Monday, April 13, 2009

High Fantasy War Games.....

Today, I'm going to start getting out some of those book reviews that I am behind on. I have at least 4 that I need to do, and I thought I would start with Cry of Justice by Jason Pratt (444 pgs, Bittersea Publications, 2007).

My wife, my beloved. I promise....I can explain. I can explain where I went. And why....I can explain why I didn't explain when I returned. I didn't explain because I was afraid.

In the aftermath of a horrible international war in the world of Mikon, thousands of refugees have fled the Coastal States and are heading into the Middlelands. Cry of Justice follows a few of those people. A small band of warriors are led by the Maga, Portunista. She is sharp, power-hungry and intent of gaining as much control as she can. Among her subordinates is Seifas, one of the last members of the Guacu-ara, or the Hunting Cry. Born and bred to kill, Seifas fears he is the only remaining Guacu-ara left alive, and has made it his mission to follow Portunista until the end. And then there is Jian, who happens upon the group. It is a mystery who he is or where he comes from. And not everyone trusts him, especially Portunista.

Told in part through journal entries from Portunista, Seifas, and an unknown author, this is the story of how Portunista and her band of warriors happen upon a castle. The castle belonged to Qarfax, an extrememly powerful Cadrist. The castle holds many secrets....secrets that Portunista is desparate to do several other powerful mages. It is this castle and it's secrets that bring upon Portunista's group an epic battle: one that will change things forever.

Cry of Justice is an epic novel, the first of a trilogy. I would definitely classify it as "high fantasy". Maybe it's the fact that I don't read a lot of high fantasy that I found the first part of the book rather confusing. There are a lot of terms and people that I didn't understand, at first. But the story line is good. Very good. And that is what kept me reading.

Portunista is a hard character to nail down. You can tell she wants to be a "good" person, but she is so hell-bent on gaining power it diminishes her ability to distinguish from right and wrong. I wanted to like her. I really did. But her inability to trust in her own feelings made it hard. Just when I start appreciating her intelligence and her passion, she does something stupid....and it makes me mad!

Jian and Seifas are both wonderful characters, as are many of the minor warriors. They are strong, loyal and extremely complex in their nature. Jian has one goal throughout the story...and that is to save Portunista....from the other mages, but most importantly, from herself.

Although a lot of the complex war strategies were lost on me, I found myself reading faster and faster because I had to find out how the final showdown would end. Of course, being the first in a trilogy, the ending is far from over. You can tell that the story, even when the last page has been turned, is only just beginning. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has a love for high fantasy. For anyone else, it might be a bit confusing. Now, it's just a matter of time until Book 2 is released!! 3.75/5


Debi said...

I have a feeling I would find myself lost, but it does sound good. Who know, maybe someday.

J.S. Peyton said...

I second Debi's feelings. It sounds wonderful, but I suspect this would be a bit too much for me.

samantha.1020 said...

I can't say that I read a lot of fantasy but I am intrigued. Great review Stephanie!

Jason Pratt said...

Cool! I think this may be my first 3.75 out of 5 review! {gggg!}

{{Maybe it's the fact that I don't read a lot of high fantasy that I found the first part of the book rather confusing.}}

Nah. Those first 50 pages or so are difficult for everyone. In order to explain why I thought (after several years worth of trying otherwise) I had to do it that way, though, I'd have to spoil huge amounts of the overarching story. Consequently, I try to blow through them as quickly as possible. {wry g}

The first 9 pages or so can be found at RebeccasReads as an audio file (approx 20 minutes); with scattered pieces from each of the other five chapter sections as a five minute audio file also at RebeccasReads here.

But I may post up a humorously self-critical abridged version of the first Section here. I think you'll appreciate it. {lol!}

{{Just when I start appreciating her intelligence and her passion, she does something stupid....and it makes me mad!}}

Yep, that's 'ista. {beam!} A super-challenging character to write, too.

{{But her inability to trust in her own feelings made it hard.}}

Partly because her own feelings are more than a little messed. (After all, she feels like she ought to be hell-bent on gaining power and protecting herself at the expense of other people, too. {s})

{{Now, it's just a matter of time until Book 2 is released!!}}

Book 2 is written but not edited yet; Book 3 is about 2/3 finished (thanks to Portunista deciding to do something that makes perfect sense for her character and will certainly end up making the story better but which is rather flummoxing my previous clarity for how to get through the end of the book!)

I'm planning to release both of them next year simultaneously, so readers won't have to wait through the 'sharp cliff'-hanger at the end of Book 2.

{{They are strong, loyal and extremely complex in their nature.}}

Except for Dagon, in Book 1 anyway. {g} But he gets more complex later. (He's actually pretty complex now, but I don't have much opportunity to show that in Book 1.) Also stronger. More loyal? Hm...

Anyway, great review! Thanks!--and I hope your grandma will be doing better soon.


(PS: bunches of CoJ reviews, interviews, previews, articles gathered here at, assuming the link is working again. It was yesterday, but not this morning. Oh well.)

(PPS: today's hilarious blogger word verification thingy: kingomon!)

Stephanie said...

Jason - I'm really sorry it took so long to get this up. First of all, I really needed to think about it before writing it. This was a seriously complex book, and my feelings changed throughout.

I loved Jian...of course. And Seifas. Dagon I wanted to throttle....glad to see he gets more complex as the series moves on. He may be complex now, but to me he just seemed shallow. The others I liked, though.

I'm still iffy on the narrator though. At first, I was clueless...then I thought it was Jian. Now, I'm not sure again!

I'll be looking forward to the rest of the trilogy!!

Jason Pratt said...

88% SHORTER SCREENPLAY FORM OF THE FIRST 50 PAGES OR SO OF CRY OF JUSTICE (with appreciation to The Editing Room -- Abridged Scripts format.)


We ZOOM IN slowly to the planet of MIKON which distractingly fades in and out of blackness, interspersed with scenes of chaos and combat totally unlike anything seen at the beginning of Fellowship of the Ring. At least, this would happen in a movie of the book, probably.

PREFACE AUTHOR (v.o.) -- My wife, my beloved, I can explain...

AUDIENCE -- Wait... this whole story is about some guy explaining to his piççed off wife that he went out and came back late without a good explanation?

PA (v.o.) -- ...yes. But the explanation is that I am somehow responsible for blowing up this whole world. I think.

AUDIENCE -- Oh. Okay then!

PA (v.o.) -- Which is different from what Tolkien did.

AUDIENCE -- Whatever.


A deer is nearly scared to death by SEIFAS and then stabbed. Twice. To death.

SEIFAS -- Am I a monster?

PA (v.o.) -- I'm thinking the deer would say, "BLEEP YES!!"

Seriously. This happens.


SEIFAS (writing in journal) -- Life sux.

AUDIENCE (writhing in seats) -- Wait... is this guy the unseen Preface Author?

PA (v.o.) -- No. He is an entirely different author, whom I am authoring about.

AUDIENCE -- Oh. Okay then!


A red-haired brown-skinned woman in somewhat-skanky thin silk, whose face we never quite see except for a closeup of a smile, glides through the hall, out into


a small garden, and then not very clearly up a tower into


a moderately sized but quite bare tower room which is largely open to the air thanks to--

AUDIENCE -- Wait... what?! Who is this? Where are we!?

PA (v.o.) -- Seven years later, beloved.

AUDIENCE -- And she's going to write something, too?

PA (v.o.) -- Yes. But not very clearly, so that we can't see some things I'm trying not to spoil.

AUDIENCE -- For your wife.

PA (v.o.) -- Right.

AUDIENCE -- Oh. Okay then!

EMPRESS (v.o. while writing) -- Once, I was a skank. This may come as some surprise. But I can't talk about that yet. Maybe later.

AUDIENCE -- the hell??


SEIFAS -- If I can't believe in justice, I'm going to kill myself. (pause) I can!

AUDIENCE -- Did we just get witnessed to by someone talking himself into believing God exists?

SEIFAS -- Did I mention God?


SEIFAS -- Okay then!


Some EXPENDABLE BUT SUSPICIOUSLY WELL-ARMED BRIGANDS kill a shepherd-girl's sheep and threaten to do unmentionable things to her which they don't mention.

SEIFAS -- I should stop my wussy whining and get my açç into gear if I want justice done!


BRIGAND SERGEANT -- Hey, are you only wasting our time while your reinforcements set up for an ambush?


SERGEANT -- Hell with that. Attack!

They DO! The MYSTERIOUS STRANGER cheerfully kills or cripples most of them but kind-of ungracefully.

SEIFAS, on the other hand, kills the utter BLEEP out of the last two, who were guarding the shepherdess, having set up for an ambush while the MYSTERIOUS STRANGER was distracting them. He is not cheerful about it. The shepherdess RUNS AWAY in fear, never to be seen again.


SEIFAS -- Well!

STRANGER -- And all manner of things will be well!

Seriously. This is said.


PORTUNISTA, the woman who will, in the future, become Empress, RUMINATES. From the future.

ISTA (v.o., from the future) -- I wanted to bend Seifas completely to my will. But he scared me. So, I decided to drive him insane instead.

SEIFAS (entering the tent) -- Life is much better now! Come see who I brought back! Oh, and I promised that you would pay hugely for a bunch of dead sheep I had to leave behind in a forest clearing somewhere. I'm sure they will still be there tomorrow, but I’m also entirely sure you’ll pay up now.

ISTA -- Blast! Hud, pay up.

He DOES. Thirty pieces of silver.

AUDIENCE -- Wait... is that Judas? The staff accountant?

He ADDS IN his own two pieces to help out, like Seifas.

AUDIENCE -- Oh. Okay then. But Seifas sounds like Cephas who is Peter, right?

GEEKY AUDIENCE MEMBER -- Actually, it was pronounced KEH-phas. And Peter wasn't a mega-ninja-class Zulu Spiderman. He was a Jewish fisherman. Aren't you paying attention?

AUDIENCE -- They keep saying SYE-fahs though! Which is like SEE-fahs, like in the Bible. Aren't you paying attention!? Hah!


ISTA -- I am piççed that someone has ruined my hateful scheme against Seifas. Whoever it is will pay!

She STORMS out of the tent.


The amateur martial-arts JESUS GUY who looks a whole lot more like one of the shorter 13TH WARRIOR vikings than JESUS, is understandably gathering a crowd of desultory mercenaries just by standing there--probably because he doesn't look PAKISTANI or INDIAN or IRANIAN or whatever the heck the people here are. Except for SEIFAS. And him. And Portunista in the future. But not now.


The mercs and their kids and wives and vendors and such are quickly charmed by JIAN'S charming bardlike personality, and by the fact that he can explain a toy to their kids that the parents either didn't know how to explain despite it being a weapon-training toy or else just didn't care. To.

ISTA -- They aren't looking at me!She STORMS back to her tent to SULK about how she used to wish she was old enough to dance suggestively or something.

AUDIENCE -- Will you be blowing up the planet soon?

PA (v.o.) (silence)

AUDIENCE -- Okay then!


While the small brigade PARTIES on the hill where they're encamped, SEIFAS introduces JIAN to PORTUNISTA.

SEIFAS (to himself) -- Gosh they make a cute couple. Wait--was I attracted to Portunista myself?! Maybe this wasn't a great plan.

ISTA is BITCHY to JIAN instead of to SEIFAS.

SEIFAS (to himself) -- This was the best plan ever!JIAN is oddly EVASIVE in his answers to her questions.

SEIFAS (to himself) -- On the other hand, maybe the problem is Jian, not her...


ISTA gives JIAN a ridiculously small and ineffective looking sword, insulting Jian in the process.

JIAN sets aside the much larger STIFF BAMBOO POLE he's been carrying up to now, to accept the sword like it actually means something coming from HER.

JIAN (smiling like she's given him roses or something) -- No matter. Any sword will do. May I be sheathed?

ISTA is embarrassed that JIAN has out-Freudian'd her, and leaves in a huff. After throwing him a sheath, too. SEIFAS finds this AMUSING.


ISTA (to herself) -- How annoying. Maybe I should go have sex with Gaekwar or something, which apparently I haven't been doing for a while. But what I really want is to bleep some things up. Metaphorically.

GEMALFAN arrives on a SHOULDERBEAST which is not at all like an OLIPHANT, along with nearly two hundred troops, in a surprise raid on the camp.

ISTA (to herself) -- How convenient! Except not!

AUDIENCE -- "Gaekwar"?

ISTA BLEEPS THEM UP to buy some time while she figures out how to RUN AWAY. The AUDIENCE is APPEASED for a WHILE.

ISTA (to herself while hiding behind a pile of casks) -- I need to find a way to get downhill while on the flat of my back.

She DOES! Her TROOPS, previously partying downhill, have met this portion of the charging enemy line. OTHON is kicking açç, but not as effectively as he might since he isn't wearing his armor. SEIFAS takes over the role of distracting surviving enemy troops uphill, after PORTUNISTA has left. By hunting them down and killing them. Offscreen, although hopefully onscreen for the movie.

ISTA (to herself) -- Where's Jian? Meh, he probably ran away at the first sign of trouble.


ISTA (to herself) -- Oh. Okay then! Even though frankly that seems more than a little insane, it does admittedly help keep that thing from screwing my troops over from the rear. Metaphorically speaking.

MAHOUT (trying to regain control of the AT-AT-like mammal he's supposed to be controlling) -- Attack the kids!

The SHOULDERBEAST REFUSES. With terminal prejudice. The kids think this is FUNNY.

An enemy soldier breaks through the skirmish line, and also decides to attack the kids. PORTUNISTA runs to help, but doesn't arrive in time. The SHOULDERBEAST who has been named TUMBLECRUMBLE by some of the kids, runs to help, but doesn't arrive in time. JIAN runs to help, but doesn't arrive in time.

The KID WHO HAD THE SWORD-JUMPING BALL makes use of his lesson earlier to distract the ENEMY SOLDIER long enough for JIAN and TUMBLECRUMBLE to arrive. They decisively END the ENEMY SOLDIER.

ISTA (skidding to a stop) -- Oh. Okay then!

GEMALFAN tries to run over PORTUNISTA with his own OLDER SHOULDERBEAST while she isn't paying attention. JIAN barely WHIFFS her out of the way in time, and then KISSES her on the tip of her NOSE.

ISTA (flummoxed) -- the hell!?

GEMALFAN, seeing his troops failing, decides to RUN FOR IT through the KIDS. TUMBLECRUMBLE stops him, by intercepting the OLDER SHOULDERBEAST. GEMALFAN ATTACKS TUMBLECRUMBLE. PORTUNISTA PROTECTS TUMBLECRUMBLE at some serious cost in pain to herself. JIAN and SEIFAS team up to DISTRACT the OLDER SHOULDERBEAST (which the real author loves to type) by using a modified version of the danged SWORD-JUMPING BALL, of all things. PORTUNISTA takes advantage of this to TOPPLE the animal, CRUSHING GEMALFAN'S SUB-APPRENTICE FLUNKIES as they try to escape and TERMINALLY INJURING GEMALFAN. SEIFAS mercy-kills GEMALFAN. JIAN names SEIFAS' WEAPON "Howclear". TUMBLECRUMBLE finishes off THE OLDER SHOULDERBEAST. GEMALFAN'S surviving TROOPS surrender, to join up with PORTUNISTA later.

TROOPS -- Yay! Go team!

SEIFAS (v.o. while writing) -- Now let us see what the future will bring. Also, yes, since you asked earlier, I do trust God more now. Despite how tenuous my grounds are for doing so, which I'll kind of ignore since the alternative is either to kill myself or become a right bastard. I think. Surely this will not come back to cause me problems later!

AUDIENCE -- This was quite possibly the most freaky opening fifty pages ever written. We want to rip out our eyes. But at least there was some butt-kicking! And anyway, it can't get worse, right?

PA (v.o.) -- I now look forward 30 years and more, beloved, to introduce another subauthor character...


JRP {g!}

Jason Pratt said...

{{I'm still iffy on the narrator though. At first, I was clueless...then I thought it was Jian. Now, I'm not sure again! }}

That's as it should be. {g!}

{{[Dagon] may be complex now, but to me he just seemed shallow.}}

That's as it should be. {lol!}

{{I'll be looking forward to the rest of the trilogy!!}}

That's as it etc. {beam!}

I'll be contacting all prior reviewers when ARC copies of Edge of Justice and Song of Justice have been printed, to see if y'all want to finish out the trilogy. So you're in line for a couple of free copies when the time comes.


Stephanie said...

Jason - Now that I've stopped laughing....that was freakin' hilarious!! And yeah...kind of accurate! For the record, as confused as I was in the beginning, it really did pick up! I was totally into it by about 100 pages in.

And I'm really looking forward to the rest. I hate not knowing what is going to happen!!

Jason Pratt said...

{{Now that I've stopped laughing....that was freakin' hilarious!! And yeah...kind of accurate!}}

Hee. I do fun things. And confusing things. And fun confusing things. Like the internet!

(Which, for reasons known only to itself, decided to eliminate a couple of important carriage returns after italicized words, in my self-deprecating spoof above, thus making it seem as though description was part of someone's dialogue. Considering how often I do fun confusing things, I thought I ought to distinguish for sake of accuracy. Kind of accuracy. {g!})


Literary Feline said...

I wanted to read Jason Pratt's book before and now I know I must. LOL The abridged version was great. :-)

Jason Pratt said...

Well, do you review books on your site? There's no reason why you couldn't score a free non-abridged copy of your own. {g!} (With an autograph even.)


(PS: today's hilarious blogger password login thingy: comedull. O____o Please do not take this as a sign of the quality of my work, kthxbi.)

Ladytink_534 said...

It does sound a little confusing and the names are a little hard to pronounce (something I'm guaranteed to stumble over when reading) but I'm glad you did enjoy it.