Rise of the Spider Goddess by Jim C. Hines
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“In 2006, DAW Books published Jim C. Hines’ debut novel Goblin Quest. But before Jig the goblin, before fairy tale princesses and magic librarians and spunky fire-spiders, there was Nakor the Purple, an elf who wanted nothing more than to stand around watching lovingly overdescribed sunrises with his pet owl Flame, who might actually be a falcon, depending on which chapter you’re reading.
This is Nakor’s story, written in 1995 and never before shared with the world. (For reasons that will soon be painfully clear.) Together with an angsty vampire, a pair of pixies, and a feisty young thief, Nakor must find a way to stop an Ancient Evil before she destroys the world. (Though, considering the relatively shallow worldbuilding, it’s not like there’s much to destroy…)
With more than 5000 words of bonus annotation and smart-ass commentary, this is a book that proves every author had to start somewhere, and most of the time, that place wasn’t very pretty.”
Take heart, all you aspiring writers: Jim Hines is here to show you that everyone has to start somewhere. While there are certainly some egregious errors in this book–the bird that is sometimes an owl and sometimes a falcon is a great example–there are smaller things that you might gloss over without the author pointing them out. Because of this, Rise of the Spider Goddess serves as a wonderful treatise on what not to do as a writer. Hines even mentions in the forward that he doesn’t harp on every single mistake he made–some of them are there for you to find on your own, so keep a sharp eye out while reading.
Quite apart from the very real lessons shown by an author who is willing to dissect his own early work, the annotations are just plain funny. Think Mystery Science Theater 3000 for the book geek and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what lurks in these pages. One of my favorite bits is the ongoing “raised eyebrow count” that reaches into the double digits before the story ends. Hines spares himself nothing, poking fun at his purple prose and terrible worldbuilding, but he does so in a way that lets you know that it’s all in good fun.
Most of all, reading this will give budding writers hope: hope that they can learn their craft with time; hope that early mistakes don’t have to define you; hope that you can even look back on those early fumblings with humor. I’ve become fond of Hines’s writing from his Libriomancer books, but I’ve gained a lot of respect for him through this baring of his writerly soul. It’s a fun little foray into the sometimes embarrassing evolution of literary skill.
This book was a personal purchase.