Hey there,

 
      A writer I’ve recently discovered, Andy Peloquin, has introduced me to yet another genre I didn’t know existed and took me a great ride doing so. 

Not only did this book introduce me to the world of the Night Guild, its city Praamis, Viola in all of her forms—but also to  Audiobooks. 
      Okay, I tried one audiobook a while back and never made it past 10 minutes. Sorry Paulo Coelho, that just wasn’t working. 
      This book, though, found me sitting on my couch listening for long stretches, with my wife looking on curiously. Me sitting on the couch, staring at the wall, getting pulled into the world of Praamis, the Night Guild, and the story of Viola’s transformation into 7 and finally emerging as Ilana. 
      This has changed my opinion of audiobooks from being a mere curiosity to being something I dig. Mind you, I don’t drive, nor commute, so I had to carve out time to listen. 
     And this was worth it. 
     Not only has this book reintroduced me to a format I’d left for dead, but to a completely unknown genre:
Grimdark Swords and Sorcery Fantasy Thief Adventure
     Mouthful ain't it? 
     Now, I’ve heard of Grimdark (Grim Dark also) but didn’t know what it means, precisely†. I did cut my teeth on Swords and Sorcery & Fantasy back in the 70s and 80s, and Thief Adventure sounds close to Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, a Swords and Sorcery favorite of mine. 
     But all together? 
     Never heard of such a thing. 
     But, what the hell, I decided to give it a go.
The Novel
     The plot and tropes are recognizable but avoid the cliché and remain fresh:  Peloquin presents a young girl forced into a cut-throat thief community along with other young ones. Much like the premise of The Lies of Locke Lamora, another book of young thieves, I had a blast reading. 
     Quickly, one feels at home in the storyline. The lone person, without a friend or any help in a merciless situation, a new world in which she must figure out a way to survive. She runs afoul of a villainous fellow “Tyro,” 12, later named Sabat and builds up friendships. Yet as in anything described as Grim or Dark, these friendships don’t usually turn out so well. Some friends fail despite how hard she and they try. The rest are scattered throughout the Night Guild—an association one can liken to an elaborate Mafia with various specialties built on individual skills
     Ilana’s a Hawk, a second-story woman. 
     As she negotiates this vicious world, she overcomes minor as well as serious adversity to be accepted as one of only a few girls in the whole of the Night Guild. 
       The world of her and the other apprentices' education, the many trials and tests of skills all work well. She struggles. Nothing is given to her, making her a character one really roots for. It makes her losses deeper, including seeing old friends she’d known only as numbers and how far they have fallen.
     Sabat constantly harasses her, hating that she’s a girl in this testosterone-driven world.  
     Her few new friends, including an older Hawk, Denber help her as she plots an impossible task to prove her worth in the Night Guild. 
     Despite of the many trials and ordeals in this world, young love unexpectedly blossoms with Ethen and is handled quite well—subtly, believably, and raising stakes as the story develops.
    Near the end of this first volume of three, she must complete that impossible task for her to prove she belongs in the Night  Guild. Her young beau makes a poor decision. And she must finally face Sabat, the boy, now a young man, who has harassed her for years. 
     <spoiler>Though I might have left him a eunuch too embarrassed to return, plotting revenge at this ultimate humiliation—she still gives us something we relish and the moment is satisfying. </spoiler> (Am I actually Grimdark? Hmmm.)
     Even so, there is plenty more danger to move the story along into the next volume: Thief of the Night Guild
     Bottom line: I had a damned good time and am looking forward to Ilana’s continuing adventures. 
The Audiobook
     So, what about the Audiobook, proper?  
     It is narrated by Rebecca McKernan, who has a number of titles to her credit, which tells you she's a pro. 
     She doesn’t merely read, she acts—enough. 
     Different voices for different characters, including boys and girls. Mostly boys in this story, but that she’s a woman does not distract in the least. 
     She does a variety of accents and voices, distinctive enough I was able to tell who was speaking, merely by the way she spoke. That’s an unexpected advantage of this format. 
     In all, she does a solid job all the way through. 
     Of course, it does depend on how much one likes the words interpreted for you—how plaintive, or arrogant someone sounds delivering a given line.
     Something I still have to get entirely used to. I know actors do this on stage and screen all the time, but I’m still getting used to it. Like those radio plays of yore, like the Shadow. But thankfully no sound fx here.

     As said above, Peloquin has already introduced me to a genre I didn’t know existed, Military Fantasy. I gave my thoughts about his Shields in Shadow novel here:  
     I have read one other of his works, another grimdark piece called Life for a Life. That’s free if you join his mailing this, which I did, of course, to get it. You might check out his site and see if you’d like this slim volume @ Andy Peloquin.

     If this sounds like something you might like, definitely check it out. 

     † Grimdark fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy that revolves around stories that are thematically both grim (in terms of setting and world-building) and dark (in terms of style and characterization). There tends to be an emphasis on realism in the grimdark genre, even when set in a fantastical world. (Thanks to the Azrian Portal)

     Now, what I write isn't Grimdark. I actually have to mind being too nice. But people do get killed in Walking the Darkmaker’s Way, and there are strong elements of realism in it. But, it’s neither Grim nor Dark, per se, even if it shares features. My stuff leans more High Fantasy, Moorcock, Leiber, and Donaldson. If that sounds like something you’d like to check out, I have a sample of the prequel novella right below: 

This part is 17 pages, no big commitment: if you dig it, the other 120+ are available. Just ask. 
Or join the FB Group:  

Beta Readers for The Book of Visions

    A casual Facebook group where I post updates, early look sample, and it has links to all of  Walking the Darkmaker’s Way. It'll also have The Book of Visions once I’ve completed the rewrite. 



That said, what else is worth sharing this fortnight?  

 From the Department of Urban Art: 

Sliced Blue Egg Creature

From  a post on Street Art, this time with guest appearances by Walter Benjamin, Mikhail Bakhtin, @goofyfroot, Sara Erenthal Art@phoebenewyorkCoccettiIn Effect HardcoreRAE BK

Check it out right below

 
 From the Department of in vino veritas

A sharp Sauvignon Black from New Zealand. 

Mussle Bay Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough  2017

A review and pairing notes for this wine appears in a discussion of wine disappointments, mistakes, and blunders, though not this wine. Sharp one that. 


Department of gastronomy
Forget Kind, Clif, or Toas Mountain Energy bars, I’m talking OG energy bars, like 5,000 years old—Pemmican. Not the bar itself, but the idea, and how to make one at home—>this ain’t vegan: read here Ancient Energy Bars.

Other Articles worth a look

Five Fantasy Multiverses (From Tor.com) Includes the expected C.S. Lewis, but Steven King, Clive Barker, and others that you’ll probably want to check out. I’ve got so many books on my To-Be-Read list, my head will explode. But as the Book of Visions takes place in a Multiverse, replete with portals, the Between and epileptic travelers (they jump universes), I’ll need to make room. 


'The Witcher' Timeline, Explained: How Everyone's Stories Intersect (From Thrillist.com). Not sure if you need it, but I found it helpful. The Witcher does cover a century and jumps about. Still a fun show. 


10 Places That Are Always on Fire (From Atlas Obscura) not sure if this sounds more Science Fiction or Fantasy, but these are neither, and you can find these right here on earth. No portal or spaceship needed.


Department of Found Words:

handfast not what I expected when I tried to pry it apart, but does make sense. Very old fashioned. 

precocious describes a kind of character popular in film and TV, which I despise because it’s mostly used as a trick to let kids say adult things. Cheap. Occasionally, though, a likable precocious kid shows up. Though I can’t think of one off the top of my head. 

hoary—love this word, great for people and ideas both. Also frost, but that isn’t nearly as much fun. I’m sure it’ll show up in the Book of Visions.


Free Stuff
You don’t want to commit to joining a FB group and feeling obligated to read something you don’t know if you’ll like. 

Well, here are the first 17 pages of Walking the Darkmaker’s Way in PDF. A small commitment. You hate it, you won’t ask me for more. 
You like it, ask me. I’ll get you the rest.  


Like Audio? Here’s a link to my reading "Two Phoenixes," the stand-alone excerpt from Solitude of the Knight.

Listen to it online. Down load the MP3. Do both. Your choice. 



You want more stuff? Stop by my website. Always working on something. 


  Thanks for reading,

        Lance

     As always         
Let me know what you’re thinking—I’d love to hear
Even hit up wlancehunt.com for the latest news

W. Lance Hunt: Author of the gritty Rock’n’Roll Tale A Perfect Blindness and 




Walking the Darkmaker’s Way a High Fantasy story—"nostalgia can be deadly"  




 and sharer of Wine, Street Art, and other interesting things.† 

Now hard at work on a high fantasy series The Book of Visions. About a Brooklynite lost in a world of magic and swords.  

Snag a sliver of it today in the Beta Reader’s groupWalking the Darkmaker’s Way, of course. Click above, ask to join, and we’ll give you the thumbs up. The link to download Act 1 is there waiting for you, and every release of beta copies for Walking the Darkmaker’s Way and the Book of Visions will appear in that group as they are finished. 

† I can only guarantee I find them interesting.