Reviewing my Christmas break, now with less than 12 hours remaining, I realise (though I’m sure I shouldn’t be surprised by this) that I’ve done next to nothing. Not a single word of the serial novel written. No short stories started, finished, polished or rewritten. Not so much as a scrappy note on some dialogue committed to a festively-themed napkin over Christmas lunch. No doubt you’ll assume (though not if you know me well) that I must have been doing something more interesting over the holidays, but no. No walks in the countryside, no afternoons at the cinema, no art galleries or museums, no get-togethers with friends, and I only read one book.
If I had to manage only one book during the longest break of the year, I’m glad I picked the one I did: Shadowmarch by Tad Williams, first of a trilogy (the third book yet to be released, damn those teasing publishers). Over 800 pages of death, love, war, demons, dark elves, and swords with names. Never could I write something so intricately plotted, with so many well-drawn characters (the kind where you know who’s speaking even though the line of dialogue is the first line of the chapter) that sustains such pace and richness for so long. Not to everyone’s taste perhaps, but wonderfully satisfying to those that like that sort of thing, and a bit of an inspiration to dust off some half-finished fantasy stories and give them another chance.