Monday, September 27, 2010

Science Fiction Oddball

Sometimes I feel like a science fiction oddball. The stories I like most and like to write are good old fashioned space opera, like Star Wars or Star Trek, and sword & sorcery like Legend Of the Seeker, or high fantasy like Lord Of The Rings, etc. I don't like slipstream. I don't like stories which have no discernible speculative element. I don't like preachy stories pushing a political agenda. And I don't like stories with overwhelming amounts of science or magic which feel like textbooks. Tell me a story with good plot full of action and riveting, well developed characters.

Partly this is because I am a child of the media generation which are not the most die hard science fiction fans these days. I did not grow up on the old school science fiction stuff. I read some of it (Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, Jules Verne, HG Wells, Lord Of The Rings, Lord Valentine's Castle, the Narnia Books, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and more). I grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek tie-ins and the movies and tv shows. Those were what I got my biggest science fiction fix from. And certainly I have enjoyed going back and discovering much old science fiction stuff along with the new, both of which I continue to do. But I still want those lovable characters with action as they fight bad guys, save the girl, and save the world.

I don't write hard science fiction. What would be the point? Biology was the only class I flunked in college. I never took Chemistry. The only science class I did well in was Astronomy, in which I got an A minus. And I skip the long boring sections in Tom Clancy books where he spends half a chapter describing a gun or vehicle. Who cares? Tell me a story. So those kinds of things just don't impress me. In large part, that's because they don't make me feel anything. Characters do.

As I prepare to get my novel deal finalized and figure out a marketing plan, I am hoping there are lots of others like me, because that's what I wrote, and I fear that may make it less appealing to the standard science fiction crowd. The fans who attend ComicCon and DragonCon would love it though, and I hope to reach out to them. Not sure how yet, but that's the goal. Every reader who's read it so far has raved about the book, including two fellow writers and two professional editors. Two small presses are bidding on it. I believe it's good and people will like it. But they have to read it first.

Here's hoping this is one case where being an oddball doesn't leave me standing on the sidelines at the big game.

For what it' worth...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Photo Prompt

No details but I will hint that if "borders" come to mind, you're on the right track. Or should I say "write" track?

Life or something like it's got a hold on me

I am so behind on so many things. I even got behind on applying or jobs, although that had to, by necessity, go back to the top of the list and I am currently caught up. Needless to say, I am behind on blogging as well. I do have some things I want to blog about, including more author tips, but for now, I am just dropping in to say don't give up on me.

I'm still awaiting offers for the "Worker Prince" space opera trio. One of the publishers is done and putting together the offer. The other is reading the entire manuscript again with both changes they requested and changes I initiated myself and will get back to me.

I am close to finishing the first draft of book 1 in my epic fantasy series as well.

My North Star Serial stories continue running monthly at and can be read there, or on my website as soon as the webmaster updates it (she's fallen behind).

Beyond that, I have also accepted the position off Assistant Editor, E-zines at Tangent, an award winning fanzine known as the top source for reviews of short fiction. Check it out at I have several reviews posted already: Asimov's August 2010, Analog November 2010, Mike Resnick's Blasphemy, and Interzone September-October 2010. Our new format will launch soon and include all the e-zine stuff which I and my dedicated reviewers are working hard on to get ready.

One interesting thing about reviewing is it teaches me to examine stories more critically from a number of different aspects, and that can only help my own self-editing and the editing I do for others. I am also learning a lot about what I don't like, which is why it has taken me a while to get into short fiction and read some of the magazines I've been subscribing two now for over a year and am way behind on. I don't care at all for slipstream. I like my SF and F much more straight forward. I like sword and sorcery, high fantasy, and I like space opera. I am not impressed by writers who try really hard to invent complicated science and to teach us some moral lesson. I am much more impressed when they actually tell a good, involving story with dynamic, interesting, relatable characters. Those stories draw me in, whether they have complicated science or a moral or not. Perhaps that's why I tend to worry first about character and plot in my own stories and let the rest of it fall in place where it may.

In any case, my involvement with Tangent will no doubt continue to involve me in the SFF community in new ways and teach me things which will be reflected in my writing, including my musings here. I hope you'll find that interesting. And I do thank you for reading.

For what it's worth...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What's customer service Facebook?

My wife's account is blocked until she proves who she is. Facebook wants her to text from her cell phone, only texting is turned off on her phone. She never uses it and with me unemployed, we had to cut expenses. So here we are. We try and click the alternate method button but can't get anything but text.

This is just another example of big companies having no couth about customer service. If I ran my business the way Facebook does, I'd be out of business. When you inconvenience your customers, then you make an impression, and so far, from all my dealings with Facebook, the impression is negative. My wife is so disgusted at their lack of response that she refuses to email again. I emailed but they cannot reveal personal details of another person's account. I don't want "personal details," I want my wife to have an alternate option to get her account verified so she can be on Facebook.

It's ridiculous how they treat users: not responding to customer service issues. I had a friend who had to start another account because hers was hacked and Facebook wouldn't respond. So much for her personal info and pics. The guy was chatting and email all of us asking for money. Apparently, that's okay with Facebook as it is to lock people out of accounts. A friend of mine had the same problem. Facebook reminds me of the airlines, and I am the first person in line to push the government to change the rules for how the airlines treat customers. Guess I'll add Facebook to the list. If I didn't need it for business networking as an author, I'd just quit and go somewhere else.

What's customer service Facebook? You really ought to learn. Sites fade in popularity and it's only a matter of time before you become another My Space if you continue like this.

For what it's worth...

Tuesday Photo Prompt

Hope this inspires some stories.

Friday, September 10, 2010

NOVEL EXCERPT: Prologue from The Worker Prince

This is the first chapter of my forthcoming science fiction novel The Worker Prince. It's a space opera in the vein of Star Wars and Star Trek. If you enjoy it, please spread the word.


Sol climbed to the top of the rise and stared up at the twin suns making their daily ascension. Yellows and oranges faded under the increasing blue of oncoming daylight, leaving a red glow on the horizon.

For as long as he could remember, he’d started each day with an escape from the heavy, polluted air and the noise of people, factories and traffic. He’d hoped the peaceful, quiet sunrises would calm him as usual to face the day ahead, but today he had no sense of peace, and the silence of the city’s edge drowned beneath the clamor within him.

My precious son! My God, don’t forsake us now!

The wait had been interminable, punctured by endless prayers to God for a precious gift. Now they had to send him away—their Davi! Was there no justice in this universe?

He glanced at his chrono and sighed. Wouldn’t want to be late to serve the Borali Alliance! After one last look at the twin suns, he turned and hurried back along the path toward Iraja and the starport stretched out on the horizon near the city’s edge.

He labored more with each breath as heavy air filled his lungs. The depot occupied a strategic site at the center of the planet ensuring easy access from all regions. Ignoring the droning soundtrack of the city awakening, Sol timed in on the chrono and greeted Aron, his co-worker and lifelong friend.

“Regallis,” Aron said, smiling.

“Regallis?” Sol asked. It seemed so far away—one of the outer planets in the system.

Aron nodded. “It’s perfect. Good population, frequent tourists, fertile plants, peaceful, no pollution. Best of all, no slavery. Davi should find a very happy life there.” Sol smiled at the thought. “I plotted coordinates for the capital. Figured it would give him the best chance.”

Sol clapped Aron on the shoulder, as the idea blossomed. “Thank you, Aron. We knew we could count on you.”

Aron, short and bulky, filled out the blue-green uniform jumpsuit, leather boots and tool belt both wore more fully than the thinner, taller Sol. They moved across a hangar toward their workstation, despite the deafening racket closing in around them—the constant hum of machinery, men raising their voices to be heard over it, the roaring of engines, the staccato hammering of tools. The sounds, the chaos of starships in all states of repair and the smell of fuel and sweat combined to make the hangar a place most visitors preferred to avoid. Sol didn’t even notice.

“What do you have left to do?” Aron asked as their eyes scanned the daily work assignments on their terminals.

“Test the seals and navigation system, replace injector. Then I need fuel.” Sol sighed, ticking the tasks off on his fingers like always. There would be no time to work on the courier today.

“My friend at the fuel depot has left over military fuel cells. They almost never ask for them back. He volunteered some for the courier.”

Sol beamed. If he’d ever had a brother, he hoped it would have been someone like Aron. “What did I do to deserve a friend like you?”

Aron shrugged. “Some people are luckier than others.” Sol laughed at Aron’s silly grin as they set to work on their assigned tasks.

As they commenced with their work, Sol stared through the hangar’s transparent roof at the clear blue sky overhead. Through a break in the gray, polluted clouds, the clean purity of a blue sky contrasted with his daily existence. He and Lura had adored every moment since the birth of their son. Every giggle, smile, or sign of personality sent waves of warm amazement coursing through him. There was not any more precious gift than that of this little creature who’d come from their love.

Lord Xalivar’s decree had taken the planet by storm. All first-born worker sons would be slaughtered for the gods. There were rumors that the crisis resulted from one of the High Lord Councilor’s nightmares, but no one knew for sure. Xalivar didn’t need a reason. Concerning the slaves, his word was law.

The gods! Gods our people don’t even believe in would dare to take away our Davi! Sol and Lura desperately wondered what they could do to save their precious boy. After hours of discussion, they’d found a single choice.

The next morning, Sol had begun modifying the round, silver craft designed to carry supplies and papers between planets in the solar system. Being a mechanic at the depot put him in the perfect position. He installed a vacuum sealer and oxygen vents and hollowed out the carrier cavity to hold the cushion on which he would place their tiny son for the journey.

Sol enlisted Aron, who had access to navigation charts for the entire system, knowing together they could find a place where Davi would be found and cared for. The courier’s sub-light drive would cut travel time to no more than a day to anywhere in the solar system.

Lura wouldn’t eat and barely slept, sitting with Davi and refusing to leave him. At least Sol’s work kept him occupied. He couldn’t bear watching her suffer, and if he didn’t act, Davi would be sacrificed with the others. Healing would come when they knew he was safe. Sol was, even now, working on a tracking device, which would send back a signal to the depot when the craft landed. They might never see Davi again, but at least they would know he’d escaped to a new life.

As the suns’ rays warmed the space where he stood, it comforted Sol to know their baby boy would see the same suns wherever he wound up. Shadows crept away like their quat, Luci, who loved to sneak around feeling invisible with her arched back and long tail. Luci would miss the precious little one, too. Sol offered a silent prayer of thanks for the time they’d had with their precious son then turned back to his tasks.


“LSP Squads are landing and moving toward our neighborhoods.” A co-worker appeared beside Sol’s worktable, his fearful eyes darting around like flies hovering over a corpse.

“We don’t have much time,” Sol said to Aron as the co-worker hurried off, and they abandoned the hulking barge to finish the courier.

Aron tested the navigation system, while Sol checked the seals. Less than thirty minutes later, the first reports of methodical killings came in—first-born males of all ages slaughtered by LSP squads moving from home to home.

“I hope Lura heard the news.” Sol couldn’t stand still.

“I’m sure everyone on the planet knows about it by now,” Aron replied as both did their best to hurry without making any mistakes. “She’s probably on her way here already.”

Sol nodded, fighting the tension rising within. She would follow their plan and head for the depot with Davi. With his supervisors watching, he couldn’t run home and warn her. He’d risk encountering the LSP squads, who tended to shoot first and ask questions later of citizens who interrupted them in action.

The supervisor was upon them within the hour. “There’s no courier on your worksheets.”

His gray jumpsuit bore not a blemish or wrinkle, unlike theirs which were covered with grease and grit. The stare from the green-scaled supervisor’s disproportionally large orange eyes might have been intimidating if Sol hadn’t already grown used to it. Tran hurried over waving the two lower arms extending from either side of his rounded, voluminous stomach. Two parallel arms extended out of his shoulders above them, one holding an electronic translator which translated his words from his native Lhamor—a series of clicks and clacks—into the common used standard, the official language of the Alliance.

Sol’s throat tightened, but Aron remained calm. “It’s the courier for Estrela Industries, Tran,” Aron said as he typed calculations into the navigation system’s computer. “We got notification they’ve moved up the testing. It’s for a top-secret program authorized by Lord Xalivar himself.”

Sol and Aron had long ago devised the story about the courier belonging to an important defense contractor. They’d seen too many other workers killed just for failing to meet their quotas. Since couriers were a part of their regular routine, it was easy enough to excuse their working on it from time to time if anyone asked. Before now, no one had.

Tran mulled this over, staring at them as if he could read their minds. “It’s almost done—a few minor adjustments.” Sol used a wrench to finish checking bolts on the courier’s hatch.

“Well, you can’t leave today without finishing your assignments.” Tran’s eyes reddened with suspicion before he whirled and marched away. At least they’d bought themselves time.

“If he goes to the manager—” Sol shuddered at the memory of past tortures for disobedience.

“He won’t. He flinches at the mention of Xalivar’s name,” Aron reminded him, as they hurried back to work on the courier. Sol’s breathing normalized again, and he hoped Lura was on her way there.

A clerk in a red jumpsuit appeared, handing Aron some parts for another project. As Aron signed the laser pad to acknowledge receipt, the co-worker looked at Sol. “They’ve started in your neighborhood. We just heard.”

Sol and Aron exchanged a frightened glance as the co-worker slipped away. Sol’s muscles tightened as his heartbeat climbed. He jumped at the communicator’s beep, then double clicked the talk button. “Station sixty-five.”

“Your wife is in the lobby,” the auto-bot receptionist responded. The line went dead.

Sol’s shoulders descended as he turned to Aron. “Get the pod to Test Pad Seventeen-A. We’ll meet you there.” Aron nodded as Sol hurried toward the lobby.

Lura waited with Davi wrapped in a blanket, rocking him in her arms. She wore a simple white jumpsuit and tan leather shoes, her long brown hair flowing down her back. As it had for fifteen years, her beauty took his breath away. The most perfect human he’d ever met had chosen him. He felt like a leprechaun from an Old Earth fairy tale grasping a pot of gold.

Sol hugged Lura, seeing the fear in her eyes. “Come with me.” Grabbing her arm, he steered her away from the four-armed auto-bot, which sat permanently affixed before a huge communications console. He tried to relax, knowing it was a mech but as they neared the door, Davi began crying.

“Is that a baby?” Tran’s voice came from behind them, and they turned to see him frowning as he approached.

“It’s our son,” Lura commented, then put a hand over her mouth as Tran reached for a communicator on the wall.

The clerk who’d delivered supplies to Sol and Aron earlier entered at a run. “Tran, Station Thirty-Four has no fuel.”

Tran stopped reaching for the communicator and turned to face him. “What do you mean they have no fuel?”

As Sol pushed Lura through the door, Tran whirled back around, scowling before the door slammed shut behind them.

Lura’s tears flowed as they zigzagged through the chaotic hangar toward the test pads. They almost couldn’t hear Davi crying above the din.

“I’m sorry...” Lura’s hand shook as she clung to his arm.

“Let’s hope Aron’s got the courier ready.” Sol tapped three numbers into a security door and it rose into a ceiling cavity with a loud, whooshing sound. He ushered her down a dimly lit corridor.

“I don’t know if I can let him go,” Lura said, as she had over and over since the decree’s release.

“If we want our son to grow old, we have no choice, love.” Sol’s practiced emotional burying failed and his voice cracked as they moved past numbered doors toward Test Pad Seventeen-A.

The dark walls and floor of the narrow corridor absorbed what little light the reflector pads overhead provided. If Sol hadn’t known the way, they would have progressed more slowly. They stopped before a gray door marked seventeen-A as Sol entered another key code into the security pad.

The door swung up and Sol rushed Lura and Davi onto the test pad, where Aron was busy double-checking the courier’s navigation system. Mounted on the launcher, the courier appeared bigger and taller than it actually was. Upon seeing it, Lura clutched Davi tightly to her chest.

“Lura, we must hurry!” Tiny daggers danced and sliced at the surface of Sol’s pounding heart.

“I’ve got the coordinates programmed. And I borrowed fuel for the sub-light drive from Station Thirty-Four,” Aron said and Sol winced. “It should take them a while before they miss it.”

Sol climbed a small ladder and examined the courier one final time. “Tran’s already been alerted. Why’d you do that?”

“There was no time to go anywhere else,” Aron said, his face registering alarm.

Sol motioned to the courier. “Let’s get the engines prepped. They don’t know where we’ve gone.”

Aron and Sol hurried about the final launch preparations as Lura held Davi and cried. After a few moments, Sol stepped down from the ladder to join her.

“He’s going to Regallis, Lura. Aron checked it out himself. He’ll be in the capital. Someone will give him a life we never could.” Tears flowed as his hands carressed the feathery down atop his son’s head.

“How can this be happening?” Lura said through her sobs. “We’ve waited so long for a child!”

Sol’s arms wrapped around her, holding his family for the last time. “We have to have faith, Lura. God will protect him. It’s time for him to go.” He reached for Davi. Lura resisted a moment, then kissed Davi’s forehead and surrendered.

His infant son lay so light in his arms—soft and warm. The eyes looked to him with total trust, but instead of cuddling with him as he wanted, Sol hugged the tiny boy to his chest and hurried up the ladder to the courier. Placing Davi in the molded cushion, he wrapped the safety straps around him, put the life support pad in place and turned it on. Its LEDs lit up bright green. The note he’d written for whoever found Davi rested secure in the info pouch on the side wall. Everything was good to go.

Lura rushed up the ladder beside him. She removed her necklace his mother had given her before their joining ceremony and set it beside their son. Since the ceremony, Sol had never seen her without it. Tucking the family crest emblem inside the blanket where it couldn’t float free and scratch their son, he reached for the hatch, bending down as he did to kiss Davi’s head.

“Always remember we love you,” he said, the last words his baby son heard before the hatch closed over him.

Sol clasped Lura’s hand and led her down the steps. He nodded as Aron entered the launch code in the computer, and they all moved out of range to watch. The courier’s engines ignited, humming as they rose to full power in preparation for launch. The room vibrated around them as the courier’s engines shot out twin columns of orange-red flame, rocking the pedestal upon which it rested, before launching into the sky on its journey to the edge of the solar system. Sol wrapped his arms around Lura as she collapsed against him, sobbing. Security forces arrived, surrounding them, and Sol glimpsed Tran’s orange eyes peering in from the doorway.

Friday Photo Prompt

My friend Jay Lake posts photos throughout the week. They're inspiring and fantastic and artistic. It inspired me to think about how photos can be writing prompts. So as part of my efforts to make this blog more useful and helpful for fellow writers, in between blogging about daily life, adventures, opinions, etc., I'm starting this new feature. Photos to inspire your writing. Use it or don't as you will. There will be others.

Photos © 2010 Bryan Thomas Schmidt. All Rights Reserved.

AUTHOR'S TIP: Playing The Waiting Game

I think one of the hardest parts of being a writer is the waiting. You wait to hear back on submissions, wait to hear back from beta readers, wait for checks to arrive, wait for books to arrive, etc. And if you're anything like me, waiting is probably not your forté. So what do you do to get through it?

Here's a few suggestions:

1) Keep multiple projects going. Once you send out the latest manuscript to your betas or a slush pile, get to work on the next one. Okay, you can allow yourselves one evening to celebrate your satisfaction, but, after that, back to work. After all, even if this one gets accepted, careers don't happen on one submission. You have to keep building your business.

2) Regard it as a business. All too often I meet writers who talk as if their writing is a hobby, yet act as if acceptance or rejection is something their life depends on. I have few friends whose hobbies are so important to them. If you're that invested, it's not a hobby, so stop pretending it is and treat it like a business. Work on your craft, including writing classes, reading a lot, studying what other writers do and how they describe their own craft and struggles. Set up a database for you submissions and your income and expenses. Treat it like the business you want it to be.

3) Blog about it. That's what I'm doing and it's therapeutic. There are lots of people going through the same thing and sharing with each other is an encouragement and learning experience.

4) Remind yourself that finishing and submitting your work puts you a step ahead of many others. Lots of people say they are writers or want to be, but only those who actually write, complete it and submit it have the chance to actually make it as professionals.

5) Offer Reader Incentives. This one won't work with the markets you submit to, but it might work with your beta readers. Of course, it all depends on your budget. But think about running little contests with your betas for the person with the most helpful notes, the quickest response time, etc. You can offer everything from gift certificates for a cup of Starbucks to writing lessons or services. It might be a way to keep your betas motivated. After all, if they're not writers, they probably don't realize how hard the waiting is or how important their input is to your success.

Everyone's situation is unique, so I'm sure you can think of better ideas than I can. See what you can come up with to make the wait time pass more quickly. Whatever works for you might not work for me. The point is to use the time to further your career, instead of regarding it as holding you back.

Good luck with your writing.

For what it's worth...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

AUTHOR TIP: Making Perfect Bound Arcs With Create Space

After almost a year, nine drafts, two independent editors, a series of beta readers, two critique groups, and a few rejections, I was tired of looking at the word file that was my novel's manuscript. I still believed in the story and characters and felt good about my writing though. Both the professional editors I'd worked with and the betas had raved at about, as had my crit group members. I'd polished and polished. But still had not achieved what I wanted -- holding the finished book in my hand.

Then I remembered the process I'd used to self-publish my short story collection using Create Space. If you format the cover and book interior yourself, there's no set up cost. And if you don't click "Submit For Publishing," Create Space never releases the book to Amazon or stores. This could be the perfect way to get to that next phase, I thought.

I went through the manuscript again and polished it some more, addressing a few issues I discovered with the main character's arc, polishing and tightening words and sentences and making sure it was ready. Then I sent it out to two betas for corrections and final notes.

After their notes came back, I implemented them into the manuscript, made a copy of the Word file and started reformatting the copy to meet Create Space's instructions for the interior of a 6x9 trade paperback. Locating a free temporary cover image off the web, I trimmed that down and used Photoshop to fit it into Create Space's cover template. Then I sent both files off to a friend who was experienced with Photoshop to double check and polish.

When they were ready, I sent them to Create Space for file approval.

Up to this point my total cost: zero. Much cheaper than print cartridges and paper reams would be.

A day or two later, after Create Space approved the files (which took a couple of tries with the cover because Create Space's instructions aren't any more understandable than anyone else's), I ordered a copy for proofing.

Looking it over, I made a few changes, resubmitted the files, and, a week later, had another proof.

What a great feeling it was to finally hold the book I'd dreamed up 25 years before in my hand looking like a real book. Oh sure, I still had to find a publisher, but at least I knew it would look good that way, and reading the paperback was much easier than reading a backlit .doc file.

Since I never submitted for publishing, Create Space never released the book for sale so no one except me and Create Space even know it exists. I sent a few copies to faithful betas and a couple of reviewers and then submitted to small presses.

Now I am awaiting word from two who are interested in bidding for it. Altogether a very useful tool for getting professional looking book copies inexpensively. Total cost per ARC: $7.50 + shipping.

For what it's worth...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Review: Ken Scholes' Antiphon

When I discovered Ken Scholes' Lamentation, it was on a TOR ad inside the front cover of an issue of The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy last fall. Being a man of faith, the title immediately caught my eye. But it was when I saw Orson Scott Card's recommendation that I knew I had to read it. Card wrote: "This is the golden age of fantasy, with a dozen masters doing their best work. Then along comes Ken Scholes, with his amazing clarity, power, and invention, and shows us all how it's done." That was enough for me. I love Card's books, loved Scholes' title, so I ordered the book.

What a delight awaited me. I devoured Lamentation in just over a week, reading it as fast as my eyes and mind could handle. Scholes' books are rich, full of emotion, detail, mystery, and questions which often await answers even when the book is done. It's a lot to process, so sometimes it may take the reader's mind a while to wrap around it and move along. Sometimes this can make the pace feel slow or the page count seem slight, but as you persevere, you'll find yourself more and more compelled, reading faster and faster until a lightning burst at the end.

After Lamentation, I quickly ordered Canticle and read it almost as quickly. The second in a series of five books which comprise The Psalms Of Isaak, Canticle expanded on both the characters and themes of Lamentation, taking the plot and suspense to new heights.

The gist of the story is that of survivors of a holocaust, the destruction of a city. Their society already survived a cataclysm in what is now the Charred Wastes on the edge of their current home, the Named Lands, but now they face yet another in their midst.

With the destruction of the city, a library containing the treasure of all their known knowledge was destroyed. So now, having discovered metal men who helped store the libraries knowledge and carry it in their memories, the king of a northern territory known as the Ninefold Forests is assembling a new library as the data in the metal men's memories is transcribed bit by bit into new books.

In the meanwhile, the ancient political machinations of others have set in motion new conflicts--conflicts between the surviving territories and their leaders, conflicts in philosophy, and conflicts in how to solve the issues they all now face.

Antiphon, which releases from TOR on September 14th, continues the saga of those people. Unlike many authors, Scholes doesn't overwhelm us with details of his world. He gives us just enough to paint a picture, then lets the rest unfold naturally through dialogue and the characters' thoughts. Full of action, multiple storylines which intersect and separate again, and full of surprising new twists and turns with every chapter, each of these books builds on the others, taking us deeper and deeper into understanding, while at the same time leading us deeper and deeper toward a sense of impending doom and major confrontation.

This is epic fantasy at its finest and truly a must read for every fantasy fan. From the drama of relationships and romances to the clash of religious views and philosophies, Scholes has built a complex, diverse world populated with real people who have something to teach as well as learn.

If you haven't read these books, you're missing out, and I highly recommend adding them to your reading list. With each release, I wait with more and more anticipation for the next book. Why can't Ken Scholes just write faster? I ask myself, and you will too once you've discovered the amazing story and world that is The Palms of Isaak.