For a grand adventure, walk The Shield Road

I was fortunate enough to read an advanced reader copy of The Shield Road by Dewi Hargreaves, although it took me long enough to get around to writing this. Life, as it goes, happens. However, in the time that I wasn’t able to get to writing this review, I read The Shield Road. And then I reread it.

By the time of writing this, I had read this magnificent collection of short stories four times. Without further delay, my review:

The Shield Road is a book, but not a novel. This is important to mention. The stories are all in the same world, and link events together, but are not a novel. This format worked excellently for the stories in terms of pacing, however, with no one story section feeling too drawn out. It worked well with the shifts in perspectives, as there are multiple points of view throughout The Shield Road. Each character’s voice and presence felt unique, with no two characters reading too similarly to one another.

In a word, The Shield Road is bingeworthy thanks to the format in which it was packaged. Fourteen short stories, among which is the Epilogue, play out as standalone pockets of islands of magic all making up a small nation within the sea of The Shield Road overall. Reading this was similar to sitting down and starting a limited run series, and I dare say that from a writing perspective that Hargreaves has created a world and tales within it that could go toe-to-toe with the popular limited series on any streaming service. Look out, Disney+.

Fantasy is a tricky beast. There are more serious, high fantasy stories (along the lines of Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire) and there are fantasy tales with judicial helpings of humor to them (think along the lines of Terry Pratchett’s works). The Sword Road is a rare treat in the fantasy genre, not taking itself too seriously and not leaning into the humor too much, but instead allowing moments of levity and fun while also following a narrative surrounding dour prophecies and separate yet converging journeys along the titular Sword Road. The naming conventions are not impossible to pronounce (with no surprise apostrophes splashed in for flair). The characters read like real people, who lived real lives. The heroes were not without flaw, but it was hard to not root for good to triumph over evil in the end (and, oh wow was that evil quite so–no spoilers, however).

Ultimately, I rate The Shield Road a glowing five stars but with an asterisk appended to that rating. The storytelling is compelling, fun, and accessible. The characters are all fully realized and could easily stand on their own without acting as plot devices to move the stories forward. The setting is immersive and easy to get lost in. My chief complaint? I wanted more by the time it ended, and that book hangover was only amplified by multiple reads despite knowing what was going to happen. These complaints don’t impact my rating of this book, however, as they are purely prescriptive and out of a desire to read more about these characters, the world of The Shield Road, and what trials and tribulations they experienced–before, during, and after the events of this book.

The Shield Road by Dewi Hargreaves can be purchased here and is available in both paperback and Kindle formatting, and would make an exceptional addition to any library.

This Week in Misadventures…and procrastination

Or “Let’s try this again from my laptop so it doesn’t keep breaking WordPress,” and “there was a topically appropriate subtitle but backspace kept deleting everything on my Surface”.

This week has spanned the good, the bad, and the ugly in terms of motivation and productivity. I could easily say I accomplished a lot of what I’d wanted to, but the comparison of completed planned things versus completed unplanned ones is a bit askew in favor of the unplanned. Hooray, things got done. Boo, lack of discipline and being easily distracted. In light of this post being “This Week in Misadventures…and procrastination” (we’ll get to the procrastination part because I’m not letting myself off the hook there), I suppose I should get to the actual misadventures from my week. Continue reading

This Week in Misadventures

Or “This week in not really accomplishing a whole lot.”

I’ve got plenty of inner turmoil going on right now in regards to writing (I almost put “write now” by complete accident, and the self-loathing I feel is incredible). Joshua’s Nightmares, book one, is still hanging out on my laptop. It’s just kind of sitting there presently, a nearly three hundred page blob of potential that’s got nowhere to go just yet, and it’s a little vexing. Maybe a lot vexing. A lottle vexing? If I ever use that word again, someone please call me out on it in the comments because that’s just awful.

My conundrum is now the mix of “I have no idea how publishing works and how do I reach out to publishers to try getting this published” versus “Is self-publishing really so bad in this case or is it really just lazy, quick self-gratification”. Both of those thoughts have effectively prevented me from actually accomplishing much (we’ll get to what I did accomplish this week, which is a whole lot of nothing, shortly). If nothing else, I’ve reached a point where I would just like to make this story available for other people to enjoy (or hate, to be fair, because even if someone hates it they still ended up having to read a bit of it, and that’s okay with me). However, I also know that self-publishing is still sort of looked down upon these days, and I’d rather not be burned as a heretic or whatever actual, legitimate authors do to self-published sorts. Continue reading

After much deliberation…

…and I mean a lot of deliberation.  Bordering onto over-thinking my brain into a liquid state, easily consumed through a bendy straw.

Anyway, after a great deal of thinking about this, I’ve decided I’m going to give my short story from this past summer, “Death at Teatime”, a home here.  It’ll be in its own post, to follow this one.  In short: I really hope you all (you all being anyone who reads this blog regularly, people who happen upon it by chance, and anyone in between) like it.  I had an amazing time writing and revising it most of this past summer.

So, if you happened to have a particularly bad day, think of it as a gift to cheer you up.  If it’s your birthday, the posting of this story is a tiny digital gift with an equally tiny digital bow.  If you just feel like reading something?  Well, you’re in the right place, too.  Anyway, onward to the story.

As a quick, but probably necessary, side-note: it may initially be a little wonky, formatting-wise, because it’s straight copypasta from Microsoft Word.  Any suggestions for a better method of posting it would be appreciated.