Category Archives: Rogue Blades Entertainment

Rogue Blades Entertainment is Back

Writing-Fantasy-HeroesIt’s not often I get to announce really great news, or at least it doesn’t feel like it much lately.  However, I’m thrilled to let you know that the Rogue Blades Entertainment has returned.  Publisher Jason M. Waltz made the announcement over at Black Gate earlier today.  The small S&S publisher went on hiatus a few years ago.  Fortunately RBE is back with a whole new website (just click the above link).  If you aren’t familiar with them, RBE published Writing Fantasy Heroes recently (reviewed here).  Now all of their previously published books are available.  My review of them is available here.  Stop by and check them out.

Adventures Fantastic would like to congratulate Jason and RBE on their comeback and wish them the best of success.

A Review of Writing Fantasy Heroes

Writing Fantasy Heroes
Jason M. Ward, ed.
Rogue Blades Entertainment
mmpb $14.99
ebook $7.99 Kindle

It’s taken me longer than I anticipated to finish this book, and that’s in no way a reflection on the book.  It’s been one of those weeks.  For about the last two months.

Anyway, you didn’t come here to for me to kvetch.  You want to know about the book.  It’s a keeper.

If you’re looking for a technical manual on the nuts and bolts of writing, things like basic story structure, you won’t find it here.  Well, not much, anyway.  This book is designed more for the aspiring writer who is looking to hone his or her craft and take it to the next level, which preferably would involve publication, rather than the novice writer just learning to put a story together.  I read Writing Fantasy Heroes from cover to cover, albeit in pieces between other books, but I think the book’s values rests in its use as a reference that one picks up and consults as needed more than as volume to read straight through..

The reason I say that is that each chapter addresses a different aspect of heroic fantasy, and not all aspects will appear in all stories or novels.

For example, Howard Andrew Jones discusses the dynamics between partners/friends/comrades and how to use the interaction between two heroes to best effect.  Paul Kearney explains what it really takes to move a large army and to fight a major battle. not so much the combat itself (although he does address that issue), but the logistics involved in military life.  Alex Bledsoe contrasts the older, wiser hero with the young pup and delves into how to write maturity in a way that’s consistent with the reality of that stage in life..

Ari Marmell talks about using tropes effectively and how to avoid cliche in doing so.  Glen Cook deals with adding a dash of the unexpected.  C. L. Werner discusses things from the monster’s perspective.  Brandon Sanderson blocks out several fight scenes, taking them from boring to engrossing.  Ian C. Esslemont demonstrates the difference between showing and telling.

There’s much more.  One of the added bonuses is that Jason Waltz required each contributor to use examples from his or her own work.  I found several authors whose work I want to hunt down and read through this process, so thanks, Jason.

I learned a lot from this book.  More than that, some of the chapters helped me to bring together concepts or techniques I’d been more or less aware of and helped me either to see them in a new light or to see new connections or applications of them.  It was the same kind of A-Ha moment I get when I gain new insight into a physical system after studying a scientific problem.  One of those Oh-of-course!-Why-didn’t-I-see-that? kind of thing.

There’s a lot of good advice here, and while I’m not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, I like to think I’ve acquired enough wisdom to realize that there things in this book I’m not ready for yet.  What that means is that I haven’t yet tried to write the story where I need that piece of counsel.  But if/when I try to write that story, I know where to go to find out how it’s done.

The list of contributors is impressive, with some of the major names in the field weighing in on various aspects of the craft.  The glimpse into their minds is fascinating at times. And invaluable.

As I stated at the beginning of this review, this isn’t an introductory writing manual.  It’s delves into the deeper, more accomplished aspects of the craft.  If you write heroic fantasy, or aspire to, then this book needs to be on your shelf.  It will be more valuable to you than any number of the writing guides out there.

Writing Fantasy Heroes Giveaway

Writing Fantasy Heroes
Jason M. Waltz, edl
Rogue Blades Entertainment

I recently wrote a post about my copy of Writing Fantasy Heroes arriving and how eager I was to dive into it.  That post got more traffic, and certainly more comments, than most of the posts I’ve done in the last couple of months. 

Since then, two things have happened.  First, I’ve read about 1/3 of the book, and it’s every bit as good as I hoped.  I’ll review the book once I’ve finished, so I won’t go into details here.

The second thing that  happened, and the one that has a direct bearing on readers of this blog, is that I received an email a few days ago from Jason M. Waltz, the publisher of Rogue Blades Entertainment and the editor of the aforementioned book.

It seems a couple of years ago, I took advantage of a special RBE was running and prebought several titles.  Writing Fantasy Heroes wasn’t one of them, probably because it wasn’t conceived of at the time.  That’s a guess on my part.  What isn’t a guess is that this is the book Jason had intended to make a part of the prepurchase deal, subbing this book for another one.  But then I went and bought the book before he had a chance to send me my copy.  He asked what I wanted to do about it, and I quickly decided to do a giveaway.  Since Jason is the person who has the copy of Writing Fantasy Heroes in his possession and will be handling the mailing, this is a joint giveaway between Adventures Fantastic and Rogue Blades Entertainment.

So, here’s the deal.  Between now and when I post the review, which will probably be just after Easter if I can keep the schedule I’ve sketched out, anyone who posts a comment here answering the following question will be entered.  The question is:  What one characteristic above all others is essential for a fantasy hero and why?  Your answer could be long or short, but you have to say why that characteristic is the one you think is the most essential.  Hopefully, this will generate some thought provoking discussion as well as a little buzz for RBE.

Once the review of Writing Fantasy Heroes goes live, I’ll put all the names in a hat and draw one at random.  Actually, I probably have my son draw the name.  He’d enjoy my involving him like that.  I’ll announce that person’s name the day after I post the review.  I’ll also contact that individual directly and/or pass that person’s name directly on to Jason.  He will be mailing the book.  This is an unread copy, not the copy I’ve got.

There is one other thing.  The winner will be requested, but not required, to post a review of the book once they’ve read it, either on their own blog, Goodreads, Amazon, or some combination of the above.

Writng Fantasy Heroes Arrives

Writing Fantasy Heroes
Jason M. Waltz, ed.
Rogue Blades Entertainment
trade paper, 202 pages, $14.99

This isn’t a review.  That will come later, after I’ve read the book.  I don’t normally profile books until I’ve read them, but in this case I’m making an exception.  I think you’ll understand.

This volume contains 13 essays (plus an introduction by Steven Erikson) on how to write heroes in fantasy.  The contributors include (in no particular order) Glen Cook, Brandon Sanderson, C. L. Werner, Howard Andrew Jones, Ian C. Esslemont, Ari Marmell, Paul Kearney, Orson Scott Card.  I could go on.  But I won’t.  You can discover the rest for yourself.

I’ve reviewed works by several of the above here at Adventures Fantastic, and there are others on that list I haven’t gotten to yet, at least as far as reviews are concerned. There will be some great writing advice in there.  (I know, I’ve already peeked.)

I also know some of the people who read this blog are writers at various stages of their careers.  In the interest of helping you improve your craft (because I’m selfish and want great books by you to read), I thought I’d announce this book here.  And, yes, gloat, because my copy arrived today.  I’m going to steal time from some other commitments later tonight and start reading it.  I’ll post a full review when I’m done.

Writing Fantasy Heroes is from Rogue Blades Entertainment and is available from Amazon and B&N.  I was completely surprised when I heard about it.  Rogue Blades Entertainment hasn’t had anything out in a while, and they’ve been sorely missed.  Jason, it’s great to have you back.

Dispatches From the Lone Star Front: Profile of an Early Texas Ranger

It got an email last week from Jason Waltz, informing the contributors of Home of Heroics that he was discontinuing adding new material to the site.  Between work and family obligations, not to mention trying to publish the books on the Rogue Blades Entertainment schedule, Jason said he was exhausted and simply couldn’t devote the time necessary to maintaining the site.  As regular readers of this blog are probably aware, I was one of the contributors to Home of Heroics, with a quarterly column entitled “Dispatches From the Lone Star Front”, featuring heroes from Texas.  It was in a different vein than what I do here, focusing on history with little or no fantasy aspect.  With Jason’s blessing, that column will continue here, although I don’t know if it will be quarterly, more frequently, or just when I find something interesting to write about.  Reader reaction will help me decide.

Adventures Fantastic would like to wish Jason and Rogue Blades Entertainment all the best.  Home of Heroics will be missed; the contributors are still around and blogging on other sites, so if you enjoyed the work of any of them, look them up if you haven’t already.  Now, here is the most recent Dispatch from the Lone Star Front that would have been posted at HoH if things had been different:
Jack Hays
There are a number of qualities that are commonly used to describe heroes.  One of them is courage.  John Coffee “Jack” Hays had that in spades.
Hays was one of the first Texas Rangers, seeing most of his service during the days of the Republic, before Texas joined the United States, and then during the Mexican War.  He was renowned for his bravery, cunning, and his leadership.  He was called “Devil Jack” by the Comanches. 
The Rangers were formed to protect the Texas settlers, both Anglo and Tejano, against bandits and hostile Indians.  The Comanches were the primary tribe hostile to the settlers, and they were traditional enemies of the Lipan Apaches.  Naturally, the Rangers, and Hays in particular, allied themselves with the Lipan.  Hays’ Lipan scout Flacco is reported by Walker Prescott Webb to have said, “Me and Red Wing not afraid to go to hell together.  Captain Jack he brave; not afraid to go to hell by himself.” 

More than once Hays stood his ground against superior numbers and prevailed.  One incident was at Enchanted Rock, now a state park north of Fredricksburg.  Enchanted Rock is a large lava dome, visible for miles, and a perfect spot to scout out the surrounding countryside.  This was what Hays reportedly did one day in the fall of 1841.  I say “reportedly” because Hays never confirmed the story.  On the other hand, he never denied it, either, and he was usually quick to correct any inaccurate stories about himself.  True or not, it’s a great tale.
Hays had left a group of surveyors on the nearby Pedernales River.  He was armed with two revolvers, his rifle, and his Bowie knife.  The only ammunition he had was what was in the guns.  Near the top, he found himself pursued by a party of Comanches.
Enchanted Rock
Now Enchanted Rock is not an easy climb, although from a distance it can appear to be.  I know; I’ve climbed it several times and hope to again with my son when he’s a little older.  The rock is fairly smooth and round in most places, and it’s easy to slip. It can also get bloody hot in the Texas sun, as the rock reradiates the solar energy it absorbs, but like a parking lot does.  There are boulders and small caves on one side (not shown in the photo), but mainly its a steep hike with little to no handholds.
Hays managed to hide in a crevice and holdout until his men were able to rescue him.  The Comanches were notorious for their tricks, and they tried unsuccessfully to get him to waste his ammunition.  The Comanches eventually tired of these tactics and rushed Hays.  He fought off the first rush and was preparing to make his final stand with just his knife when the survey party, alerted by the shots, rode to his rescue.
Hays also changed frontier warfare forever once the Colt Paterson five-shot revolvers were introduced.  In June 1844, Hays and fifteen Rangers were approached by a few Comanche riders.  The Comanches attempted to get the Rangers to follow them.  This was a standard Comanche trick used to lure overeager settlers into a trap.  Hays and the Rangers had used the same trick themselves and didn’t fall for it.
Colt Paterson revolver
When the Comanches saw that their ruse wouldn’t work, they retreated.  Hays and his men weren’t fooled.  As short time later, they saw the full Comanche war band, between 60 and 70 braves, waiting for them on a rise.  The Rangers charged, but as soon as they were down in a ravine and shielded from the sight of the Comanches, the swept up the ravine and emerged on their enemies’ flank. 
Standard practice at the time was to fire only some of the rifles, keeping the rest in reserve.  Armed with the new pistols, Hays ordered his men to fire all their rifles.  They then charged the Comanches. 
Even though they were caught off guard by this approach, the Comanches vastly outnumbered the Rangers and encircled them.  The Rangers formed their own defensive circle, dropped their rifles, and drew their revolvers.  Each Ranger had two.  The Rangers charged again.
Up until this point, firearms had had limited effectiveness against Comanches because of the buffalo hide shields they carried were hard enough to deflect bullets when angled properly, and most bullets were fired from rifles shot at a distance.  This tactic didn’t work against the Colts, which could be fired more than once without reloading and be fired accurately at short range.
The Rangers killed at least 20 of the Comanches in the first charge, but the Comanches were not deterred.  They charged again, and again their numbers were decimated.  Only about 20 of the Comanches were left.  Their leader was trying to convince them to attack again when Hays asked if any of his men had a loaded rifle.  He then ordered Ad Gillespie, another renowned Ranger (who had been wounded in the fight), to dismount and shoot the chief.  Gillespie did, putting a bullet through his head.  The remaining Comanches decided running like hell was the better part of valor and fled.
Weapons don’t make heroes.  Courage does, as the life of John Coffee Hays demonstrates.  But weapons can sometimes ensure the hero lives to tell the tale.

RBE Challenge Continues

Jason M. Waltz posted a little while ago on the Rogue Blades Entertainment website that he is extending the Challenge! Stealth competition.  Due to issues related to a virus infecting the site, which have now been resolved, the 2011 Challenge will continue until 30 submissions have been accepted.

For more details, go here and here.  The artwork for this year’s competition can be found here.

Home of Heroics and Rogue Blades Entertainment are Back…

…and I have a post there!  Jason M. Waltz just sent out an email saying that Rogue Blades Entertainment is back online as is Home of Heroics, both virus free.  That’s great news, made even sweeter for me by the fact that I have a post there.  It’s a review of a book entitled The Roads to Baldairn Motte.  Check it out!  Then buy and read the  book.  There are still a few details Jason is working on as far as the look of the site, but it’s great to have RBE and HoH back.

Rogue Blades Entertainment, Home of Heroics Websites Temporarily On Hiatus

I got an email earlier today from Jason M. Waltz.  The RBE website has been infected with some sort of virus.  Jason is working to fix it, but at the moment he is swamped with some additional training for his day job and doesn’t have much time (or energy) at the end of the day.  As soon as he can, he’s going to get things back up and running.  In the meantime, the RBE site is in construction mode and new Home of Heroics posts are on hold.  They’ll return once things are fixed, and on a daily basis until HOH is back on schedule. 

Contest at Home of Heroics

I got an email over lunch from Jason M. Waltz, the publisher of Rogue Blade Entertainment.  He’s running a contest next week for a chance to win a limited edition copy of Rage of the Behemoth.  I reviewed the book here, if you’re wondering what it’s about.  All you have to do is comment on one of the posts at Home of Heroics next week.  There will be one Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  I’ve written the one for Monday, so I obviously can’t reply to that one, but you can.  Details of the contest are here