Storytelling: Positive traits of antagonists

A few days ago, I was thinking a bit about the positive traits of ‘bad guys’. These thoughts came to me – how else – when I was lying in bed waiting for sleep to come. Even antagonists can have positive traits – and it’s not about the traits but how they use them that matters in the end.

As with my romance-related posts (#1, #2), the thoughts come primarily from fantasy genre but are not limited to it.

Significant inspiration comes from a post about character traits by M.L. Davis.

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Romance elements in fantasy, part two: endings

Not so long ago, I wrote about how I saw romance elements in fantasy. This time, I’ll continue from where I left off the last time and share my opinion on some of the possible ends and how I see them – positives and negatives in all cases. It’ll not be tied to fantasy in several cases as, I believe, these work in general.

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Book review: Crusade

The trilogy started with Ordination and followed by Stillbright ends here. The looming threat of Braech’s followers is closing while followers of the Mother are recovering from the battle for Thornhurst.

By the battle’s end, the children of the corrupt Lionel Delondeur are prisoners of war and while they struggle to trust each other, it’s their armies that threaten the situation even more.

Along with those two, there are other visitors to Thornhurst: Allystaire’s sister and Garth, now her husband, along with the Iron Ravens. Cerisia. And, to my surprise, Rede.

The beginning takes a long time to deal with seeking a solution for Barony Delondeur and who of the two siblings would take the throne without causing even more damage. While that might sound like boring politics, the struggles around are ever-present as soldiers revolt against the pact Allystaire tries to forge.

In the meantime, there’s some development for Gideon who delves into mysteries of power and gods while getting some lessons from Allystaire and even others to not losing himself in it and to avoid doing something he might regret more than he’d be able to bear.

With the matters in Thornhurst settled, Allystaire creates a plan that would have the other Barons meet at the vineyards of Baron Innandan as guests of the only of them who ever tried to call for a peace council. Yet, Landen and Chaddin will find trouble in Londray as the servants of Braech tried to take over.

The new Baron Oyrwyn – the very same from which Allystaire ran away at the beginning of book one – tries to gain from the meeting and threatens the result, even if it could mean his own end. To not spoil much about his plan, I’ll only say that the number of times not only Allystaire had to keep himself from killing him were many and the young Baron would deserve his death many times over.

From there, the patchwork forces hurry to where Braech’s forces assault the weak spot of the war-torn land and the remains of Barony long-believed defeated hold the line for the others to arrive for the final battle. Both Braech and the Eldest sorcerer will face their deserved justice.

Read dates: 1.-8.9.2018
Published: 1.9.2018
Goodreads / Amazon links (very few ratings yet)
My rating: 95%
Length: 768 pages (Kindle edition)
My highlights

Many of the questions raised were answered, even if not all. Part of me is glad the book got an end that is truly an end. Even though it was revealed early that Symod leads the forces of Braech, it was still surprising where and how the final fight went down. It had several emotional moments, more so at the end. There’s probably much I could say but I can’t, not without massive spoilers.

Reading: Romance elements in fantasy

Not so long ago, I got into a discussion about romance elements in fantasy. A user on Goodreads felt that in the last years, it often goes down with at least one of the pair dying before the end or ‘devolving’ into love triangles (especially in YA Urban Fantasy and Paranormal romance sub-genres) and that ‘happy ending’ books are becoming endangered species.

It turned into a discussion about romance elements in present-time fantasy literature that was quite enjoyable and insightful, even if short.

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Book review: Stillbright

Sequel to Ordination I reviewed a week ago, Stillbright picks up exactly where the first book left off: Londray, the home of Baron Delondeur. By the end of the first book, Allystaire was invited for a talk with the Baron which ended with him being pulled into the catacombs. It’s exactly there where the second book starts with the sorcerer and his apprentice from the first book’s prologue “examining” him.

Of course, IdgenMarte and Torvul are not willing to leave him to his fate and hastily create a plan that would free him and even do some side damage to the Baron. Yet Allystaire manages to overpower the sorcerer to the shock of everyone and get on his way out when he’s found.

That’s, by far, not the end of the trouble, something they all know. Along with them, the nameless student and a to-be-sacrificed woman escape the place knowing that the baron will most likely give them hell sooner or later – for this and all the insults suffered from Allystaire in the past.

Their hasty return to Thornhurst has them face unexpected challenges in form of beast-men and the student’s power. They make it eventually, with some of the beast-men freed of their curse – only to face new challenges.

Servants of Braech, the sea-god, use their magic to deprive Thornhurst of rain and so starve the citizens by drying the soil. When that is finally done, servants of Fortune arrive to try striking a bargain not too good for them – and beset by ambition among their own that threatens the diplomatic attempt more than Allystaire’s straightforwardness, which is something.

Realizing that their enemies will sooner or later (and most likely sooner) came crashing down upon them, Allystaire does his best to prepare the village for the coming threat. When they come, it’ll take everything they have and even more to defend the village and what the people there stand for – which is as much as I can say without spoilers.

Read dates: 2.-7.6. 2017, 25.-31.8.2018
Published: 1.6.2017
Goodreads / Amazon rating: 4,38 / 4,7
My rating: 95%
Length: 525 pages (Kindle edition)
My highlights

It still has much of the first book’s appeal: Torvul, Idgen Marte and Allystaire with their differences and teases. Joined by the sorcerer’s apprentice (later named Gideon), it adds several both funny and memorable lines. There’s also reveal of why Allystaire seems to keep distance from women – a hint of his tragic past.

It seems that the third book will flow straight from the second one as well and the end shows that there might be quite some surprise as there are visitors to Thornhurst, and quite unexpected ones.