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Diaries of a Dwarven Rifleman (Dwarven Rifleman Series) Paperback – February 26, 2013
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"Impressive work, and great fun!" -- Greg Bear, Author of Hull 03 and The Forge of God
From the Author
This is our first full-length novel. I spent a year playing with the concept and developing the world of the story in my head before we seriously began writing. My wife and I refined our writing process over the course of this book. We come up with ideas and plot-lines together, I do the 'gruntwork' of writing, then we go back over it together and Linda rewrites my tortured verbiage into something that a person might like to read. Works a treat. Funny thing is, we set out to write one kind of book and the characters, the world and the logic of the story took the book away from us and launched it in a whole different and better direction. 'Diaries of a Dwarven Rifleman was written as a stand-alone book (and it is,) but as we tossed around ideas and brainstormed it became obvious that it is actually part of a series. You can look for the next book some time around late summer- it's already writing itself in our heads...
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My only problem wasn't really with the book itself but more my reading preferences. I'm not a big fan of detailed military tactics and weaponry. I'm more interested in knowing what's going on in a character's head than troop placement. However, the tactics, etc, in this book were necessary. The narratives explaining troop movement and weaponry was done in a way that I didn't think the authors were talking down to me or above my head. They flowed well with the pace of the story.
I'd recommend this to a variety of people. Military buffs, fantasy readers, or just someone looking for something different but well written.
Likewise, just as much thought is put into the use of technology and magic presented in the novel. Most of it is very reasonable and reasoned. Instead of a fairy tale where characters do things 'because it's the story' and action plays out 'because it's exciting', you're left feeling that this is a real world.
Most surprisingly, none of this comes across as heavy-handed. Many of my favourite authors attempt to explain their clever ideas and simply come across as eager kids at a science fair. The Pearces never cross that line, and as a result the novel never became a tiresome presentation of the sort I find even in many great novels such as Gibson's, Stephenson's or Rothfuss'.
I have only two places I'd like to see improved and I think they could both be addressed with a revised copy and solid editor. First, the Kindle version is a bit annoying to read because the first word of each paragraph is heavily indented. It's a quibble, but worth noting. Second, I think this novel would go from good to great with the help of a very solid editor. For instance, there are a few paragraphs in which you're left wondering who took a particular important action; it seems, because their name had been omitted in editing from a previous paragraph. One solid editorial pass would probably clean this and the couple typos I found right up.
Great work, and I'm looking forward to more.
There are two parts to the story that really intrigue me. Firstly, Engvyr Gunnarson is a very deep and complex character whose virtues greatly outweigh his shortcomings. His insights into his world form a large part of the author's method of world building. He has opinions on politics, the military, families and the other races (goblins and humans). However, his opinions are not set in stone and he is willing to change his beliefs when they conflict with reality.
His adventures are exciting without being outlandish. He is a hero without hubris which is somewhat surprising considering his lineage (which I won't divulge and spoil the surprise).
The other things that the authors do well is technology and military science, including battle tactics and strategy. It was written so that I could see it in my mind as if watching a movie. Nothing was outrageously done but the descriptions slowly added to the excitement and you just can't help but root for Emgvyr and his companions to succeed.
Engvyr never gives in to the casual brutality that characterizes his society, nor does he allow racism to interfere with his understanding of human nature and the basic underlying fact of the races - that ALL the races evolved from a common root - that of humans, and all share a common humanity. Early on he is taught that despite the radical differences in appearance and widely divergent societal differences, all the races of people want the same basic things: enough food for their children, and a safe place to raise them.
Engvyr understands that when a society removes the humanity from an enemy ethnic group, it becomes easy to commit the most extreme atrocities against them, all in the name of whatever cause one is fighting for. Because he understands the underlying truth of this, Engvyr brings compassion to his battles, and a desire to do good.
There is a great deal of Norse mythology woven into this tale, as well as Nordic mores and values. These characters are strong people with great capacities for both love and cruelty.
For those of you who are weapons purists, you will be happy to note that the weapons Engvyr carries are original and scrupulously designed to be both real and fantastic at the same time. It is apparent that the authors have a true knowledge of guns and knives, and weaponry in general. Indeed, +Michael Tinker Pearce is known as the 'Swordgeek' and regularly blogs and gives podcasts on the subject of swords.
All in all, this is an excellent, well written and well thought out book.
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