Reviewing my own Books
Some years back, I looked at a couple of reviews of my books on amazon.com, and saw one written by an antifan who accused me of having gone and written my own reviews, and I thought, "Now, there's an idea!"
Recently, an e-mail asked me why people react to my books so variously, sometimes in an extreme fashion. I had no idea, but the e-mail gave me the idea of having a look at amazon.com, where I found a list of books people had bought on amazon.com.
One of the books was THE LORDS OF THE SWORD, the first third of THE WALRUS AND THE WARWOLF. An American editor came up with the idea of publishing the book in three parts, got me to split it into parts, published the first of the three parts ... and then changed jobs. The project then went no further.
I also noted that someone had bought TO FIND AND WAKE THE DREAMER, and that there was, as yet, no review for this. I toyed with the idea of writing a review for the book.
If written, the review might go like this:
"This alternative reality novel is set in a world were a certain number of the paranormally-enabled minority group, the astrals, possess the ability to voluntarily glorst: that is, to cause themselves to explode.
"They are, therefore, human suicide bombers, undetectable and impossible to distinguish from other citizens.
"As the age of terror gets rolling in the city state of Oolong Morblock, our hero, Ibrahim Chess, the last sane man left alive in Omblock, struggles to resist the pressure which is forcing him in the direction of becoming the terrorist mastermind at the heart of the conspiracy confronting the authorities.
"Warning: this no-holds-barred book may quite possibly exceed many people's comfort levels, featuring, as it does, amongst other things, torture and an extremely brutal hand-to-hand killing. In addition, of course, to suicide and suicide bombing.
But, if you can't handle the extremes of the book, how do you expect to be able to handle the extremes of the world in which you currently find yourself living? The one on CNN and on Google news."
Recently, I have given some thought to the question of what precisely makes a book exceed someone's comfort levels.
A hint, maybe, is in a review of THE WOMEN AND THE WARLORDS that I found on amazon.com.
The review is by a Cathal K. Ryan of Dublin, Ireland, says, in part:
"The book never softens its grimly realistic tone by making artificial concessions to political correctness (which, in most modern fantasies, dictates that women should never be at a disadvantage to men, despite the implausibility of this in a typical fantasy/medieval world). Instead, we are given a believable account of a (determined and resourceful, but not super-human) woman's struggle to survive independently (i.e. without a man) in a very male-dominated and repressive culture. If this sounds like rather depressing reading, then you're not far wrong - this book is certainly less uplifting than any other in the series."
This particular review is, on balance, favorable, but helps point at why the book is definitely not for everyone.
The point that there are no "artificial concessions" is perceptive. When I'm writing, I want to follow whatever truth I'm pursuing, and I want to push it right to its limits.
I have some more thoughts on why some people may find my work unacceptable, these thoughts to be delivered once I have properly hammered them into shape.