I have not said anything about the closing of the local Borders because it was traumatic enough that I don’t want to dwell on it. I bought my first Zatoichi DVD at Borders. I spent more afternoons than I can well remember hanging out there, reading manga with my best friend from high school. It was a convenient stop on my way back from school; it fed my collecting habits, first with reasonably priced Japanese comics and movies, later with an efficient special order system that suitably made up for my inability to order unusual books and movies from Amazon.com. I even signed up for their discount program, and put it to good use.

Extenuating circumstances prevented me from picking through the carcass of their clearance sale until the day just before they shut their doors for good. I hoped to grab some Wolfe or Vance or Chesterton for cheap; maybe find some interesting popular history titles – I intended to buy various Jonathan Spence books that usually sat on their shelves untouched – only to find that the other bookworms had eaten through the inventory well before I got there. Most of the remaining merchandise was of no interest to me, although I did contemplate buying a table or a plate from their café. The insistence of the manager that potential buyers consider buying shelves and chairs and light fixtures as well persuaded me away. I loved that Borders, but not enough to want it relocated in my house.

So I bought the only what I could justify owning at a seventy percent discount: David Gaider’s Dragon Age: The Calling.

I’ve read about a quarter of Gaider’s second foray into actual fiction. Slow going: it’s pretty dull so far, but I’ve noticed a couple of improvements over The Stolen Throne already.

- First of all, the writing is much tighter. The Stolen Throne had me hitting my face with its incessant flood of adverbs and inappropriate turns of phrase. For instance, the infamous: “Maric stared at her in disbelief. He wasn’t quite sure she could have said anything else that would have been less surprising. Well perhaps a confession that she was actually made of cheese.” So far, no especially egregious instances of childish humor.

Also, the adverbing didn’t start until about twenty pages in, and it’s much less frequent. Every sentence in The Stolen Throne went according to a formula. “Subject verbs object, adverbingly.” It’s a bad formula. It tells, rather than shows. Thankfully, it’s employed much less in The Calling.

- For all the good that it does, Gaider also seems to have taken some notice of courtly formality. Among the litany of complaints I threw at The Stolen Throne was that its author used “my lord,” “your highness,” and “your majesty” interchangeably. The Calling was published shortly before my review of The Stolen Throne hit the net, so I cannot take credit for bringing this to the author’s attention. But since it only figures into a single scene in any meaningful way, it’s not really an issue – just nice to see.

I’ll have a more detailed review of the last book I’ll ever buy from my beloved book store chain location if/when I finish reading it. But it’s a bittersweet experience, even at a seventy percent discount.

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