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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

By Mashiara Sedai, in Fantasy Reviews,

For this edition of “Fantasy Review,” the book covered will be Calamity, the third and final installment of The Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson.   There will be slight spoilers below.  Read at your own risk!   Calamity By Brandon Sanderson     Synopsis After the events in Babilar, David and crew are out on a new mission: remove the darkness from Prof—AKA Limelight—and free him from the evil of his powers.  To do this, the group needs new allies and new plans.  After getting what they need from an unlikely source, they set off for Atlanta (Ildithia, the city of salt).    However, there are a few things left to worry about.  First, David still hasn’t come to terms with the fact that he might be an Epic himself.  And there’s still the little problem of finding out Prof’s weakness before they can face him in combat.  Not to mention that the David still have plans of killing Calamity, the Epic of Epics.    Pros I will not deny that I’m a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson.  His writing is phenomenal, thought provoking and humorous, dark and optimistic, and this novel is no exception.  He’s a master with action, moving the plot forward constantly.  At the same time, the depths of character development and motivation is clearly explored and satisfying.    David’s character is wonderful.  He’s funny, dedicated, hardworking, and a true leader.  As the new leader of the Reckoners, he grows.  He suddenly sees how difficult it is to be the one in charge, waiting for the right moment to strike instead of rushing in prematurely.  His underlying powers—used more by accident—are interesting in the way they don’t shape him.  All the Epics we’ve seen have been driven by their abilities and it’s nice to see the flipside of that in David.   I also loved the dynamic of the relationship between David and Megan.  It’s a partnership, each one risking their lives repeatedly as they continue their mission, and letting the other risk their life.  It’s so common in fiction to see a partner become overly protective, and while David and Megan do fear for each other’s lives, they understand that it’s necessary.  There’s no coddling or making the other sit out; they respect each other enough to know that is not an option.    Cons While the pace of the book was well done—the action keeping the story constantly moving—there was a feel of being rushed with the ending.  David sets up his plan early on to 1) Rescue Prof 2) Destroy Calamity 3) Save the world.  So when the book’s three-quarters done and step one hadn’t been completed yet, there’s a bit of a sense of rushing.  And while the ending was very well done, greatly satisfying, and absolutely logical, it was difficult to not feel impatient for the conclusion.    Conclusion This book was fantastic, a truly wonderful read.  David’s observations were often comical and I laughed a lot throughout the story.  It’s a great combination to have war and death mixed with light-hearted humor.  Of course, that’s always something Sanderson has excelled at, in my opinion.    Though the trilogy is complete, I feel there is a lot of room for exploration in this world (and parallel worlds).  I really hope that, if Sanderson has time, some of these avenues will be revisited in the future. Rating 5/5

By Ryrin, in DM Website news,

Welcome to another Forum Roundup.  I look forward to bringing you some of the monthly goings on here at Drangonmount.   I'd like to start with the "Wheel of Time Discussion." Think you have heard it all? Readers continue to discover the series and present new theories and questions such as "What happened to those who were 'turned' and other issues not addressed in the Companion" and "How can I get people to read it?"     Now onto the Tinker's Guild. The Writer's Wagon notes that our very own Mashiara Sedai has finished her 6th novel and in the Arts and Crafts Wagon, Nynaeve continues to bring us her wonderful and creative bead animals.   The Aiel presents with some interesting topics such as “Relationships that have changed you” and a discussion on the merits (or not) of “Higher Education.”   The Band of the Red Hand offers a fun place to relax and have a beer with “The Beers of the Red Hand.”  In addition, the Band has a very active Skype Group.   In February, the Black Tower hosted a Valentine’s event and “Book Challenges and Reading Advices.”  Most importantly, the Shadow wished two newlyweds well.   The Ogier Social Group offers many games!  Hangman, Winter Unpleasantness as the Stedding protects us-from A-Z, The Name Game: Plant Edition, Movie Quote Game, Change a Letter, and Choose your own Adventure: Journey under the Sea, just to name a few.   Shayol Ghul has started a “Mating Dance” and announced a “New Moridin.”  They also offer a new story “Grayman’s Task” and “The Executioner.”   The Brown Ajah of the White Tower and Warders held a “Chocolate Fest!”  Check out "Chocolate Videos" and "Chocolate recipes."   The Wolfkin are “Freezing their Tails Off” and engaging in “Chili Dunking.”  Their discussion this month is “Magical things in Life” and the game is “State the Obvious.”   As you can see, Dragonmount offers something for everyone.  This is only a short selection of the "goings on" and if you don't see something that interests you, suggest a new event, activity, or game!   See you next month at Forum Roundup.

By Mashiara Sedai, in Community & Events,

Introducing a new design from artist Paul Bielaczyc!     Ta’veren Tees is proud to have worked once more with officially licensed WoT artist Paul Bielaczyc on a new shirt, “Duty and Death,” now available for preorder at www.TaverenTees.com/dutyanddeath.     The 100% cotton tee can be preordered for a special price of $23 (regular $26) and will ship by March 7. All items ordered at the same time will be held and shipped with the new tee. The art on the shirt shows a distant mountain – perhaps it is Shayol Ghul – with a heron marked blade in the foreground and a crane in flight, all framed by feathers. The concept alludes, of course, to the quote “Duty is heavier than a mountain, death lighter than a feather.” Though Rand takes up this mantra in the series, it is said to him by Lan Mandragoran and the sentiment fits both men’s stories, two journeys of burden and sacrifice.     Fact: In the real world, this phrase is very near one that is part of the first precept of the Imperial Rescript to Japanese Soldiers and Sailors.   To preorder your shirt, head over to www.TaverenTees.com/dutyanddeath now!

By Mashiara Sedai, in Rotating Features,

Welcome to an exciting new addition to our Front Page Blogger lineup: Fandom Flair! In this blog, I want to demonstrate and feature different ways to incorporate fandom love into your life. For me, displaying my many fandoms makes me happy. From a subtle necklace to an all-out cosplay uniform, there are so many ways to show off what you are passionate about! I do want to stress that everything I make is for my own, personal enjoyment. This is not something I make for others, or sell for profit. If you'd like to buy licensed Wheel of Time merchandise, please check out Ta'veren Tees. Naturally, for this first edition, I want to feature one of my many Wheel of Time crafts.  It was hard to pick just one!  I decided on showing off my Aes Sedai dress tutorial.  Besides my shawl, it’s the item I get the most use out of. Step 1: Pick a pattern This is actually pretty tricky.  There are so many different styles of dresses that fit into the Randland theme/descriptions.  Typically, we think of anything “Renaissance-y” as being fantasy, so you’re safe if you go in that direction.  I went that route, choosing Simplicity Pattern 1773, Option C.   You can also be a bit more adventurous.  For example, you can be a Tinker Aes Sedai and go with something like this: Or a Cairhienen sister with something like this:   Even a Domani: The options are endless.  You can combine any nationality, with any color, with any pattern, and have it be an Aes Sedai dress. Step 2: Acquire materials Patterns can be difficult because they usually require a lot of fabric.  For my pattern, I needed 6 yards.  This can get pricey if you’re going with fancy fabrics.  For that reason, I went to the cheaper side and selected crushed velvet, which is much cheaper--and less hot--than regular velvet. Other materials needed will vary, but most likely include: Sewing machine Lining fabric Thread Scissors Pins For a price total, this can range from $20 for fabric and materials to $100+.  It all depends on where you want to take it. (And here’s a tip from people I trust--if you’re looking for multiple fabrics that match or compliment, try an inexpensive bed-in-a-bag which would have sheets, shams, bed skirts, and a comforter.  When on clearance, you can’t beat that price!) Step 3: Cut out pattern and fabric This is my least favorite step because it’s time consuming and boring.  But since it’s the first task, it’s nice to get it out of the way and move onto more interesting endeavors. Cut out your pattern for the size you need.  I always suggest to cut bigger because you can take it in.  It’s much more difficult to increase the size afterward. Next, lay your pattern on your fabric. It may take some adjusting and playing around to get all your pieces to fit.  The pattern should include a diagram on how to do this, but it’s not always the best solution.  For me, I had my crushed velvet in two pieces since I bought them on different occasions, so the suggested layout didn’t work. Once you find what works for you, pin the pattern onto the fabric and cut them out.  I always leave my patterns attached until I sew them so I don’t accidentally mix any up!     Step 4: Sew! This is the fun part, in my opinion, because it’s when the dress starts to take shape.  At the same time, it can be the most frustrating because you need to decipher the sometimes-difficult sewing terminology in the directions.  Take breaks when you need them.  Breathe deeply.  You’ll get through it, and it will be worth it! If you run into a snag with this step, there’s several outlets in which to find help.  One being Dragonmount’s very own Tinker Social Group!  There’s always someone to offer assistance to any craft project in the Arts and Crafts Wagon!  You can also try other crafter’s forums like Craftster. Step 5: Add embellishments Besides choosing your style and fabric, you can also choose different ways to spruce up your dress.  My pattern did call for ribbon along the neckline, but I decided to take it one step further and add lace. When I was done with the neckline, the dress still looked a bit plain, so I mimicked the ribbon and lace motif with vertical lines running along the front of the dress along the seams.  This gave it a nice pop of color and a little more frills! Step 6: Enjoy Now, just be seen in your Aes Sedai dress.  Bask in the praise of those around you.  Keep your chin raised and make sure to sniff at appropriate times.  Before long, you’ll be projecting that Aes Sedai spirit!   Have you made an Aes Sedai (or some other fandom) dress?  If so, please share your pictures, the patterns you used, your frustrations and joys!  Next time, I’ll show you how to (poorly) make your own mistcloak!

By Panchi, in Fantasy Reviews,

Welcome to a new edition of Fantasy Review! This time the book being reviewed is The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski. The Last Wish is one of the two short story collections preceding the main Witcher Saga. This review may contain spoilers.  The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski    Synopsis The book contains seven main short stories. The stories are independent yet connected.    The story The Voice of Reason connects all other stories. Other stories are flashbacks that occur during the course of the main story.  The Voice of Reason takes place in the temple of the goddess Melitele. Geralt, a witcher, is recovering in the temple after suffering some serious wounds trying to reverse a spell on a striga. Here he meets some characters that play an important role in some other stories. The local lords are not happy that he is staying there and try to make things difficult for him.  The Witcher is the story of the striga that caused the wounds from which Geralt is recovering from in The Voice of Reason.  A Grain of Truth tells the story of a monster like figure that Geralt meets during his journeys. The monster lives in a mansion in the middle of a forest. He has a rose garden and if anyone steals a rose, they have to give their daughter to him for a year.   The Lesser Evil is the story where a wizard asks Geralt to kill a girl because she might be a monster. The queen had tried to kill her on various occasions with the help of the wizard. She had ordered a huntsman to take her to forest and kill her. She escaped and lived with some dwarves for some time. When she meets Geralt, she asks him to help her kill that wizard.    In A Matter of Price, Geralt is asked to help a queen but told to figure out the details of the mission by himself. It introduces the Child Surprise, someone who has an important role in later books.  The Edge of the World is the story where Geralt and his friend, Dandelion, travel to the edge of the world. A "deovel" is destroying the fields and some villagers want Geralt to get rid of the "deovel" but the wise woman forbids him to kill it.  The Last Wish, the story after which the collection is named, introduces the sorceress Yennefer, someone who has been mentioned various times in the book. Geralt and Dandelion had found a genie and Dandelion tried to make the genie grant him three wishes. He does not get to utter the third wish because he is injured in the confrontation with the genie. Yennefer agrees to cure him so that she could use the genie for her own purposes.    Pros Some of the stories are alternate versions of some popular fairy tales. It is easier to sink into the story once you find something familiar.    Geralt has a simple yet complicated character. He claims to be a mutant designed to kill monsters but his idea of monsters is different from everyone else's at times. Just when he starts emerging as a righteous character, an incident happens that makes him look evil and saves the story from becoming too dull.    Some of the stories are beautiful. A Grain of Truth has some lines that make you think twice. The ending of the story is bittersweet and managed to make way into my memory.    Cons The book was originally written in Polish and the English version is a translated version. There are bound to be some things that it misses because of this interpretation.    Sometimes the characters are infuriating and the motive for their actions are contrary to what I had perceived the character to be.  Conclusion All in all, it was an enjoyable read. It takes time to get used to the format of the story but after that it's fun to read.    Rating I would give it a rating of 4.5/5

By Mashiara Sedai, in Community & Events,

Are you interested in an officially licensed The Wheel of Time™ coloring book? If so, please read on and respond in the poll over at Amy Romanczuk's blog.   The poll is in the right sidebar. Your response will help determine how many coloring books to print. The more commitments to pre-order the sooner they'll be printed.   Details that will hopefully help to answer your questions:   •"Patterns of the Wheel" is an officially licensed book of coloring art based on The Wheel of Time™ •The book contains 20 designs by Amy Romanczuk •Book dimensions are 8.5 x11 inches (21.2 x28 cm) •Each drawing will be stand alone on a page of high quality paper (i.e. no bleed through to a drawing on the backside, or for easy removal should you want to display your art.) •The drawings are all in my pysanky-inspired style. If you are not familiar with my art, you can visit www.czukart.com and check out some of my other works, including my first coloring book. (I will also post some thumbnails of in the comments.) •I anticipate the pre-order price will be $20 (USD) plus shipping (my website will calculate USPS postage.) •Preorders can alternatively be picked up at JordanCon, if that option is selected when ordering. •A few books may be available for sale at JordanCon in the print shop and in the charity auction. The price will be the regular (TBD) price, not the preorder one. •I am not able (my own reasons, not the Con's) to (wo)man a table in the dealer's hall, though I will have a display in the art show and some of the originals will be available there. •Books will remain available on my website, after the pre-order time period is over, until all are gone. There are no plans for a second printing at this time. •I can mail overseas (my site will calculate postage and include it in the purchase price.) •Currently working with Ta' veren Tees so that some will be available through their shop/convention tables at other conventions. •Poll results will be tallied in mid February and I will place the print order accordingly. •You will still need to preorder when that option opens up. I will post in this thread and separately when that occurs.   If you could indicate the likelihood of your pre-ordering Patterns of the Wheel, a coloring book based on the WoT, please indicate so in the poll. There also are options for ordering multiple copies. At this point, there is no differentiation as to how you plan to receive your pre-order, but there will be on the website when the ordering opens up. Though this poll appears in several locations online, please only vote in one place.   Thank you all so much! Robert Jordan has the most wondrous fans!         

By Mashiara Sedai, in DM Website news,

Are you interested in volunteering for Dragonmount?  Now is the perfect time to get involved!  I am looking for three to four people to join my staff as bloggers. Applications for these positions will be open until Sunday, January 31st, 2016.   Description of the Job Positions:   1. Monthly Roundup Blogger.  This person will be responsible for doing a brief recap of some of the important events/threads happening on the forums.  Please look here for past examples of this column.   2. Rotating Features Blogger. This person will be responsible for a short monthly column that will have different types of content each time. This person will work off a list of ideas for features (partly ideas that have already been thought of for you, and partly ideas you can make up and run by me for approval) and rotate the features. Please look here for past examples of this column.   3. Humor Blogger. This blog is a regular feature on Wednesdays. This person will be responsible for a short monthly column featuring a combination of existing WoT humor from around the Internet (e.g. Mat's Inbox, the WoT lightbulb jokes, the WoT Lolcats) and creating their own WoT humor content. Please look here for past examples of this column.   4. Fan Art Friday Blogger.  This person will be responsible for a short monthly column that will have such content as fan art, analysis of fan art, and occasional interviews with artists.  Please look here for past examples of this column. Job Duties for Both Front Page Blogger Positions:   1. Bloggers are expected to produce content in their respective areas for the front page once per month. They must be able to meet deadlines in a timely manner.   2. Bloggers occasionally will be called upon to assist the Front Page Admin with brainstorming new ideas for features.   3. Bloggers are expected to dedicate time each week to the Front Page Bloggers Staff Board and the DM Staff Board. As members of DM Staff, they act as representatives of the members of DM and their input is vital in the decision making process. Bloggers should be actively engaged in discussions on staff boards.   4. Bloggers must be able to give at least a 6 month commitment of approximately 5 hours per week. LOAs will come up, of course.   Anyone who thinks they can fulfill the requirements may apply. Strong candidates are people who possess the following qualities: efficiency, writing ability, organizational skills, creativity, maturity, and the ability to work well with others.   The Application Process:   If you are interested, please send an email to frontpage@dragonmount.com.   In each application, please include:   * Your DM Handle. * Some details about who you are in real life, including anything you think will have prepared you for leadership (including past online leadership experience). * A sample of your writing consisting of at least three short paragraphs. This can be in the form of a brief essay, a blog, a school paper, a newspaper article, a forum post, a short story, or a role play. You do not have to write something new for this application; in fact, many of you already have forum posts that are long enough to count. I mainly want to get an idea of your writing style. * Anything else that you think would set you apart from other applicants.  Why are you the best candidate?   Note: Please specify the position for which you are applying (Weekly Roundup Blogger, Rotating Feature Blogger, etc.) in your application.   If you have any questions, please feel free to ask and I will try to answer them.   ~Mashiara

By Mashiara Sedai, in Fantasy Reviews,

I was so excited for another opportunity to speak to Dr. Michael Livingston.  He was one of the guests at JordanCon this past April, and I was able to hear him on multiple panels.  However, now that I've read his brilliant debut novel The Shards of Heaven, released November 24th, I was happy to discuss it in more detail with him.   Q: First off, you have an impressive background in history.  How much did this prior knowledge help in thinking up the idea for The Shards of Heaven?   A: Very kind of you to say. You've probably heard me speak at JordanCon about how J.R.R. Tolkien created a myth behind the myths of our past, and how Robert Jordan in particular took Tolkien's project and opened it up to a wider range of world culture: the Wheel of Time is a myth made of myths past, present, and future. I've long been fascinated by these efforts, and their wondrous accomplishments have left me wondering what more there was to do. In one sense, The Shards of Heaven (especially when viewed as a series) is my answer. At its core, the story that begins in The Shards of Heaven is about creating a myth behind myths -- just like Tolkien and Jordan -- but it's a myth bounded by the very real limitations of historical places and times. I wanted to meld fantasy and history -- crazy as that sounds -- and erase the lines between them. So knowing a bit about history was a huge part of the project.   Q: When writing this fictional tale, was it easy to turn off the professor inside you?  Or did you find you wanted to tell the story in a lecture format?   A: In many respects I don't see a fundamental difference between these modes. It doesn't matter whether I'm writing Shards or I'm lecturing on Tolkien's philological background or I'm writing a footnote-heavy argument about what happened at the Battle of Crécy … in the end, I am telling a story. The methods may be different, but at the heart it's the same thing.   Q: Would you suggest others who are interested in writing historically based novels to do the same sort of background research before starting?   A: I'll always be in favor of getting the history right! In addition to the pedagogical aspects of doing so, history is a goldmine of truths that are more amazing than anything we can imagine. Whenever I'm stuck in the plot of the Shards, for instance, I just do some research on the period or place and almost inevitably I find something extraordinary to push the narrative forward. There's an extraordinary example of this that I could give you from Book 2, but what it is you'll have to read and find out! :)   Q: As I read the novel, I was constantly tempted to look online about characters, places, and events. I refrained -- because I didn't want to be spoiled.  Do you recommend readers have an understanding of that time and the events that historically transpired?   A: If I did my work well, it doesn't matter. Hopefully, even if you know the result of the Battle of Actium, for instance, what I've done with it will still be surprising and interesting. In fact, the more you know about the subject, the more you'll see the many little "Easter eggs" that I've woven into the book. For those who don't know the history, on the other hand, I hope they are so moved by my tale that they decide to find out a little more about the "truth" behind the story.   So, really, my recommendation is just that folks buy the book. Not that I'm, you know, biased or anything AT ALL.   Q: Your characters, though based on historical figures, were deeply believable.  How did you get the ideas of such foreign cultures imbedded into them?   A: Please excuse me while I happy dance in the most professorial way possible.   …   Okay. It's cool now. Thank you for saying that. Capturing these characters was important to me, because so many of them were truly remarkable human beings. And frankly that's really the best answer I can give to your question. These were amazing people, and just giving them space to be who they were drove most of my characterization.   Q: Since much of history is lost or debatable, how did you decide how much to keep and how much to push into the realm of fantasy?   A: I tend to just trust my instinct: would I think this would be too far? If it is, I dial back. My colleagues in history know that I am more than willing to push the envelope, but that I always do so with my feet firmly grounded in defendable reality. That's essentially what I do in Shards.   Q: Along those same lines, do you plan to evolve your series as it continues, perhaps making it into an alternate history?  Or do you want to keep it into something that could have happened in our past?   A: It is very much my intention to continue to toe that line between fantasy and history throughout the series. That said, you can certainly expect future volumes to move in some unexpected and rather remarkable directions. In Book 2, for instance, we learn that these characters have only just begun to understand the fantastical powers of the Shards. The artifacts are capable of so much more than they know.   Q: Juba may have been my favorite character.  I liked that he was driven by revenge, but still seemed to be a good guy.  He seems almost naive in his desire to avenge his father.  Is there a chance he'll be able to find redemption?  Or is it more likely he'll be consumed and corrupted by power?   A: Team Juba! We should start a hashtag war with the Team Caesarion crowd. Or the Team Selene folks. And the gods help anyone on Team Octavian!   Anyway, as for your question, I'd say that's exactly what I want of Juba: in Book 1 he's a good guy doing bad things for good reasons with bad results. As for his future, I'll say that I won't mess with the major facts of history, but that there's a lot of room between the lines in the textbooks. And power, while always tempting, is always corrupting.   Q: Cleopatra is a person who has been immortalized in film, television, books.  How did you put your own stamp on her, turning her into a character of your own?  It seems like that would be intimidating.   A: Cleopatra must have been a remarkable woman. She seduced two of the most powerful men of her age. She's powerful, brilliant, and oh so very dangerous … I would have loved to meet her!   And indeed that's pretty much the answer to your question: by the time I was writing the book I felt that she was someone who I could set on stage and know exactly how she would act.   Q: After this series is finished, do you have other plans to work in the historical fantasy genre?   A: That will be up to the readers! Tor Books bought a trilogy, and that actually represents the backstory to a much bigger epic: if sales are good, I imagine that will be the next thing up. Otherwise, I'll turn to the "traditional" epic fantasy that was nearing completion when The Shards of Heaven sold: that's a multi-volume secondary-world epic that my beta readers have said is the best thing I've ever done.   Q: Thank you so much for your time, Dr. Livingston!  I really enjoyed this novel and I'm anxiously awaiting its sequel.     A: Thank you so much for having me, and for asking such delightful questions! And I cannot forego the opportunity to pass along my thanks to the entirety of the Wheel of Time community for welcoming me so so warmly.   The Wheel turns, my friends.   (Richard Fife, Michael Livingston, Saladin Ahmed at JordanCon 2015)   The Shards of Heaven can be purchased in Dragonmount's eBook store.  For more information on Dr. Livingston, please check out his website (www.michaellivingston.com) or follow him on Twitter (@medievalguy).     If you're interested in winning a free copy of The Shards of Heaven, Tor has donated one to give away to a Dragonmount reader!  Comment below and one winner will be randomly selected on December 8th, 2015.  Only residents of the US and Canada are eligible for the free copy.

By Mashiara Sedai, in Fantasy Reviews,

Today's Fantasy Review is on the upcoming book The Shards of Heaven, by Michael Livingston.  I was fortunate enough to hear Dr. Livingston speak on several panels at JordanCon this past April, and his description of the series had piqued my interest.  He is an obviously intelligent man, with exceeding knowledge about ancient cultures.  With such a master at the helm, I had high expectations for this book, and I was not disappointed.   The Shards of Heaven By Michael Livingston   Synopsis After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Rome is sent into civil war: those who side with Caesar's wife, Cleopatra, and Mark Antony, Caesar's best general, versus those who side with Octavian, Caesar's adopted son.  To save the life of Caesarion, her child with Caesar, Cleopatra flees with Antony and sets up her base of power in Alexandria.  Octavian, on the other hand, fortifies Rome and plans to have it whole again soon.  Juba, another adopted son of Caesar, begins to search for the Shards of Heaven—fragmented pieces of the power of God.  Juba finds one of the artifacts, and delivers it to Octavian.  With so much power finally in his grasp, Octavian begins his war on Egypt and Caesarion.     Pros This tale is heavily grounded in history.  But, Livingston never lets that overwhelm the reader.  Each person, event, place, or temple is detailed so well that having no prior knowledge of this timeframe does not hinder the story at all.  It makes the history lessons easily understood and exciting.  The details are so rich and vivid.  Each character's point of view is fleshed out in such a way that even the antagonists are sympathetic and endearing.  Juba, for instance, had all the right motivations to set him on the path he took—every step was logical and believable.  He might have been my favorite out of all the characters because he acted out of necessity and self-preservation—even when doing "evil" deeds.  I hope there's redemption for him as the series continues.   Themes of honor and tradition really bring the story to life.  The Roman culture is heavily ingrained in the soldiers who sided with Antony, and who now protect his and Cleopatra's children—Selene, Helios, and Philadelphus.  And at the same time, the children—including Caesarion—are brought up with Egyptian values and beliefs.  They are likened to gods on earth, taught to keep their faces impassive and emotionless.  The clash of cultures and religions is a driving force behind many of the characters' actions, and their faith in gods or God become integral to the plotlines.     Con Despite the interest of the assassination attempt in the prologue, the story had a somewhat slow start.  The first few chapters focus on the more political conflicts between Octavian and Mark Antony, and the impending war.  However, once Juba begins to use the Trident of Neptune, the action never lets up.     Conclusion This story was immensely gripping and enjoyable.  The immersion into the ancient cultures fascinated me, despite my less-than-favorable view on history lessons.  The details about the world were so exact.  I'm anxiously awaiting the next in the series to see how these characters will adapt to the consequences and resolutions of the war.   Rating 4/5     The Shards of Heaven will be released November 24th.  You can preorder it from Dragonmount's eBook store.  For more information on Dr. Livingston, please check out his website.   

By Mashiara Sedai, in Books and eBooks,

For the last tour of a Wheel of Time book, ever, I had to make sure to attend.  Add in Jason Denzel, creator of my beloved Dragonmount, and there was no way I would miss it!   I was able to get a few days off work and make the drive over to San Diego from my home in Arizona.  My husband wasn't able to take the time off too, so I did the only logical thing: invited my parents.  It was like reverting back to childhood—except that Mom and I shared a beer.  We did all the touristy things around the harbor; we took the ferry to Coronado, my dad and I rode the roller coaster at Belmont Park, we walked up and down Mission Beach.  It was a blast!     But as fun as all that was, it paled in comparison to seeing Harriet McDougal, Alan Romanczuk, Maria Simmons, and Jason Denzel at the signing.     The location was the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore—a place I've heard a lot about but hadn't visited before.  The store was amazing!  A booklover's paradise!  The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful.  The amount of signed books they had was impressive.  I almost picked up a signed copy of Shadows of Self.     Once the event began, Harriet started by reading her favorite entry in The Companion: Bela.  I'm not going to give any spoilers, but if you have a copy of The Companion, be sure to read that entry.  It had me near tears.  Then there was the general Q&A session.  Many topics were covered, like whether there would be any other Wheel of Time books coming out—the answer was, of course, "No"—and if there would likely be a sequel to The Companion—again, the answer was "No."  But, Alan did mention that the Team Jordan Google+ Page (Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time) has released a couple entries that were cut from The Companion.  So, while we won't have any new content in books, we still have Harriet, Maria, and Alan to give us more of what we crave.     After that, Jason surprised us with unreleased bonus content from Mystic; he read the prologue to the novel, which had been cut for various reasons.  It told a part of the tale of Saint Brigid, a character of legend who lived thousands of years before the story took place.  It was a fascinating addition to the lore, and I hope that more of Brigid will be revealed as the series continues!   There were a lot of Wheel of Time fans there, and it always makes me happy to see so many together.  The thing I love most about fans of the series is that you can jump into a conversation with any of them, and be perfectly welcomed.  The only thing that ever makes waves is how you pronounce character names.  I spoke with several people—one fan, I believe, was visiting from the Netherlands.  The man who stood behind me in line had every single copy in the series (The Eye of the World through Knife of Dreams) signed by Robert Jordan.  It's amazing the stories you'll hear!     Once I was able to get my copy of The Companion signed, I did have a question for Team Jordan.  I asked them if there was ever going to be a more complete compilation of Wheel of Time artwork.  Maria said that Ta'veren Tees is thinking of something along those lines.  But my real desire comes from owning a copy of volume one of the Japanese The Eye of the World.  The Japanese publisher has amazing manga-style artwork added into the story.  I would love to see all of it!  But, with foreign publishers having the rights to the artwork, Maria said it would be too difficult to have any of it added to a compilation book. I guess I'll just make it my goal to buy all the Japanese versions to see for myself.  (For just a taste of many of the foreign covers, you can look at the Wheel of Time Wikia.)   I left the signing absolutely thrilled.  Not just because the store's staff was welcoming, or that the other fans were welcoming, but that Jason, Harriet, Alan, and Maria were so welcoming.  These are people who really appreciate and embrace their community.  It's amazing the amount of attention they give, the personal touch they add to each fan they greet.  

By Mashiara Sedai, in Fantasy Reviews,

Today's Fantasy Review is something I'm very excited about.  It will cover the debut novel of Dragonmount's creator and webmaster, Jason Denzel!  His novel, Mystic, will be released November 3rd, and I was privileged enough to get an advanced copy.   Mystic By Jason Denzel   Synopsis: Pomella is a sixteen-year-old girl who lives in the small town of Oakspring.  She's the only one in the village who can see silver animals that live in the Mystwood forest beside their home.  During the Springrise festival, a creature of legend appears and summons Pomella to be a candidate for the apprenticeship of Yarina, the High Mystic of the island.  To do so would put her at odds with Lady Elona, the daughter of the island's ruling Baron.  To decline would be turning her back on everything she'd desired.  As a commoner, both paths are equally dangerous.   Pros: This story felt incredibly detailed.  The world building presented was wonderfully done, complete with a distinct dialect spoken (and thought) by the main characters.  They throw in words from within their world without a thought to clarify; the reader learns through context.  This brings the world to life, and made Pomella and Sim (the other point-of-view character) so much more relatable.  Normal people don't think about the meanings of words we use every day.  Even the characters from other parts of the world have different ways of speaking.  This adds texture and richness to their world.   The Myst is also an interesting idea.  It seems to be an intelligent entity, deciding how it manifests its powers and whom to bestow it on.  Each practitioner summons the Myst through different ways, using their unique talent and passion to urge the Myst into doing as they ask.  I like this as a magic system because it's somewhat unreliable.  It does as it wants, as it sees fit, without regard to a person's power or potential.  As the series continues, I think the Myst has some sort of scheme.   The ending of this book really surprised me.  Sometimes we can anticipate the conclusion of novels—especially within the fantasy genre; the good guys win and the bad guys lose.  However, with Mystic, the happy ending came about in a way I didn't suspect.  It opened up a whole new set of exciting possibilities as the series continues.   Cons: There were very little cons in this story.  I enjoyed it from start to finish.  The one thing that threw me off was the very beginning of the book.  We are introduced to Pomella as she's yelling with her father about her attitude.  To me, she read as a young child, no more than six, so it was a bit startling to find out she was sixteen later in the chapter.  But, since her age is revealed quite quickly, it didn't feel disjointed for long.   Conclusion: This tale was all-around enjoyable.  There was almost constant forward momentum with the plot, with little dealing with flashbacks or explanations.  Context guided the reader's understanding of the world and culture within.  It was nearly flawless in this aspect.  There was also a ton of action.  As soon as Pomella was summoned, her path contained obstacle after obstacle; she, and those around her, struggled through the whole thing.  This made the pace fast.  I read through it in two sittings because it flowed so well in that regard.   Though it contained some of the usual fantasy tropes, there were also qualities all its own.  A good blend of familiar and new.   Rating: 5/5     You can preorder Jason's book from the Dragonmount eBook store.  Be sure to also check the list of tour dates and locations to see if Jason will be in your area!

By Mashiara Sedai, in Community & Events,

According to a new post on Team Jordan's Google+ page, Harriet McDougal—wife of the late Robert Jordan, and his editor—will be presented with the Jerry Zucker Lifetime Achievement Award.      Dragonmount, and I'm sure so many Wheel of Time fans, also wants to extend their congratulations to Mrs. McDougal on such a tremendous achievement!

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