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Review: The Written by Ben Galley

Ben Galley is a fantasy author and staunch defender of independent publishing. The Written is his first book, and the first in The Emaneska trilogy.

I have to say I was expecting some fairly standard sword and sorcery tale here, a bit of magic, a few fabulous beasts slain, the usual wise grey beards and prophecies. As a first book that would have definitely been the safe option, and would still have been a good read.

Needless to say this isn't what you get. You get a slew of mythical creatures - dragons (I suspect on the Pern novels exceed the sheer number in this book), werewolves and more besides. You get heroes and villains. You get magic. You get sword fights. But all of these are put together in a way that's different from the norm. Rather than trying to subvert all the fantasy tropes it is as if Galley dropped them and they smashed and in putting them back together they aren't quite the same as they were before.

The basic story concerns the theft of a spell book which, in the wrong hands, can be used to summon a mighty and powerful evil. Farden, one of the Written (a sort of magic user that has spells tattooed onto his back) has to try to prevent this happening. I won't give any more details as there are many twists and turns as the story unfolds.

Farden is a powerful mage and a tough fighter and although he is heoric he also has personal demons that could cause his mission to fail. He is a loner with little patience for others. He doubts his own abilities and judgement. As the reader you feel you want to give him a good shaking sometimes to get him to act. This makes him a very complex character, realistic and interesting to follow. The other main characters are also fully realised with their own mannerisms and momentum.

Fantasy Island

On The Zen of Zoe

The ominous late-summer air along with the crunch of the tell-tale leaves littering the ground signaled it was coming. My chest heaved a heavy sigh knowing that I would not be able to escape its grips. What did I have to offer that could compare with 300 pound men in shoulder pads broadcast in hi-definition? Yes, it is that time of year again, the season of the football widows.

Before marriage, I was familiar with "Monday Night Football." That was a manageable concession I was willing to make. One night a week. Easy. But I've since learned that there are NFL games all day Sunday and on Thursday nights as well. Throw college ball into the mix on Saturdays and the week is completely lost to the testosterone laden frenzy of the gridiron.

Perhaps if I had a favorite team, I would also succumb to the madness and hibernate with my husband in the man-cave until the spring thaw. I married into a Patriots family, so they are my adopted team and I actually do root for them. But its more of an after the fact curiosity cheer - 'hey, did our team win?' I can usually tell the answer by his demeanor. Hugs and kisses means a victory. Grunts and sighs signal a loss.

Over the years I have learned to live through this annual cycle of widowhood. I feel fortunate to catch glimpses of my husband during random minutes when a game was not being played, or being reviewed, or being commented upon with predictions for the next game. But in recent years a new type of football has crept into our lives and stolen away even those rare precious minutes when I saw my husband during the fall and winter months: Fantasy Football. (shudder).

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