Thursday, July 24, 2008

You Know You're Reading Stackpole When...

How to know that you're reading a Michael A. Stackpole novel. Now let's start off with the fact that I do enjoy his books, they're some of my favorites, with Talion and a Hero Reborn always holding a special place in my heart, however, there are a few elements that tend to get reused. And since I'm just finishing up The New World, the third in his Cartomancy(actually properly Age of Discovery but Cartomancy is easier to type) series of books, I felt that this would be more useful(not to mention entertaining) than a straight up review.

Before you take a look, take note of two items. 1. I didn't include novels from Battletech or Star Wars since those are shared universes. 2. I only put down books that I've read, and there may be some inaccuracy due to the fact it's been some time since I've read a few, particularly Eyes of Silver and Hero Born. If there is, feel free to tell me to add in the appropriate area, or even suggest a whole new category.

Now let's go over the highlights of the chart.

Talion Eyes of Silver Once A Hero A Hero Born(Chaos Rider Universe) Dragoncrown Cycle Cartomancy Universe
Wandering Swordsmen Dispensing Justice 1

1 3
Dinosaurs In All But Name

1 1 1 3
Created Cannon Fodder

1 1 1 3
Fallen Empire 1 1 1 1 1 1 6
Fallen Empire of Near Immortals

1 1 3
Mecha or Magitech Golemns

1 1 3
Magical Radiation

1 2
Amnesia/Reincarnation/ etc.
1 1 1 1 1 5
Meet Me At The Ball 1

1 1 1 4
Circle Duels 1

1 1 3
Limited Shapeshifters/Natural Magicusers
1 1
1 1 4
Huge Statues Crafted/Moved by Magic 1

1 1

5 4 4 8 10 11

Wandering Swordsmen: Simple enough for Talion, the Talions themselves. A Hero Born I included the Chaos Riders, not specifically targeted at justice, but certainly protectors. The Cartomancy universe has them as well, with a italicized and hard to pronounce name. I was tempted to include the Fortress Draconis universe, but I don't think Crow can count as more than an isolated adventuring party.

Dinosaurs in all but name: Fortress Draconis has the temeryces, Hero Born has various species warped by chaos, and Cartomancy has the creations of its sleeping evil and mad grandfather.

Created Cannon Fodder: This was a hard one to label. The main creatures that fill this niche are the Gibberers from the Dragoncrown cycle, a slight variation also appears in Cartomancy, and while debatable, I included the chaos creatures from Hero Born. I could have included the "goblins" from Talion, but they didn't really fulfill the same role.

Fallen Empire(Of Near Immortals): Yup, every single one of them fulfilled the post shattering/after the fall of empire theme. And we ended up immortal overlords many a time, Once a Hero had the Reithrese, Dragoncrown cycle had, what else, dragons, and with Cartomancy we have the Viruk.

Awakening/Reincarnation/etc: Moraven Tolo, Neal Elfward, Locke, Kereena Dost(whose name reappears in the Cartomancy series), etc. I think Talion is the only one where this doesn't feature in somewhere.

Meet Me At The Ball: Actually these make up some of my favorite scenes, the Bear's Eve Ball for Hero Born, the ball to kick off the expeditions in Cartomancy, the coronation ball for Talion. The Dragoncrown cycle one eludes my memory though.

Limited Shapeshifters/Natural Magic Users: Actually I cheated a little bit in combining the two categories, but I think they fit as usually they're the anathema of magicians. The Dost's shapechanging ability from Eyes of Silver seems to clearly have a legacy in the UrZethi of the Dragoncrown books, and the Dreel and Fennych of Once a Hero and Cartomancy might as well be cousins.

Anyways, whether it's a good or bad thing that these tropes appear more in his most recent works. Well that depends on how much you like them to begin with, whether he's pulling his vision of a fantasy world together, or just repeating himself. Either way, I enjoy his writings, but dammit! I wouldn't mind a few surprises to look forward to.

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