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The Big Yellow Book

Seeing the World from Both Oculars-- a Bananaslug's Journal

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A gem of a book-- HARALD by David Friedman
David Friedman, libertarian, analyst, economist, and teacher-- and SCA Bard-- some years ago wrote a tremendous novel, published by Baen in 2006. It was called Harald...and it tanked.

The reviews quarreled with the writing style, which updated that of the Icelandic Eddas...but I just re-read it, and found it what I had already decided. It is one of the best fantasies published in the past ten years. Why? There's no magic in it. There is just a complete, well realized alternate world in which people live, work, love and fight.

It drops the reader in medias res into a deeply confused political situation. The Vales, which have a bunch of interdependent yet independent steadings, like mid-10th century Norway and 11th century Iceland; the Kingdom, which is a lot like 12th century England; and the Empire, which resembles 6th century Byzantium; all are struggling for power, independence, or control-- or all of the above. Added to the mix are the Ladies of the Order, a group of female warrior monks; and a bunch of barbarians resembling Mongols, Arabs, Saka and suchlike.

It is a politics and strategy fantasy...there's no quest. There are a bunch of smart people, and others who get outthought by Harald and his friends...but sometimes Harald gets pretty beat up.

I really liked it, and I was ecstatic to see that it had been donated to the Baen Free Library where you can download it and read it for free.

Then, just recently, David Friedman announced that he had developed a series of podcasts in which he read Harald aloud.

This is a great book, and I wish more people had liked it. The economic facts of life in science fiction and fantasy are that, even if you get your first novel published, the second one may not be. Toni Weisskopf, publisher of Baen Books, and my vote for the second best editor in the science fiction and fantasy business, calls it "the sophomore hump." The sophomore hump has to do with writing, but also has to do with whether the publisher thinks anybody wants to read something else you've written. And in these economic times, it ain't pretty.

Friedman says he has more fantasy in him...he just needs a publisher. Maybe he ought to self-publish at Lulu and on the Kindle for a while, until he builds up a following.

But the fact remains, Harald is once again available...so go read it.

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Unrelated to your post, but FB is giving me fits. *hugs* You're all in our prayers.

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