October 20, 2013
I’ve been reading Chris Willrich’s short fiction for years, and I particularly enjoy his Gaunt and Bone stories. Their lyricism and whimsy seem to fill a void in a fantasy fiction landscape marked by dark, gritty realism. I love dark, gritty realism, but I can only take so much.
I’ve long been hoping that some gutsy publisher would buck the trend and print a compilation of Willrich’s Gaunt and Bone tales to sprinkle some dreamlike fable amidst our worldly fantasy fiction. Instead, this Gaunt and Bone novel arrives. Even better. The fantasy fiction shelves need to be stocked with more books like this one.
Willrich injects The Scroll of Years with the same gorgeous prose of his short fiction but still manages to move the story along at a steady clip. It rises to a pulse-pounding pace in delightfully entertaining moments of action and at times slows to a trickle to allow the reader to ponder a bit of philosophy. But it never stalls. The landscape—described in precise, exquisite detail—is a character in itself (literally and figuratively), and the dialogue is witty and insightful. Through all of this, Willrich weaves his signature threads of antithesis and paradox. There’s enough depth and beauty here to make subsequent readings just as entertaining as the first.
He packs this all into about 260 pages, which is impressive, but this may have detracted from the overall story a bit only because it prevents the inclusion of more background about the characters. Gaunt and Bone, and some of the secondary characters as well, have fascinating pasts that readers can only glimpse. This is at once tantalizing and frustrating. Readers well acquainted with Gaunt and Bone will not be deterred, but those meeting the characters for the first time may miss out a little on what makes them so compelling.
I do hope this absence will urge them to read the next installment, The Silk Map, to learn more. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy (and I’m still holding out hope for that Gaunt and Bone short story compilation).
August 14, 2013
Looks like I have an official Author Page up and running at Amazon.com: amazon.com/author/hawkins
Another cool thing I discovered the other day is that a couple of my stories made it into the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.
So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.
August 10, 2013
It appears that Return of the Sword, a Rogue Blades anthology one of my stories was published in a while back, has an all-new look. The revamped cover, still featuring artwork by Johnney Perkins, looks great. I’m guessing it’s still selling well.
May 9, 2013
This is news I have been waiting a long time to hear. Chris Willrich has taken his characters Persimmon Gaunt and Imago Bone on an adventure beyond the short form, where they’ve been entertaining readers since 2002, and into the uncharted territory of a novel entitled The Scroll of Years, to be published by Pyr in September.
This is sure to be superb. Willrich writes some of the most beautiful prose I’ve seen in the fantasy genre, and his characters are unique and compelling.
June 6, 2011
I just discovered today another review of Return of the Sword that fell completely under my radar. Argentinian author Gustavo Bondoni penned his positive impressions of the anthology back in October of 2009 for SFReader.com. Bondoni writes:
“The stories strike a balance between entertainment and character development that is satisfying from both a literary and an adventure point of view.”
That’s not always an easy balance to strike. And I was very happy to see he enjoyed my own contribution to the anthology.
“A couple of stories stood out for me – ‘What Heroes Leave Behind’ by Nicholas Ian Hawkins is a somewhat poignant story of an aging warrior who, nevertheless, accepts his duty and ‘The Red Worm’s Way’ by James Enge, a convoluted tale in which nothing, and no one is what they seem.”
It’s always nice when someone says your story stands out, but this praise is particularly pleasing because Bondoni is a rather prolific author, and the other tale he mentions is written by a World Fantasy Award nominee.
This reminds me I need to start writing again one of these days soon.
September 7, 2009
Summer doesn’t seem to be dying gently, but I can feel that fall will soon be here. I see that the high school football season has begun, which always brings to mind this poem:
Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio
By James Wright
In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.
All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.
Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other’s bodies.
I also recall the bittersweet returns to the library after the long summers of my college days: eager to learn, reluctant to give up lazy days. I do think of those early days of fall semesters with a fondness that this quotation by Alcuin (from right around the end of the 8th century) captures beautifully:
“O how sweet life was when we used to sit at leisure amid the book boxes of a learned man, piles of books, and the venerable thoughts of the Fathers; nothing was missing that was needed for…the pursuit of knowledge.”
Autumn has always been a creatively inspiring time for me, and I hope the tradition continues this year.
May 26, 2009
I’m reading Primitive Mythology, book one of Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God, and came across this passage:
“…it must be conceded, as a basic principle of our natural history of the gods and heroes, that whenever a myth has been taken literally, its sense has been perverted; but also, reciprocally, that whenever it has been dismissed as a mere priestly fraud or sign of inferior intelligence, truth has slipped out the door.”
I post it here because a) mythology and fantasy literature are closely related (or one in the same?), and therefore the usefulness of one can be attributed to the other, and b), it approximates my own thoughts on the subject of myth, religion, rite, and ceremony. When I write “the utility of mythology,” I refer to its usefulness in achieving human understanding.
Campbell has an uncanny ability to distill complex metaphysical concepts into terms most people can understand. So far, I’ve come across numerous pithy paragraphs like this that make me feel as if he pulled the very thoughts from my mind–thoughts which I couldn’t quite articulate, or at least not nearly as well–and transcribed them on the page. I highly recommend The Masks of God.