Movie Review: Hereditary

I haven’t done a movie review in a while. I guess I’ve just been kind of busy, but not so busy that I’ve stopped going to the movies every week or two! We did manage to catch the new Avengers and Deadpool. Solo. Ocean’s 8. Black Panther. Etc. I didn’t really feel the need to post anything about those movies. Well, my wife and I saw a completely different movie this weekend, and I figured it might be time to break out the old movie review post again.

You probably haven’t heard much about Hereditary. It kind of flew under my radar, likely because I tend to laugh through horror films and it drives my wife nuts. She wanted to see this one really badly though. She wanted to be scared, and on that, Hereditary delivered. So, what is the film and why might you want to see it?

In many ways, Hereditary is very derivative. There’s nothing you will see here that you haven’t seen before in terms of content, but the way it is presented to you is pretty unique. It’s a slow-building horror that really walks you through the strangeness of the family and how something insidious springs out of it. There are multiple genuine surprises here that I did not see coming (and that make sense), so that always elevates my score.

The movie teases you with ominous normalcy, and then something that pulls at a more primal part of you. If you’re really getting into the movie, it totally works. Do not come to this movie expecting gore throughout, constant high-pitched noises and other pervasive cheap tricks. This is a pretty well-crafted movie–though I sort of wish the ending had been a bit different. I think a different ending that had been moving toward more uniqueness, rather than commonality with other films in the genre, would have helped set this apart. I had a similar feeling at the end of A Quiet Place. I still liked both films very much, but man, they each went from unique and novel films to a standard ending really quickly.

Anyway, because my wife was so amped up by Hereditary, I ended up having a lot of fun during and after the movie. I began making extra clicking noises with my tongue during the film in tense moments, just to mess with her and other people around me. I continued to do this in the car, at a restaurant, etc. I mean, why stop there? I would say definitely watch this one with a friend or loved one because these kinds of films are much better in a shared social experience with someone you can talk with about it.

If I have to rate the film, it’s probably a 4/5. It’s definitely the kind of horror movie I can appreciate. I would rank A Quiet Place similarly if you haven’t seen that one yet, btw. They’re both definitely worth watching, and they both really only lose that point in the last 30 minutes or so of each film. These movies aren’t really made for me though, and I think classic horror fans would probably give both of these 5/5. They’re well made movies!

On an unrelated note, expect a cover reveal for The Dragon Prince soon 😉

The Dark Paladin is here!

The Dark Paladrin - eBook smallThe Dark Paladin is coming for the wicked and the damned!

In less than 12 hours, The Dark Paladin will become available worldwide.  Get ready for a book that is going to absolutely blow your socks off! I can’t wait until you guys get a chance to see the tenacity of the wood elves and the brute strength of the orcs under Chief Bloodhand. This book is probably going to make you tear up a bit–I know it does with me every time I have done a read through. It will also hopefully be a bit inspiring and exciting!


Ebook vendors: Amazon | B&N | Apple | Kobo , Paperback: Amazon

Want a shot at a paperback? There are two left in a giveaway I did for my newsletter subscribers.

Enter for your chance to win one of two The Dark Paladin paperbacks!

adam_gold_actorThe People’s Necromancer Audiobook Preview

The audiobook for The People’s Necromancer is in the works. Adam has provided me with the first 2 chapters and prologue of the final product. I think he does a great job, and it’s a lot of fun to listen to. Hopefully, you guys enjoy this preview. We expect the full audiobook to be ready by the end of June, and we’ll start recording The Dark Paladin soon after.

Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2

The Dragon Prince is coming!

My hope is to have The Dragon Prince out late this year. I’m still drafting, but cover art is being commissioned. I’ll let you know when I have something for you to look at!


I hope you all enjoy The Dark Paladin!

Reviews and New Books

The People's Necromancer - Ebook SmallSales Update

After nearly two weeks of release, The People’s Necromancer has racked up nearly 2800 unit sales across Amazon, B&N, Apple and Kobo. There have also been over 5 paperback sales. It has been a very successful run so far, in terms of volume. It also has a 4.25 average score on Goodreads right now out of 20 ratings (which is amazing!) However, what’s really unfortunate is that The People’s Necromancer has only received 6 reviews so far on Amazon, with only a 3.7 rating. Usually, my Goodreads ratings are LOWER than my Amazon ratings because of the grading scale that Goodreads recommends (5 is amazing, and 4 is really liked it, while 3 is liked it and 2 is it was ok).

One of the reasons for the 99 cent pricing was so that I could use the various newsletter and author service programs (e.g., ENT, RobinReads, KND, etc.) that only send out discounted books to their lists. These have undoubtedly helped with the release week. However, I’ve also been rejected by a few of these providers because even after a week, the book only had 3 reviews on Amazon (at the time, over 4 stars). What this ultimately means is that without reviews on Amazon, authors like myself cannot use the services that are out there to help us promote books so more readers can be aware of new releases and new authors to try.

So, what am I trying to say here? If you liked or loved the book, please be sure to leave a review on Amazon. Readers are often very cautious about trying new authors, and your opinion may help them decide to try an author like me out. Readers very much rely on this kind of feedback system, so please leave reviews! It’s extremely appreciated by everyone (not just me).

adam_gold_actorAudio Book

The Audio Book for The People’s Necromancer is under production with actor Adam Gold voicing the series. There were over 50 auditions for The People’s Necromancer on ACX, and there were so many fantastic auditions that it was hard for my author friends and beta readers to choose. However, we narrowed it down and readers decided.  You can listen to the winning narration by Adam Gold here.

New Releases Coming Up

The Dark Paladin is less than two weeks away (June 4th)! The book is just amazing, and it has so many emotional and action-focused arcs. If you love female heroines, there are two that are introduced in this book that you are going to absolutely die for. Captain Liritmear of the Wood Elves undoubtedly steals the show. Allison Arrington is the fierce paladin wife of Cedric Arrington. There’s also a tease of the powerful sorceress Princess Cassandra before she comes into her powers, so you won’t quite get to see her kicking ass just yet. Cedric and Prince Jayden make their presence known, and Ashton and the demon lord Orcus are set on a collision course of undead, demons and dragons!

The Dark Paladrin - eBook smallIf you are interested in being an ARC reader, email me at or reply to this thread. ARC readers are people who receive “Advance Reader Copies”. The hope is that you can read through the book before the release, provide feedback and/or leave a review on Goodreads, Amazon, or any other vendors when the book goes live. Please let me know if you can be responsive in emails and are willing to read through the books quickly, before release.

The Third Book The Dragon Prince

In The Dark Paladin, you also get a glimpse of The Dragon Prince Jandhar Rasalased. Jandhar is the son of the late King Jofka of the Visanth Empire, and this young man is on a quest for vengeance that transcends such pesky things as demonic armageddons! I’m in the process of drafting, and I expect this third book to be out in October or November of this year. Stay tuned for cover art and release information!

New Releases (May and June)

The People's Necromancer - Ebook SmallThe People’s Necromancer will be released on May 7, 2018. The second book The Dark Paladin will be released on June 4, 2018. For a very limited time, each of these books will be 99 cents. Due to advertisements slated in June, the People’s Necromancer is going to be 99 cents for a few weeks into June. However, I’m not going to make any guarantees about how much longer than that the price will hold.

For those who managed to pick up a copy of The People’s Necromancer, this will be a slightly different version with an additional prologue and tighter story and flow (as well as fixes to typos and the addition of an inline map). I’m incredibly excited to share these stories with you, and I hope you’re excited to read about Nirendia and Ashton Jeraldson’s journey across Surdel. You’re going to meet the dark elves as their civilization is dying beneath the mountains. You’re going to ride with the paladins as they smite their way back into the good graces of the people. You’ll watch the murdered commoners come back from the dead for vengeance. Elves, orcs, humans, undead, demons, and even dragons make appearances! Get ready for a tale that throws you into the battles, love affairs, politics, highs, lows, and chaos of The Age of Magic!

The Dark Paladrin - eBook small

You can find fantasy maps of the kingdoms on the Maps page. You can find descriptions of the books on the Novels page.


Movie Review: The Shape of Water

Guillermo Del Toro has had a string of questionable movies, but I believe I’ve watched them all since Pan’s Labyrinth (which is a fantastic movie, btw, definitely check that out). My wife was really, really interested in seeing this movie, and so, without looking into it at all, we went to our first theater movie of 2018 to see “The Shape of Water.”

I really, really recommend just going to see it without seeing any spoilers. It’s not that the story is especially surprising. It’s mostly predictable once it sets up the characters and the plot moves on at a perfect pace. Humor is here. Love is here. Danger and violence is here. Nudity and sex is here–including some really bold ways to being a movie, I might add. And bold is probably a word I should use liberally in this review.

This is, quite simply, the best movie Del Toro has done since Pan’s Labyrinth. Is it better? I wouldn’t say that. I would say that he’s more accomplished now, and I think he is simply back in form as a dynamic, interesting storyteller of the fantastic. As a somewhat creative person myself, I was so happy to see this movie. The pacing allows you to think about what is going on, and the character and powers and everything else are revealed very intuitively and convincingly. You feel the frailty of the character. You feel the desperate situation that this creature, and really the entire cast of characters, is in.

The atmosphere is interesting and both a throwback and something new. The actors are perfectly cast, and really just a joy to watch–including a pretty convincing and yet sympathetic antagonist. The story ending will leave you satisfied.

My wife and I loved the movie. I would say this is as good a movie experience as I could have expected. Jenny and I both really enjoyed it. I’ll say 5/5 stars. It is a genuine triumph for Del Toro. I hope he gets to make more like this.

Wrath and Ruin is a USA Today Bestseller!


My fourth novel, The People’s Necromancer, has been released exclusively in the Wrath and Ruin box set, and our promotions and social media outreach has been highly successful. During a two-and-a-half-month preorder, we sold 7780 units on Amazon, 667 on B&N, and 372 on iBooks. That was enough to make it on the USA Today Best Seller list on its own. However, we did really well during our release week as well thanks to some focused BookBub ads, other ads with pretty much every major indie author push site (KND, ENT, Book Rebel, OTOH, etc.), and a lot of social media engagement and FB ads. Our total numbers ending on January 8th were 10,228 Amazon, 576 iBooks, and 1026 Nook.

I believe the publisher is keeping the box set at 99 cents until Tuesday, January 16th. Afterwards, I believe it is rising to 4.99 (which is still an absolutely amazing deal for 24 edited, quality novels). So, definitely pick up a copy.

Other News

The-People's-Necromancer - 05The Dark Paladin (the 2nd book in the Age of Magic) is through initial drafting, and I’m starting my editing passes. My current plan is to release it in May. I am currently deciding whether I will release it wide for a short period (possibly 1-2 weeks) before putting it in KU. The People’s Necromancer is probably going to be released as a stand alone after the limited release of the Wrath and Ruin box set is over in April.

I will be commissioning artwork for the Dark Paladin soon, and I’ll be sure to post that cover as soon as I can.


The Age of Magic is Released!

The-People's-Necromancer - 05Title: The People’s Necromancer
Purchase: Exclusive in Wrath and Ruin Box Set (ebook: Amazon | Apple | Nook/B&N | Kobo)
Series: The Age of Magic (1)
Genre: High Fantasy
Release: January 2nd, 2018 (Release Week @ 0.99, after which is at the mercy of the publisher). Edit: The box set is coming down April 19th. The book will be re-released on May 7th
Word count: 60,000
Status: Preorder
Maps: Surdel (Black & White | Color)

Amidst the darkest days of antiquity, mankind discovers a new kind of hero.

For thousands of years, mankind warred without magic. Peculiar abilities were buried in history along with the storied paladins and the mysterious dark elves who rarely ventured into human towns.

That all changes at the end of the Tranquility Era, when a young man named Ashton accidentally raises his murdered best friend Clayton from the grave. Because of his mistake, Ashton becomes the focus of manhunts, armies, and the King’s judgement, but Ashton is not the biggest problem in the Kingdom of Surdel.

The golden age of man is coming to a close and enemies surround the civilized world. Lulled into a false sense of security by isolation and pervasive peace, human lords hatch petty schemes to weaken their rivals and gain favor with the throne. Meanwhile, an ancient darkness stirs beneath the Great Northern Mountains and the orcish hordes grow restless just beyond the Southern Peaks. Out of the chaos at the end of the Tranquility Era, a new breed of hero arrives to forge an age of sorcery and mayhem. And into this chaos comes the Necromancer!

The second book in the Age of Magic series, The Dark Paladin, is almost through first drafting. The expected release date is late April or early May 2018. Here’s the story summary for The Dark Paladin:

Sometimes, you have to fight fire with fire. Or demons with demons.

The paladins have a storied history, but one tainted by a twisted sacrifice. To fight the demon lords intent on taking over their world, they had to make a deal with one.

Under this pact, paladin Cedric Arrington is forged into a weapon. Wearing his signature black armor to signal to all of Nirendia his dark allegiance, he is a man beset by shadow on a quest to send all demons back to the Abyss.

As a demon lord named Orcus emerges from the underworld, the foundations of the human kingdom of Surdel begin to fracture and weaken. Undead rise without the Necromancer. Demons pour out of Mount Godun at the heart of the tranquil realm, and no one but the paladins can smite the fiery creatures back to where they came from.

Cedric is joined by Prince Jayden of the dark elven Etyria Empire, who have fought their share of undead and evil creatures under their ancient, fallen cities for thousands of years. They search for hope. They search for a weapon capable of defeating a demon lord.

As King Aethis Eldenwald searches for answers to his demon and undead problem, old enemies from the south seek vengeance for recent wrongs. Meanwhile, in the capital Kingarth, the Necromancer Ashton Geraldson is held hostage by a father grieving the loss of his famous son. When Ashton’s pleas for release fall on deaf ears, he is given a tantalizing choice: stay prisoner while the world burns or make his own deal with the darkness.

Movie Review: The Last Jedi

the-last-jedi-theatrical-blogThis is probably the most conflicted I’ve ever been leaving a theater. Usually, my reviews are either overwhelmingly positive (4+ stars out of 5) or just irredeemable (1-2). It’s rare for me to really give anything a medium grade. However, for Star Wars The Last Jedi, I find myself feeling that way on the first viewing. Let’s talk about the positives first.

I loved the character development for most of the main characters. Kylo Ren totally redeems himself as a villain here. He’s complex. He has external factors that have really driven him over the edge, including Luke, which is amazing and fantastic. Rey is interesting and emotional (I mean, maybe a bit too teary-eyed at every opportunity), but a fun arc. The total letdown of her heritage is forgivable. It’s not even a big deal. Finn? Man, I thought he was going to die here, and it was such a beautiful scene that the ending of it left me feeling totally robbed. I’ll go more into that later. Still, all of these had great character arcs. Rose had a good arc, and her sister’s death was beautifully done.

After this point, SPOILERS ARE HERE.

Some of the fight scenes were well done. I’ll go into one that I have major issues with, but the Snoke ship fight will be well remembered. Though, I did feel it was contrived and missed a huge opportunity to show the power of the characters. Specifically, Kylo is much more powerful than he’s made out to be in this scene. He uses force choking and pushes on almost anyone outside of fights like this, just as you might expect with Vader. Force Lightning. Rogue One introduced a Vader who used some of these while hand-to-hand fighting. Man, Kylo could have showed himself to be a total badass here. There are so many things at his disposal, and he uses none of them, opting instead to grapple with people. But it’s done for tension and, for the most part, this is well done.

Might I remind you that Jedis and Sith are so attuned to the force that they can react to light-speed blasters and deflect them with lightsabers, but they have issues avoiding simple grapples. Let’s put that aside for a minute, and just instead admit there are opportunities missed here to show just how powerful Kylo and Rey both are instead of constantly at the mercy of whatever reactionary events are around them and wanting to hit everything with lightsabers. I think we’ll see an even more dynamic fight scene, hopefully with actual force magic, in the third movie of this trilogy.

OK, we’re already bleeding into my issues with the movie. Let me try to just summarize some more good things.

I loved the Leia scene. Some people have made a negative thing about this, but Leia was always known as force-sensitive, and I think it’s an interesting arc to present that the force itself may have protected her from space because it had especial affinity toward her. That was pretty cool. I thought the porgs were fun, even if some of the puppetry was low quality. I remember a scene where a porg flies in the Chewbacca encounter where I found myself kind of thinking “ew, that didn’t even seem remotely real”.

I liked the tension and teases about a potential shift in both Kylo and Rey. It would have been really fun to see a full shift with the characters, with either Rey going full dark or Kylo going full light. This could have been a crazy interesting love plot too, but that’s unlikely to happen now.

Now, let’s get into major and minor issues that reduce this movie to a 3/5 and caused me to feel constantly uncomfortable, especially in the last 40 minutes or so of the movie.

My major problem with this movie is Luke

The major issue for me here is Luke’s arc and how it doesn’t mesh with any of his actions from the first trilogy. Luke is a man who literally went into a room, knowing it was almost certain death, with the two most powerful Sith in existence (Vader and Sidious) to fight them. In this movie, he remotely projects himself, keeping himself out of harm’s way. Some reviews have tried to tout this as some huge deal that obviously showed his power. Meanwhile, in the same movie, Rey and Kylo are remotely viewing and touching each other with the force across the same distances but safely. Wait, that’s apparently wrong. Snoke claims to have been the one who made that connection possible. Holy crap, Snoke must have been amazingly powerful right? No one even knew that was possible. We’ll get to Snoke in a moment. Let’s talk about Luke first.

Luke knows Leia needs him, and he knows he created Kylo. Rey has told him that there is still good in Kylo, and he can be saved. Do you remember how hard Luke tried to get his father to redeem himself? And he succeeded. His father, who had literally killed hundreds of children in Jedi temples, redeemed himself. Kylo killed a handful of people at the Jedi temple, and he’s irredeemable to Luke. And again, Luke knows he created Kylo, but he hides from him and his responsibilities. This remote projection thing? There is no indication that Luke knows he is sacrificing himself. In fact, at the very end, as he’s crawling back on top of the pedestal, he seems to finally realize what he has done. “Oh… right… I guess I’m fading away. Can’t help the resistance any further. Good luck, sis and galaxy!”


I mean, it’s not like fans hadn’t been dreaming of Luke fighting off Kylo and his cadre of dark knights and sacrificing himself heroicly to save Rey or something…

This is a huge missed opportunity to create a cohesive narrative and fitting conclusion to Luke. OK, so maybe he’s lost, but Yoda helps him really find himself and stop his childish antics. The director/writer chooses to put Luke in a situation where he sort of redeems himself but out of physical harm. This felt incredibly out-of-character to me. I’m sure we’ll get Luke as a force ghost in the third movie in this trilogy, and maybe, just maybe, he’ll teach Rey some of the amazing things he has learned since. All of that was wasted here though and the movie feels hollow.

That being said, I’m hoping to watch this movie 3-4 more times at the theater because I really, really want to like it. If I can just completely forget everything I thought I knew about Luke, I think I can enjoy this movie the second or third time around. There are some other problems though, and these might nag me too much for me to really want to raise this above a 3/5 rating.

My secondary problems revolve around illogical decision making, rationalization, and strategy

I’m not going to go into the casino scene. Believe it or not, it wasn’t that much of a problem for me. Yeah, it was drawn out, and yeah, it was ultimately pointless, but so are most actions in a resistance. For that alone, I saw points to keeping it in, just to show how sometimes you try something and it fails in its objectives but brings characters like Finn and Rose closer together.

There were some things that bothered me about the casino scene that you might not have even noticed. The first was how it was declared that everyone at the casino was an arms dealer to either the First Order or both factions. If you found this logical, you probably haven’t thought this all the way through. Or maybe you’re just better than me at letting little things go.

The richest people in existence will always be landowners and commodity traders. Even during war. If you control basic necessities, especially during war, you are going to always be rich. The richest person in history was not a weapons manufacturer. It was John D. Rockefeller, who supplied oil products for people at ridiculous markups, which just so happened to also be a lucrative industry during war. People still pay rent, and the galaxy has a lot of people living everywhere, even in the Outer Rim. People need food. People need oxygen, water, energy, etc. People especially need fuel and power. Weapons manufacturers often have really high overheads, but yeah, they can make a lot of money during wartime because the demand is so high. However,  the movie kind of put an ultra-liberal ideology into play here that made me roll my eyes a bit, and I’m an independent, liberal-leaning guy myself. It just seemed contrived to negatively designate everyone at a casino with arms sellers since they were so rich. How the heck does that make sense?

Version 2Which leads me to another thing that bothered me: men are really dumb in this movie and natural male tendencies are punished throughout the film. Women are overpowered and hyper-rational and guys are really stupid. Luke is childish and cowardly. Poe is headstrong and testosterone driven in all the worst ways. Kylo is a bit childish and irrational, and easily led astray and distracted (e.g. with Luke). Even Finn, who is probably the most relate-able male in the film, is ultimately saved from doing something that a woman deems to be stupid (because she cared for him). Nevermind that what Finn was doing was courageous and noble and might have saved all of the resistance hierarchy, including maybe even Luke, by destroying the device capable of busting through the armored bunker. Apparently, Rose knew it would all work out and Finn was being silly for risking himself–despite the fact that Holdo had literally just done something similar in what was obviously hailed as a hero moment.

Women literally know everything in this film. Men contribute no knowledge or useful leadership. Rey is Kylo’s equal with no real force training (some street-based training on her home planet, but if you think a person with street skills is equal to someone with formal weapons training, try convincing an expert in martial arts of this). Leia is cautious and thinks of all the things, unlike Poe who leaps before he looks and almost ruins everything, all the time.

Holdo has everything under control and knows way more than Poe. But it apparently took her her entire lifetime in command to figure out that a single flagship pushed to light speed at just the right moment would take out an entire fleet of star destroyers and Snoke’s mega flagship. OK. Why didn’t you just do that as soon as their fleet showed up, sacrificing yourself, and saving tens of thousands of people, including Akbar and everyone else? Heck, why not just put it on autopilot? Even our pathetic human civilization (in comparison to the advanced tech of Star Wars) has autopilots. If you were ready to sacrifice yourself for your people and you knew this would work, then why not do this right away to save your people? Why was there this super smart plot to run away for hours and lose every ship in the resistance fleet if you could just nuke the bastards and save a medical frigate and other ships? Why did dumb old General Hux not light speed just a bit ahead of the resistance, wait for them, and blow them out of the sky at any point in this slow chase scene?

Why? Because boys in this movie are dumb. We’re apparently overconfident idiots, all the time. I felt a bit insulted by this movie, especially after the first couple of times the theme kept coming up. Women and men think in complementary ways. We should all be working together. What exactly is going on here?

Other than Finn, I don’t think I like or empathize with any male character. I empathized and liked almost every female character. To me, this is poor writing. I’m not even going to chalk this up to an overtly liberal agenda, as I’ve seen others doing. I just didn’t think the male characters were portrayed well, except for Kylo Ren, who finally started to become a good villain.

To be honest, by itself, none of this was a problem for me. At least there were good, developed women characters. Combined with other minor problems, it all just started eating away at my enjoyment of the movie. It’s highly possible that I became overcritical of certain things because major satisfaction points were not earned at key points in the movie. I felt like so many major opportunities were missed that little details began to accumulate.

Minor problem: backstory and minor arcs

Both Rey’s and Snoke’s backstories are laughably bad. You might argue that you didn’t know much about Palpatine, and the treatments of Snoke and Palpatine were similar, but were they? Palpatine and Amidala were both from Naboo. Vader was from Tatooine.  Darth Maul was apparently from Dathomir. We learned this in the prequels. Palpatine has a pretty well developed arc, especially in that you know what he’s been up to. Meanwhile, Snoke seems more powerful than Darth Sidious (Palpatine) ever was, even creating tunnels between a Light and Dark avatars (Rey and Kylo) through space. He must have been alive while Vader and Palpatine were in existence. He must have been powerful and brooding and waiting. Doesn’t that sound interesting? We could have learned this with a short montage. Something. Anything. Nothing. Huge missed opportunity here.

Rey came from nothing. OK. That’s cool. Not a problem, but what about the first contact of Rey with the Dark Side? Let me note something that bothered me right away here. The Dark Side is alluring throughout the entire Star Wars series. If you need something, especially something emotional, man is it ever there for you. Remember when Anakin was having bad dreams about Padme dying? The Dark Side had an answer. Be like Plageis. Find a way to prevent your loved ones from dying. Vader tried luring Luke with a family connection and the promise to rule together as father and son. Did you notice what Rey wanted? What she asked the Dark Side on the island?

Who are my parents?

So what if they were nobodies? She wouldn’t have cared. It’s obvious that she wouldn’t have cared. The Dark Side could have traded for major brownie points here by trying to lure her over with any answer. Show a common junk trader and his smiling wife. Show a lie. That would have been even more appropriate. What did the Dark Side show her? Herself? Are you kidding me? The Dark Side is lame. It’s not even trying to win her over. What the hell? Like Luke, this felt really out of character for a side that has been characterized as powerful and alluring throughout the series. Here, it’s just lame. I wouldn’t want to join you either.

At least the director sort of made up for it after Snoke died by having Kylo appeal to Rey to join him. And there was an emotional connection that might have worked. For that reason alone, I was with the movie and forgave this problem with both the Dark Side’s original lack of overtures and Snoke’s lack of interest (which mirrored Palpatine’s initial disinterest in Luke). This did not really diminish the movie for me. I just thought it was a wasted opportunity to show the lure of the Dark Side and to, I don’t know, provide some consistent character portrayal in at least how the Dark Side interacts with people. The Dark Side plays with emotions. That’s literally what it does throughout the series. Oh well, first impression. Maybe The Dark Side was just really nervous. Poor Dark Side.

BTW, what happened to the Knights of Ren from the Force Awakens? If they really are students of Luke Skywalker turned to the Dark Side by the story of Luke’s betrayal of Kylo, then I’m hoping we see them in the next movie. I hope they don’t just drop out of existence.

Wrap Up

The movie had some fun fight scenes. The CGI and visuals were great. The emotional ties to most of the characters were great. The storyline was, for the most part, good. Kylo’s story here is significantly improved and he’s a villain you can really root for and against (perfect for villains). I’m looking forward to the third movie, despite the problems mentioned here.

On the con side, Luke’s character arc doesn’t really make sense, and he is very uncharacteristically cowardly here. Deus Ex Machina devices are introduced without foreshadowing. Leia’s scene has foreshadowing from other movies that she might be capable of extraordinary force usage, so that’s fine and I’m definitely giving her force scene here a pass. If anything, she should have used force gifts again. Oh well, no chance of that now (RIP Leia). Holdo’s novel usage of light-speed to destroy a fleet is so weird that foreshadowing would have been appreciated (such as a small scale example of this happening in the opening battle, for instance). I would expect both sides to start weaponizing this kind of tactic at scale, but I have a feeling this will never be used again, which makes this even sillier. Luke’s projection thing? Man, would have been great to see him do this at a shorter distance in front of Rey or something and show what he’s capable of so we’d all be prepared for it. I’m not a fan of Deus Ex Machina devices at all, especially in the 9th or so movie in a series without any warning.

Plot devices used here are sometimes ludicrous, especially the light speed martyrdom and when it is finally used–instead of at a time that would have saved most of the Resistance. The male characters in this movie are stupid (in that they are literally dumb and make all of the wrong decisions) on both sides of the battlefield. The only smart people seem to be women or men who know their role (e.g., Chewie just doing his job). Meanwhile, the “smart” decisions made by the resistance hierarchy seem more reliant on luck than some kind of super smart vision or strategy. Ultimately, many small problems made me like the movie less than I should have.

Still, 3 out of 5 is not a horrible score. It’s just that, for a Star Wars film, it’s not a good score either. After The Force Awakens and Rogue One, I was expecting a truly remarkable film. The trailer had me going nuts. The thought of Luke fighting again and even dying heroically was so much fun to think about, and I feel major opportunities were missed here that could have driven fans absolutely wild and made us all super excited about the next movie.

I do plan on going to the theater at least a couple more times to see this. I feel like I’m missing something or maybe my expectations were just too high about Luke and Kylo’s battles. I expected Luke to die. That’s not even close to my problem. The way he lived and died in the last thirty minutes, especially, just seemed really out-of-character for me.

Like me on my second viewing, I would recommend completely forgetting who Luke is and what has driven him in the past. Pretend like this is the first time you’ve ever seen him and maybe you’ll be ok. That’s what I’m going to try. I’ll add a comment to this post after my second view.

The People’s Necromancer Release

PeoplesNecromancer_WrathNRuin_BlueFantasyThe People’s Necromancer is finished and set for release on all vendors as part of the Wrath and Ruin box set. 24 exclusive sci-fi and fantasy novels from award-winning and USA Today Bestselling authors for just 0.99 during preorder. This is a limited edition set that is only going to be available for sale for 3 months (down by April). We are trying to get this out to as many people as we can. Our goal is to hit New York Times Bestselling status, which requires tens of thousands of sales (we’re actually inching our way toward 10,000 total sales during preorder alone). We’re quite a bit short on the Apple and B&N sales though, so if you have $0.99 and you want to help us reach our goal of possibly hitting NYT Bestseller status, we would REALLY appreciate your help! Please, oh please!

Anyway, here’s the final info on The People’s Necromancer, my new high fantasy novel which is being released exclusively with this brand new set.  4 cents per novel during the preorder period. Amazon bestsellers, USA Today bestsellers, and award-winning fantasy and sci-fi! It’s an absolute steal. Help us out!

Here’s the info on my novel as well as purchase links to Amazon, Apple, and Nook/B&N!

The-People's-Necromancer - 05Title: The People’s Necromancer
Purchase Preorder in Wrath and Ruin Box Set (ebook: Amazon | Apple | Nook/B&N | Kobo)
Series: The Age of Magic (1)
Genre: High Fantasy
Release: January 2nd, 2018 (Preorder @ 0.99)
Word count: 60,000
Status: Preorder
Maps: Surdel (Black & White | Color)

Amidst the darkest days of antiquity, mankind discovers a new kind of hero.

For thousands of years, mankind warred without magic. Peculiar abilities were buried in history along with the storied paladins and the mysterious dark elves who rarely ventured into human towns.

That all changes at the end of the Tranquility Era, when a young man named Ashton accidentally raises his murdered best friend Clayton from the grave. Because of his mistake, Ashton becomes the focus of manhunts, armies, and the King’s judgement, but Ashton is not the biggest problem in the Kingdom of Surdel.

The golden age of man is coming to a close and enemies surround the civilized world. Lulled into a false sense of security by isolation and pervasive peace, human lords hatch petty schemes to weaken their rivals and gain favor with the throne. Meanwhile, an ancient darkness stirs beneath the Great Northern Mountains and the orcish hordes grow restless just beyond the Southern Peaks. Out of the chaos at the end of the Tranquility Era, a new breed of hero arrives to forge an age of sorcery and mayhem. And into this chaos comes the Necromancer!

Review: Godless and Longmire on Netflix

So, I’ve been busy with drafting the second novel in the Age of Magic series, but not so busy that I haven’t immersed myself in several Netflix series this month. I dove into several binges, but I’m going to focus this review on the Westerns. I fell in love with Westerns with Sergio Leone’s body of work, and I’ve branched into many Westerns since then. If Westerns are a guilty pleasure of yours, then we’re cut from a similar cloth, and I may have some series recommendations for you to look out for.

The first Western I finished up recently was the final season of Longmire. That series was satisfying and ended on a pretty good note. It was a bit predictable, but not in a bad way. I knew what to expect with Longmire, so I won’t say much more about it. If you liked the first five seasons, you’ll appreciate this Western/Detective hybrid’s conclusion.

GodlessBut Longmire’s not really what we should be talking about. We should be talking about Godless.

Let’s go ahead and start with what I feel is the obvious. Scott Frank, the creator of Godless. Damn you, you amazing bastard! What a well crafted story! I’m jealous I didn’t write it, and probably never could have. I mean, I was totally hooked. Whitey and Louise. Roy Goode. The Mine. The spirits of Indians in the Old West. The natural love stories amongst the women of La Belle. The savagery. The realistic shootouts. The fate of the brave. The complicated villain. The brother who waits on the Pacific.

If you are a fan of Sergio Leone, you will love this series. If you love Westerns, you will love this series. If you hate Westerns, you’ll probably still love this series. The cinematography is superb. The soundtrack fits perfectly. The pacing in regards to emotion and dread and fear and bravery is just amazing. I can’t recommend this series highly enough.

Jeff Daniels is fantastic. I’m trying to imagine anyone else in this role. This is the type of villain I aspire to write. Complex. Damaged. Heroic, terrible, and doomed. Vulnerable physically and emotionally. Well done.


The backstories in Godless were so expertly done. There was just enough to jog your mind, and not so much that you forget the present.  The pacing and storytelling here is just phenomenal. Like I said, damn you, you magnificent bastard! Well done, storyteller. Well done.

Godless: Five stars. Familiar yet unique. Sweeping and deep. Powerful female characters and solid storytelling.

Longmire: Four stars. If you’ve enjoyed the first five seasons, then you’re going to enjoy the last season. Everything wraps up in a satisfying way. Jacob Nighthorse was probably my favorite character in the series. Not too good. Not too bad. Malachi was a bit too over-the-top. Henry and Walt are a unique combination of buddy cops that are both quiet and stoic. Kind of interesting that the combination still actually works after all those seasons. I’m not sure what to say about the Vic arc. I mean, sure, it was obvious. I’m still trying to figure out if I liked the arc or not. The series may just be too Vanilla for me to give it five stars.


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