Serious Inroad on the Fifteen Minutes

The SF Signal guys have a new Mind Meld feature up, asking a bunch of writers, “Which Authors and Books Have Most Influenced Your Writing?”… and for some reason they asked me. Odd to see my byline in there with Lois Bujold, Joe Haldeman and others.

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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13 Responses to Serious Inroad on the Fifteen Minutes

  1. bondo_ba says:

    Not that odd – your writing is excellent!

  2. al_zorra says:

    Why not? Just like them you turn out solidly, dependably high quality work regularly.

    Love, Cl

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, how did you get on that list? (Hey, somebody needs to be a contrarian, otherwise you’ll end up wearing a black berret and smoking cigarellos in all-night coffee shops.) But you handled the question well enough. I would have a very hard time answering it. I have no idea how what I’ve read has affected what I write. Heck, the only reason I know what my writing style is is because others have told me.

    –Jeff Stehman

    • JE says:

      It may be that they’ve mistaken me for someone else on Pyr’s list.

      It was a tough one to write–I drafted what I thought was a short response, which ran to several pages and included at least a dozen writers. Then I went to a previous Mind Meld and found the average response-length there (between 370 and 380 words), and I chopped my response down with Procrustean savagery until it fit that narrow bed. I was sorry to suppress my wise and witty remarks about Zelazny and Ovid, though–I guess I’ll have to save them for the coffeeshop (or a future post).

  4. Anonymous says:

    Orlando Furioso’s predecessor poem

    I was wondering if you had ever read the epic poem Orlando Innamorato. It was written by Matteo Maria Boiardo, but he died before he was able to finish the poem.

    Ariosto picked up the disparate plot threads and continued to tell the tale to its finish.

    The poem has now been translated fully into English by Charles Stanley Ross and it is amazing in its complexity and scope just as its more famous sequel.

    • JE says:

      Re: Orlando Furioso’s predecessor poem

      I have read Orlando Innamorato, and I do like it–there’s a lot of cool stuff in it. Especially characters: Astolfo, the English duke, has a great plot-line in the Innamorato, and Rodomonte (the “mountain-chewing” bombastic villain) makes his first appearance there.

      I do have to say, though, that I think Ariosto’s sequel is better in almost every way. The moving stuff is more moving, the funny stuff is funnier, the tales are interwoven more skilfully and are generally better told.

      On the other hand, some stuff in the Furioso doesn’t have full impact if one doesn’t know about the forgoing tradition of Carolingian romance. Orlando and Rinaldo are both engaged in plotlines that go against how they are traditionally represented in the mythos, and I thought Aristo’s handling of them was all the cooler once I realized this.

      • Anonymous says:


        I’m glad to hear that you have read Orlando Innamorato as well. I have encountered few people who have read either poem and even fewer who have read both of them. I read Boiardo’s poem after having finished Ariosto’s and then started to understand some of the incredible backstory involved in the epic tale.

        I also prefer Orlando Furioso, and my favorite storyline in its complex tapestry of plotlines is the love story of Bradamante and Ruggiero.

        As for Orlando, his story wasn’t one that I cared much about even though he is the titular hero of both poems. It has to do with my antipathy toward the character of Angelica in which he, Rinaldo, Astolfo, and all the other men were obsessed. I do not identify with Aphrodite’s archetype and therefore I find characters like Angelica to be unsympathetic.

        Salman Rushdie was inspired by both those poems in his latest novel The Enchantress of Florence. The problem I had with that book was similar because people were swooning and losing their minds over one woman’s beauty. I just cannot relate to that.

        Instead, as I read Orlando Furioso I found myself being drawn most to the character of Bradamante because she is more in keeping with the archetype of Athena.

        I love that Bradamante was the one to receive the call to adventure and not Ruggiero, and she went to rescue him. That type of feminist storyline was far ahead of its time.

        • JE says:

          Re: Bradamante

          These Renaissance epics–it’s hard to stop with just one!

          I read Pulci’s Morgante, too. It meanders a lot, but there are some good things in it. Still, Ariosto leads the pack.

          I agree with you about Bradamate–I like Marfisa also.

          Have read read any of the French epics from the Carolingian mythos? I’ve only read The Song of Roland (and that only in translation). I keep thinking there must be some cool stuff in that tradition that I’m missing.

          • Anonymous says:


            I read Chanson de Roland n translation as well because my comprehension of French is rudimentary. It is far more famous than Orlando Furioso but I found it to be a disappointment. It was equivalent to one small plot thread from Ariosto or Boiardo. Just not as satisfying as leaving it at a cliffhanger and then going off to another bold adventure already in progress.

            I haven’t read Morgante but did read the Les Quatre Fils de Aymon (The Four Sons of Aymon which features Rinaldo as an antagonist to Charlemagne. Bayardo can also expand to accomodate all four brothers on his back. That’s a cool horse trick.

            I found that online somewhere, and it doesn’t take long to read.

            You might enjoy reading a short translation from the Old English of an obscure poem called The Tale of Charlemagne and Ralph the Collier. My friend Jeff Sypeck put his translation online last year as an early Christmas present to medievalists.

            You can find a link to the PDF file here:


            Then yesterday I just got in the mail my copy of a new book called The Legend of Charlemagne in the Middle Ages edited by Matthew Gabriele and Jace Stuckey. I’m sure that I will discover other titles there to explore.



          • Anonymous says:



            I love Marfisa as well. She is my second favorite female character in the series.

            I think that my favorite villain is Mandricardo. He is so full of himself.

          • JE says:

            Re: bradamante3

            Mandricardo is a really good bad guy: Narcissus in plate armor.

            My favorite antagonist figure (he sort of is and isn’t a villain) is Atlante. He really just wants what he thinks is best for Ruggiero. That’s precisely why he’s an obstacle.

            Thanks for the link to the Four Sons of Aymon translation!

            [edited for spelling, and to add:]

            Did you see that Wikimedia Commons has a bunch of DorĂ©’s illustrations of the Furioso? Some cool images there.

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