“The War of the Moonstone” trailer

Here’s the trailer for my epic fantasy novel “The War of the Moonstone” available here on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GZX6OLU


The War of the Moonstone page

The War of the Moonstone page

My dark, swashbuckling epic fantasy novel “The War of the Moonstone” now has it’s own Facebook page! Woo-hoo!

Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/thewarofthemoonstone

The description:

Imagine the epic reach of Tolkien, the grit of George R. R. Martin and the nonstop adventure of Robert E. Howard, and you will have some idea of the thrills awaiting you in “The War of the Moonstone: An Epic Fantasy”, a tale of love, bloodlust and tragedy set in a land on the brink of destruction.


Black times have come to the kingdom of Felgrad. Once one of the jewels of the Crescent, now the dark powers have turned their gaze upon it, and Giorn Wesrain, son of the baron of Fiarth, has become inextricably drawn into the machinations of the Dark One, along with his beloved Niara, High Priestess of Illiana.


They have loved each other in secret for years, but that love will be tested as the armies of the Dark One strive against Felgrad. Worse, one of their own, Raugst, is in truth an agent of the enemy, and Raugst will soon bend the barony to his will. If Felgrad falls, so too will the rest of the Crescent, and then the Dark One will be unleashed upon the world.


Only Giorn and Niara can stop him, but how can they when the legendary Moonstone, the great artifact of the Light that has kept the fell powers at bay for thousands of years, has been taken? As Giorn sets out into the waste lands after it, to either reclaim it or find out what the Dark One wants it for, enemy hordes swarm the mighty city of Thiersgald and Niara is trapped behind its walls . . . with Raugst.


This is only the beginning of the adventure that awaits you in “The War of the Moonstone: An Epic Fantasy”.



Revisiting a Post: Robert E. Howard — One Who Walked Alone

Happy birthday, REH! You’re still the man!

Read at Joe's

Today marks the 108th anniversary of the birth of pulp author Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Barbarian and one of the most prolific, influential and successful authors from the era of pulp magazines. I usually post an ode to the Man From Cross Plains on this date, and this year I decided to do something a bit different: Taking a page from pulp mags like Weird Tales and Fight Stories, which used to publish Howard’s tales, I’m posting a reprint of a “classic” REH post (one I penned in 2010) with some slight editing. If you want to read what I wrote about REH last year or in 2011, follow the links. Enjoy! — Joe 01/22/14

The date Jan. 22 has been important to me since I was a lad, because it marks the anniversary of the birth of pulp author Robert E. Howard

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Here there be Dragons: Smaug (2nd in an occasional series)

I saw The Hobbit: Part Two for the third time today, and it held up pretty well. Some of my gripes receded a bit with this viewing. I don’t know if I was just feeling less critical today or if it was just because I knew what to expect, but the relationship between Tauriel and Killi flowed better for me this time, and the CGI wasn’t too distractingly bad. Speaking of Smaug, I love how reptilian he is in this — how snake-like, actually. I think his creators studied snakes while making him, how their scales move over flesh and bones, and the effect is eerie.

About Cumberlatch and Freeman, I do think it’s hilarious that Bilbo is Smaug’s Watson. Thankfully Peter Jackson refrained from tossing in an “It’s elementary, my dear Bilbo” in there.

Saints and Trees

As a follow-up to last week’s post on J.R.R. Tolkien, I thought I’d pen a few thoughts on visual images of Smaug, the dragon in Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

Smaug, J.R.R._Tolkien_-_Conversation_with_Smaug_(large)First we have Tolkien’s own illustration of the beast. Despite Tolkien’s literary portrayal of Smaug as an evil creature, the drawing is a delight to the eye. The dragon’s body is a graceful curve, ending in a fanciful fleur-de-lys tail, Smaug’s bright orange scales a pleasing and complementary contrast to the bright gold of his hoard. Like Alice’s Crocodile, Smaug’s claws are neatly spread, and their greenish cast makes them stand out against the background of gold. Crocodile like, too, is Smaug’s expression, not quite a grin, but the slight upward tilt suggests a degree of smugness and satisfaction with his accumulated (and ill gotten) wealth.

Smaug, b&w, direction pictured in bookDragonSketchTolkien drew another image in black and white, a stripped down version that again emphasizes…

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Desperate for more Desolation: A Film Review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I’m seeing this movie again today and am quite looking forward to it. It’s far from a perfect film, what with its terrible CGI and some awkward moments (notably the romance between Kili and Tauriel), but it’s a very FUN movie, and a very well-realized Middle Earth. Erebor is just beautiful, and I look forward to spending more time there in movie three. Really, the design of that place just make me tingle.

I’m hoping the expanded edition will fix some of my gripes with this one, although that wasn’t the case with the first one (just where the hell did those walking mountains COME from, anyway? sigh). I want the relationship between Tauriel, Legolas and Kili to breathe more, and flow better. I want some fleshing-out of Lake-town . . . but not too much. I want to see Bilbo going through the tunnel, working himself up to his encounter with Smaug. That was the most critical scene in the book, where Bilbo becomes a real hero, and it was completely absent in the movie, save a short dialogue scene with the older dwarf.

Also, hopefully the CGI will look better on the small screen.

Of course, none of it compares to Lord of the Rings, either the movies or the books, but as works of fantasy fiction go, “Smaug” does quite well for this particular writer of epic fantasy (find my novel “The War of the Moonstone” here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GZX6OLU
) Can’t wait for “There and Back Again”!

The Spectatorial

When Smaug’s giant reptilian eye slowly slid open and his gravelly growl vibrate through the theatre in the final seconds of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I was ravenous for more of the prrrecioussss. Instead, I was handed a black screen, credits, and another year to wait. I found myself saying aloud in the darkness, “Are you kidding me?! It’s over?!” My contribution to the audience-wide chorus of exasperation, however, proved once more the brilliance of the film’s director, Peter Jackson.

I joined the throngs flocking to the theatres to revel in the second installment of the tripartite film series with the excitement and trepidation of an expectant fan. Early reviews had dubbed it a marked improvement over its precursor, which some had felt lacked excitement, but I had not shared such opinions of the first film. As a J.R.R. Tolkien devotee, I was particularly ambivalent about…

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Oscars: 15 Biggest Snubs and Surprises

I’m glad “Gravity” was nominated. It was a truly original and special movie that was gripping, memorable, and pushed the boundaries of what movies can do. However, I am surprised that “Saving Mr. Banks” isn’t at least in the running. It seemed like a sure thing, and it was far more of a genuine drama than “Gravity” was. For all its merits, “Gravity” is essentially an action movie, and with rare exceptions (ROTK, if that can be called an action movie) those are not Oscar contenders. I wouldn’t mind seeing it win Best Director, though. In fact, it probably deserves that win.

Sauron, Shai’tan and the Illusory Villain

Yes, Sauron is one of the all-time great villains, despite or because of essentially having no lines — at all. We sort of hear him whisper a bit through the Ring, but that’s about it. I don’t recall him having much more to say in the novels. Of course, as you’ve pointed out, that’s partly what makes him so menacing. We project our own fears into the shadow cast by his character. Tolkien was very canny about allowing the reader’s imagination to do most of the heavy lifting in that department, but he was amazing at peppering his creations with just the right amount of WTF detail — for example, when Gandalf is fighting the Balrog, he grabs hold of it and finds it slimy, which is not what one would expect of a creature of shadow and flame. Also, if I remember correctly (and I might not) it changes shapes. In my own epic fantasies “The War of the Moonstone” and “The Song of Doom” (shameless plug, I know), I, like Robert Jordan, have a main antagonist heavily inspired by Sauron, and I’ve studied Tolkien’s handling of the Dark Lord quite a bit. He was a master.

As for your comment about wanting Sauron to get the Ring, I do know what you mean. If he could only do that and the story were to continue, things could get really, REALLY serious, and much more complicated. To that I say, wait till LOTR becomes public domain, and I guarantee you we will see extensions and expansions on the tale. Even Tolkien admitted he set up more than he paid off, and I don’t think he would (too crossly) begrudge a worthy writer’s vision of a longer War of the Ring. After all, we live in the age of the 20-volume epic fantasy. A 2 and 1/2 volume story just isn’t that big, and LOTR is, above all the others, a story we want to savor, one we want to sink our teeth into and enjoy over the longest possible stretch — provided the writing and storytelling warranted the length, of course.