Reviewer Praise for Doctor to Dragons

Doctor to Dragons has its first review on amazon, and from a fellow veterinarian, no less (though sadly one of non-magical creatures):

“I loved the idea of a fantasy book from the perspective of a veterinarian. As a veterinarian, Mr. Huggins did an amazing job of expressing a veterinarian well. The stresses and joys. The quick thinking and the problem solving. I had never thought about what it would be like to do surgery on a dragon, but since reading this book, I have dreamed about it and it is amazing! I regularly think about what I need to do to protect myself and staff from potentially aggressive patients, but am now very happy that I don’t treat basilisks! Thank you for an amazing entertaining story!!”

There you have it, what better seal of authenticity could you ask for? Don’t delay and dive into the exciting world of dragon surgery, with occasional forays into the wonders of basilisk balms, chimera cures, troll treatments and orc ointments.

As you descend to the waiting room with your beloved but beleaguered beast, feel free to soothe its nerves by singing along with the Dark Lord’s favourite elevator music. You know you want to:

 

Book Horde Reviews Beyond the Mist

Book Horde has some very positive things to say about Beyond the Mist, and heartily recommends it for a wide range of readers.

This is a good story, with great world-building, and subtle Christian themes. I really liked that I can read it strictly for the story, and later I can think about the moral themes and questions it raises.

You can read the whole review over here, or click the image below to take a look for yourself:

Beyond the Mist

 

 

 

 

Brian Niemeier Reviews Beyond the Mist

Brian Niemeier, Campbell award nominee and Dragon Award winner, has some very nice things to say about Beyond the mist over on his blog:

A man finds himself weightless in a rushing mist. He doesn’t know whether he is flying or falling, and he has no memory of anything prior to waking in the fog. Much like the book’s protagonist, the reader is immediately cast into an existential mystery on the first page.

Also like the protagonist, I didn’t know what to make of the character’s initial situation. Was I entering a strange science fiction world so advanced beyond our own as to make the setting itself a puzzle? Had Zwycky crafted a surrealist parable to illustrate the folly of relativism through style and mood? A metaphysical science-fantasy like Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld?

Since discovering the truth is among the primary joys of reading Beyond the Mist, I won’t spoil the answer. I will say that the process of discovery is masterfully handled by Zwycky and immensely satisfying.

Read the whole review here, or better yet read the book by clicking on the image below:

Beyond the Mist

 

More Reviewer Praise for Beyond the Mist and Nobility Among Us!

Dragon-award-nominee Marina Fontaine, up high in the echelons of the Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance, had some very kind words to say about both of my novels, highly recommending both and mentioning them in the same breath as the works of the great masters C.S. Lewis and John C. Wright.

To say I am flattered to be mentioned in this way would be a great understatement, it was Lewis who first fired my literary imagination, whose works I have read more of than any other author, and it was his type of literature that I was consciously trying to hark back to when I wrote Nobility Among Us. John C. Wright is of course a major influence in Beyond the Mist, the plot being based on some of his philosophical essays, among other things.

You can read for yourself what she had to say over here:

http://marinafontaine.blogspot.cz/2016/08/book-review-two-for-one-ben-zwyckys.html

The 99 cent deal on both books (and on Selected Verse: Heroes and Wonders) is still running for another day and a half, so take the opportunity to take a look for yourself for less.

Matt_BTM_Who_Am_I_Poster

Beyond the Mistall cover_f1_v13_frontsmallSelected Verse - Heroes and Wonders

Selected Verse - Faith and Family

More Reviewer Praise for Selected Verse – Heroes and Wonders!

Another reviewer has nice things to say about the paperback version of Selected Verse – Heroes and Wonders, though this time from a much more down-to-earth angle. J.D. Cowan has this to say over at amazon:

Thoughtful and Wondrous

I don’t know much about poetry, being an uncultured rube, but I know what I like. Reading Ben Zwycky’s “Heroes and Wonders” was a reminder into what I do like from poetry. This is inspirational in the best way. Each poem is an ode to beauty, love, God, and all the great things this world offers. It’s a shock to the system to read something so pure and straightforward without cynicism and bleakness attached. It was a joy to read.

Highly recommended for those who want to be inspired, and those who tend to forget that life offers many great things. It’s a cure for the rainy day.

 

This kind of response to my work really makes my day, especially when it’s the type of literature they wouldn’t normally look at.

Take a chance on Heroes and Wonders, you might just like it more than you expect 🙂

Selected Verse - Heroes and Wonders

Speaking of paperbacks, the second edition paperback of Nobility Among Us is now only $9.99 at amazon!

Instalanche for Nobility Among Us!

Checking my post-countdown sales figures to see if the final day’s momentum was being continued, I noticed an unusual (and very welcome) upturn in sales of Nobility Among Us yesterday and today. A quick google search revealed the source, Nobility Among Us has the honour of being being featured at Instapundit, thanks to the ever-awesome Sarah A. Hoyt. People in the comments have been saying some nice things about my writing, making me literally jump for joy (causing my middle son to come running into the room to find the source of the loud thumping noise) 🙂

http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/234415/

Click the image below to take a look at the book itself.

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EDIT: The Amazon ranking for the book has beaten its previous best record:

 

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,144 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

 

Reviewer Praise for Selected Verse – Heroes and Wonders

James Sale, of the Society of Classical Poets, had this to say about Selected Verse- Heroes and Wonders:

Poetry is a delicate balance of language that is prone to either too much yin or too much yang; or put another way, as the poet steers his or her course like Odysseus towards his true soul, Penelope, waiting at home, he must venture through the double danger of Scylla on the one side and Charybdis on the other. The danger is either writing the yin of non-poetry which we often call free verse—though it is neither free (pure prose with lines) nor verse (since structure-less)—or writing the yang of verse, an over-emphasis on conventional forms, dead tropes, and language reminiscent of past centuries rather than the living vernacular of today.

Some of the most popular poetry revered today veers so dangerously to the yin side that, like Odysseus’s devoured crew, the audience of poetry dwindles as well; people can’t tell if what they are reading is prose or just a cruel joke that academia has played on their seemingly sophomoric intellects. Ben Zwycky’s collection, Selected Verse: Heroes and Wonders, is a daring reversal of direction of the ship’s helm, careening us toward a different monster in a maneuver that is both thrilling and at times unsuccessful.

Heroes and Wonders is, as his title indicates, generally an excellent collection of verse: full of wholesome sentiments, familiar themes of love, honour, resisting evil, and at its best has some pithy aphoristic expressions. Indeed, his best verses are his shortest ones. His final verse, “The Beast,” is some 17 pages long and in my view far too extensive to be readable; but contrast that with “Days,” the second poem in the collection. The opening stanza shows Ben at his best:

 

Days of wonder, days of hope,
Days that help you learn and cope;
Days of refuge, days of peace,
Days that give your heart release.

 

The simple repetition, the pleasing and easy rhymes, all help convey a sense of goodness and strength, and  the anaphora of Days in the quatrains suddenly breaks free of that structure in a final concluding couplet, which gives the poem a nice symmetry:

 

Each new day is heaven-sent,
Make every day a day well spent.

 

The final couplet indeed could become a mantra for the kind of people I meet in my own other specialist field of management consultancy: specifically, time management gurus who will love it!

 

Within this simple goodness and strength, there are also gems that paint, not exquisitely but with the right breadth, the universal longing of the human soul without obtrusive preachiness; for example, these lines from “Beauty’s Message”:

 

All flowing from the source of all, who we’ll see face to face,
Where holiness is merged with love as justice is with grace.
There is our true purpose, there is our true home;
That is why down here on earth our hearts will always roam.

 

But in all this there is a sense of predictability, both in the subject matter, the approach to the subject matter, and the forms themselves. Whilst I am a great advocate of the importance of rhyme in and for poetry, the poet must always master rhyme and not be subjected by it.

 

Unfortunately, in some of Ben’s verse the rhyme has clearly taken control of the meaning rather than the other way round. So, in his poem “The Wise Men” we get:

 

This all our fathers saw and knew,
Most honoured gospel scribe Matthew.
We know their tale is one small part
Of a greater work of art.

 

We have here two issues: in the first couplet the oblique (oblique here meaning the rhyming of a stressed with an unstressed syllable) rhyming of knew/Matthew, which seems strained, and the effect of such an oblique rhyme being comic rather than serious; and in the second couplet the sheer conventionality of the two masculine rhymes so close together.

 

But that aside, if you like verse with simple diction, pleasing rhymes, heroic and moral themes, then this book could well be for you.

http://classicalpoets.org/poetry-review-heroes-and-wonders-by-ben-zwycky-2015

My response (which I have posted there) is as follows:

Thank you for the kind words, James.

It is indeed my goal, as a member of the superversive literary movement to create entertaining work that encourages virtue, courage and a sense of beauty and value, to fight against nihilistic drudgery and build up the foundations of civilization.

I am a flawed writer with almost no formal training in poetry, there are no doubt a few instances of my sacrificing content too much to fit a rhythm or rhyme. However I find it interesting that you pick out that stanza from “Wise Men”, since the situation there is actually the other way around. The structure was sacrificed at this point because of the content and historical context, they are the key to the purpose of my writing the whole piece.

It was inspired by the intriguing possibility (with some scholarly support) that the source of the Matthean birth narrative is the Magi themselves, and that Matthew obtained this knowledge by meeting with their sons. The poem is then something of a dramatization of what that encounter could have looked like, with the sons recounting the oral tradition they received from their fathers, and then asking what it all meant.

In those days oral traditions were often crafted into verse, or used puns, thematic patterns, vivid imagery and other linguistic tricks to aid their memorisation. For the original Magi, this very unusual adventure would have raised a large number of questions: all the intrigue, the signs in the sky, the further signs they no doubt heard about from talking with Joseph, all for a baby born in a pauper’s stall? They knew that something of major significance was going to come from all of this, and the great adventure they had been part of was only the beginning, one small component of a divine masterwork.

Decades had passed since any news of the supposed king of the Jews had been heard, the original Magi had almost certainly passed on by the time Matthew came along to gather additional material for his biography.

The sons would have joyfully repeated the flowing, artfully sculpted and polished oral tradition they were taught and then, with trembling lips at the prospect of their great questions being answered (perhaps compounded by only sharing a second or third language with the former tax collector, since they lived a long way from each other), slightly stumble over their words as they summarise “That is what our fathers told us, we know that there is much more to this than what we have heard. We have helped you, now please tell us the fuller story that you have, so that we can know what our fathers longed to understand all these years.”

The whole poem is building up to that life-changing moment for them.

Perhaps I could have conveyed this more clearly in the work itself, but that is what I was attempting to do.

If you’d like to take a look at the full collection, click the image below:

Selected Verse - Heroes and Wonders