Sunday, August 1, 2021

Golden Sun celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Today I pay tribute to Golden Sun as it celebrates its 20th birthday. I honestly cannot fathom why a fourth game has not been made, as not a year passes when its large and dedicated fandom does not loudly clamor for it.

I raise a toast to the Warriors of Vale: Isaac, Garet, Jenna, Kraden, Ivan, Mia, Sheba, Felix, Piers. And to their children and their friends: Matthew, Tyrell, Karis, Amiti,  Rief, Sveta, Eoleo, and Himi.

Romantic Fantasy

It occurred to me recently that I forgot a Fantasy sub-genre in my Types of Fantasy page. So without further ado:

Romantic Fantasy: As the name implies, Romantic Fantasy is basically a Fantasy that focuses as much if not more on a budding romance between characters as it does the rest of the story, and, per the "official definition", one of its key features it that it involves the focus on social and political relationships, in addition to the romantic. Always married to another sub-genre, Romantic Fantasy combines itself with any of the above listed types of Fantasy to provide a setting. The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer, for example, is Dark Romantic Fantasy, while Kristin Cashore's Graceling Realms is Medieval Romantic Fantasy. I generally avoid this sub-genre since, while I have nothing against and in fact very much enjoy romances in Fantasy, I prefer it when they supplement the overall plot instead of dominate it to the point where it feels like the rest of the story is simply to drive and add tension to the romance. That said, I adore the Graceling Realms and very much enjoyed The Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shinn. Of these two, however, I prefer Graceling Realms because, while Shinn created a worthy world and a rich cast of funny and varied characters (such as Senneth and Kirra Danalustrous), the I felt romance element dragged the story to a notably slower pace than it could have been. An issue Graceling Realms does not have for the simple reason that the rest of the plotline is no less important or gripping than the romance. (Some publishers distinguish between Romantic Fantasy where the fantasy elements is most important and Fantasy Romance where the romance are most important, while others say that the line between the two has essentially ceased to exist or, if it remains, is in constant flux. For myself, I agree with these others.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

My father and I just finished Juniper Wiles by Charles de Lint

My father and I just finished Juniper Wiles by Charles de Lint. 

I have learned to expect the unexpected, even by Fantasy standards, from de Lint, and a teenage former actress who once played a plucky teen detective being asked by a ghost to solve a real-life case certainly qualifies as such. A solid urban Fantasy that seamlessly blends the complications of personal life and past careers with magic that walks in plain sight everyday for all to see yet goes unseen, Juniper Wiles – both the woman and book – shows that the best way to take life is in stride, accepting past triumphs and failures while forging ahead even if you really have no idea where the road will end so long as true friends have your back every step of the way. And that life, regardless of how it came about, is always worth defending.

So long Juniper Wiles, Jilly Coppercorn, Gabi, Nick, Tam, Joe, Saskia, and all the many other quirky characters who call Bramleyhaugh home.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

I have again started The Other Wind by Ursula K. Le Guin

I have again started The Other Wind by Ursula K. Le Guin, the fifth and final book of her Earthsea Cycle. 

This is it. This is the book that is the crown jewel of Earthsea, showing Le Guin at the height of her skill. For now does the matter and mysteries of death and Dragons, of Kingship, power and its price, and peace come together. 

"Farther west than west
beyond the land
my people are dancing
on the other wind." - The Song of the Woman of Kemay

Monday, July 19, 2021

I have just finished Tales from Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

I have just finished Tales from Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, which I began for the very first time before deciding to reread the whole Earthsea Cycle in its proper, chronological, order; meaning I just finished the book's final novella, which was written as a dragon-bridge between volumes four and five of the main series. Twas a privilege and wonder to witness the founding of the School of Roke, see that love ranks higher than magery, how Ogion stilled the earthquake with his teacher and, at last, learning the origins of Orm Irian who journeys west of west. Frankly I cannot believe I never read this before.
“What goes too long unchanged destroys itself. The forest is forever because it dies and dies and so lives.” - Azver, the Master Patterner

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Golden Sun

 Stars Uncounted is a proud supporter and fierce advocate of Operation Sunrise, which is the effort to garner support for a reboot and fourth game of the Golden Sun gameboy game series. Golden Sun is, in my mind, the pinnacle of handheld RBG games, and not only because it was the first I ever played. Indeed, the game has a very special place in my heart and memories. When I was little I loved watching my older cousin playing video games as a rule, but my earliest recollections of such is of Golden Sun. We were all staying at our maternal grandparents house and he was always the first one up, and often I was the second; so I would tiptoe through that silent house, downstairs, through the dining room and kitchen to the Family Room where he would invariably be sitting with a Gameboy Advance in hand. I was lucky, for I joined him playing through the first dungeon, Sol Sanctum, and when I asked were he was he said "the Temple of the Sun," which is what I called the game for years afterwards. But even then, knowing next to nothing about the game, I was invested in it, for Kraden was my favorite character and him getting kidnapped mightily offended my young mind. I also loved watching him (my cousin) find and use the various Djinn and their Summons.

Eventually I was gifted the games and, with the Prima Official Strategy Guide in hand, I began playing myself. And fell in love. There is no other way to describe it, for the story was so utterly unique, personable, and gripping, all coupled and augmented by a brilliant role-playing-based battle system and puzzles which so inventive, brilliant and complex that even with the strategy guide I stumbled, occasionally having to ask my parents for help. Ask my mother about Air's Rock in Golden Sun: The Lost Age and she will remember how it took all we had not to get lost. Frankly, I could go on and on, for even now, with many and more games under my belt, I still rank Golden Sun as the crown jewel. I laughed and cried with the characters, for it was like a favorite book that just kept getting better and, to this day and despite never having played through it again, I still remember all characters' names and most of the conversations. I will not breathe a word more about the storyline, though, so as not to rob others of the chance to enter into the world of Weyard as I did, free of foreknowledge and ready for an epic adventure.

And yet, after two phenomenal games, no news ones came out until I was in high school - Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, which follows the children of the original heroes and was a solid game in its own right. But no new Golden Sun titles have come out since. Frankly, I still do not understand why nearly a decade passed between the first two games and Dark Dawn, much less why Nintendo has seemingly dropped the ball so completely since, because if we accept as true the aphorism that it is folly to change a winning game then it is doubly so for stopping one. Golden Sun still has a large and devoted fandom, and we want to see our dear friends again (and finally get a chance to fight Alex.) That is why I have made this a page as well as a post: to stand as undimmed reminder that Operation Sunrise must succeed.