Tuesday, May 25, 2010

13 Questions with ...Jason Beil

1. Name one thing you miss about being a child.
I miss the sense of wonder.  Everything was new, and it was so easy to get excited over a movie, or a book, or the new record by your favorite band.  Now, as an adult, it’s too easy to become jaded and adopt a “been there, done that” attitude.

2. Do you have any phobias? If so, what are they?

I was pretty scared that time some psycho ran out in front of the van I was driving waving a gun around.  So crazy people with firearms.  That’s my phobia.

3. Are you a collector of anything and if so, what?

Comic books.  Although, I don’t know if I’m a collector or just a fanboy.  I just love the medium... everything from superhero stuff to the more cutting edge adult material.

4. You're about the walk the Green Mile - what do you have for your last meal?

Depends on what I’m in the mood for.  Probably a big steak, medium rare.

5. What is your favorite cookie?

Chocolate chip... is there any other kind?

6. Who is your favorite author?

Good question.  Tolkien is the father of modern fantasy and obviously a huge influence on me.  Recently, I’ve been most impressed by George RR Martin, although if he doesn’t bring out his next book soon I’m sending him hate mail.

7. What musical artist are you currently into?

I guess I’d have to admit my latest flavor du jour is Lady Gaga.  She’s actually a very talented young woman.  However, I doubt anyone will ever knock Depeche Mode off the top spot of my all-time favorites list.

8. Have you ever had an imaginary friend? If so, who are they?

No imaginary friends.  Imaginary enemies, on the other hand...

9. What's your favorite word?


10. What is your current desktop wallpaper?
A dog getting sprayed in the face by a sprinkler.  My daughter put it on there.

11. You're at a Chinese buffet - what goes on your plate?

The question is... what DOESN’T go on my plate.  I love Chinese!

12. What person now deceased would you most want to spend some time with and why?

Robert Jordan.  I want to give him hell for everything after book 6 in the Wheel of Time.

13. What are you currently reading?

Just catching up on my funnybooks.  The last real book I read was Atlas Shrugged (loved it!).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Revew: The Talisman of Faerie

The Talisman of Faerie
Jason Beil
Available from Barnes and Noble, Amazon,
Alibris, eBookPie

In a nutshell: If you are just starting to read fantasy novels, this is a good place to start, but this statement comes with a warning.

The Talisman of Faerie is a decent fantasy; there's the hero, Alec Mason, a humble baker, the girl,
Sarah, mysterious men like Michael, swashbucklers like Lorn, faerie folk, kings and queens, bad guys and evil sorcerers like Salin Urdrokk.  There's a talisman that must be returned to whence it came in order to preserve the land.  We've also got an army of the undead and ogres.

If any of this seems familiar, that's because it is.  The Talisman of Faerie borrows heavily from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.  
Without giving away anything of great importance, allow me to numerate them:
Instead of a mountain hollowed out by dwarves that must be passed through to get to where the hero's party is going, it's a faerie burial chamber in the hollowed out mountain they must pass through. 
Instead of a ring of great power, it's a talisman of great power.  
The faerie folk are preternaturally beautiful and live in a stunning forest land in the trees.
One other borrowed theme is a sword Alec is gifted with named Flame which seems to feed the wielder's lust for blood, and also resists being handled by others.  I couldn't help but think of the prescient blades in Michael Moorcock's Elric series.

Is the story entertaining?
There are times however, the book could have stood some more critical editing.  I thought if  Alec had to posit one more time how he was going to get to go back home and be a baker after this was all over one more time, I was going to scream.  Twice is fine...but after that, the events surrounding the character are so tumultuous and life-changing, Alec started sounding silly thinking he was going to return to a normal life at the end of the journey to return the talisman to the faeries.
There are some really good battle scenes with more blood and gore than I expected, a nice love story that blooms sensibly and enough rabbit trails that leave you wondering what lies at the end.  I'm assuming some of those trails are explored in the sequel, Sword of Kings.

Should you read this?
Yes, if you haven't read Lord of the Rings or any other of the classic standards of the fantasy genre.  Some fantasy novels overburden themselves with plots that twist too much, loaded down with a host of characters that make it hard to keep up with who is doing what to whom and where.  The Talisman of Faerie is compact in that regard, with enough characters to make it interesting, but not too many to keep up with, and not so many plot lines that you can't keep up with the action.  Biel has crafted a tight story that starts in one direction and doesn't wander off confusing the reader with too many subplots as some fantasies are wont to do.
If you're just starting out reading the fantasy genre, this is a good place to start.  I think Beil has talent and with more writing will continue to weave even more entertaining stories of the fantastic.

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