Friday, October 9, 2020

Knightmare Arcanist, by Shami Stovall

 Greetings, and Happy RED Friday to all my friends and neighbors out there in Internet Land! And, to those few family members who find their way here: couscous is great, particularly if you add some crunchies. 

Here's the cover art to the book I'm reviewing, followed by an Amazon Associates link. If you click the link, and then buy something, they give me a little money (but it doesn't cost you anything):

 I’m not quite sure how it’s done, but I recognize it when I see it: really GREAT writing. Shami Stovall generates GREAT writing. In fact, her writing deserves a better review than this, but I've been trying to get this written since 7:30 AM, and I don't want to put it off another day.

Look to her work, and you’ll find she absolutely NAILS the execution of the ideas, putting everything into the just-right sequence. She has the ability and the stamina to infuse page 180 with the same energy that’s found on page 1. I’m inclined to believe that the stamina is what keeps most people from getting that novel published; it’s just too hard to sit down, hour after hour, day after day, and punch the words into the keyboard. If my count is right, she now has eight books published, and that is some pretty amazing output.

Solid writing is a necessary but not sufficient requirement for GREAT writing, though. To that, Stovall adds some AMAZING brilliance in the concept. I was overjoyed and flabbergasted when I discovered she had based one novel entirely on the concept of The Prisoner’s Dilemma (“Star Marque Rising”), and that her construction was so flawlessly executed that it didn’t come across AT ALL like a gimmick.

In this book, the concept that I cherish is the bonding between magical creatures and humans. We have seen similar items before, ranging from a witch’s familiar, to were-creatures, to sinister mimics and pod people. Where Stovall differentiates herself, however, is in both the mechanics of the bonding, and in the transformation of both the human (the arcanist) and the magical creature (the eldrin). Some of each blends into the other, and they take on each other’s traits with time. I’m not aware of anyone doing anything quite like this; the closest I can think of is Weber’s treecats, but it’s not the same thing.

So: she nails the technique; she nails the concept; what about the story?

It’s a great old story, of poor and repressed folks, perhaps undiscovered royalty, arising from poverty to greatness. Surrounding them are people of privilege, which is given to them by accidents of birth. Tell the story the wrong way, and it is TIRESOME. Tell it the right way, and it refreshes the spirit, and gives you hope. Stovall tells it the right way.

Her Good Guys have flaws, her Bad Guys have good motives. There are sufficiently subtle plot elements that you might not be sure which are Good and which are Bad, until the story has progressed significantly. It makes for a really great read.

I have quite a few more books by Stovall to read and review, and I’m looking forward to the prospect. 

Peace be on your household.

No comments:

Post a Comment