Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Guile of Dragons by James Enge

I recently finished reading James Enge's latest novel, A Guile of Dragons.  This is Book One of A Tournament of Shadows.  Yes, Enge fans, we now have a series of books coming our way.

In A Guile of Dragons, Morlock is born within the Wardlands - a land without formal government that is maintained by the Graith of Guardians.  Though raised by dwarves at Thrymhaiam, Morlock leaves that life to join the Graith as a Thain - the lowest of their three ranks.

Summoner Earno, one of the highest ranking guardians, dreams of vast destruction to the Wardlands, emanating from the north.  He asks Morlock to accompany him to Thrymhaiam in search of another summoner. 

Soon after they reach their destination, the dwarves are attacked by a guile (group) of dragons.  Earno, who has slain a dragon in the past, orders Morlock to deliver a challenge to the guile's master.  By defeating a guile's master, the rest of a guile breaks apart, so Earno's plan seems sound.  But Morlock discovers that this guile is itself made up of guile masters.  And killing its leader would only give rise to another - not that the mighty Vild Kharum would even listen to a challenge from one such as Morlock.

This is a tale of strategy and survival, marked by unexpected turns and exciting adventures.  For those unfamiliar with Enge's writing, this is a great place to jump on board.  And for those who are already fans, you'll love reading about Morlock's origins.

Good stories about dwarves and dragons are hard to find.  Enge remains inventive and witty throughout the book.  You can sense his enjoyment in writing, and it translates to enjoyable reading.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Heart of the Matter

Monday, I spent the day in the E.R.  The reason for the trip was that it felt like my heart was skipping a beat.  It was something I had experienced at various points in my life since high school, but this continued for 40 minutes.  That was enough for me to decide to head to the E.R. in hopes of finding an answer.

In the past when I've gone to the E.R., I've signed in, and registration would give me a packet of paperwork to fill out.  And then comes the waiting game.  But on Monday, after I mentioned my symptoms, I started to walk away, and they stopped me.  The door swung open, and they took me straight to a room where they ran an EKG on me.  I have no doubt that had those scans detected something awful, I would have been whisked away to the Operating Room, and veins that are currently in my legs would have ended up around my heart.

But things turned out fine with the EKG, so the next stop (via wheelchair) was to my own room in Triage.  They drew blood, left an IV in me (no bag hooked to it - just the line itself - in case of emergency), put a bloodpressure gauge around my arm (that would periodically self-inflate), and hooked up several other items to measure my pulse-ox and heartbeat. 

More tests came in the form of X-Rays and ultrasounds.  Later in the day, I had a stress test - which is an expensive run on a treadmill while a thousand wires are taped to your chest.  All of this amounted to a diagnosis of heart palpatations with nothing apparently wrong. 

Yesterday, I went to a follow-up visit to a cardiologist.  I didn't expect much, and I almost didn't go at all.  But I hoped that he might reveal something else, even if it meant hooking me up to a 24-hour monitor to detect the condition if it happened again. 

The cardiologist asked me some questions and then had me sit on the exam table.  While he listened to me through his stethescope, my heart repeated its uncertain pattern.  He glanced up and asked, "Did you feel that?"  I tried to contain my excitement when I said I had.  "Is this what you experienced yesterday?"  I told him it was and that he was the first person to ever hear it.

He said he knew what it was - a benign condition where the heart does two quick beats, waits a pause, then resumes its normal pattern.  It doesn't truly skip a beat, but it can feel that way due to the pause after the two quick beats.  He said it will get better with age - how many conditions do that, right?  Triggers include caffeine, fatigue, and stress. 

I was extermely pleased to find out the cause of what I've experienced for years.  And to know that it's nothing fatal or even impairing (at least not that I've experienced).  What a relief!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

And Our Lady Splendor

My science fiction story, "And Our Lady Splendor" is available at Abyss & Apex: