Category Archives: Book Reviews

‘Rabbits with Swords–a Fantasy You Can Believe In’ (2015)

Image result for images of the green ember

It’s so hard to find Young Adults fantasy fiction that’s actually worth reading and not just awful, dreary, or awfully dreary. The Green Ember was one of the best books I read in 2015.

https://leeduigon.com/2015/03/29/rabbits-with-swords-a-fantasy-you-can-believe-in/

It’s not often–and more’s the pity for it–that you encounter a story featuring love, self-sacrifice, faith, and courage. You’d almost think the virtues had gone out of fashion. Even better news: by now, author S.D. Smith has enlarged The Green Ember into a series.

At the risk of calling in competition against my own books, these would make really nice Christmas presents.


‘How to Write a Really Rotten Novel’ (2015)

See the source image

I am re-running this post as a public service.

https://leeduigon.com/2015/02/22/how-to-write-a-really-rotten-novel/

It’s not everyone who can produce a really rotten novel. Indeed, it’s a gift. But if you’re shooting for sheer unreadability, these few pointers will surely get you started. And it’s no use complaining that certain individuals have gotten rich and famous by writing pure dreck.

Now I wonder–who could we say is (or was) the Cervantes of the truly rotten novel? Any suggestions?


‘Review of Tolkien’s The Fall of Arthur’ (2013)

See the source image

King Arthur–whether he was ever really a king or not–eludes historical precision. But for some  fifteen hundred years he was, after the Bible itself, the story, the earthly representative, of Christendom. That he has been almost forgotten, just in the past 50 years, shouts from the housetops the poverty of our culture.

https://leeduigon.com/2013/08/07/review-of-tolkiens-the-fall-of-arthur/

J.R.R. Tolkien’s poem, published posthumously by his son, is about Arthur’s fall, and the ruin of his kingdom.

My book review is about the great things that Arthur accomplished, and how his life changed the world for the better.

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant…”


‘Bell Mountain’… and Mars

See the source image

Remarking that for some reason my character, Tughrul Lomak (one of King Ryons’ chieftains), reminds her of Tars Tarkas in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Martian novels, Heidi has asked to what extent, if any, those books by ERB have influenced my Bell Mountain books.

Tars Tarkas is a green Martian, a member of a race that has brutalized itself by practicing communalism–especially the communal raising of children: these guys take “It takes a village” to its logical extreme. But he has broken the law by loving his own daughter, which has made him capable of sympathy, friendship, and self-sacrifice. But he’s one of my favorite characters in the series, so thanks, Heidi, for mentioning him. Good old Tars Tarkas!

As to your question: Edgar Rice Burroughs has been one of my favorite authors since I first opened a paperback copy of Pellucidar back in high school. Over time, the Mars novels have become my favorite Burroughs stories. It’d be very unusual if I weren’t influenced by them.

But I’m old enough now to have learned not to try to imitate other writers, except in very general ways.

From Edgar Rice Burroughs I’ve learned everything I know about juggling sub-plots without dropping any, pacing, and moving the story continually forward, not letting it bog down anywhere along the way. No one ever did those things better than ERB.

Another thing I’ve learned from his example is that when the imagination wants to rip, let her rip! This is especially evident in one of my all-time favorites stories, The Chessmen of Mars, in which he created a place that’s weird and eerie even by Martian standards–and made it totally believable.

And I think it’s obvious to Tarzan fans that Wytt owes some of his inspiration to Tarzan’s easily-frightened little monkey, Nkima.

As a storyteller, I’m always on the lookout to learn from other storytellers. Self-education never stops. Something of all my favorite authors has gone into all of my Bell Mountain books. Sir Thomas Malory, Homer, The Mabinogion; Burroughs, Agatha Christie, Walter R. Brooks, H.R.F. Keating–and everyone else whose work I’ve enjoyed. Not forgetting Ross McDonald, who taught me how to write sentences that make themselves easy to read.

I could go on like this all day. But to sum it up–

If you want to be a writer… read!


Famous for Creating… What?

See the source image

I’m in a mood for comedy today, which is a good mood. A little later we plan to watch Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein. But first, a little excursion into the unpredictable vagaries of fame.

Don Marquis (1878-1937) was a newspaper columnist, playwright, and author of many books. He is best remembered for his stories of “archy,” a cockroach, who had been a poet in a past life and now sought to carry on by jumping headfirst onto the keys of Mr. Marquis’ typewriter at night, while the human members of the household slept. Archy’s writings are all in lower case because he has no way of operating the shift key. His sidekick is “mehitabel the alley cat,” who used to be Cleopatra, and his antagonist is “freddie the rat,” formerly a rival poet who now tries to steal archy’s material.

These were still popular when I was a boy, and for all I know, are still popular today. During Marquis’ lifetime they were tremendously popular–by far the most popular fiction that he ever wrote.

Which was not what he’d intended!

In Don Marquis’ own words, “It would be one on me if I should be remembered for creating a cockroach character.”

Life can turn out pretty funny sometimes.


Holy Moly! Finished!

See the source image

I’m a little behind in my posts today, but never mind–The Wind From Heaven has been written! Finito! Bell Mountain No. 13 is ready to have its final chapter set typed up and sent to Susan for editing.

Just in time, too: the weather’s getting too cold for me to sit outside and write.

Will this go down in history as “the Tanystropheus book?” I mean, because there’s a Tanystropheus in it? But that’s only one of its attractions, and the only one I’ll mention by name–don’t want to spoil any surprises. Susan has read the first five chapter sets and says you’re gonna need a seat belt to read this book.

But first we’ve got to get His Mercy Endureth Forever into print, and to make that turn out right, we need Kirk DouPonce’s cover art. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with this time.

And I just remembered I’ve got to do something about Joe Collidge today–so see you in a bit.


Review: The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament

From SlimJim’s blog, The Domain for Truth–we could all stand to know the Old Testament better.    –LD

The Domain for Truth

Eugene H. Merrill, Mark Rooker and Michael A. Grisanti.  The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, June 15th 2011. 560 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

How well do you know the Old Testament?  If you are like most Christians you can improve on your knowledge of the Old Testament.  In this book The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament three Old Testament scholars collaborated to write a helpful textbook on the Old Testament.  Together these scholars have a combined experience of decades if not even a century worth of research, teaching and writing on the subject of Old Testament.  Readers will greatly benefit from reading this title.

View original post 319 more words


‘Scientific’ Rubbish–and Why We Believe It

See the source image

Would Mr. Spock ever lie to you?

How do we wind up believing in all-knowing, all-wise space aliens, human evolution into supermen, and intergalactic travel?

In Scientific Mythologies: How Science and Science Fiction Forge New Religious Beliefs, author James Herrick explained exactly how. I reviewed his book in 2015.

https://chalcedon.edu/magazine/a-review-of-scientific-mythologies

We may not be able to provide everyone in America with a solid scientific education, but we can certainly load them up on science fiction, dumbed-down popular science, and sheer mythology. Herrick abundantly demonstrates that the “science” that has so many people in awe of it is hardly science at all–it’s mostly TV.

Forget about observing nature, collecting data, studying what’s been observed, subjecting it to verifiable experiments, and then coming up with a theory or an explanation that fits the facts–who has time for all that? And it’s boring! So much more enlightening to have some Hollywood celebrity lecture you on “climate change.” Or some actor who played a space alien in a Star Trek movie.

This is a thick, meaty book, jam-packed with information. You can learn a lot by reading it.

And you will be able to answer the question, “When is ‘science’ not science?”


Beyond Putrid: Dem Books for the Kiddies

(Photo originally from National Review)

Coming soon to the children’s section of your local public library, and paid for with the tax money that you worked for–

The ABCs of AOC: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from A to Z

She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by the eminent historian, Chelsea Clinton

Nevertheless, She Persisted by Elizabeth Warren

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark

Muslim Girls Rise, featuring Ilhan Omar

These and others like them will soon be crowding less awful books off the shelves (https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/childrens-books-heavy-handed-politics/). And let’s not forget their 2016 forerunner, Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls Are Born to Lead.

Nominating people for sainthood while they’re still alive is, well, tacky, don’t you think? And nominating live politicians for sainthood is grotesque. But the libs are coming for your children’s minds, and to them there’s no such thing as “too early for this s***.”

How did it turn out that just about everything that has the word “public” in its title is actually hostile to the public, contemptuous of the public, and working to undermine the public’s best interests? This includes, sadly, our public libraries. The people who run them despise us. They want to saddle us with left-wing tyrants.

I think I need a barf bag.


‘C.S. Lewis and the Deplorable Word’ (2016)

See the source image

“If I can’t rule the world, then there won’t be a world!”

Having lived through two world wars, C.S. Lewis understood the temptations of nihilism and the rage of those who reached for absolute power but couldn’t grasp it. He wrote about it several times–in The Chronicles of Narnia and in That Hideous Strength are two examples that come to mind.

https://leeduigon.com/2016/01/03/c-s-lewis-and-the-deplorable-word/

Go ahead–tell me we don’t have politicians and “leaders” today who’d just as soon destroy the world, if they’re not allowed to rule it.

But God won’t let them.


%d bloggers like this: