Tag Archives: books

Book Review: The Crystal Cave

Book Name: The Crystal Cave
Author: Mary Stewart
First Published: 1970

Lady Mary Stewart was born in Sunderland, England, the daughter of a vicar. She graduated from Durham University in 1938 with full honors in English. While she hoped to become a university professor, due to World War II, jobs were very scarce and she shifted gears, got a teaching certificate and taught primary school instead. After the war ended, she went on to earn a master’s degree and was hired as a lecturer of English Language and Literature at the Durham University.

It was during her years lecturing at Durham where she met a fellow lecturer, a young Scot who spoke of Geology, by the name of Frederick Stewart. They married within three months of their meeting at a VE Day dance in 1945. When she was 30, Lady Stewart had an ectopic pregnancy that was undiscovered for many weeks and damaged her. She lost the child and was not able to have any further children.

In 1956, her husband became a professor of Geology and Mineralogy at Edinburgh University in Scotland. Instead of continuing to teach, Mary Stewart decided to submit a novel to publisher Hodder & Stoughton. They accepted her book and it was an immediate success. She continued to write in many genres such as romantic suspense, poetry, and her famous Merlin Series which is a mix of fantasy and historical fiction.

Mary Stewart was a popular best-selling author throughout the 1950s through the 1980s. Her novel The Moonspiners was made into a Disney movie. After T.H. White produced his book The Sword in the Stone, Arthurian legends became popular. Mary Stewart soon after published The Crystal Cave and it was a huge hit. In the 1990’s it was adapted into a BBC TV series called Merlin of the Crystal Cave and starred Robert Powell as Ambrosius.

In 1974, Frederick Stewart was knighted and Mary became Lady Stewart, although she did not often use the title. She and her husband lived happily in both Edinburgh and Loch Awe, Scotland and were avid gardeners and shared a love for nature. He passed on in 2001. Mary followed him in 2014.

“The gods only go with you if you put yourself in their path. And that takes courage.”
― Mary Stewart, The Crystal Cave

Arthurian legends normally are told via the perspective of King Arthur. The Crystal Cave takes a departure from this trend by following the life of Merlin the Wizard or as he is called in this tale, Myrddin Emrys.

Myrddin begins his story when he is six years old and follows him until he is a young man. The Romans have departed Britain and it is now divided into many smaller kingdoms, loosely united under a High King. Myrddin is the son of a Welsh princess who declines to name his sire. He is small for his age and often neglected. He also has clairvoyant visions. This second sight causes him to be called as “the son of a devil”. He is educated by a hermit named Galapas who teaches him how to use his psychic talents and creates in him a young man of many intellectual talents in a age when brawn and fighting with a sword is more prized. Eventually, Myrddin finds his way to the court of Ambrosius Aurelianus of Brittany. Ambrosius wishes to invade Britain and become its High King. With him is his brother and heir, Uther.

When it is revealed that Myrddin is Ambrosius bastard son, he must leave the court. He returns to his home, only to discover that his teacher Galapas has been killed. He is captured by Vortigern, the usurper king of Britain. The usurper is building a fort, but the land is unstable at the chosen location and the walls tumble on a regular basis. Due to his education, Myrddin realizes that the walls fall because of a series of caves that are directly beneath the fort, but he informs Vortigern that the problem is due to dragons living in the ground. Soon after this, Amrosius invades and defeats Vortigern.

Myrddin uses his engineering talents to rebuild Stonehenge, but while doing so, he has visions of his father’s death. When a comet appears and Ambrosius dies, his half brother Uther Pendragon takes the throne.

The Crystal Cave Book CoverI stumbled onto Mary Stewart’s Merlin books in college. I loved Sword in the Stone and later Mists of Avalon, so another series of books about King Arthur and his knights was very welcome. I was surprised to learn that The Crystal Cave followed the original story of Merlin instead of Arthur. Stewart did an amazing amount of historical research to bring her novels into line with the original legends. She created a more organic and natural Merlin, an educated man, than wizard. The bringing in of psychic arts and druid religion gave the stories just enough of a fantasy touch to set them apart. It is a classic tale that has stood the test of time. If you love Arthurian legend, this is a series for you.

The Merlin Series

The Crystal Cave (1970)
The Hollow Hills (1973)
The Last Enchantment (1979)
The Wicked Day (1983)
The Prince and the Pilgrim (1995)

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksI’ve had editing on my mind this week as I’ve been surfing the net. My selections this week reflect this ideology. There are lots of great ideas to draw from to help you gain a better perspective on what to do when your rough draft is completed. Enjoy!

How To Create A Magic Machine That Writes Your Stories For You

Editors and Authors Working Togetherby Pavarti K. Tyler and Crystal WatanabeTrack Changes

How to have a positive proofreading experience

Where to go When Your Self-Editing Can’t Get You There

The Basics of a Bad Novel : Characters

4 Excuses Authors Use For Not Editing Their Books

Rounding out Baby Wedge Week: All The Brother EP Series

How to Edit Fiction: Watch Me Correct My Own Story in Real Time

How to Get Your Indie Book Translated and Reach the Growing “Globile” Market

Building A Fantasy Army: Leaders

Author Interview – Brian Guthrie

Based out of Germany, Brian Guthrie is a serial author of science fiction and fantasy. He is currently writing and publishing his Future Worlds series on JukePop Serials. He has plans for another science fiction novel, a bit of historical fiction, and many short stories set in the Future Worlds universe. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author Brian GuthrieMy name is Brian Guthrie. I’m a husband, father of one, Christian, owner of two cats, lover of all things science-fiction and fantasy, a cosplayer (Trip Tucker, Captain Proton, Luke Skywalker – Jedi Academy era, Captain America Winter Soldier, and Steve Rogers, army class dress), linguist, gamer, and much more. I also spin and eat fire and love to travel (20 countries and counting).

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing as a kid because I wanted a world I could control. I’ve had issues with this most of my life and certain traumatic events during my pre-teen and teenage years exasperated this. At first, it was a form of therapy, of coping. My imagination provided an escape, a place I could go to get away. Eventually, it blossomed into this wonderful thing that gives me ideas.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Last year when I began serial publishing on JukePop Serials.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

This is the blurb for the entire Future Worlds series, which contains four novels: Rise, Fall, Shatter, and Unite

On a shattered world protected from the cold of space by a water shield, the people are dependent on Ancient technology to survive. Now, that network is breaking down and the water on one shell is running out, setting the inhabitants on a path toward war. The search to find answers brings four complete strangers, each struggling with their own inner turmoil, together to prevent the destruction of the world as they know it.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve enjoyed creating this world and filling it with characters for over two decades now. It’s nothing like what it started out as, but the draw is still there: to tell a story that can both entertain and change lives.

Do you have a specific writing style?

If by style you mean voice, then no. I’ve fallen in love with First Person because it creates a limiting factor on POV in a narrative. If by style you mean the actual process of writing, I tend to get bogged down in the behind the scenes preparation and have to just make myself writing. Dramatica helped me a lot with story-boarding.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I wanted something simple that would stand out. Something that on a book cover would draw the eye. Also, I wanted to give hints into what was going on in the story. Each title for the books gives you a hint into what is coming in that book.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

If I have to pick one, then: Never give up hope, for it will always triumph over fear.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

As this is an entirely made up world, the characters are all fictional. That said, the main characters are modeled after significant people in my life and many of the events, both on a character level and on a grand world-wide level, draw from events in my personal life.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

That is a loaded question. Influence can be good or bad. Authors I have read that helped me in a positive way would be Timothy Zahn, Patrick Rothfuss, Tracy Hickman, and Stephen Lawhead. Zahn always redeems someone in his stories, Rothfuss showed me that a narrative first person story could not only work but be amazing, and Lawhead and Zahn both expanded my world when I was younger beyond the limited Fantasy realm I knew existed. Authors who are a negative influence in that I read them to remind myself what not to do: Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, George R.R. Martin.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Tracy Hickman. He, literally, taught me in an online writing course he ran for a full year.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Christopher McElfresh, friend from my previous home. He became my sounding board for ideas, sketching out what he saw as he read to help me visualize what I wrote. When the time came for a cover, he was the first one that came to mind. The idea to make it simple to catch the eye was originally his before I came up with the idea for what we actually put on there.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write. Every day. Treat yourself like a professional. What do professionals do? They do what they are professional in. A lot. Get training. Take critical advice and give it a fair shot. And just write. Pretend you’re the reader when you write. Would you believe what you just wrote? Why not? Did I mention write? Every day. You’d be shocked how easy it is to hit 100-300 words in just a few minutes. You’re never going to have that big writing session (although I’ve found mixing writing with 4X turn based strategy games makes for a lot of writing) to just rip off 5000 words. But you can easily squeeze 15 minutes in here or there and write a lot of content. Just look at this paragraph. Shooting from the hip, I spit off 140 words in 5 minutes. Easy.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you. You challenge me to be the best at what I do. I hope I can keep on exceeding your imaginations and taking you to places you couldn’t think of before. Even in a familiar place.

Rise Book CoverBrian Guthrie
Frankfurt, Germany


Future Worlds Series. Book 1: Rise

Cover Artist: Chris McElfresh
Publisher: JukePop


Book Review: 2001: A Space Odyssey

Book Name: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Author: Arthur C. Clarke
First Published: 1968

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke was considered one of the “big three” founders of the genre of science fiction, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Issac Asimov. He was a British science fiction author, futurist, inventor, undersea explorer and a television series host. He is the recipient of numerous Hugo and Nebula awards.

Clarke was born in Somerset, England and grew up in Bishops Lydeard. He grew up on a farm and spent his youth stargazing and reading old American science fiction pulp magazines. As a teenager, he joined the British Interplanetary Society and proposed a satellite communication system idea that later won him the Franklin Institute’s Stuart Ballantine Medal and other honors. Later in life, he would go on to become the chairman of the Institute.

During World War II, he served in the Royal Air Force as a radio specialist. His work in the early warning radar defense system helped contribute to the RAF’s victories during the Battle of Britain. He also served in the ranks, starting as a corporal instructor on radar and then was commissioned as a Pilot Officer and later as a Flying Officer. By the end of the war, he was the chief training instructor at RAF Honiley at Warwickshire with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

When the war ended, he returned to school and earned a degree in mathematics and physics from King’s College London. It was during this time that he wrote many articles about telecommunication relays and geostationary satellites. He wrote many non-fiction books describing the technical details and implications of rocketry and space flight. In recognition of his work in the field, the geostationary orbit 22,000 miles above the equator is known officially as a Clarke Orbit.

In 1956, Clarke emigrated to Sri Lanka, the official reason was to pursue his interest in scuba diving. He discovered the underwater ruins of an Koneswaram Temple in Trincomalee. Although it was not made public at the time, Clarke had become close to a Sri Lankan man, Leslie Ekanayake, whom Clarke called his “only perfect friend of a lifetime” in a dedication in one of his novels.

By this time, Clarke had written many books, both technical non-fiction and science fiction. However, his crowning achievement would be a movie that brought his work into the mainstream. 2001: A Space Odyssey began as a 1968 movie developed in concert Clark and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Both developed the story as the film was shot, but in the end, only Arthur C. Clark was credited with writing both the film and the movie. The story is based on various short stories by Clark, but the one used the most was The Sentinel of Eternity (1948), a story he wrote for a BBC competition. Although Sir Arthur C. Clarke has published well over 100 novels, many of them winners of the Hugo and Nebula awards, he is most famous for this novel and the accompanying movie. It is an enduring classic film that has stood up to the test of time.

The author lived in Sri Lanka until his death in 2008, being knighted in 2000 by Queen Elizabeth, although he was in poor health and could not receive the honor in person. He was also awarded Sri Lanka’s highest civil honor, Sri Lankabhimanya in 2005. Clarke chose to be buried with Ekanayake in the Colombo central cemetery upon his death. Although he had been married to a woman for a short time in 1953, it is thought that he chose to emigrate to Sri Lanka where homosexuality was more tolerated at that time. He had no children.

“He was moving through a new order of creation, of which few men had ever dreamed. Beyond the realms of sea and land and air and space lay the realms of fire, which he alone had been privileged to glimpse. It was too much to expect that he would also understand.”
― Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey is a series of vignettes about an ancient and unknown race of aliens that use a device in the shape of a monolith to encourage the development of intelligent life. The first occurrence on Earth appears in ancient Africa four million years ago where it helps a group of proto-humans to invent tools. The clubs they develop help them kill animals and thus allow them to eat meat and survive.

The book then moves ahead to 1999, showing Dr. Floyd’s journey to Clavius Base on the Moon. He attends a meeting where another monolith is discovered, this one is the first known in human history. How it got there on the Moon is a mystery. Floyd and a team of scientists are viewing the monolith when the sun touched upon it. The monolith sends a radio transmission to one of the moons of Saturn, Iapetus. The scientists decide to investigate further and plan a mission to the moon.

The next vignette features Astronaut David Bowman and Francis Poole. Their ship is guided by a computer, HAL 9000 who is an AI. HAL tells Bowman that one of the units in the ship is faulty, but when Poole goes to check on it, he finds that there is nothing wrong. Bowman and Poole consult with Earth and are told to disconnect HAL for analysis. The instructions on how to do this are interrupted by a broken signal and HAL informs the two astronauts that the same unit has malfunctioned.

Poole goes EVA to remove the malfunctioning unit and is killed when his spacesuit is ripped. Bowman is suspicious that HAL may have had something to do with Poole’s “accident”. He decides to wake the other three astronauts who are in deep sleep, not only for their safty, but because he feels he needs help. As he starts their awakening process, HAL opens both airlocks. Bowman manages to escape in an emergency shelter and from there he is able to shut down the AI’s consciousness.

Upon contacting Earth, he learns that his mission is not just to explore Iapetus, the moon around Saturn, but to seek out the aliens that created the monolith on the Moon. The astronaut discovers that there is another monolith on the Iapetus, but it is much larger than the one that had been buried on the Moon. As he approaches it, the monolith opens up and swallows him. The last message Bowman sends back to Earth is, “The thing’s hollow – it goes on forever – and – oh my God! – it’s full of stars!”

What happens next is astonishing and you’ll have to read the book to find out all the details.

2001 A Space Odyssey book coverI have not read many of Clarke’s novels. They always seemed to be a little dry to me, more high concept than character driven. Yet, I can not deny the impact that this “big three” author has had on the genre.

I was introduced to the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey at filmschool. Stanley Kubrick is a much studied and renown filmmaker and the collaboration he did with Clarke created a piece of cinema that is a stand-alone classic that should be seen. Until I researched this book review, I had not realized that Kubrick and Clarke had worked as partners on the story and I believe this accounts for the highly visual and emotional impact of both film and book. The details of Clarke’s novel are similar to the movie (the book goes to Saturn and the movie to Jupiter), but the science is more explained by Clarke and the ambiguous ending of the film is not a part of the book. Clarke gives you a resolution worthy of a grandmaster of science fiction. I am glad that I have read 2001: A Space Odyssey and seen the movie. Both are classics that every lover of science fiction should partake.

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome back to another Monday of writer’s links from No Wasted Ink. This week I was looking at articles about blogging and the general writing process. I also happened on an article about JRR Tolkien’s other works, the writing he did as a historical researcher. If you are a fan of Tolkien, as I am, you should check it out.

The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t

Jorge Luis Borges on Writing: Wisdom from His Most Candid Interviews

Claiming Your Power as a Writer

10 Ways To Stay Productive as a Work-at-Home Blogger

No. You Don’t Have to “Write Every Day.”

Tolkien, the Battle of Finnsburg and Hengest


How to change your “away” mindset – and why you should

Indie Publishing Paths: What’s Your Distribution Plan? Part One

A manifesto for self-publishing authors