Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Friday, November 20, 2009


The book's been out for a little while now, and even though the publisher did not initially send out review copies (this has been rectified) there are some reviews filtering out into the world. Of course I read them. On top of that there are readers who go out and buy the thing and read it and then talk about it on their blog. I read those too. I read everything even vaguely related to my book, to be honest. I'm thorough.

There are two general reactions that I'm seeing a fair amount that have me thinking, and I want to react to them in a very public manner. Since I don't have a public way to do such things, I'm going to react to them here on my blog, where my words will rot away into nothingness. As the title implies, there are spoilers herein.

The reaction that I'm seeing a lot that troubles me the most is that Emily, for all her kick-ass-ity ended up as a fairly typical female sidekick who needed to be saved by the hero at the end. It troubles me because it's accurate, and that was not my intention. I want to create complex and strong female characters, so can't help but be disappointed when I blow it. It's called learning, I guess. The reason that things ended up the way they did is because I wanted to screw up Jacob as much as I could. My focus was different. I will say that this was originally pitched as a trilogy, and there are other female characters in the wings that will develop. Should I get to write the rest of the books, that is. No promises.

Secondly, a lot of people wish Jacob had accepted the Avenger's Heart and burned Veridon the fuck down. I understand this. I wanted it to be a hard decision for Jacob. But let's be clear here, Veridon is a city of hundreds of thousands. Do you think they all deserved to die? I mean, we're talking about the atom bomb here, honestly. Jacob wasn't sure what he would have become, what kind of control he would have had. The book was originally called "Darker Angels", a name that came from the short story that described Camilla's origin story. When Camilla is being, ahem, harvested by the Church of the Algorithm she reveals herself as an angel and then goes on to threaten "There are darker angels." Jacob was given the opportunity to become that darker angel, and he declined it because he wasn't sure what it would do to him, to his city, and to the people around him. It was a choice, a difficult choice, and one that he made. Again, the implications of that choice are a major theme in the later books. Again, if I ever get to write them.

Anyway. Reaction has generally been very good. I get a lot of "I read it in two days because I couldn't put it down." While I don't consider myself a very thrilling writer, well, clearly I'm wrong about that. As long as people don't lose sight of the other things going on.


At 6:37 PM , Blogger Marshdrifter said...

I think I still owe you comments.

At 8:46 PM , Blogger Sarah said...

I loved this book. Raved about it in a review actually. I hope some publisher out there is smart enough to publish the rest of the series. I want to know what happens next. FWIW, I thought Emily was a great character. She did her own share of the rescuing. I thought the ending was well done. I think I would have been disappointed if it had ended with everyone all safe and happily ever after.
Can you give me a link to the short stories? The one on your blog takes me to writtenpixel.com and I don't know where to go from there.

At 3:05 AM , Blogger Mike Alexander said...

I enjoyed the ending - it would have seemed cheap if everyone but the baddest bad guys came out unscathed. There has to be a sacrifice to make the achievement seem earned. Plus, I'm a sucker for dead women in boats - I blame "The Lady of Shallot". ;-)

In fact, the last third of the book was terrific; from the point of meeting Camilla the tension just kept cranking up nicely.

Having said all this, I do think the ending is more satisfying in the context of first-of-trilogy rather than standalone novel. Whilst I like open or ambivalent endings, I think there needs to be a little more closure if the novel's a one-off (basically I'm saying "please write the other books!!").

I loved all the rain at the end - worked really well, and not just because it put me in a 'Blade Runner' frame of mind.

Regarding Jacob's decision not to annihilate Veridon, I can see the argument against, but really, Jacob's not a monster. There are a lot of innocent people in the city. And these are his people, no matter how bad a hand he's been dealt by the city politicos and vested interests. I guess part of the problem is that we don't really meet any innocents in the story. No children, for instance (unless I've forgotten something). Maybe if there had been it would have given a point of focus for Jacob when weighing up his decision.

The one point in the book that jarred a little with me was when we discover - quite late in the book - that Jacob and Emily have a history that goes way back. I would have expected at least some hint of this earlier in the book (maybe there was and I missed it). Being first-person-narrated, if Jacob knows about it you'd kind of expect him to share it with you, otherwise it smacks a little of contrived withholding of information.

One other slight criticism was that the names confused me a little - Marcus and Malcolm are probably a little too similar; I had to look back to see who was who a couple of times. And I wasn't sure how to pronounce "Cacher" - "catcher", "caitcher" or "casher"?

But these are minor niggles - overall it's a fantastic debut, and I'm really looking forward to the Pyr book.

At 4:45 AM , Blogger Tim Akers said...

Sarah: don't suppose you could link the review? I read them all, and react to none. It's the only way.

The short story link is currently broken. There are people working on that behind the scenes, but I'm not providing them the support they need, so it might be a while. Like, after I'm done writing this next book.

Mike: Good thought on Emily's history with Jacob. I tried to layer it in more subtly, but I guess there's no reason Jacob wouldn't have mentioned it earlier. Honestly, there was a massive shuffling of narrative at the end of the process and in the rush to make sure things were in order, I might have just missed that. Boo!

At 7:39 PM , Blogger Sarah said...

Tim here is the link.
I'll keep checking back to see if the link gets fixed. I'd love to see Camilla's story that you mentioned in your original post.
There were subtle hints in the earlier part of the story to let the reader know that there was past history between Emily and Jacob.

At 1:33 PM , Blogger Alessia said...

I'm reading your book right now, and I confirm the fact that it's very hard to put it down. I kept reading until 2.00 in the morning, having to get up at 5.40 to work. Just to quantify *how hard*.

I'm liking it a lot, and while I haven't finished it I'm pretty close to - only a few pages to go. The thought about Emily occured to me as well, but not because she's a woman and she has to be rescued (woman speaking, by the way), but just because, well... the first time they mentioned the angel needed a host, my thought was, there you go, the girl is either going to become the host and he'll have to kill her, or die in the process of serving as bait.
But it was a good ending and a good book nonetheless.
I liked Jacob and his "voice". About him not using the Cog and tear Veridon to pieces... well. I could feel it was a hard decision he had to make, but if he had taken the heart it wouldn't have felt like Jacob. He's a rational guy, I love the part where he meets Camilla and tells her that "crazy bi***es don't get weapons of the apocalypse", and in the end it seemed to me it was the only thing he could and sholud do. I liked it a lot. He goes for the hard way if the thinks it is the right one to take, he'd done it once already when he'd turned down Valentine's offer of help (another character I liked along with Camilla).

And I loved the setting, the atmosphere, the city, the description of the river and the lights as they approach on the falling Glory.

As to Emily's and Jacob's past history... well, everyone has different likings and so on, I loved the fact that it was hinted at, given in bits. The two scenes were lovely, but I'd dare say it would have worked as well without them.

I think you handled very well the first person narrative, and wanted to compliment you on that. I think it's harder to write than third, sometimes, or has at least as many pitfalls, but you did very well - just my opinion, but there it is. Same goes for the fight scenes. Some great description in there.


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