A review of Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb

Ship of Magic, by Robin Hobb, book cover

Ship of Magic, by Robin Hobb, book cover

2015 has been my year for reading contemporary fantasy including the Games of Thrones Series, Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s Land, The Rook (by Daniel O’Malley), as well as work by Joe Abercrombie.

I have not read so much fantasy since I was in my early 20’s, and it seems to have reawakened my taste for classic fantasy. I began to search around for a good fantasy series that was epic in style, but also somewhat more heroic in form than the other stuff I had been reading.

To that end, Robin Hobb’s Ship of Magic has served nicely. Like the aformentioned, it is well written, contemporary fantasy that does not blink in the face of grittiness or moral ambiguity, but it is more heroic and romantic in style than Game of Thrones. The plot is better structured than The Magician’s Land, and less bleak that Abercrombie’s First Law series. Additionally, the series is by a female author and features complex and well-thought-out female characters, both of which qualities are sometimes hard to find in the genre.

While not perfect, Ship of Magic came through for me. The story is strong and the characters (well, most of them) are compelling, and Hobb does a nice job of world-building, providing moments of empathy and understanding, as well as tricking and surprising us. The plot, like the sea serpents that haunt this book, has teeth and moves both above and below the surface. Continue reading

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A small update- working on “The Xildjian Codes”

fire-typewriter2I have not been blogging much lately, but there is a very good reason for this, which is that I am spending my time working on my new novel, The Xildjian Codes. The Xildjian Codes is a bit of a departure for me. It is neither a supernatural pulp thriller like VampCon, nor is it a collection of contemporary literary short fiction, like Bringing Ararat.

Instead, it is a novel set in Eastern Europe that blends suspense and history, and might appeal to fans of David Benoiff’s “City of Thieves” or Alan Furst’s “The Spies of Warsaw.”

I am nearly done with the first draft and, moving at the speed of a glacier (my usual speed), I hope the have thing wrapped up before 2017. I will endeavor to do a a better job of posting updates here.

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Quotable Douglas Adams!


“I’d far rather be happy than right any day.”

“And are you?”

“No. That’s where it all falls down of course.”

**I just finished rereading (for the 4th time) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Adams was witty, funny, sarcastic. He carried a wonderful sense of the absurd. His work may have been in the genre of comic sci-fi, but his commentary is on the modern human condition.

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More quotable Melville

Yes- I am still reading Moby Dick…

here is another great quote from Melville:

There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.

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Quotable Melville


Herman Melville, on the Sisyphean task of novel writing:

“….God keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught- nay, but a draught of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash and Patience!”

– Melville, Moby Dick. Chapter 32.(1851)

**Ironically, this “draught of a draught” is none other than Moby Dick.


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The library of never finished books

The Library of Lost Books.

The library of Dreams.

In his famous Sandman comics, author Neil Gaiman presents Lucien, Morpheus’ librarian, who watches over the library of the Dreaming- all the books that were dreamed of but never written.

This reminds me of one of the peculiar burdens of novel writing, which is that novels take years to write, ergo I can only write a few of these in my life, ergo there will be so very many books and story ideas that I will either abandon or never write down.

This is not to say that other forms of writing, poetry or blogging say, are any easier. It’s just that you can put together a lot of poems or blogs posts in the amount of time it takes to write a novel.

Here’s to the books that I never started or never finished.

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Pictures and Small Spoilers: 6 reasons to admire James Robinson’s Starman from the 90’s

I have already gone on at some length about Starman from the 90’s, so rather than go into detail, let’s just make with the pictures:

Reason 1- Starman has a regular barber:

Time for a haircut I'd say.

Time for a haircut I’d say.

Reason 2- People over 60 have sex. In this case, the original, golden-age Sandman and his wife:

"Now Wes..."

“Now Wes…”

Reason 3- Two words: “the Shade”:



Reason 4- A loving tribute to Art Deco!:


Reason 5- Splash pages full of nifty architecture:


Opal City in all its glory. A full page in the comic.

Opal City in all its glory. A full page in the comic.

Reason 6- Some of the best plot twists ever!:


Sands: “Well, would you sell the shirt? What about that?”…. Starman: “Yeah. All right. I guess.” (Why fight the villain when you can just sell them what they want?)


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