Darkin: A History of Blade and Light, by Joseph A. Turkot (1:23)

IOD Score cardToday we see that readers expect prose style to be consistent.

What I gleaned about the stories: By muscular action are the pages turned before the saccading eye; great are the tales the book might unfold. This is the time when the reading of strong martial rhetoric does happen; words strong captured are like the mind’s gold.

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Note: This is a short story collection, so the rules are slightly different from standard Immerse or Die: instead of reading on every time I lose immersion, I stop reading that story and move on to the next one. As usual, I stop reading after the third WTF.

WTF #1: The Epic Oration of Meaningful Significance

Analysis: In addition to a high density of fantasy names (I counted seven in the first two paragraphs), the prose was written in a convoluted style that aped epic verse. While these didn’t obscure meaning, they did create the image of an actor orating events to me from a Victorian stage drama rather than immersing me into the weary army fending off invasion that was being described.

It appeared consistent in narrative gloriousness, so it might be exactly what some readers of epic fantasy seek, but at the end of the second paragraph I was counting fantastical proper nouns rather than feeling the hook; so I moved on.

WTF #2: Conflict Between Punctuation and Style

Analysis: Having scored a WTF for the high style, I resolved to continue through it in later stories. A couple of paragraphs into the second story, I encountered an aside in brackets explaining what a term meant. While the explanation provided a certain degree of assistance, it also delivered the judder of an unexpected pop-up message. Moreover, the aside was in parentheses. While such punctuation may have been common in medieval literature, they gave a decidedly mathematical rather than high rhetorical feel to reading the line.

The part of my mind set to expect high poetry now jarred by the apparent lack of it, I moved on.

WTF #3: Reverse Fantasy Capitalisation Syndrome

Analysis: As I entered the third story, I tripped over Felwith age; not because of the unreferenced label of Felwith, but because age wasn’t capitalised. In certain circumstances, I might have passed over a single capitalisation issue without noticing; however, the style of the prose had primed me to expect capitals where they might not be used in normal prose, so the absence leapt out.

Musing upon the irony of epic fantasy lacking a capital, I pulled the plug.

Kudo #1: Epic prose

Analysis: From what I read, the stories are written in a style of poetic vistas filled with doughty heroes of legend. So, this could be a great collection for readers who are in the mood for some fantasy where everything resonates with significance.

Take the Pepsi Challenge: Want to know if my own writing measures up? Download one of these free short stories, in the format of your choice, and decide for yourself.

Millersville, by Brendan Detzner (1:57)
Teeth of the Gods, by Sarah L. Wilson (6:53)

About the author

Dave Higgins has worked in law and IT for both public and private sector organisations. When not pursuing these hobbies, he writes poetry and speculative fiction. He was born in Wiltshire, England. Raised by a librarian, he started reading shortly after birth and has not stopped since. He currently lives in Bristol with his wife, Nicola, his cats, Jasper and Una, and many shelves of books.