It has been years since I last added to my Masters of Storytelling collection. Sometimes you just gotta feel inspired, and I am feeling inspired now.
Larry Correia has published a number of novels, and shorter stories, and several series. I am most familiar with his Monster Hunters, Grimnoir Chronicles, and Saga of the Forgotten Warrior. One is an urban fantasy, the next is a historical fiction of urban fantasy, and the third is a sci-fi fantasy. And he has more than this in his repertoire, so, he has some diverse content to choose from. With the exception of Dead Six, which seemed well done but just wasn’t my thing, I have highly enjoyed his work.
Correia writes with a style that shifts slightly between the various genres, but is always intriguing and entertaining. His attention to detail is poetic, balancing everything we need to know to be immersed in the environment and understand what the characters are going through. Said characters are interesting, and easy to appreciate as people. There are overarching themes and plots and intrigues which keep us riveted, and the worlds he creates feel alive and real. Indeed, there is a personality to his stories that makes them easy to love.
Said stories are riveting and interesting. There is plenty of action, realistically done (with adequate suspension of disbelief), and we actually care about the people involved. The heroes and villains both tend to be well-rounded and well developed, as are the relationships among all the characters. That makes the conflict, and its significance in the larger plot, all the more important to us, his readers. Speaking of, there usually is a larger conflict, some overarching conspiracy that can reach into the greatest halls of power, or even touch on a contest between cosmic entities, but it plays out in the everyday lives of normal people.
Well, I say “normal” people, and that is one thing I want to mention. We often think of “normal” and “special” and “extraordinary” people, but in Correia’s work, the normal and the fantastic are not so different. The “chosen one” doesn’t have to be somehow “more” than a regular guy (or girl) just trying to protect what is dear to him (or her). And fantastic things don’t have to be inhuman.
Some of my favorite humorous examples of this from his Monster Hunters series: trailer park elves, noble orcs, an internet troll that is a literal troll, a geeky cyclops, and a dragon that threatens to sue instead of to eat. 🙂
Correia also never hesitates to address significant issues. Some particular recurring themes seem to be the worth of human life and freedom and family, of the hazards of segregating and classifying people like objects, the perils of forgetting history, and the danger of governments which are too powerful to be held responsible for their actions by the people they rule.
I can also say that I’ve never felt either bored or rushed while reading one of his stories. His sense of pacing is exquisite. There’s always something important happening to move the plot forward, but it’s never overdone, and we are never left hanging.
Besides all this, Correia is obviously a hard worker. I am thinking to tweak my definition of a Master to include criteria involving how long they leave their fans waiting for their next book, and the conclusion of whatever series they’ve been following. Larry Correia succeeds at that, publishing fairly frequently, and regularly, much like Brandon Sanderson and Howard Taylor, who are famous for such (and their happy rapport with their eager fans), and unlike the likes of George R.R. Martin, Jim Butcher, and Patrick Rothfuss, who are rather infamous for their failure to do so (and their unkind responses to their own eager fans).
Heh, and I take a personal delight in seeing traces, here and there, of the religion which I share with Correia, Sanderson, and Taylor. 🙂 Not in any preaching, moralizing way, mind you. Just… traces, which only someone who knows our religion is really going to appreciate. 😉
On a related note, in terms of content, Correia’s work, while meant for mature audiences, is very clean. It may acknowledge certain sordid details, but it does not dwell on them. Sexual scenes all happen off-screen, so to speak. Violence and bloodshed, there may be plenty of, but more in a realistic, relevant way, rather than in a gratuitous, nauseating manner. The language is generally clean as well, and the heroes actually act like upstanding people, instead of like egotistical jerks (usually).
About the only thing I have to skip over, really, is when he goes into lengthy details about the guns in Monster Hunters. I mean, I appreciate guns, I don’t dislike them, but, honestly, I’ve never been able to keep track in my head of which gun is which. My brain fails at cataloguing guns, cars, sports teams, etc. Stories, now, those, my brain will recall and organize and such! 🙂
Yeah, I’m not much a macho man, am I? 😉
In closing, I find Larry Correia’s work to be riveting, compelling, entertaining, and meaningful. He crafts good stories with lovable characters in worlds the feel real when you read about them. He works hard, and it shows, both in the quality and quantity of his work.
He is, in my book, a Master.
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