Lois McMaster Bujold, The Curse of Chalion, Audiobook
It’s been more than a decade since I first read this novel in print, and while many of its details might have slipped my mind, I hadn’t forgotten its stirring effect on me. I seized the opportunity to revisit the story in audio form, and now I find I love it even more. It has so much to offer the fan of second-world fantasy: brisk and artful prose; a well-built world tinged with echoes of Old Spain; a detailed and fascinating religious system; nauseatingly evil villains, adept at deception and treachery and brutality; an indomitable young heroine; and a protagonist, Lupe dy Cazaril, who in many ways is the best of men — a man with a strong sense of responsibility, humility, and respect, a mature man rather than an entitled overgrown adolescent. The mentor/pupil bond between Cazaril and the spirited princess Iselle warms my heart; it’s a joy to watch him support and encourage her, step by step, to become her best and most powerful self.
I’ve written a great deal in this blog about the kinds of female characters I enjoy and would love to see more of, but lately I’ve come to see more clearly than ever how important it is to see good male characters (emphasis on good) as well. By this I mean male characters who behave like adults, who fight for something larger than themselves, who take responsibility for their actions, who treat others with honesty and kindness, and who show themselves capable of forging solid based-on-respect friendships with women. Fiction, not just fantasy fiction, needs more Lupe dy Cazarils.
Melissa Caruso, The Tethered Mage
I don’t want to say too much about this one, as I’m still only a little more than halfway through it, but I don’t doubt it will make my favorites-of-the-year list. It centers on two female characters, one a privileged heiress and another a scrappy street urchin blessed (or is it cursed?) with fire magic. Their prickly, difficult relationship forms the heart of the book, and I’m relishing watching it develop. Yet my favorite aspect of the novel is the world itself. It’s influenced by Renaissance Italy, with its political infighting between powerful families, but Caruso has made it refreshingly gender-egalitarian, with men and women occupying all roles and stations of life. Both Amalia the heiress and Zaira the urchin have daunting obstacles to face, but gender prejudice is not among them. Hallelujah! This is how it’s done, my friends.
Brandon Sanderson, Oathbringer
It’s finally out! I’ve been thirsting to get my hands on the third volume of Sanderson’s epic Stormlight Archive series, ever since I heard Sanderson read excerpts from it at DragonCon 2016. Now it is mine at last. I’ve just passed page 200, so all I can already say is that it’s huge and beautiful and I love it, and I’m thrilled to spend time once again with Kaladin, Syl, Dalinar, Shallan, and the brave, funny men of Bridge Four. Ah, to be in Roshar now that fall is here!
An Atlanta Christmas, to be performed by the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company at the Good Acting Studio in Marietta, GA on December 9 and 10.
More than a decade after Christmas Rose, I have finally written a new Christmas piece for ARTC! Set at the North Pole and called The Sleigh of Unspoken Dreams, it focuses on a trio of elves who are just plain sick of turning out corporate and licensed merchandise and flex their creative muscles by crafting toys that haven’t yet been, but should be, asked for. Its debut performance takes place in just three weeks. If you happen to be in the Atlanta area and want to take in a special festive activity, check out our show, which also includes scripts by gifted ARTC writers David Benedict, Rhetta Bodhaine, Ron Butler, Cyd Hoskinson, Dave Schroeder, Brad Strickland, and Jonathan Strickland.