Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Books Read This Week

The Virtues of War, by Steven Pressfield
I could be wrong but this seemed shorter and went by quicker than Gates of Fire. I am fascinated by the idea of Alexander prepping himself for what he knows is coming, his destiny as it were. I like this because of the reflections I will use in two main characters in my books. The idea of very young and yet very successful commanders in chief was not such a foreign idea in the ancient world as it may be now. Today we have the decisiveness over a leader being too young or too old, too inexperienced or too set in their ways; it seems in the ancient world if you were capable--nothing else mattered.
Within the context of 'Virtues of War' Pressfield paints a sympathetic picture of a conqueror that I must admit has never been one of my heroes. Still there are many noteworthy remarks from Alexander and his generals that I appreciate-too many in fact to not eventually steal them as much as Pressfield stole them from the original chroniclers.

The Homeric Hymn's, by Apostolos N. Athanasskis
Now that's a Greek name if I ever heard one. This is the translation and notes by said author. These hymns-32-in all are dedicated to the various Greek Gods and have their own wonderful lyricism. They are credited to Homer the same as the Iliad and Odyssey are but that cannot be confirmed any more than the others. I like a lot of these in the same way I appreciate Milton's Paradise Lost, sometimes the names are only vaguely familiar and I have to ponder on who was who or known also by what names. For the sake of Greek myth this was an enjoyable read.

In Search of Kokopelli, by L.H. Erickson
This is a well thought out and well meaning book, working towards explaining Kokopelli, the humpbacked flute player so familiar to the American southwest as possibly being Moroni, the last Nephite. According to Erickson the first traces of Kokopelli date to approximately the correct time of Moroni's wanderings. Ok that's all good, no problem there, my only real beef with his begining premise is that it is based on the Two Cumorah theory and that I cannot abide.
I have no problem with Moroni traveling all over the place and dedicating sights from here to Kalamazoo, but I don't accept the premise of Two Cumorahs or Limited Geography Theory, that dog don't hunt.
Going on a tangent real quick the sheer numbers and human nature involved will not allow me to buy LGT--people don't sit in one place like that for that long. Referring back to 'Virtues of War' just think of the incredible amount of distance Alexander conquered-he could have conquered more if his army had been motivated better. (SPOILER-for-Heroes of the Fallen-I say the Lamanites were motivated better by the likes of King Aaron) But rather than go on a complete tangent I will say Erickson, IMO is using faulty arguments against the possibility of a wider American setting. Citing outdated factoids, he discounts the possiblity of the Hopewell people as possible Nephites.

Conan-Cimeria Volume 7, by Tim Truman and Tomas Giorello

This is the graphic novel of the ongoing Darkhorse series. I collected the actual comics for the first fifty issues then got lazier and or poorer and have waited for the story arcs to be released in graphic form. This was released right before my birthday so I treated myself. The only real reference to the man himself Robert E. Howard is the beginning poem Cimmeria, the rest is a mix of stories of Conan's grandfather and how it influenced Conan in his own travel and even relating to his current story arc. Overall I thought it was pretty good-not quite as good as the rendered original stories but still well worth it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Helm of Heroes

My brother bought me a steel Greek Corinthian style helmet for my birthday. Yea its cool. One thing I noticed having it on is the sea-shore effect, that continual buzz and reverb when you speak, no wonder that later style changes adjusted for ear exposure. My vision wasn't limited too bad at all but the hearing would be awful in battle, maybe it would be better that way except for hearing orders within a Phalanx and adjusting accordingly quickly enough. This standard of ancient fighting has been on my mind a lot this week since I am almost done with Steven Pressfields 'The Virtues of War' great book, lots of stuff I'm gonna have to steal. Its about Alexander the Great and is full of references to other ancient writers and tacticians and just the ever so brief mention of Alexanders one time opponent Memnon of Rhodes forces me to understand why Scott Oden chose him to be the subject of his novel 'Memnon'. I like the experience of wearing a helm myself for the sake of knowing all the little intricacies when it comes to my book 'Heroes of the Fallen' I've fought and been cut, broken bones, and felt the exultation of victory and the bitterness of defeat, it's all good cuz in the end all the bad times can blend and mingle and be of use in the writing of that book that is ultimately your own.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Voice From the Dust

I amazed at the artifacts and evidences of pre-columbian cultures here in America. Not enough of these things have been touched on in historical fiction, so I am going to do it. The sheer number of weapons that have been found from New York to the Rockies and from Ohio to Oklahoma show that many wars have been fought by peoples with a technological savvy not generally acknowledged. But something not accepted by the public at large doesn't mean its not real. Here's a few pics from the Ancient Treasure Hunter website http://www.ancienttreasurehunter.com/

Most of this is copper and came from the upper peninsula of Michigan, forged into weapons and made its way as far south as the Spiro Mounds of Oklahoma, a natural choke point against southern invaders.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My 10 Favorite Fantasy Author's

1. J.R.R. Tolkien
This isn't a cop-out it just is what it is. I wanted to read the Hobbit before I could read, just because the idea was so appealing from the little I had heard. And no matter how old I get I am still enchanted by his stuff. Only a few years ago I bought Book 12, the Peoples of Middle Earth; and was floored by the revelations about Glorfindel, one of the only beings to ever slay a Balrog, and the distinct possibility that he was resurrected. There is always more to find in his vast world.

2. Robert E. Howard
To me, he is the absolute king of American fantasy. He has been gone for 73 years now but his legacies live on, Conan, Bran Mak Morn, Solomon Kane, Kull, and a host of others.

3. Karl Edward Wagner
He has produced probably the least amount of material of anybody I would put on this list but almost all of the Kane stories moved me, and I even thought the modern-day ones stunk. The rest were that good. His Conan and Bran Mak Morn novels were great too.

4. Lloyd Alexander
I haven't even read all of his works yet either, but the Prydain Chronicles were among my favorites as a kid. Rereading them a few years ago and they were still good afternoon reads.

5. George R.R. Martin
I haven't read anything of his that wasn't Song of Ice and Fire related, but on the strength of that series alone I am hooked. I almost put down book one right towards the beginning because I didn't like where it was going but it is a very compelling read. The Hedge Knight tales are good for while you wait for A Dance of Dragons.

6. H.P. Lovecraft
I guess I think of him more as fantasy than horror. Yeah it is about these terrible monsters that drive the protagonists mad most of the time but they still strikes me as fantasy rather than horror.

7. R.A. Salvatore
I admit I resisted reading his stuff for quite awhile but once I started The Thousand Orc's I really got into it and the next two books in that trilogy just got better and better. The ending of The Two Swords was surprisingly unexpected to me and therefore very satisfying.

8. Robert Jordan
I really resisted starting his books and am still mixed about them. I still really wonder if it wasn't supposed to just be a trilogy that was later decided upon to be milked for all it was worth. I still liked books 4 and 5 but then I don't know what happened. The remainder of the series to me should have been 1 maybe 2 more books, so much dross. I really hope Sanderson keeps a decent pace for the rest of the series but I don't know yet.

9. Joe Abercrombie
Favorite new discovery (at least to me) I only found his first book last October and am finishing the last in the First Law trilogy, taking it slow and savoring it. Its about as rough as Martin but possibly more satisfying, with characters I like even better than Martin's. Can't wait to get his fourth book, Best Served Cold.

10. Homer
Since I am ending this list with the chronicler of both the Iliad and Odyssey, this list could not have possibly been in numerical order. These are just too good.

There are quite few other great authors I can think of but I probably just haven't read enough of their works yet or they didn't yet outshine anyone here (to me), my notable mentions would be
David Farland for Runelords, Poul Anderson for The Broken Sword, David Gemmel for Lion of Macedon, Gene Wolfe for Soldier in the Mist, Robert Asprin for Wartorn, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman for the Dragonlance trilogy, David Drake for the Dragon Lord, L. Sprauge DeCamp for the Reluctant King, C.S. Lewis for the Chronicles of Narnia, Fritz Leiber for Swords and Deviltry, and John Maddox Roberts for Conan and the Manhunters.

I am about to start reading A. Merrit's The Moon Pool and Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker (still haven't gotten around to Mistborn) but I am very intrigued with his Way of Kings, he read a piece of the prologue at the Warbreaker signing and I liked it a lot.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Mark of Kane, Cain, Bigfoot, and the Master Mahan

I love the idea of adapting folklore to my historical fiction, because even when creating something new, there will still be a resonance with the reader about that familiar thing. This time around that thing would be Cain, the first murderer.

Some of my favorite novels have had Cain/Kane. I spell it Kane here because that is how Karl Edward Wagner spelled the name of the same individual. KEW wrote three complete novels and about twenty short stories and poems about Kane/Cain, they are truly some of the finest dark fantasy stories out there. No sympathy for Kane though, he is an amoral anti-hero in all the tales but the take on him being an undying mercenary-doomed to wander the earth and suffer from the violence he has unleashed upon it is epic. I like KEW's take on his look too, a red-haired, left handed, muscular brute of incredible intelligence with ice blue eyes-the eyes of a killer; which according to KEW is the mark of Kane/Cain. Some of my favorites in the series are 'Darkness Weaves', 'Bloodstone', 'Cold Light', 'The Other One', and 'Lynortis Reprise'.

Another great book that I believe is centered around Cain and yet never mentions him by name, is 'Blood Meridian' by Cormac McCarthy. This post began because I told a friend who enjoys Cormac's style that I thought Blood Meridian was his best work and the the central evil character while called Judge Holden was really Cain. I have looked online all over the place and have not found a single entry where anyone else has come to this same conclusion but I am convinced. CM who is media shy has never given an interview on his epic so there is no help from the author. The tale takes place around 1849-1850 for the most part, it is incredibly violent and that is a central theme, that Judge Holden/Cain says is man's nature. McCarthy's Judge Holden/Cain is an immense seven foot man completely devoid of body hair=hence my thoughts on his particular mark of Cain. The Judge proclaims he can never die and is seen by the main character after dozens of years and has not aged- exactly like KEW's Kane who is adventuring through his series for centuries and centuries unchanged.

In another non-fiction series (or fiction-your interpretation) Zecaharia Sitchin of 'The Twelth Planet' series postulated in Book 4 "The Lost Realm" which dealt with the America's-particularly Olmec's, Mayan's and Tiahuancu, that Native Americans lack of facial hair was the mark of Cain. I don't buy that by any means but found it interesting to see what someone else thought on the subject of the infamous mark. And I would say the entire series is fascinating for weird historical research but there is so much there that - that is another several posts entirely.

Now something probably more familiar to my local readers is the mention of Cain in Spencer W. Kimball's 'Miracle of Forgiveness' I myself refused to read it and have heard nothing but bad things from anyone who ever did and mentioned it to me-but it recounts the story that I have from another book 'David W. Patten, the First Apostolic Martyr' by Lycurgus Wilson. (Lycurgus-great Spartan name! The Wolf-Worker) but I digress . . . Patten says he met Cain one night riding his mule, when a huge man who wore no clothes began walking alongside him, he was covered in hair and his skin was very dark. They spoke for a time until Patten finally rebuked him in the name of Christ and Cain departed into the woods (felt like I could paraphrase all of this) Anywho a lot of people take that and say it must have been what we now call Bigfoot. I don't buy that anymore than I do Indians have the mark for not having facial hair-lots of them do, big deal, that's not enough for a theory to me. I have yet to hear a single account from anyone else saying a Bigfoot told them that he was a miserable person who sought to make every soul on earth as miserable as he, Bigfeet just don't talk to people like that. Prove me wrong kids, prove me wrong.

I have heard a great tale related by an old priesthood teacher of mine who thought Bigfoot was Cain and that he had an encounter with IT - but if I was to start telling it here it would violate a trust so I better not. One more tale in the works is Chris Bigelow's 'Master Mahan Avenged' I have read the first 24 pages of a rough draft and would like to see him finish it. Its a little rough I think for the DB crowd what with the Blood Magic and Gadianton rites but I liked what I read and would buy the book whenever he finishes it.

Finally in my series 'Heroes of the Fallen' I have a lot of folklore but I do not have Cain make an appearance -He is mentioned several times by characters who have either seen or interacted with him but as of books 1 and 2, he is not seen by the reader, nor so far in the rough drafts for book 3-but that may change. I like to think of him as somewhere between Patten's and Wagners descriptions. Once he does make an appearance, it would be something quite sinister and grand, something to dwarf even Akish-Antum the Gadianton Grand Master and that will be a hard feat.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Books read this Week

Shadow Kingdoms, by Robert E. Howard

This is a collection of short stories and poems all published back between 1927 and 1930, by one of my absolute favorite writers. All of them are filled with hard-hitting action and poetic descriptions, and this particular volume doesn't even have my favorite REH tales, those come later. Still all in all a good collection of his earliest published works. An example of a poem.

The Harp of Alfred

I heard the harp of Alfred
As I went o'er the downs,
When thorn-trees stood at even
Like monks in dusky gowns;
I heard the music Guthrum heard
Beside the wasted towns;

When Alfred, like a peasant,
Came harping down the hill,
And the drunken Danes made merry
With the man they sought to kill,
And the Saxon king laughed in their beards
And bent them to his will.

I heard the harp of Alfred
As twilight waned to night;
I heard ghost armies tramping
As the dim stars flamed white;
And Guthrum walked at my left hand,
And Alfred at my right.

I especially liked that piece because my great aunt went to England and did a lot of genealogy and found we are related to Alfred the Great, and that was something cool to me as a kid. An awesome set of books related to this I read are 'The Saxon Tales' series by Bernard Cornwell, they were my favorite reads last year. 4 in the series so far, can't wait for the 5th.

Like a Lamb to the Slaughter, by Ted Gibbons

This was an interesting historical piece that explained a few things I remember reading in D. Michael Quinn's 'Origins of Power'. It made a lot more sense to me about Presiding Bishop Marks clash with Brigham Young than I had previously thought, seems Marks was suspected of treachery just as much as William Law at one time.

Marcus King,Mormon, by Nephi Anderson

I actually liked this more than I thought I would. It seemed typical enough but every now and again Anderson throws out some gems of thought or lyricism. The rundown=King converts, loses girl, joins a handcart company, meets girl but agonizes over old one, becomes Bishop and is admonished by Brigham Young to, "I charge you to get a wife, or two if you like, as soon as possible." He then meets back up with the now wayward missionary who converted him, and the girl he met on the handcart trek. She loves him but wants him to resolve things with the old flame, and if you're interested read the rest, that's it in a nutshell. Like I said I was surprised that I did like it.

Batman: Going Sane, by J.M. DeMatteis and Joe Stanton

Quick premise, the Joker thinks he has killed the Batman, so what does he do but try and go straight since his whole reason for being, his torment is gone. He is still haunted by his former alter-ego even after finding a decent normal job and a girlfriend who loves old 40's comedies as much as he does. But the Batman isn't dead he has just been in convalescence and he comes back to pick up the pieces, finds the Joker who can no longer hold it together and things end up similar to as we expect, Joker gets away but hey its business as usual in Gotham. I liked it alright, except that I was supposed to buy that nobody has seen the Batman in like six-months, atypically if Batman is missing a few days Gotham goes to hell in a hand-basket but not this time. I can have suspension of belief but I already know what to expect out of the DC Universe and this clashed a bit much to me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Heroes of the Fallen: Summary 3.0 . . . Fin

Liesel Autrey in marketing took the best from both worlds and compiled this and I am gonna call it quits on my handling of summary's.
Here is what she put together.

Heroes of the Fallen is a chronicle that dramatizes the tragic end of a great civilization. That era is now lost to us, except through oral legend, myth, and a golden book of lore.
Stand alongside daring heroes with swords bared against sinister villains, never knowing which will fall--Captain Amaron and his Ten Scouts, Zelph, the White Lamanite, and Anathoth the Lamanite General agonizingly loyal to the despised King of Tullan-- all must face the chillingly evil Gadianton Master Akish-Antum and his numerous followers.
Witness the plans of mighty kings and lowly thieves. See the dreams of Bethia, a prophet’s daughter, as she runs away from home seeking independence, only to find confusion and wickedness in a land at war.
Heroes of the Fallen is full of tragedy and triumph. It echoes universal themes of mankind: fear and courage, faith versus doubt, hunger for power and love, and sacrifice for the greater good.
Intensely researched, Heroes of the Fallen, is a literary work of art, presenting revolutionary viewpoints in a cross-genre's ancient American landscape.

Here is a link to my authors interview at my publishers website.

Heroes of the Fallen: Summary 2.0

Ok, so that first one didn't grab anybody, too vague, that's what I needed to know. Here is another I wrote up about 10 months ago, can anyone give me constructive criticism, Th?

Heroes of the Fallen

This fast paced historical novel begins the saga of the fall of the Nephite nation as seen through the eyes of widely divergent characters as well as known Book of Mormon persons.
Zelph, a Lamanite who seeks truth despite his harsh background and once changed by the power of the Lord faces his greatest trial yet.
Amaron, Nephite warrior of renown who accomplishes the near impossible and still thinks of himself as cursed.
Mormon the younger, a boy of ten charged with becoming the chronicler of a fallen people during the greatest siege in three hundred years.
Bethia, the daughter of a prophet. She chooses to change her life and finds that sometimes when you run away you only get closer to where you want to be.
Anathoth, Ishmaelite servant to a vile king, bound by honor to do wicked deeds but what is true honor? And when can a man be pushed too far?
Onandagus, the Nephite Chief Judge, Governor and Head of the Priesthood; is the mounting pressures of the King-Men and the Gadianton's forcing him to lose his hold on his people? How can he save them from themselves?
Akish-Antum, Grand Master of the Gadianton's, a son of perdition and the wickedest man alive; he relishes pitting the Lamanites against the Nephites if only to increase his own power and prestige but what does he fear?
Uzzsheol, a Lamanite/Gadianton and enforcer of Akish-Antum's will, how many will fall under his knife in his quest to ensure Gadianton victory.
Aaron, youngest son of the Lamanite king Xoltec. Why does the Gadianton Grand Master take so much interest in him and what of the prophecy that he will someday destroy the Nephites?

These and many other vibrant characters clash as the fall of the Nephite nation begins and it is up to the Heroes of this fallen people to stand firm against tide that befalls them. The story opens with the final battle on the Hill Cumorah where a warrior under Mormon, laments how it all began. He remembers back to his youth in Zarahemla, the events in Mormon chapter 1 that began the first war after the golden age of peace and the decline of the Nephite civilization. Far away events are set in motion with the Gadianton Grand Master orchestrating the Lamanites to attack the Nephites. Multiple story arcs are weaved together giving a realistic portrayal of life in ancient America. From the preparations for war and conquest to the everyday needs of charity and redemption, the Heroes of the Fallen is a tale of sacrifice and faith that conquers all.

Lot more description here. So is this better?

Heroes of the Fallen: Summary

This is a summary of my first book 'Heroes of the Fallen' that I wrote up for my publisher. I took a cue for it from somethings I learned from David Farland and I am curious if it grabs you (anyone) and makes you interested in reading more.

“Heroes of the Fallen” is a chronicle, showing the beginning of the end of an era. That era is now lost to us, except through oral legend, myth, and a golden book of lore.
Stand alongside daring heroes with swords bared against sinister villains, never knowing which will fall.
Witness the plans of mighty kings and lowly thieves. See the dreams of a prophet’s daughter.
“Heroes of the Fallen” is full of tragedy and triumph. It echoes universal themes of mankind: fear and courage, faith versus doubt, hunger for power and love, and sacrifice for the greater good.
Intensely researched, “Heroes of the Fallen”, is a literary work of art, presenting revolutionary viewpoints in a cross-genres ancient American landscape.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Farland's Seminar and Cambell's Archetypes

I took a break from editing to go to Dave Wolverton/Farland's writing seminar over the weekend. I picked up a lot more information than I initially suspected and I would highly recomend it to anyone interested in writing, it would not have to be just someone writing in sci-fi/fantasy.

One of the things that hit me between the eyes the hardest was how much my book/series 'Heroes of the Fallen' has the classic 'Hero Journey' as described by Cambell's, Hero of a Thousand Faces. I resisted reading Campbell because of some comments that were quoted to me I disagreed with, can't even remember what they all were, one was about the Iriquois cinderella legend, which as far as I was concerned weren't even close, so his connection was moot.

But I will now give it a read because as we were discussing Archetypes and Dave mentioned the classic hero journey tropes, I was astonished at how much I used them even while striving for originality and new takes on things. Had I known of these archetypes, I would have avoided them but the book is already written and going to be published in a few short months and I am very happy with it. I have a lot of characters in the book(s) so no one character follows all the formula's but across the board almost everything Dave mentioned is in there somewhere.

That and it was cool to meet a bunch of fellow writers like Candace Salima, Christine Bryant, her friend Becky, Lisa Peck, and Bruce Eschler.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Violence. How much is not enough?

Like George Carlin said "I don't know why torture gets such a bad rap, it seems like a pretty good way of getting information out of someone who doesn't want to give it to you."

I feel similarly towards violence in the written word, if only because near everything I enjoy reading has action and ipso-facto violence. Whether it is the newest fantasy book or the scriptures. We all know Jesus wailed on people, when they deserved it. So maybe that's how I like my violence, somebody deserved it, possibly because they did violence earlier to an innocent.

One of my favorite Porter Rockwell quotes is, "I never killed anyone who didn't need killing." Sounds like something from a Schwarzenegger movie doesn't it? That brings me to my other thought. Violence isn't in movies or books to just titillate or thrill, its there in the first place because it is a reality of life and we all know it. You can turn the other cheek and be the better man but violence will still exist outside of you, watching and waiting to do harm to innocents and those you care about.

Tying this all together, I have warriors in my book discuss why they train for war, and I will paraphrase it because I cant reproduce my book here yet.
We master violence to defeat it. It is the only sane and even righteous reason. So in my mind, we train and learn, preparing to take care of the inevitable, that when it comes you can do whatever is necessary.

Violence is prevalent in my book 'Heroes of the Fallen' but it is not gory. It is simply the reality of the era of swords and sandals and ours too.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Sixty-five years ago today, my grandfather, for whom I am named, helped take Normandy beach, more specifically Omaha beach, as it was code-named. He was a part of the seventh-wave of landing crafts to hit the beach. When I found that out, I was stunned. My research has shown that there was a 99% death rate for the first-wave of landings and that decreased by 1% with every successive wave. So in the seventh-wave 93% to 92% of the men around my grandfather died. Its amazing and blessed that he made it. He often spoke of how the snipers liked to use the red cross on his helmet as a target, so he wore it riding high.

I am one of the only people in the family he told his war-stories to, certainly the one who has heard the most. Could be I am the one who asked the most, but it also took him until the 80's to be able to talk about it.

He's been gone ten years now and I keep meaning to put together a novel to tell his story, so that my family members who are not familiar with it or have at best only heard small pieces. I am making an absolute goal this year of getting it done. (Along with everything else)

He was a medic and the only weapon he carried was his knife, using it to both save and take lives. I honor him as both a warrior and a healer. Love you Grandpa

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Book Extra's and Add On's

I'm just throwing it out there, but do any of you like extras in book's? As in glossary's, map's, illustration's, chapter logo's, dramatis personae section's and anything else of that nature?

I do, so long as the illustrations live up to the work (or vice versa) map's so long as they give a better feel for the story at large and are not ridiculous blobs of ink with even more ridiculous sounding place names (I'm talking to you, Terry Brooks)

I definitely like chapter logo's if they are unique, the best example I can think of at the moment is Robert Jordan's, Wheel of Time series, on the down side of that sometimes you know you are going to read a chapter about a lame character like Nynaeve (she sucks the life out of anything good) Lan should have his own books!

With a book that has as many characters as I have I do think Dramatis Personae section's and glossary's help. As a kid I fell in love with the Tolkien glossary's and I am strongly leaning towards including one if the Publisher will allow it. I am getting a map too, but that's a controversial subject and I am worried it may be better not to have one, than have one I don't approve of-but we'll see.

So what do you, the readers of refined taste think?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Laman's, Jaredites and Elantrians Oh My

I'm gonna cram a bunch of these together.

The method of writing the whole thing as discussions between different professors struck me as odd and smells of a secret aspiration of Nibleys to write fiction. But overall I love his work. The opening chapter on the Heroic Age grabbed my attention and fired the imagination. I love how in so many of his works, he connects ancient myths to the truths they are based upon. So having mention of the Jaredite Age as one in a number of great heroic epochs appeal to me. I will be using number of his hypothesis in something I'm writing using Jaredite characters. I probably got more mileage out of his Book of Mormon Teaching series 1-4 and Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri but I would still highly recommend this to anyone with even a faint interest in the ancients.

I liked the intro where Avraham described how he came upon the gospel and even resisted it initially. I was expecting a little more into the esoteric end of things, like in his Book of Isiah and Last Days projects. I was hoping for completely new insights and I didn't get them as much as I wanted but I am not gonna say it wasn't worth reading. My favorite sections were, The Three Nephites, What Is A Seer, The Zoramites-A Type, Out Of Weakness Made Strong and Remembering Our Lord.

ELANTRIS, by Brandon Sanderson
It did not initially grab me as much as I had hoped but I still enjoyed it. Just took me a little longer to get into it. The different view-points and conflicts were enticing and liked the secondary characters more than some other fantasy's main characters. I always love a new take on familiar stories, so starting the book with Raoden being cursed to the Elantrian existence is ideal. On the down side I did not like the quick wrap up of the epilogue though.

THE NEPHIAD, by Micheal R. Collings
This is an epic poem modeled on Milton's Paradise Lost (which I love) Collings does not disappoint. he weaves together the many Book of Mormon and Biblical references so familiar to Mormons but also throws in the classical Greek myths just as Milton did. I think that is what I liked so much about Milton, you have to be well read in scripture and myth or you miss things. So many of Collings descriptions moved me with their poetic flair, I especially liked Collings referring to the Brass Plates as a Chronicle of Gold and Laman calling Nephi a Sage of Sands, a Desert bound Divine.
Book 12 (out of 12) opens with Nephis vision where a sees
"A noble dusk-toned man, with flashing eyes,
And coppered flesh beneath his raven hair
(And by such outward signs knew Nephi well
That here was one who shared rash Laman's blood,
That here was one who shared rash Laman's curse
Of darkened flesh to signify his sin--
Laman's sin--of willfulness against God)
I mention this not to display what could be considered non-PC material but because I utilize many of the same descriptions in my own work and have been taken to task already. But its in the Book so what do you do? For me I look at all of it as prophecy that can swing both ways. Sometimes the Lamanites were more righteous and I hope to display that in my stories. Besides we already know its the Nephites who are destroyed for wickedness. In fact I don't know if I'm going to accomplish it by anyone else's standard but I hope to do the most Pro-Lamanite Book of Mormon story yet.