Winner of Spellwright Giveaway, Plus Stuff

The winner of the Spellwright giveaway is Julio! Thanks to everyone for entering, and thanks to Tor for sponsoring this giveaway.


I have been reading a very LONG book called Angelology by Danielle Trussoni. This is my first foray into Dan Brown-style supernatural thrillers. Except, it isn’t really a thriller, because the plot is not driven by fear. Maybe you could call it a supernatural suspense? Anyway, it’s quite gripping and very unusual. It’s based on a literal interpretation of the Bible — especially the events before and after the Flood — but I would not classify it as a Christian novel. Not that it’s anti-Christian, but it just doesn’t seem to fit into the Christian genre. There’s no way I’ll be done any time before Friday, at the soonest.

BUT, I will have stuff for you anyway, because long ago, I read Master of None by Sonya Bateman, and I finally get to review it. PLUS we have done my first-ever Conversational Interview, and I’ll be posting that too.


Do you guys have any opinions on reading prayers? I was reading another novel — nameless for now — and I was starting to have problems with the plot when the character started preparing to pray. Generally speaking, I think it’s hard to do prayer well. Probably the best author I’ve read who managed it was T. H. White in The Once and Future King. Holly Lisle tackled it with Hawkspar and I found it difficult. Lest you think I have anything against invented mythologies, I’ll add that I was ok with some of the prayers in Dragonlance (not all — mostly Sturm’s. Goldmoon’s were ack-worthy). I found the prayers in The Deed of Paksenarrion awkward as well. The prayers in the popular movie Facing the Giants were a mixed bag — some good (the wife’s) some meh (the husband’s). In Would-be Witch, the prayers were hilarious.

In general, I think it’s hard for an author to pull off a really good prayer.

I doubt I’ve sent this novel aside forever, and besides, I really need to finish Angelology. But what do you think? What are the best and worst examples of prayers in some of the books and movies you’ve read and watched.

10 Thoughts to “Winner of Spellwright Giveaway, Plus Stuff”

  1. Deborah Blake

    I read plenty of books that have spells, some of which are quite like prayers. They can vary widely. I liked Would-Be Witch, too 🙂

  2. Prayers are… well, they’re like sex scenes, I guess. I was just recently talking about that type of scene on the SFFworld forums. If it’s integral to the plot to “show” the prayer, all fine and good, otherwise just say “they prayed” and move on.

  3. In books I’ve read with spells, they usually don’t give the exact wording, unless it is in some foreign language.

    Todd, I am so with you.

  4. Chicory

    Hmmm… pre-flood angles. Is anyone else thinking Nephelium here?

    As for prayers in books; I can’t remember which book it’s in off the top of my head but at one point in the Dresedan Files Harry gets hurt and his friend Michael, the Knight of the Cross, starts praying that Harry won’t die. The scene rings very true in a nicely shivery kind of way. A lot of the reason it worked was the fact that, throughout the series, Jim Butcher is careful to portray Michael as a man of deep faith. When Michael started praying it absolutely fit his character, so it never felt like a put-on. I think prayer -if actually given word for word- should be treated more like regular dialogue than it sometimes is. The characters are still themselves, praying or not, so what they say should reflect that. Just my two cents.

    I haven’t read Would-be Witch yet.

    1. Tia Nevitt

      Yes, definitely you should think Nephelim.

      Regarding Harry’s friend who is a Knight of the Cross: Now I really have to read these Dresden Files books! So cool!

  5. {thoughtful look} The question of praying in stories is interesting. I hadn’t really thought about it. {smile}

    My first response was that I don’t have any problem with it. I pray on occasion in real life, so why shouldn’t characters pray in stories? They don’t have to pray to my god. There’s a sizable Buddhist minority here in Hawai’i, and a tiny but noticeable group that still acknowledges the ancient Hawaiian gods. So I’m used to prayers that aren’t of my religion. {Smile}

    Then I realized that I was thinking about off-the-cuff praying, not about set prayers. I do both on different occasions… and I have a feel for how they feel different. If a spur of the moment prayer feels too pre-composed, I find it jarring. When I’m praying off the top of my head, it’s awkward clumsy, and tends to change what it’s asking for right in the middle. If it feels like someone took the time to compose it, making it neat, pretty, and on-topic the whole time, it rings false to me. Likewise, if a standard, set prayer feels too spur-of-the-moment, it rings false, too. The Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, St. Francis’s prayer and the like are carefully composed. The longer ones have distinct sections, where you finish one idea before going on to the next. They don’t backtrack half way thru section C because they forgot to mention something that really belonged in section A. Off-the-cuff prayers do that all the time, but set prayers shouldn’t. They’ve had plenty of time to go back and insert that forgotten bit where it belongs.{Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

    1. Tia Nevitt

      Along with your thoughtful looks, you usually have a thoughtful post, which I always enjoy reading.

      I have nothing against the character praying. It’s that I often notice that I found the way the author handled it kind of . . . weird. As it happens, I went ahead and read that scene that I thought I’d have trouble with, and it turns out that it was fine. It was “told” rather than “shown”, which, as Todd pointed out, can be helpful.

      1. {WARM SMILE} Thank you. I enjoy working my thought on these things out. {SMILE}

        Yes, I noticed the same thing: some prayers come out weird. When I tried to remember them, I thought of prayers that feel carefully composed in emergencies and other situations where you usually pray off-the-cuff, and prayers that feel off-the-cuff in the middle of a service in a place where I’d expect something standardized. Either way it’s jarring for me, because the style of prayer doesn’t fit the circumstance. {Smile}

        Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

        1. Tia Nevitt

          The off-the-cuff prayers in Would Be Witch were very well done and funny, while being touching at the same time. So it depends on the situation.

          1. Then those prayers worked. Just so long as they felt like something you might say on the spur of the moment. {Smile}

            Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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