Monday, September 13, 2010

300-Word Book Review AKA How Can You Read This? There's No Pictures!

Explanation: After I read a book I usually like to take down a few of my thoughts regarding the book, lest it disappear down the memory hole. I had a whole document full of these comments. I forgot to save it when my laptop got stolen. A few of the comments ended up in correspondence, though, like the following that I sent to John Brown, the author of Servant of a Dark God.

300 Words! Better Than Fail Blog!

I argue fine points of LDS doctrine with John Brown on Facebook, so I wanted to read his book. I was genuinely, deeply moved. This book feels real. The book started with a description of a pretty basic day on a farm. At one point, when two kids asked their brother to guard a fugitive, he said, “Who will do the farm chores?” I liked that. So real and so easily missed.

Brown doesn't have Sanderson's gaming-module glee in his confusing magic system, though his characters are more real. Any government-unauthorized magic identifies one as a Darkfriend (called Sleth, but it’s the same idea). One of the characters, Argoth, was a former Darkfriend. He had gone from stealing life from others to hoarding it in small increments from donations—I think?—from his Sekrit Order.

The best parts are the moments where children face up to their parents' problems. Talen, the main character, had to accept how his dad is, to all appearances, a dark wizard. It reminded me of conversations with my dad; he always told me that my rigid view of Mormonism needed more gray areas. I thought he was on the road to hell. The book might have been better if Talen had maintained his definition of wizardry and betrayed his dad.

For more baggage, the character Argoth challenges a corrupt ruling wizard. To do so, he draws strength from his son, almost killing the kid. Armed with his son's energy, Argoth battles bad guy , and the wizard makes him into a mental slave. He took his son's life-force to conquer this baddie, and it DIDN'T WORK. I would kill to pull that off in a book. Brown plays for keeps,; well done in a world of fantasy comfort-food.

[Lest ye wonder, this is the list of books I've read and lost my profound thoughts on:
Collapse by Jared Diamond
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
The Book of Saladin by Tariq Ali
Manhood For Amateurs by Michael Chabon
Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose
Lamentation by Ken Scholes
Canticle by Ken Scholes
Antiphon by Ken Scholes
Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon
The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz
Water by Steven Solomon
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King

That's since April. 3-4 books a month is pretty studly. Oh yeah. It turns you on.]


  1. I skipped to the end of this post after I realized I didn't care what the book was about. Just so you know. I think I've read 2 books this year. One was the autobiography of a girl raised in a polygamist community, and the other was a book called "How To Make $100,000 Per Year As A Massage Therapist." Pretty difficult stuff. You're impressed. I know it.

  2. Awesome. I'm blown away. Seriously, if you make 100k (and move someplace where that isn't just barely living wage) can we be, like, best friends?