Category Archives: Fantasy Criticism

‘When You Hear the Bell, Come Out Writing’

If only for what is probably the best headline I’ve ever written in my life, I hope you’ll click the link and read this: requested by my editors at Chalcedon, here’s me telling you all about what goes into the writing of my Bell Mountain books.

https://chalcedon.edu/resources/articles/when-you-hear-the-bell-come-out-writing

Somewhere we also have a brief interview with cover artist Kirk DouPonce, complete with photos of the models he used to create the covers of my books–mostly local kids from around his neighborhood. Must be a kick for them!

Anyway, the article above is a must–if you like my books and this blog.


‘I Almost Review “The Last Banquet”‘ (2013)

See the source image

You know a writer’s getting desperate when he reviews his own book. Such was my situation a few years ago. No one else would do it at the time, so I had to.

https://leeduigon.com/2013/02/21/i-almost-review-the-last-banquet/

Oddly enough, The Last Banquet seems to be the book most tapped by readers as their favorite in the Bell Mountain series. Well, I was rather clever with the ending, wasn’t I? Sorry, there I go again.


‘Do I See It as I Write It?’

See the source image

My wife says reading one of my books is like watching a movie. She wants to know, “Do you see it as you write it?”

https://leeduigon.com/2017/09/14/do-i-see-it-as-i-write-it/

My books are fantasies about people and places that never existed, so in a literal sense I can’t “see” any of it–I have to imagine it. That might be the toughest thing about writing fantasy in particular and fiction in general: first you try to see what isn’t there, and then you try to make the reader see it. If that sounds easy, well, it ain’t.

The artist, Kirk DouPonce, uses live models for the characters on my books’ covers. I can’t do that. The most I can do is try, in my mind, to cast known actors and actresses as characters in my story. When that works, it works very well.

Try it sometime.


‘The Abuse of Fantasy’ (2015)

See the source image

Remember those “Spirit Animals” fantasies, from Scholastic Books? If you don’t, I do. I had to review them. Reading them was like a root canal gone wrong.

https://leeduigon.com/2015/01/30/the-abuse-of-fantasy/

Fantasy is a powerful tool for communicating the intangible, especially to children. As a fantasy writer myself, using fantasy to serve an evil purpose is something that makes me quite truly angry. But it should always make you mad to see something good twisted into bad.

We see a lot of that, these days.


‘Fantasy Cliches I Have Tried to Avoid’ (2013)

See the source image

As Roberto Duran once said, “No mas! No mas!”

Why is it that a literary genre that should be the most imaginative of them all is loaded down with dull, lame, unoriginal, boring, stupid cliches? I hate it when fantasy does that!

https://leeduigon.com/2013/01/22/fantasy-cliches-i-have-tried-to-avoid/

Sometimes I’m afraid it’s just me, and everybody else is just crazy about buxom tavern wenches, invincible female warriors, know-it-all elves, all-powerful wizards, and bad guys who always win. Otherwise there wouldn’t be so much of it in fantasy. (Yeah, Game of Thrones, I’m talking about you.)

I will not reveal the name of this fantasy novel, because the author is really quite a nice guy; but it remains the gold standard for how to annihilate fantasy. It does this in just a single line of dialogue. The dwarf turns to the elf and says, “We must learn to value other lifestyles.”

It leaves me speechless.


Book Review: ‘Visions of Light and Shadow’ by Allison D. Reid

See the source image

(Copyright 2018 by Allison D. Reid)

This is the third book in The Wind Rider Chronicles by Allison D. Reid, best known to this blog as our friend “Weavingword.”

Two things make this series stand out from all the others. First, it has a fully Trinitarian theology: no one else I have read in fantasy has been bold enough to try this.

Second, although many–one might even say “most”–fantasy novels are set in an imaginary world similar to our world’s Middle Ages, this series boasts a unique feeling of authenticity. When it comes to the way life was lived by most people in the Middle Ages, Ms. Reid really knows her onions. Her wealth of authentic detail persuades the reader to believe in the story. Food and drink, technology, weapons, architecture, dress, the means of producing everyday goods and services–it’s all here.

And one other thing–tiresome fantasy cliches, like the Invincible Female Warrior, the Crusty But Benign Old Wizard, and Know-It-All Elves, are refreshingly absent from these books. I stand up and cheer for that!

These books are written as a continuous story, which means I had to go back and re-read the first two.

Elowyn and Morganne are two sisters who, having fled their increasingly disturbed home city and a mother who, for reasons we don’t yet know, hates them, have to find a place where they can live normal, peaceful lives. This is hard to do, because their world is under attack by supernatural forces. Morganne, the elder, is a weaver by trade and a scholar by avocation. Elowyn, the younger, has an affinity for the woodlands. These are engaging and believable protagonists.

At the root of their world’s problems is an evil wizard, Braeden, who controls their country’s weak and foolish king and is using necromancy to open, it seems, the gates of Hell and let out all sorts of evil and monstrous beings to prey upon the people. There is a Kinship of warriors who try to fight the evil, but are hard-pressed to keep it from devouring their towns and villages. They’re warriors, but they aren’t supermen. There’s a very real possibility that they won’t be able to hold the line.

There are still some important things that we, the readers, don’t know. Who, exactly, is Braeden, where did he come from, is he even fully human, and why is he doing this? Much of the answer, we expect, lies in the world’s ancient history, which must be painstakingly recovered if there is to be any hope of countering the evil. Why does the sisters’ mother hate her daughters, and who was their father? I strongly suspect the answer to that last question will come as a surprise, if not a shock.

Some readers will wish the story were carried forward at a faster pace–with more reminders, along the way, of what has gone before. But Ms. Reid is improving as a story-teller as she goes along, and I think we must be patient. Meanwhile, there is a well-crafted sense of growing menace that makes me eager for the next book in the series.

These are available both as e-books and paperbacks, and can be ordered through amazon.com.

“Weavingword” is weaving something good here, and I look forward to seeing how it all turns out.


‘A Defense of Fantasy’ (2015)

See the source image

I was hoping to watch some BBC Narnia today, but now I have to go pick up a prescription for my cat.

Anyway, as I try to rest between books, I thought it might be edifying to revisit the question of whether fantasy can be profitably used in God’s service.

https://leeduigon.com/2015/01/31/a-defense-of-fantasy/

I really can’t blame readers who think fantasy is at best idle nonsense, and at worst, some kind of dalliance with the occult. But that can be said about anything, can’t it? There’s music that glorifies God, and there’s music that debases man and everything around him. When was the last time you heard somebody zoom down the road with a hymn playing on his car’s sound system?

So of course we can use fantasy in the service of the Kingdom: and the more who decide to try to do it, the better.


Chalcedon’s Move into Christian Fiction (Video)

See the source image

In 2013 Chalcedon’s vice-president, Martin Selbrede, explained our move into fiction–after a long history of publishing works on theology and Christian analysis of society and culture.

https://chalcedon.edu/resources/videos/christian-use-of-fiction

As exemplified by Our Lord Jesus Christ’s parables, fiction is “a vehicle for conveying ideas” and showing how Christian principles play out in real life, often accompanied by spiritual and personal conflict: “If there is no friction, there is no fiction,” Martin says, and he’s right. And that, of course, is the difference between a story and a sermon.

“We waited 45 years before we turned to fiction,” so as to lay a strong theological foundation for everything published by Chalcedon. We didn’t want mediocre fiction built on weak theology.

It was time to move into fiction, Martin says, because with fiction, “You can suddenly get people thinking.”

Martin has written a Christian novel, Hidden in Plain Sight, which explores the nature of reality; and we also have my Bell Mountain fantasy novels, with ten of them in print so far and No. 11, The Temptation, just about ready for publication.

Well, if you’ve ever wondered why a Christian educational foundation decided to publish fiction, this will explain it for you.


Idiot: ‘Lord of the Rings’ is ‘Racist’

See the source image

Liberals can’t get through the day without something to complain about; and the more inane the complaint, the better they like it.

Like this one: A “Sci-Fi & fantasy writer” whom I never heard of says J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is **racist**–because of its “treatment” of… Orcs (https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2018/11/27/sci-fi-writer-claims-lord-of-the-rings-is-racist-due-to-treatment-of-orcs/).

Oh, and President Trump’s a racist, too. And so are you.

All this **racism** in Lord of the Rings, says the schmo, can have “dire consequences for yourself–” what? what’s he talking about?–“and for society.” Maybe he thinks the Orcs are gonna come and get us.

Well, see, this is what happens when enlightened anointed liberals don’t censor books! But not to worry–all we need is some kind of affirmative action policy for Orcs. Like, from now on, require writers to include “positive Orc characters” in all their stories and novels.

I mean, does this guy understand that The Lord of the Rings is fantasy–like, not real, the author made it up? Is he quite all there?

Well of course he’s not all there–he’s a liberal.

I thought I was writing a satire, a while ago, when I advised anyone writing a fantasy to make sure no villain can be identified as belonging to any particular group, and to write stories without conflict so that no one can possibly be upset or offended, blah-blah. I guess this ambulant cabbage took it literally.

Let’s go out and protest for the civil rights of Orcs!

We live in a global loony bin.


‘Jules Verne vs. Stephen King’ (2013)

Image result for images of the shining

I know some of you don’t like Jules Verne, but I do. His 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea captivated me as a little boy and continues to be one of my all-time favorite novels.

I thought Stephen King was great, too, back in the 1970s. But I find it a trial to read him now. What’s the difference between these two authors?

https://leeduigon.com/2013/09/07/jules-verne-vs-stephen-king/

I do get awful tired of Stephen King’s “the college guy is the real man–not those blue-collar oafs” schtick. Whatever made him put that into every book he ever wrote, like, dude–I don’t care.


%d bloggers like this: