Hullo, my dear readers! Welcome to the first day of It’s Real Monday!
Today I’m going to be chatting a bit about a book I finished reading last Monday that pretty much changed a lot of my views on writing men, and epic fantasy in general.
First, the backstory.
Several years ago, I was riding with my sister in her car, looking at a Christian Book Distributers catalogue as we traveled to the library, when I spotted a book that caught my eye. It was called Fierian and was the last in a series. When we finally got to the library, I looked it up and came up with nothing. Which was a huge bummer.
I pretty much forgot about it for a while until I saw Embers pop up everywhere on Instagram, in all those pretty pictures people love to do. And it made me want to read that series even more.
The one sale that Amazon did last year rolled around and before I knew it, I had the first book in my hands! Only, it wasn’t the first book. It was the second, Accelerant. Lovely little Amazon had sent the wrong one.
Eventually, I finally got the first book. And while I did start to read it, I wasn’t able to finish it because I found myself swamped in a never-ending pile of e-books I had so foolishly requested to read from NetGalley. (And I quickly learned that reading e-books is not my favorite thing to do. Headaches galore!)
After the rush of the holidays and my brain pretty much dying from overstimulation of reading e-books, and trying to finish hacking out my NaNoWriMo book, I was given a blessed break from the rush the last week of December. So I spent it devouring Embers, the first book in the Abiassa’s Fire series.
There are just no words to express how much I hated the ending!
It’s a cliffhanger. While I love cliffhangers, I hate them as well. Because that means that now I need to read the next book and yet I can’t because, well, I’ve got a growing pile of books to read. #lifestruggles.
Back to my original thought. I learned a lot from reading Embers. While at points it read like a military novel (the author, Ronie Kendig, had written several military novel series before diving into fantasy), it kinds worked, because they were constantly fighting and escaping and running and fighting some more.
Embers begins with Kaelyria, Crown Princess of Zaethien making a tough, tough choice–giving up her powers in order to save her brother Haegan from being a cripple. The rest of the story follows Haegan as he rushed to reach the Great Falls in time to be healed so his sister can be saved from the fate he once suffered.
It was a rush of (almost) non-stop action and a whole lot of heart-pounding peril.
The first thing I learned was pretty much how to write male characters better. It’s hard for me to try and portray men accurately because I grew up in a house full of girls. Literally. And the two brothers I do have, one is autistic and the other was never around. And is also a total redneck. So, yeah, not the best examples when it comes to writing men in epic fantasy novels. I mean, unless you wanted your main character to be a redneck….
All throughout the book I was mentally taking notes. Men are tough. And even when they’re not they at least like to pretend they are. They are also very proud, especially when it comes to getting injured. Because they don’t want to look like they’re weak. I know not all men are like this, (Peeta anyone?) but it’s still good to take notes.
Another thing I learned was plot. Kendig wrote a beautiful, explosive, mind-blowing plot. It starts out with the expected, then two-thirds of the way in, everything takes a complete U-turn and now the stakes have gotten even higher. It was amazing to read. I won’t say anything else for fear of giving away the story, but yeah. I’m definitely going to implement that trick!
Next thing I learned was it’s okay for characters to only have two-to-four entries in a novel–as long as it moves the plot along. Most of the book was from Haegan’s point of view, which helped pull me deeper into the story. Mostly, I try to give everyone the same number of chapters, but if I want my readers to be more connected with the main character, I should probably give him more chapters than everyone else.
Lastly, while it’s not really something I learned but enjoyed, male main characters don’t have to be strong, with rugged looks and the ability to wield a sword. Haegan was like a colt just learning how to walk throughout half the story. A lot of times it seemed that he got the short end of the stick, but really, he didn’t. It had everything to do with perception. He wanted to prove his worth so many times, and yet he fell back on what everyone told him–that he was weak.
And being tough with rippling muscles and sword-wielding abilities isn’t what makes a person brave. Let’s take Gaston as an example….
But anyways. Embers was a fantastic book and taught me a lot of great things when it comes to the writing craft. Not only that, but it gave me one of those pleasant headaches a person gets from reading for hours on end.
Eventually, I will be able to read Accelerant, but for now, the next book on my list of not-blog-tour-books is Agnes at the End of the World by Kelly McWilliams (Releases June 2020). Which means I’ll probably talk about it endlessly until I finish reading it.
Follow me on Pintrest to see my favorite quotes from Embers!
Let’s chat! What’s one book you’ve read that’s changed your perspective on things? Have you read Embers? What’s next on your tbr list? Let me know in the comments below!