There and Never, Ever Back Again: Diary of a Dark Lord. (book review)

front cover of "There and Never, Ever Back Again: Diary of a Dark Lord"

There and Never, Ever Back Again: Diary of a Dark Lord
Jeff Machs

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: FastPencil Publishing (June 18, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1499905807
ISBN-13: 978-1499905809


You know the players.
• A White Wizard, wise and caring.
• A Dark Lord, power mad and self-absorbed.
• A Chosen One, the only hope.

But what if the Wizard is making it up as he goes along? And cares for himself most of all?

The Lord is only interested in having one kingdom; and has some regard for the troops that will fight to protect that kingdom?

And the Chosen is not the Only, merely the Latest?

Welcome to Jeff Mach’s debut novel, There and Never, Ever Back Again: Diary of a Dark Lord. An old tale spun a new way.

With a looming invasion by the forces of Good, the Dark Lord fills the Chosen One in on the perpetual sarcasm of Elves, that Orcs are not so much ugly as asymmetrical, and that, perhaps, not all who dwell in the Darkness are there of their own volition.

There are no illusions of being a misunderstood ‘Hero’. The Dark Lord has worked and bled to claim that title of ‘Villain’. For the world needs villains, even if most won’t realize it.

Intercut are entries from the Chosen One’s own diary, who is learning there is much grey between Good and Evil. And how little a person is worth compared to the symbol others make of them.

If you like your fantasy neat and tidy, then I wish you a good day. But if you want to think a bit, see the view from the other side of the fence, and just maybe find the words you’ve been wishing someone would say…

May I invite you to help us steal the Sun?

Where a review of Zer0es turns into fangirling of Chuck Wendig

zer0esRelease Date: August 18, 2015

Barnes & Noble


Chance Dalton – Script kiddie who knows just enough to get himself into trouble.

DeAndre Mitchell – Black hat specializing in stolen credit card numbers.

Aleena Kattan – Hacktivist helping the cause back in the Old Country.

Reagan Stolper – Troll ruining people’s lives for the lulz.

Wade Earthman – Old time BBS operator finding the truth the American people need to know.

Hollis Copper – Fed charged with first collecting, then babysitting, the latest ‘chosen’ team.

Typhon – ??

The pitch comes as no real surprise.

Work for the government for one year, or do far more than that in prison.

Guilt, blackmail, fear, and just plain boredom guarantees all five agree to the deal.

Next stop: The Hunting Lodge.

Thrown together for no reason that they can see, the five Zer0es start the testing and assignments they need to complete to keep out of prison.

But the assignments seem to be linked in ways the team can’t see yet. And nonsensical words begin to appear across their computer screens. Speaking of dragons, giants, a ‘she’ who made the gods flee.

And one word in particular, Typhon, is giving them a bad feeling.


Chuck Wendig is the kind of author that can go the back alley way. Where things aren’t pretty, are half hidden in shadows, and more dangerous than you hoped.

His writing straps you in and doesn’t let you go til the end. It’s best if you clear those hours so you can finish the novel in one sitting. You’ll be happier if you do.

I do have to admit, Zer0es is only the second of his novels that I have read (a situation I do tend to amend) but that is enough to testify to realism of his characters and their own self realization. They accept what and who they are and run with it. Much like the man himself.

I learned about Chuck though a quote about writing.

126e3d2d96a28a8021ef8fa407e1e2d2A search found me the blog post it was taken from and I liked the guy even more. I don’t trust people who don’t know their own madness and he certainly knows and revels in his.

Next came being one of his Twitter followers and the like grew.

I managed to read his novel Blackbirds before going to see him at our local Comicon this year. I had been forwarding tweets of his to me best mate for some time, so she was more than agreeable to coming with to his panel (she has a similar appreciation for his ‘unique’ outlook). His was the only panel we even tried to make and he did not disappoint.

I knew I wanted to buy his The Kick ass Writer book at the Con and then see about getting him to sign it. We got there in time where it was just us and him for a couple of minutes. I got my book signed, then both me and her got ARCs (Advanced Reader’s Copy) for Zer0es, autographed as well. He also joined in on our collective crazy, which is not always an immediate thing for other people. And then he favorited my tweet about it.

This was meant to be just a straight up review for Zer0es, I swear. I was going to write up here, then link it to wherever. It was going to be a thank you for the unexpected gift of the book, a good turn.

But like the title says, it turned into an instance of fangirling and I am not ashamed. Chuck ain’t just a good author, he’s a great guy. Some artists you feel a connection with through the glimpses of themselves that they show you, through the effort they put forth toward you. I will forever love John Rhys-Davies for inquiring as to how I made my living as if we were at a cocktail party when I got his autograph. Stephen King and Clive Barker were the two writers I felt like I could manage such small talk with. And now Chuck as well.

So do yourself a favor, pick up Zer0es. Then go to Chuck’s blog and find the rest of his books. But be ready for the real. Cause he can’t do it any other way.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Verily, A New Hope.


William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher
Quirk Books
E-Book ISBN: 978-1-59474-655-0
ISBN: 978-1-59474-637-6
Book Dimensions: 5 ¼ x 8
Page Count: 176
Release Date: July 2, 2013


It is a period of civil war.
The spaceships of the rebels, striking swift
From base unseen, have gain’d a vict’ry o’er
The cruel Galactic Empire, now adrift.
Amidst the battle, rebel spies prevail’d
And stole the plans to a space station vast,
Whose pow’rful beams will later be unveil’d
And crush a planet: ’tis the DEATH STAR blast.
Pursu’d by agents sinister and cold,
Now Princess Leia to her home doth flee,
Deliv’ring plans and a new hope they hold:
Of bringing freedom to the galaxy.
In time so long ago begins our play,
In star-crossed galaxy far, far away.

With these words begins a familiar tale. One of a princess, a scoundrel, an evil empire led by a dark lord, and a hero who must come into his own. In words of sufficient power and imagery to do it justice.

The story of young Luke Skywalker as told by the immortal Bard, thanks to Ian Doescher.

Luke has always longed for the stars, but it takes a tragedy and the guidence of friend Ben Kenobi to set him on the path to achieve a destiny he doesn’t know is his.

Accompanied by two droids, Luke answers the call for help from Princess Leia. He meets the smuggler Han Solo and his first mate, the Wookie Chewbacca. They soon find themselves pitted against the mighty Galactic Empire and the Sith Lord, Darth Vader.

Doescher takes the dialogue you love from the movie and turns it on its iambic pentameter head.

With foreshadowing to future events, recognizable passages from Shakespeare’s better known plays, and asides from a surprising source, this book (and it’s sequels) will delight the galaxy.