Pandragon Dan

Pandragon Dan

Author/Reviewer/Blogger

Pandragon Reviews - Medusa A Love Story

Anyone who has read the description on my websitewill know that I am a huge fan of Greek Mythology and I am always interested in anything to do with it. I even quite liked the films Clash of the Titans and Immortals – although I wouldn’t go so far to say that they were classics of the genre – and of course the classic stop motion films of the old days.

 

So I must admit I was very interested in hearing about a love story set around Medusa, seeing as most stories portray her as a monster. Having her as a kind of tragic character sounded like an interesting take on it – so I decided to give it a go. I therefore present my review of Medusa – A Love Story by Sasha Summers.

 

 

About The Author

 

Sasha is part gypsy. Her passions have always been storytelling, history, romance, and travel. She writes lyrical romantic fantasy, steamy contemporary, and sci-fi romance. Her first play was written for her Girl Scout troupe. She's been writing ever since. She loves getting lost in the worlds and characters she creates; even if she frequently forgets to run the dishwasher or wash socks when she's doing so. Luckily, her four brilliant children and hero-inspiring hubby are super understanding and supportive.

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sasha-Summers/213036208773108

Twitter: @sashawrites

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5759214.Sasha_Summers

Blog: www.sashasummers.com

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sashasummers/

 

You can buy Medusa, A Love Story on Amazon:

 

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Medusa-Story-Loves-Olympus-ebook/dp/B007WSV5JI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1337812533&sr=8-2

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Medusa-Love-Story-Sasha-Summers/dp/1937254518/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337812533&sr=8-1

 

OR

 

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/medusa-a-love-story-sasha-summers/1110296522?ean=9781937254513

 

Cover

I must say that I like this cover. Simple but effective. A rotting temple with snakes and a fallen statue – foreshadowing the events of the book. It’s nicely put together and, whilst it doesn’t really leap out, it does show the events of the book very well. Subtle, but effective.

 

 

Overview

 

This is actually the third book I’ve read from Crescent Moon Press (the others being Wasteland and The Curse of Gremdon) and I had to be honest I wasn’t too swayed by either of those books. However, I did enjoy this book very much and loved the interesting take on a classic myth. Whereas Medusa is often portrayed as a monstrous character that Perseus has to overcome, here she is portrayed in a more sentimental and tragic light.

 

For those who know the story of Medusa (and minor spoilers here if you don’t) Medusa was actually once a beautiful maiden that was raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple and then transformed into a beast by Athena as punishment. That is how the story kinda goes for Medusa here and it really works well. Miss Summers is able to really capture the emotion of the piece and we feel for the character. I felt so sorry for Medusa – she never does anything wrong and yet she always seems to get punished for it. Used as a plaything for the god Poseidon and then betrayed by Athena (a goddess whom she loves and worships), you can’t help but hope some good comes for her. All she wants is to fall in love but everything seems to work against her. I don’t think it’s giving away too much to say what her eventual fate is, but even so I thought her punishment was really harsh.

 

Ariston is the hero of the piece, a Greek soldier whom falls in love with Medusa and he truely is a heroic and likeable character. This is a man that is willing to go through hell (literary) to save the woman he loves. Even when he learns of her curse, that still doesn’t stop him going to her. I won’t say too much – but the scene where Ariston and Medusa meet again after she has been cursed will definitely break a few hearts.

 

The subplot involving the Gods was well put together and never once felt like a distraction to the main plot. Poseidon is a really d*** that wants nothing more than to outdo Athena. And even Athena is a treacherous cow. I liked the way that they were portrayed as humanly as possible (after all, the Gods did have the emotions of humans) and that made them more realistic for me.

 

If I did have ONE complaint with the book it would be the formatting. It just didn’t look right to me and the pages were laid out like a word page, meaning that there was a lot of empty space at the end sometimes. It’s kinda hard to explain – but write a few sentences on a word document and then justify the words and you’ll see what I mean. But that’s the only negative comment I can really make about this book and it really didn't hammer my enjoyment of the story.

 

 

PROS (if looks could kill):

  • Interesting take on the Medusa myth.
  • Story is tragic and has great pathos.
  • Strong characters and God’s feel believable.
  • Excellent read for those who enjoy a good romance.

 

CONS (snake eyes):

  • Not overly impressed with the page formatting of the book.

 

 

Summary

 

Speaking as someone who isn’t actually an expert in romance (although I am prepared to accept it), I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was an interesting take on the myth of Medusa and one that will not disappoint. Whether you know the story or not, I recommend this book if you want a good, sometimes heart wrenching, romantic read.

 

FINAL SCORE: 5/5

 

 

Pandragon

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My own personal cosplay!

Just for the sake of people that don't know what "cosplay" means - it's when people dress up as their favourite characters from Manga, Anime, Video Games, Comics and the like. I decided to do my own cosplay a while ago - based around a character in my books! (What do you mean I'm cheating?)

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you my own cosplay of a character of my own creation - The Man in Shadow!

The Man in Shadow is the villain of the next Draconica novel Legacy of the Dragonkin (out next year), but his motives are somewhat shrouded in mystery. He is a demented, darkly humourous character that is prone to vicious mood swings. He can be laughing his head off one moment, then turning extremely violent the next! He is also prone to terrible coughing fits and requires the usage of an unknown chemical that he injects through his neck. He is called "Man in Shadows" as he tends to work "behind the scenes" as it where. HIs motives may not be noticable at first - but trust me, when you realise his true identity you will know that the world of Draconica is in deep trouble!

 

Image and personality wise, he's a mixture of the characters Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid, Alucard from Helsing and The Joker from Batman. He's kinda a mixture of the two kinda villains I like - sorta campy and over the top yet really sinister and evil

 

The costume was put together from various costume pieces over the years, they were all brought from the website Joke.co.uk. I kinda like the way it turned out and hopefully will get a chance to promote it a little more. I like the gas mask especially - very creepy!
 
Oh and I should point this out even though it should be taken as read - the weapons are NOT real! They are made from plastic and are completely harmless (where am I going to get a real scythe like that anyway? lol). But I think they are pretty cool and fit his demented character perfectly.
 
This is more an experiment that I hope went well. Please feel free to leave a comment below and any tips you can suggest to improve on it. I'm hoping to have a sketch of him done in the near future.
 
Thanks for reading guys and have a great week.

 

Pandragon

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Top Five Most Hateable Characters in A Song of Ice and Fire

Hands down, this is my favourite book series that I am currently reading. Alongside Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, A Song of Ice and Fire is by far the best written series of recent years – not just in Fantasy, but in ANY genre. I love the expansive history, the multiple plot lines that don’t always seem significant but always impact on the story in some way. I love the medieval setting, the battles, the political deception and, most of all, the characters.

 

I honestly think that the characters in A Song of Ice and Fire are some of the most complex in any Fantasy I’ve read. They show that Fantasy characters don’t have to always be typical archetypes and that they can stand out and be multi-layered as much as any other character in fiction. They are amazingly complex – even the secondary and background characters seem to have a personality to make them believable. Now THAT is a skill. There are no real heroes or villains, just people with their own motivations. Of course there are characters that you love and characters that you just love to hate! And that’s why I think this series is so great.

 

So today, in the first of a two part Top Five, I’m looking at the top five characters that I HATE or just DESPISE. These are five characters that have something about them I just can’t stand, but I still appreciate them as characters. So let’s dive in.

 

SPOILER WARNING: This Top Five is VERY spoiler heavy – if you haven’t read any of the A Song of Ice and Fire series or seen the Game of Thrones TV series, you might want to check that out first before reading.

 

1. Theon Greyjoy

Talk about being a “Judas” of the series. Theon was Robb’s most trusted friend during the War of the Five Kings – and he stabbed his friend in the back by attacking his home of Winterfell.

 

In many ways, you can kinda see why Theon would want to betray them – he was taken as a child by Eddard Stark during the Greyjoy Rebellion and raised by the Stark family as a ward. Although he never really fit in with them. During the way, he went back to the Iron Islands to try and broker a deal with the Greyjoys, which they refused. Seeing how much his sister has gained a reputation as a strong soldier (and desperate to prove to his father that he is still a Greyjoy at heart), he takes Winterfell with but a few men, hoping to show his father that he is still strong. This, however, proves to be his undoing.

 

Theon is a character that just wants to be accepted, but he found none at either the Stark family or his own people. He is desperate to prove himself as a strong warrior and try and win his father’s affection. But this causes him to make rash decisions. What I hate most about Theon is that he is such a whinny little b**** that stamps his foot like a petulant child if he doesn’t get his way. Not only that, but when Bran and Rickon escape Winterfell, he kills two other children and burns them alive when he fails to capture them. That I think makes him pretty hateable.

 

Now a prisoner of the Bolton’s, it looks like Theon is reaping what he sowed. And given that the Greyjoy’s motto is We do not sow, the irony is not lost on him!

 

2. Viserys Targaryen

Even though he only lasted one book, that was still long enough to know how much I despised him as a character. This guy was a petty, spiteful man that would abuse his sister and even tried to sell her off in his quest to become king – you gotta admit that makes him a d***!

 

One of the last descendants to the Targaryen bloodline (the true kings of Westeros), along with his sister Daenerys, Viserys is determined to win back his claim to the Iron Throne. To this end he arranges a marriage of his sister (against her will) to Khal Drogo, leader of the Dothraki, who promises him 10,000 soldiers to help him take back the Iron Throne – this earns him the title of Beggar King. Even though Daenerys is not comfortable with this, he forces her to do it, completely blind to her own suffering.

 

Amazingly, his actions seem to have the opposite effect. Daenerys becomes accepted within the Dothraki and Khal Drogo is a gentle and loving husband to her. Over time, Viserys is practically forgotten about – and Daenarys even gains the courage to stand up to her brother. After suffering numerous humiliations, Viserys threatens to kill Dany if the Dothraki don’t honour their bargain. Khal Drogo lives up to his end of the bargain by giving him a crown – of boiling hot gold! This ends up killing him, meaning that Daenerys is now free of his tyranny – and the sole heir to the Iron Throne.

 

Surprisingly enough, even though Viserys was a real monster, Daenerys does attempt to reclaim her birthright as revenge for her family. So in some ways, Viserys was a kind of inspiration for Daenerys, however cruel he was. Since then, Daenerys has been gathering support in the Free Cities, freeing slaves and raising an army – along with her three dragons.

 

3. Vargo Hoat

Leader of the Brave Companions, who are described on Wikipedia as “a particularly unsavoury sellsword company”. Personally, I think a better way to describe them would be the “scum of the planet”. All members of the Brave Companions are sick, twisted criminals who delight in torturing people – and Vargo Hoat is no exception.

 

I actually laughed at first at this character, because he talks in a lisp due to a swollen tongue – but he is no joke. He will kill or even maim you just because he feels like it, even if you did nothing wrong. He also has no sense of loyalty as when Tywin Lannister pays him to burn and pillage to draw out Robb Stark, he quickly turns coat when the Bolton’s get involve and he helps them take Harrenhal.

 

Perhaps his most hideous act is to cut off Jamie Lannister’s hand when he is their captor. I was shocked when this scene happened. Ok, so Jamie Lannister was a completely arrogant git, but even what he went through was too much to bear. This one act alone stays with Jamie for the rest of his life and diminishes his skill with a sword somewhat. Even though Vargo does eventually meet his end at the hands of Ser Gregor Clegane (in a manner most suited to him), Jamie is forever haunted by the crippling injury that Vargo Hoat gave him. Something he can never forget.

 

All in all, a particularly horrible character and not one I’m likely to miss.

 

4. Lord Roose Bolton

I gotta be honest, there is just something about this character I find very creepy. Maybe it’s because the sigil of his house is a flayed man (which is pretty sick in and of itself), maybe it’s the fact that he takes regular leechings to improve his health (which has given him the title of Leech Lord), or maybe it’s just the fact that the Bolton’s are sick people that delight in skinning their opponents. Either way, this guy gives me the chills as much as reason to hate him.

 

Though he is mild mannered and never raises his voice, he is chillingly cold and calculated. Also, he seems to take great pride in his son Ramsey, even though he’s a bastard. Ironically, he is one of the Stark’s bannermen that come to Robb Stark’s aid during the War of the Five Kings. A worthy ally in many ways, after all he does make a strong blow against the Lannisters by taking Harrenhal and his son is able to retake Winterfell (only to later betray the Northmen and take it for himself).

 

But what makes me hate this character so much is that he is one of the conspirators of the Red Wedding – one of the most horrific events in the book series that results in the death of some of the most loved characters. Orchestrated by Lord Walder Frey as punishment for Robb Stark’s breaking of a marriage pact with them, Lord Bolton is the one to slay Robb Stark in one of the most coldest of executions possible. After this, he is granted Warden of the North by Tywin Lannister, granted a gift by the very person he was fighting against. That makes Lord Bolton one of the biggest monsters in the series – he promised to help Robb Stark and yet stabbed him in the heart afterwards.

 

I have to be honest though, Lord Bolton is one of the few characters in the Game of Thrones series that I don’t think was cast very well. I’m not saying the actor playing him is bad, I just don’t think he fits the description of the book. He just looks a little to thuggish and not the kind of sickly noble that he’s described in the books. I honestly think that they could have kept to his appearance a little better – but that’s just my opinion.

 

Certainly one of the most underrated villains in the series, Lord Bolton is a cold hearted and wicked man that is responsible for one of the most horrific events in A Song of Ice and Fire. He’s one of the few villains yet to get his comeuppance – and I really hope that he does soon.

 

5. King Joffrey Baratheon

I really don’t think I can begin to describe how much I HATE this character. He is possibly not only the most hateable character in A Song of Ice and Fire – but possibly one of these most hated villains in fiction, essentially the Adolf Hitler of the Fantasy world.

 

Born of a secret incest between his mother Cersei and her brother Jamie Lannister, Joffery has always been mothered a lot as neither his true father or his supposed father (King Robert Baratheon) ever showed him much attention. Determined to prove himself, Joffrey rose to become king after his mother arranged for her husband to be killed on a hunting trip. He quickly gained a reputation as one of the most hated kings of all of Westeros.

 

Even before coming king, Joffrey was plain annoying. He was just a spoilt little rich kid with a rather nasty streak – even having one of Arya Starks friends killed just because he didn’t like him. Betrothed to Sansa Stark, he did come across as a charming prince at first – but when his true colours showed.

 

Joffrey has a horrific streak that no other character had in A Song of Ice and Fire and seemed to get off on seeing people hurt. On becoming king, he becomes hard to control and goes wild with power, even ignoring the advice of his mother. His first act as king (in one of the most shocking moments in A Game of Thrones) is to have Eddard Stark executed even after promising Sansa mercy. During his rule, he has Sansa beaten by his Kingsguard, stripped down and even left her to be raped by an angry mob! Seriously, this boy has no morals whatsoever – yet he gets away with it as he’s king. Only Tyrion Lannister has the courage to stand up to him and even tries to save Sansa from his clutches.

 

Overall, Joffrey is a character that is utterly despicable. He has no redeeming features and I just wished something bad would happen to him. Thankfully, near the end of A Storm of Swords, I got my wish. And let me tell you, Joffrey’s ultimate fate is one of the most satisfying deaths of any villain ever. It’s just a pity his death ends up putting Sansa and Tyrion in trouble.

 

If there is one good thing I can say about Joffrey is the actor Jack Gleeson, who plays him in Game of Thrones, the TV series. Jack Gleeson is a brilliant actor that plays him with such sneering hatefulness, yet also very petulant and whinny. He got the character down perfectly (and yet ironically, Jack Gleeson is supposed to be one of the nicest people on the planet) and I honestly think that this guy is destined to go onto play some great roles in the future as he is a brilliant actor.

 

Hands down the most hateable character in all of the series, Joffrey is a king that the people of Westeros would soon forget. Even members of his own family consider him a worst king than the Mad King himself. He’s a great villain, but one of those characters that you just love to hate.

 

 

That’s my list. Feel free to let me know your comments as to whom YOU love to hate within the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Next well, I’ll be looking at the Top Five likeable characters within A Song of Ice and Fire.

 

Until next time!
 

 

Pandragon

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All above mentioned characters are copyright of George R R Martin. Images drawn by Amoka.

No ownership is claimed for the above.

Oh, and have I mentioned that A Song of Ice and Fire is AWESOME!

What's Wrong With Being Sexy?

One of my favourite pastimes (which I do when I have a spare moment or two) is browsing writer’s forums and talking with other writers. Prior to blogging this was the way I tried to get feedback for my work, using the relevant sections to post sample chapters of my work for feedback. Along with this, I also posted some sample images (once people started asking for them of course) to go along with the written text. Feedback was pretty positive for the most part and the artwork did get a lot of the praise.

 

However, there was one forum poster (who shall remain nameless), who sent me a rather scathing email in response to this. Basically, the core of the email (which I will not be posting on here) was that he was extremely offended by the way some of the female characters were portrayed – as in physically. In particular, the character of Zarracka – he thought that the fact she wore a dress that barely contained her breasts was offensive to his feminist sensibilities and “sexist”. He then went onto some long tirade about how male writers “can’t write female characters without them being scantily clad whores” or words to that effect.

 

Well, to answer that question in the old fashioned manner of Spinal Tap...

Ok, in all seriousness, he’s entitled to his opinion and I will always respect that people will have different views to yourself. However, at the same time I do believe that any author should have the right to defend their work, so I politely replied back to him with answers to his questions. But he just would not leave it and came back with loads of other things that he had problems with – and this whole experience inspired me to write this blog. I will point out now that this is NOT a personal attack, but rather my view on some of the points that he raised.

 

As I’ve stated on previous blog posts, I love and have respect for women and believe that I write stronger female roles than male ones (in my personal opinion). But that being said – well, I am a man and I have the same urges that they all do. I personally don’t think that there is anything wrong with a female character being portrayed as a little bit sexy, any more than it is a male character being portrayed as hunky and muscular. We as humans are obsessed with beauty after all! It’s been a part of our culture since humans walked the earth. However, I do NOT agree with characters being portrayed in a derogatory manner and I would never create a character that was like that.

 

At the same time, I also believe that it’s important to create a character to type. For example, if a character is a succubus, vampire, or maybe a female assassin then it makes sense that the character would be alluring and attractive as they use seduction to snare their pray. By the same token, if it was a film or TV show set in the Amazon jungle, then you’d expect the tribes living there to wear little clothing given that the jungles have intense heat and they have little knowledge of modern clothing.  However, if you are just having a character that wore a skimpy swimsuit and her only contribution would be to get kidnapped and burst out of her clothing every five minutes – then that IS wrong, unless you’re writing erotic fiction. But that’s another story.

 

Here’s the thing though, I don’t necessarily think having a sexy character does anything to detract from their personality (assuming they have one). Indeed, many superheroines/action heroes are usually portrayed as pretty, but they also are strong confident women that can take action when the time is needed – that way we can respect them as characters as much as we can sexy symbols.

A good example is the superheroine Power Girl (see above pic), who is sometimes used as a kind of parody of the “sex symbol” ideal. She’s often portrayed as having a rather large *ahem* bust – which is often both a gift and a curse for her. Whilst this is usually distracting enough for her enemies (allowing her to beat them up), she sometimes gets a little bit annoyed about the way men view her. There’s a really comical scene I remember reading where she saves this man from a burning building, but he’s too distracted by her chest to thank her. Power Girl gets so annoyed that she chucks the man back into the burning building! (Don’t worry though, she goes back to save him). That adds a lot of humour to the scene in my opinion and this is why I like Power Girl out of a lot of DC characters – the writers don’t always take her adventures too seriously and like to throw in a little fun now and then.

 

Next point I wanted to raise was the subject of men not being able to write good female leads. This I personally think is totally ignorant – especially when you think that some of the most iconic female characters were created by men. Wonder Woman – created by a man (although his wife helped with her creation), Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Created by Joss Whedon (who is also a feminist I might add). Even Xena Warrior Princess had a male creator. Sure these characters are worshipped as “sex symbols” in their own right and are quite pretty – but that doesn’t detract from the fact that they aren’t damsels in distress and can look after themselves – which I feel makes them empowering.

 

In my view, saying that male writers can’t write good female leads is as ignorant as saying that female writers can’t write good male leads (I could use J.K Rowling as an example here with Harry Potter, but to be honest I never really was into Harry Potter. Although I know that any fan of H.P will agree on this point). Any writer is capable of creating equally good roles, regardless of gender.

 

Now, last but by no means least, I want to address the point he made about my character Zarracka being portrayed as too sexist. Well, for the purpose of this blog, here is a character design for her so that you can decide yourself.

I agree that her image is a little bit towards the alluring side - but let me clarify something. The artist that did this – and other artwork in the book – is female and a feminist. All the character designs were done by her and I gave her complete freedom to design these characters – given her only basic design descriptions and a copy of the book for reference. She drew these characters as she saw them with little direction from me and this is how she saw Zarracka. Indeed, Zarracka is a somewhat sexual character that is extremely vain and cruel, so it makes sense that she would try and look this way (I refer back to my “creating to type” argument). She drew the character based on how she saw them and not once did she ever draw in a derogatory manner. Just for further example, here are some of her other female character designs of characters in my book.

As a side note, I think having a female artist work for me has helped me as a writer – because whilst she is pretty open to the stuff I write about (including darker elements), she has some standards of what she will not draw and she will always tell me if she isn’t happy to draw something. This I think has help build a mutual respect between us and I always think it’s great to get a female perspective on a piece of work.
 
Anyway, that’s my feeling on the subject. Again I’d like to remind you all that this is not an attack against that guy that emailed me – I just disagree with a lot of the points he put across. My overall feeling is that there is no problem with making a character look sexy (whether male or female), as long as it isn’t derogatory and as long as it fits in with their character. And as long as they have a strong personality to make them stand out.
 
Agree or disagree? Or is there a point that I missed completely/should have raised? Please leave a comment below.
 
Thanks for reading!

 

 

Pandragon

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All images copyright of their repsective owners.

With the exception of the images of characters within Trapped on Draconica, I claim no ownership of any of these images.

A Number Of Short Story Reviews

Sorry that I haven't been updating the website recently. Things have been a little busy at the moment (I am currently preparing for a book club reading of Trapped on Draconica at my old school in June and preparing a campaign for my next book, Legacy of the Dragonkin), but it's been worth it! Just to let you guys know that I recently reviewed a number of short stories on Read2Review and I present them to you below so that you can see what I thought.

 

Click on the link below to be taken to the review.

 

A Fly in Amber b y Deanna Kipling

A Picture is Worth 1000 Chomps b y Deanna Kipling

Attack Of The 50-Foot Sushi Monster b y Deanna Kipling

Abominable by Deanna Kipling

A Memorable Weekend by John Brinhing

Antique Charming by Natalie-Nicole Bates

 

Next week, I aim to have my second Pandragon Review. Watch this space! In the meantime, check back on Friday when there will be another blog post!

 

 

Pandragon

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