Meet the Staff

Stephan
Owner and writer
Location: The Netherlands
Brief Bio: A 25 year-old Communications student, Stephan loves publicity and design, particularly web design. When he’s not designing websites, he’s busy being a total geek for fantasy. In The Ranting Dragon, he has found a way to combine these passions and discover a new love for writing too. Most of all, though, Stephan is just a crazy Dutch guy who enjoys doing things that people don’t expect. He has a lot of bad habits, the least of which is going to bed at 5 AM night after night because he enjoys talking to his American fellow reviewers.
What he finds important in a novel: A believable, well-conceived world and magic system, fleshed out characters who feel like individuals, an original premise.
Favorite Fantasy Authors: Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Brent Weeks, Stephen Deas, Peter V. Brett and Robert Jordan.
Favorite Fantasy Sub-Genres: Epic, Dark, Heroic, Science and Postmodern Fantasy, as well as some Steampunk every now and then.
Read all Stephan’s articles and reviews.
Becky
Editor and guest reviewer
Location: Utah, USA
Brief Bio: Becky, a 24-year-old from Arizona, is a born bibliophile and wordsmith. She began “reading” books out loud at 1 ½ years old, and was really reading and writing by the age of 3. By age 12, she knew she wanted to be an author. Since high school, she has been the go-to girl for all her friends’ essay editing needs. When Becky isn’t busy working or editing articles for RD, she enjoys reading and writing fantasy and occasionally science fiction. She also occasionally plays video games. She currently works providing relay calls for deaf and hard of hearing people. She lives with her husband and shiba inu in an apartment near Salt Lake City. Becky is currently reading the Wheel of Time series.
What she finds important in a novel: Becky isn’t usually a picky reader. She’ll lose interest in a book if too many factors are weak, but as long as the overall product is strong, individual factors don’t matter as much.
Favorite Fantasy Authors: Becky’s ultimate favorite author is Brandon Sanderson. She also quite likes Timothy Zahn, Jane Lindskold, Tamora Pierce, Sharon Shinn, and Shanna Swendson.
Favorite Fantasy Sub-Genres: Becky enjoys many sub-genres, including epic or high fantasy, low fantasy, magic realism, mythic, sword and sorcery, heroic fantasy, adventure, science fantasy, and young adult.
Read Becky’s article.
Benni
Staff writer
Location: California, USA
Brief Bio: Benni was born in a theater playing Star Wars, and has loved science fiction and fantasy ever since. She did go through a non-fiction phase, but now that her 50-70-hour/week job keeps her plenty occupied with non-fiction, she escapes when she can into the world of fantasy, while her husband Dan edits reviews and articles on this site.
What she finds important in a novel: Though clinically cleared of ADHD, Benni requires constant engagement, whether through good pacing, character development, or world-building. And while she would like to believe that she has more discerning taste than a child, she considers herself otherwise a good measure of whether a book will hold a child’s attention and do well if the movie rights are sold.
Favorite Fantasy Authors: George R.R. Martin, N.K. Jemisin
Favorite Fantasy Sub-Genres: All of them, as well as literary fiction with speculative slants.
Read all of Benni’s reviews.
Caitrin
Staff writer
Location: Nevada, USA
Brief Bio: Caitrin is a geek and proud of it. She is a huge fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly and the various Stargate incarnations. In her free time she reads books of all genres. You can find her leaving the library with at least 5 books at any given time. For 2011, she spent hours coming up with a reading list of books she wanted to read but never had the time to before. A big fan of fantasy and YA, she also enjoys science fiction, mystery/thriller and urban fantasy. She loves to play card games, board games, RPSs and MMORPGs. Her favorites include gin rummy, DragonAge: Origins, Fable, Monopoly and World of Warcraft among many, many others. Music is as essential as air, and, as with books, she likes a variety. From oldies to rock, country to hip-hop, pop to christian, she loves it all.
What she finds important in a novel: Characters, setting, writing style, pacing, and world-building OR strong, fleshed out characters, main and minor, with motivations, strengths, weaknesses, and a character arc. Well-crafted world-building that has a sense of history, depth and the little details that make a world believable. Pacing that isn’t slow or rushed with a fulfilling ending.
Favorite Authors:
Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Jacqueline Carey, Juliet Marillier, JK Rowling, Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Karen Marie Moning and Rick Riordan.
Favorite Fantasy Sub-Genres: Epic fantasy, Low fantasy, Mythic, Paranormal, Swords and Sorcery, Heroic Fantasy, Adventure, Young Adult
Read all of Caitrin’s articles and reviews.
Dan
Staff editor
Location: California, USA
Brief Bio: Dan’s primary occupation is being Benni’s husband. He loves both fantasy and science fiction, and longs for the day when readers and writers of both genres come together in peace and love under the heading of “speculative fiction.”
What he finds important in a novel: Dan hates authorial projection. Nearly anything else is fair game.
Favorite Fantasy Authors: Dan’s intro to fantasy proper came from Terry Brooks and Weis & Hickman. Other favorite authors include Alan Moore, H.P. Lovecraft, Orson Scott Card, and Ursula Le Guin.
Favorite Fantasy Sub-Genres: Dan will give most anything a try. He’s an eclectic kind of guy.
James
Staff writer
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Brief Bio: James is 20 years old and has been described as many things in life – pop music lover, book nerd, movie geek, cookie nommer, bookshelf filler, tortured writer, tech dork, television watcher, webcomic addict, fierce supermodel, crazy cat lady, musical fanatic, a loyal Hufflepuff, GLEEk to the Nth degree, pizza eater, future librarian, a horrible procrastinator, Poké-freak, eyeglass wearer, a lover of the arts, and a zombie unicorn that sparkles in the night (well, actually that might’ve just been once). He prefers to describe himself as “a man of odd enthusiasms.”
What he find important in a novel: Diverse, believable characters, an interesting and well thought out setting, sophisticated writing, a decent amount of suspense, a lot of foreshadowing, a great story and a bit of humor.
Favorite Fantasy Authors: Brandon Sanderson, Sharon Shinn, J.K. Rowling, Mercedes Lackey, Jonathan Stroud, Robert Jordan, Ursula K. Le Guin
Favorite Fantasy Sub-Genres: Epic Fantasy, Urban fantasy, Superhero stories, Old-fashioned Sword and Sorcery, Heroic Fantasy, Adventure, and Young Adult (yes, it’s a genre).
Read all of James’ articles and reviews.
Julia
Editor and guest reviewer
Location: Somewhere in Northern Ontario
Brief Bio: Julia grew up reading anything and everything she could get her hands on, eventually stumbling upon The Wheel of Time, thus solidifying her fate as a life-long fantasy nerd. Recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Julia enjoys long winded discussions about the state of the world and feminist politics. Her favourite things (in no particular order) are cats, ABBA, wine and laughing so hard her insides hurt. If Julia could have any career in the world, she would be an astronaut. However, since she has terrible eyesight and little motivation to become physically fit, she is setting her sights on an entry level position pretty much anywhere. In her spare time (when she’s not reading or working on RD stuff), Julia watches terrible TV shows, goes hiking, sits on couches in trendy coffee shops and listens to music much too loudly.
Favorite Fantasy Authors: Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, Scott Lynch
Favorite Fantasy Sub-Genres: High/epic fantasy, adventure
What she finds important in a novel: Creative and thoughtful worldbuilding; intricate plots and political intrigue; strong, believable female characters; and a little bit of humour.
Read all of Julia’s reviews.
Marnie
Editor and guest reviewer
Location: Neverland
Brief Bio: Marnie is quite a silly person, with a head full of dreams and impossible imaginings. She has an almost unhealthy love for her hair and spends far too much time brushing it and even talking to it on occasion. Marnie spends most of her time braving the treacherous passages of Barnes and Noble, cursing those who can’t seem to put books back on the shelves and mocking the fools who try to use a Borders gift card to pay for their purchases. If she ever obtains the gift of flight, she plans to take off immediately for the second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.
Favorite Fantasy Authors: Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, William Goldman, Scott Lynch, John Connolly, Frank Beddor, J.K. Rowling, and Cassandra Clare (<–guilty pleasure)
Favorite Fantasy Sub-Genres: Marnie don’t believe in labels, sucka! In all seriousness, though, Marnie is simply not all that picky and will read just about any fantasy book as long as it comes with a good (and reliable) recommendation.
What Marnie finds important in a novel: well-developed characters and an intriguing, unpredictable plot are all Marnie -really- needs, though a little bit of humor is always nice, too.
Read all of Marnie’s reviews.
Rinwyn
Editor and guest reviewer
Location: Somewhere boring, USA
Brief Bio: Rinwyn is a military wife and mother of a beautiful 2 year old girl. She’s had a book in her hand since she was her daughter’s age and never plans on putting one down. She fancies herself a monogamous nymphomaniac and frequents Victoria’s Secret almost as much as the Library. She has a wonderful husband who, when he isn’t busy serving his country, can usually be found avoiding hard chairs.
Favorite Fantasy Authors: J.R.R. Tolkien, Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, C.S. Lewis, Tamora Pierce, Piers Anthony, Sherwood Smith, Patricia Briggs, Carrie Vaughn
Favorite Fantasy Sub-Genres: Dark fantasy, Epic fantasy / High fantasy, Low fantasy, Magic realism, Mythic, Paranormal fantasy, Superhero fantasy, Sword and sorcery, Urban fantasy, Erotic fantasy
What she find important in a novel: Sexual content, magic, hunky guys, developed characters, chocolate
Chris
Guest reviewer
Location: North Carolina, USA
Brief Bio: Chris is a 21 year old education major finishing off his degree in secondary science education. Chris, like many children, saw reading as a chore for many years. However, after much prompting, cajoling and threatening from a close relative, Chris started reading the Belgariad series by David Eddings and fell in love with the fantasy genre. Not even a year later, at the ripe age of thirteen, he picked up the Wheel of Time series and, after a few fruitful google searches, stumbled upon a few role-play and community message boards devoted to the series. This path eventually led him to meet Stephan over the tubes and volunteer to write some reviews in his spare time (which is quickly diminishing as graduation approaches). What little free time Chris has, he uses to spend time with his fiance, play the occasional video game or enjoy the outdoors.
Favorite Fantasy Authors: Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, Charles DeLint
Favorite Fantasy Sub-Genres: Epic fantasy, science fantasy, magic realism, mythic fiction, urban fantasy
What Chris finds important in a novel: Chris enjoys books with fully fleshed out worlds and plots. Both of those factors are necessary for his enjoyment. The characters can be somewhat lackluster or frustrating and the themes overused and trite so long as there is a wonderful world to balance it out. But most importantly, there have to be some laws or rules that limit the magic system and prevent demi-gods or organizations of demi-gods from destroying everything on a whim.
Read all of Chris’ reviews.
Devonin
Guest reviewer
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Brief Bio: Devonin is a 26 year old History and Philosophy graduate from Laurentian University. When he’s not reading an excessive amount of fantasy and sci-fi novels, or putting way too much time into online gaming and forums, he runs a Wine Shop in the north end of Toronto Ontario. A lifelong fantasy reader, and gamer nerd, Devonin’s life ambition is to become a librarian.
Favorite Fantasy Authors: Guy Gavriel Kay, Patrick Rothfuss, Terry Pratchett, Mercedes Lackey, Robert Jordan, Jim Butcher
What he finds important in a novel: Don’t waste precious storytelling pages explaining things Devonin can figure out for himself. You’ve built your world, just live in it and leave the learning to the learners. Deep characters, complex plots, lots of development and progress are what Devonin likes to see.
Read all of Devonin’s reviews.
Leo
Guest reviewer
Location: Somewhere green and rainy, United Kingdom
Brief Bio: Having just completed a Masters Degree in the Arts, Leo’s time is mostly spent writing and working on increasing his presence in the fantasy literary circle. He’s been labeled as a geek, a nerd, and an otaku, and wears each badge proudly. Fantasy is his thing to read, but he’ll happily write sci-fi and urban fantasy even though he calls himself a ‘fantasy writer’.
Favorite Fantasy Authors: Patrick Rothfuss, Brent Weeks, Stephen Deas, Blake Charlton, Jon Sprunk,and more.
Favorite Fantasy Sub-Genres: Epic fantasy, Young Adult, Dark fantasy, Sword and Sorcery. Pretty much anything.
What he finds important in a novel: Good characters, and a good overall feel; anything else is a bonus.
Read all of Leo’s reviews.
Manon
Guest reviewer
Location: Utrecht, The Netherlands
Brief Bio: Manon is a 21 year old with a passion for the written word. She loves to read and write. She is majoring in Clinical Psychology and minoring in Criminology at the Utrecht University. She loves to watch movies and TV shows (she has an endless list of favorites, but sci-fi and drama are among the genres she loves most). Beside books and movies, she thoroughly enjoys music, games (particularly Pokémon on DS and non-killing games on PC and Wii), cooking and being crafty.
What she finds important in a novel: A well-built world with a magic system that makes sense and is explained well. Manon detests predictability and prefers an intelligent, creative, thought-provoking story.
Favorite Fantasy Authors: Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Robert Jordan, Suzanne Collins, Jacqueline Carey
Favorite Fantasy Sub-Genres: Epic fantasy, urban fantasy, low fantasy, science fantasy, steampunk
Read all of Manon’s reviews.
Marty
Guest reviewer
Location: Somewhere between the Capital Region and New York City
Brief Bio: Marty is a 20 year old English Major and Theatre Minor, and while he still possesses his youthful idealism, hopes to become a writer/actor/improv comedian when he grows up. When that will happen, no one truly knows. Since a young age, he has never been without a book close by, and most likely never will be; this is most likely his parents’ fault. Marty hopes to one day write something memorable. Hopefully, this will occur more than once, fingers crossed. Thank you for coming and enjoy the site!
What he finds important in a novel: Marty enjoys a novel that doesn’t take its reader by the hand, but throws them headlong into the story, filled with an engaging plot, a creative world, beautiful prose, and inventive magic. But none of it means anything if we aren’t invested in the characters, ya dig?
Favorite Fantasy Authors: Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Sam Sykes, Joe Abercrombie, N.K. Jemisin, Joe Hill, Scott Lynch and George R.R. Martin
Read all of Marty’s reviews.
Rhesa
Guest reviewer
Location: Ontario, Canada
Brief Bio:
Rhesa is a sci-fi and fantasy junkie with a passion for collecting. She’s a die-hard movie buff. Rhesa has a degree in English Language and a certificate in Publishing. She’s also an aspiring speculative fiction writer, hoping to add her contribution to the genre community.
What she finds important in a novel:
Being drawn in. Books are her escape from life and the real-world, so she wants to be drawn into another world and be locked into the lives and adventures of those characters. A story that can’t do that, makes the love of read a chore, it’s not her favorite thing about reading.
Favorite Fantasy Author:
Ursula Le Guin
Favorite Fantasy Sub-Genres:
Rhesa enjoys each genre differently and can’t be made to choose.
Read all of Rhesa’s reviews.

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