Thursday, October 22, 2009

Demon Forged: three aspects I'm loving + contest

Let me just say first: thanks to everybody who is not spoiling Demon Forged for me! I'm midway through right now, so thrilled with it, and so glad I don't know what will happen.
"Summarizing the plot of Demon Forged beyond this point would require the revelation of spoilers essential to the story, spoilers that reveal the revolutionary nature of this book and its role in the Guardian series..."

"This is the only book I read this year where my mouth dropped in shock and my hands were shaking over the ending. Demon Forged is my number one book for 2009."
And thanks to all others. I am so psyched to not know! This will not be a post on that, since I'm only midway through, but rather three aspects of the book that I am really loving.

Aspect #1 that I'm loving: Intricately drawn characters - so damn satisfying!
There's the bit on page 13 where I first felt like I really grocked the characters. It's right after Irena and Alejandro have an argument. Irena accuses him of splitting hairs. He accuses her of clumping them all together too much. And Irena muses that this is "the difference between them: details. She refused to focus on them."

This is so satisfying to me as a reader. Detail orientation is such a small, mundane thing. It's the sort of thing HR people write on job descriptions in the classifieds, but I it's one of the many aspects of these characters that shine through everywhere and make you feel like you know them.

This nuance affects the way these characters interact with people, the way they approach their jobs. It affects clothes, and the way Irena doesn't make distinctions between good and bad demons. (They're all demons.) It's a kind of inflexibility, but also a kind of integrity.

Then, later on this page:

Irena preferred rough edges, even though they scraped and tore. But Alejandro, he was all sleek speed and elegance, from his words to his body. The leopard to her bear, the fox to her wolverine. Solitary predators who avoided one another, respecting too well the teeth and claws of the other--and when they couldn't keep apart, they ripped pieces from one another in passing.
There are places in the book where Alejandro is likened to a knife, Irena is a blunt weapon. Even her name for him: Olek, is a blunt version of the smooth Alejandro. All this stuff just holds throughout the book, but it also intensifies. Like this midbook passage below:
Dear God, how she amazed him. Irena could be so stubborn and so unwilling to see any view but her own narrow and unyielding one. And yet she was also this. Able to see the nuances of a person's soul--to know how someone thought, how they would react. Able to anticipate conflicts, and maneuver around them.

Always as blunt as a sledgehammer, but never as dull. Little wonder that she fascinated him.
Is anybody else noticing this? I can't get enough of this character stuff.

Aspect #2 Varying music of the language
Another aspect I'm vastly enjoying here is how, when the passages switch between character points of view, the language differs in a way that also deepens the characters, makes them more vivid.

For example, the passage above that begins with "Irena preferred rough edges" is in Irena's head, and the cadence of it is totally different than the passage that begins with "Dear God, how she amazed him," which is in Alejandro's head.

Irena's "voice" has smaller, blunter words, with less abstract and more concrete concepts--she talks about bears and foxes, he talks about nuances and maneuvers. There is also a difference in the arrangement of the words; Irena has speech tics like that bit: "But Alejandro, he was..." whereas Alejandro would say "But Alejandro was..." And Brook is so consistent with that! You don't have to specifically notice it as a reader for it to enrich your overall experience. But it sure is enriching.

Aspect #3: Hugeness of passion and panorama
The thing about these two is that they have known each other for centuries, and have a complicated history where their potentially great love was all but destroyed by a demon. And they've stayed away from each other, but now they're thrown together. Irena comes to Alejandro's home for the first time ever and:

He wanted to show his home to her, to watch her face as she looked at each room. He would tear it down and start over if he sensed even a hint of displeasure.
I just like the dramatic nature of that. It's a small thing, but it goes to all the drama here. He's been building and perfecting the place forever but he would tear it down for her! Their failed yet fiery and blood-soaked love spans centuries! Prophecies and the fate of the world swirl around them!

And, I am SO SO curious what happens next.

CONTEST: Okay, I happen to have an extra copy of this fine book. How do you win it? Tell me in the comments what kind of animal you might be likened to if you were in a novel. You have until Monday morning, 10 a.m. CST. And I will also throw in a See's chocolate sucker!!


Anonymous said...

A wolf! Anytime there is anything on about wolves I am glued to the tv. I am really intrigued by these books but I haven't read any of them yet. :)

JC said...

I've been told repeatedly I'm like a kitten. Big feet, awkward. Distracts easily, purrs when scratched, looks pathetic when wet, and liked to cuddle when tired.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

I was afraid one of Meljean's Nephilim would come after me if I gave away anything, especially the ending.

Kati said...

I would say I'm some sort of feline creature. Totally lovable when I want to be, and likely to rip your head off when I'm not. ;o)

CJ - As usual, I'm mesmerized by your analysis. I love that you've noted a variety of things that average readers might not be able to pinpoint why a book is working so well for them. It's a gift you have, my friend.

meljean brook said...

"Irena's "voice" has smaller, blunter words..."

This is something that I stole from Joanna Bourne. I can't remember when she posted about this, but she had a blog where she discussed the different word choices that she used depending upon the language the characters were speaking (and even when the same character switched to a different language.)

I think it's something that we all do, anyway -- you choose words based on that person's character and background, so that a geek sounds like a geek and a lawyer sounds like a lawyer and a barbaric hunter with a Gift of metalworking always uses animal- and weapons-based comparisons -- but after Bourne's post, I was much more *conscious* of why I was choosing Irena's blunt and short words, why they would have harder consonants ... and why Alejandro wouldn't.

I wish Bourne would post those kind of things every day. They are just fascinating (and incredibly helpful.)

Carolyn Crane said...

lesleen: You're in! thanks for visiting.

JC: LOL. Great!

KB: gulp!

Kati: Aww thanks! You are officially entered as feline.

MJ: Right, I've seen Bourne say some very smart things about writing- I need to go look for that one!! I hope she has another book out soon!

Michelle G said...


So far I have only read the first book in this series - but I am so looking forward to the rest. I have been told that the series gets better with each book.

I too would liken myself to something feline. In my every day life I am very stubborn and headstrong. I am also very protective of my family and those I hold dear. I am easy going - but can be fierce when riled. LOL ;)

That is a very good question.

Please enter my name in the contest.
kweenmg at yahoo dot com

Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

I haven't been seduced into this series yet - but I am willing to give you the honors!

I would most likely be like a fox... at the most basic, I have red hair- at the most extreme, I am fairly intelligent but prefer to accomplish my goals in a sly way.

:) And I am soft to pet!

Thanks for the contest Op - Miranda

limedragon :-: Harriet said...

I would probably be a cat... kind of cold and aloof, especially around strangers, but relaxed and warm with loved ones.

I've been wanting to read Meljean Brook since seeing the books mentioned by Chris. : )

Mel (He Followed Me Home) said...

I'd be a dog - man's best friend & I like to cuddle :)

Holly said...

I really adore the intricacy of her characters and world-building. It never ceases to amaze me how complex, interesting and true her characters are.

I'm kind of sorry I read the book, because now I have such a long wait.

Anonymous said...

What kind of animal would I be? A Tiger. I can be very playful, but very dangerous when pissed off.

Tracy said...

I'm so glad you're loving it! It's just so wonderful and beautifully written. Ahhhh - I love Meljean's books!

Bella said...

OK, true confessions? Probably a porcupine or a bull in a china chop in the workplace, but otherwise, like a dog -- gregarious and ready for anything :-)

I am so glad you are liking this book, so glad you carried on with no spoilers, and delighted you are having a giveaway! I also really loved your descriptions!


b42bella AT

Carolyn Crane said...

Michelle: A feline - headstrong is right. (I have 2 cats!)

SVZ: ooh, a fox. I love it!

LDragon: good cat descript! You're in.

Mel: Dogs have a lot of fun. Good choice.

Holly: you and me both!

Dyock: Oooh, feline that kicks ass.

Tracy: Me too!

Bella: Great answer. I love it.

Tumperkin said...

I would be a badger.

Patti said...

Nice review - I'm getting ready to start this series, I need two more books to complete the set - I am physically uncapable of reading a series out of order.

My animal? Probably a dog - fiercly loyal and protective of my family.

Patti said...

oops - I meant uncapable even a word?

Chris said...

So I'm guessing Meljean isn't entering the contest? ;)

Um. I've always hoped for something like an egret - gangly, but kind of graceful, sort of, if you use your imagination.

RKCharron said...

Hi :)
I loved your post.
Meljean's comment was enlightening too.
I would be a wolf.
All the best,

Scott Romanski said...

I think i'd probably be a wolf, if we are going for actual real animals, or a dragon if we are talking fantasy animals. I can be rough, but are those animals.

The Celebrated Author said...

I would be an elephant, though not in strength. I do things slowly and my intelligence is my forte.

orannia said...

CJ - I just love readingn your analysis - the insights into the plot, the characters and the words.

I'd love definitely be something feline...but I'd probably end up being a mouse...and thus said feline's dinner :) Oh, and please odn't inlcude me in the contest (although thank you :) I'm still a few books behind, but working on catching up!

lbgregg said...

Hey! I want a sucker!

I would be a beagle. I'm pushing my empty food bowl across the floor with my nose and hoping you'll drop a Sees Sucker into it.

I have Ms. Brook's most excellent, excellent book. (fangirl wave)

I do not have Sees.

Bethie said...

Please count me in. Thanks for the chance. I would some type of bird. Perhaps an eagle. Flying just seems so fun.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Kristine said...

I would love to be a thresher shark because they are amazing and adorable. I have no idea what I would really be other than knowing that have died/been eaten already because I'm clumsy, slow, and have terrible vision.

Michelle said...

Thanks for the review - I've been hearing lots about this one. Animal?? Hmm. I'd probably be some sort of family-oriented water animal - like a whale or dolphin..

oh gosh, did I just refer to myself as a whale?!? ::headdesk::

Pam P said...

Love this writeup.

I think I'd like to be a sea creature, probably a dolphin because of their intelligence.

Rebecca @ DSB said...

I'd probably be a coyote, like Mercy Thompson. Not the top predator, and kind of looks like a dog. No seriously, I like coyotes. I have a few who live on the hill behind my house.

Blodeuedd said...

I have always thought of myself like a cat, nothing big or anything just a sassy little farmcat. But hey if I can pull of panther I will

throuthehaze said...

I'd probably be an owl

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Indigo said...

What animal might I be likened to. I can give any of 5 that are on my totem (not a hard task when your Native).

But of them all I would have to say Raven. One foot in this world and another in the spirit realm. I'v come close to losing my life a few times so the description fits rather well. Not to mention I was graced with the name Raven as a spirit guide.

Thanks for the opportunity! Indigo

Abigail [All Things Urban Fantasy] said...

I'd probably be a rabbit. Thumper was a childhood nickname as I had a habit of pointing out the obvious.

I posted this in the Contests & Giveaways section on my blog

AllThingsUrbanFantasy(at) gmail (dot) com

Monica said...

I think I would like to be a fox, they are predatory enough to survive and sly enough to get out when it gets too hot.


Josef13 said...

Well, considering that I'm pretty sure my cat thinks I'm just a really big cat, I believe that would be my answer. ;) My cat says so. :p

P.S. what a fun contest!

wooly daisy said...

holy crap i over slept stuck in dream time-got up at 8 here on the west coast.-i missed the deadline-is it too late? here's my choice anyway. very hard to decide-i would be a fierce kick-ass type animal as i'm such a marshmallow in real life. like a grizzly-i could apart anybody i wanted too-or kill with one swat-how cool is that-no one messes with the grizzly. or perhaps the mountain lion-quiet and stealthy as hell. they say most hikers around my parts have been watched by a lion-but we humans never catch a glimpse. they kill quielty and quickly-prey doesn't suffer much-but then again if i want my victim to suffer then definitely the grizzly massacre. but i would def. be a lone solitary animal-i'm a hermitess not a pack creature. even though i love wolves. moose are pretty bad-ass as well! peaceful till pissed then look out!! guess i'd have to be a shape shifter so i could choose the animal according to the situation! right now i wish i could be a sloth.