Saturday, May 25, 2019

"SHOT DOWN" - answering review request

Steve Snyder asked me to read his historical book, "SHOT DOWN". It is about the author's father, Howard Snyder, and how he survived being shot down over Germany-occupied France during WWII.
The blurb states that this is about Howard Snyder's experience but it reads more like a biography of him with a focus on the WWII mission and its aftermath. It also includes a lot of information about other subjects, such as Howard's military training and other missions he went on before the one where he was shot down. There's also a section about members of the French Resistance and other individuals who sheltered downed pilots.

It's all interesting stuff. I had no idea the pilots had to wear so much gear during their missions. There's armor to protect against shrapnel, winter clothing for the altitude and air masks for oxygen. I thought all they had to worry about was enemy fire. It makes what they did a lot more impressive for its bravery. The process of take-off and landing and the formations they had to assume, and how dangerous these were, was also interesting. I can only imagine what it must have been like to see an allied airplane slip out of formation or, of course, to be on that plane.

Besides that, I enjoyed reading about the Comet Line. These guys are the heroes of this particular story. When they see a plane go down in their area, it is a race against the Nazi to get to the plane first, find survivors and hide them. Then of course to continue hiding them while feeding and then getting them out. In addition to courage, resourcefulness and organization, they also had to be clever because the Nazi would have their own pilots crash in a sting-like operation.

Primary sources are fantastic. Included in the book are many illustrations of planes, locations, wreckage and the people involved. The author even included letters and journal entries that his father wrote during his time as a soldier.

This book is factual information with a keenly human experience.


Trickster Eric Novels gives "SHOT DOWN" an A+



This was a free book review. The author requested an honest review so I provided one. 

Click here for my previous book review (a request): Enaro

Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

His fantasy series, Journey to Chaos, is currently available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Death in D&D - It Completes a Character

Hello!

This post is about using death as a tool for character development. Not the actual death of a character that affects others but imagining how a character would respond to a hypothetical death.

I've spent the last several months playing a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. My character is a high elf fighter named "Hadari" who was literally raised by wolves (rolled for it on the Outlander background). It's taken this long to reach level 5 and I've planned out how I want his character development and mechanical advancement to progress. I hadn't thought about his potential death.

Unlike in video games, there is no guarantee of "game over - restart" in D&D. If your entire party is wiped out, that's it.  A Dungeon Master could allow it for a penalty as a house-rule, of course, or arrange a situation for the party's revival, but the typical response is to roll-up a new character. There are no second chances. This was a new experience for me.

Recently, my party botched a mission and had to leave town in a hurry. The DM decided to call the session as we fled. We didn't know if anyone was pursuing us. If so, we didn't know how many or if they were on horseback. We had to leave most of our own horses behind in our hurry, so if the city guards were on horseback then they would overtake us. I spent much of the next day worried about our uncertain doom.

Then I remembered a line from a fellow author. Thaddeus White said in a blog interview, "Nothing completes a character like their demise " (You can read the whole thing here).  (He's a fantastic novelist, by the way). That got me thinking how I would roleplay Hadari's death in such a situation.

Due to trauma in his backstory, he definitely wouldn't allow himself to be captured alive. He also misses his former wolf pack (the party being his replacement for them) and fears them to be dead. So I figured he would die fighting in a frenzy of panic and fear. His end would be that of a tragic hero.

This helped me to understand Hadari on a deeper level, which helped my role-playing for the next session. It also brought me peace of mind if the party got into such trouble.

A week later, we discovered that the city guards were more worried about putting out the fire our rogue started than chasing us so we got away clean.


Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

His fantasy series, Journey to Chaos, is currently available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback
 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Highest Power beta reading status: complete

My third beta reader replied this past week and the fourth is busy so the beta read phase for the fifth book in the Journey to Chaos Series is complete. The fourth draft of The Highest Power has begun.

All of the beta readers agreed that the start needed to be re-established. It was originally a continuous scene from the end of the previous book, Transcending Limitations. It clumsily added recap exposition that was insufficient to the point of confusing. Then it quickly moved into action with several more characters. It made sense to me but no one else. This is why an author needs beta readers.

I have kept busy while waiting for the beta readers to finish. I worked on two other writing projects.

1.  The first book of the new series
This is to be the first in my next main series, with others being spin-offs from Journey to Chaos. I don't have a name for the book itself but the series title will be "Tariatla".  I've talked with others and gotten some good advice (Thanks again, Jean Gill!). Perhaps I'll list the ones I like best in an upcoming blog post and make a poll out of them.  
I finished two drafts. So after I publish The Highest Power I'll do a third and then go looking for beta readers again.

2. Before Eric Arrived (Tentative title)
This is a collection of five short stories. They focus on a major character from the Journey to Chaos series and what life was like for them in the time before the main narrative started. The characters with starring roles are Annala, Tiza, Nolien, Kallen and Basilard.
If it becomes popular enough then I may write more short story prequels. I might even take requests for your favorite character.

Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

His fantasy series, Journey to Chaos, is currently available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback
 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Enaro - Answering Review Request

Neda Aria asked me to read their novel "Enaro". I'm going to call it a science-fiction piece because that is how it starts out. It turns into horror eventually; starting with "Scale Of Scientific Sins" horror and moving into "Eldritch Abomination" horror.

PLOT

This is a weird one. It's blurb....well, it doesn't really have one. The only thing on Amazon is a quote from the book. It is a sound byte, I think. So even after reading it I'm not sure what the plot, conflict, story etc. are.
NOTE
Between receiving the review request and posting this review, the author has updated the amazon blurb. It no longer has the book quote but a premise describing conflict and characters. It is more useful to get a sense of things than the quote was but, in my opinion, more misleading.
END NOTE

Anyway, one would think that the blurb lead to a political science fiction story, perhaps dystopia or Crapsaccharine World. Except, the first section has monsters pounding away at a wall and a girl is using the power of dreams to repair the wall at the behest of a deity; I think that's what's going on.

Then the next scene is a guy despairing at the flaws in his society and then going out for a Enaro celebration. The second chapter (I think) goes back before Enaro existed, where Geras is lecturing to special students. It starts with time and gravity, and it all sounds scientific and what valid and what not. Then it goes into reality-is-a-simulation theories and the thoroughly debunked "humans only use 10% of their brain" idea. By the end of the lecture, Geras is talking about the coming of aliens. He sounds like a kook, but he's actually one of those aliens. I'm not sure if this is a Human Alien thing or he's using A Form You Are Comfortable With.

The story is not linear, which normally would not be an issue, except I'm not sure if this is just a matter of the order of events in literary fashion as it typically the case. The protagonist here (I think it is Geras) may or may not be experiencing/directing these events in the order described (i.e. linear from his perspective but In-Media-Res for the reader) or if he's aware of all of them simultaneously. I think this may be the case because there is a lot of talk about 4-dimensional thinking be limiting.

There is talk of "past lives" but I'm not sure what these mean. They could be body-surfing, reincarnation, a really long term simulation or a figure of speech along the lines of "I started a new life in place X after Y happened".

I don't know if "Khog" is a real entity, a metaphor, the proper name of a concept, or (maybe literally) personified phenomenon.

At the end, I get the sense that this whole story was a god-like creature's erotic dream.

Yes, if you don't like erotica, then this book is likely not for you.  I felt uncomfortable reading it because that sort of thing is not something that I like to read.

Geras is definitely a womanizer. One of the special students, I mentioned he admitted solely for an opportunity to seduce her, and on another occasion, he gave a woman vodka until she passed out. There is one character who is horrified at how he copied Geras' behavior; so horrified he thinks he deserves to go to literal hell (that, I'm pretty sure, is not a metaphor).

Yes, this starts as a science fiction pieces, and Geras scorns the idea of religion, but there are definitely god-like creatures here and a hell for sinners. Maybe. It seems clear at the time but it might have been an illusion, or a dream of an illusion of a show that is an abstraction of a conflict between two "higher intelligences". Of the two of them, only one might exist.

This story goes heavy into Mind-Screw territory. I read the ending but I can't really say what happened or what it resolved, if anything.

CHARACTERS

Geras - an alien atheist scientist and womanizer. Despite setting up Nero to be a place of equality and stuff, he's pretty selective on who goes there. The determining factors appear to be a certain mindset/capacity to learn his metaphysics and the right genetics to absorb his immortality drug.

Kes - a human (half alien?) who is driven by resentment of Geras and his own self-hatred.

Ze - an alien with a god-complex. Seriously, he re-enacts Judgment Day.

POLISH

It has funky grammar; I don't want to say that it is wrong but it is strange to read. I also saw a couple spell errors.

This book both intrigued and repulsed me. I want to understand it more but I also don't want to. Most of all, it just confused me.


Trickster Eric Novels gives "Enaro" a ?

This was a free book review. The author requested an honest review so I provided one. 


Click here for my next book review (a request): SHOT DOWN

Click here for my previous book review (for fun): The Last Days of Socrates

Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

His fantasy series, Journey to Chaos, is currently available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Last Days of Socrates (read for fun)

This is yet another college book that I never got around to reading. Yes, I rarely sold them back because I'm that much of a nerd. This is a collection of four stories styled as "dialogues".

I found Euthyphro  both fun and instructive. The  elenchus or Socratic Method is on display here and it shows the difficulty in defining seemingly obvious words like "justice". I like to see it as Socrates trolling Euthyphro; truly a gadfly as Apology goes into detail regarding.

Apology is the meat of the matter. It's  interesting. From what I can tell, instead of out-right refuting the charges against him, he tries to wriggle out of them by saying they don't apply. For instance, he isn't a teacher because he doesn't charge a fee and it's not his fault if others like his company and ask him things to which he answers at length. One has to wonder if he's taking his trial seriously. Indeed, he indirectly tells the jury that they're stupider than he is because they're unaware of just how stupid they are.

Crito is a short one. Crito argues from a worldly perspective; sons, and physical pleasures of life and such. Even in the next dialogue he's still focused on practical matters such as Socrates's funeral. He's a great foil for Socrates, the one who pursues only wisdom.

The more I read of Phaedo, the more I thought Socrates was making stuff up to ease the sorrow of his friends. Really, that seems to me to be his entire purpose in leading the conversation to the subject of why a philosopher should look forward to death and thus the concept of the immortal soul. While the idea of bodily needs and desires distracting the philosopher from the pursuit of wisdom makes perfect sense, the Argument from Opposites sounds more like wordplay than logic. Indeed, the editor's intersections between the sections of the conversation as well as the notes at the back of the book point out hasty agreements or weak points in argument.


After reading the entire book, I prefer the first two dialogues. They feel more solidly based and philosophical to me than the other two. The latter pair seem to me like an apology, of sorts, for the friends of Socrates. They tried to save him but he refused to be saved, and he refused to be saved because he wanted to die.
Even so, it is difficult to judge them as equals given their differing contexts (and when Plato wrote them, of course). Euthyphro is an acquaintance of his and doing something that Socrates disagrees with so he basically gets made to look foolish. The Apology takes place in a court room during a trial, which is much different than a private chat with his friends.
Then there's the discussion of how much of these events took place and how much is Plato creating as a frame device for certain concepts (like his Theory of Ideas). I find it telling that the Apology is the only one that was publicly witnessed by many people and more so that it appears to be the only one of the four witnessed by Plato himself.

I enjoyed all four and found them interesting in different ways.

Trickster Eric Novels gives The Last Days of Socrates an A.


Click here for my next book review (a request): Enaro


Click here for my previous book review (for fun): Mahou Sensei Negima -omnibus #8



Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).


His fantasy series, Journey to Chaos, is currently available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback
 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Five Questions in the Crown of Blood (author interview)



Thaddeus White has completed his excellent Bloody Crown trilogy. I've read the first two so far and I rated both of them highly.  So when he asked me to spread the word on the third one I gladly agreed. Here are Five Questions for "Crown of Blood" and its series.
___________

1. What was it like writing the third book of a trilogy?  Describe for us any challenges or joys that came with it.
 
Kind of odd. I’ve been working on this trilogy for a long time now, and it’s significantly more challenging than three stand-alone novels because there’s a need for additional planning in order to keep the plot lines consistent across three books. At the same time, story arcs have to be of varying length, some trilogy-long, others starting and ending within a single book, or two, so that each book, whilst part of a great whole, is also a complete entry.
 
On the plus side, the greater size of the trilogy means that characters can have more depth and the story itself can have more ebbing and flowing. I’ve enjoyed the development of characters like Stephen Penmere and Sophie Hurstwood (the unofficial subtitle of the trilogy is ‘In Which Terrible Things Happen To Sophie’).
 

 
2. Did you have all three books planned out ahead of time or did you improvise as the war progressed? Perhaps it was a mixture of the two.

 
I planned most things ahead of time, because I didn’t want to risk driving into a dead end and then scrabbling for a resolution. One thing I decided late on (and changed) was who ends up on the throne. That was deliberate, as I thought it’d help maintain the ambiguity as to the ultimate victor of the war. However, I did fiddle with things a little bit, mostly increasing or decreasing the amount of time spent with a given POV as felt natural and fit better with the story.

 
3. What about the trilogy's cast. Is there anyone you became particularly fond of or, conversely, anyone whose death scene you looked forward to writing?

 
Ha. You say ‘conversely’ but I actually quite like killing off my favourite characters. Nothing completes a character like their demise. As for favourites, I have a few. The female trio of Karena, Sophie, and Charlotte were fun to write, and I really enjoyed Sir James’ elegant sense of humour (in Traitor’s Prize he describes a nobleman he’s teaching swordplay as not requiring ‘further decoration’ after the pupil falls down some stairs and gets the day off training).


4. The Blood Crown Trilogy is just one of the stories that you've written in this setting, correct? What other stories take place in this world you've created?
 

Bane of Souls and Journey to Altmortis, which have a few recurring characters (including Fritigern, Anja, and their hound, who have small roles in The Bloody Crown Trilogy) but are mostly separate. Bane of Souls follows Horst, a Kuhrisch who visits Highford and is compelled to join the mage’s tower, much to his displeasure (which isn’t improved when he discovers the city’s being terrorized by a spate of murders).
 
Journey to Altmortis follows Thaddeus and Lynette Falchester, and a motley crew of companions, as they head deep into the snowy Kuhrisch wilderness to catch up with some old enemies and reclaim stolen family heirlooms. But they find rather more than they bargain for in the ruined, subterranean city of Altmortis…
 
5. What are your post Crown of Blood writing plans?
 

In shockingly productive news, the next Sir Edric story, Sir Edric and the Corpse Lord, is quite close to completion. I just need to finish the beta-reading phase, give it a final proof, and sort the cover, and it’s good to go. My intention is to have it released some time in the second half of 2019.
 
After that, I’ve outlined the next Sir Edric comedy. There are a few ideas bubbling away for more in Crown of Blood world, but after finishing the trilogy I’m going to give myself a little break.

 
 
_____________________________________________________________________________


Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

His fantasy series, Journey to Chaos, is currently available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Mahou Sensei Negima omnibus 8: read for fun

This is a combat heavy omnibus. You can really see it that with the fight Kagetaro of Bosporus and, of course, the start of the tournament arc. Without Mahora Academy as the setting, the harem comedy elements that originally defined the series have been swept away. There are still romance jokes, naturally, such as Ako's crush on Negi's older alter ego and Asakura taking a picture of her pactio, but they are further back; jokes and side plots.

We also have the introduction of Jack Rakan. I've heard of him but this is my first time seeing him in the manga itself. I can see why he is so popular. He has endless comedic potential with his eccentrics and buffoonery ("ETERNAL NEGI FEVER!" hahahaa) but can shift to serious easily. He definitely has a battle-hardened war veteran vibe to him, which is displayed in both his badassery and also his contemplation about the last war and regret during it. Being of Nagi's comrades also plugs him into plot-and-background heavy stuff.

Magia Erebea. That is some creepy stuff. Its presentation and set up give it the gravitas deserving of something that could be called "dark magic". On that note, fantastic character development for Negi and Chisame. They've come far from their roots in earlier volumes but still the same.

The side plots with the other students, those still separated from the A-Party of Negi, are also fantastic. Yue joins a magic knight academy and without certain mental hangups to inhibit her, she is no longer a "baka ranger". That is so fun I think it could stand on its own. There's also Nodoka the treasure-hunter/adventurer. Now THAT is definitely something I want to read more about. The way Ken Akamatsu introduces it, her party running away from a collapsing dungeon, is irresistibly tantalizing.

 

Trickster Eric Novels gives Mahou Sensei Negima omnibus 8 an A+

Click here for my next book review (for fun): The Last Days of Socrates

Click here for my previous book review (for fun): Medieval Military Technology


Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

His fantasy series, Journey to Chaos, is currently available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Full Picture vs Moving Image - writing tip

Today I re-read my Bleach Fanfiction "Nature of Power." It is an A.U. where Orihime became Rukia's substitute instead of Ichigo. Switching the focus from Orihime to Ichigo reorients the focus and details of every scene. Even though I was adapting a story that someone else had written, a lot of original content was necessary. This is particularly true during Uryu's introduction because Orihime is a friendly and empathetic girl who wants to join forces with him and is already spending time with him in the schools' Craft Club. Not to sound immodest but I impressed myself.

I think I did a good job bringing Orihime's Cloudcuckoolander humor into the narration and her interactions with others, such as Rukia. I also liked how I wrote the combat scenes, but most of all when Orihime fights the Menos Grade that appeared during the hunting duel that Uryu starts in cannon. Again, I don't mean to brag, but I started smiling at the combat tension, foreshadowing, and interweaving the canon element of Uryu's grandfather wanting Shinigami and Quincy to work together with my AU's idea that Orihime was building a superhero team. It was then that I had a realization.

I wasn't focusing on scenery. I wasn't writing about the landscape or the weather, and there was only a little about character expressions and appearances. It was all about emotion, action and motivation. The scenes were quick. I wasn't "painting the full picture" as has been my focus . I wrote this fanfiction long before that. At the time my thinking was "anyone whose going to read an anime AU fanfiction will already know what everything looks like" so there was no need. That led to the second realization.

If one is going to "paint the full picture" then one has to paint a picture. That is, they will create a static image. That's the definition of a picture. Yes, there are ways to suggest movement and action etc. within a literal picture but when using a "picture" as a metaphor for writing.....the analogy gets away you.

I realized that it could lead to describing something "as it is". That is a motionless scene. It is a static image.

As I wrote this, I thought about manga. Specifically, Mahou Sensei Negima, because I happened to be re-reading the eight omnibus today as well. It has this splash page that shows Ostia from a high distance. It is a two page spread and separate from the story's narrative. This is what I am talking about. You have the static image of Ostia ("New Ostia" technically) and then action of the narrative. They are separate so they don't interfere with each other. More generally, there's the practice of "establishment panels" that show the reader (or viewer) the setting so future panels can focus on characters and actions.

This sets the stage. It is a necessary step but an info dump of the environment can bog things down just like an info dump of magical mechanics. Scenic detail and action description; it will be a balancing act.. Like a video is composed of quickly moving pictures, I need to include both. As I write in the future, I will keep this in mind.

Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

His fantasy series, Journey to Chaos, is currently available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.
 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Using Backstories to Enchance a Narrative

Just this week, my Dungeons and Dragons group shared our character's personal backstories. This was huge. For me at least; backstories add more to my enjoyment of the campaign than anything short of the Dungeon Master's narrative for the campaign. Now I feel like I can better connect to the  characters of the other players and we can better play as the characters themselves instead of like remotely operating them.

It is a more direct experience. It is a more immersive experience. Finally, it opens the possibility of those backstories influencing the events of the campaign, thus leading to a more unique experience.  All these things can be used to enhance a novel as well as a tabletop game.

For instance, I decided that my character didn't like high elves (despite being one himself) because of something in his backstory. This flavored the party's encounter with some high elves that were in trouble. It is something that got the group talking about the subject and led to a fun event that connected with something from a previous session.
As part of the same encounter, another player did something purely because that is how their character, with their backstory, would act. This turned out to be the key to something that could enable our party to move forward with a particular task. I am still thinking about how my character can make use of that event in the coming session.

All of this happened because our players put thought into their backstories. Without this, our characters would be stats on sheets. At best, amnesiac heroes who popped into existence one day and started marching. It would still be fun to play, don't get me wrong (I know some people are more interested in power gaming) but it would be less fun to read about.

If a hero has a history with a villain, be it anything from former friend to forgotten victim to arch enemy, then their conflict has more emotional heft. Likewise, if two party members have a history prior to the campaign (or the current campaign for that matter) then they can parlay that into discussion, battle tactics and story decisions.

I have another example from a different source. It is, in fact, what inspired me to write this blog article.

Every time I watch the beginning of a Black Clover episode, I smile. "All seemed lost until a lone mage stepped forward and took up the fight", this solemn narration accompanied by visual of the original Wizard King in his famous battle is nothing short of classical fantasy awesome. Say what you will about the manga's originality but it is amazing in how it uses its backstory.

This backstory sets the tone for each episode and the story as a whole. It is an epic that involves grand heroes fighting against overwhelming odds. It is encapsulates what Asta and Yuno, our principal characters, aspire to be. It says a lot by saying little. All these enhance the story that unfolds in each episode.

For without it, fewer things would make sense. Asta's drive to become the Wizard King would have less weight because the audience wouldn't know what it was, and without the demon, there would be no sense of how important such a role is. More broadly, it says this is going to be a heroic fantasy and promises battles of might and magic.


This is why creating a backstory is part of my process when I create new characters. I want to know who they were by learning where they come from. I want to know how they gained their skills and what events formed the personality they have at the start of the story.

Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

His fantasy series, Journey to Chaos, is currently available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Medieval Military Technology - read for fun

Medieval Military Technology is another one of the college books that I kept. I find it a useful resource for novel writing.

Interestingly, it is more than just Europe's medieval period. Each section, be it Armor, Weapons, Fortifications, or Warships, goes all the way back to pre-history. Then it goes through the classical periods in Egypt, Greece and Rome. Presumably, this is for contrast. How these things change and how they stay the same is one of the book's themes. I am grateful for this addition.


Because of it there is more useful information here for elements that appear in the Medieval Fantasy genre. Every kind of martial weapon from the period has a little section devoted to it; construction, use, artistic representation etc.. The evolution of fortifications is particularly interesting to me: motte and bailey style military forts to tower keeps to castle complexes and then to fortified residences. The book's scope goes all the way to defenses against gun powder cannons.

There are also many illustrations to go with the written descriptions of whatever piece of technology the author is writing about. It is helpful to visualize and understand.

In regards to historian debate, there is a mixture here. Some sections, such as the one about mounted shock combat and the stirrup are just DeVries consolidating all the theories and the criticism of those theories up to the time of the book's publication. There is little, that I can see, of the author's personal view on the subject. In other sections, like the effectiveness of the Roman fortifications during the 4th century barbarian invasions, Devries is quite insistent that the walls, ditches etc. did exactly what they were supposed to do and that the "barbarians" who settled within them afterward knew perfectly well how to build their own but only maintained the already excellently built and positioned Roman walls.

This will indeed be a useful resource going forwards.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "Medieval Military Technology" an A+

Click here for my next book review (for fun): Mahou Sensei Negima omnibus #8


Click here for my previous book review (a request): The Counterfeit Count

Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

His fantasy series, Journey to Chaos, is currently available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Counterfeit Count - answering review request

Armen Pogharian asked me to read his novel "Counterfeit Count". It is a sequel to "Poisoned Princess" but it was delightful how stand-alone it is. I will examine Plot, Character and Polish, and then assign a grade.
PLOT


This one is like the Final Exam from Hell. Adara is in the final stages of her Warder training (basically black ops for the kingdom of Eridan) when her final test, one of stealth, stumbles into a conspiracy where a failing grade will lead to her death. Without her mentor and few resources, she needs to unravel the conspiracy before it can reach its goal.

There are other viewpoints involved but what I like about this book is how it is used. There are two others, Toran (Adara's fellow Warder) and Geren (her mentor). Toran's viewpoint is basically meeting up with her at the city where the plot takes place, at which point their viewpoints merge. Geren's viewpoints are few and far between, to add useful information to the reader's perspective as well dramatic irony. In other words, the multiple viewpoints do not compete for space and instead blend well.

There's also an exclusive scene or two with the villains, but one of them is the prologue to set up the plot in the first place.

While the previous story was a Quest narrative, this one is conspiracy/mystery thing. The heroes need to find the real count and figure out the evil plan so they can thwart it. It's like the same players but different D&D module. Which creates a different sort of fun with the same sort of charm. There's even a scene where the quartermaster (so to speak) of the Warden's is explaining the range of a mission critical ranged weapon.

I like the ending. It is both complete and incomplete. It's like The Adventure Continues but diving immediately into the details of that adventure; no pause between them.

CHARACTERS

There is a lot of Adara this time. In the previous story, she didn't have the skills for such a quest but here she puts her new training to good use. There's also more of her backstory and personal traits. Little details like her favorite tea blend fill in characterization. Then there's her sneaky and spying and deducing stuff.

As for Toran, the protagonist of the previous story, he seems to be a lot more worried about Adara than the other warders.

The villain isn't going to win any prizes for depth or sympathy or magnificence etc. He's rather flat as an ambitious and ruthless individual but I'd hardly call that a fault. The wider context of villainy and conflict is plenty interesting.

POLISH


It looks good, technically speaking.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "Counterfeit Count" an A+

This has been a free review request. The author requested an honest review so I provided one.

Click here for my next book review: Medieval Military Technology


Click here for my previous book review: Stolen Magic

Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

Saturday, March 2, 2019

D&D is a unique experience


For the last several weeks I've been going to regular Dungeons and Dragons sessions at a local cafe. I must say it has been a blast.

Normally I only have my own mind and imagination for writing stories. I controll all the characters, the setting, and the story. When I read or play a game, it is the opposite; no control over anything. The books are obviously set in stone at publishing and video games offer minor choices or a designated branching point but that is largely the illusion of choice. Tabletop gaming has an in-between that I find most appealing. I control one character, the other players control theirs and the Dungeon Master controls everything else.

I don't know what the other players will do or how they will act. It is a surprise to me. Obviously, being a live game, there are no revisions (as far as I know, DMs aren't supposed to allow mulligans). It is just straight-forward communal story building with no looking back. Beyond the unique experience itself (aside from similar tabletop role playing games, of course) the sessions themselves are unique.

After we completed a scenario, our DM told us that he had run this particular one three times so far, including ours, and our solution to it was unique. The task was to find a certain town that was the HQ for mysterious happenings in the area. Our party staked out a known agent of this town and followed a messenger. We might not have succeeded if one of our members didn't happen to be able to fly. A different group, said our DM, had a differnet solution. They asked a wizard (who our group met as well) to cast a divination spell on a medalion originating at the town (that our group found as well) and worked out its location based on what that spell revealed. A third group just wanted to visit all of the towns in the area and stumbled across the one relevant to this scenario. Not knowing of its significance, they wanted to get in just because the town guards wouldn't let them in.

In our most recent session, we had a thrilling battle in the course of the current story arc. It started because none of us thought to guard a vital asset. I was seriously scared we were going to lose it and then we'd have to deal with the consequences. No "Game Over - try again" screen. We would have to deal with the consequences of our failure. Related to this, my character failed an acrobatics check and took enough falling damage to fall unconscious. I was one failed death save from rolling a new character because I'm not sure the party could afford to cast Raise Dead. Fortunately, one of them saved me before that happened.

Because of that, I could continue developing this charracter. I've spent the last week thinking about a particular combo I could do that would help the party as a whole while also playing to my character's background. It uses the character's class skill set in a way that I haven't taken advantage of yet. I'm looking forward to the next session.



Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Stolen Magic - read for fun

Stolen Magic is a book I picked up at my local library during a book sale. It is the third book in the Incorrigible series (I haven't read the first two). I'll assign a grade at the end.

The first thing I noticed about this book is its fantastic opening. I don't normally like first person narratives (that lack framing devices) for a number of reasons. This one here uses its strengths of personality. The very first sentence perfectly describes Katherine Stephenson's personality. It also provides an excellent lead into opening action. This then leads into the initial conflict while providing information about her location and family in a non-intrusive fashion.

Everything after that builds on this fantastic opening. The especially high need for propriety (and maturity!) from our "Incorrigible" heroine due to her elder sister's wedding, her initiation into the Order of the Guardians, the mysterious follower, and even a subplot like her brother's newfound protectiveness; all of these threads build on this opening. This makes for a solid storyline that builds organically (nothing artificial).

Another thing that I like about this story, and the setting in general, is how the stigma against magic is treated. Other books have witches/wizards/etc. hiding their magic because they're afraid of angry mobs or they have to follow the ancient rules of their secret society or some other handwave to create artificial conflict. In this setting, no one thinks magic is evil. They think it is scandalous. It is just not something that well-bred ladies and gentlemen do. This is woven into the society, the backstory, and the character's mindsets; a well integrated element. So while Kat could certainly magic her brother invisible to give him a decisive edge in a brawl, the resulting gossip would ruin him.

Thus, it is clear that hiding one's use of magic is essential to using it to one's benefit. Kat makes sure that no one can see her turn invisible and seeks out an ill-advised spell that her elder sister cast so she can break it before anyone else notices. Indeed, the social conflict, of this book at least, clearly has priority over the magical conflict. However, they twist around each other in interesting ways.

Character-wise it is also a skillful book. Each character is well defined around a cardinal trait and several lesser traits. Those traits are elaborated upon and used to display related traits.
For instance!
Kat's father (who is only referred to as "Papa") is defined by his academia. This means he likes to read and lecture (or rather, sermon) which leads to his inability at practical things like fixing a wagon wheel and great ability in evading social events by escaping to a library. It also informs his parenting style; when he sees his youngest child crying, his first response is to hug and then read a novel to her.  He is not two dimensional.

It has a great ending. It is no small feat to develop several plot threads of varying kinds and severity and then tie them all off. In fact, this is done to the entire trilogy of books. Yet there is still plenty of room for future stories, both magically and romantically, if Stephanie Burgis felt like writing another book.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "Stolen Magic" an A+

Click here for my next review request: Counterfeit Count
Click here for my previous book review (a request): Earthware

Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Earthware - Answering Review Request


Amr Nasser asked me to read his short story collection, "Earthware". It has a frame narrative of aliens doing anthropology on Earth's humans, and so the short stories are presented as snapshots of their work. This means that my normal method of evaluation is insufficient. However, I will still assign a grade at the end.

These short stories are basically dramatizations of areas in science or psychology etc. that the author finds interesting. The topic, question, etc. is presented as typically two people talking to each other while other events may or may not take place.

For instance, there is one where a scientist makes the argument that smart phones are alive/intelligent because they can do more complex tasks than ants. They can't make this known to us because they don't have the means to. The mad scientist then devises an experiment to test this theory. The story ends as this experiment begins. I can only assume this means that the author does not an answer and doesn't want to speculate.

That is a thing with most of the stories. They have no ending or any kind of resolution, be it happy, sad or otherwise. They don't even have a Sequel Hook or The Adventure Continues sort of ending. They usually end after a single twist, which is something I feel is common to short stories as a style. Overall, they all feel like great beginnings of stories, without a middle or an end. This is especially egregious with "The Chant" because it ends at its climax. After reading it, I sincerely thought the book's formatting cut off the last sentence or so.

"The light at the end of the tunnel" is more like a completed story. It takes the "life is a (subway) tunnel" idea and makes a society out of it, complete with sub-cultures. There are the creative types who make art and music as they go, not really caring about getting out of the tunnel. There are the KBOs (Keep Buggering On) who only care about getting out of the tunnel, but are never far ahead of the others. Then there are the nihilists, who don't care about anything and that includes the resolve to let the subway run them over.

They are all really short, some only a page long. "Brink of Survival" is so short and ends so abruptly that I have no idea what is going on. "Pulling through the curtains", on the other hand, is made stronger for this. It is about a guy with memory loss who is taking medication for it. There is a lot of confusion and few details in its narration. It is disorienting. That's because the protagonist is disoriented by their illness. The treatment is ongoing as the story ends, but there is a sense that it will end in time. It is well done.

The thing about short story collections is that they are a grab bag of quality. Some are excellent, some are dreadful and some are decent. This one in particular is difficult to find an average. I hovered between C- and B+ so I'll settle in the middle.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "Earthware" an even B

This was a free review request. The author requested an honest review and so I provided one.

Click here for my next book review (for fun): Stolen Magic

Click here for my previous book review (for fun): Order of the Stick - On the Origin of PCs



Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Using Realism to enhance Fantasy - Geography and Culture

Recently I watched a Youtube video by WASD20 about making realistic maps for a tabletop game such as Dungeons and Dragons. It was a fantastic video that made me think more and more deeply about the maps I make for my fantasy novels. Yes, he addresses the surface contradiction of making the map of a fantasy themed game "realistic", but that's not what I want to write about here.

He said that following these rules made the map more realistic and, by this token, the players can immerse themselves more into the campaign setting. It also enables them to make assumptions about the layout and landscape based on reality. This then leads to information resources for them to use in their strategies and/or roleplaying. I believe the term for this is "versimilude". I looked this up: "the appearance or semblance of truth; likelihood; probability". Incidentally, he mentioned these rules would come in handy for publishing an RPG playkit….or a novel.

There are two rules that sparked this blog post.

The first rule is "no lonely mountains". Mountains are created through factors that generate several mountains, i.e. mountain ranges. He even pointed out that Tolkien's "Lonely Mountain" in Middle Earth is not actually lonely because the Iron Hills, Grey Mountains and the Mountains of Mirkwood are nearby. 

The second rule is "break the rules". By this he meant to break the rules deliberately. If you have a truly "lonely mountain" then there should be a reason why it is lonely, such as a wizard generating it for some arcane goal or a giant constructing a sculpture that appears as a mountain to humans.

It just so happens that I had a lonely mountain in a novel that I plan to write soon (it is after the one I'm currently writing which is the first one after The Highest Power). Instead of thinking "screw the rules, I'll do whatever I want", I thought of it as an opportunity. How can I deliberately break this rule? Then it came to me.

A reason for the mountain being lonely, and not only that but something that feeds into the society that lives on and around the mountain. Their culture, their religion, their history etc. can now be informed by this lonely mountain's origin.

Again, I'm citing these rules from "10 Rules for Believable Fantasy Maps" which is a WASD20 video by Nate. You can watch it for yourself by clicking this link.

Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Order of the Stick - On the Origin of PCs (read for fun)

I am a fan of the "Order of the Stick" main series and so I was interested in its prequel,  On the Origin of PCs.

This is an Origin Episode for the Order of the Stick. It was a fun thing. There is a mix of seriousness and comedy in how the main characters come together. Roy, for example, is fresh out of fighter college and seeking to defeat an evil sorcerer because his dad said he couldn't do it. There's an even a heartfelt speech at the guy's grave. Vaarsuvius, on the other hand, is introduced on a parody of "Iron Chef".

It was interesting to see the diverse initial motivations of the Order's members. Frankly, it's surprising that they all stuck together as long as they have. The final scene makes something that happens in the Godsmoot arc take on much greater weight.


It is not required reading for the main comic as anything in here that is necessary is already included there. Rather, I feel it enriches the narrative to know what happened earlier.

It is a quick read. I finished it about 2.5 hours.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "Order of the Stick - On the Origin of PCs" an A+


Click here for my next book review (a request): Earthware

Click here for my previous book review (for fun): Animal Farm

Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

Sunday, January 27, 2019

My experience with Adventure League (season 8)

I went to a café to play Dungeons and Dragons last week. It was an Adventure League sponsored thing (is "sponsored" the right word?) and the module was "Bad Business in Parnast". It was fun until the end.

This was a mystery themed quest. See, the party rolls into town delivering statues to a tavern, and the keeper of the tavern is the quest giver. He talks about how orcs have been causing trouble and he's trying to organize a defense but setbacks repeatedly delay the work. He asks for their help because they are armed and tough looking adventurers.

So the players look about the town, talk to people and investigate the setbacks/sabotage. That was fun. There was a good bit of roleplaying with the local blacksmith and the wagon/supply guy and a cleric. My character was a dwarf paladin and so I got to contribute by curing a couple horses and jumping into a burning building to save the tavern keeper's daughter (I failed both a Constitution saving throw AND an Athletics check and so I lost most of my HP).

The climax was a fight with the orcs who were causing all the problems. That was a close fight because everyone was rolling shit (including the wizard, whose Fire Bolt would otherwise have wasted the boss orc in half the time). I thought we were going to die the whole time but bit my lip from calling a retreat. In the end, my character was indeed knocked out and so was another guy's (by the last goblin, who ran away immediately afterward).

That was all fun. It was exciting. I was ready to sign up for the next Tier 1 adventure. Then we got to the rewards portion. The Dungeon Master gave everyone two "Advancement Points" and 2 "Treasure Points". There was no EXP, gold, or treasure. Furthermore, the other players left without a word.

I was told that Adventure League was in "season 8" which changed a lot of things. There was no "experience" in this format.  There was  only "advancement", and it was based on how long the module was supposed to take instead of what the players did. There would be no "gold" received except by leveling and no items except purchased, somehow, with "treasure points". Each session was a one shot pick-up-game, so you weren't likely to play with the same people again. Even if you did, it would be in a different story likely unrelated to the previous one.

All of this left a bad taste in my mouth. Given the nature of this campaign (helping out a small and out-of-the-way town with orcs), I wasn't expecting a big reward. Given my character is a classic For Great Justice type, he wouldn't even be looking for one. Yet, this state of things cheapened my experience, and soured me on the whole Adventure League thing.

One of the fun things about RPGs is finding treasure. You know, brave the dungeon, defeat the dragon, and you get this hoard of goodies.

Within this session, the party overcame this pair of bad guys and we disarmed them of their weapons. I was thinking about how we could use or sell their equipment and asked how we would split it up. Then another player basically said "leave it here; we just want them disarmed". I shrugged and said okay. What I realized later was that acquiring even these items, common daggers and crossbows, was apparently against the rules. The even bigger disappointment came at the end, where our party discovered that the boss orc was wearing Gauntlets of Ogre Strength. Did we get them? No.

Gauntlets of Ogre Strength are a 16 treasure point item. This meant we needed 14 more, and had to play 7 more modules. Then EVERYONE could get a pair. Yes, all five players, even though we only found one pair. How does that make sense? There is no in-story reason for it at all. I searched the internet for a story-based reason and I found the opposite.

Someone else wrote a blog post (or was it a comment on the blog) that "treasure points" were basically game tickets from a Chuck E Cheese; you play the game and then you exchange tickets for prizes. I immediately agreed with that person. What you, the player, did in the campaign did not matter. As long as you completed the main objective in the two or three hours the module maker set, you got tickets. Save up the tickets and get a prize.

What I gathered, from reading threads and reflecting and such, is that this is supposed to make campaigns easier for DMs to run by making everything simpler and more predictable. Also, that it was supposed to address player problems such as "who gets this special item?" by giving out-of-story tickets/treasure points.

From a certain point of view, it make senses. This set-up is more accessible for both new and old players. There is no commitment to a group or storyline. The rules on gold and treasure are so rigid that one could jump into any tier and any adventure by crafting a character of the appropriate level. What happens before doesn't matter and what happens after doesn't matter. It's convenient.

It also means you're basically playing alone. Remember when I said that everyone else at the table left without a word? There was no talking about the campaign, reflecting on how we worked together. There wasn't even a "see you next week" because there wouldn't be one. I reflected on my own and realized that there was no "party" but "five people working separately towards the same goal".

We spent most of the session separated, doing our own thing. I didn't think much of it at the time because we were all investigating. You know, "Let's split up gang, and search for clues". When it came to the battle, there was no unity there. I include myself in there.

I could have cast "Bless" to help everyone but I only had one spell left and I wanted it to save for Cure Wounds because I still had only half of my HP total  (I ended up using it on someone else because they had 1 hit point left and a lower Armor Class than me). We fought our own targets (except the Rogue who mechanically needed help for Sneak Attack) and did our own thing. Though another positioned himself to guard my character after he was knocked out, which was nice. The orcs had better teamwork.

Ultimately, my impression of Adventure League (season 8) is that it is a good system for quick and convenient tabletop D&D, but for one-shot campaigns with strangers I'd rather go online.  My impression of the specific module is much better. That was entirely fun.

Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Animal Farm (read for fun)

I first heard of this book in school, but I can't remember if it was elementary, middle or high school. I've had it for a while and never read it until recently.

The introduction of the version I have speaks of how Orwell wrote in against Totalitarianism and in protest of the Stalin/USSR/etc. fanboyism in England at the time. Yet, it was co-opted to be against communism. I can see that here. Personally, I see it as more against cults of personality regardless of what ideology/economic system, etc. they happen to preach. I also see it as a warning of how noble intentions can be corrupted by the greedy and ego-centric.

My only gripe has nothing to do with any kind of political theory. It actually has to do with the functionality of the animals. Early on in the story, there is mention of their difficulty using farming tools because they lack human hands. Yet they had no difficulty building a wall or a windmill. Then there's the pigs standing upright. As a metaphor for them becoming human (Full Circle Revolution) it is fantastic. But why would they do it at all? It's not like their fore hooves will be good for anything, and the other humans were already taking them seriously (this is putting aside how the animals can communicate verbally with humans).

Is Benjamin supposed to be immortal or something? ("None of you have ever seen a dead donkey").

Trickster Eric Novels gives "Animal Farm" a B+


Click here for my next book review (for fun): On the Origin of PCs

Click here for my previous book review (for fun): Spice and Wolf volume 7 - Side Colors


Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Spice and Wolf volume 7 - Side Colors (read for fun)

I bought this one because I like the series. This one in particular, Side Colors, is an interquel of sorts. It has three stories. One takes place between Volume 1 and 2, another takes place between 2 and 3 and the other (I think) predates the main narrative. I will look over all three and then assign a grade.

The first story is the main story. It is the longest by far. It is basically Holo playing Trickster Mentor/Cool Big Sis to a pair of orphan children.

It is from the perspective of one of the children, Klass. He and his companion, Aryes, are traveling to the ocean so they can fish for a living. The meat of the narrative is Holo teasing and teaching them (but especially Klass). It is an interesting change of pace in more ways than one.
Unlike Lawrence, Klass is never presented as Holo's equal. It is more like a boy who believes himself more mature than he is traveling with his big sister who is only too willing to prove otherwise. The fact that he's also traveling with his girl-crush increases the embarrassment potential all the more.
Secondly, this entire story takes place in the wilderness. They walk through grasslands on a cart road and then a forest. There is no town and so the cast is very small and the economic factor is likewise diminished.
It is not a complete story but rather a complete "arc" from such a story.


The second story has already been adapted to the anime. It the part where Lawrence has money changed so he can buy Holo's "town girl" clothes. It is short and fun. The real prize is the third story.


This one, I think, has also been adapted to anime. It is the victory dinner with Nora the shepherdess and Holo falling ill. This is a gem because it is from Holo's perspective. It was a fascinating look into her mind. For instance, she is deliberately Tsundere. This is for fun but also out of fear.


Trickster Eric Novels gives "Spice and Wolf volume 7 - Side Colors" an A+


Click here for my next book review (for fun): Animal Farm

Click here for my previous book review (for fun): The Tao of Jeet Kune Do


Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Tao of Jeet Kune Do (read for fun)

I can't remember where I got this book. It's been a while. If I had to guess, I'd say that I bought it myself.

The introduction to the book, written by Linda Lee and the editor, says that the book contains little new information. It is mostly how Bruce himself liked to train and fight. I agree with them. Indeed, the first section on Zen and how it relates to the mindset of a Martial Artist echoes a book I read recently, "The Sword and the Mind". Both of them speak of how a martial artist should possess an empty mind so they can react quickly, and stress the importance of mental flexibility (i.e. not being fixed or rigid in methods).

 

Sometimes it appears like an instruction manual with explicit advice and lines like "the student should X" or "the instructor should Y". Other times it appears more like personal notes, such as the terms he doesn't define, the pictures without captions or explanation, and lines in parenthesis like "investigate Z for M purpose". I don't know how "crispy" relates to a martial art movement. I think it means something like a "snappy" motion.

 

I read Bruce expressing frustration at classical styles. They are seen as rigid, limiting and counter-productive because they inhibit innovation and individuality. "Organized despair" is how he refers to the forms/kata/etc. that these classical styles have. I can relate to that. There are times when I feel like they are more about looking good than being good. This book strikes me as a search for practical knowledge and methods. "Classical" is a pejorative.

Interestingly, he speaks positively of boxing. The practical sections, that of the specific "tools" and such, include images of boxing-like figures and refers to it often.

The techniques of Jeet Kune Do, based on this explicit technique section, involves a lot of feinting, deception and countering. Little attention is paid to kicking, at least relative to the fist techniques. While it may seem as though this is the same sort of limiting he criticized earlier, he says that what he includes here are simply templates; basic archetypes to use as needed. If they don't work, then forget them and trying something else.

I wouldn't recommend this book to a beginner. It strikes me as something for the intermediate and beyond to use to advance their craft. A beginning practitioner should develop self-discipline and a body of knowledge first. I base this recommendation on my self. Personally, I would NOT have been able to use as this book as a beginner. It would have been in one ear and out the other. Either that, or I would skip the methodology and go straight for the techniques, and thus miss the point entirely.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "The Tao of Jeet Kune Do" an A+

Click here for my next book review (for fun): Spice and Wolf volume 7

Click here for my previous book review (a request): Jack's Wagers



Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).