Saturday, January 07, 2006

Best-written book I've read

This week I finished reading Holly Lisle's book, Talyn. It was one of the most incredible books I have read in my life.

Now, I know that sounds over the top, but let me tell you my story of Talyn.

First of all, I've never fully read a fantasy novel (yes, that includes the Harry Potter series). It is not (or so I thought) my cup of tea. However, Holly Lisle is one of my favorite writers who write about writing, so I thought it only proper I should read one of her novels. After all, since her writing advice is so good, so should her books be, right?
(And believe me, this is not always the case...)

I came across one great review after another about Talyn so I went to my local Chapters and purchased my own copy of the 524-page book.

The book is truly 'unputdownable.' The story sucked me in and I had to know what happened next at every turn. The characters were deep, the world complete, and the story just kept moving from page one to 524.

Now, I must say here that I am tainted as a reader. After all these many years of studying writing (and as a full-time editor), I cannot read a book without being painfully aware of the writing. It really takes away from the pleasure of reading when you notice the writing technique in the story you are reading. At the very least, I am aware of the writing as a method of research for my own craft. With Talyn, I completely forgot that I was reading. I was 100 per cent absorbed in the story--and boy did it feel great. What scares me is that Lisle seems to be able to write so well in her first drafts. I know she revisits her drafts, but still, I've read her posts of snippets during the writing of the book that shows me it all comes out right the first time. I suppose this is the result of many years and many hours of practice and awareness. Lisle is one of those writers that work and produce mostly every day.

Well, that's my Talyn story. I now have a bag full of other Lisle books to help keep me from doing my own writing. Looks like fantasy is my new thing. I highly recommend all writers and aspiring writers as well as readers pick up a copy of Talyn. Even if you don't normally read fantasy, you will like this book.

BTW, I also read Lisle's blog regularly at http://hollylisle.com/writingdiary2/. It's also a great read. In addition, her website has a library of articles on writing that no aspiring author should skip.

Happy writing and happy reading!
Nienke

9 comments:

Anders said...

"Now, I must say here that I am tainted as a reader. After all these many years of studying writing (and as a full-time editor), I cannot read a book without being painfully aware of the writing. It really takes away from the pleasure of reading when you notice the writing technique in the story you are reading."

Me too! The passive voice is what I most notice, with inappropriate comma use coming in at a close second. Finding a book like Talyn or Carrie that either doesn't make those mistakes or that so enraptures me that I don't notice them is lovely.

Jean said...

I never read fantasy until I found out Holly was writing it either. I believe this is her best work to date, but I think you'll like some of her previous books as well.

I loved Birkwelch, the beer-drinking, Wheaties-eating dragon in Minerva Wakes.

Holly said...

What a recommendation. Thank you so much. I'm delighted that you enjoyed it.

sally said...

i agree with the comments about Talyn, it was one of the most unique fantasy stories i've read and the first by holly. now i'm reading memory of fire and in the process of finding other books by this talented woman :)

-Sally

J.A. Coppinger said...

I recommend Holly's "World Gates" series.

"Memory of Fire"
"The Wreck of Heaven"
"Gods Old and Dark"

I picked them all up after reading the ARC of "Talyn" and loved them. There are only the three published and no immediate plans for more (which annoys me to no end!) but they're remarkably well done stories with great characters.

Nienke Hinton said...

Anders: me too! And those unsightly adverbs.
Jean: I'll have to check out Minerva Wakes. Birkwelch sounds delicious!
I've already picked up a bunch of new Lisle books, including two of the 'World Gate' series. Thanks for the recommendation J.A.!
Sally, thanks too for the suggestion.
Holly - it's totally deserved. But I appreciate the appreciation!

Mama Rose said...

I keep saying that Talyn was the best book I read last year. It was. And it still haunts me, more than six months after I read it. :)

Linda

Anders said...

Yes! The adverbs. THEY BURN.

My passive-voice hatred has gotten so bad that I search for passive sentences without even thinking about it. They're all over the place, particularly in the newsapaper.

Jim said...

Minerva Wakes was not my introduction to Holly, but it was the first of her novels I read after meeting her. :)

Starting with the most breathlessly memorable "tease" ever:

Three rules govern life:

Never give up on your dreams. Always stand up for what's right.

And NEVER mess with the Mommy.