Impressions: American Sniper

Impressions: American Sniper

American Sniper
American Sniper by Chris Kyle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating story and a revealing tale of one man’s experience as a Navy SEAL. I don’t subscribe to Kyle’s politics, but it was an engaging story, equally fascinating, touching and humorous. I laughed a few times while reading this. Whatever we think of war, Kyle was trained and sent to war by a duly elected government to do a job that officials felt needed doing.

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Draugr’s Saga – Viking Fight Scene

Draugr’s Saga – Viking Fight Scene

Draugr
Below is a fight scene from my Draugr’s Saga novel (to be published). If you like the History Channel’s show Vikings, or AMC’s Walking Dead, then you’ll love this.

In Norse mythology and Icelandic folktales, the Draugr were a cross between a Zombie, a Vampire and a Lich. These were not the stupid shambling beasts that you see in most of popular culture today. These were cunning, evil and vindictive. They were said to be able to grow as large as a troll, and would haunt a man for ages. It was also said they could transform into mist and seep under doors (like vampires).

This particular scene has no supernatural elements, only good old fashioned swordplay (and spears and axes).


Aedan stoked the fire as the men rode up to their camp. One with grey in his brown beard, slid of his horse and tied it’s reins to a branch.

“Good morning, traveller,” Aedan said politely.

The man’s eyes darted around warily, spotting Orvar and Chivonne.

“Where’s the big troll who was with you?”

Aedan affected a look of surprise, then said,” Oh, yes. Him. Sadly he couldn’t swim.” Aedan gestured to the river. “He tried to cross the Shure this morning. The poor bastard drowned. Too proud to admit he’d sink.”

The grey-beard looked unconvinced. “Jarl Ivar bid us come to take you back. If you come willingly, then no need for trouble.”

“Of course,” Aedan said. He noted three more men sliding of their horses, closing the distance between them and the camp. All bore shields and spears, only the old grey-beard had a sword. “No need for trouble. I have yet to break my fast. Will you break bread with us first?” The men looked at each other hungrily, one even licking his lips. Aedan had no food, but he wagered neither did they; likely dispatched with little preparation.

by: Scorpia Roslin

by: Scorpia Roslin

As the three men neared the fire, a cry like an angry bear shattered the silent tension. Aedan watched two heads fly up into the air, clearly severed from their owner’s necks—Geir. Aedan caught a glint of sunlight off Shield breaker’s wide axehead. It was a weapon few men could wield. In the hands of Geir, it became a godly instrument of doom.

As the four men nearest Aedan wheeled to assess the threat, he pulled Draug’s-Bane from beneath his bedroll and lunged forward, piercing grey-beard’s waist with his long-seax. The man gasped as he slumped down. A mortal stroke to be sure. Chivonne had drawn a small seax from beneath her brown, woollen dress.

Geir was howling like a berserker, his great axe making wide, deadly arcs, as he swung it in a defensive circle. The other two closest to Geir, had dismounted and were reluctantly trying to attack him with their spears.

Aedan didn’t have time to watch, as one of grey-beard’s friends snarled at him and thrust his spear. As Erik had taught him, he sidestepped, and instead of moving back, rushed forward, getting beyond the spear’s point, and effectively rendering it useless. Now his foe couldn’t make quick stabbing motions. Aedan grabbed the spear with his left hand, and pulled, at the same time he thrust Draug’s-Bane through the man’s neck.

A third man took this opportunity to thrust his spear at Aedan. The spear tip glanced off Aedan’s mail hauberk and shoulder and slid across his left cheek, carving a deep channel in Aedan’s flesh. This man should have been less concerned about Aedan, and not have underestimated Chivonne, who then took her opportunity to bury her small seax in the man’s lower back. He gaped, but made no sound. His face took on a rigor of unimaginable agony as he fell to his knees, then to his face.

Aedan wiped the stream of blood coming from his cheek with the back arm of his tunic, and turned to find Orvar. He was fighting the fourth man closest to camp, and their only target; Geir had pinned down the last two near where the horses had come in.

by: Lucas Durham

by: Lucas Durham

Aedan was actually a bit surprised at how poorly Orvar was fighting. The spearman had hit him several times, judging by the state of his trousers and the manifold red-streaks. Orvar might soon be killed. Instead of taking time to close the distance and take on the spearman, Aedan drew his belt axe and threw it at the man. The blade didn’t connect, but the weight of the axe-head rang off the spearman’s helm, dazing him long enough that Orvar was able to finish him by clubbing him savagely. It was only then that Aedan saw Orvar had no weapon, save a heavy branch he’d picked up.

He turned to see Geir striding toward them, all signs of life near where the horses had been, extinguished. The horses themselves had bolted during the battle, all save the grey-beard’s horse, which had been tethered.

“Cut off their heads, quickly,” Aedan said.

“What?” Orvar asked.

“I’ll explain later.”

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by: RUshN

by: RUshN

Impressions: Ancillary Justice

Impressions: Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an award winning book for good reason. It was well written, but above all, it was a fresh concept. Something that’s rare in SF these days. The sentient ship is an old trope, but the concept of these semi-autonomous ancillaries has oy been touched on (as far as I know.) Leckie’s dialog for the ship was truly brilliant. It felt like a really advanced AI struggling to understand and imitate humanity. Her take on gender indentification was also quite novel. Excellent book.

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Review: The Warded Man

Review: The Warded Man

The Warded Man
The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once every few years I read a book straight through (all night). This was such a book. The whole premise of the demons and the system of wards is fascinating. The plot was excellent, but what really makes this book shine are the richly drawn characters. I was totally invested in the several main POV characters. Action, drama, romance, and magic. Yep, this is epic fantasy!

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Review: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints

Review: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints

Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints
Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints by Nancy Kress

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bought this book mainly for its section on VIEWPOINT, which I thought I understood, until I read Nancy’s book! Know the difference between CLOSE, MIDDLE and DISTANT Third person POVs? Neither did I. Nancy Kress is a talented author, and a great teacher. If you don’t have her book, go grab a copy!

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Old Blue – A Visual Diary

Old Blue – A Visual Diary

Took Shea up in the mountains in Virgina to teach him how to drive

Once in a person’s life they meet someone that literally changes their life. Occasionally that person is not a person, but a thing. In 2001 I went out shopping for a convertible car, and came home with a Jeep. The series of adventures that were kindled by that purchase will never leave me. Below is a short literary “Ode to Old Blue” that I wrote as a writing assignment, and my wife thought you guys might enjoy it. So here it is, and below are pictures of “Old Blue”.

Old Blue was the family mule; ugly and slow, but eminently useful. How that Jeep caught my eye I don’t remember, but from the moment I brought her home, a new chapter of my life’s story began. Her heart was an indestructible six-cylinder, four-liter engine, her boots, 31” all terrain tires. From clanking along an icy mountain trail in West Virginia in 4×4 low gear, to skimming the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina with 6 lb. of tire pressure, Old Blue was with us. In summer evenings we’d drive the tight, hilly roads of Northern Virginia, soaking in the humid honeysuckle air, sharing the sunset with herds of dog-sized deer and the occasional red fox. Old Blue saw us through 9/11, the DC Sniper, the Anthrax scare, and the 2008 Housing Crash. Through it all Old Blue kept ticking like a Swiss made watch, never complaining, and never costing us a dime over what we paid for her. I hope that wherever she is now Old Blue still thinks of us from time to time.

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