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review 2016-09-05 10:15
Review: Fish Wielder by Jim Hardison

 

 

***Disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***

 

I almost don’t even know where to start.

 

This is simply one of the best satirical novels you’ll ever read.  It’s Python-esquely witty, meticulously referenced, surprisingly poignant, tightly plotted, sublimely ridiculous, damned stupid and you’ll enjoy every page of it.   Especially if you like pudding.  You’d better like pudding, because it’s everywhere in this thing.

 

“We are enemies of old, and I am sworn to an older swear than the swear I swore when I swore to the elves.”

 

Our hero, Thoral Fist Wielder, is everything you’d expect and more.  And less.  And something in between.  Tall, blond, muscular, speaks loudly and carries a big sword.  Knows lots of words and doesn’t know lots more.   Really likes being clean.  Surprised?- you’ll discover there’s a good reason for it.  His sidekick, Brad, is a talking, ambulatory Koi fish who can’t swim- you’ll notice him on the cover.  Also on the cover is a dark haired elven beauty.  Her name’s Nalweegie- which in Elvish means “the Evening Snack”, because to look on her in twilight quells the hunger of one’s heart without making one feel overfull, as can happen with a more substantial meal. 

 

And did I mention Thoral’s trusty steed named Warlordhorse?

 

Hardison’s style is pretty funny, if a little verbose.  Hardison delivers the most overstuffed, flowery, convoluted, so-purple-Prince-would’ve-sued-him prose you’ll ever read.   And that’s without even mentioning the color of Thoral’s eyes.  The man knows his stuff; you may not laugh out loud at everything but you’ll definitely be amused- even bemused from time to time.  Don’t worry; it’ll all sort itself out.  This guy’s a master of turning a phrase… on its ear. 

 

“Thoral swung Blurmflard, whistling through the air, the pink fire of its magic glow flaming to light, and the priest’s head left his shoulders with such force that it smashed an onrushing brother in the face so hard that it killed him, the guy behind him and the guy behind him.  The brother behind those three got a concussion and the guy behind him got a bloody nose.”

 

Believe it or not, there’s an actual plot going on here.  This isn’t some slapped together slapstick; there’s something sinister going on here, and even though you may lose sight of it amidst all the sporking and send-ups, Hardison never does.  It involves an evil sorcerer, of course, a powerful magic spell, a prophecy and the leader of the Bad Religion.  When you least expect it the plot rears its head to remind you what’s at stake, and the threads are very neatly woven together within the foolishness.  There truly is a method to all the madness.  And just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, when you’re just along for the ride- he yanks the carpet out from under you.  There’s twists and turns to this story you’ll never see coming, especially in the finale.  And you’ll be hungry for more. 

 

“One does not simply walk into Flurge… it is a terrifying, dangerous, dread place, crowded with the twisted spirits of the dead and overrun by monsters… It drips with darkness like a burlap bag full of black paint.  The very air is a smelly fume…”

 

(If you don’t recognize that quote, don’t even bother picking up this book)

 

Lovecraft, Robert Howard, Lewis Carroll, Michael Moorcock, Tolkien, Fritz Leiber- none are spared from the rapier wit of Jim Hardison.  He pays homage to the masters of Fantasy by roasting their chestnuts over an open fire.   And you’ll love every moment of it.

 

 

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text 2016-09-05 08:20
Guest Post: Seven Superbly Ensorcelled Swords by Jim Hardison, author of Fish Wielder

[caption id="attachment_12998" align="alignnone" width="5200"]KM_284e-20160815162841 Blurmflard- Thoral's Unbelievably Magical Sword... trust me, this thing is wicked cool![/caption]  

 

Seven Superbly Ensorcelled Swords He took out his sword again and it flashed in the dark by itself. It burned with a rage that made it gleam if goblins were about; now it was bright as blue flame for delight in the killing of the great lord of the cave. —J.R.R. Tolkien  

 

Ever since I first read those words about Glamdring the Foe-Hammer in The Hobbit, back when I was about ten years old, I’ve been in love with magic swords. Since then, every time I’ve come across one in the pages of a fantasy novel, I’ve compared it with those excellent blades, Glamdring, Orcist and Sting that Bilbo and his companions recovered from the Troll cave in the chapter Roast Mutton.  For your reading pleasure, and with a few, hopefully minor spoilers, here’s a list of seven superbly ensorcelled swords that I had in mind when crafting the magic sword Blurmflard for my epically silly epic fantasy novel, Fish Wielder.  

 

  1. The Barrow Blade of Westernesse: This is the blade Meriadoc, the hobbit, uses to stab the Witch King of Angmar in the back of the knee in L.O.T.R. I’m starting with this blade because it doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves. Yes, Éowyn delivered the killing blow, but her strike wouldn’t have made the slightest bit of difference if Merry hadn’t stabbed the Witch King first. Tolkien clearly states, “No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.” I was very upset when the whole Barrow-Downs scene was left out of the movies—and consequently the finding of the excellent magic Barrow swords never happened. Without that ensorcelled sword and Merry’s blow, the whole War of the Ring might have ended differently.

 

  1. Dyrnwyn: While we’re on barrow swords, my favorite is the flaming sword discovered by Taran and Eilonwy in the barrow under Spiral Castle in The Book of Three, the first book of the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. Removing Dyrnwyn from the tomb destroyed the entire castle. The black blade had jewels studding its hilt and pommel, and an inscription was entwined around the hilt and scabbard (much of which had been scratched away) but which read, "Draw Dyrnwyn, only those of noble worth, to rule with justice, to strike down evil. Who wields it in good cause shall slay even the lord of death." The blade was the most powerful in Prydain and when drawn, glowed with fire. It would, however, kill anyone unworthy who tried to draw it. So, there’s that.

 

  1. Excalibur (Caliburn/Caledfwlch): And while we’re on swords that can only be drawn by a chosen few, what list of magic blades would be complete without Excalibur? Actually, there’s pretty solid agreement amongst experts on magic swords that Excalibur was not the sword from the stone, as Arthur was actually given Excalibur by the Lady of the Lake. You can read about Excalibur in literally tons of books, but I personally recommend Arthur Rex: A Legendary Novel by Thomas Berger.
  2. According to legend, Excalibur's blade was engraved on one side with, "Take me up" and on the other with, "Cast me away". Its flashing metal could blind the wielder’s enemies and its scabbard prevented the wearer’s wounds from bleeding. It was supposedly able to cut through iron like it was wood and conferred the holy right to rule on whoever could draw it (not a bad deal, if you can get it). The Excalibur legend was based on a blade from Welsh myth called Caledfwlch which is a compound of the Welsh words caled "hard" and bwlch "cleft" or “breach”. Don’t ask me how that got translated into Excalibur. I’m a sword enthusiast, not a linguist.

 

  1. Caladbolg: As long as we’re kicking around legendary Welsh blades (figuratively! Never kick a sword!), let’s not forget Ireland and the two-handed sword of Fergus mac Róich. When swung, it was said to make a circle like an arc of rainbows, and to have the power to cleave the tops from the hills. Some people have suggested that Caledfwlch and Caladbolg were the same blade, but I don’t believe that for a second. You should read about this sword in The Táin translated by Thomas Kinsella.

 

  1. The Vorpal Blade: This is one of my favorites, although probably the most mysterious of the magic swords. It is mentioned in the poem Jabberwocky in Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll and is used to slay the mighty Jabberwock. There’s really very little detail about it except this:

“One, two! One, two! And through and through The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! He left it dead, and with its head He went galumphing back.” So, apart from being able to chop off the head of a Jabberwock, it also clearly invented the Snickers bar as a tasty snack. Tons of people have borrowed the Vorpal blade for other stories, as in Ready Player One by Ernest Cline  

 

  1. Stormbringer: Another black blade, but unlike Dyrnwyn, this one is as evil as they come. Stormbringer is actually a demon that has taken the form of a sword. Its edge can cut through pretty much anything not protected by powerful magic, and it has the nasty habit of drinking the soul from whomever it wounds, even if it just scratches them. Its wielder, Elric, loathes the sword but he’s such a wimp on his own that he wouldn’t survive long without it. Unfortunately, the sword has a mind of its own and it’s an evil jerk. It often betrays Elric by blinding him with bloodlust so that he accidentally kills his lovers and friends. You can read all about this wicked, wicked blade in Elric of Melniboné (and its sequels) by Michael Moorcock.

 

  1. Anaklusmos (Riptide): There are so many great swords from fantasy fiction that it’s hard to end this with only one more, but I’ll finish up with Anaklusmos from Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson & the Olympians series because my older daughter would kill me if I left this one out. Anaklusmos was originally the sword of Heracles (that’s Hercules for you Romans out there), given to him by a daughter of the god Atlas.
  2. The sword is made of celestial bronze, which means it can harm gods, demigods and monsters, but will just pass through mortal flesh without damaging it. Anaklusmos also has the power to change shape, so that when it’s not in use, it appears as a ballpoint pen (although whether the pen is mightier than the sword, I can’t say). It also magically reappears in Percy’s pocket whenever it’s lost—which is really handy. The sword was given to Percy by Chiron the centaur, on the instructions of the god Poseidon. Read the books to find out why.

 

30168029   2893010 Fish Wielder is J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison's first novel novel (He wrote a graphic novel, The Helm, for Dark Horse Comics). Jim has worked as a writer, screen writer, animator and film director. He started his professional career by producing a low-budget direct-to-video feature film, The Creature From Lake Michigan. Making a bad movie can be a crash course in the essential elements of good character and story, and The Creature From Lake Michigan was a tremendously bad movie. Shifting his focus entirely to animation, Jim joined Will Vinton Studios where he directed animated commercials for M&M’s and on the stop-motion TV series Gary and Mike. While working at Vinton, he also co-wrote the television special Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy with actor Paul Reiser. Jim has appeared on NBC's The Apprentice as an expert advisor on brand characters, developed characters and wrote the pilot episode for the PBS children's television series SeeMore's Playhouse and authored the previously mentioned graphic novel, The Helm, named one of 2010's top ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens by YALSA, a branch of the American Library Association. These days, Jim is the creative director and co-owner of Character LLC, a company that does story-analysis for brands and entertainment properties. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife, two amazing kids, one smart dog and one stupid dog.  

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text 2016-08-25 19:25
Reading Progress: 100% of Fish Wielder

...wow.

 

This was the most fun I've had reading a book in a while.  It was funny, witty, silly and most important- clever.  There's an actual plot in here and if you're not paying attention you might lose a few threads, but it all comes together.  There were twists, turns and even some sadness.  And it all made sense... kinda.  Sorta. 

 

A wild romp, indeed. 

 

Review to come.

 

 

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text 2016-08-24 21:55
Reading Progress: Pg 216/286 of Fish Wielder

Quite a few things occur that I didn't see coming or expect, adding some gravitas to the silliness. Really enjoying the heck outta this one.

 

 

 

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text 2016-08-23 00:20
Reading Progress: Pg 65/286 of Fish Wielder

 

And now- a few fun facts about elves:

 

They ride unicorns.  A lot.  And don't use saddles.

 

They like to eat delicacies such as baked eel stuffed with bluebirds stuffed with salamanders stuffed with ground dragon tongue.  And they mostly drink water.  And are gluten intolerant.  They're also famous for their sherberts, which can't compare to the gelatos from Flurge but are still pretty tasty.

 

It's well known that girl elves are the toughest, most dangerous fighters.  And they aren’t bad to look at, either.

 

And when they get tired of being around humans, they can ride a great white pigeon to a land across the sea.

 

And the Princess-Who-Has-Yet-To-Be-Named finally gets one.  "She is called Nalweegie, the Evening Snack," King Elfrod revealed, "because to look on her in twilight quells the hunger of one's heart without making one feel overfull, as can happen with a more substantial meal."

 

*facepalm*

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