1.30.2010

All I know is, it went dark

I finished reading Servant of a Dark God last week and have been sitting around thinking of what I could say that could do this book justice. Or thinking of how I could say how awesome it was without using flimsy words like awesome.


Servant of a Dark God, by John Brown (his website is here), is principally the story of a young man who learns he has special powers or abilities that must be developed and controlled before a dark and evil force can steal his soul.

Does that sound kind of like Star Wars? Harry Potter? The Sword of Truth? Mistborn? Nancy Drew?

Yes, this book is one of those. But it is also so much more . . . just like you know that, while the Harry Potter books and the Star Wars films follow an archetypal pattern, Harry and Luke have very different stories.

What makes Servant of a Dark God stand above other, more mundane samples of this archetype is the combination of excellent storytelling and fine writing, plus a well-rounded cast of characters, including my requisite strong female character. I've said it before (if not here, then somewhere else that I can't remember right now, only I know I've said it before): some authors are good storytellers, but not very good writers. (cough!-Dan Brown-cough!) And then there are those who have talent as writers, but not so much as storytellers. John Brown has both. There are, of course, different kinds of good writers. Some use language like a paintbrush, others like an etching tool. Both are equally effective if the end product is good. And the writing in Servant of a Dark God is good. I'm not going to give examples. I'll just say that my internal copy editor, which unfortunately never sleeps (and that may be why I'm critical to the point almost of insanity), had nothing to do but be appreciative. Not once while reading did I think, "Oh, that was awkward. He shouldn't have used that word" or "Wow, he should've put that sentence together differently" or "Wha--? I'm confused." (My internal proofreader, on the other hand, was flipping out. Someone somewhere along the production line has got to start proofreading more carefully.)

As for the storytelling, there is so much action in the book, along with so much artfully accomplished characterization (which I guess really belongs in the writing skill category), that people you hardly know but suddenly care very much about get caught up in events beyond their control, and you dread the possibility that they may not survive the encounter. When they don't, you are troubled by the loss, and when they do, you barely have time to register relief before they are off into some other kettle of fish.

Anyway, the book was so exciting, I read it all in only three days, which also made me happy because I felt almost like that lady who finishes a book a day because she reads while watching tv.

I was trying to think of some sort of scale that I could use to rate the books I read. I mean, I could use numbers from 1 to 10, or I could use the 5-star scale, or something similar. But that seems so mundane. So the other day I was talking to Adrien about a Neil Gaiman book she'd read that she wasn't much impressed by, and I mentioned that was odd because everyone nowadays seems to think Gaiman is the greatest thing since sliced Shakespeare. Shakespeare, to me, is the ne plus ultra of writers, so I think he makes a perfect standard against which to gauge other writers. I haven't worked out a system, so I can't tell you right now how many slices of Shakespeare Servant of a Dark God gets, but I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out. In the meantime, go read Servant of a Dark God.

PS 10 points if you can tell me the source of the quote used for the title.

9 comments:

eric and adrien said...

slices of shakespeare! haha. i laughed and told eric about that when you sent that to me earlier, too.

that book sounds cool. maybe i'll read it next! i haven't really ventured into that sci-fi-ish genre really (besides jasper fforde...but those are only sort of sci-fi to me) but if a book is as good as you say it is, i should probably read it.

also, i don't know where the title quote is from, but if you google it exactly like how you put it and don't use quotes, your blog entry comes up second on the google returns. interesting.

Shannon said...

sliced shakespeare, hahaha :D
and as for your quote...I can never get these. I know what it isn't though, it isn't from Signs, cuz that would be "It was very dark."
anyway.

Jared and Megan said...

I just don't know that quote.

but sliced shakespeare... that's definitely remaining in my mind.

I want to read this book, too.

I really felt like typing that last sentence in lolcat speak or whatever it's called, but I refrained.

Jared and Megan said...

mrow?

LP said...

I wrote a post telling how to find the source of the quote, but then decided I'd let you guys figure it out for yourselves, so I deleted it.

LP said...

I mean I wrote a comment.

John Brown said...

Glad to hear you liked it so much, both the action and characters. It was a joy (most of the time) to write. Sorry to see we missed so many spellings. And this despite our going over it numerous times. We'll have to do better with book 2. Thanks so much for pointing me to your review. What a very nice way to finish my day! You're a peach.

Jared and Megan said...

The Postman Always Rings Twice?

I really don't know that one, but I googled it.

Should I know it?

Janeite42 said...

Yes! That's correct. I doubt if you'd know it, but that's all right. 10 points for you! Keep track, cos when you get to 100, you get a prize.