Sometimes the hardest part of writing a story is where and how to end it. Unless you’re doing something really risky and experimental, most readers want an ending that is satisfying, something that ties up the loose ends and fits both the tone and the theme of the story. If most of the book has been light and happy, then ending with something grim or terrible will feel jarring and out of place. On the contrary, if you’ve been writing something that is heavy and realistic, then ending with a fairy-tale-like happily-ever-after will likewise feel out of place and perhaps even cheapen the sacrifices and suffering of the characters.

Which brings me to Animorphs.

Back in July 2020, I wrote an entry on the Animorphs book series by K.A. Applegate for my Obscure Books From Childhood blog series on Second Unit Reviews. This prompted me to reread the entire series, which consists of 62 volumes (54 regular books, four Megamorphs books, the Andalite, Hork-Bajir, and Ellimist Chronicles, and Visser, plus two “choose your own adventure” books called Altermorphs, but I don’t count those because they don’t contribute to the main story). I just finished the final book very early this morning and… I have some feelings.

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The Dogs of War

Warfare and fantasy go hand in hand.  There is something visceral and exhilarating about medieval-style combat…although I personally would never want to be in one.  It may be cool to watch elves, orcs, and horsemen fight each other, but in reality, it was brutal, bloody, and no fun at all.  Still, that doesn’t stop writers, including myself, from crafting massive campaigns and emotionally charged duels.  What can I say?  Humans love to fight.

Now, please understand that I am not a soldier.  Everything I know about war I have picked up from reading, watching movies, listening to my dad lecture on history, and plain common sense.  If you want to learn what should and should not be done in war, I recommend reading a lot of history books.  Human history is littered with good and bad generals, close calls, narrow escapes, massacres, ambushes, traps, intrigues, bad weather, advantageous terrain, underdogs, overlords, battles that went the way they were supposed to and many that did not.  History is the best teacher.  I also highly recommend keeping a copy of Brassey’s Encyclopedia of Land Forces and Warfare beside your desk.  Its focus is on modern armies, but much of the tactics, concern with morale, supplies, terrain, weather, etc. can be applied to old-style armies.  And I’m sure there are plenty of other books at the library covering most efficient ways of killing people.

Adding magic and fantasy creatures into the mix can be a little tricky because, obviously, such things aren’t a factor on Earth, so there isn’t an easy answer about how wizards or giants can affect the course of a battle.  That’s where your own creativity and judgment come in.

Continue reading “The Dogs of War”

The Game of Thrones: A Review


I just finished watching the first season of The Game of Thrones…and, to be honest, I was not especially impressed.  I know I’ll probably catch hell for saying that, but it’s the truth.

Now you’re probably wondering, “But you’re a huge fantasy buff, Kat!  How could you NOT like it?”  So let me be clear:  I do not think that The Game of Thrones was a bad or poorly done adaptation.  I did enjoy watching it.  HBO did a wonderful job on locations, costuming, sets, music, cinematography…all of the technical details.  The level of visual detail is superb…even stunning.  And it is extremely faithful to the book, which is a mark in its favor.

That being said…the characters did not really engage my sympathies.  The thing that’s often overlooked when adapting fantasy is that fantasy is about people.  Take away the people and all you have left is fancy window-dressing.

Those were the generalities; now, on to the specifics.

This post may contain SPOILERS!  You have been warned.  Proceed at your own risk!

Continue reading “The Game of Thrones: A Review”