1. Hey Guest,

    Are you handy with Photoshop? Do you feel the DLP Anakin logo is tired and old? Do you want to win a special as of yet undetermined prize? Join the DLP Banner Photoshop Competition! Fame, fortune, and the respect of your peers await those that enter. Sadness, despair, and a deep self-loathing await those that do not.

    Enter the competition.
    Dismiss Notice

Distant Star by Joe Ducie

Discussion in 'Books and Anime Discussion' started by Joe, May 25, 2012.

  1. JenosIdanian

    JenosIdanian Professor DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2009
    Messages:
    419
    Location:
    With HP and the Hipshit Sparklepuff...
    Well... pic related. Christmas cheer! Seriously looking forward to the next book, and good on ya, Joe!

    [​IMG]
     
    Joe
  2. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2008
    Messages:
    523
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    High Score:
    1,800
    Got me a shiny new cover for it and everything.

    [​IMG]

    Looks like some shit's about to go down in Declan's town.
     
  3. knight504

    knight504 The Chosen One

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,107
    Location:
    England
    Several months late to the party but I finally got around to reading this. I enjoyed it at lot though I didn't meet my high expectations.

    The main criticism is one that's been brought up a lot is the length; a longer story would have improved just about everything, especially the characterisation of everyone other than Declan and the world-building. Many of the character's felt like tools for the plot instead of individuals and the important events that focused on them (like Marcus and Clare) didn't seem like too big a deal.

    Declan was fun to read about though. :awesome

    For the same reason, it also felt like the adventure ended far too quickly. I can't help but compare it to Wasteland where entering Atlantis was the start of something bigger but here it was more the beginning of the end.

    A more specific complaint is about the use of the Will. It felt like the more interesting aspects of it got pushed to wayside most of the time in favour of fire and lightning. The difference between that and Declan's use of Will in the opening was jarring, to the point that it felt we had two different magic systems there. I expected all the magic taking place would have involved using the books or reciting specific words and story passages for different effects. Instead its main usage came across as a really generic.

    There was also the italicised one-liners that kept cropping up. Personally, they felt really out of place whenever they appeared and I was half-convinced that that it was actually an independent voice in Declan's head he was ignoring. The feeling faded over time as the events got more serious but it didn't really sound like Declan a lot of the time.

    Despite all that though, I expect things will only get better from here and I'm anticipating the sequel. 4/5 from me.
     
  4. yak

    yak Moderator Moderator DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2007
    Messages:
    3,999
    Location:
    Australia
    Hey Joe, are your ebooks going to appear outside of Amazon/Kindle?

    I'm relatively new to the ebook world, and I've already got two libraries of ebooks: DRM free and Google Books. The latter obviously integrate perfectly with Android phones, unlike the lack lustre Kindle App. Any chance of seeing your books on a Google Books compatible seller?

    Baen Books would be a neat choice as well.
     
  5. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2008
    Messages:
    523
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    High Score:
    1,800
    They are available elsewhere, yeah.

    I'm on Kobo, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble. I think one or two others. Any of those of use?
     
  6. Sn0rkack

    Sn0rkack Professor

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2011
    Messages:
    477
    Location:
    Long Island - 631
    "You're about as Willful, or as useful, as a broken condom in a whorehouse."

    Where have I heard this before...?
     
  7. yak

    yak Moderator Moderator DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2007
    Messages:
    3,999
    Location:
    Australia
    That'd be Ch 5 of An Unfound Door.

    "Well that's about as useful as a broken condom in a whorehouse," Harry muttered, quoting his father.

    As it turns out, your ebooks aren't on Google Books at all. My ebook library is only small [less than a dozen], so it's not too late to switch to another DRM scheme with a better selection, such as Amazon, Kobo, Apple, or B&N. I'll have to do some research on which ones work best with my phone first though.
     
  8. Sn0rkack

    Sn0rkack Professor

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2011
    Messages:
    477
    Location:
    Long Island - 631
    Huh, look at that. I've been using Google to search the quote and see if it had been used in a movie or something. It is a pretty good quote.
     
  9. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2008
    Messages:
    523
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    High Score:
    1,800
    Yeah I don't know about that one. It's certainly not original, but I can't remember where I heard it. The pub, most likely.

    Just one of those public domain sayings, you know. Somewhat cliche, even. Eh.
     
  10. LittleChicago

    LittleChicago Death Eater DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Messages:
    968
    Location:
    Calgary
    Joe
  11. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2008
    Messages:
    523
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    High Score:
    1,800
    Awesome review, mate. Cheers!
     
  12. Hawkin

    Hawkin Minister of Magic

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2011
    Messages:
    1,241
    Location:
    QC, Canada
    Pfff, I was there first kk thx! (On the US version of amazon tho :'()
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
  13. Mugglewizard

    Mugglewizard Seventh Year

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    Messages:
    214
    I know it s a little late but I just read the book and I had to leave a review. I would like to start of by saying I haven't read Wastelands of time. The only story I have read and enjoyed by Joe is the hero trilogy.

    To start off in overall I liked the story. Especially the concept of Will and the Tome wars description. I liked the way Declan is a hero/villain from the wars and was quite powerful. A commander feared by the knights as well as the renegades.

    While I liked the way Will was used initially using the books, later on Declan uses it without books so it made me wonder, is it just Declan who can do that or everyone. If so then how does the system of Will actually work?

    What irritated me was the message the future self left Declan. I mean none of it was of any use. In fact Declan also makes no use of it. Train Ethan, Trust Marcus until he gives you a reason not to trust him... I found all of it was useless. I know that he knows he cant make a difference to his death but at least he may have mentioned who Emily was or that she may end up with the Infernal Clock.

    I also feel the story could have been longer and involved a little more of his apprentices. When they came in initially after the attack I was expecting to see some action on their part as well. Maybe they get attacked or they help Declan in some way. But Sophie barely does anything in the whole book. Maybe in the next one then.

    His character also seemed to vary quite a bit. One moment he is described as ruthless and willing to do anything to achieve his ends. But we see him care about Sophie and Clare.

    I guess we will learn more about the Tome wars and the key characters in the upcoming books so I will not ask queries like what happened between the King and Declan.

    All in all I liked the setup and will surely be getting Broken Quill soon. Will see if I can drop you a line after I read it.
     
  14. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2013
    Messages:
    1,686
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    The Holy Moose Empire
    High Score:
    1,826
    I can't write Amazon reviews yet, so this is the next best place for it. TLDR is I liked the book, Joe, but there are buts.

    First thing that came to mind is that as someone coming from Wastelands, I probably have an advantage in familiarity that someone who hasn't read your fanfic won't. I tried to look at the presented setting like someone reading Distant Star for the first time would and the verdict is: it's fine, but didn't make go "woah". I think the problem here stems from the fact that you as the author have a much clearer, sharper picture of the awesome, monumental sights you describe and are prone to writing descriptions that leave quite a bit of space for imagination - not necessarily a bad thing, but a reader who prefers a more... eh, grounded, I guess is the word, description might be left wanting.

    To briefly touch on the magic system: Will is definitely more of the LotR variety of vague(r), awe-inspiring, terrible, mighty kind than, say, very rule-based systems of Sanderson's works or even the HP magic which has quite a few rules we can identify. That word again - vague. I feel like it actually applies to a lot of aspects of this book, not in a negative way, mind you. Many elements in Distant Star are, I think, supposed to evoke that sense of "I don't exactly know what I'm looking at, but I know it's dangerous and escapes my mere human understanding". If that was the goal, then you did great.

    At first, I was a bit iffy on the conflict presented - the Tome Wars were devastating Forget, so Declan forced peace through even more concentrated devastation, which he could do because he had actually found Atlantis in his Great Quest. So there was peace, but when the gang arrives on the Plains, it's war again. So, what's the point? But everything fell into place by the end. Basically selfish people trying to play with powers that are beyond them. I can get behind that theme.

    So the conflict, once it got going, was satisfying, but boy does it take a while to get the ball rolling. I would imagine after Declan saw himself die, he would have jumped right back into action, but he finds time to get together with an old lover, then a friend and slay a monster before he decides that maybe it's time to get out of his shop. And I'm not sure if Declan is supposed to be an alcoholic or just fond of a good drink, but I found the scenes of drinking and/or eating - a trope prevalent in crime thriller fiction and one of the reasons this genre bores me - more than a little irritating, even if they made sense in the narrative as downtime after getting stabbed, for example. Personally, I tend to skip over such scenes and just imply they happened so I can get back to Cool Stuff. It's part of your style, I can hardly fault you for that. And I know nothing about alcohol, so telling me that the whiskey is eighty years old just does nothing for me. But it will for a different reader. Can't please everyone. Still, I did feel as though the inclusion of those scenes might have taken wordcount away from other parts, such as the battle on the Plains of Perdition or when Renegade raised the dead - they lacked the oomph I thought they deserved. Could've used more fleshing out.

    Lastly, I want to comment on the characters, because characters, after all, are why we read books. I think this is another area where you fell into the trap of knowing your characters while the readers don't. The way they were presented (at least some of them) seemed to me like you were assuming a greater degree of reader familiarity than there was. Like the book was sort of in media res, in that way. I was waiting for something more, which never came, though this might be my own fault. Fanfic has no wordcount limits and you can go on for as long as you like. Distant Star was your first published fiction, so I can understand that some elements had to be sacrificed to a degree in order to establish your protagonist, who I thought was rather solid - sort of a legendary James Bond of Atlantis. On the other hand, you have characters like Jon Faraday, Morpheus Renegade and his Queen, all of whom are either antagonists or antagonistic (in Faraday's case) and I felt they lacked definition. Same problem with Declan's gang - at times Sophie, Clare and Tal all rolled into one with blurry boundaries. I suppose you can't win 'em all with a setup book for a series.

    Lastly, two elements that kept me reading despite the perceived faults: your worldbuilding pulled me in right away. I can't overstate the coolness factor of simple names like Forget, Ascension City, Roseblade, Tome Wars - well done there. It takes a deft touch to evoke a sense of description in a reader without actually doing any. You say Roseblade, I think awesome. Compare to something like the elaborate naming schemes of Brandon Sanderson. The ten Orders of Knights Radiant vs your Knights and Renegades. There is power in simplicity and potential in brevity and you captured that with a few well-placed nouns and adjectives.

    Your writing in Distant Star is compelling, though at times try-hardy (tbh, the description of Declan crossing the Degradation had me wince a little) and I can tell you, compared to your recent stuff that I'm familiar with (the HP/Peter Pan fanfic) it has improved over time, but this book has that promise of the writer getting better in the future. Rough at times, but flows well and when you get into it, it pulls you along comfortably all the way until the last page.

    Overall, a solid effort for first published fiction and a book I can recommend to any fantasy enthusiast. I can only wish that if I ever become a published writer myself, my debut could be as good as yours.

    4/5
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
  15. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2008
    Messages:
    523
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    High Score:
    1,800
    Thanks, ScottPress, I appreciate the in-depth review. I'm glad you liked the story and some of the things I was attempting to convey. I agree with your points, wholeheartedly. Looking back, there's a lot I'd do differently with that one.

    I think the story and world, and characters, become more cohesive in the second and third volumes in the series. Particularly the second. I like that one the most out of the three.
     
  16. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2013
    Messages:
    1,686
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    The Holy Moose Empire
    High Score:
    1,826
    Joe, I'm reading Stormlight atm, but I'll be sure to pick up the sequels sometime.
     
  17. Zennith

    Zennith Pebble Wrestler Prestige

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2009
    Messages:
    170
    Location:
    The Capitol
    High Score:
    1,928
    But, importantly, when will there be moar?
     
  18. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2008
    Messages:
    523
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    High Score:
    1,800
    Ugh, soon. Perhaps February. If for no other reason than I'll need the money to fund my dark schemes for 2017.
     
  19. Eilyfe

    Eilyfe Death Eater

    Joined:
    May 27, 2014
    Messages:
    993
    Well, I’m quite late to the party but I’m done with the first book. Already posted a review on Amazon but this here will necessarily become a bit different and also more detailed. I think Distant Star was your first book and you wrote a lot more since then so most might not apply anymore.

    First of all, I like the world you built and the conflict between Renegades and Knights evoked a sense of excitement in me; the fact that Declan is a war-hero and not a blank slate gives him a really good backstory and makes him very interesting. For some reason I also liked Aaron, even if he only appeared for a short moment. The way they reunited in the shop sold me on him; I liked him since.

    The characters reminded me a lot of HP characters though. Clare reminded me quite a lot of Tonks, for example, and parts between her and Declan I mostly envisioned as HarryxTonks. That might be owed to knowing you write fanfiction, but it wasn’t a connection I could undo after it appeared. I felt Morpheus wasn’t really fleshed out, as were a few other characters. It’s actually quite funny. I totally forgot about Mathias and Grace and those twists took me by surprise, although Mathias’ reasoning still isn’t clear to me. Was it really just curiosity or am I missing something?

    In any case, once the twists happened I thought, well, that’s good narrative use of characters, making sure they all have a purpose, even those I considered as not so notice-worthy. But then you let Ethan and Sophie fall by the wayside big time. I assume though they’re going to be involved in the rest of the series, so I’ll see where you go with this.

    One thing I noticed is that Declan made an older impression on me than twenty-six. I know he’s seen much and lived through even more, but in my head he always appeared like a forty-ish years old veteran of the war. It was a contrast that jarred me now and then while reading.

    The writing itself was solid. Clear and concise, and you’ve got some lovely turns of phrase as always. Same as Scott I think a name like the Tome Wars is crazy good at being evocative, yet I admit that I felt overwhelmed at first. There were so many capitalized words at the beginning, all of them seemed to mean something, and I had difficulty keeping them all in order. That became better later on, though. Just the start was rough, which you bridged successfully with continuously good hooks and an interesting premise.

    I think someone commented on the magic system already, but it seemed a tad unrefined in the first book. Also, I don’t know if I missed it at the beginning (which is a possibility), but I think Declan’s blood being able to crack into the Degradation could have been foreshadowed better. You mentioned it when he was stabbed I think, but somehow while reading I had the feeling it was a plot device tacked on by the author and not an ingrained part of the story itself. But that might just be me.

    All this sounds somewhat negative viewed in aggregate, but I still enjoyed the book a lot and will read the sequel quite soon. I’ll see then if these things persist or how you changed them up if you did.
     
    Joe
  20. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2008
    Messages:
    523
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    High Score:
    1,800
    Thanks, mate. That's some useful feedback. I'd like to think (and maybe @ScottPress could back me up) that your concerns are addressed, almost from the get-go, in Book Two - Broken Quill.

    Looking back five years now, the book does have teething issues. It was my first leap from fanfiction to original, and it shows, but not at the expense of the story, I think. I got away with it, in a way. ;)

    If you'd like some PDFs of the next three books - in exchange for similar honest reviews - just let me know in a PM and I'll shoot them across.