Rabble Review: Ghost in the Blood

 

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I need to stop putting these off. I write these reviews but can’t be bothered to come onto WordPress anymore. I’m so out of practice. Lorequest needs tending, too… Eventually.

Time for more of Johnathon Moeller’s Ghost series!

 

 

Have fun~

 


 

 

Title: Ghost in the Blood

Series: (Book 3) The Ghosts

Author: Johnathon Moeller

Genre: Fantasy (Sword-and-Sorcery)

Release Date: December 2, 2013

Amazon Score: 3 Stars (would like to give it 2.5)

 


 

 

 

I had decided to give Johnathon Moeller’s Ghost series one more chance before I threw in the towel. And, blow me down, Ghosts in the Blood is a marked improvement of the two previous entries. It’s the first novel in the series that I could give a recommendation to. It still suffers in some areas, most of which aren’t new or shocking for those who read the first two books, but we’ll get to that.

 

Pros: The cast is expanded much beyond the last two Ghosts entries. Newcomers such as Radast and Ducas are a little one-note and gimmicky, but they’re decent enough characters.

-Heroes and villains are both recurring (as in, they return from earlier books), which gives the narrative a more cohesive feel.

-The villain, while similar to the last two, has an actual presence, inspiring a fair amount of both intimidation and mystery.

-Again, the action’s smooth, easy-to-follow, and entertaining. Unlike the last entry, it’s used much more sparingly, so it doesn’t get old.

-The mood is much more atmospheric and dark than the last two entries, showing a growing maturity in the writer’s skills and construction of a cohesive narrative emotion.

 

Con: This book, like the last two, took itself too quickly. However, unlike the last one, it had enough content set up to make it last and remain interesting throughout.

-The world was much more interesting this time, including folklore and cultural flavor; however, neither of these were fully expanded upon.

-The villain, despite her presence and power, met her end to a deus ex machina plot contrivance, which was disappointing.

-Almost none of the other heroes contribute anything meaningful to the plot— that is, most of their actions in the narrative are waiting for Caina to find everything out for them and then following whatever plan she cooks up. At least they have personalities, though. Mostly, anyway.

 

Overall: I’ll probably come back to this series after a break, but at least there’s that; I’ll be coming back to this series I had serious doubts about before. And Ghosts in the Blood, with its refinements and improvements, is the book that singlehandedly did it.

 

 

Ghost in the Blood’s Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Blood-Ghosts-Book-3-ebook/dp/B005R9IHV8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1460050426&sr=8-1&keywords=ghosts+in+the+blood

 


 

 

I decided to do a shorter style of review this time- I actually wasn’t as emotionally-invested as I was in the last review. And this is actually a good thing, considering how utterly nonplussed I was with that last entry. I could have been more invested in this story, but we’ll see what happens in the Extended Thoughts. Except that one to be shorter, too!

 

 

Good luck, you brave writer folk!

 

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Rabble Review: Ghost in the Flames

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I’m back. With another entry of Johnathon Moeller’s Ghost series.

Brace for impact, children.

 

Have fun~

 


 

 

 

Title: Ghost in the Flames

Series: (Book 2) The Ghosts

Author: Johnathon Moeller

Genre: Fantasy (Sword-and-Sorcery)

Release Date: December 2, 2013

Amazon Score: 1 Star (would have liked to give it 1.5)

 


 

 

Johnathon Moeller’s Ghost in the Flame, second in the Ghosts series, has committed the ultimate sin of sword-and-sorcery/adventure fantasy literature: it’s boring.  I apologize for being potentially overly-frank with just my opening statement, but I feel it’s within prospective buyer’s best interests to know the real crux of the opposing argument as early as possible. But let’s get more specific.

 

Pros: Ark, a series newcomer, is much more interesting than Caina or anybody else has been up until this point. Take that for what you will.

Like the last entry, the action scenes are all fluid, easy to follow, and quick. Although, they do wear out their welcome about midway through the book.

 

Cons: Caina, an ultimately flat and uninteresting character, is the only perspective in this book. This is a change from the previous installment in the series. I got tired of hearing her voice very early on.

The plot is essentially the same three events happening in a loop until the heroes are smart enough to realize the very obvious answers in front of their faces. Once you see one fight in a street or dinner with a noble, you’ve seen the next eight to come.

As an extension of the above, the heroes are even more staggeringly dim-witted when it comes to missing key and obvious plot details.

The novel has very little beyond its action scenes, which do get old quickly because of the slogging plot.

 

In short, and this is the worst offender of them all, this book is simply boring. It does little to nothing on an emotional level, instead preferring to focus almost entirely on the surface-level events like those previously mentioned. The writing isn’t particularly flawed or difficult to read, it’s that it’s so painfully serviceable in a plot that doesn’t so much go forward as it makes ever-expanding circles until it eventually reaches the end as a result.

A lot of my previous complaints from the last entry in the series are present here, too. The world is malnourished and underdeveloped, and the characters are lackluster, oftentimes being shockingly one-dimensional. Even Ark, the series newcomer, isn’t enough to salvage the novel. Perhaps if every character had his level of development, Ghost in the Flame would be a little more interesting, perhaps even worth a tentative recommendation.

As it stands, though, this is a step backwards from the already-underwhelming first entry.

 

Overall: The first one was better; it’s not a good thing.

 

Ghost in the Flames‘ Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Flames-The-Ghosts-Book-ebook/dp/B005G69H5C

 

 


 

 

I feel like I want to give this series one last look before burying it (and possibly myself) for good. I can’t tell if that’s just my inherent optimism getting the better of me or if I’m slowly becoming a masochist. God help me if it’s both!

 

 

Good luck, you brave writer (and reader) folk!

 

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Miniature Narrative Project 2015: Part 1

 

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Because it was such a good idea last time, I’ve decided that I’ll be doing another Miniature Narrative Project for December. This time, though, I’m going to be using The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt. I’ll do an entry at least once every three days but probably not a whole lot more than that. And each entry will be related to the last AND be related to the Daily Prompt entry.

As for word count, I’ll keep it flexible but I’ll try to keep it under 800 or something. That way I don’t just lurch into a full narrative at the last second like I did last time.

So, I guess we’ll just see where this goes.

 

Have fun~

 


 

 

Prompt: “What is your favorite sweet thing to eat? Bread pudding? Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies? A smooth and creamy piece of cheesecake? Tell us all about the anticipation and delight of eating your favorite dessert. Not into sweets? Tell us all about your weakness for that certain salty snack.”

Title: Bright Like a New Day

Word Count: 743

 

If I shined my buttons any more, I’d steal the sun’s thunder right from under it. My silly mother and father just don’t understand. There’s only three people’s approval that I need. Mine, that devilishly handsome man in the mirror looking back at me, and the Duke of the Great Chamber. Or just the Duke. He and I are on a first-name basis, of course.

Perhaps today I’ll finally make him aware of that. After I come back from my royal mission. For the Duke is hungry and his sweet tooth must be satiated.

“We can’t just move a whole town,” the foreman whines. “And there are people who live here. What about them?”

“There’s plenty of room in the capital,” I say. “They can all live closer to their beloved Duke.”

A moment of silence creeps by us. The foreman pulls his collar (which is very official— brass buttons and the noble crest and everything) away from his throat, never minding the winter chill. He must think it a noose. With a heavy sigh, he hefts his axe.

Deep below, still in the quite of the early morning snow, the town lies unaware that is destiny is about to be realized. The Duke will have his nation and he will eat so he may build that land for another day. I kick the flanks of my horse; I shall be the first to tell those in the sleepy valley of the change to their lives. Perhaps my buttons will be like a beacon to them and turn them from townsfolk to pilgrims on a quest for a better, purer home.

The town was emptied, its people, whether they were crying or smiling, were sent south to the capital, and each building was turned to splinters and gravel. Yet still I saw doubt in the foreman’s eyes. Even as we brought the caravan carrying those remnants of schools, churches, and homes back to the capital, his eyes were downcast. Perhaps he did not so fervently believe yet? Or maybe it was the thought of bandits that troubled him. I could not say but troubled with it no more. If all went well, I would never work with the disagreeable man and his unshaven face ever again.

For all the next day, the Great Chamber churched and belched black smoke into the snowy sky. Sugar was mixed with wood and stone and brick. Honey, water, flour, and whatever else the Duke had a hunger for were poured in and reshaped into a great red-brown tar-like lake. It almost looked like pudding from where I stood (at one of the many balconies scattered about the room. I was summoned, you see, to observe the conception of this newest batch). Our Duke has a sweet tooth indeed.

A tremendous glass room, rimmed with iron and casting light like a lantern suspended from heaven, hangs high above the pool and machinery of the Great Chamber. Up there, shadows and form are ideas, ideals, always shifting as if part of some spectacular fire. Only the Duke lives up there and only he determines what does or does not shape.

“My hunger,” the Duke thunders (though I think this is still but a whisper from him) in his thousand voices, “is the cement of our nation. The town of Huntsman’s Valley has brought one-hundred and thirty six new residents to our growing capital. And with this newest batch, the largest of its kind to ever be wrought, our nation shall grow evermore.”

There’s a pause without silence. The Duke’s words echo and bounce around all the shined steel walls.

“Purdon,” he says to me. Me. “I would like you to watch as I take the first bite. Note that with all of these balconies, none of my ministers nor officials are here. You alone have been summoned to watch this new age be ushered in.”

For just a moment, the swirling light in the heavenly glass room seem to all focus on me. I wish I could smile. But I’m far too overwhelmed, the strength of my body leaving my skin but empowering me soul. I can’t turn my eyes away as the globe comes down from the ceiling on chains and pulleys and the glass opens up like a blossom in spring. If only those simple folk of Huntsman’s Valley could see what their sacrifice has created.

They would probably weep as I did then. And still do.

 

 

THE OTHER DAILY PROMPT ENTRIES

 


 

 

PINGBACK:

<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/pour-some-sugar-on-me/">Pour Some Sugar on Me</a>

 

So that was weird. Similar to the last one (link way at the top of the entry), this story might end up being somewhere in-between an over-detailed children’s tale and one of those childish-seeming tales that actually has bizarre, dark undertones. Like Adventure Time or something. Except for the whole nuclear war things…

 

 

Good luck, you brave writer folk!

 

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Friday Fictioneers: “Old, Familiar World”

 

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I feel like I’m obligated to write something about Thanksgiving this time around. It’s a shame I don’t also feel obligated to submit these darn things on time!

 

Have fun~

 


 

 

Image Copyright: Sandra Crook

Image Copyright: Sandra Crook

 

Title: Old, Familiar World

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100

 

When I was a boy, a ship carrying my family, a wolf-eyed father and a mother with dawn in her hair, departed for the sunset horizon. I was to wait until the New World was ‘settled and civilized.’

Thus I watched for the ship from a grassy seaside cliff every day.

Years passed and not even the gout stopped me from climbing the cliff. I came less often after I was wed. And even less after my son was born. I promised to never leave them for new worlds— no family should have to wait like widows on a watch.

 

 

 


 

 

For those who are wondering, I didn’t actually have a historical ship in mind when I made this. Just any old early England/Ireland-to New World voyage where everybody died because of the cold/the Yetis/Odin cultists. Not like that narrows it down any.

 

 

 

Good luck, you brave writer folk!

 

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Friday Fictioneers: “Cell E48”

 

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I actually do want to do that critique-centric Friday Fictioneers thing sometime but I feel like I want to submit something that I think actually deserves critique and isn’t something that my brain just passed like a kidney stone.

 

Have fun (with that mental image)~

 


 

 

Image Copyright: C.E. Ayr

Image Copyright: C.E. Ayr

 

Title: Cell E48

Genre: Science Fiction (?)

Word Count: 100

 

“It’s better than Room 101,” my cellmate said.

I tighten my hands around the bars like they’re the warden’s throat. “What are you in for?” I ask. A whistle blows down the long grey hall. The jingling death-knell of chain-ganged prisoners rises like a cancerous sun.

“Being, ‘a danger to society.’” my cellmate said. He spat onto the floor.

“Whatever that means,” I said. The chain-gang passes me. Their faces are soot and oil-stained. Miles above are city streets filled with happy pricks who think that lights turn on and roads get paved because of little gnomes they never see.

 

 

 


 

 

Well, it’s a lot more coherent than last week’s. That was something truly special! Although, people seemed to really like it. That always happens with these entries- the ones I dislike are the ones that everyone else seems to like. There’s probably a Latin-sounding name for that phenomenon.

 

 

Good luck, you brave writer folk!

 

 

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Flash! Friday: “May-Born”

 

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Well, with the announcement that this is going to be Flash! Friday’s last entry, I figured I’d make something a little referential to that fact. I’m sad to see it go, even though I’ve only been writing for it for a few months. It was a very unique (if a bit stressful) challenge. Ah well, here’s to an ending.

 

Have fun~

 


 

 

Title: May-Born

Character: Twins Fated to Die at the Same Instant

Theme: Magical Realism

Word Count: 200

 

Inspiration had a cold. He has such a poor immune system. Ambition can’t sit still, and she certainly can’t see to her twin brother’s needs.

Outside their windows, Chicago lays sleeping with its eyes open. The snow’s falling is just a ploy; a pale attempt to smother the city.

“Come on,” Ambition said, sitting at her computer. “This story won’t write itself.”

Inspiration rolls over on the sofa. He covers his greening body in a thick white blanket. He coughs, exhaustingly. “Do we have to?” he whines.

“Yes,” Ambition says. Her hair is tangled— Medusa’s defanged. “We’re running out of time. Look outside. This can only mean the end is coming.”

Inspiration wraps himself up further, like he’s spinning a cocoon. His form is beautiful, like a winter bay-blue with moonlight.

Ambition stands up, in a huff. Fleet-footed Mercury runs through her as she walks and fumes, a curse of her May-time birth.

“This is our rambling end, huh?” she cries, slowly stopping and her hand on the cold windowsill.

“Looks like it,” I said. I add a bit of self-insertion at the end, just for completion’s sake, and walk away to stare out my window at the falling snow.

 

 

THE OTHERS

 


 

 

And yes, it IS snowing outside right now. Quite a lot, actually. It’s freaking beautiful. And I actually live outside of Chicago, right where suburbia meets the country (typical of me, May-born Gemini that I am).

 

Yes, the Ambition and Inspiration from above are actually mine. And yes they both suck.

 

 

 

Good luck, you brave writer folk!

 

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Friday Fictioneers: “Ruination of Imagination”

 

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It might just be the enormous ocean of stress on my shoulders right now (I’m not even in school right now but I swear I’m taking finals right now) but I really couldn’t come up with anything for this week. So I’ll just borrow a title from an old poem of mine and  then try to come up with something with little-to-no prior planning.

We’ll see how that goes.

 

Have fun~

 


 

 

Image Copyright: J Hardy Carroll

Image Copyright: J Hardy Carroll

 

Title: Ruination of Imagination

Genre: (Almost) Nonfiction

Word Count: 100

 

 

 

I end up over at the open grave. It’s unmarked but I’m already familiar with it— it belongs to someone I knew very well.

A skeleton lays inside, as if it died waiting. I hoist its skull up to the sun and indeed, “Alas! I knew ye well!”

The detritus of my dear better half is scattered before me, wrapped up like a casserole in paper. Somehow, my head is almost completely empty at the draining sight. It must be that, with his departure, I only try to create noise, if only to avoid silence.

There, pathetically, lies my imagination.

 

 

 


 

 

Meh.

That’s what I think of it. Just meh.

 

 

Good luck, you brave writer folk!

 

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