The year was 1997, and I had just logged on to the internet. After a few months of cruising around and checking things out, I came up with some big plans. I'd always wanted to be an entertainment writer and own a bookstore, and the internet put those possibilities in front of me.
On the World Wide Web, I could reach an audience that would appreciate my reviews of heavy metal music and fantasy books like the readers of the newspaper that I was writing for at the time never would. Associates programs gave me the opportunity to have a book and music store without a lot of the hassle of actually running a book and music store. It was the perfect storm, so I thought.
That led to the launch of two sites on the old members.aol.com servers, The Hall of the Mountain King (viewable via the Internet Archive), which served as landing page and music site, and The Bookwyrm (also viewable via the Internet Archive), which housed my book content. In my mind, these two sites would eventually become go-to hubs for content on fantasy fiction and heavy metal. As you can see, that didn't work out quite as I'd planned.
The sites went through many iterations and redesigns. The ones in the Internet Archive links are among the better of the earliest designs. I'm secretly glad that none of the 1997 versions of the page (with even wilder graphics and midi music on every page) are archived. After a strong start, they languished when I didn't get the results I'd hoped for, and I maintained them in fits and starts over the years.
Around 2005, I decided to enter the world of blogging. If you dig back far enough, you'll find some of my early rants, some posts about the New Orleans Saints that don't really fit on the blog now and other things as I experimented with this new format. Eventually, the old AOL servers were taken down, and I realized that I could use this blog for my reviews (and it was much easier than maintaining the AOL pages). After a few years of jumbling everything together, I decided to split books and music again in 2010. What was once The Bookwyrm became The Royal Library (a tongue-in-cheek play on the Hall of the Mountain King name), and my music review site (which is pretty much defunct at this point) once again became the Hall of the Mountain King.
I plan to celebrate 20 years quietly, as befits the stature of the blog, with a few unplanned and informal posts, beginning with the top 10 viewed articles on this blog.
Though I long ago gave up my big dreams for what my site could become, 2016 was the most successful year in the history of the blog. The fact that eight of the 10 posts below come from 2016 is testament to that. (Interestingly, a couple of the top 10 books are ones that I didn't particularly like.) Long-time reigning page views champ "Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life" was finally knocked off by Mark Lawrence's "Wheel of Osheim" and later surpassed by several others.
I owe much of that success to Lawrence and the authors of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off. Though I am not one of the voting blogs, I've followed the contest with interest, reviewed a number of the finalists and found some excellent reads. Those authors have also been kind enough to share my reviews with their fans, leading them to discover this page. I hope, in return, that I've sent at least a few readers their way. I'll end my long-winded blather with many thanks to those good people and get on with the list:
10. "The Walking Dead: Compendium One." Published January 13, 2016.
9. "What Remains of Heroes," by David Benem. Published September 22, 2015.
8. "The Path of Flames," by Phil Tucker. Published September 19, 2016.
7. "Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life," by Barnaby Conrad and Monty Schulz. Originally published December 29, 2002.
6. "The Ballad of Black Tom," by Victor LaValle. Published August 3, 2016.
5. "She Who Waits," by Daniel Polansky. Published May 2, 2016.
4. "Sorcerer to the Crown," by Zen Cho. Published March 24, 2016.
3. "The Fireman," by Joe Hill. Published September 8, 2016.
2. "The Daylight War," by Peter V. Brett. Published June 10, 2016.
1. No surprise here if you read my long-winded intro. "The Wheel of Osheim," by Mark Lawrence. Published July 28, 2016.
There you have it. For anyone who is a regular reader, thanks for stopping by again, and if you're new, I hope that you can find something within these pages that interests you. Now, back to reading.