Hello again, Book Club, and welcome back to our 11th selection. Is it too early to start planning our 100th anniversary party? I guess. This time around we're sticking with the Ed Greenwood Presents: Waterdeep series, but bringing in another author new to our discussions. We'll be reading Circle of Skulls by James P. Davis.
This one seems to be available in both paper and e-book format, so pick your pleasure. There's a sample chapter up on the product page as well.
James has written several Realms novels including The Restless Shore (The Wilds), The Shield of Weeping Ghosts (The Citadels), and Bloodwalk (The Wizards). Welcome to the Book Club, James!
Circle of Skulls is a stand-alone novel, so you can start fresh with this one. If you’re new to the Book Club, we’ll be reading around 50 pages a week and then commenting on them. We’ll start the discussion next week on Monday, March 5th, so pick up your copy and get ready. In the meantime, drop by this forum to let us know you’ll be participating and ask James any questions about the book or his other writing.
Dado - for this set of introductions, we want to see pictures of your new house!
Okay, I can't resist. Here's a picture of my little girl. She just turned one!
Welcome to our book club James!
But First--Wow--Fantastic House! And Beautiful Baby! All I have is a picture of the Beta Fish on my desk:
In any event, I would like to start the introductions with a conversation about Architecture. Which came up a lot for me during our last Waterdeep read...James, when approaching a book set in Waterdeep, how much history did you have access to? Are there detailed maps to which you can refer a la google maps or do you make most of it up? The other books I have read in the Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep series all had great descriptions of the town, almost treating it like a character in and of itself, how much of other authors desciptions did you use when crafting your tale in the city?
Does Ed provide any direct feedback on the towns architecture, layout, &tc. ?
Cannot wait to try to stay current with this reading! I am on 131 of 265 from our last book [which I blame mostly on Netflix for the Nook--who thought that would be a good idea--now I cannot pry the thing out of my daughters hand]! Hopefully, this one will be available on the kindle...
So it all starts with a cute baby and a nice house, how can I possibly follow that? Get everybody feeling all nice and cheery then bring them down into the blood and the demons and the skulls...well, who am I kidding, that stuff gets me a bit cheery every time.
Thanks for the welcome! And glad to speak on architecture and maps right off the bat because I must say I believe it's one of my weakest subjects, heh. In a general sense I like to provide a nice shape for the city and buildings, then dress them up with atmosphere and characters, after that, hopefully, the reader begins filling in details to match the mood. I like the scary stuff and truthfully we are all much more skilled at scaring ourselves than any writer, all I can do is try to help the reader access that Pandora's Box in their head.
In a more specific sense I have access to a large reference library of old Realms maps. Street names, buildings, their sizes, courtyards, etc. Sea Ward came alive in my mind the more I studied how it was laid out, how traffic must flow, hidden areas, back alleys, and then the places I wanted most to show up: basements and cellars....so many dark places to play with. And by dark I usually mean both scary and, my favorite bit, previously undetailed. Show me a blank spot on a map or a sparse description of anything and I am in creative heaven.
So, in that sense, Ed Greenwood had vast amounts of input and feedback, both in the groundwork he already had in place and directly through the editing process. I tried to maintain the feel of Waterdeep that Ed Greenwood has created and that my fellow Waterdhavian writers built upon in their novels. My vision of Waterdeep was more of the smaller details, the way the sun stretches shadows of buildings across the streets, the avenues darkened long before sunset, the smells (both good and bad), the way the wind rushes down the streets, echoes, and so forth. I am horrible at architecture, but I like to think I can bring out the life in a structure. Hopefully that comes through for you guys in the book.
Really looking forward to delving into the Circle with you guys. Can't wait to hear youir thoughts!
Welcome James! We're looking forward to reading the story.
Just curious - is anyone here actively playing a game of D&D these days? I played the recent season of Encounters, Lost Crown of Neverwinter, and had a fun time. And I'm dipping my toes into some playtesting activities.
I'd love to hear what other folks are up to.
Hello again, and a warm welcome to James! I'll be joining in on this one too - happily 'Circle of Skulls' is part of the anthology that contained 'City of the Dead', so I'm all set here - managed to squeeze in 'Downshadow' between sessions too
gold_piece: I've been playing D&D with my group off-and-on for a couple of years; with a bit of luck we should be playing through a few adventures in Eberron once we've finished a stint with Dark Heresy and I've written some material for it... (we're not ideally placed for official events, unfortunately). I'm still trying to find a good DM style for 4th edition that gets the best out of the game and gives the players what they want, but I've got a few ideas brewing.
I'm certainly interested to see how DnDnext shapes up, too - I think our group would be up for some playtesting of that once the materials are made public.
We've had a lot of fun with the D&D boardgames, too (Castle Ravenloft and The Legend of Drizzt).
Hey I just noticed the Book Club badges by our names - David, do we have you to thank for this? I know you've been campaigning for them for some time!
I hope to contribute to the conversation this time around; I was reading along with the last book (and very much enjoyed it), but I could never find the time to get my thoughts collected and post.
I picked my copy of this book up at the Barnes and Noble at the Irvine Spectrum--a fitting location!
It felt great buying a book for this group--I feel like it has been a long time since I read print copies--at least the last four I read in eBook format. I am not sure how I feel about the cover art on this one--the action in the middle is too small or something & seven circling skulls seems a little literal. The central winged figure with the sword looks awesome & I think more of him would be great...Also, this cover does not really "wrap around to the back" [is there a technical term for that effect?] like we have seen on many recent covers--I really like that effect a lot. Does anyone know who did this art?
James, thank you for your very thoughtful response above--I have a feeling this is going to be one of our best reads yet! I cannot wait to see if I find the same "small details" as meaningful as you intended--one of the things I often worry about is that I read to much into a book--I cannot wait to test that theory out with the Author!
Gold_piece, I am currently playing Encounters with my 10 year old son Jack, a Dudes from Work Eberron game once every three weeks, a Family game ~once a month, & a Friends of the Family game once a quarter. I also hit three local conventions a year. This is ~15 hours a Month...I had been playing a lot of Fourthcore Team Death Match online games which was awesome, and then tried my hand at Play By Post, but I am finding it very hard to keep up with that adventure...
Have no fears about reading too much into my books, I tend to hide all sorts of subtextual easter eggs in there. Some intentional, some slip in by way of a runaway subconscious. Then again I think reading too much into any book is part of the fun of being a reader. Even if a message appears that the author didn't intend, it makes the story a more personal experience in my opinion. It's one of the reasons I like to attach bits of poetry to my stories (and almost all of my books include a song or rhyme). I always find story ideas in poetry. Sadly the line I wanted to include with Circle of Skulls didn't make it into the book (possibly a copyright issue), but for trivia's sake, here it is:
"If there is a witness to my little life, to my tiny throes and struggles, He sees a fool; and it is not fine for gods to menace fools."
--Stephen Crane (from The Black Riders and Other Lines)
The sing-song rhyme that is in the book turned out well I think, it was stuck in my head once I nailed the rhythm part, but I'll wait until the discussion reaches that chapter before ruining anything.
Happy reading all!
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