Hey, folks, and welcome to another edition of You Should Read This. Today, I’m going to be talking about a special book, Rise of the Spider Goddess, by Jim C. Hines.
First, a bit about the author. Jim C. Hines’s first book, Goblin Quest, was published about ten years ago. Since then, he’s completed three fantasy series – the Jig the Goblin series, the Princess Series, and most recently, the Libriomancer series. He’s a pretty funny author, and he tends to put some interesting spins on simple concepts. His Jig the Goblin books look at your standard fantasy setting through the eyes of one of the most pathetic of all possible characters. The Princess series crosses Disney princesses with Charlie’s Angels. And the Libriomancer books are basically, “what if you could magically pull stuff out of books?”
But before all that – ten years before, to be exact – Hines wrote Rise of the Spider Goddess.
I can honestly say that this book is probably one of the worst things I’ve ever read. I’m not kidding. It’s not just bad in terms of plot, character, and setting – it’s bad on a purely mechanical level. This is bad.
So you must be wondering why I’m recommending you guys read it, rather than ripping it apart.
Put simply, I don’t have to – Hines has already done it for me.
Some of you may have noticed the full title of the book, but for those who haven’t, it’s The Prosekiller Chronicles: Rise of the Spider Goddess: An Annotated Novel. Yes, that’s right – it has two colons. You know it’s going to be good. If you need more, here’s the summary from its Amazon.com page:
In 2006, DAW Books published Jim C. Hines’ debut novel Goblin Quest. But before Jig the goblin, before fairy tale princesses and magic librarians and spunky fire-spiders, there was Nakor the Purple, an elf who wanted nothing more than to stand around watching lovingly overdescribed sunrises with his pet owl Flame, who might actually be a falcon, depending on which chapter you’re reading.
This is Nakor’s story, written in 1995 and never before shared with the world. (For reasons that will soon be painfully clear.) Together with an angsty vampire, a pair of pixies, and a feisty young thief, Nakor must find a way to stop an Ancient Evil before she destroys the world. (Though, considering the relatively shallow worldbuilding, it’s not like there’s much to destroy…)
With more than 5000 words of bonus annotation and smart-ass commentary, this is a book that proves every author had to start somewhere, and most of the time, that place wasn’t very pretty.
Here’s the background – way back in the mid-1990s, Hines was in his second year of college, and decided to write a novel (I believe it may have been for NaNoWriMo, but I can’t find anything to back that up). He made the brilliant decision to make it a follow-up to a D&D campaign he’d played, with his character as the star. So he was already near rock-bottom, and then he decided to dig.
Luckily for Hines, he got better as a writer, and put this mess of a book behind him.
Then, as part of a fundraiser, he agreed to read a selection from the book, while dressed as the character. Apparently enough people found it amusing that Hines decided to go back through the original manuscript, add a bit of commentary, and release it for all the world to see.
But I’m not recommending this book solely for entertainment purposes. This is also a great thing for aspiring writers (like, say, me). It can be hard sometimes – you finish a story, thinking its great, but then you come back later, and all you can see are the flaws. And then all you can think is, ‘my god, I suck so much at this, why do I even bother?’
For those kinds of people, reading Rise of the Spider Goddess offers a huge confidence boost. After all, if the guy who wrote this pile of crap could write a dozen good books, then there’s hope for us all.