Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I've been a bit under the weather for the past few days so I've been a little behind on my posts. I actually finished Drinkwater: A Sobering Tale About a Medieval Knight, by Otto Scamfer last Saturday morning. But then on Sunday I got this bad cold that just has me floored. I was off work for two days which is a lot for me, and even today I'm trying to take it easy.

This is a book that was given to me by the author in return for an Amazon review. I'll write this blog entry first before I decide if I will actually post a review on Amazon or not. You see, this book has something going for it but it falls short in so many ways. The basic story, about a medieval knight-in-training who has been a drunkard most of his life, is cute. It's basic and it is written to formula. There are three distinct acts, the action is plotted over those three acts like clockwork, and we have all of the elements of textbook story-telling. So much so that I kept hoping for something to shake up the predictable plot. But to no avail. Of course the hero will overcome his destructive drinking habits and become a "drinkwater." Of course he will be bested by a bully in the first few pages and spend the rest of the book fulfilling his thirst for revenge. Of course he will fall in love with a low-born peasant girl and despite his own high birth, win her just before she marries the bully from scene one. And of course he will gain such fabulous combat skills with sword and lance (from an Obi-Wan type mentor that is killed at the end of act one) that he can defeat the evil "dark lord" who has been the reigning champion for years and years (and who has no relevance to the plot otherwise). Have we seen this before?

The title would suggest that overcoming his drinking problem would be the protagonist's central battle. But this is largely resolved in the first 30 pages or so. He only falls off the wagon once during the rest of the book but even that is still in Act one and so the suspense is over for that particular plot thread. Then it becomes a revenge/take my rightful place story. It's too bad. I think the author has potential to write well. The book did read evenly and easily; it was clear and easy to understand. I would promote it to the young adult market if it were my book although I first came across it as an "adventure" story in the Amazon forums. There are some scenes that depict the bloody results of a sword fight, etc. but otherwise it is pretty innocent. It's published by what looks to be a small press but it could be self-published. There were several glaring grammatical errors but I understand most small press publishers don't do much, if any, editing, forcing the author to do all of it.

So, you can see my dilemma. If I write a review for Amazon I will be forced to give it a low grade and thus potentially hurt the author's sales. I feel sure he would rather have no review than a negative one, especially considering the other current reviews which are all positive. I'm sure there is a scientific correlation between giving books away for free and positive reviews. I wish to encourage the author, not burst his bubble so I'm leaning towards no review for Amazon. I do hope the author continues to write as I suspect he has learned much from writing this one and future novels will be better and better. Otto, if you're reading this just let me know. And for your next novel, throw away all of the textbook stuff and go with your creative element. Be original and have fun at the same time.

I've already begun reading (and am half way through) my next novel, the second in the "Civil War in the Far West" series by P.G. Nagle, The Guns of Valverde. It's a busy rest of the week and weekend though so who knows when I will actually finish it.

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire