Archive for Brandon Mull

Geek Week

Posted in Events, Fiction, New release, Recommendations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2013 by jaclemens

It’s been a week since I went to Salt Lake Comic Con, but Friday the 13th seemed like the right time to post about it! This was the first comic con for Salt Lake and the first I’ve attended. I was only able to attend one day of the three, but Friday was a great day to be there! The top item on my agenda was an unofficial sneak peek at The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Immediately after I registered I got in line to wait for it. After some initial confusion about which line to stand in, I found the correct one and settled in for some people watching. This meant missing out on panels on Firefly (a show I have recently come to appreciate), Marvel vs. DC, and a Q&A with Q (John de Lancie’s character from Star Trek: the Next Generation), but I waited patiently – only to have the door closed in my face. I was seriously the next person in line when the room was declared full.

First lesson of first comic con: don’t expect to stick to your outlined schedule. Upon being denied entry to my top choice, I found a suitable alternative in Peter Lyon, the master swordmaker for Weta Workshop. That was fascinating, and would come back into play later in the day. I had intended to go to a discussion of the changing publishing world next, but wound up in the ballroom for Ray Park’s spotlight session.

DSC00619Park, aka Darth Maul, Snake Eyes, and Toad, was truly entertaining! He talked about emulating Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, and Charlie Chaplin, and he has the personality to go with the physical tools. He also has a Scottish accent, which explains why he didn’t supply the voice for Darth Maul. Park was only 21 when he was cast to play the villain (he always wanted to be a hero), and wasn’t sure he could pull off the integral intimidation until he saw the crew’s reaction to the first fight scene he filmed. He lobbied unsuccessfully for a different death in Phantom Menace (decapitation), but would relish the chance to reprise the role. Rather than the mech legs Darth Maul’s been grafted onto in the comics and cartoons, Park joked that he should have a hover board and use his double-bladed lightsaber like a kayak paddle! After taking questions and adulations from the audience, Park wrapped up the session by bringing young kids in costume up on the stage and teaching them some martial arts poses. He was terrific!

I made my first foray into the vendor floor next. Lesson two: be prepared to spend plenty of time and money shopping the vendor floor. I didn’t make any purchases on my first pass. I wanted a look at everything that was available before I made my selection. I didn’t pay to have my picture taken with any of the celebrities, but I did take photos of a few from a distance. I managed to get pictures of David Prowse (Darth Vader) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca). I didn’t see Shatner or Stan Lee in person, but I did see William Kirchner (Bifur) and Manu Bennett (Azog) from the Hobbit films!

White OrcI took more photos of the life-sized Azog statue on display at the Weta booth than anything else at the con. The whole booth was spectacular. I particularly enjoyed seeing Peter Lyon take the sword Orcrist from a display case and show it to a few lucky fans. That was a serendipitous con moment! I was sorely tempted to get a treasure at the Weta booth, but the answer to the question “What have I got in my pocket?” was not enough for even the smallest knife.

There were some desirable items in my price range, but I decided to give it more thought during the next panel. Unfortunately I showed up too late, and both of the writing panels were already full. So I got in line with friends for the next popular panel on my list, Avengers vs. X-Men. That panel proved too popular for the likes of those of us waiting in the general line, so I went to listen to Brandon Mull and Chad Morris talk about comedy in writing. They were in a comedy group in college, and performed some funny sketches and songs.

They both signed books at a booth following the panel, so I went back to the vendor floor and waited in a line that already wrapped around the booth. Lesson three: be ready to wait in line. I read my advance reader copy of She Walks in Darkness while people paraded by in costumes. The book I asked Mull to sign was also an advance reader copy – Spirit Animals: Wild Born came out this week. It’s a series with an online game component in the same vein as 39 Clues; Mull laid out the full series and wrote the first book (of seven). Getting the book signed took most of the hour set aside for a second pass of the vendor booths, so I stepped out for one more panel.

An Examination of the Hero’s Journey was the only panel on my original schedule that I was able to attend. I was familiar with one of the authors on the panel, having once sat next to him at a signing – that was Dave Farland. The other members were Rhiannon Paille, Brad R. Torgersen, and Bryan Young. Robison Wells did not appear as scheduled, but having heard him discuss his social anxiety on the Writing Excuses podcast, that was understandable. I asked the panel how they address the matter of romantic interest in their writing, given that the examples being cited – Greek myth, Arthurian legend, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars – present only two options for the hero: love ’em and leave ’em or monasticism. The responses from Farland and Paille were noteworthy.

By that time I had come to the conclusion to make a worthy purchase from Artist’s Alley. Lesson four: support the artists who come to the con. I wanted something unique, something I may not be able to buy at a local store or order online. When I returned to the vendor floor the closing announcements started and the lights dimmed. I hurried back to a booth that arrested me on my first pass, hoping the artist and a particular print would still be there. They were, so I bought an X-Men/Star Trek (NeX-Gen) mash up picture from Stewart Craig. Later I located his blog and was stoked to read that it was one of three images he created specifically for Salt Lake Comic Con. It made an ideal souvenir!

I continued to walk the vendor floor, now emptier and darker, and took more photos of the booths I hadn’t seen on the first pass. I wasn’t coming back on Saturday (when the crowd ran between 70,000 – 80,000 con-goers), so I had to make the most of my opportunity that night. I found the Lego booth, one I would not have wanted to miss, among others. I returned home a reaffirmed geek, with photos of acceptable role playing role models for my kids and this great shot of a weeping angel posing with my copy of She Walks in Darkness!Friday the 13th

Only One

Posted in Children's, New release, Recommendations with tags , , on March 28, 2013 by jaclemens

Chasing the ProphecyThere’s only one way to overthrow the evil emperor Maldor, and it’s not the secret word – it is Chasing the Prophecy. The word with the power to unmake Maldor was a hoax he propagated; what if the prophecy is more of the same? That is a question the embattled characters must settle as they undertake the diverging quests set out by the prophetess. It’s one thing to decipher clues and follow maps that have been left for you, but the ultimate question is what do you believe?

Brandon Mull has sown seeds of doubt as well as seeds of rebellion. This is imperative to increase the tension of the plot against Maldor. The rebellion wouldn’t know how to proceed without the prophecy, but a surefire means of success removes the anxiety from the attempt and the meaning from the requisite sacrifices. The prophecy promises no certain victory, proclaiming that this is only one possible path to the desired outcome. “Only one” is a recurring mantra in this book, as it tends to be whenever a prophecy is involved. The characters may doubt the veracity of the prophecy, but the reader knows it will be fulfilled. As a result there was only one surprise that really floored me. That shocking sacrifice didn’t save anyone, but it saved the book in my displaced eyes!

Plant the Seed

Posted in Children's, New release with tags , , on April 3, 2012 by jaclemens

Seeds of Rebellion builds upon the first Beyonders book, A World Without Heroes. It goes well beyond comparisons to the Chronicles of Narnia: this book reminds me of Fellowship of the Ring (not The Two Towers, mind you), Star Trek (of the never-beam-down-in-a-red-shirt variety), A Wise Man’s Fear (second book in the Kingkiller Chronicle), Eragon (Brandon Mull and Christopher Paolini will be appearing together in Bozeman on Thursday), and other popular graphic novels/tv series that I’d rather not spoil. In Mull’s fertile imagination these seeds grow into a new breed of story, with unique flora, fauna, and phobia!

Enter the Hippo

Posted in Children's, New release, Reading List, Recommendations with tags , , , , on December 28, 2011 by jaclemens

A World Without Heroes, the first book in a highly anticipated new series by Brandon Mull, came out this spring, but I wasn’t able to get to it until the end of the year. Which puts me that much closer to Seeds of Rebellion, the next book in the Beyonders series, I suppose! This series is more like The Chronicles of Narnia than the Fablehaven series, but that shouldn’t be a deterrent for fans of Mull’s fanciful imagination. Taking two regular kids into an irregular world opens all kinds of new doors to explore – the doors alone are unusual – as Jason arrives in Lyrian by way of falling into a hippo’s gaping maw. Once there he meets Rachel, a Beyonder like himself, who traveled a different route to the same destination. When they are unable to reverse course and return home, the only path left is to seek out the word of power that will undo Maldor, the evil emperor. Maldor has crippled or corrupted any would-be-hero who opposed him, but Jason and Rachel don’t want to be heroes; they just want to get home. The setting and abilities may be fantastic, but the characters are driven by realistic goals, and that is what gives Mull’s words power over his readers.

Complete Set

Posted in Events with tags , , , on December 10, 2010 by jaclemens

For Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day on December 4th I took one of mine to a booksigning by Brandon Mull, author of the Fablehaven series and the forthcoming Beyonders series. My son and I have both read all of the wonderful Fablehaven books (which we have in hardcover, signed by Mull), and we are looking forward to the release of A World Without Heroes (Beyonders #1) in March 2011!

Serious Series

Posted in Fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2010 by jaclemens

I’ve been on a serious series binge lately. Not that the series I’ve been reading are serious (two are targeted for middle grade readers and all three are fantasy), but it’s unusual for me to go from one series to another in rapid succession. I have too many books on my to-read list to devote time to catch up on series I haven’t followed (thus I haven’t read The Wheel of Time even though it’s being completed by Brandon Sanderson).  I was able to intersperse my series reading with four unrelated books: Puttering About in a Small Land by Philip K. Dick, The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie*, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, and Nabokov’s Butterfly by Rick Gekoski. In doing so I was able to make progress on my list while maintaining my interest level in the rich Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull (a Utah author), the high-octane Percy Jackson and the Olympians books by Rick Riordan, and books five through eight of The Runelords by David Farland (also a Utah author).

*Although unrelated, The Ground Beneath Her Feet originated from Greek mythology, like the Percy Jackson series, and it entails the collision of two parallel worlds, as does Worldbinder, book six of Runelords.

Merry Christmas … to me!

Posted in Events with tags , , on December 10, 2008 by jaclemens

att5259356Okay, so two of the four books are actually for my son (I suppose I ought to verify whether or not he reads my blog), but the other two are for me!  And since the image is too small to read the titles, I’ll just tell you that the four books are Alcatraz versus the Scrivener’s Bones and Elantris by Brandon Sanderson and The Candy Shop War and Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague by Brandon Mull.  A week ago we were fortunate enough to have both Brandons as well as Robert C. Steensma, author of Wallace Stegner’s Salt Lake City, signing books in our store as part of our annual Staff & Faculty Night.  The event was a success for the store and for me personally, as I now have signed hard cover copies of every title currently available from Brandon Mull and Brandon Sanderson!