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Lost Grace (RE#4) by Joe Ducie

Discussion in 'Books and Anime Discussion' started by Joe, Jul 18, 2017.

  1. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Well, it's been awhile, but I'm off the bench and back on the court with my Reminiscent Exile series. Check it out:

    [​IMG]

    Synopsis:

    “It’s definitely our usual caper, Annie, which means death and demons and old gods. You still in?”​


    Declan Hale, the Shadowless Arbiter, has spent the last year in Atlantis—and ten thousand years in the past—trying his best not to drink the Lost City dry.

    But his ancient enemies, the Everlasting, have seized control of a magical city on True Earth, and will use their awful power to launch an assault on the rest of the Story Thread. With enemies on all sides, Declan’s only hope rests in his immortal heart and a desperate plan cast across oceans of time.

    Whether he falls or whether he stands, the stakes have never been higher.

    Worst of all, he’s got to save the world sober.

    *~*~*~*​


    The story is urban fantasy, and for those of you who loved Wastelands of Time, you should really like this. Similar themes and plot devices (the Infernal Clock) make an appearance. I like to think Wastelands prepared me for this story.

    GO BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON!

    Or if you'd like to start the series from the beginning, check out the first book here: Distant Star

    Or the first three books in a boxset!

    Seriously. Buy it now. I'm hoping to fleece you all of $4.99 and go clear the top shelf of scotch at my local liquor store.

    However, seeing as how this is DLP, and you've all helped shape my writing over the years, I'm going to offer the story FREE to whoever wants it. Just send me a PM with your email address and I'll send you a PDF of the story.

    I only ask that you leave a review - an honest review - on Amazon, as that'll help me out immensely. So how about it? Kickass story in exchange for a review? Or buy it and support me that way.

    I spoil you.

    Oh, and for those who'd rather have a paperback version - that's due to land mid to late August!
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2017
  2. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    Congrats, Joe. I'll definitely be taking a look at this later in the summer.

    The swords he's holding, are those new, or have we seen them before? Are those the celestial illusion blades that already showed up in the series (though the Roseblade is supposed to be fracked up and either looks too long to be Myth)? Don't say anything if it's a spoiler though.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2017
    Joe
  3. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Thanks, mate. I'm excited to be back in the game. We'll see how she sells, seeing as how I've been berthed for so long.

    Potential spoiler re:swords, yeah, so I'll leave it.
     
  4. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box Prestige

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    I'll have to reread the last three to refresh my memory, but I'll be purchasing this sooner or later. Good to see it released at last!
     
  5. Ragon

    Ragon Dark Lord

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    Have to say, I was not expecting that ending.

    It's different than the first three; but in a good way.

    I did not see the death at the end coming. Brutal.

    I wish you had given us more on the time in Atlantis. I had expected you to spend most of this book in Atlantis and bring them back to the present at the end. But, the back and forth works for the way it builds up to the end and Ash's feud with Declan.
     
    Joe
  6. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Mate, that's some awesome quick reading. Thanks for my first review (any chance you could leave something on Amazon?)

    Very minor future spoiler:

    We're not done in Atlantis. This book set out to introduce the city and a handful of its colourful characters. We're heading back soon.
     
  7. KaiDASH

    KaiDASH High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

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    I bought it but I'll have to reread the earlier books before I can read this one since it's been years since I read them.

    Not the worst problem to have I suppose.
     
    Joe
  8. Ragon

    Ragon Dark Lord

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    Already done on Amazon. Not sure if it's posted or not yet.

    A good book is a quick read and I may or may not have blown off some things this morning to finish the last half.
     
  9. Ceebee

    Ceebee High Inquisitor

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    You know Joe hasn't really made it because his name isn't 4x the size of the book's title on the front cover.
     
  10. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign Prestige

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    Do Mentions work the same way still? @Joe

    I'm not done with the book yet, I'm halfway through, but I feel compelled to make these observations now.

    Kindle says I'm at 51% and I feel like the plot is barely moving out of the 1st act. I know that the urban fantasy market generally prefers shorter wordcounts, but this the 4th book in the series and your overall 5th (6th?) novel, on top of the DLP anthos. Did your publisher impose a word count limit, or is this just how the book turned out?

    The Atlantis parts do Atlantis a disservice, imo. We breeze by quickly in those chapters, introducing a lot of new characters that are given too much screen time to be just background dressing, but too little to stand as strong supporting cast. And I can't help but feel that the focus on similarities between Atlantis and Ascension rather than differences takes individuality away from both, which is, quite honestly, a problem other elements suffer from as well. If you wrote a scene between Dec and any of the female leads without mentioning their name, I'd be hard pressed to recognize the character. Clare, Tal, Tia, Emily & Annie seem to be slight variations of the same template. Not necessarily a bad thing, but they're all too close together. And this is a pet peeve, but Dec has too damn many love interests. I mean goddamn, in Lost Grace he reminisces about Clare, mentions Tia, plays the hot-or-cold game with Tal, concludes he loves Annie and straight up blurts out "I love you" to Emily. Btw, his relationship with Emily across the 4 books is incredibly bizarre.

    Introduction of Dread Ash leaves a lot to be desired. I'm not saying every Elder God should be developed over 3 books like Oblivion and Emily, but Scarred Axis was a minor character in Knight Fall and he was handed much better. Ash literally just appears possessing Tal.

    But like I said, I'm only halfway through the book. I'll come back when I've finished. I just thought this was worth sharing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  11. Eilyfe

    Eilyfe Death Eater

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    @Joe

    Review – Lost Grace

    Okay, this one is difficult. I understand what you tried to do, and from a writer’s perspective I can appreciate it. But your implementation of such a narrative structure could use some serious work. I’ve made some notes while reading, and I’ll just reel them off here – they’re chronological. At the end I’ll also say something more generalized.

    The beginning felt like an info-dump. To be honest, the first 15% on my Kindle made my eyes glaze over several times. Somehow, an info-dump being delivered in a flashback felt much worse than the usual. The flashback/story-telling is already slowing the pace down incredibly; the info-dump just makes it glacial in pace. I know this sounds harsh, but I found the beginning of this book to be your worst. You got a smile out of me for humor with Declan singing a song that wouldn’t be created for 10.000 years, and Annie standing with boots up to their knees in jasmine tea. But boy did you overdo it on that liquor front, and on the food stuff. As a writer I totally get making it more specific than “and then they ate,” but since I was already not really engaged, those parts just felt like additional, unnecessary fluff at that point.

    Chapter 2: Finally some action. Thank you, Mr. Skeleton, I appreciate your appearance very much. Still feels like some exposition could have been made leaner or cut, but now I have something to be curious about, something that is happening in the now.

    Chapter 3: Now we’re getting somewhere. Good world-building. I liked the reason the Atlas Lexicon exists – the dark consequences for kids traveling to places like Peter Pan’s world and the high rate of suicide are delicious touches. Liked Annie’s supernatural shot.

    Chapter 4: Here we go. You get marks for the army stuff. I like you doing army stuff. You don’t get full marks for hinting at breaking the fourth wall with that “I might write a set of books about it” part. After the difficult, slow start I was finally getting into the story, and that jarred me right out of it. And to top it off, you come with another Reminiscence break. I was angry when that happened. It frustrated me to no end. Finally we were getting somewhere in the now-arc, and suddenly I get a bunch of exposition, another feast, more liquor, and Declan becoming a teacher. The thing is, I like teacher Hale, but it didn’t even come close to the excitement of the part it interrupted so rudely. It slowed the pace something fierce. Emily entering the picture saved that past-arc for me, also finally giving a good explanation for why she was pregnant. I ship EmilyxDeclanxAnnie by the way, so if you could make that happen somehow . . .

    Who the fuck is Saturnia? Why the fuck is Declan not questioning her more in his mind? Why does it feel as if he’s just forgetting the goddamn mother of the Everlasting?

    Chapter 5: Yes, please, more. You get a plus for the middle finger to the appearing grimace in the shield. You get a double-plus for the storming of the shield. That is how I like my Declan Hale. He shines most when you’re not telling me that he’s a super commander and warrior, but actually show me that he is. All the time he’s rattling off his achievements as a commander in the Tome War, and sometimes it feels like empty bluster because a) he’s constantly thinking about it, and b) he rarely shows it. Give me more of Commander Hale, please. Much more.

    Chapter 6: Oh yes. Tal again. Tal possessed. For 10.000 years at that instead of just five. Oh boy, the horror at imagining that is delicious: for both Tal, and Declan. You get a triple-plus for that. That’s just so evil. I love it.

    For some reason I’ve stopped marking the chapter number at this point, noting down only the Reminiscent parts as III and IV.

    Reminiscent III: Scarred Axis as the blacksmith, give it to me, baby. Plus Emily. Give me more of those sweet-delicious Everlasting right under Atlantean noses. Those are hooks. Those information tear right into my curiosity-neurons and drag them along to devour the story. That’s the kind of hook I would have loved in the very first Reminiscent part. Give it to me early. Not so good part: “Tal and I grew ever closer” – now that’s a bunch of telling if I ever saw one.

    No idea which chapter, but the part where they cross the bridge under attack. Commander Hale feels like Commander Hale is supposed to feel. Give him men to command, battles to fight, speeches to hold, and soldiers to banter with.

    Somewhere later Saturnia is mentioned again, just like that. Without every thinking of her again in between. I call serious bs. I’ve no idea what you intend with that broad, but that Declan isn’t even wondering about her earlier smell bad.

    You get a double plus for stabbing the celestial illusion cave with a sword and then glassing an army of deadlings.

    You get a minus for that transition to the last Reminiscence part. While they’re chasing Dread Ash, seriously? Seriously? I mean, by now I’m even invested in the past-arc, that’s not the problem. I want to know what happens there. But that point of transition boy, a real kick in the nuts.

    You get a plus for cruel!Declan interrogating Axis; and you get a double-fucking-plus for him being the one to make Axis into Scarred Axis. Very nice touch. Liked it. Tal casting an Everlasting-catching net came out of nowhere though. Might have wanted to foreshadow that better. A plus for the heart-stabbing and playing with the Infernal Clock piece. A minus for comforting Dread Ash. That bitch tortured Declan’s love for 10.000 years. Even if she’s scared, that bitch gets no comfort. Sorry, but that’s just unbelievable.

    And, finally, all my minuses in the world for Tal surviving that shit. I swallowed her surviving being Oblivion’s vessel for five years. She’s a strong woman, knows her shit, has a tough mind and so on. Believable. Being subjected to Everlasting-Dread-Ash torture for 10.000 years though, and not coming out of this dead or a slobbering mess? Fuck no. Infernal Clock piece or no, that’s just not doing it for me. That broke my sod so hard I wanted to throw the Kindle at the wall.

    The End: What? No. Or yes? I’m not sure. It’s a fucking cliff hanger of the worst possible sort. Actually the worst I’ve probably read in years. So, actually I am sure. No! Don’t do that to us. Or maybe do it? Honestly, that ending leaves me conflicted as fuck. I’ve no idea what to think of it.

    The main problem is the slow, sloggy start of the book, and the fact that the narrative structure seems to feel unfamiliar to you, which comes across in the way you did the transitions. I think it can work, and by the end you got me invested in the past-arc. But the hooks need to come earlier than that. Ideally, Astoria, Axis and/or Ash would have to come right at the beginning, smack in the first past-arc.

    Give me something to look forward to. If both past and now are intertwined that way, and have both such a considerable length, the narrative structure needs to keep them even in the excitement they create. It should never feel like a chore to read through one of those arcs, just to get back to the “better” arc. Which means you want to place hooks in both of them early on, so that I’m in an everlasting conflict to decide which I like more, tearing through the pages to take all in and make my final decision. That is harder in a flashback for various reasons, but you chose the structure, so you accepted that challenge.

    That’s the goal. Sadly #4 of Declan Hale fell short of it. Which is sad especially because I think you’ve had an interesting plot going there, one that lent itself fairly well to this structure.

    This sounds all super critical, of course. So let me end this by saying that I did enjoy the book. The parts that worked were a pleasure, and as epic as I’ve come to expect from you. I blasted through 2/3s of it in one sitting, till five in the morning. That might tell you something.

    Oh, and before I forget it: double-plus for killing Ethan that way. Nice touch.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
    Joe
  12. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile Prestige DLP Supporter

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    How dare you not love this one unconditionally! You're dead to me.

    Although, I do see where you're coming from. I tried something new with the narrative flow, because in the story game it's either innovate or perish. I agree that it doesn't quite work. If anything, it's two books crammed into one. I probably should have damned the word count and made it 150,000 words. But then the genre doesn't often allow for such nonsense.

    In hindsight, there's a lot I'd do differently. I'm glad you enjoyed a lot of the story elements, as this one is a set up for the cascading shit storm of war to come.

    Some of your queries are answered in the next book - available now, let me know if you'd like a copy - which is not entirely a resolution within the context of Lost Grace, but it may be a salve to the burn, mate!