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Martin the Warrior
November 9th, 2002, 11:11 PM
I'd advise anyone who is a fan of fantasy books to check out The DragonCrown War Cycle set of books by Michael A. Stackpole (and, yes, I have an ulterior motive with this recommendation). On top of Mike being an incredible writer (whom some of you may have been exposed to via the X-Wing series), the books are a really nice venture into the world of epic fantasy with a few very nice twists.

The first book (technically only the "Prelude to The DragonCrown War Cycle"), The Dark Glory War, serves as the backstory to the actual series. You're introduced to key characters, chief among them Tarrant Hawkins (whose perspective the book is told through). While I don't want to spoil it, "The Dark Glory War" is, indeed, a self-contained war against the series' antagonist, Chytrine (sorceress seems so ill-fitting a description, though). The "good guys" suffer an enormous loss by the end of the book, even while claiming victory against Chytrine (who merely retreats to bide her time). And it ends on a suitably emotional cliffhanger.

The series picks up twenty-five years with the first official book of the Cycle, Fortress Draconis. Here we are introduced (in some cases reintroduced) to the main characters of the series-- the orphaned Princess Alexia, heir to a kingdom that was annexed by Chytrine in TDGW (we actually see Alexia as an infant in TDGW, as her father's kingdom is falling); Kerrigan Reese, one of the most powerful magickers to ever live, only he's lived his life sheltered from the outside world and while he can perform nearly any magic spell, he learns that casting spells in a closed off room and casting spells in the middle of a heated battle are two entirely different things; filling out the triumvirate of main characters is a boy named Will, believed to be the chosen one of the Vorquellyn prophecy, "A Norrington to lead them, Immortal, washed in fire Victorious, from sea to ice. Power of the north he will shatter, A scourge he will kill, Then Vorquellyn will redeem." With no idea of his parentage or his destiny, Will, a young thief, finds himself swept up into the missions of others. Also accompanying them is a Vorquelf named Resolute and a mysterious man named Crow. Together they begin trying to rally the self-centered kingdoms of the world to unite in opposition of Chytrine or face destruction.

Fortress Draconis was just released in a mass-market paperback edition (previously is was available only in trade paperback), making it more affordable than ever ($6.50).

The next book in the series, When Dragons Rage, is set to be released in trade paperback the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, making it an excellent Christmas (or Hanukkah) gift.

The final book, The Grand Crusade, should be released sometime next year (as FD and WDR were released at nearly the exact time of year, I'd wager November '03).

Now, why did I go through all of this? Well, like I said, I'm a big fan of Mike Stackpole's work (I'd also recommend Talion: Revenant and Once a Hero). Mike's recently run into hard times, though, and if his books don't meet sales expectations, he might be forced to, as he put it, "get a real job". With so much drivel out there, the loss of a fantastic writer of his caliber would be a travesty. So, the easiest way to help him out is to give his books a try (buy them new, though-- used books do not factor into a publisher's sales figures).

While Mike recently posted a notice that the fan response to his plea was phenomenal, and that Bantam signed him for a new fantasy trilogy (tentatively entitled Cartomancer with book #1 entitled "A Secret Atlas"), I'd rather ensure his continued success by giving him an extra plug and possibly new fans.

So, if you've been looking for a new book to try out, are always interested in new things, or just want to see what kind of book/author could get this kind of recommendation from me, then please go pick up The Dark Glory War, Fortress Draconis, and (when it's released) When Dragons Rage. Or ask for them as a gift this Christmas/Hanukkah. You'd be helping Mike out (and I'm sure you'd enjoy the books).

Cale Yin
November 10th, 2002, 10:03 AM
I will do that. I currently don't have a very long Christmas list. What's the difference between trade paperback and mass-market paperback? And how much more would trade paperback cost? When were the first book and second book released? Are these books sold at Barnes & Noble? Are they hard to find?

Martin the Warrior
November 10th, 2002, 10:44 AM
A trade paperback has dimensions similar to a hardcover book, save for the fact that it has a softcover. A mass-market paperback is what one usually sees and what Redwall has been released as (although a trade paperback edition of Redwall does exist). Trades generally cost $14.95.

The Dark Glory War was released March/April of 2000, Fortress Draconis was released November of 2001.

The books should be very easy to find and I've always seen them at Barnes & Noble when I do a shelf-check. Fortress Draconis would probably be the easiest, as it's the most recent (and was only just released in a mass-market paperback edition), but The Dark Glory War was recently given a second printing, so it should be fairly common, as well. Just check the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section (Stackpole's books are usually one set of shelves before all the Tolkien books).

Chesk Otter
November 10th, 2002, 11:18 AM
Sounds like a typical fiction book. What makes these books so good though?

Cale Yin
November 10th, 2002, 11:46 AM
Um. I just showed my mom the additions to my Christmas wish list, and she spazzed out when she saw the titles to the books. (I hate the way she does that.) She now thinks that they are about satanic practices and subliminal messages directed to innocent young children to give up everything and practice witchcraft and chant morbid nonsense and chop things up for spells and other nasty things. She got me LOTR for my birthday, and this doesn't sound any 'worse'.


he learns that casting spells in a closed off room and casting spells in the middle of a heated battle are two entirely different things

The first time I read that, I thought it said "a heated bottle." I was like, "...Wha?"

Treerose
November 10th, 2002, 11:52 AM
::holds up a B & N shopping bag, with FD and TDGW in it:: :D When I walked by Barnes and Noble today, it reminded me of this thread, and, well... my feet just had a will of their own. ;)

I was pleased to see that there were several copies of FD... last time I bought Stackpole books (Talion: Revenant, and A Hero Born), there were no spare copies out after I got my books. So, hopefully that's a good sign that B & N thinks they'll be able to sell lots of copies.

As for what makes them so good, Chesk, it's because of the author. ;) Michael Stackpole is simply amazing, and he has fantastic plots, and a great imagination. I can't wait to read TDGL, and wonder of wonders, I think I won't have to wait long. (My schedule's in one of those calms before the storm right now. <g>)

Tree

~~~~

"I would like to thank Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Strauss, Rimsky-Korsakov..."

~Dimitri Tiomkin, accepting an Academy Award for best original dramatic musical score for the motion picture "The High and the Mighty~

<G> Great speech.

Slagar the Cruel
November 10th, 2002, 12:55 PM
I've been thinking of starting up a new book series... but I was thinking of reading "Wheel of Time"... now I don't know. :\ What do you suggest, Martin?

Airemia
November 10th, 2002, 01:47 PM
Well they sound interesting. I'll definitely check them out. I'm a bit... Erm... I don't know how to say it. Reluctant to read any fantasy books besides LOTR right now, because the last fantasy series I tried reading was that one by Terry Goodkind. I read Wizard's First Rule, but I only got half way through Stone of Tears. I don't know. They're extremely well written, but they were soooo long, and depressing, and... :( But I'll try these out. :)

Martin the Warrior
November 10th, 2002, 02:08 PM
Caleyin
Um. I just showed my mom the additions to my Christmas wish list, and she spazzed out when she saw the titles to the books. (I hate the way she does that.)

LOL Well, yeah, they do sound rather ominous, don't they? As way of explanation, "The Dark Glory War" refers not to magic or anything like that, but to the losses the forces of good suffered throughout the war. Kingdoms were lost, great leaders were killed, and... the ending... Many fought for glory which was instrumental in their downfall. So, "Dark" refers to the losses and tragedy, similar to how the end of The Empire Strikes Back can be called "dark".

As for "Fortress Draconis", it's a military outpost, the last great fortress protecting the southern kingdoms from attack by Chytrine in the north. It's their only defense (and very strong, at that... but the question is, who's stronger?).

Perhaps I should explain the significance of the DragonCrown, though... the DragonCrown is an item created by a sorcerer named Kirun, who was Chytrine's lover (and master, at one point). The DragonCrown allowed Kirun to control all dragons and direct them as weapons against his foes. Offhand, the only base that was able to kill a dragon that I can think of is Fortress Draconis, so you can imagine the strategical advantage. When Kirun was killed, Chytrine took control of his forces. However, the DragonCrown was broken into many pieces (nine, I think, although I'd have to double check) and scattered throughout the land. Chytrine desires to reclaim the pieces and restore the crown, giving her complete control over the dragons. This is a war to prevent her from acheiving this goal.

Mike has described "The Dark Glory War" as the equivilent of World War I, with the war unfolding in the following books being World War II.


Caleyin
She now thinks that they are about satanic practices and subliminal messages directed to innocent young children to give up everything and practice witchcraft and chant morbid nonsense and chop things up for spells and other nasty things. She got me LOTR for my birthday, and this doesn't sound any 'worse'.

They're anything but, actually. There's no main character who can use magic in TDGW (unless you want to count Resolute, who has limited knowledge but is primarily a physical fighter). TDGW is a "coming of age" story that follows four youths who have just begun the ritual of ascending into adulthood (a ritual in their country which involves the earning of and wearing of masks). Two of the youths are Tarrant Hawkins and his friend Bosleigh (Leigh) Norrington. It is a long standing tradition in their country that wherever a Norrington (a noble family) goes, he will have a Hawkins at his side. And so, when Leigh's father is forced to depart and drive Chytrine's forces back into the northlands, Tarrant accompanies them in his father's stead (a Norrington cannot go without a Hawkins, it's bad luck). This is Tarrant's story as he becomes a man, earns the respect of those around him, faces Chytrine herself, and... then comes the end of the book. ;) Stackpole always grounds his fantasy in reality, and while there are magical weapons, magic users, elves, and weiruns (akin to the gods of Greek mythology, although with powers limited to certain domains), they are never the focus and are never overbearing.

In FD, the main magic user is Kerrigan, who is an overweight, slightly bumbling adolescent. His "schooling" has more in common with Harry Potter (albeit of a more serious nature) than anything else, as the magic users have established an island stronghold called "Vilwan" where they pass on their skills to Adepts in a school environment. I can't really recall any chanting whatsoever (it, like the One Source in Wheel of Time, has a slightly more "Force" bent to it than "magic").

That being said, there are probably a couple of scenes involving the sullanciri (Chytrine's "lieutenants") that a concerned parent might have problems with. For example, at one point, very early in FD, Resolute and Crow must confirm Will's bloodline which results in the body of a goat being possessed by a sullanciri named Nefrai-laysh. There's no religious undertone involved in the scene, but if it sounds like something your parents would have a problem with, then you'll probably be better off waiting until you're older. Just write down the book titles for future reference.


Chesk
Sounds like a typical fiction book. What makes these books so good though?

Tree said it exactly. Books are never about the concept, Chesk, they're about the execution. A good writer can make even the dullest and most cliche of concepts seem exciting and new. And Mike Stackpole is nothing if not a great writer.


Slagar
I've been thinking of starting up a new book series... but I was thinking of reading "Wheel of Time"... now I don't know. :\ What do you suggest, Martin?

How much time do you have? I'd say get the both, but if time is an issue, then you'd probably be better off getting the Cycle as two books under 600 pages each will be quicker reads than nine books over 600 pages each (some over 1,000 pages). You'll find a more involved world from Jordan, but will get a great story from either. So, whatever time and your budget allows.


Treerose
::holds up a B & N shopping bag, with FD and TDGW in it::

FINALLY! ;) Tree, I expect you to have them read soon. :D I assume you got the mass-market edition of FD? (As a point of interest, the mass-market edition of Fortress Draconis includes a preview of When Dragons Rage, which did little to satisfy my curiosity after the cliffhanger of FD.. and was actually what sparked this thread.)

Cale Yin
November 10th, 2002, 02:40 PM
I think she just overreacted and has calmed down a little. I explained to her that she is letting me read Dancing With Cats (which was a sign of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials), the Wild Magic series by Tamora Pierce, Harry Potter (and she also let my 11-year-old sister read that) and LOTR, so I think it'll be alright. Thanks for that post, it will probably help a lot.

Treerose
November 10th, 2002, 04:40 PM
I assume you got the mass-market edition of FD? (As a point of interest, the mass-market edition of Fortress Draconis includes a preview of When Dragons Rage

Yep. ::gloats over the books:: :D And don't worry, as soon as I finish this book on Heifetz that I absolutely have got to finish this week, I'm starting TDGW. I need to read something that doesn't have anything to do with music or schoolwork. ;)

Tree

~~~~

Speaking of Heifetz... The man considered by many to be the greatest violinist of this century, if not all time, hated technology. He thought everything today could be boiled down to "the two C's: compete and compute", and he thought things were good only if they were old. (I'll say this for him, he was consistant: even a ten year old phonebook was better to him than a new one.) Once, when he was watching TV, it occurred to him that he must look like a rabbit, sitting there and staring at something, so he got up and smashed it with his cane. (Question: what did he think he looked like when he sat at concerts or listened to others playing?) I suppose that means that even though he lived to see the era of Star Wars, he didn't like it. His loss. ;)

VanessaNB
November 10th, 2002, 05:03 PM
My Christmas list is so astoundingly simple: I can't think of much I want. And all the stuff I want, I can't get because they're animals. Actually, I want a rat/s, at least I'm not asking for a puppy.
Then again, because my mom is practically begging me to make a two foot list (my lack of teen-girl-behavior is shocking to her), you've helped me a good deal. Must create list of titles....

....I mean come on, most teens want a car for Christmas, a rat/s is so astoundingly simple in comparison.....*mumbles*

Yes, I'll see if I can find them.

MoonShadow
November 10th, 2002, 05:53 PM
Then again, because my mom is practically begging me to make a two foot list (my lack of teen-girl-behavior is shocking to her)

:eek: My Christmas list was always very simple, and I doubt this year's will be any different! And I seriously doubt that my mom will start begging for me to even make a 6 inch long list!

Well... I was going to get them from the library, but under these circumstances.... I'll attempt to get my parents to agree to buy thos books.... Well, they probably will buy it anyway for me even if they have some sort of disagreement with it or something, like they did with Shonen Jump. :cornflow:

Lyrian Aryns
November 10th, 2002, 06:19 PM
Hm... I will attempt to poke my mom into taking me down to Barnes and Noble sometime tomorrow... they sound rather interesting. (Oh why oh why must my only modern bookstore be a city away and way out of walking distance?! Hmph.) Fortress Draconis. That just strikes me as a cool title...

Now... this Mike dude wouldn't happen to be any of relation of yours, now would he? ;) Just kidding...

Chesk Otter
November 10th, 2002, 06:57 PM
Have you ever been covered with gigantic tame sewer rats? I have! It's cool! I got bitten by one too! And I'm not joking!

VanessaNB
November 11th, 2002, 11:24 AM
How'd you manage that? You were on Fear Factor?:p
And I believe they are properly called "fancy rats", decended from wild Norway rats. Sorry, I think "sewer rat" doesn't do them justice. You got the gigantic part right, tame rats are much bigger. I like going on about animals.
Oh, and if you think wanting a rat is odd (for some reason, people don't like 'em), I wanted an iguana when I was little. Yes, I knew it would grow up to be 6 feet long:D
Back on topic, I think those Zoids models look cool. Finally, a model I can put together without killing myself.

Martin the Warrior
November 11th, 2002, 06:19 PM
That's on topic? ;)

VanessaNB
November 12th, 2002, 03:23 PM
Eh? Oops! Sorry Martin, I got confuseled.
Bit early for a Christmas topic, I guess:D

Red Draco
November 13th, 2002, 05:11 PM
The DragonCrown sounds a lot like the DragonOrb from Dragonlance, but that's OK. :)

My favourite fantasy novel of all time is Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King. It was just so ... cliche, yet different.