Friday, December 18, 2009

The Muse

Title: The Muse

Series: Stand-alone

Author: Fred Warren

Genre: Adult Magical Realism

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Muse:

Taron surveyed the enemy lines, row upon row of grotesque, iron-sinewed goblins rhythmically scraping swords on shields, filling the air with the soul-melting screech of metal craving bone. It was hopeless. The Alliance Army was outnumbered twenty to one in an indefensible position, their escape blocked by the sheer precipices of the Glass Mountains. He sighed. This would be the end. So much blood to be spilled today, for so little purpose.

Siri pulled up beside him, struggling to rein in her spirited chestnut mount. The horse, at least, was eager for battle, but Siri’s face was a picture of despair. She knew the odds, what the outcome must be.

“My Lord, the troops await your orders.”Taron nodded, raising his sword, Illustrion, on high as he wheeled his destrier about to face the haggard ranks of the Alliance. He opened his mouth to shout the order that would send them all to certain death.


“My Lord?” Siri whispered, “The order?”


Behind them, the goblin army roared and scraped, roared and scraped, roared and scraped.

“My lord! What is your order?”

The general’s mouth was a gaping cavern from which no sound emerged.

“Aaagh!” Stan shoved himself away from his desk, pounding his head in frustration. It was no use. He’d written himself into a corner—again.

A struggling novelist’s search for inspiration turns into a deadly for power.

The Craft: The Muse joins a creative premise about the sources of inspiration with a colorful cast of characters and tongue-in-cheek humor about the writing process.

I felt the pacing was a bit off, with stakes and consequences not escalating fast enough so that the beginning seemed on the slow side with a lingering feel of “So what?” But overall the story is a fun and mind-bending of tale with some unexpected twists, good character arcs, and the satisfying feel of things coming full circle.

The Content: The Muse is an intriguing look at inspiration, the hard work of creativity, and the power of the imagination, love, and sacrifice.

At the same time, I am hesitant at how some of the angelic/supernatural elements were handled. I say “hesitant” because the concepts have little biblical backing (as far as I know) for or against them. So while it’s fun to play “what if,” it still needs to be handled carefully with a good measure of discernment.

Summary: The Muse is intriguing, both in premise and content hypotheses. Those who write fiction or live with such people will find the story quite funny, and creative types, no matter the art, will most likely be fascinated by the possibilities posed. However, question marks remain, causing me to recommend a cautious approach to this book.

Rating: Craft—3, Content—3, Overall—3.2 out of 5 stars

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