We're (almost) up and running! As is tradition, I want to set out my list of Special Judging Criteria for this year's reading.
For 2016, after much deliberation, I'm not going to tackle all the finalists. I'll be sticking to the Morningstar titles:
I'll add links as they appear.
The eagle-eyed amongst you might have spotted that I'm only reviewing the Morningstar (debut) books this year. There are a lot of reasons for skipping the Legend, but ultimately it comes down to fact that it is a passion project, and I'm not feeling 2,500+ pages of breathless desire this year.*
If you spot (or have written!) reviews of the five Legend nominees, please leave links in the comments!
More importantly, here's my fun new criteria!
For those taking part, one of the charming 'quirks' of the DGLA is that it doesn't really have much in the way of criteria. This makes the public vote kind of directionless. I abhor that kind of vacuum, so part of my fun is coming up with increasingly baroque judging schemes.
This year, in honour of the Greatest and Most Influential Epic Fantasy of all, I'll be reviewing these books like they were a D&D adventuring party.
Fighter: The hacking and slashing and diving and dodging and sexing and slaying. How's this book fare at combat and action and pulse-pounding fun? Is it swashbuckling, stodgy, daring or dull? (Action!)
Magic-User: Are we surrounded by wizardry, or, at the very least, wonder? Does the world pay off with additional study? Or do you forget everything about as soon as you read it out loud? Is it well-woven and immersive, or dry and dusty? (World-Building!)
Cleric: Nobody likes playing the cleric, but they're the single most essential party member. Are the characters flesh and blood - do they not bleed?! - or are they just numbers on paper? Do we care about them, or they one-offs, made to be thrown away? (Characters!)
Thief: Someone's got to look for traps - and set them. A little backstabbing never goes amiss as well. Is this is a straightforward bash through the dungeon, or are there some sneaky twists and turns involved? Is there anything hiding in the shadows of the plot? (Surprising!)
Bard: No one ever thinks they need a bard, yet, somehow, the charismatic little devils are always there to save the day. A touch of style, a hint of flair or just good old fashioned chutzpah - all of these go a long way. (Moxie!)
I'm going to give six levels in each class, for a total of thirty levels (proper epic, innit). I'll also assign each book a character class, because I'm the DM and I can do what I want.
These aren't a world away from my previous criteria, but I've rejigged them to be - if anything - a little more generous. This evaluation scheme wouldn't work for, say, evaluating the complete works of Sherwood Anderson, but what it should do is reward exciting fantasy novels with cool characters and interesting worlds.
Right. Time to get to reading... reviews should start appearing from next week, although in no particular order. Please join in, share your thoughts, and if you're reviewing as well - please leave links!