Art of Fencing, Art of Life

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Book Recommendation: The Devil’s Sword, A Fencing Thriller for Your Child’s Summer

Book Recommendation: The Devil's Sword, A Fencing Thriller for Your Child's Summer

You never know where fencing connections will come from, and I just had one come out of nowhere. It’s one of those things about fencing that makes it extraordinary.

Recently I had a discussion with NYT Bestselling Author Douglas E. Richards about my newly published book, Breaking News of Tomorrow. I love Richards’s sci-fi and technothrillers, in particular, I recommend his book Wired, a great summer read for anyone looking for an engaging summer read. If you read my book, which is a technothriller/political thriller, you surely understand why Richards’ writing fascinates me so much.

We started off talking about our writing work, but then Doug brought up his son, a fencer! He spent countless hours in fencing tournaments and at his son’s fencing gym, watching his son practicing and competing. In fact, he’d been a fencer himself. Not only that, but Doug dropped into the conversation that he’d written a young adult novel about fencing.

This was one of those little revelations that just blew me away. Having read and absolutely loved about a half dozen (if not more) of his books, I was completely astonished to discover that one of my favorite writers was a seasoned fencing parent, a fencer himself, and even wrote a middle-grade thriller that involves fencing—two worlds colliding in the most wonderful way.

As soon as we got off the call, I immediately hopped online and purchased the book, The Devil’s Sword. A few days later, when it arrived, I put it to the top of my reading stack, diving in the minute it came through the door. One of my favorite things in the world is to get a new book with a premise that I can get excited about.

A fencer’s review of The Devil’s Sword by Douglas E. Richards

Here’s my spoiler-free review of The Devil’s Sword. You’ll get some basics here, and you’ll get my opinion, but the major plot points that are important for the reader are left out so that you can experience it for yourself. 

Usually, I am skeptical about books with fencing – most of them depict fencing as inaccurately as Hollywood movies depict sword-fighting scenes. In most books and films, fencing is usually just a fleeting activity, a nice addition that shows a character’s personality or gives a setting for the plot to move forward, but often it could easily be removed from the story and doesn’t have much meaning. This is frustrating beyond belief, because I always want to have more than the usual plug-it-in-character device that media has for fencing.

To my huge surprise, that was not the case with The Devil’s Sword

Doug’s personal understanding of fencing is crystal clear thanks to his vivid descriptions and accurate portrayals of the fencing world. He is a writer who obviously knows what he’s talking about. There’s no way that someone on the outside would be able to do the in-depth kind of writing that we see in this book. The meticulous attention to detail in depicting weapon checks, pools, DEs, and bouts rang true immediately to my experience. This is totally different than most of the works out there about fencing, and it was refreshing to see. It was real fencing tournament! Sometimes I even had a de ja vu – explanations of weapon check, pools, DE’s and bouts were so truthful and detailed that I caught myself thinking that this is a fantastic introduction to fencing. 

In this book, fencing is the central theme. You cannot take it out, like you cannot take out Jedi from Star Wars. The main characters are fencers at heart, and the whole plot spins out from the world of fencing. What’s more, the plot itself is woven in with the whole world of fencing in terms of the themes and metaphors. It’s unlike almost anything I’ve read. 

Three fourteen-year-old foil fencers in San Diego are invited by their coach to attend an RYC in Las Vegas, held at the highly secure Nellis Air Force base. They don’t know it, but the base is home to a top-secret military defense project. While there, a rogue faction of Black Ops agents turn the weapon into a dangerous offensive weapon called “The Devil’s Sword”. And international arms dealers are after this piece of tech with the potential threat to take down the entire country. The young fencers must use their wit, stamina, intelligence, and fencing skills to help them stop the internationally woven threat and save everyone from looming disaster. 

The plot fits well within the action/thriller category, with tons of twists and turns that are exciting but also believable. Though it’s definitely targeted at young adults, it’s well-paced and engaging enough for someone well past their teen years to enjoy. 

The RYC is actually the mechanism that allows the villains to get their foot in the door and make their play against the lead scientist. The book does a great job of integrating the real world of the fencing tournament into the action-adventure of the plot. There are excellent depictions of the fencing competition, and it’s fun to imagine how this experience would go if it were to happen at one of the real competitions we attend! Every fencer who has been to a regional competition will see themselves in the characters and events. It’s a huge plus factor to the book. In fact, the depiction of the fencing event and everything surrounding it is so accurate that for the fencers this book would feel right at home.

As the coach says at one point in the book – going to Regionals is a totally different experience! 

Especially for young adult readers, the story and writing style will keep them engaged and reading along throughout. It’s a great way for them to see themselves in a piece of literature. It’s important that they are able to find reflections of their experiences in the texts that they read – it helps them to understand their importance in the world around them. 

For your child’s summer reading, or especially as a book to take with you for the trip to Arizona for Summer Nationals, The Devil’s Sword is a fantastic book. Highly recommended! Prepare to be enthralled and transported to a world where blades clash, secrets abound, and the fate of nations hangs in the balance.

Now for the real question that we need to know – when is Doug going to be releasing the sequel? We need more great fencing-related books like this one in the world, especially since the nation’s top secret is promised to be revealed in the next RYC!

Breaking News of Tomorrow – my debut thriller launched today

Igor Chirashnya: Author of Breaking News of Tomorrow

If you read this blog consistently, you should know that I have at least three main passions that come across on these pages: fencing, education, and writing. For the last 9 years, this blog has provided me with a great platform to merge these passions into a single mission: educate as many people as I can about the great benefits of the sport of fencing via my writing.

During the pandemic, I had a daring desire to expand my writing beyond fencing and to write a novel. I had an idea, an ambition to make it happen, and, most importantly, full support from my family. And so, I did it!

My first novel, Breaking News of Tomorrow, is launched today and is available on Amazon and in your favorite Barnes and Noble bookstore. It is available in three formats: hardcover, paperback, and ebook.

Here is the novel’s blurb: 

What would you do if you knew what would happen in the world news of tomorrow?

Mike leads a quiet, unremarkable life. He is smart but lacks the charisma to rise in the ranks of his job. Tired of always being overlooked, Mike isn’t sure what to do. But all of that changes late one night, when he accidently discovers a mysterious website: Breaking News of Tomorrow.

At first, Mike assumes the website is some kind of hoax, until he realizes that it seems to know the details of a string of murders happening in his neighborhood. With Mike and his fiancé, Jenn, convinced the website may be run by the killer himself, they fear for their own safety. 

Mike soon learns that the website is much more than it seems—and Mike is not the only one paying attention. 

With Rachel Sorrow, a reporter with a reputation for cracking impossible stories, the FBI, and even the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service plotting to learn the secrets behind The Breaking News of Tomorrow, no one is safe. 

What will Mike do with the knowledge of the world’s biggest events at his fingertips the day before they happen, and when the choice is between the addiction to power or his own family, what will he choose? 

Breaking News of Tomorrow is a fast-paced, suspenseful page-turner. Packed with action, a colorful cast of characters, and philosophical questions to make you reflect on your own morals, Breaking News of Tomorrow is a debut novel you won’t be able to put down.

Today is the Launch of my book, which means that for the next 5 days, the Kindle version on Amazon is FREE! You are welcome to download it, and hopefully, you will love it so much that you will feel the urge to leave a 5-star review.

My first readers, Irina, my wife, my children, especially Daniel, and my mother-in-law, loved the book. I received tons of compliments and even a pat on the back from my mother-in-law, which I consider the highest praise for me in the last twenty years. 

However, suspecting that their judgment might be a bit biased due to their personal connection with an author, I decided to submit my book to a bunch of review sites, you know, just to get a little more sense of whether my book is a literary BS, or the opposite, a piece of irresistible art. In the following link you can find these reviews, which I am sharing with you in the act of shameless bragging, trying to convince you to make an effort and download the free Kindle version.

So, don’t wait. Go to this link and grab a free Kindle copy. You can, of course, purchase printed versions of the book if your bookshelf has a spare space or if you want me to sign it at the next competition.

And if you pay attention to the opening sentence about this novel’s debut, you will notice that I used a rather brave word combination “my first novel.” You surely know what it means. So if you want to learn more about upcoming releases of my other novels, head over to my author website and sign up for the newsletter there. Or alternatively, follow my newly minted author page on Facebook. And even better – do both! I don’t want to overuse this fencing blog with my non-fencing musings.

So I hope that if you were still on the fence about whether to download my book, you were finally convinced by those independent critics who are supposed to be good at spotting a good read.

Launching a book is like launching a startup – your success depends on customer traction and responses.

So, just click here, download the ebook, and if you enjoyed it, please leave your honest review on Amazon!

Thank you!

Fencing Book Announcement – From Cool Runnings to World Superpower: The Rise of American Fencing

Fencing Book "From Cool Runnings to World Superpower The Rise of American Fencing" by Igor Chirashnya is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats

Breathtaking. Unexpected. Deserved.

Any and all of us who have been in and around American fencing for the last few decades know that where we are today is almost unrecognizable from where we were thirty years ago.

This journey inspired me to write a book about it –  From Cool Runnings to World Superpower: The Rise of American Fencing. Which goes on sale on June 14th, 2019!

The story of how America rose to the top is one that is as exciting as anything you’ll read about in sports. It’s intertwined with global politics, because we discover that America became home to some of the greatest fencing talent in the world thanks to the end of the Cold War. That talent, coupled with the incredible innovation that is the hallmark of the American ideal, has come together to create a story that it’s impossible to put down.

What happened with American fencers is the kind of transformation that you see in movies. In fact, it made me think of a classic Olympic film, Cool Runnings. You know the one, it’s the very fictionalized account of the real events that led to the first Jamaican bobsled team. U.S. fencers at one time were almost as much of a longshot as the bobsledders from the Caribbean, though without the comedy we see in the movie.

The Rise of American Fencing [Book Announcement]

The Rise of American Fencing Book

American fencing is on a winning streak. You can feel it when you watch our top fencers vie for the top medals at worldwide competitions and win. That’s happening more and more every year, enough to call it more than a fluke, more than a lucky athlete here and there who made it to the top of an international podium. What we’re seeing is a swell of American fencing talent that’s been built over decades, in fits and starts but always with a trend towards a greater goal.

You only have to look at the Olympic medal counts that start at zero for broad decades in the early Twentieth Century, then trickle in with a podium here and there, then flood the stage starting with women’s sabre in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The changes over the last two decades from zero to quasi-hero are really impossible to miss!

It doesn’t matter if you follow epee, foil, or sabre, you can rest assured that there are American fencers of both genders pushing the boundaries against the fencing powerhouses of Europe, Asia, and the former Soviet bloc. If you’re reading this, then I’m probably not telling you anything new. You know that American fencing has been moving forward at a breakneck pace in the last twenty years. It might seem as though that’s a meteoric rise, however it’s anything but. American fencing has been building this ladder for a long time.

Fencing Summer Nationals Made Easy: Everything you need to know in one eBook

Fencing Summer Nationals and NACs guide - 3D coverWith Fencing Summer Nationals quickly approaching, we know that some of you first-time attendees (fencers and parents) have questions and concerns about how to prepare, what to expect, and what to do once you’re there. New fencers often get nervous and their parents get stressed from the uncertainty. With the number of fencers and the size of the competition, Summer Nationals and North American Cups (NACs) can be overwhelming—but are also overwhelmingly FUN!

We want you to be able to focus on enjoying the event and fencing your best. To that end, we’ve written an eBook that compiles the information that we’ve shared with first-time parents over the last couple of years. We tend to get the same questions from different parents, and we know that a little knowledge can go a long way in calming the anxiety and setting yourself up for a fun competition.

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