Sunday, 27 May 2007


A bitter cold wind swept across the deserted planes. The man was grateful for his padded clothing, protecting him against the grunt of the frosty climate. His beast, however, was not so lucky; growing up in a near-tropical forest some 1000 miles away never prepared it for the icy cold and he realized they had to find some shelter quickly.

At the foot of those hills there must be a place to spend the night, he thought. They had ridden all day and never saw any sign of life. They could risk retiring early.

Urging his lizard forward, they set off for the hills. Strange, he thought, I would have expected this place to be teeming with people if even half the rumors about its heroes were true. So far, all I had seen was a withered corpse a week ago.

Nearing the hills, his beast became increasingly nervous. Could it be there were people around? Peering around him, the man could not find a single sign of activity. No - there, in the corner of his eyes; gone before he could focus on it. Was there someone there, or was the white snow playing tricks on his perception?

Before he could convince himself of either possibility, the great dragon roared and the ground opened up underneath them. Both man and animal slid inside the great schasm, and everywhere there was snow and ice.

His clothes didn't help much against the cold now, with ice against both skin and cloth. There was not enough space to even shudder. Terror and unconsciousness overwhelmed him, and his mind chose the latter.

The last thing he heard before slipping away were laughing voices, mocking him.

Silly foreigner. Our lands are not conquered that easily.


Saturday, 26 May 2007

The River

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Book review: Talyn

A year ago, I was in the library browsing through the English section (which, considering it's a Dutch library, is not all that large). My attention turned towards a particular fantasy book, called Diplomacy of Wolves. It looked alright, but I was about to put it back on the shelf when a recommendation by Robin Hobb caught my eye. She's my favourite author and wrote that she was very impressed with both this book and its writer, Holly Lisle. I had never before heard the name, but thought, "What the hell, I'm not paying for it, anyway".

I read it. I was impressed. Really impressed.

Holly Lisle introduced her characters, made you get to know them, and then gradually released all hell upon them. Only once before had I become so caught up in a book, which was when I read Robin Hobb's.

The only downside was that Diplomacy of Wolves is the first part of a trilogy, and I never got my hands on its sequels. And then, about a month ago, I found Talyn in the bookshop, and naturally bought it. It's not part of the trilogy, but rather, it's a stand-alone story, completely seperate from her other books.

Being one among several books I bought that day, it lay on the shelf, unread, for quite some time. I guess I was afraid it wouldn't be as good as the other one. Until a couple of days I decided to start on it, and I did.

Now, I had visited Holly Lisle's website in the meantime, which has a big section on writing fiction, marking the importance of Characters, Conflict, and Never An Easy Way Out (which states, in the author's words, "if your hero creates a 'golly-gee save-the-day gimcrack' to solve his final problem at the end of your story, IT HAD BETTER NOT WORK!"). If ever you're looking for lessons on writing fiction, or even inspiration, I'm recommending her site.

Reading Talyn, I realized that even if I knew how she did it, the book was very enjoyable. At times, the book reminded me of Hobb, and at other times, it reminded me of a master of heroic fantasy, the late David Gemmell. Holly Lisle very quickly became my second favourite author (the first still being the brilliant Robin Hobb).

On the continent of Hyre, two great nations have been fighting a war for over 300 years; the large Eastil Kingdom, and the proud Tonk people, living in largely independent city-states called taaks. Over time, the two nations have come to several agreements, like the treatment of prisoners-of-war. Neither side is actually winning, but battles are lost or won.

Talyn is a female Tonk warrior in the magics division of Shields. In this battle, there are not just the physically fighting people (the Conventional warriors, wielding swords and shields and whatnot), but also the wielders of Magic. The Senders 'shoot' magic spells at their opponents, and Shielders try to prevent enemy spells from reaching them. Both sides have a Magics division.

But suddenly, peace has been negotiated; unwanted, confusing, disorganizing peace. Talyn, having sworn her life to the warrior saint, struggles to find a new life in this peace and in the process gets attracted to a foreign peace negotiator. He shows her a world beyond anything she ever knew...

I could say more about the plot, but then I'd spoil it. Suffice to say that this is the start of Talyn's trouble.

I read the book in about 2 days, which, considering it's got almost 600 pages, is quite remarkable. The reason is obviously the author's writing; it grips you by the throat, turns you into a mindless zombie, and won't let go until you've finished. Characters are very convincing and the plot is like a web being spun by some sort of puppet master. Conflict, in writer's terms, is everywhere. And in all honesty, I felt physically unwell during some of the scenes. That had never happened to me before, and speaks volumes of how much I was involved in this. Just thinking about re-reading it, sends shivers down my back.

In closing, I can say this is one of those books you just need to read. It's fantasy, but never have I seen fantasy been brought to life with such realism or harshness. Whoever said that science fiction and fantasy are "escapism", clearly never read this book. And they should. As do you.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Casual casualty

Ladies and gentlemen, good evening.

I am sad to announce that at 2.15 this Saturday morning, the truth has been shot dead during a violent riot. The circumstances that have lead up to this horrific deed are yet unknown, but police have allegedly arrested some 6 billion suspects. Their motives remain a mystery.

The truth, while often an untrustworthy ally, was admired by all as never being wrong. His life, though long, was full of obstacles and he was despised as often as loved. In the last few centuries, truth increasingly complained that people did not truly know him, but arrogantly misclaimed his acquaintance.

His friends and family mourn for him, and describe him as honest, friendly and sometimes a bit tough. He will be missed.

Send your condolences to his new home, the forever elusive DED.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007


Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Another brick in the wall...

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Undo-it-yourself anarchy

Anarchy is underrated.

More truly, anarchy is widely misunderstood. In popular belief, anarchy is a state of chaos; in actual political theory, anarchy is a belief in self-governing. A belief in which not leaders, but the people themselves wield the power. Everyone is equal to an anarchist.

Of course, that in itself reminds one of communism. And in a way it is very similar to communism, although communism focuses more on property that belongs to everyone. Anarchy, in general, tends to focus more on a system of government - and by that, it means no government apart from the people themselves.

Now, from this view stems the idea that anarchy is chaos. After all, if there are no leaders, how can the world remain calm and peaceful? Yet that is what anarchists believe. Without leadership, everyone is equal and nobody is allowed any acts of violence or crime against someone else - even if merely by a majority of the people. A democracy in its truest sense.

Yet communism failed. It failed, simply because they did not follow their own theory: "all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others," to quote George Orwell. Will anarchy, if ever formed in its original meaning, thrive where communism faltered?

My guess is, sadly, no. Because although people are equal in my view, they are also different. Not different as in more important or good or any other moral qualification; different in their opinions, skills, ideas, social interaction. The few will convince the many of their point of view in affairs, bringing about the end of true anarchy. Because in the end, people want to follow leaders. Leaders think for them, so they can spend their time doing other things.

And thus, mankind will forever keep hindering its own progress.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Happy birthday!

This blog just turned 1. Yep, that's right; it's been a year since I first started blogging on here. Isn't that amazing?

Cake for everyone!

...well, if you're willing to come get it. :)