Sunday, January 22, 2012

Selene is Back and Badder than Ever! ....Unfortunately, so is "Awakening"

In "Underworld: Awakening", Death Dealer Selene is awoken from an icy 12-year cryo-nap and finds a world where vampires and Lycans are not only exposed but hunted. Oh, and she has a daughter.

First off, I'm an Underworld fan. The vampires put Robert Pattinson to shame and the Lycans make Taylor Lautner look like a poodle. It's truly a great story they had going on, and I thought they had wrapped it up quite nicely with 2009's "Rise of the Lycans" prequel. But in the case of "Awakening", directed by series newcomers Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, well...I'm very disappointed. Now of course, "Underworld: Evolution" left an opening for Selene's story to continue, but I just don't feel that "Awakening" was the best choice of story. The plot was too low-budget Syfy (meaning that it could have been made as a Syfy channel original movie) and there was no depth to many of the characters.

Aside from Beckinsale, who always inhabits Selene as a character, the only other performance that stood out to me was India Eisley as Eve, Selene's daughter. The first hybrid-born child, she admires her mother's warrior skills and proves to be quite the little fighter as well. You can see a real bond between Eisley and Beckinsale when they have scenes together. Michael Ealy has always been good in my book but his character simply didn't fit in this film. Charles Dance's Thomas seemed to be more of a throwback to Bill Nighy and Viktor, but again, it seems like he was just thrown in for credibility, although he gives a good performance. Theo James is...well actually he was pretty cool, I'll admit.

Now as you know, werewolves are kind of my thing. And I've always liked "Underworld"'s portrayal of the Lycans, from Lucian to Raze to William (big white wolf in "Underworld: Evolution"). "Rise of the Lycans" is my favorite "Underworld" movie in the series. And I was supremely pissed at how the Lycans came across in "Awakening". They're just cartoony. They have no leader (Stephen Rea's Dr. Lang may be an exception but he just annoyed me) and they were...just awful. IF (and that's a big one) they make another film, here's hoping they do it right next time.

I saw the film in 3D and, while it had its moments, I'm just not a fan of it and would probably have liked the movie better if I had watched it the old fashioned way.

Overall, it was pretty "meh" for a movie and a downright facepalm for an Underworld movie. It's not unwatchable, but in the Underworld universe, they should have left well enough alone.

(image copyright Screen Gems and Sketch Films)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Who are the Wolven?

For those who have read MATHION: BOOK ONE OF THE MAVODURI TRILOGY, you will notice that the main characters aren't exactly human...per se. They are Wolven or Cénáre, a race of humans with a long life span, and many inherent abilities found commonly in the Trilogy's antagonists, the werewolves. But they are NOT werewolves. Nor are they some haphazard equivalent of vampires or elves.

I'd like to take a moment to compare the names Wolven and werewolf. "Werewolf" comes from Old English and literally means "man-wolf," that is a man who assumes the form of a wolf. More metaphorically, a werewolf is not just a man who transforms into a wolf, but a man who has accepted and glorifies the beast inside, forsaking his humanity. "Wolven" (as far as I'm aware) is a word of my own invention, and is roughly a poetic adjective in its style and sound. For someone to be "wolven" is to be wolf-like, or in this case werewolf-like, but in this case the Wolven retain their humanity and compassion for their fellow humans.

That is not to say the Wolven are flawed, which will be a major theme on THE LAST ASCENSION, but more on that later.

The Wolven creation myth (in short) is that they crashed on the shores of what became Ánovén roughly 20,000 years before Mathion's time. Five ships, five clans of men. In time, the "God" figure of the Mavonduri Trilogy, Ka'én, sent his emissary Ktindu to them to offer them a choice: aid the White Wolves and save them from the genocidal persecution of the Werewolves, or live out their lives as they would. No punishment was threatened for refusal, and in the end three of the five clans accepted. They adopted the name "Cénáre" which is Anglicized as "Wolven" but the actual translation is "those who are Shaped by the Shaper (Ka'én)".

In addition to a long life span (around 1,500 years for the royal clans of the Wolven) they were blessed with gifts of strength, agility, sight, hearing and smell, all of the physical attributes of a werewolf in manform. To put it simply, they were genetically engineered to fight werewolves, and win. However a few of them were also blessed with a form of clairvoyance or Foresight, some more powerful than others. This ability was most attributed to the Sages of Avakaš.

But at their core the Wolven are, fundamentally, human. They live, they fight, and they die. They love and they hate, but ultimately they share a fundamental connection to the world around them, and have passed into even our later myths and Atlanteans.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Ok, so lately, MATHION has been getting some pretty good reviews, especially on Goodreads. One recurring comment I see is the positivity of MATHION's "traditional" storytelling. Let me say this, I never intended the MAVONDURI TRILOGY to shake the foundations of the fantasy genre in its first installment, so I'm glad that people have taken notice of my attempt to hearken back to Tolkien, Howard, and even Conan Doyle in terms of prose style. These authors have been very influential to me in that they created a sense of realism and depth to their fantasy histories. Be aware, though, that THE LAST ASCENSION and especially BOOK THREE will not follow this same formula; MATHION was meant to ease readers into the world through a mode they were already familiar with, and now that they are familiar with the world of the Lands of Émae I have more freedom to experiment with bringing more influences into the mythology as Mathion's story draws closer to its completion.

In terms of the writing itself, the only way (in my mind) to present this is by "translating" the stories from their source. What I mean by that is to tell the story as if it isn't a "story" at all, but rather a recounting of actual historical events that for one reason or another were lost to mankind over the centuries.

Many fantasy authors today try too hard to shake up the fantasy genre in order to meet the demands of a youth culture that, tragically, has lost an appreciation for the subcreative processes that make fantasy what it is. In a world of Twitter and Facebook many young readers are consistently looking for the "next hot thing" or something of that like. And in my personal perception this thought is a flawed one. I for one can't get enough of old stories that present the idea that "history is not what it seems to be" and takes ancient ideas of valor and honor and breathes new life into those morals. Many "fantasies" today are simply that, fantasies. True fantasy, traditional fantasy, is that mode of storytelling that impresses real world lessons on the minds of readers in a fantastical context.

Fantasy is meant, to an extent, to be "escapist" but not "evasive", especially given the times we live in. In a world that has ingratiated itself with the superficial and materialistic, I firmly believe that traditional motifs of fantasy storytelling will steer the world, in particular the youth of this world, into a more selfless and deeper mindset of setting others before themselves, and in that regard will help them "escape" the constraints of a world which demands they put themselves first.

That is not to say that there is no hope for fantasy! I think that the genre is poised for a return to mainstream prominence, and in order to do that we as fantasy authors will have to keep the minds of our readers in our minds as we continue to write. What are they expecting? How can we meet and exceed those expectations? And how can we keep this genre, which has been around since man first conceived of stories, grand and epic and heroic in a world where heroes are fewer and further between?