Review: Spear’s Sacrifice

Thanking my ShoelessWriter so much for this. Such an honest review (that I am biased of, because it looks upon my work favourably!) And I’m always glad to hear about my use of language, in any way, shape, or form. It’s hard to think from an outside perspective about it, even more so than every other part of a novel!

ShoelessWriter

I’m going to start this review out with a warning/confession.  The author of Spear’s Sacrifice, A.A. MacConnell, is a friend of mine.  She’s a member of one of the groups of writers I belong to, and I adore her.  So this is not completely unbiased. However, with that said, I have done my absolute best to be as neutral as I can be and point out where I can’t.

I will start by telling you that I’m an awful friend, I ordered this book on its release date back in April and just finished reading it today. I’m sad it took me so long to get around to it. I’ve been carrying it around in my bag for months, but never found the time to read it. As soon as I finished it, I messaged the author and demanded a sequel, a prequel for backstory, and side stories of…

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Champion of the Gods (pt11)

Shu-fang kept herself calm, muscles lax.

“There will always be something to fight! You know this better than the other humans who still easily throw their lives away for that fight. You are my Champion, Shu-fang, no matter who you choose to back. You are another facet of the battle. No matter where you go, what you do, you will find yourself there once more. And so you will Champion me and present me to the world with your victories!”

Shu-fang’s eyes flickered downward against her will. The dirt was peaceful, despite War’s presence. It didn’t feel apt to rise up and attack. That was why the dead usually ended up wrapped away within it. “I’m tired,” she admitted.

What would War say to that? Might War have a word or two that would help her cope with these feelings? That could be all she needed, the ability to cope with this fatigue and move on.

War’s expression told her all, even before the goddess spoke. “There is always more! More to do, more blood to spill! Fatigue passes, but the battle rages on!”

Shu-fang brought her gaze back up. War had never been tired. She never would. There was nothing more for Shu-fang to take from this conversation. No more reason to stay here, other than the fact that War had prompted this situation. Now she had to get away from her.

Perhaps she should have lied, but Shu-fang would not.

Champion of the Gods (pt10)

That was the price of being the embodiment of a concept such as War. Though while brutality was mixed into it, that certainly wasn’t all what War was about. She was a walking conflict that she expressed through physicality. But that was not evil, not to Shu-fang.

Though she might have been biased, through lives lived where she did that much and worse. War was a part of life. And that was why she was a God.

“Then why look for me?” Shu-fang asked.

“What does that mean!” War shouted it out in a way that it no longer sounded like a question.

Shu-fang wasn’t surprised. War was so one-track minded. Of course she was confused by the message. “It means I am no longer available to do your bidding.”

War’s frown became more intense. “You have decided to serve who now? That is irrelevant.”

“You misunderstand. I do not serve anyone else. No god will get me to fight for them.”

A beat. Then, like the crack of a whip, War threw her head back and laughed.

A Gift for Life and Death (pt20)

Pup pushed his head into Death’s side. Death reached up to stroke the top of his head, letting his hand linger upon the dirty bone longer than necessary. “You shouldn’t encourage them. I know you’re at fault for the angel’s thoughts about us.”

That tail waved slowly, those black holes showing more emotion in them than Death’s ever could. He wasn’t sure how his hound could express such things, when he had such limited make up to change to show them. A skull shouldn’t have been able to display expressions. There was only supposed to be a smile upon a skull.

“That’s enough for right now. You can go. Do your frolicking. There is always more work to do.”

He didn’t have to tell his hound when to come back. Pup would always be there when he called, no exceptions. As long as Death had that, he didn’t need anything else.

Forgiveness had spent so much of recent time flitting about behind Life, distracting her from her sowing. Nothing took them away from her for long, for whatever reason. But what was the angel doing so far away from Life?

On the Importance of Reviews

When I was younger, I wouldn’t review things. Not that I wasn’t critical. In fact, I believe I was much more critical when in school than I am now. School taught me to judge things harshly. I have learnt since then that it really isn’t worth that much energy unless you truly want to or have an interest in learning something from it.

There were all of those assignments though. Review this book. Critically. And I hated most of those books too. I’m not sure whether I hated them because I was being forced to read them in this light or not. But it was beyond frustrating.

So flash forward. Time for the internet. It took me a long time to put myself forward on this platform, though I spent a good deal of time haunting certain grounds. And because I didn’t want to put myself out there, I didn’t review anything.

This is very important when it comes to books. Even more so when it comes to self-published authors. The reviews, or even just the rating, is the only thing that will draw people in. You can have the best selling point in the world, but when people come up and look and see that it looks like no one has picked it up at all, they hesitate.

This isn’t just books. This is all products. If there isn’t a rating, forget about the review, people are less inclined to pick things up.

A few years ago I realized this was the case. Because it took me that long to shop online, first thing. Harder to do that in a store (as most people forget to do the survey, and even that is about the store and staff – not about the products you buy). After that, it’s when I started thinking for the first time since childhood that I could become a writer. It’s what everyone was talking about.

I have nothing new to add on the subject. This isn’t just something I bring up for me. If you buy any book from anything online and you can rate and review it? Do it. Even if it’s just the rating. It can be hard sometimes to write out exactly what it was about the book that you liked, hated, or whatever. It takes time. Time you could be spending picking up another book.

Take it from me, someone who rates all my books now, for the sake of others. People need to hear whether you like things or not. Maybe you aren’t the audience, but other people deserve to know too.

And an author can’t get a bad critique. (I think I already espoused the difference of critiques and just shit-talking something, so I won’t get into that.)

A Gift for Life and Death (pt13)

“Fore!”

The blade hit the skull and it went flying off into the distance. Death watched as his hound chased after the bone, catching it miles away. He chuckled, moving over the muck of the swamp as it tried to collect the rest of the bodies before Death could have fun with them. Well, the suffering was over. At least, the suffering of those he had come to collect.

Even the plants that lived in this swamp, the insects which couldn’t get far enough away, the frogs who had been injured by what had transpired here… they would come to him, in their own ways, as their bodies failed them and their lives came to an end. So simple. So artificial. They didn’t last very long. They never did.

Pup came back to him, tail flinging itself every which way, happily bringing back the skull. It was slimed, swamp slime, and Death tried to take a step back as Pup dropped it on his head, but he still got it all over his robes. He made a face, then ignored it to reach up for the large hound’s jaw.

“Good boy.”

With a big huff, Pup lay down to allow Death a good access to scratch at his jaw. Then he became impatient and flipped onto his back, showering the air with muck and exposing mud and blood which lay upon his bones. Death rubbed his stomach, what the hound obviously wanted. Then he leaned against one of his ribs, cleaning off the already clean head of his scythe. He didn’t want anything on it when it went to storage with the rest of his scythes.

Though if anyone realized he had more than one, well, he would have to deny it. Death only came in one form, after all.

Champion of the Gods (pt1)

“I am retiring.”

The room was completely empty, but for Shu-fang. She still put forth those words without hesitation, loud enough for every corner to capture her words. Because there might be someone listening. Shu-fang had long since been used to anyone being able to hear her.

Today though, she did not want to be misconstrued. The seemingly young woman rolled back her sleeves, tying them out of the way. She had bought a large paintbrush for this occasion, with candy apple red paint. Viewing the white walls of her canvas, Shu-fang dipped her brush into the canister, then drew it back out to write it on the wall.

Shu-fang covered the walls with her message. It was a simple one. I’m done. I’m retired. Don’t come for me. She wrote it in her mother tongues – it had been so long she did not remember which was actually her first language, but she was native enough in many of them it didn’t matter. She added in languages that she did not use as often, but was close to fluent enough in to write it casually as well. She found her tape recorder, her computer, her phone, and recorded the message on all of those as well.

There were many different ways to say it, but Shu-fang kept it simple. She would no longer do the gods’ will.

A Gift for Life and Death (pt1)

When the angel forced their eyes open, it was because of the soil pressed up against their cheeks warming. They were alone, sitting up to look along up at the place where the mythic phoenix roosted. Their back was sore, though that was an improvement from before they had decided to take a nap. A distraction from the pain in their aileron, which had since sleep faded away.

Mayhaps not a good sign, but at least it wouldn’t hamper the last leg of their journey. One foot in front of the other, they began to climb the fresh soil on the sleeping volcano, home of the wizened tree.

Forgiveness knew fatigue, but it had never stopped them before.

It was time to consider what it was they would return with. When they had come up with this idea in the first place, they had thought about the phoenix alone, but now that they had come all this way, they knew it would be ridiculous to think about taking the phoenix back with them. Even if they had been capable of it, which they never had been, removing the phoenix from their home would have been a cruel thing to do. Which left them with the question: what might have been left for them that they could possibly take?

Forgiveness considered a feather, wondering if the phoenix who lived here would be willing to part with one. Well, no way of knowing the answer but to ask, so the angel continued their path up the mountain.

Death would laugh them right back into spring, the angel knew, when they showed up like this. This far for a representation of a concept they could have simply spoken to him about. Forgiveness knew better. They knew Death wouldn’t take them seriously. That was what this effort was for. For Death to actually listen to the point Forgiveness wanted to make.

The way was long and tiring, even for the most rested of traveller, but especially for one who had already made their way from afar and spent most of their energy doing that. The angel wished they had another options to ease their way. To fly, to ride. Those were options they had had available earlier on in their question. Now both had vanished, leaving them with their hands and feet, the same as any human mortal.

What the angel had once believed themselves to be.

Spears (pt1)

The house Azzah and Reem watched over was different than the thatched roofed houses in town. It was made of brick and wood, standing square. Its walls held up a roof with two sides to it. It was larger than the rounded walls and roofs of the other homes. Azzah imagined it required more supports on the inside to hold it up. It was an odd sight outside the town of Hirka. Yet it had stood here for years, longer than either Azzah or Reem had lived in this place. Azzah was used to it now, but she still thought it strange.

Reem shook her head. It was shorn free of hair, displaying the freckles which covered most of her face. “You can make a bit more distance without sacrificing your poise.”

Azzah shifted her hands on her spear’s shaft and struck forward again. Reem’s advice was almost always something Azzah already knew, but would forget about during the moment. Or the weapon would shift in her hand and she would forget to compensate. Reem didn’t have these problems.

“Better. Do it faster.”

Azzah smirked. She shared many physical characteristics with her spear-sister. Dark brown hair had also been cut away into nothing. They had the same dark brown eyes. Azzah didn’t have freckles, but the shape of her face carried the same strength. The two of them could have been blood-sisters, not just spear-sisters. Azzah returned back to a standing position. For a moment, the both of them stood there in silence, then Azzah lunged forward to bridge the distance between them. Her spearhead, still covered, passed right by Reem’s arm.

Reem knocked the shaft of her own spear against Azzah’s. “Better.”