Thursday, April 23, 2015

T: Theft of Swords

My theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year is a mishmash of books, movies, writers and TV shows that have in one way or another taught me something about writing and helped me be a better writer. Some inspired my own stories and a few taught me what not to do. Each post is a one minute lesson on writing. Find some inspiration to get you through the last week of the Challenge at the IWSG blog.

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan is the first book in a three book series. It seems the simple tale of two friends who make their way in the world as thieves, taking on impossible jobs and getting them done. Right away the reader knows there's more to these two men than what they appear. Hints are sprinkled throughout from Hadrian's impressive skills with weapons and Royce's uncanny abilities with all sorts of things. At first they seem like happy go lucky wanderers until a caper lands entangles them in a big mess. Throughout the book that mess expands into a war and many near-death escapes for the heroes. And the entire time, Sullivan parcels out more clues to the origins of these two friends. Even when the
reader thinks they have it figured out, there is more twists that will keep you reading to the last page. And like many buddy stories, these two friends will win your heart. Their relationship is the bedrock of the story.

Lessons: A tale that starts in the middle and only gives hints of the characters' origins can be very gripping. Start with a simple plot, like the theft of a sword, and slowly blow it up like inflating a balloon and increasing tension. Drop hints of back story instead of giving it all away at once. Two protagonists with complementary skills make interesting duos for the buddy-like story line. In the years since the third and final book of this series has been published. Sullivan wrote two shorter novels exploring the beginnings of this unbreakable friendship. Each one covered about a year so I'm hoping he keeps writing them until he catches up to Theft of Swords.

Here's some of the clever banter between Royce and Hadrian

“You didn’t really hold back on Braga so Pickering could kill him, did you?” Royce asked after the two were left alone in the hallway.
“Of course not. I held off because it’s death for a commoner to kill a noble.”
“That’s what I thought.” Royce sounded relieved. “For a minute, I wondered if you’d gone from jumping on the good-deed wagon to leading the whole wagon train.” 


“Aren’t you going to say, I told you so?” Hadrian whispered.
“What would be the point in that?”
“Oh, so you’re saying that you’re going to hang on to this and throw it at me at some future, more personally beneficial moment?”
“I don’t see the point in wasting it now, do you?” 


Do you enjoy reading prequels to a book or series? Do you like the buddy/friendship trope in a story? Can you think of a great duo in literature, TV or movies that had great banter? 

40 comments:

  1. I love buddy stories - they are so much fun. I've always been a sucker for the buddy movies like Lethal Weapon (although I find I can no longer watch it thanks to Mel Gibson's behaviour off screen). Captain America and Black Widow were great buddies in CA:Winter Soldier with superb dialogue.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. Ha! Gibson's behavior ruined those movies for me too.

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  2. Good friends, like good marriage partners, should always compliment each other.

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    1. Excellent point comparing it to a marriage.

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  3. That sounds like a great idea to take something interesting but small to blow up into a big plot. That's an interesting A-Z theme.

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    1. Lots of fantasy novels start out that way.

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  4. That's neat he's writing about the origins of their friendship.

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    1. And it was a pretty rocky start before they even liked each other.

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  5. Good banter can make a book for me. Great for love stories or buddy stories.

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    1. These books are filled with witty dialogue.

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  6. The buddies usually make for a great tale. Prequels not a fan though as there is no tension, you know who can and can't die.

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    1. Same here except that since I know how it turns out it's fun to look for hints of the bigger things to come.

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  7. I like it when backstories (of characters, or of settings) are not just dumped on the reader. That is usually the easy way out.
    Sounds like a fun series!

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

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    1. Filled with fun, tension, drama and many surprises.

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  8. I think I'd have a hard time starting a story from the middle. I've never read a book that did it right or in a way that I felt was gripping, so thank you for this recommendation!

    I do like reading prequels. Writing them too. :)

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    1. It doesn't feel like the middle when you start reading it. You're just aware that a lot went before it to cement this friendship.

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  9. I'm going to admit something here that might be embarrassing. I've never read a prequel. I don't know this author, either. I guess I'm behind in two things today.

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    1. Usually I avoid prequels but these were really well done.

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  10. I haven't read these either. ::sigh::

    I do love me so good banter. The scenes you used at the end made me laugh. Excellent.

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  11. I love prequels, so long as they're done well and the author doesn't inadvertently rewrite established character history. A few years ago, I revisited Judy Delton's delighful Kitty series, set in St. Paul during the 1940s, and discovered the timeline in her prequel and original first book didn't match up. The first book said Kitty and her two best friends have been friends since first grade, yet the prequel has Kitty meeting them after she starts a new school in third grade.

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    1. I've seen TV shows do that with flash backs. It's sloppy.

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  12. I do enjoy when characters' banter. I love prequels too. If I enjoy the series, then I'll always want more from the characters and their world.

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    1. It was fun to read how the friendship grew because these two men totally trust each other yet they're so different.

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  13. This sounds like fun! I do like prequels, most of the time. Not the Star Wars prequels, but some others. I always thought 48 Hours had good bantering between Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy... And Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan had it going on in Shanghai Noon. Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

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  14. Fun dialogue between them! Dripfeeding back story is usually a good way to go in most situations.

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  15. I do like some prequels; this series does sound interesting! I think I'll be doing lots of reading once the challenge is over.

    betty

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  16. I have great banter in an unpublished book between a queen disguised as a guard and her enemy prince. She is sassy and rude, and he is grumpy. So fun pitting them together! x)

    Elizabeth Mueller
    AtoZ 2015
    My Little Pony

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  17. That does sound good. You've certainly got me interested.

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  18. I love sequels. But I am picky when it comes to choosing books that are a part of series. I feel like I have to complete all of them if I start one. It is something that I have a hard time letting go off. :(
    *Shantala @ ShanayaTales*

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  19. Love when there are two strong characters that play off each throughout the story, and even better when there is some hidden backstory. It's been a while since I've tackled a series like this but looks right up by alley.

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  20. If the starting in the middle aspect hadn't sold me, that snippet of dialogue would have done the trick. I love it when authors tease their readers along without vomiting a mess of backstory all over them. And a buddy story--also good. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  21. I have managed to mess up the alphabet order of my blogging from A to Z ... I know you are a host. Can I fix that? Or as a poet just take poetic license, heh, heh.
    I want to read all the books you list if there were world enough and time (and money). Why aren't I a rich lady of leisure, huh?

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    1. I think you have to fix that on your own blog. Just try to do the rest of them in order. Poets!!! LOL

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  22. You're hanging in there beautifully with the A to Z Challenge, Susan. One more week and it's over.

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  23. You have created a huge list of books I want to check out now!

    Heather

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  24. Great banter? Yes, Eureka with Stark and the main guy. Once Stark left, the banter was gone and the show, just not the same.

    To me and Tim, anyway.

    Happy Weekend. I still gotta snowball with your name on it. Come on a little closer to your screen, so I don't miss when I chuck it at ya'.

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