Small Press Shakedown: Michael Curran of Tangerine Press
Under Witch Moon by Maria Schneider

SPFBO: Dungeon Crawling with Criteria


No reviews in this update, but stick with me, as I'm going to share my FRAMEWORK for EVALUATION. That's saucy stuff, right?

So, I'll confess - this is my favourite part of SPFBO. Getting 30 down to a handful is a bloodbath. And evaluating the final 10 is nice, but I don't have the same sense of freedom - or responsibility. I'm just one of 10 votes, after all. (And, as noted, at length, repeatedly, I really struggle with numeric scoring.)

At this stage, however, I've got a few (four!) books that:

  1. I'm interested in - by definition, that's why I'm reading these four books
  2. ...but I haven't finished yet, and know nothing about - so there's the capacity to surprise! 
  3. No other bloggers are reading - so they're MINE ALL MINE
  4. I can judge them however I like. THE POWER!

Which is why I tend to spend the most time on this particular stage of the process. Because it makes me feel godlike in my power, which is to say - like a Dungeon Master.

So, without further ado: The Dungeon Crawl Reviewing Criteria!™

Fighter: The slashing and smooching and sexing and slaying. How's this book fare at combat, action, swashing and buckling, breathless gasping and sweaty, pulse-pounding action? (Entertainment!)

Magic-User: Are we surrounded by magic, or, more importantly, wonder? Does the world pay off with additional study? Or do you forget everything as soon as you read it out loud? Is it well-woven and immersive, or dry and dusty? (World-Building!)

Cleric: Single most essential, and most unappreciated, party member. Are the characters flesh and blood, or are they just numbers on paper? Do we care about them, or they one-offs; easily discarded? (Characters!)

Thief: Someone's got to look for traps - and set them. Is this is a straightforward scavenger hunt, or are there some sneaky twists and turns involved? What's hiding in the shadows of the plot? (Surprises!)

Something else: I'll distribute bonus points based on a fifth class, carefully decided for each book. Did it have a Bard's sense of style? A Berserker's mad rush of adrenaline? A Necromancer's ability to resurrect tropes in new and unexpected way? (Something!)

I will distribute various levels for each class, plus more for the fifth, bonus class. So it is, like, totes objective, because there are numbers involved.

Remember, the four books that get the distinguished honour of this experience are:

I'll be reviewing them in that order, starting next week. Please do read along and join in. Adventuring is much more fun as a party.

If you're utterly confused about all of this - all the background, details and updates are here.


The eagle-eyed and elephant-memoried might notice that I proposed criteria strikingly similar to this for my DGLA reviews last year,... and then got bored and never reviewed the DGLA books. Let's pretend that never happened.