Friday, September 5, 2014

Surfing the Human Wave: B.J. Beck's The Fields Where Soldiers Play

Hello, everyone! I'm back!

And apologies once again for my partially unplanned absence. Around mid-August, I developed some neck and upper back pain that made it difficult to sit at the computer for long stretches, so I was forced to dial back my writing schedule. Then, of course, there was my usual end-of-summer road trip to Dragon Con: six jam-packed days that provide little opportunity to dash off even a quick email (let alone a blog post). Said con always takes it out of me, but as I'll note in this year's report, it's totally worth it just to spend some time with My People in the Science Fiction Literature Track (where I've served as a volunteer for the past eight years).

This past week, however, I've discovered that I can't turn my back on fandom even for a second. Upon my return, this is essentially what I found:

Larry Correia once again tangled with a certain welfare queen at the Guardian after the latter misrepresented Toni Weisskopf and Baen Books; people have been arguing on Facebook over the depiction of women in John Ringo's novels; the usual suspects are trying to destroy the gamer world, and gamers are starting to fight back; Spiderwoman's butt caused - well - butthurt in Marvel fandom; etc., etc., etc. I think the Huns are right: We need to find a way to turn all this outrage into a renewable energy source. But in the meantime, I can parlay it into some commentary posts; between the never-ending fandom-wank and some of the conversations I had at Dragon Con, I think it'll take months before I run out of things to say.

Before I get into all of that, though, I have a book to review: B.J. Beck's The Fields Where Soldiers Play.


The Fields Where Soldiers Play is the first novel of a sword-and-sorcery fantasy trilogy in which the principal protagonist - a knight by the name of Sir Jacien - returns from one war only to find himself embroiled in another when neighboring forces, claiming that Newelen's king is illegitimate, attempt to invade. 

To be honest, I can't say there was anything in Fields that really wowed me -- but as debut novels go, it's not bad at all. The magic system - in which spells are woven or sewn - is unique enough to catch my attention, the action sequences are reasonably well-written, and the political intrigue has a great deal of story potential. Did Beck accomplish her stated goal of recapturing the classic days of fantasy literature? Unfortunately, that's hard for me to say, as I'm not especially well-read in the history of that particular genre. Did I essentially like the book and think it was worth five dollars? Yes. At the very least, I'm willing to spend money to see how the rest of the story plays out, which means Beck succeeded in generating interest in her characters and her world.

And -- well, I wish I had more to say than that, but I think further discussion will have to wait until I read the second and third books.

Final Verdict: Recommended (Provisionally).


  1. Tomorrow's news today - Brad Torgersen is officially a misogynist and the ultimate evil to all women-kind. The nuke scene above is being repeated in a debate about the Ray Rice domestic violence case as we speak, and a drive-by SJW lynching has ensued.