Hey all! The season 4 finale of AMC’s amazing “walker” show is upon us tomorrow, that’s right, on Sunday! So in high expectation for the finale, I’m releasing 3 posts–that’s right, 3–on Geek2Geek’s blog http://nine23blog.wordpress.com/.
Tune in for epic-ness at the link. The first post is already up: My TWD Survival Dream Team. Give me your thoughts on Twitter #TheWalkingDeadSurvivalTeam .
Next up, blogger Kendall Lyons and my all time favorite episodes, and finally, on a more serious note, Children in the Walker Apocalypse.
And no, I’m not going to bash “The Grove”. I’m actually going to praise it, while raising a warning. Find out what that is!
Also, sadly, due to unforeseen circumstances with our cable connection, Kendall and I will not be watching the finale–like WHAT!!!??–on Sunday. We’ll be watching it Monday on Amazon (they better have it up!). So, I will not be Tweeting Sunday to avoid spoiling it for myself–because I will follow your tweets. I’ve done it before…so I’ll tweet Monday instead. And The Talking Dead, I’ll miss you.
Everyone else tune in to the Talking Dead after TWD because Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes, will be on!! Let’s hope he survives! ::wink, wink:: Maybe Chris Hardwick will give him #pudding.
America is under an epidemic. Every Sunday evening millions of viewers turn to AMC and watch The Walking Dead and its talkshow, The Talking Dead. I won’t lie and say I’m not among the viewers—I am. In fact, fellow bloggers Kendall Lyons and Mark Davis are not only running a marathon of our favorite episodes but routinely engage in zombie jokes and serious “prepper” discussions. Kendall and I usually tweet every new episode at #TheWalkingDead, #TheTalkingDead, and #RayntsRant.
The Walking Dead is a cultural phenomenon, a major piece of the puzzle of zombie fascination that has swept the nation, at least as far back as the first George Romero movie. Something about a dangerous apocalypse with mindless monsters—formerly human but twisted by a variety of causes, everything from virus, radiation mutation, chemical contamination, or just plain death.
Well into its fourth season, The Walking Dead has gained momentum. First spawned by a long-running comic book series by Robert Kirkman, it now has grown to include its own talkshow, toys, board and video games, clothing lines, “prepper” materials, webisodes, and even a scheduled spinoff series coming in 2015.
So why are so many millions fascinated about “walkers”? It has been said that zombies are a metaphor for cultural and societal problems. Like in the genre of fantasy, zombie movies and shows contain significant real-life applications; raising philosophical questions about spirituality, life, death, justice, children, the elderly, race. The Walking Dead itself has woven questions about abortion and the raising of children, children soldiers, the death penalty, suicide (“opting out”), dictatorship, leadership, murder, racism, sexuality, marriage, grief and loss, sustainability of civilization (and what civilization actually is), courage, faith, and hope.
For all of its extreme gore and violence, there’s solid storytelling, unique characters, distinct themes, and compelling characters. The latter reasons are why I watch—and frequently look away during the violence and gore. I don’t want to see it, neither do my companions in watching (hence Twitter as a great means to look away). We want the stories, the thrills, the characters. It’s no different than great epic fantasy, the genre I write and read. Great fantasy draws you in, submerses you into a foreign—or parallel—world, vibrant cultures, dynamic characters, compelling plots, and lingering themes. I see these elements in The Walking Dead, which is why I am so fascinated by it.
Here’s what I believe The Walking Dead has done well and right—and also what I fear is dangerous territory for any show to embark on.
::WARNING: SPOILERS WILL FOLLOW. STOP READING HERE, OR JUST COVER YOUR EYES—and peak through your fingers…you know you want to::
What Has Been Done Well:
- Family – One of the strongest facets of The Walking Dead (TWD) is the focus on family. Family survives together. For the longest time, the First Family of TWD—Rick, Lori, and Carl—both drew on heartstrings and frustrated fans until Lori’s very untimely demise during childbirth. Also, the Greene family has been a captivating foundation since the Grimes began falling apart. Hershel’s acceptance and affirmation of Korean immigrant Glenn (my favorite character) and his relationship with Hershel’s daughter Maggie, and also his youngest daughter, Beth, have been the centers of morality, culture, hope, faith, and strong bonds. Tyrese and his sister Sasha have been tight and supportive, confident leaders. And how can “family” not be mentioned without highlighting the miss-matched redneck duo of good tough guy Daryl and villainous, racist, misunderstood, and eventually redeemed brother Merle. Even the late Dale, Andrea, and Amy formed a surrogate family unit. Abusive husband and father Ed met a zombie fate in season 1, and his and Carol’s daughter, Sophia’s end was shocking and horrific to many of us. Family has been central and key to the show, and though tragedy makes for good drama, in a show about the end of the world, sometimes the bond of family needs to remain strong to give hope.
- Character Deaths Propelling the Plot Forward – SPOILER!!! – In season 1, Jacqui’s decision to “opt out” at the CDC explosion hung over certain characters who weren’t sure they wanted to live through the apocalypse. We know her decision haunted Rick during his depression. Dale’s last words in season 2 haunted the group, clearly defining it and seemingly drowning them until the fate of the Governor caused healing and growth. Shane’s betrayal and near-murder of best friend “brother” Rick turned Rick into a frantic, guilty dictator. Shane forever impacted members of the group who knew him. I’ve already mentioned Lori’s death during childbirth, which sank Rick into a crazy hallucinating depression and launched Carl deeper into towards becoming a child soldier. Eventually, though, with the guidance of Hershel, the two rebounded and are gradually bonding as father and son—and right now are totally unaware of baby Judith’s survival (thanks to “Daddy” Tyrese). Speaking of Hershel, I can’t think of another character who really impacted the group when he died. He managed to not just save dozens of lives—all for naught thanks to the Governor’s militia—from the flu, but he gave hope, morality, faith, the courage to overcome addictions, to “come back” from dark, dark places. His memory and ideals still live on with those who survive, especially his daughters and near-son-in-law, Rick, Daryl, and others.
- Poor Preparation—Imagine a world that hasn’t watched movies like 2012, Armageddon, or Night of the Living Dead. Imagine a world that isn’t fascinated with the end of the world, or has survivalists or “preppers”, and is unaccustomed to the dark underbelly of life. That’s the world these characters live in—even the two deputies (Rick and Shane), firefighter Sasha, troublemakers Daryl and Meryl, and military men Bob and Abraham—haven’t fully understood. Common mistakes the group has made has been 1) failure to secure a perimeter, 2) trusting the wrong people, 3) infighting and lack of group morale—until the time between season 3 and 4, 4) not stocking up on certain guaranteed needs like medical supplies, food, and water, and 5) “fire” escape plans and meet-up locations. These failures have cost the group a number of lives, the last greatest one, not tracking down the Governor, giving him time to raise a militia that eventually laid siege to the peaceful “prison” community, likely killing several dozen denizens in the process.
- Redemption stories—I love that certain characters get opportunities for redemption. Even the villainous Governor had a chance for redemption, ultimately ending up with a final confrontation with Rick, Hershel, and Michonne. He rejected the chance, murdered Hershel and launched the fateful battle. However, other characters, like Merle, Daryl, Tara, awesome ninja gal Michonne, Carl, even Rick and former-alcoholics Hershel and Bob chose life. (Though other forces didn’t work out for some of them.) My hope is that the same chances for redemption are extended to certain characters, like young Lizzie and surrogate “don’t-call-me-mom-grieving-gone-emotionally-guarded-and-hard” Carol. Even the Governor’s former henchman, Martinez, seized his chance to change–which the Governor didn’t like but I really did, poor guy. So if he could, why can’t Lizzie? Time to deviate from the source material, perhaps?
- Strong Male and Female Characters—TWD is full of amazing, sacrificial, providers and protectors, strong male and female characters who are well-developed. Tyrese saved baby Judith and caught up to Lizzie and Mika, protecting the three children until Carol arrived, and the group formed a delicate, unwittingly dysfunctional family. (Not touching the Carol/Tyrese issue with a ten-foot pole.) Glenn is an intelligent, sensitive, brave, and caring leader, a strong son and (almost) husband figure. Daryl’s arch is amazing. Many fans prejudged Army medic Bob, newcomer in season 4, early on—likely because of his addiction to alcohol, unintended causal of Beth’s boyfriend’s death in the season premiere, and comic book alter-ego who served the Governor. Last week, in “Alone”, we learned that Bob was literally alone for likely a YEAR, having been the sole survivor of 2 groups. So his seemingly rare smile and joy at being with Sasha and Maggie radiates from the fact that they’ve survived together, have a plan, and hope.
Hershel stood as a solid father-figure and elder, one who is sorely missed. Now, let me turn to the strongest female characters I’ve seen to grace TWD screen: Maggie, Sasha, and Michonne. All providers, leaders, risk-takers, strong—ala “Alone’s” epic Maggie/Sasha tag-team zombie fight or Michonne’s wielding her katana against a 21-strong walker herd—yet very feminine, caring. Maggie and Sasha’s friendship has been one of the strongest female relationships on the show. Even Tara’s attempt to aid Glenn in his search for Maggie post-battle, trying to atone for her involvement, shows a strong female character despite her loss of her entire family and lover. Beth brings culture and hope to the group when they sorely need it. What she has contributed has been morale-boosters. Just watch her impact on Daryl—despite the drinking game. There are certainly very strong characters of both genders, and are very endearing.
What I’m Concerned About:
- Children Playing and Being Involved In Traumatic Roles – I once heard an interview by the actress who plays young Lizzie, in which she said she started having nightmares after playing the role. As season 4 progresses, we’ve seen her dealing with the trauma of the zombie apocalypse by harming animals, losing herself in hurting others—like almost suffocating baby Judith when she was crying and they were being stalked by walkers. The reality of these actors and actresses is that they are being exposed to potentially traumatic scenes, and this can have detrimental effects on their lives. I have the same concern when I see children or young people in roles on different TV shows, like 24: Redemption, horror movies involving demonic content, exposure to sexual themes, etc. If Lizzie on TWD is reflective of characters from the comics, specifically a young murderous Ben who kills his brother and later is killed by Carl, I have grave concern about that being played out on screen. Even greater concern with the next episode, “The Grove”, focusing primarily on the group with “Daddy” Tyrese, Carol, Lizzie and her sister Mika, and baby Judith. I’d much rather prefer yet another redemption story. Sometimes, I believe we reject those “redemption plots” for something more “controversial” or “dramatic”, when in reality, if you look at the list above, redemption stories are just as exciting and wonderfully gripping.
- Killing My Favorite Characters or Further Disrupting Families – I believe severing or further destructing families can have a negative effect on the story, as mentioned above. Already mentioned this. Specifically, the blooming potential romance of Bob and Sasha, and Glenn and Maggie’s looming marriage—if they ever find each other—ground the series with a bit of joy and excitement. Please, showrunners, keep giving us that. And what’s up with Daryl and Beth?
- Zombies, Gangs, Cannibals, and Human Traffickers – In “Alone”, Beth was kidnapped and was driven away by an unseen captor(s). Is she being trafficked? That’s a scary possibility the real world, but in the fictional zombie apocalypse, that could take a whole new meaning. (See my post on the Exodus Road and various posts about sex trafficking, key themes in the early Aelathia novels.) Hopefully, her captor had friendly intentions and panicked. Daryl ran all night longchasing after the car to no avail. Further, there’s rumors of cannibals called The Hunters coming to make an appearance. (Fans of Hannibal, like my cousin, would be thrilled.) Could they already be here? Is this the gang that threatened Michonne, Rick, and Carl and now has forced Daryl, alone on the road, to join them? Oh my…
- Healthcare During the Apocalypse – If you have medical training at all in TWD, you’re in serious trouble. For example: CDC researcher Dr. Jenner, EMT trained Otis, nurse Patricia, Woodbury Dr. Stevens (now MIA), veterinarian Hershel—who was the primary doctor at the prison until … Dr. Caleb who died of the flu, nurse Lilly… You see where this is going? The last health care providers we have left are Army medic Bob, discussed in detail earlier, and so-called scientist Dr. Eugene Porter—his specialty has not yet been explained. In the zombie apocalypse, choosing your own medical provider has its limits. Let’s hope Dr. Stevens is still out there and Bob is long-lasting in the show.
In conclusion, The Walking Dead is a fascinating, multi-faceted show. There are concerns. Parents, I advise you to keep your children well away from it. I advise everyone to talk about it. Let’s not gloat or boast about the death, destruction, mayham, and gore, but let’s enjoy the positive elements of the show—characters, plot, and themes. We can enjoy it for the great fiction it is, even similar in some ways to the fantasy genre, but heeding the warning: some things come with a price. Watching violence, death, gore, and more, if not understood or discussed, or acting in a program like it, may be dangerous psychologically. So have fun. Stay safe. And in the words of Rick Grimes, “Keep walking.”
Thanks for reading, and please weigh in! Love to hear your comments. And see you on Twitter Sunday, 8pm-10pm Central!
Tonight, I’ll be on Twitter from 8pm-10pm central time using the hashtag #RayntsRant. Feel free to tweet me questions, just chat, or whatever.
Sadly, due to weather, I likely won’t be going over to my friend’s place to watch The Walking Dead, so I won’t be tweeting about it tonight–but thank goodness for DVR!
In the meantime, why the hashtag #RayntsRant? Tune in to Twitter during that time period and ask! Tweet with you then! And stay safe out there with all this crazy weather…sleet today, 70 degrees yesterday…nature’s confused.
Hey friends! Live from the room I write, which we’ve dubbed “The War Room”, here’s the latest news… featuring topics on my health, upcoming favorite books, how to chat with me on Twitter, and news on each of my writing projects.
I want to thank you for your patience, as the last few weeks have been incredibly painful. My myoclonus surely wiped me out, days at a time. The few days were I could actually write–like today–have mostly gone to editing Weaving and Musings of Essencers: Aelathia Chronicles or researching or writing Thorns of Salvation: A Tselmnasa Novel. Oftentimes I find myself just letting the works sit for a few days, simmering like a good pot of chilly as I consider what I wrote. Then I go back, season it up, or remove an element (like 600 words).
So again, I want to thank you for your patience as I deal with severe myoclonus. Often, my left side seizes up like a board and I simply can’t move–let alone hold a novel. You have no idea how devastating that is with Brandon Sanderson’s massive tome, Words of Radiance, being released in hardcover just over a week from now. (I want the hardcover, sorry, I’m being picky. I don’t want it on my Kindle, however, I guess we don’t get everything we want–or I’d still be teaching and very healthy.)
Words of Radiance will be released on March 4, 2014!! You can preorder it now!
The little energy the virus or myoclonus itself provides goes straight to my daughter every day. She’s an active 15 month old who loves to play with daddy–and wears me out. Fedora tipped to my wife for her amazing abilities juggling all of this.
I will endeavor to post more. I’m gearing up to contribute to a new blog, formed by a bunch of us geeks. I also have to finish my Favorite Reads–thanks for your patience on the delay! I’ve also got some thoughts on the hit TV show, The Walking Dead, that are just crawling to get on screen (eh, eh?).
If you ever want to chat, I’m on Twitter (@AelathiaNovels) every Sunday evening about 8pm until 10pm viewing the new episode with my friend, fellow author, blogger, speaker, and video producer extraordinaire, Kendall Lyons. (You can follow Kendall’s blog at http://kendalllyons.com/ or @CartoonDaily1 on Twitter.) Join our discussion or start our own! (And no, you don’t have to watch The Walking Dead with us…Besides, there’s always Downton Abbey and the Amazing Race is back with Allstars.)
Kendall has written 2 books, 22 Life Lessons and It Could Happen, both available from his site, http://kendalllyons.com/
Furthermore, I need to get Weaving and Musings edited so I can query! My wife is in her master’s program, and she was my primary editor…so work has slowed on that.
Here’s where everything stands today:
Weaving and Musings of Essencers – Aelathia Book 1 EDIT: 46% finished… (Goal: 100,000 words)
A Rose By Any Other Thorn – Aelathia Book 2 SECOND DRAFT: 10% Written… (Goal: 150,000 words)
Thorns of Salvation – Tselmnasa Book 1 FIRST DRAFT: 16% written (Goal: 90,000-100,00 words)
The neat thing about A Rose By Any Other Thorn, or just simply Rose, is that a whole chunk of the novel is taken straight from the last draft of Weaving and Musings of Essencers. I removed two main characters and pushed their introduction and plot lines back a book to fully develop Yeltson, Amelia, and Raynt the way they needed in Weaving and Musings…so it’s given me about a 14,000 word jump start. That will, of course, be edited to fully fit the new shape the plot has taken after the characters surprised me in Weaving. (Translation: a few did something that was totally unplanned which sent my outline into shock…and it worked out! I love it when the characters “take over”.)
Short Story Work: A few months back I entered A’banna’s Tome, a short story from the Aelathia Chronicles into a contest. The deadline to hear back to see if it made finalist has come and gone, so I will be on the search for other contests to submit it too. Who knows, perhaps if nothing else, I may enlarge it and make an e-book novella on Amazon. There’s a whole rest of the planet she explores we don’t see–for the most part–in the main series. A’banna also has a vast back story critical to developments from Thorns and A Rose onward. She’ll ‘be back’…so maybe I should… Food for thought.
Help Wanted: Finally, if you or anyone you know is interested in doing a little artwork for me, or helping figure out some gadgetry for this blog (like widgets to show status of current projects), please feel free to Tweet me or leave a comment. In the subject or in your tweet, lead with “Artwork and Gadgetry”. Thanks!
Thanks for reading! Look forward to hearing from you. If you pray, I do hope that you will keep my health and family in your prayers as I continue to deal with this monster in my spine. You know…it’s true, my right side really doesn’t know what my left side does sometimes. 😀 Take care.
Well, after a great year of reading new and exciting books, I had to adjust my All Time Favorite Reads List for 2014. Who knows how it’ll change for next year?
I decided to include the top 20 favorite fantasy/sci-fi/horror/historical fiction novels or series that I’ve ever read. Some on this list I read over a decade ago in high school. Others I read as recent as December 2013 and January 2014. One thing I decided to include in this list is my “family friendly” scale. How much violence, sex, drugs, or other behaviors are included? Are these books a parent may want their kid to read? Well, you may, but let me encourage you to discuss whatever it is your child is reading. Not only does this help with critical thinking, but it also deepens your ability to relate with your child. You may even want to pick up the books yourself for an even stronger conversation. The highest Family Friendly rating an entry can receive is 5 out of 5 stars. I will only list the rating for children or YA novels.
::Minor SPOILERS will follow for all novels)::
So, without further ado, let’s begin with number 20.
20. Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
A sci-fi classic plot and likely the first of its kind: a comet (the “hammer”) hits earth, creating mass natural disasters and turning civilization on its head. I first read this in high school. It was one of those books on my parent’s shelf that I just couldn’t turn away from. Back before movies like Deep Impact and Armageddon and others, Lucifer’s Hammer was a gripping tale. Despite a massive cast of characters—including a host of minor characters and a few inconsistencies that bother me to this day—I found the novel rich with logic and fascinating. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a huge fan of the “rebuild the world after Stuff-Hits-the-Fan”, and I may have to credit this book for igniting my interest. It’s been a long time since I read it, over 10 years, but the memories of the book are the same. Now, if memory serves me right, warning to all parents with highschoolers wanting to read this now, I believe there is a bit of language and sexuality in it.
Before there was Smaug, there was Hurin’s bane. Set in the world of Middle Earth, long before we come to know it in The Hobbit, this story follows the fall of several ancient civilizations, including those led by Hurin, his wife, and two children. His son, Turin, carries much of the plot. It’s his mistakes that help turn this into a sad, dark, tragic tale. The dragon Glaurung doesn’t help, either, whose under the employ of Sauron’s predecessor, Morgoth. (So, Saruman, there is precedence for Gandalf’s concern in The Hobbit. I thought you owned a library?) The Children of Hurin is haunting, I won’t lie to you, there’s murder, accidental murder, betrayals, magical amnesia, incest, and other yuckiness. However, for the more mature reader, it is a fascinating tale derived from partial completed passages, notes, and filled in by Tolkien’s son, Christopher, to form a complete narrative.
18. The Stand by Stephen King
Well, I couldn’t let this list pass without a Stephen King book, now could I? I was up in the air about which to choose. It almost was Salem’s Lot, but since I don’t like vampires in general, the Lot got the boot into the 20’s, which aren’t listed. The Stand is a tragic tale of what happens after a virus—I think it was a virus—is released into the public and goes pandemic. The few survivors start having visions of one of two individuals: a motherly woman sitting in a rocking chair, or a terrifying biker with a demonic force. Gradually, the survivors begin to find each other, then they begin to polarize. It’s only a matter of time before one camp attacks the other with assassinations until eventually, three members of the woman’s group head to the other, which has taken up residence in Las Vegas. The Stand morphs from a viral thriller and survival story into a supernatural shocker. I may not like the ending. Okay, confession, I didn’t like the ending, but all in all, it is a well-crafted novel. May I suggest the uncut version? One of those I read in late high school that sticks with you, hard to forget. A TV miniseries was made in 1994, which, I watched and later owned back in the day when VHS was still a thing.
17. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Don’t panic! It’s time for some humor in this list. Besides, it’s not like Earth is about to be destroyed to make way for an intergalactic highway, or something like that. Nor will the last two humans alive conveniently know each other as they are swept into intergalactic adventures Chewbacca would envy. Or end differently. I’ve tried for the last few days to find the words to describe this classic sci-fi ridiculous comedy, and all I can come up with is: “Don’t panic.” It is British humor at it’s best. If you begin reading it, may I suggest bringing a towel along with you? Just in case. By the end of it, you’ll have an answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, but’s not…well…go read it. Let yourself laugh, especially after the last three books on this list. Mice.
16. The Dragon King Trilogy by Stephen Lawhead
A lonely acolyte of a cold and aloof deity suddenly finds himself drawn into a conspiracy against the King, and from there, you have two more delightful novels to follow. This epic fantasy is full of battles, cloaked spiritual truths, rich characters, an evil wizard, warlords, conspiracies, romance, and a magical sword. What more could you ask? Oh, you want a dragon? So did I. But otherwise I loved the series. The title and all the myths they keep purporting about a sleeping dragon was slightly (read: majorly) misleading—but overall a great fantasy epic. The second book was by far my favorite of the three.
15. Genesis of Shannara series by Terry Brooks
Thus far, I’ve only read the first two novels in the Genesis of Shannara series, and they’ve been my only outing into mastermind Terry Brooks’ vast Shannara world. I figured I start at the beginning (mostly). These post-apocalyptic novels have characters facing the doom of both men and elves, and only the Knights of the Word, a creature called the gypsy morph, and some kids of both races stand in the way of demonic (not the spiritual type, but the mislabeled physical fantasy type) forces and their host of twisted and mutated armies. Despite the heavy use of flashback to provide backstories for everyone, including minor characters, and some other elements I’m not particularly fond of (like ghosts and spirits of the dead being brought into play…don’t get me started), this is a thrilling series, thus far. I have to say, Elves of Cintra, the middle novel, was better than the first, so I’m expecting big things out of the concluding work. Unfortunately, just because children are some of the main characters doesn’t make this very high on any family-friendly scale.
14. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
What if there was a world with no superheroes, but only supervillains? In Brandon Sanderson’s recent release, Steelheart, that’s the case, and it’s a terrifying post-apocalpytic reality these characters have learned to endure. Only a select few decide to fight back. This resistance force, though, has its own secrets, and whether or not they can succeed in taking down one of the strongest villains out there, Steelheart, relies on their ability to plan, work together, and capitalize on their secrets (of which they’re not sharing with each other). Steelheart is a gripping YA novel, a stay-up-all-night and read tale. The best news of all: it’s the first book in a series! More late nights and thrilling adventure (and secrets) to come! I laughed, I cried, I talked to the characters, and the book itself is just plain intelligent—all traits I’m looking for in a good read. I do want to mention that during a live-Tweet conversation, Brandon Sanderson answered a couple of my questions, revealing there’s much more going on behind the appearance of the supervillains. On family friendliness, this is a 3 out of 5.
13. Knights of Arrethtrae series by Chuck Black
What if you were chosen by a King whose so far away, most doubt he even exists? What if this King had chosen you specifically to stand against one or more evil, dark knights, with powers and strength that the average person can’t hope to defeat? Enter the YA fantasy world of Arrethrae by former fighter pilot Chuck Black. This six book series is part of an overarching twelve book saga. Each novel focuses on a different main character, mostly all adolescents. The series if filled with epic battle sequences, fantastical monsters (with at least one illustration per novel for all of you who like pictures), and overarching moral lessons per novel. It also includes a study guide as the stories relate to the Bible. I’ve met Chuck Black in person at a fair, and he had his whole family manning the booth, selling a collection of swords and other memorabilia. One of his daughters also wrote an invigorating musical theme, Call to Courage, for the Kingdom Series novel Sir Kendrick. These books are a 5 out of 5 for family friendly fantasy.
12. Inheritance Saga by Christopher Paolini
The first two novels, Eragon and Eldest, left me breathless and excited, though the movie Eragon didn’t live up to its legacy (despite having Jeremy Irons in the cast). The main character, Eragon, stumbles upon a dragon egg that soon hatches, and he and the dragon bond together.
This YA epic fantasy saga is, of course, filled with dragons (more than making up for The Dragon King series oversight), a dark lord, creepy wraith-like henchthings, Elves, Dwarves, and a race of creatures used by the dark lord to fight against the good folk. Did I mention loads of family ties, secrets, and a neat coming-of-age story? The action steps up in the second novel when Eragon’s brother helps save their town and the whole population goes on a mass trek cross-kingdom, just in time for a huge battle. The magic system is also fun and well developed, and there are consequences to Eragon’s thoughtless actions that carry throughout the series. On family friendliness, this is a 4 out of 5.
Let me also add that Christopher Paolini has been very inspiring to me as an author. In college, I wrote to him for a creative writing class about the craft of writing and he responded with a several page letter I still have to this day. I once showed it to my students, too, helping them to realize that it is possible to achieve your dreams if you work towards it. Since both of us are the same age, and his success came so early, it just brings me encouragement knowing that the publishing dream is possible and can be achieved.
11. Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Well, it was about time someone decided to make movies of C.S. Lewis timeless children’s/YA fantasy series in the world of Narnia, parallel to our own. Only in Narnia, animals talk, a witch rules, a lion is the absentee returning ruler, and kids constantly get drawn into adventures of their own. I loved the whole series, with, in my opinion, The Last Battle being the weakest entry (and the last). The Lion The With and The Wardrobe; Prince Caspian; and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as my favorite entries. (It’s sad the latter’s movie didn’t live up to the book.) The Chronicles are a delightful, fun, swashbuckling adventure with cloaked spiritual truths amidst some crazy mythical creatures. In terms of family friendliness, these short books are a 5 out of 5, and written in British style, making them so much fun to read. Anyone want to fake a British accent with me? Mine’s horrible, but my wife can pull off a decent one. The class Chronicles of Narnia has earned its rank as number 11 of my All Star Reads list.
That concludes today’s installment! Which books and authors made the top 10 and why? Are you interested in any of these books? Have you read any? Leave a comment and read tomorrow for my top 10 All Star Read List! Thanks for reading!