Thursday 16 August 2012

#OBSummer #Books - Ford 99 - Serpent Singer & Other Stories

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Genre - Fantasy 
Rating - PG13 - no graphic sex
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When I was asked to do a Ford 99 assessment of my book, I hadn’t a clue as to what to do or go about writing it.  Heck, I never even heard of it, so it dismayed me to find that this short story collection doesn’t go to page 99 or 69.  (It goes to 62).  So I did the next best thing and picked page 9.

It was somewhat of a relief that page 9 is the first page of the second story of the collection, The Troll Kind.  I had been asked to write a short story for Tales of the Talisman.  This story was one that has huge Beowulf influences, and was one I was interested in writing a female bad guy.  Not only was she a villain, but an adversary that provided sexual tension. 

I had already introduced the hero, Shadowhelm, in an earlier story, but since this was the first story of the paperback novel and a standalone at one time, Shadowhelm gets introduced.  Illithya, the slaver and head of the slaver operation appears with Shadowhelm in the slave pit.  She’s desperate to arm him so he can fight the Troll Kind that has been killing both slavers and slaves.  She picks Shadowhelm because of his unusual heritage, being a mixed breed of two races.

This page sets Shadowhelm as being dangerous and confident, despite the serious situation he’s in.  It sets Illithya as an equal adversary and one who knows she has just enough control over Shadowhelm as someone who has a lion in a cage. 

The story sets the stage of a battle of wills between Illithya and Shadowhelm.  She offers him his freedom if he does what she asks—only she sets him up for what appears to be a suicide mission.  Shadowhelm accepts but only because he can’t do anything in the slave pit.
The Troll Kind isn’t your typical monster story, although the beginning may make you think it is.  I added little nuances such as Illithya’s alpha attitude and Shadowhelm’s obvious warrior background to make them equals.  Shadowhelm may appear the big, stupid barbarian at first, but his knowledge and consideration for others slowly rounds him out.

M.H. Bonham is a multiple award-winning author of more than 30 books, including Serpent Singer and Other Stories, Amazon bestsellers Prophecy of Swords and Howling Dead, and Runestone of Teiwas.

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