Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spellwright, by Blake Charlton

My brief opinion of this book: not impressed.

I got halfway through and didn't finish it, which is saying a lot because I rarely stop in the middle of a book. In its defense, Andy was reading Spirit Bound while cuddling with me on the couch [Yes, my amazing husband has read the Vampire Academy series. And Twilight. And Hunger Games. O How I Love Him].

Of course, my husband is a genius and voracious reader and finished the whole book in... you know... a normal five to ten two hours (seriously?! ugh).  While I, sitting next to him, had only made it halfway through my book.  This maybe (just a teensy bit) influenced my decision to be done with the book at the same time he finished Spirit Bound. Just maybe. Competitive much?

In regard the book itself, it could have been pretty interesting if the author had followed the writing advice I've received from teachers my whole life: show - don't tell.

And Mr. Charlton told...and told...and told. I simply got tired of reading whole sections of text that sounded like they were plucked directly from a MUD RPG.  If you don't speak geek, this means those nerdy video games that are usually completely text-based. If you watch Chuck (like Andy and I do religiously) then you might remember this scene:

Morgan: What is it?

Chuck: Zork. You remember Zork, the old text-based video game? Well, Bryce and I programmed our own version of it back at Stanford using a TRS-80.

Morgan: Wow, you guys were really cool.

Chuck: Yeah, if I could only I could remember what was in my hero's satchel... (Morgan looks at him quizzically) The weapons I would use to kill the Terrible Troll.

Morgan: Right! You know what, you're still really cool.
Chuck: [types in computer] Kill troll with nasty knife.
In text-based video games, you use commands like "Kill Troll with Nasty Knife."  Huge sections of this book read just like that - telling, not showing. He could easily have taken sentences like this and created emotion and not just imagery. He could have said, "Green caustic blood oozed from the jagged knife wound in the Troll's heart. My fingers trembled, dropping the knife while cold relief flashed through me burning away the angry adrenaline pumping through my body. The troll was dead and I was still alive." 
I may not be the next Tolkien, but I know that my little makeshift troll-killing story has a dollup more emotion and imagery than "Kill troll with nasty knife." And that is something Mr. Charlton could have used in his story - a dollup more emotion that was shown and not told.
My rating of Spellwright:  Somewhere between "3- Bleh. I wouldn't bother, but maybe you have more patience," and "4- Could be good with a little work."

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