On My Shelves: Prince of Bryanae



Prince of Bryanae is a self-published novel that does everything right. It starts by having a fast-moving, well-written story as its core and reason for being, but in addition the author, Jeff Getzin, has gone those extra miles that, sadly, few self-published authors seem to realize are necessary; he has obviously had professionals provide him with editing and layout as well as a well-done cover painting, and the result is a fully professional novel that can sit proudly next to anything the big houses produce.


     I will admit that I have a personal connection to this novel – which I will detail at the end – but I also wouldn't have FINISHED the novel had it not been able to stand on its own. I won't review material or provide blurbs for it unless I actually enjoy what I'm given.


     Prince of Bryanae is the story of Captain Willow, a nigh-immortal elven warrior in the almost completely human kingdom of Bryanae. Hardened and aloof, Willow has found her niche and seems content, if not happy, to live out her extremely long life as a fixture in the military of Bryanae.


     But in a swift series of shocking events, she goes from the half-legendary warrior leader to a disgraced and hunted woman, confused and frightened yet determined to carry out the one duty she cannot relinquish: to rescue the Prince who was kidnapped before her very eyes.


     To do this, she will have to confront horrors that she had hidden from herself – walled off within the innermost core of her mind – and travel to the now-occupied homeland of the Elves, and survive long enough to find the Prince… and discover some way to rescue him from within the greatest stronghold of his enemies… and hers.


     As a personal experience, I would consider reading Prince of Bryanae as similar to seeing The Dark Knight; this novel rode the very line of my tolerance for darkness. I am glad I read it, it was a worthy experience, and I will likely never read it again. Jeff Getzin pulls no punches and follows the dictum of "never make it easy for your character" to the extreme. Willow suffers setback after setback, and horrific events – both in the present and revealed in her past – are almost common. It is, quite literally, not until the last few chapters that it seems she has any chance of success at all, and not until the last chapter will she get true relief.


     But that is my personal taste. Those who prefer a harder, grittier, darker edge to their fantasy will find Prince of Bryanae a very worthy novel indeed. Oh, there are some minor nits to pick – some names might have been chosen better, some concepts or portions of the world might have been explained more fully (perhaps a gazetteer might be added, Jeff?), but the story MOVES in a way few novels manage, taking you at a breakneck pace straight into Willow's personal hell and back with scarcely a moment for the reader to catch their breath, let alone poor Willow and her companions – or adversaries, for that matter.


     Finally, a reveal of my personal interest in this novel: the author, Jeffrey Getzin, was the GM in the campaign for which I created and ran Kyrie Ross, the character who became Kyri Vantage, one of the main characters in my own novel Phoenix Rising. Many of the basic features of her background and character were defined in that campaign, which took place back in my early days in Pittsburgh. Jeff was also a player in my Zarathan campaign, and created the unforgettable, incomparable swashbuckling character D'Arbignal, swordsman and rogue. As a major part of D'Arbignal's background, I created for Jeff the distant island country of Bryanae and its major players.


     I gave Bryanae to Jeff when he left the campaign; it seemed right to do so, because even that whole country, which had grown more detailed in my mind as the campaign went on, still felt as though it belonged, not merely to Jeff, but to D'Arbignal himself, an inextricable part and parcel of that character's background. I was very pleased to see that Bryanae has continued to live and grow… and to see certain references that have meaning to me, personally, in that world.


     Well done, Jeff!


  1. Geoffrey Kidd says:

    One negative note: Prince of Brynae for the Nook is DRM-infested. I hope Mr. Getzin had nothing to do with that.

    • I did, but perhaps I didn’t understand the full implications of the decision. What is it you’d want to do with the book that DRM prevents? Perhaps I can “un-DRM” it if there’s a good case to be made for doing so.

      • I don’t know his reasons, but a lot of people dislike DRM because it prevents you from using the file in whatever way you want. It assumes you’re a criminal and must be locked into a particular format and particular use case, rather than assuming that you’ll use what you bought fairly.

        This distaste is very widespread and has had a significant effect; that’s the reason that Apple’s iTunes no longer uses DRM, and why it’s becoming very rare on any music site.

        My publisher does not use DRM on any of their books; Tor and another of the Big publishers (Daw?) just dropped DRM. I expect to see DRM gone from pretty much everything within the next 10 years.

        • Interesting. I wasn’t aware the reaction to it was so negative. I’m not sure why it should be—if you buy a DRM-protected title for your Kindle, won’t it work on your Kindle transparently? I guess it could cause problems if they try to transcode it to another format, but why would they want to?

          In any case, I’ll look into what’s involved in dropping DRM from my titles.

          • Many people don’t read them ON a Kindle. They may put them on their computer, or on another reader, and have reason to change the format. Also, Amazon’s demonstrated ability to say “wait! NO BOOK FOR YOU!” caused *many* people to want to remove the books from Amazon’s reach after they’ve been bought, which generally means no DRM.

          • “won’t it work on your Kindle transparently?”
            Yes, it will work on my Kindle transparently. Emphasis on “my Kindle.” I can’t read your book on my brother’s Kindle because it is on a different account. I can’t read it on my little netbook on a plane at 30K feet because there is no Kindle application for Linux and I don’t have network access for Amazon’s cloud reader. Thirty years from now when Amazon is gone (assuming) and my Kindle breaks (also assuming) then I can’t read your book AT ALL.

        • Geofrey Kidd says:

          DRM is a bad business decision in many ways.

          First, it locks the buyer into a particular reader or platform. The Kindle format, for example, is transparent ONLY on kindles. If I want to read such on the Nook, or in my iPhone with Stanza or MegaReader, or switch to an Android and Aldiko, it’s opaque. There is a kindle app for the phones, but it’s pretty poor at displaying books in a way *I* am comfortable with. Same story for the Nook. The Nook app is ugly, and, of course, you can’t read DRM-infested Nook books on the Kindle or Stanza or Aldiko.

          Second, if your platform provider quits, you lose the books. There are some fifty-odd books I bought at Fictionwise which, when the agreement with the provider lapsed, became un-downloadable. They were, in effect, ripped from my bookshelf by somebody ELSE’s decision.

          Third, DRM is a direct insult to the honest customer. Encountering it is like walking into a store and having the manager walk up to you, slap you across the face, and scream “You’re a goddamn thief and I’m going to stop you before you can start!” You can be sure his next, unctiously polite “May I help you find something, sir?”, rings just a tad hollow.

          I still bought the book, BTW, and if you google for “Apprentice Alf Tools 5.1” you’ll understand why I was willing to buy it despite the DRM. 🙂

          It’s in Stanza even as I speak, and I’m looking forward to getting around to it.

  2. That’s certainly a good point. I know they only did that “NO BOOK FOR YOU!” thing once, but it did prove the point that they *could* do it, and certainly could do it again.

    • Yes, and that’s really one of the key points. It’s not that Amazon DOES do that often (only the once that I know of) or that, even, most of us think they’re LIKELY to. It’s that they SHOULDN’T have that ability; I BOUGHT the book, they shouldn’t have any more power to come and take it back than Barnes and Noble has to break into my house and take back my books. A Non-DRM version allows me to put it in a library of books that no one can take away.

      Yes, some rude people will (not may, undoubtedly WILL) take your book and torrent it. They’ve done it to all of mine, too. But unless they’re charging money, eh, it’s no big deal, and may end up increasing your name recognition and market in the long run. The enemy of an author is not the pirate, unless the author in question is J.K. Rowling; the enemy of the author is obscurity, the fact that 99% of the people who would love your books haven’t heard of you or your books.

      • Good point. I make a point of paying for every in-valid-copyright book I have. Though I grumble about older works that *should* be out of copyright and aren’t thanks to the massive extensions of copyright that Disney et al have lobbied into being. And I’ll sometimes pay for something legally available free if I can ensure that the money goes to the author. Or in the case of Baen’s Free Library, buy all the author’s other works at full price if I liked the free sample.

        That being said, I’ll remove DRM from every item I can just so I *do* have access over time. There are a lot of things I like about Amazon, but their DRM is not one of them. I wish all publishers had Baen’s attitude (and their pricing).

        Just bought _Prince of Brynae_ for my Kindle, BTW.

        • Thanks, Dana. I hope you like it!

          I would prefer that my books be purchased instead of stolen, but frankly, I’d prefer them to be stolen over not being read at all. I write to be read, and while it’d be nice to get paid for my work, it’s more important to me that my books find readers who will love them.

  3. Weird. I can’t find anything on the product page that suggests it even HAS DRM. Can you tell me where to look?

    • I actually can’t say myself. I know that Amazon tends to default to its own format, which is DRM’d. Since I don’t own any Ebook reader I have no way of telling for sure.

    • Geoffrey Kidd says:

      There was no indication on the page at B&N. I discovered it only after downloading it and discovering I’d have to jailbreak it to get it into MegaReader. To my surprise, the Kindle edition isn’t DRM-infested. The reason I say this is Amazon lists it as “text to speech: enabled” which is a sign of DRM-free source.

  4. Oh, he was saying it was for the NOOK version. I’ll have to check that out. I’ve been playing with Nook formatting recently because of my upcoming new release, so I can take a peek at PoB, too.

  5. Drat. B&N says that once it’s DRM-encrypted, you can’t change it for that title. However, I’ll be sure to release future titles without DRM.

  6. Just bought the e-book based on Ryk’s recommendation. Looking forward to an interesting read.

Your comments or questions welcomed!