characters, and environments. From icy mountains to steampunk battlegrounds and savage jungles, prepare for anything. And the tone varies too: hopeful, gritty, horrific, and even humorous.

“Magical Mystery Tour” should evoke trippy memories of the 1967 Beatle Film & Album; unbeknownst to many in the U.S., Mystery Tours involve the attendees setting budget/timing constraints to go on a trip to an unidentified location; the thrill of the unknown and the promise of adventure awaits the travelers. With “In Savage Lands” J. Thummel delivers such an adventure in book form (less trippy and more organized for sure, but sodden with fantastical mystery).


The author’s “mystery” style influence is represented in his other fantasy (The Spear of Destiny and Cult of Death…Lance Chambers mysteries), and fuels these thirteen tales. Thorvald’s Tale and The Dreamer Wakes were the most horrific (and thus my favorite), but I marked 12 of the 13 as worth rereading… so really I need to highlight the entire table of contents (below). It is difficult to summarize each of these without introducing spoilers, so I just list the titles. Lastly, to quote Lennon/McCartney…“Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour…. The magical mystery tour is coming to take you away…”


Table of Contents:
1)A Stand in the Eye of the Needle (First appeared in Flashing Swords, Issue 10, Cyberwizard Productions, 2008)
2)Dragon Hunter
3)The Spider's Web
4)The Dying Light of Day
5)Mortismagus First appeared in the anthology Magic and Mechanica, Ricasso Press, 2009
6)Nargal of Zagg
7)The Fortunes of War: A Tale of Vladius and Stongi
8)The Homecoming of Brother Antonitus9)The Devourer of the Shunned
10) Thorvold's Tale
11) The Gift of the Unspoken God
12) The Dreamer Wakes
13) Runner of the Hidden Ways First appeared in the anthology Rage of the Behemoth, Rogue Blades Entertainment, 2009



View all S.E. Lindberg's reviews

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Goodreads Giveaway and Sword & Sorcery Group Read


Some Goodreads.com updates:

1) Please participate in our first Group-Read in the Sword & Sorcery Group.

Thematic Topic = Anthologies

What? Have no idea what to read? Browse the Group Anthology Bookshelf 

Where?: Please post the Anthology you choose to let others know in the Group Read Folder...then come back to discuss!  Note the discussion thread on the same topic: S&S Anthology Discussion

When?: Jan-Feb 2013; We will target polling for another theme in Feb. for the next topic (for Mar-April).


Banner: Please note the masthead (current title image for the group posted above too) is appropriately drawn from popular Anthology covers. Here are the artists and cover credits:

Johnney Perkins and Didier Normand
Rage of the Behemoth and Return of the Sword
Rage of the Behemoth Return of the Sword

Frank Frazetta
Flashing Swords! #1 and Flashing Swords! #1 (two different editions)
Flashing Swords! #1 Flashing Swords! #1 

2) I am sponsoring another Giveaway of a Lords of Dyscrasia paperback:


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Lords of Dyscrasia by S.E. Lindberg

Lords of Dyscrasia

by S.E. Lindberg

Giveaway ends March 04, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win




Friday, January 4, 2013

Harvest of War - Short Story Review


Harvest of War
by Charles Allen Gramlich
S.E. Linderg's rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Victory rewards the most brutal”. But in a war fought between Orcs, Humans, and the monsters known as the Reapers, who best deserves that title? And will any of them fight for the weak? Or are the weak just prey? Back cover Summary

Context: This is a short story, originally scheduled for an anthology in ~2011 that never made it to market, and has thankfully been made available as a stand-alone tale. An underlying motivation of the anthology was to show Orcs as more complex characters than presented by Tolkien. Gramlich delivers this.

Brutal, Poetic Style: Amongst the heaps of eBooks available, the above premise alone does not make this stand out. However, deliver it with Gramlich’s style and you find yourself with a true treasure. Harvest of War will appeal to both casual and literary readers because Gramlich’s economy of words is so smooth it belies its rich imagery and emotional depth. His prose is: Arresting. Vivid. Compelling. Here is a glimpse:
Across a snowfield that lies red with dawn, the Orc charge comes. And is met. Axes shriek on shields. Swords work against armor into flesh. The tips of spears are wetted. Gore dapples the snow...
..Others are surrounded by clots of human foes and hacked down in an orgy of hatred. At last, only one Orc stands, dark axe blooded in his fists. A lightning-rent oak wards his back so his enemies can come against him only a warrior at a time. His axe splits a helm; his knotted fist tears a man’s jaw away. A shout makes the rest of his foes pause and draw apart.
Only one brief instance gave me pause: a character not accustomed to speaking strangely has a burst of dialogue; this contrasted the efficiency presented throughout, but was merely a surmountable hurdle in an enjoyable 400meter sprint. I highly recommend this.

View all S.E.Lindberg reviews

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Sword and Sorcery Film Queue


I will periodically update this page throughout 2013. Here is the link to last year’s queue, provided since many films slip from year to year: 2012 Sword and Sorcery Film Queue.

An Unexpected Journey 

Dec 14th 2012 (...but can be seen in 2013 )
And the rest of the trilogy:
Dec 13th 2013: “Desolation of Smaug”
Dec 17th 2014: “There and Back Again


2013 Hammer of the Gods


Facebook Movie Page and Trailer Link
I heard about this via the Goodreads Sword and Sorcery group (link).
- Action epic sees a passionate young man transform into a brutal warrior as he travels the unforgiving landscape in search of his long lost brother Hakan The Ferrocious, whose people are relying on him to restore order to their kingdom

The Seventh Son Releases ~ Jan 2014

From Wikipedia: "The Seventh Son is an upcoming fantasy film based on the first installment in Joseph Delaney's children's dark fantasy novel series The Wardstone Chronicles titled The Spook's Apprentice."

Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage (~2013)

Patrick Stewart’s narration may give this some street cred.




Likely to be released sometime 

Clash of the Titans 3 ~ 2013 

RELEASE DATES



300: Rise of an Empire

2014



47 Ronin

Dec 25th 2013



Sequel(s) For Solomon Kane (~2014?)

According to Fangoria magazine's interview with Michael Basset. FANGORIA: So we can expect a sequel to SOLOMON KANE? BASSETT: We intend to film more of Kane’s adventures. The first one has done very well in festivals around the world; now we have to wait and see how it’s received by a larger audience. Our intention is to make a trilogy, and if everything goes as planned, we will leave for South Africa to start production on part two.

 

Hunstmans Sequel (2014?)


Legend of Conan (2014)

Arnold Schwarzenegger is back as Conan (~2015 "Legend of Conan" movie). Multiple news sources claim it will ignore the silly Conan The Destroyer and poorly produced 2010 Conan reboot (with Jason Momoa, who did okay but not well enough to compensate for other issues)...in other words, the 2015 movie is being designed as a direct sequel to the 1982 Conan the Barbarian.

A Fire and Ice live action movie began being produced in 2012 (and a possible Death Dealer after that?!~). IGN reports this remake of the rotoscoped classic in which Frank Frazetta and Ralph Bakshi teamed up.



God of War, 2014?

"300" meets "Clash of the Titans" in this movie adaption of the video game 

Narnia 4 Movie More Chronicles of Narnia
2014? maybe?…
And after that… Narnia V: The Silver Chair is planned.

 

Little hope of being made...

 

Future Release

Elric movie:

Check out Michael Moorcock's blog for details.
Castlevania: Based on Konami's popular vampire games; this movie has been bounced around since before 2009.
The Power of the Dark Crystal (ever?)

Announced in 2005, this sequel to the Dark Crystal (1982) has stumbled, always making some forward progress.
Bran Mak Morn  ????

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Jonathan Green seeks support for Fighting Fantasy


Just participated in my first Kickstarter project. This is a great tool/resource to fund independent moves, games, books, etc.


My gateway into the Sword & Sorcery genre was most likely the Fighting Fantasy books (choose-your-own-adventures + dice) created by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone in the early 1980's (these two would then co-found Warhammer). Before personal computers could satiate the need for solo adventuring on the go, these books rocked. They were full of disturbing illustrations that still haunt me to this day (see blogpost on evolving Fighting Fantasy books). Interestingly, select ones (like Warlock of Firetop Mountain) are now available on Kindle and iTunes (the Kindle versions are less sexy but work better, having provided a more robust game mechanic that includes superior mapping and dice roller systems).

Jonathan Green, author of many novels including those under the Warhammer and Fighting Fantasy brands, is now on a mission to create a history book detailing how the adventure books evolved.  See the video below (embedded here). Or go to Kickstarter directly and consider donating to the cause: You Are The Hero Kickstarter Page ... donate ~$16 and you will get a PDF of the book.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Desert of Souls - Book Review

The Desert of SoulsThe Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones
S.E. Lindberg rating: 4 of 5 stars

”I have seldom met a man who so feared taking up a pen.” – So speaks a fortune teller to the hero Asim in “The Desert of Souls”

Howard A. Jones is a Writer...and a Swordsman!
If Howard A. Jones had any fear of taking up a pen to write, I am glad he overcame it. He has long held a passion for action fiction and throughout his career has re-introduced readers to Harold Lamb, moderated Sword and Sorcery websites, and edited the Dark Fantasy magazine Blackgate. With Desert of Souls he demonstrates his ability to translate his passion for revitalizing fantasy fiction by producing his own creative work. Well done. He seems to being live vicariously through his hero Asim who claims “not to be a writer… only a swordsman," but (since Desert of Souls is a first person narrative in Asim’s voice) Howard/Asim proves to be a worthy storyteller regardless of any alleged fear of writing instruments.

Kevin J. Anderson (author of The Map of All Things) aptly likened this book to “a cross between Sinbad and Indiana Jones,” and E. E. Knight (author of Vampire Earth Series) accurately described this as a “… rich, detailed tapestry—part Arthur Conan Doyle, part Robert E. Howard, and part Omar Khayyam, woven in the magical thread of One Thousand and One Nights.”

The writing is crisp and is carried by an engaging relationship between the duo: Asim and Dabir. Plenty of super natural action (fights with djinns, undead creatures, sorcerers, etc.) saturate their adventures through treacherous deserts, ruins, and the otherworld. An abundance of miraculous/chance-encounters keeps this from a 5 star rating, but remains highly recommended. I look forward to delving into more Asim and Dabir tales: The Bones of the Old Ones and The Waters of Eternity.

View all of S.E. Lindberg's reviews

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Holiday Card 2012



This card wishes all a safe holiday season, and a happy new year that follows. Thanks to Heidi, Erin, and Connor who always support my compulsive card-making behavior.  All previous cards can be found on http://lindbergcrafts.blogspot.com/.  


Fairie Theme

I was obviously inspired by faeries this year.  The connection stemmed from the foundation of many religious celebrations at year's end: the Winter Solstice.  Since the longest night of the year marks the Solstice, it seemed appropriate the have the moon take center stage.  The first concept was to have an evergreen forest decorated with lights.  These lights were to be revealed as faeries migrating from the moon, resting on branches.  Originally they would be carrying lanterns.

The Process

I confess, I started this in September since my Oct. & Nov. schedules were packed.  I was motivated to finish early Nov. to ensure I could get the hardcopies printed in time for an early Dec. publishing.  This process seems to only get more complex each year...ugh.  Anyway, here is how the card was produced:

Initial Sketches

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Tweaking the Faerie(s)

During the making of this, the concept of a parade of faeries was reduced to a single one. The remaining faerie took on a glow of her own, so she hardly required a lantern.  She assumed a reflective, praying position (she had to be doing something).  Incidentally, this design change sparked a discussion with our resident mythologist (Erin) who claimed the simplification might still be perceived as odd: she argued everyone knows that angels prayed, but fairies were not known to be religious (as praying would imply).  I agree, but angels and faeries are not far removed from each other on the spectrum of spiritual, winged things.  Besides, if I were a moon  faerie, I would consider coming to earth on the longest night of the year just to look backward, reflect from whence I came, and prepare to tackle the future.  In any event, no offense intended (recall an angel did get center stage in last year's card (link)).

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Winning the Argument

How do you engage a resident mythologist?  Win her over to your way of thinking? Well, you may just up the ante a bit, perhaps incorporate her into the work.  Game on, daughter!  
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3D? 

There is a lot of detail in there, so let's zoom in. Some people see a 3D effect now:  if you first focus on resolve the black silhouette of the treesthen she should appear to float in your peripheral vision (at least on computer screens).  Tell me if this works for you (might be easier to see in the final version at top of this blog).
fairyZoom

Font and Graphics

Heidi helped me with finding a good font.  She found a great one that was easy to read and amplified the moon shape with wondrous circles in the "G","g", and "S".
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Print Prep: RGB to CMYK conversion

Cripes, almost done.  I worked in RGB (Red, Green, Blue) space originally since I am familiar with it and my photos/scans were generated that way (RGB being the format of the raw data from scientific/digital cameras and the display on monitors); however, the printing industry still prefers CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key--a.k.a. "black") since those "channels" represent the common ink colors used in printers.  Color transformations are nontrivial, so it is best to work this out yourself rather than rely on some automatic/uncontrolled process if you are going to submit your art for hardcopy printing.

Black (K): Converting in Photoshop appears easy (most try the IMAGE>MODE options), but this doesn't work well (EDIT>CONVERT TO PROFILE allows for more control).  Generally, the RGB colors are converted to CMY_ alright, but the K channel is neglected.  Blacks turn to grays, and the general intensity of the image becomes muted.  To correct this, a program like Illustrator or InDesign is needed (geared toward making actual prints).  I used illustrator to EXPORT my file into a new *.PSD after I had changed the PREFERENCES>APPEARANCE OF BLACK to export RICH BLACK.


(CMY): Then back in Photoshop, to tweak the colors I applied a few ADJUSTMENT layers, I reversibly tweaked the colors "by eye" until they approximated the RGB look.