Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The official show synopsis for Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings TV adaptation

About three years ago Amazon announced a TV adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and now we have the official official show synopsis:

"Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of NĂºmenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone."

An interesting reveal, to be sure. Per this synopsis, I would guess that the show will take place during the 2nd millennium of the Second Age, covering the forging of the Rings of Power, the War of the Elves and Sauron, the Sack of Eregion and the Founding of Rivendell. They ought to bring back the movie actors of Galadriel, Celeborn, and Elrond for this. Maybe even Gil-Galad.

"We have reached the borders of the country that Men call Hollin; many Elves lived here in happier days, when Eregion was its name." - Gandalf

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

I just started Hunter’s Death

Sound the silver horn, call the hunt.
 
I just started Hunter’s Death, the second book of The Sacred Hunt Duology by Michelle West.
Averalaan, City of the Twin Kings and capital of the Essalieyan Empire, the height of human civilization, was in Ages past the seat of Allasakar, the Lord of the Hells. Now he seeks to return, and death is his herald as demon-kin lurk in the shadows of the city that was once his. A city the Hunter God's servants approach for this very reason while the daughter of the Unnamed enters the field proper to aid them. Yet the Hunter's Death is the loss every Hunter Lady, Lord, and brother fears, and between it and the Dark God I fear greatly for Gilliam and Stephen
 
Are you the hunter, or the prey?

Monday, January 4, 2021

RuneScape's 20th Anniversary

RuneScape turns twenty today (and yes, I still unashamedly play đŸ˜€ Just reached level 101 Archaeology, in fact.)

I just finished Hunter’s Oath

Sound the silver horn, call the hunt. 
 
I just finished Hunter’s Oath, the first book of The Sacred Hunt Duology by Michelle West.
The Hunter God is real and his Breodani god-born child and servants those both blessed and cursed by Him must aid the Order of the Knowledge and vise versa as the Covenant threatens to break with the rise of the demon-kin and their Dark God. Yet while the breaking would doom Breodanir, it is in Essalieyan that the threat must be faced. Time is short, not always linear as seer-born Evayne can confirm, and against them. Luck to you, Hunter Lord Gilliam and huntbrother Stephen. Fulfill your oaths.
 
Are you the hunter, or the prey?

Sunday, January 3, 2021

What makes Fantasy literature special

One of the reasons I love Fantasy literature so much is that it expands the limits not only of imagination but of compassion. Think about it. When reading the Fantastic one becomes emotionally attached to a world that technically does not exist, grows to love and hate characters as if they were born of true flesh and blood rather than of ink and the mind of the author. One learns to care deeply about people and events that have no technical bearing on the real-world, yet that selfsame care gives it tremendous bearing to the point that readers laugh and cry, cheer and mourn, sing and think alongside the characters as if they were as real as anything. This, I believe, is what makes Fantasy so very special. Other genres, like realistic and non-fiction, expand our minds in unquestionably invaluable ways, to be sure, yet they are rooted in the real-world we live in and thus automatically have an emotion bearing upon us. The Fantasy genre, however, expands our compassion beyond the here and now, beyond the world we live in, tearing down the emotional barriers separating the the real from the 'unreal'. Why to mark the word unreal as such? Because, in the immortal words of Pablo Picasso, "Everything you can imagine is real."

J.R.R. Tolkien says that "Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory." Quite true, and he explains why quite eloquently:

"I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which “Escape” is now so often used: a tone for which the uses of the word outside literary criticism give no warrant at all. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls? The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it. In using escape in this way the critics have chosen the wrong word, and, what is more, they are confusing, not always by sincere error, the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter."

The key is that a Deserter leaves because they have stopped caring, desiring only to flee trouble and pain, a want that could never be met in Fantasy literature for it, to again quote Tolkien, contains "beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords." It "does not deny the existence of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance." Yet a Prisoner escapes knowing this, knowing that our real-world is hardly ideal and choosing to escape into the Fantastic because they want to feel the triumphs and tragedies of others, choosing, willingly, to experience both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords that is beyond their power to influence, much less control. That takes courage, and a heart that can, again, treat that which is technically unreal as quite real. To expands one's emotions to encompass people who never lived doing impossible things in places that do not exist as if they were dear friends or hated enemies, and in the end seriously and emotionally viewing the assorted characters as such.

That is what makes Fantasy literature so very special. Again, I have infinite respect for other genres, but the ability to create one's own fully populated world that is real enough for others to escape into set the Fantastic apart and is, beyond doubt, why we live in a Golden Age of Fantasy. (Point of order and not to state the utterly obvious, one does not have to be a prisoner to adore Fantasy. Goodness knows I do not consider myself such.) Finally and on a side note, today is J.R.R. Tolkien's birthday, so raise a glass and toast "The Professor!"

Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year's Eve

There is no point in pretending that 2020 was in any respect a normal year, but if Pandemic quarantines have a silver lining it is that they provide lots of time to read so, as the Wheel turns and 2020 rolls away, I think it is only fitting to look back on this year's accomplishments:

  • First and foremost I read the final eight books (The Path of Daggers through A Memory of Light) of and thus finished the great journey that was The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.
  • West by Edith Pattou, sequel to East.
  • Taash and the Jesters by Ellen Kindt McKenzie.
  • Moon-Flash by Patricia A. McKillip.
  • Moonheart by Charles de Lint
  • Reread (for possibly the dozenth time) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm by Christopher Paolini, sequel to his The Inheritance Cycle.
  • Firebrand, book 6 in the Green Rider series by Kristen Britain.
  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke.
  • Books 2-4 of the Ranger's Apprentice: The Royal Ranger series by John Flanagan.
  • King of Shadows by Susan Cooper.

"Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?...If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!" – J.R.R. Tolkien

"I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which “Escape” is now so often used: a tone for which the uses of the word outside literary criticism give no warrant at all. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls? The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it. In using escape in this way the critics have chosen the wrong word, and, what is more, they are confusing, not always by sincere error, the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter." – J.R.R. Tolkien

Thursday, December 24, 2020

My father and I just finished King of Shadows by Susan Cooper

My father and I just finished King of Shadows by Susan Cooper.

As they say in the theater, "the show must go on" and that philosophy does not change even as Fate and Time intervene to save Will Shakespeare and Nathan Field, Oberon and Puck, as a hurt boy actor from our time finds himself playing A Midsummer's Night's Dream in Elizabethan England under the Bard's person direction. A blend of the historical fiction and fantasy with the Cooper's trademark mastery of time travel that begins as simple and ends with a profound depth reminiscent of her The Dark is Rising masterwork. Truly the human spirit, a key component in acting, and the healing simple kindness and understanding gives transcends all Time.