My mini-review of Curse and Raveler by John D. Brown

Long ago, John D. Brown wrote a book titled Servant of a Dark God for TOR, but due to some snafus with the publication of book 2, and the interminable delay of its release, John regained the rights to his series and decided to self-publish (I know this because of John’s blog, which I regularly read since he offers great advice on writing and now, self-publishing).

The result are books 2 and 3, Curse and Raveler, in the series now titled Dark God (the first book is Servant).

These two books are a strong continuation of the story begun in Servant. It is large scale epic fantasy with a large cast of characters, but the focus is really on just 3 individuals: Talen, a young man with a hidden and disturbing past; Sugar, a young woman with a hidden and disturbing past; and Argoth, a forty-something soldier and sorta noble, with a hidden and disturbing past. Ok, that’s not meant to be snarky, just a little amusing. And the characters and their pasts are really much more interesting than my snark laid out. That’s one of the things I enjoyed about this book so much: while the tropes of young boy with hidden greatness etc are there, the tropes aren’t the characters. The characters are real and feel real and there’s a twist to how all of their truths. It’s not straightforward and cut-and-dry.

I enjoyed both books (all three actually). In the two sequels (Curse and Raveler), the dialogue remains smooth and even witty at times. What I found particularly appealing was the hidden dystopian nature of the world, which I thought was well done as well as the questions John raises about the choices we make when it comes to safety, or even the nature of slavery. Also of note, the two books are really just two parts of a larger whole. Not a crit, but while the narrative flow is crisp, I would have preferred more Talen in book 2 rather than so much of his viewpoint left for book 3. However, none of that detracted from the IMMENSE action sequences at the end. Non stop but it wasn’t like a Hollywood film where the action simply serves to show off the special effects. This was action with purpose. Loved that. Additionally, John spent the money on a good editor because the typos in both books are few.

I am really enjoying this story, and I look forward to reading the next one as much as anything on my To-Read-List.

Having to kill one’s characters

I know the advice about how a good writer needs to be willing to kill one’s characters, but it’s hard. I’m reaching a point where a character I’ve grown to love is going to die. I can save this person, and in fact, I can finish the entire trilogy (I’m still on volume 2, so hold your horses, I’m not nearly done) without anyone important to the story dying, but it seems like a cheat. The deaths have to be there since the world I created is violent and it seems so unlikely that everyone would survive.

Ugh! I don’t like it.


That’s American Football for everyone else. It’s that time of year when epic, manly men do epic, manly things. That’s right, it’s opening week of the N. F. L.

I wasted, I mean watched, nearly 3 hours of the Bengals vs. Ravens. My magnificent Bengals (I’m from Cincy so I’m kinda stuck with them) were bungling along, leading 15-0, before they do what the Bengals too often do: blow a lead. The Ravens came back to take the lead in the 4th quarter, and at that point, I turned off the game in disgust and  went back to writing book 2 – a much more productive use of my time, I’m sure most of you would agree.

Of course, what this meant was that I missed the Bengals thundering right back and holding on to win the game. Oh well. At least the Men (the Bengals) won.

Back to writing.


The Hundred-Foot Journey

Just saw it with my wife. The Hundred-Foot Journey revolves around a young man, Hasan, who has what seems to be a perfect sense of taste when it comes to cooking. Tragedy leads him and his family away from the restaurant his grandfather started in India to a small village in France. There, they decide to start an Indian restaurant, but it just happens to be across the street from a Michelin rated French restaurant.

Trouble brews immediately, and well…go see it. I liked it a lot. After seeing nothing but popcorn fun with lots of explosions this summer, it was nice to see a date movie about people. And like all Indian movies, it also made me a bit homesick.