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Happy Halloween! And check out this Monster Hunter…

Halloween in GW2

Guild Wars 2 has always made Halloween a special time of year…

Happy Halloween, everyone!

I’ve been playing way too much Guild Wars 2 lately, mainly because I finally have some time off (yes, I know, I should continue to edit my manuscript instead… *duck*) and because, shortly after making the basic game free-to-play, they just brought out the first expansion, called Heart of Thorns, as well as the usual fun Halloween content for this time of year.

But instead of raving on about GW2, I actually wanted to give a shout-out to a very young fellow blogger who has only recently started a new blog in which he posts chapters of a story set the world of another video game called Monster Hunter. I’d like to introduce this blog’s author, Monster Hunter Josh.

Monster Hunter Josh

Monster Hunter Josh’s banner.

I have to admit I often lose interest with some stories, and I’m not usually a “fan of fanfiction” (yeah, that sounded weird), but this one has managed to keep me laughing with its unique, quirky style and its way of not taking itself too seriously. Another thing that usually tends to put me off reading is when authors are a bit too liberal with their use of italicsbold text, ALL CAPS, and many exclamation marks, but in this case, I think it really fits the story, where each chapter is an entry in the journal of a character living in the world of a video game in which the heroes hunt outrageously exotic monsters with outrageously oversized weapons.

Several years ago, I played an earlier version of this relatively unknown game franchise (at least in the western world; I believe it’s quite big in Japan and China) on the Wii, and remember it as being quite a bit of fun. You play as a monster hunter who becomes the protector of a small fishing village that occasionally suffers from the attacks of a “Lagiacrus” (they had some great monster names in that game), but you’re gently introduced into the game by hunting smaller monsters and gathering all sorts of things like mushrooms and herbs to make potions. Later, rewards you get, things you “carve” from slain monsters, and things you gathered from the environment can all become ingredients in various items, weapons, and pieces of armour that you need to constantly upgrade to be able to face bigger and bigger monsters.

Josh’s chapters do a great job of gradually giving you background information without that getting in the way of the story. The reader gets a good idea of what the world is like, from “ships” that can sail across the sands of a desert to a race of (usually) helpful felines (“palicoes”) that are a mix between a pet and a side-kick and have a funny way of speaking. In typical style, some things are explained so that they make sense, while others that don’t (and just are) are glossed over with some tongue-in-cheek comments. Even for those not familiar with the world of this game, the characters in it are (I think) relatable and believable. Don’t let the informal style fool you – there is some really good storytelling behind the over-excitement of the character telling it and the laugh-out-loud moments. Of course, there are also nail-biting action sequences that are surprisingly well written for a new teenage blogger.

From what I’ve read so far, the first-person storyteller is a wonderful and colourful character who manages to begin making a name for himself by a combination of heart, guts, skill, and often pure luck as he rises up the ranks of monster hunters. At the time of this writing, nine chapters have been posted; I’m hoping there will be many more to come.

Seeing such imaginative writing from a teenager makes me believe that there is hope yet for the twitter generation.

I’d encourage anyone who wants to read something fun and fresh to check out Josh’s blog. Here are the details:

Keep on writing, Josh! Can’t wait to see where the story goes next… 🙂

Recommendation: Hire a Mercenary Proofreader (and Editor)

Things have been crazy busy at my end of the world, but I wanted to take some time to give a well-deserved shout-out to a fellow blogger whose meticulous proofreading/editing services I’ve recently had the chance to experience.

I’ve been following the blog of Thomas Weaver for quite some time now (well, just about since I started blogging myself), and have consistently enjoyed his Grammar Rants, amongst other posts. I’d like to believe that we’re similar in some respects (perfectionists, sticklers for detail, and grammar na… er, ninjas), but I can’t claim to have any seriously honed editing skills (though I did rant myself about things an editor should’ve picked up in a book written by my favourite author that I just couldn’t overlook). So, since I remembered from first browsing his site a long time ago that he was also an editor who offered a free sample of his proofreading/editing skills for up to 5000 words – and because I knew I would soon be submitting my first chapter, which therefore had to be extra polished –  I thought I’d see whether he’d be able to find any little errors I may have overlooked in my own writing. I was pretty convinced that there wouldn’t be more than a few, and that those would have been ones that crept in with recent edits to said first chapter.

Boy, was I naïve.

 

The Red Pen

Who doesn’t love editing? Oh, put your hands down… *sigh*. (Image from wikimedia commons.)

Thomas not only found a few errors that had crept in, he also managed to remind me of how inconsistent I’d become with my commas and semicolons (in more places than I’d like to admit publicly), and of my bad habit with adding a fourth dot to an ellipsis when it’s at the end of a sentence, which isn’t correct.

I did have the audacity to disagree with some of his suggested edits, and, in our interesting email conversation about several aspects of editing and grammar, rather than being a “my way or the highway” kind of guy, he was happy to agree with some of my reasoning and answer my questions about some of the finer points of… stuff.

Oh, and, as a bonus, he came up with this gem regarding ellipses that cracked me up:

Then thou must write three dots upon the page. Three shall be the number of the dots, and the number of the dots shall be three. Four dots shall thou not write, neither shall thou write two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the three dots, three being the number of the dots, be written…

It helps to know the Monty Python original to appreciate it:

So, clearly, if you’re in need of professional proofreading and/or editing, I can whole-heartedly recommend Thomas’ services. Not only will you get first-class service, you’ll also be communicating with a guy who is very approachable, who knows way more than just his commas and semicolons, and who has a great sense of humour.

You can even try out his free sample offer so you have an idea of what you’ll get for hiring him. And if you do, please tell him Amos sent you – maybe I’ll get a discount when I need more of his excellent editing skills. 😉

Assassin’s Apprentice – A to Z: A

A is for Assassin’s Apprentice. During my first A to Z challenge post, I might as well reveal that “Amos M. Carpenter” is the third pen name of the author also publishing as “Megan Lindholm” and “Robin Hobb“. So, it should come as no surprise that I’ll shamelessly plug the first book I published as Robin Hobb back in 1995: Assassin’s Apprentice, Book 1 of the Farseer Trilogy.

Assassin's Apprentice

Assassin’s Apprentice, Book 1 of Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy

Before you go running off to tell anyone about this revealed identity, may I kindly (and with my tongue firmly in my cheek) point you at today’s date. April Fool’s! (Sorry, couldn’t resist – of course I’m not really Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm. I wish….)

Assassin’s Apprentice begins slowly. Robin Hobb manages to draw the reader into the well-crafted world with rare skill, setting the scene and developing unique characters. The initially nameless character, dubbed “Fitz” because he is a royal bastard, tells his story in the first person from when he was a bright six-year-old until he is a young man by the end of Book One. Along the way, he discovers that his affinity for animals, which he always thought normal, is due to a magic called “the Wit”, despised and misunderstood by most. He also tries to learn the “royal” magic called “the Skill”, but his illegitimacy causes some to consider him to be dangerous to the throne (or to those who aspire to sit on it) and that he should be eliminated, while others believe that he is a tool that should be trained and used for the good of the crown. Thus, he learns to read and write, courtly manners, and, secretly, the fine art of assassination.

I wish I had more time to delve into the intricate details of the plot, the depth of each and every character, whose ideas and ambitions are incredibly believable within the context of the world, but I’m afraid I’ll have to keep this post relatively short. Let me just say, though, that Assassin’s Apprentice is not only an awesome book (whether you’re a fan of fantasy fiction or not, I’m sure you’ll love it), it is also the introduction to Robin Hobb’s “Realm of the Elderlings”, in which three partially interconnected trilogies are set, plus another tetralogy, plus the next series fans are eagerly anticipating:

  • The Farseer Trilogy
    • Assassin’s Apprentice
    • Royal Assassin
    • Assassin’s Quest
  • The Liveship Traders Trilogy
    • Ship of Magic
    • The Mad Ship
    • Ship of Destiny
  • The Tawny Man Trilogy
    • Fool’s Errand
    • The Golden Fool
    • Fool’s Fate
  • The Rain Wilds Chronicles
    • Dragon Keeper
    • Dragon Haven
    • City of Dragons
    • Blood of Dragons
  • The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy (yet to be released)
    • The Fool’s Assassin (due August 2014)

Warning: do NOT begin reading Assassin’s Apprentice if you do not have much time to spare. You will want to pick up Book Two, and Book Three afterwards, and although they will not leave you wanting, they will leave you wanting more.