Rise of the Spider Goddess by Jim C. Hines

I’d like to tell you that I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had any time to see straight. It would be some sort of type A boast. And while that is technically true, apparently I’ve found enough time to read the ARC of Rise of the Spider Goddess that writer Jim C. Hines was kind enough to send to me.

Well. Kind is a pretty strong word in this case. Let me explain what this is, and you’ll see what I mean.

A while back, Jim and a lot of authors did a fund raiser, in which the authors did a myriad of, dare I suggest it, foolish things. Jim’s contribution was to read part of his very first novel Rise of the Spider Goddess in costume, dressed as the main protagonist Nakor. Some readers rightfully rolled their eyes and went back about their business. Other readers said the most foolish thing. “Hey, Jim, I’d like to see more of that.”

Now, lest you think that Jim Hines was some sort of progeny, that honeyed, golden words fall from his mouth like coins in a fairytale, no, this isn’t a good novel. It is what you would expect a first novel to be. Do you remember your first novel? Readers, your experience was very different than that of us writers. Mine was about a dimension behind a magic mirror which had overtones of Alice in Wonderland meets The Secret Garden. Yes, I still own it. No, I will not succumb to Hines-ism, this rare disease that renders a novelist suggestible enough that they decide it’s a good idea to publish a first novel. I should burn that, though. God only know that some time in the distant future Lynn Thomas might get her archiving little hands on it, and I will regret having kept any juvenilia.

But I digress. And getting her hands on that first novel would not be as bad as getting her hands on that Man from U.N.C.L.E. fan fiction that I wrote when I was 18. And lest you think that’s a digression, it’s about the quality of Rise of the Spider Goddess.

So, now that I’ve lampooned Jim’s decision to publish the angsty elf angst of Nakor and the angsty vampiric angst of Galadrion (no relation to anyone Tolkien. I have a notarized document about that.), why should you read this?

First of all, Jim’s a funny guy and he MSTKs the entire novel for your reading pleasure. To have Jim talking to his 1995 self about various word rehabilitations and talk about the nature of bad guys, well, that’s awesomely entertaining.

Secondly, Jim is putting an idea out there. Beginning novels suck. He did get better. You can too, if you work at it. There are no magical fairy (or elf) people who don’t have to work at improving their writing, no matter how much magical elf talent they have at writing.

Thirdly, intentionally or otherwise, this novel is so by the book high fantasy that it becomes a parody of the genre. Mmmm. Now, I’m in the mood for bread, cheese, stew, and I want to go ride a horse.

It’s all here. Scenes with no transitions. Bad proofreading. Flashbacks sprinkled willy nilly with (still) no transitions. Left out words. Stilted dialogue. Zero world building. See a Hugo award winning writer show you how much he sucked! And then, to get the taste out of your brain, go by some really good Jim Hines fiction. A personal favorite is The Mermaid’s Madness, but you could read all the Jig books, or Libriomancer and still come out okay.

The point? See how far he’s come! And then, get crackin’, because I could be reviewing your first novel in twenty years after you are a successful novelist just like this. Unless I’m still trying to break into Lynn Thomas’s archive and retrieve the aforementioned fan fiction. Then you might have to wait 21 years.

As a bonus, you learn a lot about Dungeons and Dragons by reading this novel

Seriously, pick this up. It’s fun, and I’ve seen the cover. I think you’ll want it for the cover, especially after you’ve read the thing.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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