Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New Reviews for The Raven's Seal

It's great to see a several really positive early reader reviews of The Raven's Seal over on LibraryThing.

This is particularly heartening because The Raven's Seal was intended as an entertainment, a text that would be readable, enjoyable even, and the reviewers seem to respond to this.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Slow reading The Lord of the Rings

I'm reading The Lord of the Rings again -- slowly. As a teen, and afterward, there was always time to read LotR at speed, to devour each page, chapter and volume, there and back again.

But I was always struck (as an author) by Tolkien's remark about the long period of time he took to write the novel and plodding on until stopping by Balin's tomb in 1940. Does that slow process of development, stops and starts and deep thought, reward slow readng? So I am reading LotR slowly, at a different pace, taking a page or a passages here and there, and months later the breaking of the Fellowship looms.

I've learned that it is worthwhile re-imagining Middle-earth, for its depth and strangeness, as well its familiarity. The movie trilogy is so strongly realised that there is a danger of its imagery effacing the books, and so rereading slowly is a way of restoring details, incidents and scenes and even the faces of characters from one's own inner vision. The long trek out of The Shire, the barrow-wight, even the wolves of Hollin are all encounters worth recovering.

The landscape of Middle-earth is still New Zealand for me, but I find it tinged now with the woods of the northeastern United States. After many shifts in landscape and setting, I find Galadriel's decision, 'I will diminish, and go into the West and remain Galadriel,' very moving.

It's sometimes the details, a camp, a song, a glimpse of the Brown Hills, that make the story. Slow reading is one way to get back to these details.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

An Actual, Authentic Review

Given the uproar over 'sock-puppet' - may we say 'author-led' - reviews, reported in The Guardian and duly repeated over here by the Brisbane Times, it's nice to see an actual, authentic early review of The Raven's Seal on LibraryThing this morning.

It's a very encouraging review, extremely positive overall, and close to what I wanted for readers. And a little criticism means that it's a balanced review as well. Will it come to pass that the trustworthy reviews will have to be salted with a little criticism, just to seem real?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Author's e-Book

I've had a chance to look through the e-book (preview copy only) of The Raven's Seal. It's a wonderful, strange thing for the author to hold his or her own book in electronic form. It's a file, no more or less than the words you wrote. It's ephemeral, but then, aren't the words what really counts?

The e-book version looks great, like all of Top Five Books' work. The font is elegant, with a slightly old-fashioned feel, and the page looks wonderful, especially in portrait. Of course, I think the print copies will feel even better, and there is something about the materiality of the printed page that still holds us, through memory or association.

Yet, I'm reminded of the light, almost onion-skin paper of the compact editions of Dickens I first read at home, and how the electronic page in iBooks (or Kindle) almost duplicates that lightness, and comes closer to the book that Borges speculated about: infinite pages of infinite thinness.