Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Review #7

Prayers for the AssassinPrayers for the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book has a lot going for it. The fight scenes in this are peerless. I was taken back to the olden days when I used to read and then reread R.A. Salvatore books featuring Drizzt Do'Urden. In fact, I'm not 100% certain that Rakim Epps isn't really Drizzt (more on that later).

Also, though it's a bit odd, I learned a fair amount about the Muslim religion and traditional observances. It's a stew of modern and fundamentalist practices and really makes me feel like I should find an actual book about it, rather than a suspense-thriller, or wikipedia. Any suggestions?

Before you can read this book you must first suspend your disbelief. If you even read the back cover then you'll know it's necessary, and I read mostly fantasy, sci-fi, and educational theory so I'm used to it. Even so, I had a lot of difficulty. It took me till about 1/3 of the way through before I felt like Ferrigno had been able to create a world I could believe in, at least enough to enjoy the book.

Otherwise two glaring flaws prevent me from giving this book more than 3 stars. First, Ferrigno delivers characters background stories by forcing the main character to have long "remember when" conversations with each character. Really, I'm not sure how one goes about fleshing out a character's past without it feeling awkward. However, I think in mysteries such as this one a lot of that background is really unnecessary. The main character is a "shadow warrior," I'd almost prefer for his past to be a little more murky.

The second flaw draws me back to Drizzt Do'Urden. Rakim Epps' nemesis is another Feyadeen, this one an assassin. He's a pretty great character, and nearly Epps' opposite. A great Artemis Entreri character. But does their rivalry live up to that example? Sadly, no.

This book was a command performance. I gave another friend The Name of the Wind, and he gave me this. This was an entertaining read, and while I don't feel compelled to read any more of this series, if I were at an airport and need something, I'd certainly return to Ferrigno's series, at least if I couldn't find another book promising the death of Nazis and treasure.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Phreelance Writers Forum - Love Letters

Last weekend I organized a drawer in my bureau that I’ve been using as a memory dump for many years now. Special finds include identification cards from 6 years of schooling, ticket stubs from every high school dance, and a sealed, unused condom, expired in 2002, which I think must have been from the first package I ever bought.

But the artifacts I was most excited to uncover were bundles of love letters. The first I ever received was written by my kindergarten-sweetheart after I moved from Mississippi to Massachusetts. The envelope is bordered in tiny hand drawn red hearts and they replace the dots on each “i”. The last batch was written to me at a writing residency where in order to encourage artistic isolation, the proprietors did not provide internet or phone access.

Every few years for the last 20 years some philosopher, writer, or technophile feels the need to proclaim that print media is dead and will soon be supplanted by digital media. Print media endures because people enjoy books not just as ideas, but as objects. Someday convenience and price may put an end to the print era; however, I hope we never reach the same point with love letters. Love and writing
love letters should never be matters of convenience. The extra effort helps makes love letters special.

But even if a lover were also a digital designer and took the time to craft a compelling digital billet-doux, it still wouldn’t compare. You can’t touch an e-mail knowing that your lover touched it. An e-mail will never be S.W.A.K. (sealed with a kiss). An e-mail cannot carry the scent of your lover. And on the darker side, if a lover spurns or betrays you, you can delete the e-mail, but that’s a cold and empty gesture, whereas burning a stack of love letters can be
extremely satisfying and at least pays suitable tribute to the passion the relationship inspired.

Check out more opinions and discussion of love letters in today's Phreelance Writers Forum.