I Memed a Meme, This Tag Gone By

December was my hiatus month as far as writing blog posts was concerned, but it didn’t stop me reading the blog posts of others. For example, this “Les Mis Character Tag” post by The Story Sponge, in which song titles from the “Les Miserables” musical demanded matching to character types found throughout literature.

Me being a lover of both books and musicals – (which would go some way toward explaining why so many of my books end up sprinkled with original song numbers) – of course I want to play! And so I shall, featuring characters from all over Danielle E. Shipley canon. (Because that sort of self-indulgent fun is my reward for having put like 15+ books out into the world.)

les mis gif, revolution
This tag’s semi-related, bro. Be chill.

First, the tag rules:

– Acknowledge the human/dragon/sponge that tagged you (tagged my own self, so check!)

– Acknowledge the sponge that created the tag (check, and kudos to you, Story Sponge!)

– Tag as many people as you so desire (check, because if you’re reading this and want to play, consider yourself tagged!)

Now, let the games being!

1) “Valjean’s soliloquy” (a character who’s whole view of the world undergoes a dramatic shift)

Sun's Rival Cover, frontFor this, I’m going with Ionquin Wyle, Crown Prince of Denebdeor. Yes, I could have just as easily chosen Princess Laraspur, the sister with whom he adventures in their life-changing story, “The Sun’s Rival” (Wilderhark Tales, Book 5). But for all that Laraspur’s worldview is rocked just as hard, it’s Ionquin who has the harder time coping with all they’ve discovered and trying to reconcile it to his future as a king. His struggle extends well into Book 6, and I’m not honestly sure he’s 100% recovered by Book 7. Sometimes your head just stays blown your whole life long.

2) “I Dreamed a Dream” (a character who never seems to have any good luck whatsoever)

I’d like to think I’m pretty nice about letting my characters catch the occasional lucky break in their otherwise harrowing lives. But wouldn’t you know, I get called out in text (in “Deathsong of the Deep”, coming February 14th!) about how Narles Semsen, jack of all trades aboard the Painted Lady, ends up with a pretty short end of the stick.

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3

“Crow’s said he’s fought with fireworks before,” [said Molly].

“And got half a score of pirates killed,” said Anafrid.

“At least most of those dead pirates were his enemies.”

“And seared the color vision out of Semsen’s eyes.”

“That part was unfortunate,” Molly conceded.

Anafrid’s eyes rolled up into the downpour. “If any of the rest of us survive Crow’s madness along with him, it will be because we’ve breathed enough of his air to catch his luck. I don’t hold high hope for the temporary hands.”

/And I can only hope a few weeks aboard the Lady have been enough for me,/ Molly thought. If she had suspected it meant the difference between her life and death, she would have made plans to join the crew sooner. Well, perhaps sharing a boat with the captain during the battle to come would tip the balance in her favor. Or cost her part of her vision. Or her face.

Sticking close to Crow hadn’t proven particularly lucky for Semsen.

So, there you have it. I am a good author more than I am a nice one. Apologies, Mr. Semsen.

3) “Fantine’s Arrest” (a character who just makes your skin crawl)

Legend cover 02, front

Thaaat would be Sir Guy of Gisborne from “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale” (Outlaws of Avalon, Book 3). Scary. Evil. Dangerous. Also, creepy. Let’s not talk about him. Unless you’ve already read the book. In which case, let us whimper in harmony.

4) “The Bargain/The Waltz of Treachery” (a character who is a master of manipulation)

Surrogate Sea cover, front

No contest: This one goes to Austeryn, the South Wind of The Wilderhark Tales. “The Surrogate Sea” (Book 6) testifies to how far – and how sneakily – he’ll go to achieve his plans, to say nothing of his part in that one short story in “The Sky-Child” (Book 6.5). You don’t need a sorting hat (or *cough* to have ever read “Harry Potter” *cough*) to know he’s 300% Slytherin. Watch your back in the fog, my friends.

5) “Stars” (a villain with a convincing motivation)

In the ‘antihero’ category? Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter. We all know why we does what he does. It’s very much “cool story, still murder”, but how many of us would honestly do any better, were we living his “So Super Dead” life?

In the ‘not villainous but dangerous’ category? Mach Jenius, Brainstorm. Our boy’s not out to hurt anybody in “Out of My Head” (Inspired 2), but darned if he couldn’t end up destroying a few lives anyway in his entirely relatable quest for belonging.

In the ‘actual villain category’, Lord Swanton, Sheriff of Nottinghamshire. I completely get where he’s coming from. I, too, would lose patience with peasants who’d rather cheer for Robin Hood than just quietly pay their taxes. But that’s because I have a villainous streak that cares more about the world following my rules than about people. Sooooo, nobody elect me your sheriff, okay? Okay.

6) “Do you Hear the People Sing?” (a character who inspires other people)

The obvious answer? Lucianíel from “Inspired”. The light elemental’s a muse, after all.

But I can’t not mention King Arthur Pendragon. “The Once and Future Camelot” (everyone remember that magical cover?!?! would not exist without him, because like 9 out of 10 major players in the book can point back to Arthur as his or her motivation. Noble deeds, nefarious doings… Arthur inspires a lot.

7) “Little People” (a little character with a whole lot of spunk)

arcane-arts-coverIf we’re talking “no small parts, only stories with small word counts”, how ‘bout the soul of Kid from “The Dark Siren”? He’s quite the child, considering he’s basically a ghost. Inquisitive, audacious, and none too shy about expressing his feelings. Also sort of a necromancer, but it’s complicated.

8) “Bring Him Home” (a character who is sacrificially protective)

Our Hungering Hearts, front cover

Um, Rowan “Row” Charles in “Our Hungering Hearts” only gave up his entire plane of reality to look after his best friend. He went from living in a magical dream world to battling a lousy job market in the name of love. Your fave could never.

9) “Javert’s Suicide” (an extremely conflicted character)

Once we’re really into the deep end of “Deathsong”, Molly Worth’s got a massive dilemma on her hands. Which song of her heart should she follow? Do the ends she feels owed justify the means divinely set before her?? Ought she fight her way back to Hot Guy #1, or is Hot Guy #2 her inescapable destiny??? (I’m joking! JOKING! The moral quandary far outweighs any romantic subplottery, I swear!)

10) “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” (an impossibly lonely character)

My kneejerk answer would be Allyn-a-Dale – not least because he totally wrote a grieving parody of this very song, once, which I may or may not someday make public. But truth be told, ‘lonely’ is not the word for Allyn. It is the word, during one time or another, for the people he’s closest to. His father, for one, lived a low-key very lonely life. His best friend, for another, felt unspeakably isolated. And then there’s [name redacted], which of the three examples given here is actually Allyn’s fault, but that’s a story for a book as yet unpublished, so nothing more to see here!

And that is that! Les Mis Character Tag: Accomplished.

les mis gif, valjean approves

If any of you decide to play along in a post of your own, feel free to share the link with me so I can check it out! And whether you think all my character match-ups were spot on or would have better gone to somebody else I wrote, you can tell me all about it in the comments.

~ ‘Til next time, mes amis ^_^

In Which Victor Hugo Gets Scarlet-ified

W.A.I.T. Button

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“But first, a quick word from our sponsor-author-girl person,” says Will. “Big congrats to Tirzah Duncan, raffle winner of an e-ARC of “Inspired”! You’ll be getting your prize soon, you lucky thing, you. For now, though, everyone make yourselves comfortable as we now present to you: ‘Vive La Revolution Rouge’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a single spotlight shining down on Robin Hood. He stands at a podium on far stage right, a badge of red, white, and blue pinned to his jacket’s lapel.]

Robin [in an epic announcer voice ]: Coming soon to a theatre so off Broadway, it’s not even on the same plane of reality, Scarlet Productions presents “Les Miserables”. A reputedly uplifting tale of misery, misery, and more misery, the show stars Will Scarlet as Jean Valjean, a man who served a ridiculous amount of hard time for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister’s starving child (are you kidding me, 19th-centurry French justice system???), broke parole, and went on to become the sort of beloved mayor everyone shouts for when carriages collapse on people in the street.

[A little further along the stage, a light goes up on Will Scarlet, dressed in a gentleman’s frock coat (red, of course), gazing out into the audience with a facial expression suggesting internal conflict and a possible identify crisis.]

Will/Valjean [singing ]: Who am I?

Robin: Bread thief, parole-breaker, beloved mayor. We’ve been over it.

Will/Valjean: Oh. Right. Guess I’d best be off to adopt the little daughter of that recently deceased lady of the night!

[The light on Will goes dark, and Robin continues.]

Robin: Co-starring Allyn-a-Dale as Javert, the police inspector who, more interested in upholding the letter of the law than granting mercy to men trying to do some bloody good in a messed-up Europe, doggedly hunts Valjean like a Nottingham Sheriff hounds a Merry Man.

[A stage left spotlight shines softly on Allyn-a-Dale, standing in a heavily-starched uniform of ink-dark blue, his eyes trained above on constellations formed of sparkling Christmas ornaments.]

Allyn/Javert [with chilling fervency ]: Stars and their Maker, stand and witness.

Forever I have made my pledge:

I’ll track down two-four-six-oh-one

And capture him, or meet my death.

Robin: …Wow. Move over, Herbert Kretzmer. [clears throat and continues as Allyn’s spotlight darkens ] Also featuring Marion Hood as tragic heroine Eponine, and Gant-o’-the-Lute – breakout favorite of upcoming Wilderhark Tale “The Seventh Spell” – as Enjorlas, ringleader of a revolution doomed to truly impressive failure.

[A center stage spotlight comes up on a pile of furniture, atop which stands Gant-o’-the-Lute, waving a massive French flag through a fog of smoke from artificial gunfire.]

Lute/Enjorlas [singing joyously ]: Do you hear the people sing?

Songs of adventure in the slums!

It is the music of— [breaks off when he notices Marion crawling along in the guise of a street urchin boy at the barricade’s base ] Eponine, what do you think you’re doing? Move along, silly thing – you’ll die!

Marion/Eponine: It’s “Les Miserables”, Enjorlas. Everyone dies.

Lute/Enjorlas [lightly ]: Well, hello, spoilers.

[A pair of shots ring out, and Lute and Marion fall over, dead. Spotlight goes black.]

Robin: It’s a show not to be missed. …Unless you’re a “real life” person with no access to the imaginary venue, in which case you are most unfortunately out of luck. But hey, at least you got the mock preview. “Les Miserables”: Eat, pray, love… or whatever the movie’s tagline was. [chucks up the peace sign with a charming smile, and the light blacks out ]

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Laure Estep and Ann Duncan,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘creative uses for Christmas ornaments’ and ‘“Forever I have made my pledge”’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! Until next week, friends! Will and Allyn out!”

“Stars” or “A Review of a Book That Has Me Seeing Them and To Which I Give Lots”

What do you do when a book leaves you in such a state of excitement that you can barely put together a coherent review for your blog? Why, you embrace the chaos and roll with it, of course! (Good news, Daddy – you get to read me raving about this series one more time!)

...And boy, did it ever end with a bang...
…And boy, did it ever end with a bang…

The Book: “Spirit’s End” by Rachel Aaron.

Genre: Fantasy adventure.

Blurb: Normally, this is where I’d summarize the book in my own words. But this book’s got me such a beautiful wreck (and is a series-ender, and therefore tricky to recap without spoilers at every turn), I’m going with something new; namely, copying the tease on the back of the book. …plus commentary!

Eli Monpress is clever, he’s determined, and he’s in way over his head. [*Check, check, and oh-h-h, is he ever…*]

First rule of thievery: Don’t be a hero.

When Eli broke the rules [*back in “The Spirit War”*] and saved the Council Kingdoms, he thought he knew the price [*and he about gave me a bloody heart attack! What a way to end a book! Boo/attaway, Rachel Aaron!*], but resuming his place as the Shepherdess’s favorite isn’t as simple as bowing his head. Now that she has her darling back, Benehime [*who is even more star-struck by Eli and further out of her mind than I am*] is setting in motion a plan that could destroy everything she was created to protect [*THE WORLD*] – and even Eli’s charm might not be enough to stop her [*talk about a “You know you’re in mega-deep trouble when…” scenario*].

My Thoughts: Aw, people, I couldn’t handle it! …Meaning I couldn’t not handle it, meaning I couldn’t put it down. Something about the imminent doom of the world tends to make all heck break loose. Shocking deaths, shocking survivals, powers shifted (and if you’ve read the book, you’ll know how literally I mean that), and dangling ends from previous books tied up because, let’s face it, if the world goes under, when we will ever again get the chance to find out what’s up?

The characters were rocking the house. I mean, they’ve always rocked the house, or I wouldn’t have fallen for this series so hard. But the awesomeness levels were just off the charts! It got to the point where my heart was like, “Eli, sweetheart, I adore you, but don’t get jealous if I gaze at the Lord of Storms a little too hard…”

Oh, man, the Lord of Storms… He’s that guy menacing Eli on the cover, by the way. The dude was raining bad-A coolness. In buckets. And as my reading of this book and my viewing of the new “Les Misérables” film happened within the same time frame, I could not help but note the parallels between this fanatical demon-hunter and Inspector Javert – especially once my brain started rewriting the opening lyrics of Javert’s solo.

There, out in the darkness, a demonseed running;

Fallen from Powers; fallen from grace.

Shepherdess witness: I never shall yield,

‘Til we come face to face. ‘Til we come face to face.

I would pay big money to hear the Lord of Storms sing “Stars” – a performance which I imagine would sound like something between the Russell Crowe and Philip Quast, 10th Anniversary versions (the one’s resonance meets the other’s fire). Seriously. It’s too perfect a song for him. I’d tell you why, but… spoilers.

Fight Club

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Not without reading the first four books! (E-book of the “Legend of Eli Monpress” omnibus on sale, this month. That’s the first three books of the series for $2.99. Are you kidding me? Somebody get on this!) After that, do not walk, RUN to read this! And then if, immediately after, you feel the strong temptation to read it again and rave about it to everyone and oh, gosh, why isn’t the whole world raving with you?!… well, you’ll be in good company.