Three book reviews

First, a new fan of Summa Elvetica and Selenoth with an literarily eminent heritage reviews the precursor to Arts of Dark and Light.

As fantasy within the noble ranks of the great JRR Tolkien, you’re being overly modest if you fail to see that SUMMA ELVETICA is more than a worthy sucessor. No doubt Tolkien himself would have been greatly pleased at how you have been able to successfully and seamlessly synthesize many of the beings and creatures of Middle Earth with Earth’s ancient and modern history as we know it, thus making both all the more relevant in the process.

The Elvish soul question then functions more for me as a thematic jump-off point from which springs a very satisfying adventure tale, both grounded and uplifted by the problematic duality and contradictions inherent in Church doctrine. In other words, I’m glad, as you state in the “Author’s Note,” that you decided to pursue a more narrational rather than philosophical structure to the book. For me the tale and detailed descriptionn of its inhabitants – be they Elves, Men, Dwarves, Orcs, Trolls, Goblins or Ulin — is the meat, and the philosophy is the spice; not the other way around.

Not that you need hear it from me, but your prose is as poetic as it is precise, and your storytelling gripping. Makes for a very satisfying read in the finest Tolkien tradition. Naturally I gleaned much intelligence from your terrific podcasts and interviews, but it didn’t prepare me for the power and command you exhibit in your fiction.

Something I find fascinating — and it may not necessarily be how you intended it to be viewed when you wrote it — is that the realm of SUMMA ELVETICA can be seen as either prequel, sequel or a parallel realm to that of LORD OF THE RINGS. When the Elves depart from Middle Earth at the end of the trilogy, it’s said that it’s now the “Age of Men.” Marcus Valerius appears to be a worthy if not exactly a heroic successor to the great King Aragorn (who married an Elf Princess), but overall, if Amorr is a successor to Gondor, it is — although not unexpectedly when viewed from the perspective of this world we inhabit — comparatively fallen, debased and considerably less heroic, and that’s reason for sadness.

It’s a very kind review, but I don’t think “poetic” is a phrase one is often likely to hear used to describe my prose. I am pretty sure that “workmanlike” is a more accurate description. That being said, I am very pleased to hear that people are enjoying Selenoth to the point that they regard it as a worthy successor to Middle Earth rather than, say, Westeros or Malazan. And, of course, there are a few songs in A Sea of Skulls….

Second, a less-than-flattering review of SJWAL:

Excretable Nonsense
What twaddle. Now I know why no one takes you seriously. I didn’t think my eyes could even roll that high. 

And another one of Crisis & Conceit:

Don’t waste your time. 

I’m always rather curious what these obvious fake reviewers think they are accomplishing, if anything. I used to think they were simply trying to drive the average rating down, but over time, I’ve come to conclude that they are actually trying to relieve the pressure on their amygdala caused by the very existence of the book and/or the author. Regardless, it seems a very strange way to attempt to effect change.