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?

A haunting by Neal Cassady (as protrayed by Thomas Jane)

I take the bus to work.

One day, going a different way, I saw a sign that said ‘Artist Studios’ with a For Rent sign underneath. There was a fleeting wondering about them but nothing more.

Today I took what I thought was this same route and remembered the signs. I started looking out the window but realized I had passed the most likely place for the studios. Again, the vague wondering of what they were like.

Then a memory hit me. Of a movie clip I had seen of Thomas Jane playing the beat writer Neal Cassady (a quick check before I started writing this showed that the movie is The Last Time I Committed Suicide).

The clip was of Cassady at his typewriter. He used butcher paper on a roll and fed it through his machine so he wouldn’t have to stop to change pages. It started me thinking of all those portrayals of New York writers, writing in the heat. A fan that just manages to move the air some, a fridge with nothing but beer. Late nights and sleeping most of the day.

And suddenly I wanted to do that. To rent one of those studios and live there during the summer. Maybe use an assumed name, make up a past. Buy a typewriter from one of the second-hand shops around there. Get old jeans and shirts. Just a small fridge and a desk fan. Maybe a cot to sleep on. Nothing I would mind if it got stolen. The idea kept returning to me throughout the day.

Just move out of my place with all of its distractions and force myself to work. To be a mad, desperate writer. Instead of the Paris cafe, the New York rundown apartment. Not the open retreat in the woods, but the small space in the city.

Whether the studios are just meant to be used as a work space during the day with no real amenities or could be used as crashpad is unknown. How long I could make the fantasy last is also unknown. Plus the lack of available funds is a detriment.

But damn if I wouldn’t want to try it, just once.

D & D and Ficcing.

Yup, Dungeons & Dragons. It’s still around and kicking.

I have podcast episodes of three games and always end up wanting to play after listening.  Despite having no one to play with.

I am close to just paying the starter set just to have it. And have the thought to use it to work up a fantasy story, possibly for NaNo this year.

Only problem is I end up going for the bad guy a lot of times. And would probably try to write from his point of view, and not really have him go good.

I suppose I can slide him toward anti-hero. And have him get the girl.

Course the real challenge is the world building. How much to steal from real life, how much to make up. What kind of names to use.

The starter set would be a good jumping off point for that. Be interesting to see what I could accomplish with it.
Give me a focus if nothing else.