Elysa Hendricks – “The Sword and the Pen”

25 Nov

GENRE: Romance / Fantasy

WHY THIS NOVEL: I thought the premise interesting + I like to read about characters who are writers.

It was time. After penning ten popular sword-and-sorcery novels, Brandon Alexander Davis was ready to move on. Ready to stop hiding in his fictional world. Ready to start living a real life. There was just one problem: as he plotted the noble death of Serilda D’Lar, his fictional creation appeared in his study, complete with sword, skimpy leather outfit, indomitable will–and a quest. Was she nothing more than a crazy fan, or had Brandon finally cracked? This warrior woman whom he knew so well, so strong yet vulnerable, was both fantasy and reality. She was an invitation to rediscover all he once knew–that life is an incredible, magical journey and, for love, any man can be a hero.

I might have noticed this novel for its premise but I also admit that I thought “I hope it works.” I mean, a fictional character becoming real? The make-believe could be wobbly, especially because I was afraid it might be told “too funny” which doesn’t always work for me.

I needn’t have worried. First, I liked Elysa Hendricks voice. The writing is very smooth and flows easily. Second, Serilda, the fictional character becoming real, tells her story in her own voice. Her parts are written in first person (the first part is also titled “Serilda”). It works well for the story and I liked Seri’s voice (the name Brandon uses for her in his reality) a lot.

Seri catches on to what has happened quickly. She knows she’s in a different world and thinks Brandon a wizard who conjured her into his world. She also realizes that in her world she doesn’t exactly have free will, that she and all her friends and people she knows and meets there are just puppets.

Brandon thinks Seri a lunatic fan. The only thing that gives him pause is that she seems to know things about the world he created in his books only he, the author, could know. Could there be something to her claim to be his fictional character?

“Will you let me help you?” he [Brandon] asked.
The wizard’s offer touched me, and for a moment his disbelief in who I was made me doubt myself. Part of me wanted to cling to my identity, fictional though it might be; another part wanted to give it up, to become a real woman in this man’s strange and alien world. But, no.
I shock my head. It was my bad luck to have been created by a powerful yet inept wizard. “I can’t lie to myself. For you to help me–if that’s what you intend–you have to believe.” (41/42)

If I had one problem with the story, it was that I thought Seri and Brandon knew awfully fast that they were in love. But then, it needed to happen fast because there is a second part, titled “Brandon,” in which Brandon is thrown into Serilda’s world. (This structure reminded me a bit of Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor.) Now Brandon tells his parts in first person and while he knows what happened, Serilda doesn’t have any memories (or so it seems for quite some time). Note also that in her world, she’s mostly referred to as Serilda.

In the last finished version of Brandon’s novel about Serilda, Serilda dies at the end. When Brandon realized that what Seri told him was true, he tried to write a new (yet another) version of the ending but he doesn’t know how far he got before he lost consciousness and woke up in Serilda’s world. In the fictional world, people think Brandon a king and warrior and so he tries all he can to save Serilda, using sword and pen. But it looks like no matter what Brandon tries, the story seems to have its own mind.

I liked Seri/Serilda and Brandon, and especially Seri’s voice, but what compelled me to read on the most was the look at reality and fiction in this story, the metafictional layer of the novel if you want. A fictional character who’s a writer/author adds something special to a story, IMO – the distance to the real author seems to be less. In The Sword and the Pen, the premise of the story – a fictional character becoming real – enhances this because it takes what authors often say about their characters and story – that characters have their own ideas about how a story should go or they talk to the author and so on – and turns it into the story. I enjoyed this a lot.

The novel concludes with a third part, titled “Seri and Brandon.” It provides a very satisfying and fitting ending to the story and also gives a wonderful answer to the question about the power of love.

And I have to admit, at one time I was even a bit teary-eyed.

Verdict: I liked The Sword and the Pen. (4/5)


5 Responses to “Elysa Hendricks – “The Sword and the Pen””

  1. Elysa Hendricks Monday, November 30, 2009 at 3:58 pm #

    Hi Taja,

    Thank you so much for your kind words about The Sword And The Pen. I’m pleased that you enjoyed the story. I sure had fun writing it. As an author my fictional characters become very “real” to me, there have been times I’ve wished I could escape into a fictional world and re-write my real life, so putting myself into Brandon’s head when Serilda appears wasn’t very difficult.


  2. Taja Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 9:38 am #

    Elysa – it was my pleasure to read your novel. The fun you had in writing it (and your own experiences) translated well into my enjoyment of it. Thank you so much. I’m looking forward to reading more by you.

  3. Elysa Hendricks Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at 11:29 pm #

    Hi Taja,

    Good news! I have another book coming out in April. This one is a futuristic – sort of Star Ward meets Pirates of the Carribean. 🙂 And if you’re so inclined check out my fantasies from ImaJinn Books – Gemini Moon, Crystal Moon, Shadow Moon and the latest as of 2/09 Forbidden Moon.


  4. Elysa Hendricks Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at 11:29 pm #

    Oops, that’s Star Wars, not Star Ward. 🙂 The book is called Star Raiders.


  5. Taja Saturday, December 12, 2009 at 5:16 pm #

    Elysa – thanks for letting me know! I’m sure I’ll keep an eye out for your books from now on.

    Star Wars meets Pirates of the Carribean – sounds interesting. 🙂

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