Culture Worm Reviews ‘Chronicle of the Underworld’

The afterlife is not what you might have been raised to think. Heaven and Hell are not forces of good and evil. Death is not the soul-hungry Grim Reaper of classic lore. For the lucky few newlydead who must learn the real truth, a stalwart archanaeist wrote The Chronicle of the Underworld (with a little help from Malavestros).

Many a mourner has added this handy universe guidebook to their ghoulish collection, including Jordan T. Brantley, both a new Court of the Dead fan and avid book reviewer. Jordan published a thorough review on both Amazon and his blog, The Culture Worm. Read his review here.

When someone takes the time to explore the world of the Court of the Dead, and especially when they take action, we love to reach out and get to know the spirit behind the manifestation. Read on for an exclusive interview with Culture Worm, and get a peek into his world and his process…

When did your passion for writing begin?

I started taking writing seriously in my sophomore year in college after an agonizing course in statistics nearly torpedoed my G.P.A. I realized my previous ambition of entering the business field wasn’t for me and turned to my lifelong love of books to pursue a career in English Literature.

However, looking back, I realized that my knack for writing emerged all the way back in the first grade! When we were assigned to write a story for class, I took to the task with great enthusiasm and actually received applause when I presented it! The same thing occurred when I was made to write an essay by my parents for misbehaving. (They didn’t use that punishment after that.) During that time, I actually wrote and illustrated a small novel on my own and shared it with my teachers!

Believe or not, I think it is still around, stuck in a box in the attic. I dearly hope to retrieve it one day.

Who’s your favorite Court of the Dead character and why? 

Demithyle, The Exalted Reaper General. The Court of the Dead’s appeal can be found in its wide variety of characters and factions but also how Death reigns above them all. Most of the characters seem to do their own thing in the Underworld and Demithyle seems to be an exception to that rule. It is stated right on his character page that while he serves Bone, The Lord Supreme commands his ultimate loyalty. That is something rarely encountered in most other forms of factionalized fiction such as Warcraft. Mixed loyalties perhaps, but not one where one of the characters openly states that his ultimate loyalty is not to his faction.

Is writing something you’d want to pursue full-time, or would you like to keep it as a hobby?

My lifelong dream is to be a full-time writer, more specifically, a novelist. That will take a lot of work though. What I’d love to do in the meantime is work for a gaming company, specifically as a writer of the lore, if that is an extant department.

One of my hobbies is reading lore and stories about games that I lack the time and money to play. There are always so many stories.

How long have you been writing reviews?

I wrote my first Amazon review in 2010 and every now and then after then. I started writing reviews seriously in 2013 and the ‘Bookworm Speaks!’ persona debuted on Sep 17th, 2013 with the review of Star Trek Voyager: Endgame. Ever since I have been writing reviews at least once a week. Most of them are about books and comics but occasionally I write about movies, tv episodes, video games, and live theatrical productions. Books remain my standard though.

I have sadly been forced to put my review writing on hiatus as I have recently acquired both full-time employment and a renewed focus on producing original work. I simply do not have as much time as I did when I was only partly employed.

I still find myself mentally preparing reviews of books as I read them. I have also become more aware of how much a thorough review can mean to my fellow creators. I plan to restart my reviews sometime in the near future.

All your reviews are very thorough. How long does the process take from brainstorming to publishing the final piece?

I am constantly brainstorming critique while I am reading the material. Sometimes I keep a notebook nearby to jot down thoughts in between chapters. I then transcribe my thoughts into a document. I used to divide my reviews into Good and Flaws sections but soon realized that I preferred a more organic approach to my reviews. The Good and Flaws standard still remained, but I tried to start out my reviews with the positive aspects of the work, even if it is a book or comic I did not care for.

The Flaws section is a bit trickier, especially if it was a work I didn’t like. I have to be careful to remain a professional critic, not an internet hater.

I actually received a piece of mail from a disgruntled author whose book I reviewed expressing their disappointment with my format. This led me to make some needed changes. Still, if a find a book that is poorly written or find I simply don’t care for it, I don’t hesitate to let my feelings be known.

It’s a personal rule that I make my reviews no shorter than 500 words and no longer than a thousand. Most internet browsers don’t have time to read a multipage review, so I try to keep it concise. I also try to remain focused on the book itself and not go off onto philosophical tangents. It is a book review, not a book report.

It actually does not take me very long. I am usually able to complete a review in a few hours during the morning. It does require some thinking though.

If you were to see a one-off comic of any CotD character, which one would it be and why?

Again, probably Demithyle. His extremely loyalty to Death and the friction it creates with the Bone Faction is an area with rich opportunities for storytelling. The differences he feels with both Xiall and Mortighull, his superior and his successor respectively is a conflict I feel may rear its ugly head before too long. His absolute loyalty to the Alltaker does not appear to be in line with the goals of the Osteomancer, who appears as one of the more capricious of Death’s creations. She may decide to take care of Demithyle

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Whether you’re a seasoned writer, a long-time fan, or just getting into the world, the Court of the Dead: Chronicle of the Underworld is a perfect addition to any mourner’s library.

Read, Conquer, Rule!