I haven’t read too many indie published stories, but since I plan on indie publishing one of these days, I decided to read some by a few of my favorite blogging writers.
I decided to start with Grace Crandall. I read two of her latest short stories on her blog, Sleepy Tiger Stories. You really should go over there and read them. At least Of Stolen Gold and Princesses, because wow, that was one of the best short stories I’ve ever read. And I’ve read quite a few short stories. Grace Crandall is also an amazing artist, and she has sketched illustrations for each of her stories. I thought, “This lady is very talented, and her writing skill is awesome,” so I decided to pick up her indie published story, Ashes. Look, here’s the pretty cover. The author’s masterpiece:
Before we go on, a note on eBooks: I can’t figure them out. That’s probably because I don’t have a kindle (may I never get one too) so I borrowed it from a friend via Amazon. But I love reading actual books, rather than on a screen. So if you’re not an eBook reader like me, read this story anyways. It’s very definitely worth it. And who knows, maybe someday Ms. Crandall will format the story for paperback. I’ll be the first customer.
Ashes is a beautifully written story, and receives a 5 star from me. The plot goes thus …
Fendin, a spy for King Esgor, has made a friend with Risil, a member of the rebel army, people whom Fendin has sworn to kill in allegience to Esgor. This leads him to a life full of guilt and doubt as he tries to figure out which side he is really on. He begins to question his conscience when he “leads” his Resistance in attack against Esgor’s armies, whom he had warned beforehand. Most of the rebels die, and Risil and the army’s leaders are held in prison. But now Fendin must answer to Risil’s children about the death of their mother and the imprisonment of their father. Taking his current situation into account helps him to come to a decision. He knows what he must do now. He knows of the wrong he has done. He now knows whose side he is really on.
The story’s setting reminded me much of Lord of the Rings, and Fendin’s personality reminded me of Aragorn. Perhaps this is what made me picture Esgor as Denethor. The writing style is beautiful and captures a lot in one moment. The whole story was only 49 pages long, and yet so much was told without feeling too hurried. The pacing was perfect; in other words, it was a page turner. Or, well, a screen swiper. The phrasing was very well done too, and I feel that I’ve always noticed this in other stories by Crandall. Very often, I found myself thinking, “That’s a great way of saying it,” or “I wish I could write like that!” These certain sentences made me appreciate the perspective and unique metaphors used.
The characters, also, were amazing. Fendin is the main character, and is my favorite. His desires, trust and distrust, fears, and indecision makes him real. Risil, who’s probably the secondary character, is very cool too, as he yearns to see his kids again and struggles with his relationship with Fendin, trying to understand his friend’s motives. The ending was amazing, and wrapped up the story very well. It was the last scene where I decided that Fendin was absolutely, without a doubt, my new favorite character. I wish I could say more about that ending, but it’s a huge spoiler. You’ll have to read it to find out; the ending is worth reading the whole thing for.
I looked up Ashes on Google Images, and I saw some of Crandall’s artwork that should get some well deserved attention here.
The whole story was a very enjoyable read. The message and theme, the characters, particularly the character arc in Fendin, the prose, the choice of words, and feudal language. The time setting and dialog seemed slightly medieval in a Lord of the Rings-ish sort of way; I loved the absence of the 21st century slang! Overall, I highly recommend this book, or, should I say, this work of art. You will not regret reading Ashes, and don’t forget to read other stories by the talented Grace Crandall while you’re at it!