Friday, April 20, 2007

Three of my favorites

I have read The Lord of the Rings at least twenty-five times. For me it's a once-a-year indulgence that I look forward to as much as a nice vacation. Sometimes I try to wait a little longer just to make the experience even more pleasurable, but most often I fail.

But there are three other authors I enjoy almost as much as Tolkien. I'm sure most of you have heard about them and read their work, but just in case ...

Stephen Donaldson: His epic fantasy series based on the character Thomas Covenant is a magnificent achievement. I highly recommend starting with Lord Foul's Bane (Book 1) and going from there. Donaldson's prose ranks with the best in literature -- of any genre. And as he's gotten older, he's gotten even better. Also, check out the "gradual interview" on Donaldson's website, where he answers questions from readers. Awesome.

George R.R. Martin: His ground-breaking series, A Song of Ice and Fire, is ground-breaking in its creativity, depth, and authenticity. In my opinion no one has done a better job of creating a world based on a medieval setting. His descriptions of battles, one-on-one fights, weapons, armor, clothing, food, castles, etc., are without top-notch. Start with A Game of Thrones.

Steven Erikson: Of the three, Erikson is probably the least known, but that won't last forever. His Malazan Book of the Fallen series is mind-boggling. Erikson's imagination is limitless, and his writing is almost as beautiful as Donaldson's. Start with Gardens of the Moon.

-- Jim

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

There's no taming the wild side

My wife, three youngest daughters, and I recently moved into a new house so that my wife's commute to her new job wouldn't be so long and difficult. As always is the case, the moving process was back-breaking, exhausting, and tedious. And of course, there's still a long way to go before everything is in place, if that is ever truly possible.

Though we are dog and cat lovers, we currently own just one pet: a beautiful black male cat named Woody. (He came to us out of the woods, already neutered by whoever had owned him previously, and adopted our family without any say-so from us.)

Woody is large, powerful, and highly intelligent. He's also loving to our kids, even the youngest. His only flaw is that he's the type of cat that loves to kill anything smaller than a raccoon, and he often brings his presents through the cat door and into the house so that he can show them off to us. Often they are still alive. This past New Year's Eve, as the countdown to midnight began, my wife and I were chasing a mouse around the living room.

Cats that spend much of their time outdoors are territorial, and when you move to a new location you're supposed to keep the cat indoors for at least two weeks and preferably a month or longer. With Woody, that turned out to be impossible. For 72 consecutive hours he paced, whined, meowed, crashed into things, kept us up all night, and basically made the entire family miserable. Finally I was forced to put in a new cat door and set him free far sooner than was wise. We didn't know if he would run off and be lost to us forever ... or return to the family that had grown to love him so much.

As it turned out he returned, and has since been in and out his new cat door several dozen times without incident. His fierce intelligence and wild desire to explore the unknown, which for a time had turned him into a raving maniac, ended up working in his favor. He simply was too smart to get lost.

Writers also have a wild side. If you lock us away from the keyboard, we do everything that Woody did -- except meow.

Some of us might even do that.

-- Jim


The Death Wizard Chronicles is a sexy, action-packed six-book epic fantasy series: Book One (Forged by Death), Book Two (Chained by Fear), Book Three (Eve of War), Book Four (World on Fire), Book Five (Sun God), Book Six (Death-Know).

The DW Chronicles is not for children and teenagers -- or the faint of heart. But if you like graphic fantasy that is bursting with excitement yet still has a lot going on between the lines, I think you'll love my series.

In a groundbreaking paradox, the Death Wizard, a champion of good, derives his power from a source traditionally seen as negative -- death. His nemesis, an evil sorcerer, derives his power from the sun, the benevolent source of all life. Their struggle to control the fate of the planet Triken will take your breath away.

In an original twist never before seen in this genre, the Death Wizard is able to enter the realm of death during a "temporary suicide." Through intense concentration, he stops his heartbeat and feeds on death energy, which provides him with an array of magical powers.

The series also is a love triangle involving two desperate characters attempting to come together despite the machinations of an all-powerful psychopath with incestuous cravings.

Graphic and action-packed, spanning a millennium of turmoil, The DW Chronicles carries readers on a journey they will never forget.

Do you fear death? The Death Wizard does not. Find out why.

-- Please go to for more details.

About Me

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Clemson, SC, United States
I was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla. I graduated from the University of South Florida (Tampa) in 1979 with a B.A. in Journalism. I now live in South Carolina near the Blue Ridge Mountains, a pleasant setting for writing, to say the least. I was an award-winning journalist at the St. Petersburg Times for twenty-five years and I currently work at the Charlotte Observer. I am married with five daughters.

The author

The author
Jim Melvin, a veteran journalist, debuts as novelist.