Thoughts on “A More Healthy Beat”

I wrote “A More Healthy Beat” for one reason -the ending. In reading about how to write stories, I often come across the same concepts more than one time. Advice for dialogue is almost always redundant, mentioning things like, “Characters should not utilize entire sentences, one character should not go on and on all the time, written dialogue presents more clarity than most every-day conversation,” ect…

Literature on writing stories always mentions plot, character, and setting development, as well as other techniques. One thing I have noticed in some of the more preferable stories that I have read was an abrupt, humorous or witty conclusion. This technique is advised by some as a near necessity for crafting stories. For this reason, I wrote this one.

I’m writing out this post; however, for another reason. Though a humorous conclusion is often applauded and enjoyed by many readers, I at times wonder if a more developed denouement is a far better choice from a literary perspective. It seems to me a simple joke or humorous play on words could be simply that, and a story should not have to include such an ending to be seen as more preferable than other stories.

To each their own, I say, on this. If you have a good idea for a story, write it out. If you can think of some form of in-depth or ironic conclusion and are worried the story may sound like a shallow joke, go ahead and write it anyway. Chances are someone will enjoy it, and you can further develop more in-depth concepts for better ideas afterwards.

Thank you for reading. ūüôā

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A More Healthy Beat

The night was cool and crisp and the weather was nasty. A tunneling mist blew leaves in front of the two officers, in front of an eighty-year-old street lamp in front of them. The night was also very dark in the woods across the way, except from part of the light of the street lamp. Noting the nostalgia of the old street light, the female officer looked up to its salmon glow to see its metal curls turned green from mild surface corrosion.

“Nice street lamp,” said Officer Lilac, the female, with a sniffle.

“Nice, indeed,” said Officer Attens, a large male police officer who was also her partner, “I am going into the small shop behind us to get us a coffee.”

“Okay.”

Officer Attens entered the small store, as Officer Lilac endured the scenery. They were used to policing various areas of town on foot, usually bringing in criminals during nocturnal hours.

Within moments, Officer Attens returned with a small package in his pocket and two cups of steaming coffee with sugar and creamer added.

“Thank you,” said Officer Lilac.

“No problem,” said Officer Attens, handing her her cup of coffee. He then proceeded to pull out the small package.

“What’s in the package?” asked Officer Lilac.

“The cashier said the coffee was complementary. I thought it was the uniform. He said it was complementary so long as I made a purchase. So, I killed to birds with one stone.”

“How so?”

“Well, I got us both a coffee, and I got you this.”

Officer Attens handed Officer Lilac a package of allergy lozenges.

“Why thank you,” said Officer Lilac, “I was starting to get a sniffle. What possessed you to get these for us?”

Officer Attens chuckled and said, “I am of the mind that we should be catching criminals, not colds.”

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Hobby Photos

I have four photos to share. One is of the chess board I made above. The sixty-four squares are made of poplar wood. The dark squares are dipped in a polyurethane coating I had yet to experiment with. It is not translucent in any way, which I was, in a way, hoping it would be, yet it will surely suffice for the dark squares of the board. The light squares are dipped in clear coat poly. The photo is not actually the final product, as I poured two more coats of clear poly on it. The squares were not totally perfect squares, causing the board to have small gaps. I wanted to fill the few gaps so the top surface would be smooth enough to dust with a microfiber cloth and not to be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner.

The base the squares are glued to is made of an inexpensive, thin plywood, yet the surface on the bottom of the board looks very nice, especially for its cost, and was obtained from Home Depot. If you notice the four holes in the corners of the board, they are there for functionality reasons. They look neat, yet I wanted to be able to get the board to a table from a wall and back again in a small amount of time if necessary. I thought the concave curves on the four edges added to the board’s aesthetic value, a sort of alien look, and am glad they came out without much flaw.

It is the first chess board I have made with wooden squares. Not too much of a hassle when compared to other project ideas I have in mind for chess boards. I am happy with the final result, so far. It should be dry within seven days or so, and will be totally dry within forty, in all considered probability.

Though I have a job and attempt to spend time off work reading (about writing and partially for pleasure) and writing and do, I also [at times] work some with wood projects/electronics. Below is an idea I had for someone for Christmas in 2016. Now far enough into 2017 for it to be nowhere near Christmas-time anyway, I still could not get the idea out of my mind, so I went ahead and processed the material. I hope the recipient of the box enjoys it, even if I ‘sort of’ made it to test the dye.The wood is stained with a water-based blue dye obtained from WoodCraft. The wood itself is an inexpensive hobby ‘white-wood’ plywood sold at Walmart for small picture frames and totally useful for most small box projects. In order to get the box looking at least as good as it does, despite the corners having no dove tails, I sanded it and re-coated it more than once. I made sure the corners were rounded, yet I left the lid mostly trapezoidal. The box has eight magnets for the lid to close/open, and I went with two steel wires instead of an actual hobby hinge for functionality reasons.

The lining is an inexpensive fabric I got from Walmart a few years ago for Christmas projects, ect. It is shiny on one side, so I was pleased with being able to use it for the project and think it came out nice enough. I sewed the corners and top of the fabric by hand into seams and used superglue to secure it within the box. I also used superglue for joining the planks of wood together. I have actual wood glue, yet I usually just use superglue. It will¬†dry¬†very quickly and still bonds wood corners with good strength. With wood glue, it is best to clamp pieces together and wait a day or two for the bond to dry. I’m not sure if I would do that, even if I was retired with nothing to do. At all.

The braided wire on the top of the box is a four-braid steel wire idea I chose over a knob, because the little knobs I got for making other boxes had a long screw I was unable to saw in half. I liked the idea and the final looks of the braid, so I was happy with the final result. On top of the dye is clear coat polyurethane to present a gloss finish. I was worried that the poly would turn the dye green, yet it did not, to my joyful surprise. Even if the box carries an amount of character, I was happy with the final result.

Here is a photo of a houseplant I got yesterday.

 

The last thing I needed was another plant to care for, yet this one caught the passionate side of my eye. After looking up “Celosia” on the web, I read that the leaves can be used for stew. I have four grapefruit trees I grew from seed that are over a year and a half old and are almost four inches tall, now, as I have cared for them, and my other house plants, daily. I also have a purple basil plant (in the old photo I still use for the header of jcm3blog), now about three years old. I am happy with it (the basil plant) and surprised I was able to keep it alive this long. The purple basil has one branch that is totally purple, so I think it is pretty impressive. For about four months, it was almost entirely green. I have a dark chili-pepper plant that makes little lavender flowers. It actually somehow was pollinated and I witnessed the development of small, spherical, red chili peppers that will probably fade to black upon their ripening.

Years ago I attempted to force pollination with pumpkin flowers and it did not work out (as I did not choose to use cubiculum, or bee feet), so I was surprised to see little chili peppers with no attempt in trying to pollinate the flowers. I think the process may have occurred from misting the plants.

This year, for Christmas 2016 visitors, I got an evergreen tree/bush. It is about three feet tall and is living, though I have yet to change its 35 some-odd pound soil mixture. Why would I even possibly need another house plant? Well, this about the best time of the year to get one -between now and about ten weeks from now, I think. This plant (the Celosia) caught my eye, as well as did another dozen, yet I chose it and plan to keep it healthy. It is an impressive plant, as its stem is lucid redish-pink in hue, and its flowers look like feathers. One way or another, I hope you like the photo of the Celosia.

Thank you for reading this post. On a personal note, I have been busy reading yet recently did write a sci-fi story after reading Ben Bova’s book on how to and plan to edit it soon enough. I am still working on my fantasy novel and plan to write some other stories and a sci-fi novelette or two as well, soon enough. Click the diamond below to check out one of the world’s best publications of sci-fi and fantasy. Have a nice day. ūüôā

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A Personal Hello

Howdy folks. It has been a while since I posted a personal set of sentences with regards to the on-goings of my current endeavors.

This last year was an exciting one for me, and I hope 2017 will be as rewarding. I am a dishwasher. Though I love cooking and have cooked for restaurants; for now, I wash dishes and help out around and in a kitchen. I know it does not sound too exciting, yet I work with a special group of interesting people, all intriguing in their own way.

So how could I claim to know anything about writing or pursue it, at all? Well, I have always enjoyed a wonderful story. From the first C. S. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien books I read as a child, to the best-sellers full of action, and the classic novels, and importantly, the books on writing, I have enjoyed the consideration of the craft.

Recently, I read that, if we were to all go over to the Smiths, adding an apostrophe to the end of their name would not be necessary. Simple enough; I did not know it, though.

Lately, I have been reading a few grammar books and a few pages of books I read cover to cover on, well, writing. Last year, I wrote 55% of a fantasy novel I plan to continue working on, eventually, and it dawned on me that I was writing with less grammatical authority than I once carelessly played with. Though the novel is important to me and will probably be enjoyed by most who read it (I hope), I put it aside for a few weeks to work on other things.

When I made the shelves you can see here in another post, I had some left-over wood. I thought about making small wooden items and dove into a wood-working hobby. I made a few things I liked. The other items maintained a classic sense of character.

Towards the end of the year, I decided I was rushing the fantasy novel and chose to set it aside to cool off a while. As said, I mad the decision for more than one reason. I wanted to read a little more on writing to improve my technique, yet I also realized I never received publication from anywhere. Sure, I self-published a collection of stories with Amazon, yet I felt as though I would enjoy pursuing becoming a published author another way.

I wrote two stories. One was a fantasy story, and the other one a story with a talking plant and an alien. I liked both of the stories and sent them to a publication that turned them down. No big deal; the stories were not what they were after. I still have both stories and have one of them posted for review in a writing workshop, here. The workshop is great. I can review stories and offer helpful advice, as well as see what others say about what little work I have posted there, so far.

Excited with the extra time it made to set the fantasy novel aside, my mind flooded with many ideas for new stories. I have always liked fantasy the most of the genres of fiction. I liked sci-fi, too. I decided that sci-fi allows for more creativity, and chose it as my favorite genre, because anything can happen anywhere with any kind of being within its realm of consideration.

These things taken into consideration, I remembered a list (here, under qualifying markets) of publications trusted for their publishing history with sci-fi and fantasy. I decided to look into “The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction”, as they have been publishing since 1949. I subscribed to their publication after reading the December issue, and the publication¬†impressed¬†me with the quality of¬†its stories. No doubt, it is no easy task to write a story that compares to the ones they choose to publish. I decided to give it a shot, anyway.

I wrote down an outline of what I thought would be a great sci-fi story. I liked the 25,000 word limit. With a novelette, an author can include plenty of description within a story, including characters and setting. As I wrote down the outline for my idea, I watched “Ancient Aliens” on the History Channel. It was a re-run, yet I could not help but to consider an intriguing story inspired from the interesting show. I wrote down a quick outline, thinking I would simply write the story out into about 5,000 words, then work on the more important sci-fi novelette.

The next morning I woke up and began writing out the story. 9,000 words into it by the afternoon, I realized I should go ahead and think of it as a novelette, because I had yet to get to the mid-point of the story. The paragraphs near the end were the driving force behind the story, and I eventually was able to include those notions. Four or five days later I finished the novelette, and it contained 22,200 words. A real feat, for me, as my previous word-count record for a single day was about 4,000 words. My goal is usually 2,000 while working on a novel (not that I have ever finished one).

I had the novelette written and another one to do. I spent five weeks re-writing and revising the work. I finally decided it was good enough and submitted it to the publication. They rejected it about ten days later; I may review it a few times and send it elsewhere to attempt its publication. I like the novelette; that is why I spent so much time trying to make its text flawless.

That pretty much brings us to the present with my on-goings. I like my job and love to write. I made a few wooden Christmas gifts this year and people liked them. I am participating with oww to review and post work, and I plan to continue with efforts for completing the fantasy novel as well as my primary sci-fi novelette idea. Though I have still as of yet received publication for a work of fiction; it will be a goal for a while. I have played a bit of chess this year and continue to learn more with how to play the game in a more efficient way.

Thank you for reading. Live long and prosper. ūüôā

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The Punisher Opening

Simply stated, in this opening white moves out the two central pawns two spaces, and the to knights to the center of the board. If you turn the board around, you can see that the knights resemble two eyes and the two pawns resemble teeth. The idea of a skull came to mind, so I call this opening the Punisher Opening. Upon these first four moves, the opening also involves moving the king-side bishop to protect the king-pawn, then castling.

The order in which the first four pieces are moved varies depending on the moves of the opponent, yet I have found it to be the most effective to move the king pawn first and go from there. this is one of the most effective openings I use while learning more about the game, and it is easier to explore than many I have seen in books on chess.

The Punisher Opening is a variation of a four-pawn sacrifice opening explained by Kasparov in one of his books on chess. In his book, he recommends lining up bishop-knight-knight-bishop on the four central squares from c4 to f4. While this can be a highly effective technique, I have found the Punisher Opening to have its advantages, especially when playing against more advanced players or against nc3bb4.com.

I have used this opening nearly every match I have played, lately, and have found it difficult to find a more preferable or efficient way to play the game. It is good for castling early in the game, as well as planning an efficient, safe attack to obtain checkmate.

The recommendations above mention six possible first moves for white. You can also usually use this opening easily as a defense when moving second, depending on the first moves made by white. While playing the Punisher Opening on the white side, plenty of moves can be made by the opposition. Such moves are easily defended against and usually can lead to winning an advantage in the game.

Two most common defensive strategies for the opening involve pinning one of the knights (or both) with a bishop on the b4 or g4 square. I recommend moving a pawn up one space on either side to attack the bishop, while the white knights are still protected by pawns. The other moves I make often with this opening are the outer pawns. Moving a pawn to a3 or h3 (or both) keeps the black knights from forming fork attacks early in the game.

After setting up power in the center of the board with this opening, it is usually best to consider the development of the bishops. The king-side bishop can be placed in front of the king or the queen for castling, or even c4. I usually move the queen-side bishop to e3 or f4. Remember to consider the two central pawns. They can be sacrificed or used for attack or both, and are usually protected by both knights and the queen. The king-side pawn, while protected by the king-side bishop ‘can’ rise some complication, because the queen is no longer able to protect the pawn in front of her if the bishop is protecting the king’s pawn. Her pawn is still protected by the knight on the right side, yet it is usually best to keep him there for defensive purposes, especially when castling on the king’s side. One way or the other, with cautious examination of possible moves, these combinations can easily lead to an early-game advantage.

I have found the Punisher Opening to be a highly effective technique and encourage you to explore it as I have. Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoy the Punisher Opening – I think of it as one of my favorite strategies.

If you would like to see an example match, one in which I won against stockfish on level four (of ten levels), break out a notation board and play out the score and score analysis below. You will notice several instances when both the computer and myself had better moves, yet the opening is played partially well, and I did win the match.

[ score:

1.e4Nc6
2.Nf3h6
3.d4e6
4.Nc3d5
5.Bd3Nb4
6.a3c5
7.axb4Nf6
8.bxc5Bd7
9.Bb5Be7
10.Bxd7+Nxd7
11.O-Ob6
12.c6Nf8
13.h3dxe4
14.Nxe4a5
15.Bf4Ng6
16.c7Qc8
17.Bg3f5
18.Nc3O-O
19.Nb5f4
20.Bh2Rf6
21.Qd3Qd7
22.Rad1Qc8
23.Rfe1Qe8
24.g4fxg3
25.Bxg3Kh8
26.Nh2Qc6
27.Ng4Rf5
28.Ne5Nxe5
29.dxe5Rf7
30.Qg6Kg8
31.Rd2Bc5
32.Red1Be7
33.Rd7Rc8
34.Rxe7Rxe7
35.Rd8+Qe8
36.Rxe8+Rcxe8
37.f4Rc8
38.c4Rcxc7
39.Nxc7Rxc7
40.Qe8+Kh7
41.Qxe6h5
42.Qxb6Rf7
43.Qxa5Re7
44.e6Rxe6
45.Qf5+g6
46.Qxe6Kh6
47.f5h4
48.Qxg6#1-0 ]
     Score Analysis:

[Event “Vs. Computer”]
[Site “Chess.com”]
[Date “2017.01.16”]
[Round “1”]
[White “Guest”]
[Black “Computer Level 4”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B00”]
[CurrentPosition “8/8/6Qk/5P2/2P4p/6BP/1P6/6K1 b – – 0 48”]

1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 h6 3.d4 e6 4.Nc3 d5 5.Bd3 Nb4 6.a3 c5 { (+0.20 ‚Üí +3.56) Blunder. The best move was 6… Nxd3+. } ( 6…Nxd3+ 7.Qxd3 Nf6 8.O-O Be7 9.Bd2 O-O 10.e5 Nd7 11.Ne2 ) 7.axb4 Nf6 { (+3.50 ‚Üí +6.26) Inaccuracy. A better move was 7… c4. } ( 7…c4 8.Be2 Bxb4 9.O-O Nf6 10.e5 Nd7 11.Bd2 a6 12.Nb5 ) 8.bxc5 Bd7 9.Bb5 { (+6.79 ‚Üí +4.78) Inaccuracy. A better move was 9. Ne5. } ( 9.Ne5 Bc6 ) 9…Be7 10.Bxd7+ Nxd7 11.O-O b6 12.c6 Nf8 13.h3 dxe4 14.Nxe4 a5 15.Bf4 Ng6 16.c7 Qc8 17.Bg3 f5 18.Nc3 O-O 19.Nb5 f4 20.Bh2 Rf6 21.Qd3 Qd7 22.Rad1 Qc8 23.Rfe1 Qe8 24.g4 fxg3 25.Bxg3 Kh8 26.Nh2 Qc6 27.Ng4 Rf5 28.Ne5 Nxe5 29.dxe5 Rf7 30.Qg6 Kg8 31.Rd2 { (+10.90 ‚Üí +5.18) Mistake. The best move was 31. Nd6. } ( 31.Nd6 Bxd6 32.exd6 e5 33.Rxe5 a4 34.Qxf7+ Kxf7 35.d7 Qxc7 ) 31…Bc5 { (+5.59 ‚Üí +12.02) Inaccuracy. A better move was 31… Qxb5. } ( 31…Qxb5 32.Qxe6 ) 32.Red1 Be7 33.Rd7 Rc8 34.Rxe7 Rxe7 35.Rd8+ Qe8 { (+19.60 ‚Üí +21.11) Inaccuracy. A better move was 35… Re8. } ( 35…Re8 36.Nd4 ) 36.Rxe8+ Rcxe8 37.f4 { (+30.38 ‚Üí +14.10) Mistake. The best move was 37. Nd6. } ( 37.Nd6 Rf8 38.c8=Q Rxc8 39.Nxc8 Kf8 40.Nxe7 Kxe7 41.Qxg7+ Kd8 ) 37…Rc8 38.c4 Rcxc7 39.Nxc7 Rxc7 40.Qe8+ Kh7 41.Qxe6 h5 42.Qxb6 Rf7 43.Qxa5 Re7 44.e6 { (+23.08 ‚Üí +14.49) Inaccuracy. A better move was 44. f5. } ( 44.f5 Rf7 45.e6 Rf8 46.Qe5 h4 47.e7 Re8 48.f6 gxf6 ) 44…Rxe6 45.Qf5+ g6 { (+127.74 ‚Üí +318.00) Inaccuracy. A better move was 45… Rg6. } ( 45…Rg6 46.Qxh5+ ) 46.Qxe6 Kh6 47.f5 { (Mate in 2 ‚Üí Mate in 2) Excellent. Faster mate A better move was 47. Qg8. } ( 47.Qg8 g5 48.fxg5# ) 47…h4 48.Qxg6#
1-0

Click the diamond below to see a movie trailer.

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Score Double Oh Won

For the chess lover in all of us, there is the learner, the problem solver, the one who enjoys to win. I have been playing chess since I was around six and have never really mastered the game. I have yet to play in a tournament, yet I love to solve puzzles and love chess, too. Carleson defends his title in NY tomorrow – keep up with the twelve rounds, here on uschess.org.

Recently, I have attempted to better my game in chess. I am pretty good, however when it comes to winning against people with higher e-l-o ratings, such as 1,300 or above, I am usually short a few combinations. Having just won a match on chess.com with a guest account, I was happy to win against stockfish, the strongest chess engine known of, on level five (there are ten levels). I moved first. For anyone who would like to play this match out with algebraic notation, here is the ‘score analysis’ of the game:

Strength White Black
Excellent 23 17
Good 5 6
Inaccuracy (?!) 9 6
Mistake (?) 2 4
Blunder (??) 0 3
Forced 0 2
Avg. Diff 0.84 1.21
1. d4 a6 2. e4

B00: King’s Pawn Opening: St. George Defense, 2.d4

d6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. Nc3 Bg4 5. h3 Bxf36. gxf3 Nf6 7. d5 Ne5 8. f4 Ned7 9. e5

INACCURACY (-0.08) A better move was 9. Be3

(9.¬†Be3(+0.69) g6 10.¬†Qd2 Bg7 11.¬†O-O-OO-O 12.¬†Kb1 Rc8 13.¬†Be2 c5)9…¬†Rg8

BLUNDER (+2.93) The best move was 9… dxe5

(9…¬†dxe5(+0.01) 10.¬†Bg2 exf4 11.¬†Bxf4g6 12.¬†O-O Nh5 13.¬†Bd2 Bg7 14.¬†Bf3)10.¬†exf6 h5 11.¬†fxe7 Bxe7

INACCURACY (+4.01) A better move was 11… Qxe7+

(11…¬†Qxe7+(+3.36) 12.¬†Be3 g6 13.¬†Qd2O-O-O 14.¬†O-O-O Bg7 15.¬†Bg2 Kb816.¬†Kb1)12.¬†Be2

INACCURACY (+3.38) A better move was 12. Qe2

(12.¬†Qe2(+3.89) Nf6 13.¬†h4 Kf8 14.¬†Bd2Ng4 15.¬†Ne4 Bxh4 16.¬†O-O-O Nf6)12…¬†Rh8 13.¬†O-O Nb6 14.¬†Re1 Qc8

INACCURACY (+4.44) A better move was 14… Qd7

(14…¬†Qd7(+3.54) 15.¬†Kg2 O-O-O 16.¬†a4Kb8 17.¬†a5 Nc8 18.¬†Bxh5 g6 19.¬†Bg4)15.¬†Bf3

INACCURACY (+3.36) A better move was 15. Kg2

(15.¬†Kg2(+4.44) Kf8 16.¬†Bxh5 g6 17.¬†Bg4f5 18.¬†Qd4 Rh7 19.¬†Bf3 Nd7)15…¬†Kd8

INACCURACY (+4.36) A better move was 15… Qxh3

(15…¬†Qxh3(+3.43) 16.¬†Qe2 Qh4 17.¬†Bd2Kf8 18.¬†Ne4 Bf6 19.¬†Ng5 g6 20.¬†Bc3)16.¬†Bg2 g6 17.¬†Qe2 Bf6 18.¬†Be3

INACCURACY (+3.99) A better move was 18. Ne4

(18.¬†Ne4(+4.72) Qf5 19.¬†Nxf6 Qxf620.¬†Bd2 Na4 21.¬†b3 Nc5 22.¬†Qe3 Rg8)18…¬†Qf5

INACCURACY (+4.79) A better move was 18… Re8

(18…¬†Re8(+3.92) 19.¬†Ne4 Bxb2 20.¬†Rab1Na4 21.¬†c4 f5 22.¬†Rxb2 fxe4 23.¬†Rb3)19.¬†Bxb6

INACCURACY (+4.25) A better move was 19. Ne4

(19.¬†Ne4(+5.49) Na4 20.¬†Nxf6 Qxf621.¬†Qd2 Kc8 22.¬†Bd4 Qd8 23.¬†Bxh8 Qxh8)19…¬†cxb6 20.¬†Ne4 Bh4

MISTAKE (+5.73) The best move was 20… Qxf4

(20…¬†Qxf4(+3.91) 21.¬†Nxf6 Qxf622.¬†Qe3 b5 23.¬†c4 Kc7 24.¬†cxb5 axb525.¬†Qb3)21.¬†Rad1

MISTAKE (+4.03) The best move was 21. Nxd6

(21.¬†Nxd6(+6.17) Qxf4 22.¬†Nxb7+ Kc823.¬†d6 Ra7 24.¬†Red1 Bxf2+ 25.¬†Qxf2Qxf2+)21…¬†Qxf4 22.¬†Ng3

INACCURACY (+2.56) A better move was 22. Rd3

(22.¬†Rd3(+3.42) f5 23.¬†Ng3 Rc8 24.¬†Qe6Kc7 25.¬†Rf3 Qg5 26.¬†Rc3+ Kb8)22…¬†Rc8

MISTAKE (+3.99) The best move was 22… Kc7

(22…¬†Kc7(+2.42) 23.¬†Qd3 Rae8 24.¬†Qc3+Kb8 25.¬†Re4 Qf6 26.¬†Qe3 Qd8 27.¬†Qf4)23.¬†Qd2

MISTAKE (+1.79) The best move was 23. c3

(23.¬†c3(+3.80) Qf6 24.¬†Rd4 Rc7 25.¬†Ne4Re8 26.¬†Qe3 Re5 27.¬†Nxf6 Rxe3)23…¬†Qh6

BLUNDER (+5.21) The best move was 23… Qxd2

(23…¬†Qxd2(+1.71) 24.¬†Rxd2 Re825.¬†Rxe8+ Kxe8 26.¬†Re2+ Kd7 27.¬†c3 b528.¬†a3)24.¬†Qb4 Bxg3 25.¬†fxg3 Qf8 26.¬†Qxb6+ Rc727.¬†a4

INACCURACY (+4.64) A better move was 27. h4

(27.¬†h4(+5.83) Kc8 28.¬†Qa7 Rg8 29.¬†Rd3Qd8 30.¬†Rde3 Rf8 31.¬†Qa8+ Kd7)27…¬†f6

MISTAKE (+5.80) The best move was 27… Kc8

(27…¬†Kc8(+4.22) 28.¬†Qa7 Qd8 29.¬†c4 Re830.¬†Qa8+ Kd7 31.¬†Qa7 Kc8 32.¬†Bf1)28.¬†c4 Rg8

BLUNDER (+9.97) The best move was 28… Kc8

(28…¬†Kc8(+5.72) 29.¬†Re6 Rxc4 30.¬†Rxd6Rc2 31.¬†Rxf6 Qc5+ 32.¬†Qxc5+ Rxc533.¬†d6)29.¬†c5 Qf7

MISTAKE (+19.03) The best move was 29… Kc8

(29…¬†Kc8(+14.40) 30.¬†cxd6 Rd7 31.¬†Rc1+Kb8 32.¬†Rc7 Qc8 33.¬†Re7 Rxe7 34.¬†Rxc8+)30.¬†cxd6 Rf8

INACCURACY (MATE IN 8) A better move was 30… Kc8

(30…¬†Kc8(+24.15) 31.¬†dxc7)31.¬†dxc7+

MISSED MATE (+20.48) Checkmate after 31. Re7

(31.¬†Re7(Mate in 7) Qxe7 32.¬†dxe7+ Ke833.¬†exf8=Q+ Kxf8 34.¬†Qxc7 h4 35.¬†Qxb7Ke8 36.¬†Rc1 hxg3 37.¬†Rc8#)31…¬†Qxc7 32.¬†Qe6

MISSED MATE (+22.20) Checkmate after 32. Qb4

(32.¬†Qb4(Mate in 13) Re8 33.¬†d6 Qc834.¬†Rxe8+ Kxe8 35.¬†Re1+ Kf7 36.¬†Re7+Kg8 37.¬†d7 Qf8 38.¬†Bd5+ Kh8 39.¬†Rh7+Kxh7 40.¬†Qxf8 b6 41.¬†Bg8+ Kh8 42.¬†Qxf6+Kxg8 43.¬†Qxg6+ Kf8 44.¬†d8=Q#)32…¬†Qc5+ 33.¬†Kh2 Qc2

INACCURACY (MATE IN 4) A better move was 33… Kc7

(33…¬†Kc7(+39.51) 34.¬†Rc1 Kb8 35.¬†Rxc5Rh8 36.¬†Qxf6 Rg8 37.¬†Qf7 Ka7 38.¬†Qxg8)34.¬†Qe7+

FASTER MATE (MATE IN 6) A better move was 34. d6

(34.¬†d6(Mate in 4) Qe2 35.¬†Rxe2 f536.¬†Qe7+ Kc8 37.¬†Qc7#)34…¬†Kc8 35.¬†Qxf8+ Kc7 36.¬†d6+

FASTER MATE (MATE IN 6) A better move was 36. a5

(36.¬†a5(Mate in 4) Qe2 37.¬†d6+ Kd738.¬†Rxe2 g5 39.¬†Re7#)36…¬†Kd7 37.¬†Qe7+

FASTER MATE (MATE IN 2) A better move was 37. Re7#

(37.¬†Re7#(Mate in 1))37…¬†Kc8 38.¬†d7+

FASTER MATE (MATE IN 3) A better move was 38. Qe8#

(38.¬†Qe8#(Mate in 1))38…¬†Kc7 39.¬†d8=Q#

Thank you for reading, and go Carleson go! ūüôā

A Chess Photo

About twenty two years ago I read a not-so-lengthy book on playing chess written by Gary Kasparov. I lost the book years ago, yet I think it was titled, “Gambit”. In the book it showed a few opening strategies, one of which I enjoyed learning to use better over the last twenty years while playing chess from time to time. I am an average player, for the most part; I still have a great deal to learn.

I am currently a fan of Magnus Carleson, hope he wins in NY in November.

As I played better and better players online, I started losing more and grew tired of chess about six years ago. These last few weeks I decided to learn to play better and not to worry about winning or losing. I have enjoyed playing the app Chess with Friends,” which can be played on iPhones or Smartphones (and maybe online).

Here is an engine I have yet to win against: nc3bb4.

There are plenty of openings in chess. This one is my favorite for quick moves early in the game, especially for ‘rapid chess’ – if necessary, the center four pawns are sacrificed for position and sometimes an efficient, safe checkmate.

Here is a photo of the goal of my current favorite opening in chess. It is not always easy to accomplish, yet does have its advantages. The four leading pieces are a bishop, two knights, and the other bishop. The queen has yet to move and white has castled. Of course, to get the pieces into this position, plenty of the opposing pieces would not be arranged as seen, as it takes plenty of moves to get the pieces to where they are in the photo. If one manages to get them there, however, again, it can be beneficial for mid and end-game tactics.

chess-glass

I love the game and cannot wait to get better with it. There are plenty of ways to play chess online, here is one (over 15 million players play there).

Thank you for reading and have a nice day. ūüôā

‚ô¶

Secret Garden

“I happen to have a solution for you and Hannah,” said Dr. Voist, “I want to mention a few things before you consider the notion, however. As a neurosurgeon, I look at peoples’ brains all the time. Hannah has a very rare chemical imbalance. It is similar to many imbalances which are easily cured completely with non-addictive medications which usually have minimal to no side effects. These medications, be them hundreds in their number, are not what will help Hannah’s imbalance. There exists only one medication which will, and it still has a 5% chance of not working. I think it will. Our only drawback is that the medication is a new experimental one. It has only been prescribed in the US a few times this last year and is manufactured in Mexico. It will be legal here in the States for a six month time frame and will either be manufactured here or will be unavailable in this country. I think it will work for her, yet it is a tentative solution at best. If you want to try this option, I have a dosage recommendation, one pill a day with breakfast. I would like to see Hannah in seven days, and if everything is okay, within twenty, and then we will consider our options.”

“What are the chances of addiction or side effects?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “I do not think there will be any side effects, and the medicine is a non-addictive chemical which acts very minimally on the balance of brain chemicals -just enough to make things right. Hannah will not notice if she has taken anything, and the twitch in her left eye¬†should no¬†longer occur.” Mr. Goldbeck looked over to Hannah who was listening to every word. “The medicine is experimental?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “It is a new medicine, however I am surprised it has not been manufactured, before. It is a very simple extraction from an herb a doctor in South America isolated. Once it solves the problems it can and will in a healthy way here in the US, which I think and hope it will, pharmaceutical companies will make it here. It may cost a little¬†more then, however it will no longer be experimental.”

“Will her imbalance change over time?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “I am sorry, sir. No. The medication should make her okay, perfectly normal even in adulthood, but she will, in all likelihood, need to take it indefinitely.” “Is the medication expensive?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “No,” said Dr. Voist, “I can get enough free samples of it to last six months. I can even report the success of our story in order to help get the medicine made here in America, so long as it works properly.” “And the new medicine is safe?” asked Hannah. “Safer than Aspirin” said Dr. Voist.

Mr. Goldbeck and Hannah agreed to try out the medicine. Since her birth, she had a twitch in her left eye. Being eleven, she was having trouble reading in school and her fellow classmates were tempted to make fun of her eye. An intelligent, beautiful, and honest girl, the new medication, Zyphan, would hopefully work safely.

The next day Hannah took her medicine and ate an over-easy egg with a piece of toast with jam and a large glass of milk. Her normal eye twitch was still there all day. You get what you pay for, thought Mr. Goldbeck. The next day she took the medicine again, as prescribed, and ate another decent breakfast. Her twitch was still there, yet she could not tell if it had gotten better. At least it did not worsen. The next few days she stayed true to her practices and the twitch bothered her much less. It was if she never had one.

The week flew by and Mr. Goldbeck and his daughter, Hannah, went to see Dr. Voist. The doctor checked her out and asked her a few questions. She said the twitch went away gradually. The doctor kept a close eye on Hannah for about twenty minutes while having a conversation with Mr. Goldbeck. During their previous visit, Hannah’s eye would have twitched at least one time during ten minutes. The doctor was sure the medication worked.

“Have you experienced any health issues such as having to go potty too often or rashes?” asked the doctor. “Not that I know of,” said Hannah, remaining as honest as possible. Mr. Goldbeck had is concerns, yet he thanked the doctor. “I think you will be fine,” said Dr. Voist. “Be sure not to miss our next appointment. It is important to make sure that their exist no side effects and that the medication is still performing properly.” Mr. Goldbeck and Hannah thanked the doctor once more and promised to return as requested.

The twenty days flew by. Hannah did better in school with her reading and her twitch was a thing of the past, did not even occur. She went with her father to the doctor who said he planned to write a good report to help facilitate the new medication’s manufacture in the United States.

During the next five months Dr. Voist did what he could to send information to the right people and entities. The medication did not work for other children and adults throughout the country. Whether it was because people did not take the medicine properly or practiced improper dieting was unknown to him. To his and Mr. Goldbeck’s disdain, the medicine was not able to be made in the United States. The medicine was also unable to be obtained in the US, and Dr. Voist spoke with Mr. Goldbeck about possibilities.

“The twitch in Hannah’s eye is minimal,” said Dr. Voist, “However I understand your dilemma. She does better in school and the children don’t make fun of her eye anymore. From my perspective, I wanted the medicine available to keep her brain chemicals in balance in a healthy way. The imbalance does cause her eye to twitch, however it can also effect both cognitive development and overall thought process. I do not have an alternative medication. If you do not want Hannah’s imbalance to return, you are going to have to go to Mexico for the medicine. I have an address of a pharmacy down there. It is cheap in comparison to other medicine. Your only problem is having to leave and come back with it. It won’t be illegal to bring it back, as you will have a prescription. One trip and you should have enough to last her for three years. The medicine won’t stay ‘viable’ after that, however by then there is the chance¬†Zyphan¬†can be manufactured here. It’s our only hope, for now.”

This news was no problem for Mr. Goldbeck. He was happy he was going to be able to get the medicine, after all. A trip to Mexico would not be too hard, he had vacation time stacked up from his corporate job from three years back. Hannah would be okay, and within three years the medicine was sure to be available in the US.

Mr. Goldbeck spoke with those whom he worked with and planned to take a trip down to Mexico. What fun. All went well. His boss did not mind and things were sure to be okay at work. His SUV was less than two years old and running well, as he always kept it maintained properly. He even had a spare gas tank installed up in the back of the vehicle from when he went to Canada the year before hunting elk with some of his co-employees. The trip was sure to be a success.

The first day of Mr. Goldbeck’s vacation came and he kissed his daughter on the forehead, as well as his wife, as he had his SUV packed and ready to go before daylight, thanks to a double java mocha he drank at 5AM. He gave Hannah’s younger brother, Willy, a mild noogie, and departed.

The open road was great, as was Mr. Goldbeck’s GPS navigation system and cruise control. Whoever said the interstate highway system showed no signs of beautiful country? Mr. Goldbeck begged to differ, as the scenery was far more impressive than the routine life he had been living.

Mr. Goldbeck crossed the border with no problem and made his way south. The GPS worked perfectly. Nine hours into Mexico, he found the Dr.’s office on the map Dr. Voist gave him and went inside.

Mr. Goldbeck knew at least sixty words in Spanish, yet was still happy to find that the doctor he was speaking with was fluent in many languages. Having a long conversation, the Mexican doctor explained how simple the medication was and why it was rare. The plant, common even further south of them, contained a rare chemical which acts very minimally on humans’ brains with a very specific chemical imbalance. Mr. Goldbeck, the curious and intelligent man he was, asked the doctor how difficult it would be to extract the chemical from the plant by hand. “Totally easy,” said the doctor, and drew a diagram on paper showing how to do such a thing with water and a few simple forms of glass ‘apparati.’

“Would it be hard for me to find a plant of this nature?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “No,” said the doctor, and he drew Mr. Goldbeck a map to a small city further south. Mr. Goldbeck thanked the doctor and departed with 1,000 pills of Zyphran. Mr. Goldbeck decided to travel south, surely it would be no problem to find this plant. After all, it was common.

Mr. Goldbeck, who often went by Ron, drove for a while in the night down a dirt road. He pulled over tired and slept ’till sun up and continued to drive. He drove and drove and drove, only occasionally seeing an old sign on the dirt road indicating he was on the right path to the village he was headed to.

Ron found the village. He spoke with people and found a medicine woman, who said she would happily give him his choice of five of one the plants for some dinero. Ron handed her a hundred and said the plant was important. The medicine woman nearly fainted and brought him to her small backyard. She had all kinds of small plants and fruit bushes growing in pots and flower beds on top of old malnourished and dry soil. “I would give you all five of them,” she said, “But I need to keep four to save seeds.” Mr. Goldbeck nodded as he understood. “I keep them here even though they grow wild and are not too hard to find,” she explained, “I keep them to keep the seeds.” She brought him back inside and showed him a large preservative jar half full of seeds of the rare plant. “Though I cannot give you but one plant, I can give you a sack of seeds,” she said. Mr. Goldbeck thanked her happily and gladly accepted a sack of seeds and the mid-sized plant of the five he saw. She thanked him, too, and he headed north.

Crossing the border with a plant and a sack of seeds was all Mr. Goldbeck had ever dreamt of, not to mention the pills with a prescription which looked like he could have written it himself, short a little blue stamp on the left side of the document. I might as well be smuggling contraband. Again, Mr. Goldbeck was no fool. He knew the customs at the border would at least inquire of his reason for travel. His medication would be on the front seat with the prescription.

The rear seat of his SUV contained an under-seat compartment with a key-hole lock for storing hunting rifles. Only a few hours from the border, Mr. Goldbeck slowed to a stop beside the road and carefully locked up the plant and the seeds under the back seat.¬†It should be fine for three hours. He drove to the customs and they asked him to step out of his SUV. Ron did so and noticed some mud on the bottom of his vehicle, it was not much, however it was there. The officers brought a drug dog who scoped out the vehicle and did not find anything, and the officers inquired of the pills on the front seat. “Asthma medicine for my daughter,” said Mr. Goldbeck. Two officers looked at the prescription and let Mr. Goldbeck¬†depart.

Ron drove his SUV up the interstate, relieved. He did not forget about the plant under the back seat and pulled over after driving for half an hour or so.  He pulled the plant and the seeds out. He put the seeds and the pills and the prescription in the center console, and secured the plant in a middle seat with a seat built. The A/C was fine, so he left the windows up. Ron drove all the way home, safely, only stopping once for gasoline.

Ron’s wife was happy he made it back and he still had five days left before returning to his job he loved and endured. His wife thought the plant was illegal and he assured her that it was not. Hannah was happy that she would not have a twitching eye for the next three years, at least, and they all went to sleep.

The next day was Saturday morning and Ron’s wife, Spring, woke up early to analyze the medicine plant. “Do you think it makes flowers?” asked Spring. “It has to,” said Ron, “Because it makes seeds. It is probably an annual.” She was amazed with these notions. “We have to hide it,” said Spring, “It’s pretty but we cannot risk it being taken. It’s not against the law if they don’t know.” “Honey, it is not illegal; no one will know we have it.” “Our friends and neighbors come here, will they not see it? We have to keep it secret; I am telling you.” “What do you suggest we do spring? Put it in a cabinet with a fan and a light?” Spring went deep into thought. Ron watched as she continued to process ideas.

“The bookshelf,” said Spring. “What?” said Ron. “Our bookshelf in front of Auntie’s room.” Auntie was Spring’s sister who stayed with them a while when sick and moved to work in another city once well. “The bookshelf is in front of one of two large walk-ins of the room. Let’s knock off a door knob, paint a hole, and install a weight-pulley.” “A what?” asked Ron. “It will be like in the movies,” said Spring, “You pull a specific book from the shelf and it opens to reveal the space behind it. You can grow the seeds and keep the plant alive in there. I am sure you can ventilate it somehow.” “We have a windowsill,” said Ron. Spring looked into his eyes with a pleading puppy-dog expression. “It’s for Hannah,” said Spring, and Ron decided construction was fun.

Spring and Ron analyzed the bookshelf and the closet and took measurements and went to the hardware store. They came back with all the supplies they found deals on and a two foot-long receipt. They worked together over the weekend and turned the bookshelf into a revolving door, the kind like in the movies, complete with a weight pulley. They re-painted the entire wall on the other side with matched paint, and it was perfect. The completed project included a vented flush closet and an ambient light system, controlled with a timer and misting mechanism. The plant from Mexico was sure to flourish, and the few seeds Ron and Spring planted would surely grow fine. Already able to grow well, they were confident the plants would sprout and survive, and they did.

Throughout the next year Hannah took her medicine and ate breakfast every morning. Dr. Voist was always happy to see her and happy that her eye was fine. He promised he would continue his efforts in getting Zyphran manufactured in the US. Zyphran was never made in the US, yet Ron and Spring kept their secret garden healthy for years and years, learning to pollinate the plants with a live bee once a year and also how to make the medicine to the proper dosage for Hannah.

Hannah went to college to become a professor and did so. She stayed on her medication and married a colleague she fell in love with, and they all lived happily ever after.

‚ô¶

Book Review for Michael J. Sullivan’s “The Age of Myth”

On a personal note, I must mention a few things before I get into what I think about “The Age of Myth”. As an aspiring author, there exist many bridges I have yet to cross. When people read my work they often mention they enjoy it, such success is what I can be happy with, for now, as I have yet to sell over a dozen copies of my first novel and am still working on its re-write and my next one (a fantasy novel). I critique literature all the time, for an annual story contest, and enjoy analyzing stories’ plot structure, character and scene development, over all delivery, literary techniques.

I think I first came across Mr. Sullivan when searching for fantasy titles on Amazon, however it may have been when I read an article he wrote for Writer’s Digest. Within the article he mentioned several great tips for authors and explained a few things writers can benefit from with Goodreads. He also mentioned his blog and I checked it out. I even dropped him a few lines and he communicated with me, to my surprise.

Since then he shared “The Jester” with me, which I read and gave him some feedback on, not that the story was in dire need of a grammatical redo. I purchased “Theft of Swords” and read, maybe, the first fourteen pages, and liked it. He accepted my friend’s invite on Goodreads and since then I have promised myself that I will impress Mr. Sullivan (as well as others) with my fantasy novel, by the end of 2016. He answered a few of my e-mails and even gave me advice from time to time on writing, so I appreciated the communication. He is and will remain one of my top five favorite authors; I like a lot of published authors, living and gone, so narrowing down my favorites is not always easy.

As I do what I can to learn what I want to know, in the real world, with science, and as I read, study writing techniques, write stories, and work a job which does not involve writing or any varied form of erudition whatsoever, my hobbies are important to me and keep me busy. Like many, I have my reasons for my own goals. These things being said, time continued to fly by during the last parts of 2015 and the first of 2016, and I really wanted to read and review a book written by Mr. Sullivan.

Already owning one or two of his books, they were the e-book editions, and I realized that I usually read physical books with much more fervor than e-books. I inquired as to which book would be  a good start to read out of the books Mr. Sullivan has written, and he let me know that he was working on a set of five books, the first one being a good one to read, as it was a stand alone novel of sorts. From what I understand, there may also be a sixth book of this series on the way, according to wiki.

Excited, I decided to get my very own copy of “The Age of Myth”, pre-ordered a signed copy for myself ¬†and another copy for my alpha reader weeks before the book’s release date. I simply could not wait to get my hands on that book – June the 27th just could not have come any sooner. Low and behold, however, June the 27th did come, and I received the two books I ordered within good time.

I gave my buddy her copy and began reading mine, could not really put it down without at least finishing the chapter I was on. One thing I liked about “The Age of Myth” was the chapter setup. Each chapter was not too long yet usually nearly a story all its own. I am no speed reader, so to have already finished the book within a 6-month time frame is somewhat of an accomplishment, for me. I think I read about a chapter a night and maybe two chapters on some days.

Usually, when I do a book review, or when I read a book I know I am going to want to do a review on or for, I take notes while I am reading the text. Often times this is because of independent author books which can easily contain many stylistic and ‘flow of story’ questions. Knowing that this is Mr. Sullivan’s first book published by a major publisher, and congratulations to him for that, for we as fans are all happy for he and his wife’s success, I could not wait to see whether I would have much to say about the writing style or story structure.

Little did I know, beta readers read pre-release manuscripts and the publishing team considered¬†their opinion before the book’s publication. It was not simply critiqued by an editor, re-written, and thrown on the shelves with a price tag; a great deal of work went into the final published manuscript of “The Age of Myth”.

I took notes, anyway, and they only spoil the story, which in many regards, impresses me. I found close to nothing at all that I would change within the confines of the book’s cover, and resorted to keeping a summary of events chapter by chapter. Awesome cover. The book painted a real world in my imagination, as if these events actually occurred during some time frame in geologic history. The sole thing I would mention on the text if I were a beta reader would be the double mention of the straw hat – I am not sure, yet I think we heard of the same hat twice or more, and the second time it could have been mentioned in a revised way.

Other book reviewers mention the impressive  ending РI could not wait to experience what they were talking about. I did. For me, the conclusion was like a grand finale in an action film. Magic meets science fiction with nature. Characters which are godlike and can weld the forces of nature go to war with each other, standing for and against the political demands of a ruler. Michael J. Sullivan uses beautifully created characters; the book presents many conflicts and dilemmas, all finding satisfactory solutions. The ending was very impressive, and I am amazed with the gifted talent and creativity of Mr. Sullivan.

One thing I enjoyed about “The Age of Myth” was the way the ‘good side’ won within nearly every conflict. Characters do incur tragic deaths, and there are things that happen or happened to innocent people, however as I clung to my favorite characters within the stories, they usually survived, after all.

One thing I did not see the book portray was an in-depth relation to Old English or rhunic-like writing, and not too many poems. The hard,¬†honest truth has been, and probably will be, that close to no one will ever actually ‘out do’ professor Tolkien, his studies with the origins of English, his historical contributions to fantasy which has inspired us all for decades.

A more positive look upon this work has to do with its readability. If you enjoy the writing style of John Grisham, you will absolutely love this book (given you are wanting to read about magical gods and prehistoric survival stories as well as court-room thrillers). It was simple and straight-forward enough for reading within a small amount of time, while still being able to present an intriguing world with life-like characters.

In regards to the characters, as said, they seemed real. The book uses three main groups of characters including people (Rhunes), god-like people (Fhrey), and god-like people who weld the forces of nature with magic (Fhrey which are Miralyith). These three groups do not always get along, due to territory and social reasons, yet witnessing their interactions was a fun and enjoyable experience.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a fantasy novel. As far as comparing it to other fantasy tales goes, I hope people read it for what it is and appreciate it for the value it holds individually. I think of it as separate from other fantasy stories and I like it that way. I also enjoy the works of Margaret Wise and Tracy Hickman and plenty of other famous authors, however I like to think of “The Age of Myth” as separate from other works and styles. I like it for what it is, all by itself, and cannot wait to read the next four or five books in the series when possible.

The map in the first book is somehow helpful to visualize where the humans and gods travel. The book also includes an Author’s Note before the first chapter and a Glossary of Terms before the Acknowledgements section in the back of the book. The glossary is helpful and worth reading before reading the book, as the characters and places are easier to¬†understand with even more ease that way.

Without further ado, I will share my chapter by chapter summary of the book’s entire text. If you are planning on reading “The Age of Myth” and do not want to spoil the story, skip over the blue text. If you have already read the book and want to read a quick summary of events before reading the next book during the summer of 2017, come back and read the blue text (all hypertext in this review,¬†burgundy). I may do such a thing, too.

Chapter 1, “Of Gods and Men”

Incredible. A father and son duo are presented with a dilemma and tread on forbidden soil to find better ground for hunting and farming and are found by a group of characters. The son is Raithe, and his father is Herkimer. A god, a Fhrey, sees the two men, or what the Fhrey call Rhunes, and order them to drop their weapons. There are two slaves with the Fhrey. Herkimer would not drop is sword even after pleading to leave, and one of the Fhrey kills him. Raithe attempts to avenge his father and is able to do so when one of the slaves, Malcolm, bonks the Fhrey over the head with a big rock. The other slave leaves with the dead Fhrey’s horse to go speak of these events to his brethren, so Malcolm and Raithe now have met and will endure many adventures together. They spend the rest of the day giving Herkimer a proper burial and flee by swimming across a cold river to hike through a dark forest.

Chapter 2, “The Mystic”

The story introduces Surri, the mystic, and Minna, her large white female wolf. Surri meets Persephone, a major character in the tale. Surri informs “Seph” (Persephone) that a wave of death of sorts is on the way. The reason Surri traveled to Dahl Rhen, a Rhune village surrounded by a large wall, was to relate this information. When Seph asks of Tura, the ancient¬†mystic, Surri informs her that Tura is no longer living, that by Turra’s request Surri cremated her.

Chapter 3, “The God Killer”

When Raithe avenged his father, killing Shegon, word spread and he was known as the God Killer. He and the ex-slave, Malcolm, travel through the dark forest living off of bugs and tree bark or the occasional rabbit. After a week or so, while starving in front of a fire, the two hear noises far into the woods. Somewhat alarmed, they search out the noises, thinking it could be leshies (forest spirits). They find a travelers’ lodge and smell cooked food. Of course they would take their risks – they were hungry. In the lodge, Raithe admits to avenging his father and Malcolm tells a fancy story. A large man challenges¬†Raithe. Raithe¬†wins the fight, and he and Malcolm¬†eat cooked food.

Chapter 4, “The New Chieftain”

Within Dahl Rhen, a man named Konniger challenges Seph’s husband, Reglan, the current Chieftain of the Dahl, and wins, killing the man. In doing so, Konniger disappoints¬†Padera, the oldest woman of the Dahl.

Chapter 5, “Before the Door”

Fhrey which practice magic are Miralyith who learn the Art. In this chapter, Nyree, a Miralyith, speaks with her daughter, Arion, also a Miralyith. Students of the art play a prank, flooding a celebration with a great deal of water. Arion is to train the son of the Fane, prince Mawyndul√ę, in the ways of the Art. It is a prestigious invitation for her to do so. Upon her departure she meets Trilos and converses of the door to a garden which protects the oldest tree. We learn later that Trilos has a special connection with those whom can use the Art.

Chapter 6, “Rumors”

Seph talks with Surri about speaking with Magda, the large oak, on the cover of the book (again, nice illustration), for advice. The Fhrey have supposedly attacked and burned two other Rhune villages; Konniger decides to keep the inhabitants of Dahl Rhen there.

Chapter 7, “The Black Tree”

Seph, Surri and Minna trek to Magda. Raithe and Malcolm hiked through the forest and found Dahl Rhen. Seph and Surri were found and attacked on a steep, slippery waterfall by three men from the Dahl. Raithe and Malcolm defend the women; two of three men die; and the last one returns to the Dahl.

Chapter 8, “Asking the Oak”

Seph, Minna, Surri, Malcolm, and Raithe make it to Magda. Surri says the tree says three things. They are to follow the wolf, heal the injured, and welcome the gods.

Chapter 9, “Tight Places”

After leaving Magda, Surri and Minna leave the others to go home. Seph, Raithe, and Malcolm attempt to follow a ridge back to the Dahl and get lost and attacked by a pack of black wolves. Surri and Minna come back and help fight off the wolves and lead the other three to a big water fall where all five leap. They find an old Dherg cave with a hard-to-open door and stay there. The wolves find the door but cannot get inside. The big bear, Grin, a possible demon or symbol of Death, tears three of the big wolves apart, including the pack’s leader, which Surri seemed to know, Char, and leaves. The cave includes Dherg writing and a glowing emerald, along with an old shield Raithe trades for the one he had. Raithe continues to carry the sword he attained from avenging his father, made by Fhrey, as well as the halved copper sword of his dad.

Chapter 10, “The Galantians”

Seph, Raithe, and Malcolm make their way back to the Dahl to answer questions about the two dead men on the waterfall slope, and the Galantians, a rebel group of Instarya Fhrey, come to the Dahl in search of the God Killer. Raithe explains to their leader, Nyphron, that he avenged his father. He and Nyphron have a sword fight, and one of the Fhrey puts a stop to it. Seph welcomes the gods.

Chapter 11, “The Tutor”

Arion tutors prince Mawyandul√ę with juggling rocks to teach him the Art. He seems to miss the point as he has trouble juggling them even when he can command them with the Art. Gryndal, a pompous Miralyith, is introduced. Lothian, the Fane, sends Arion to retrieve Nyphron, and he sends¬†Gryndal¬†with the prince to secure¬†the frontier, eventually.

Chapter 12, “Gods Among Us”

This chapter is where I had the ‘hat question.’ On page 176, ‘a big’ could have been ‘the big,’ if the straw hat was the same hat as mentioned before. Nyphron and the Galantians are in the Dahl with Surri, Minna, Raithe, Malcolm, and Seph. Seph speaks with Konniger in a lodge meeting. Seph tries to give good advice and Tressa, Konniger’s wife, and others, think Seph is trying to take over. Seph denies the orders of the Chieftain to ask the Galantians to leave.

Chapter 13, “The Bones”

An important chapter, woman speak about the politics of the Dahl together in a round house. Raithe and Malcolm are there, as well as Surri, and all are sewing wool. Surri asks for bones of a chicken to attempt to predict what may happen. She burns them at dusk and reads them. The bones seem to indicate that a wave of death is on the way. Surri thinks Grin is coming to kill off the Dahl, or maybe worse. She hears a big bear scare a flock of birds.

Chapter 14, “Into the West”

Arion travels with Thyme from Estramnadon to Alon Rhist. Thyme is her guide to get there. She, at one point, falls off her horse into a pool of water, proving that even a Miralyith can experience physical harm. Thyme stays there and Arion departs alone with no soldiers, as she has mastered the Art. She burns a lock of Nyphron’s hair to find is local and soon finds Dahl Rhen.

Chapter 15, “The Lost One”

Women organize to go to the well in the Dahl, as Galantians camp out near the water. The sexy, well-endowed Moya meets Nyphron. More Fhrey arrive in search of the God Killer; Nyphron sends them north. The Fhrey let Nyphron know Arion is on her way to retrieve him. Surri enters the lodge to ask Konniger about Grin, as she intends on performing an exorcism to release a Morvyn (evil demon). Surri is told to leave before she has a chance to speak with Konniger.

Chapter 16, “Miralyith”

Arion travels to Dahl Rhen. She finds Nyphron and he will not return with her to the Fane. Arion bonks other Galantians into an invisible wall and binds Nyphron with the Art to bring him to the Fane. Malcolm bonks her head with a large rock from behind and she falls to the ground bleeding. Seph tells Nyphron not to let his giant kill the Miralyith (heal the injured). People bring Arion to a bed to heal in the lodge. Surri¬†bandages Arion’s head¬†while Arion is sleeping.

Chapter 17, “The Boulder”

Imaly speaks with Fane about Fhrey upheval. Fane sends Gryndal and the prince on a quest to secure the frontier. Gryndal speaks with Trilos about the Art, the door, and a boulder.

Chapter 18, “Healing the Injured”

Arion awakens in bed to learn of the woman caring for her and has lost her powers with the Art. The women care for Arion in shifts. Arion holds conversations with Surri.

Chapter 19, “Waiting on the Moon”

Gifford, the cripled man, gives Roan a nice clay jar. Moya, not wanting to marry a certain man, tries to convince Seph to become Chieftain. By the rules, a woman can become Chieftain so long as a man can represent her for battle. The woman have a long conversation and Raithe and Malcolm learn more about sewing wool. Raithe goes to the forest to chop down a tree, and the Instarya Fhrey, Sebek, challenges him to a sword fight. Sebek uses two swords in combat. Sebek won the sword fight three times, leaving Raithe alive. Raithe goes back to working on the tree with a real axe, something he had yet to use before, as back in Dureya Rhunes only had sticks with rocks on them for felling trees.

Chapter 20, “The Prince”

Gryndal and Mawyndul√ę set out on the frontier. They discuss politics and the practice of the Art. Gryndal speaks of¬†Mawyndul√ę’s father, the current Fane, Lothian, and speaks¬†of his possible assassination. Upon finding the extinguished grounds of a Rhune Dahl, the two discover a few¬†men and a woman, hiding under some boards. Gryndal uses the Art to knock the boards away and snaps his fingers, exploding and killing what was left of that Dahl’s clan. Gryndal and¬†Mawyndul√ę travel on toward Dahl Rhen.

Chapter 21, “The Full Moon”

Surri and Arion talk about Grin. Arion sees Surri light a candle with the Art, something Arion thought was impossible for a Rhune to do. Surri leaves Minna with Arion and departs to perform an exorcism on Grin, to remove the morvyn from the bear.

Chapter 22, “Curse of the Brown Bear”

Surri and The Keeper of Ways, Maeve, set out to find Grin. Konniger and Seph have a long conversation on Maeve’s daughter with Reglan, Seph’s deceased husband. Later we figure that Maeve’s daughter was probably Surri; Seph had no knowledge of her husband’s being unfaithful. Therein lied the reason the baby was left in the forest; people thought the baby may have turned into a bear.¬†Maeve had previously taken dead bodies to the bear, as people died during a hard winter. Seph, Raithe, and Malcolm follow Minna towards the cave to try to save Surri and Maeve.

Chapter 23, “The Cave”

Surri and Mauve make it to the cave.  They wait for him, and Surri puts salt on the ground to deflect the demon. Arion wakes to exit the lodge and is sore. She finds Nyphron and bargains with him, forgiving him for her head injury, sending him and the other Galantians to save Surri and Maeve from Grin. The Galantians agree to go, as it will keep Arion from trying to bring them back to the Fane.

Chapter 24, “Demons in the Forest”

Maeve and Surri wait in the cave for Grin. Maeve thinks Surri is her daughter. They talk about the hard winter and continue to wait for Grin.

Chapter 25, “Trapped”

A great deal of action occurs in this chapter. As Seph, Malcolm, and Raithe are running through the night, Minna breaks free and runs to the cave. Konniger and a bunch of his drunk men ambush and surround the other three. ‘Stuby’ tries to save Seph and Konniger kills him. During the attack, Malcolm delivers a blow to Konniger with a shield, and Seph flees by Raithe’s recommendation to the waterfall cave. Konniger chases her all the way there in the darkness.

As Malcolm and Raithe fight off the attacking men, the Galantians enter the scene and annihilate the attacking Rhunes only to travel down a path¬†to Grin’s cave. In the cave,¬†Grin¬†knocks Maeve into a wall hard. The bear tries to get Surri but she is too close to the wall. Minna enters the cave and bites the huge bear in the rump; Surri calls the fire spirits with a clap of her hands, setting Grin on fire. The bear flees; we eventually learn that she jumps off the waterfall burnt and stinky.

Once the Galantians get to Grin’s cave, Maeve is for sure deceased and Surri and Minna are okay. Malcolm and Raithe try to find Seph in the waterfall cave. The chapter ends with only Seph and Konniger behind the waterfall in the darkness, him trying to find her while she is both exhausted and terrified.

Chapter 26 “Beneath the Falls”

Surri and Minna check on Maeve who speaks and dies. Raithe, Malcolm, and the Galantians find Surri who agrees to lead them to the Dherg cave to attempt saving Seph. Grin finds Konniger and tears him to pieces. She tries to enter the door of the cave. Seph finally figured out how to open the cave’s stone door, and Grin gets trapped in the door as it is closing. The huge bear would have been able to open the stone door, however Seph beat the bear repeatedly with a shield. Grin died, staring into the emerald of the Dherg cave. Seph sleeps on the shield.

The Galantians, Raithe, and Malcolm find Seph. Raithe finds Seph sleeping on the shield and thinks she is not alive, kisses her on the forehead waking her up. Nyphron and the other Galantians marvel at the inscriptions in the cave and their small goblin creature acknowledges the markings as old Dherg inscriptions.

Chapter 27, “When Gods Collide”

The grand finale of the book is within this chapter. The final events take place in Dahl Rhen. Seph, Malcolm, Raithe, and the Galantians return to the Dahl to find the Rhunes organized in a group in front of the lodge dismally. Gryndal steps out with¬†¬†Mawyndul√ę to face Arion and the Galantians. Gryndal brings Nyphron to his knees with the Art and orders the Galantians to slay the rhunes. Arion uses the Art to protect Seph and the others. Gryndal uses the Art to kill the Nyphron’s small goblin creature. Gryndal and Arion battle each other with the forces of nature. Surri catches Gryndal on fire, which distracts him. Minna attacks Gryndal, tearing his facial piercings, distracting him more. Raithe saves Minna from Gryndal’s ‘ground magic’ move. Gryndal attempts to strike Raithe with a bolt of magic from the sky; Raithe deflects the bolt with his shield, directing it to Gryndal. The bolt paralyzes Gryndal, and Raithe chops of Gryndal’s head. Arion forces Mawyndul√ę and his troops to return to Estramnadon. Nyphron’s giant was placed in a magic bubble and Arion had forgotten to release him. After¬†Gryndal was dead, Arion released the giant. Malcolm had thrown a spear towards¬†the prince which stuck¬†into the front of the lodge. Surri thanks Raithe for saving Minna and Seph hugs Raithe.

Chapter 28, “The First Chair”

The inhabitants of Dahl Rhen were without a Chieftain, Shield, or Keeper of Ways. Persephone (Seph) declares herself Chieftain to the crowd, which approves, and Raithe as her spokesperson for battle. Seph announces Brin as the Keeper of Ways, Raithe as the shield, and grants Malcolm full citizenship of Dahl Rhen. Seph declares Surri the Mystic of Dahl Rhen. Seph requests the Galantians to stay in Dahl Rhen, as well as Arion, once she was awake. Malcolm was the slave of Nyphron’s father, Shegon, who Raithe killed. Malcolm admits to Nyphron in the conclusion of the book that he attempted to throw the spear into the lodge five feet to the right of the prince – the spear jabbed into the lodge a foot to the left of Mawyndul√ę.

Chapter 1 of the “Age of Swords”, book two of “The Legends of the First Empire”, “Broken”

This chapter contains the bonus text from the book to be released in the summer of 2017. Roan tries to make a brace for Gifford’s week leg. It fails and he falls. A terrible storm comes to the Dahl and people hide in the food storage. Seph, Arion, and Surri had traveled to Magda for advice. The storm passes and people come out of the storage hole. Something outside of the Dahl is bombarding the barricade/front door.

The people involved with the publication of the final draft of “The Age of Myth” clearly passed the ‘high bar,’ they set for themselves in regards to the book’s publication. A wonderful book, I could not put it down while reading page after page, chapter after chapter, of events involving conflicts with Fhrey, Rhunes, and other characters.

One thing I would like to mention before concluding¬†this review are the quotes preceding each chapter from “The Book of Brin”, written by the character Brin, who has historical insight throughout the tale. She learned many things from a woman and possesses a notable memory. They offer intriguing insight¬†on events and are a wonderful addition to the beginning of each chapter, as readers try to consider what is going to happen next. Each quote is like a deep thought or maxim, and I looked forward to reading each one. Also, there is a note about Mr. Sullivan and his family in the back of the book, with information on how to contact him on the web. His blog is here. E-mail Michael J. Sullivan at michael.sullivan.dc@gmail.com. Find him on facebook at author.michael.sullivan and on twitter via @author_sullivan.

All in all I give this book five of five stars, as nine out of ten readers probably will or already have. I cannot imagine the amount of work that went into its final presentation. I am happy I read it and will enjoy thinking about the exciting story for a long, long time. I am happy Mr. Sullivan has achieved his goals and hope he continues to find success, am sure he will. Amazing. Awesome. I am very impressed.

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