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Showing posts from September, 2015

The Riddle-Master of Hed, by Patricia A. McKillip (1976)

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When a friend recommends a novel, my first question is never, “What's it about?” Instead, I always ask who wrote it. If not familiar with the author, and if I know my friend has discriminating tastes, I ask, “What's the writing like?” I once loaned my copy of Tolkien's The Children of Húrin to a friend with the qualifier, “The subject matter is pretty morbid.” This triggered a raised brow. “But,” I said, “the writing is superb.” To which he replied, “Well, it's Tolkien!”

Whether you revel in stories involving space aliens, 19th century sleuths, druids of antiquity, lovers in the Victorian Era, modern day cyber criminals, fairies with an inexhaustible supply of pixie dust, or talking animals, no qualifier exists to gauge the value or validity of such interests. To each his (or her) own, I say. 

The rules of grammar, on the other hand, while not the ultimate factor for determining a thumbs up or down of any given work, is a good first step toward gauging quality of prose a…