Sunday, March 18, 2018

My father and I just started House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones

My father and I just started House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones, the third and final book of her Howl Series.

Nice to meet you Charmain Baker, looking forward to seeing you again Sophie & Howl (& Calcifer). Here we go to Surpriseville. (What else can I say at this point?)

Friday, March 16, 2018

Just started The Healer's Keep by Victoria Hanley

Just started The Healer's Keep by Victoria Hanley, companion to The Seer and the Sword and part of her Healer and Seer series.
Cannot say much save that I expect a grand time and look forward to meeting the daughter of two old friends.

"Killing the strong to prove your strength is foolish weakness. Killing fools is easy weakness. Killing the weak is evil weakness. Accomplished your ends without killing, mastering your mind when you want to kill - that is strength!" 
Landen of Bellandra

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

My father and I just finished Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones

My father and I just finished Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones, book #2 of her Howl Series.

So I ended up pounding my fists against the bed multiple times; nothing new about that when reading a Jones book and getting surprised...nay, stunned, time and times again. She took the "rescue kidnapped princesses" trope to the point of hilarious absurdity/genius plus identity tricks that had me howling (pun intended). Arabian Nights with a twist indeed.

Nice to meet you Abdullah and Flower-in-the-Night, nice to see old friends from a certain moving castle again as well.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Just finished La Belle Sauvage

Just finished La Belle Sauvage, Volume #1 of The Book of Dust trilogy by Philip Pullman.

Pullman's skill has not diminished, making it a masterfully written book insofar as technical ability goes. Yet Pullman said that it could have called "His Darker Materials" and that, as an author, "I’ve got older and perhaps more cynical, closer to despair...It is a darker book, I don’t deny that, but that’s the story that came to me and wanted to be told.”
Hence I liked the book yet cannot put it, storywise, in the same league as the His Dark Materials trilogy. I only hope that lack is due to dear Lyra being a baby and that, in the next book, her fire will brighten the whole thing. (Honestly this one was not unlike a Fantasy Thriller). Though, due to Pullman's new attitude, I now fear for her (and Will, if we see him).

Farewell Malcolm and Alice (and Dr. Hannah Relf & the rest of Oakley Street). It was a pleasure getting to know and see you outwit enemy agents, a mad scientist, and Fairy.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Riddle Ranking System

Riddles in the Dark; one of the Fantasy
genre's most iconic riddle games. I judge all
of Tolkien's riddles to rank from
Upper Middle-ranking to Master.
My penchant for riddle mastery is no secret, yet it occurs to me that, while I listed the four (five if you have visited Caithnard) types of riddles, I have not gone over how I rank riddles. Strange really, seeing how these rankings come up just as much when I torture...cough-- I mean challenge people with them. My Riddle Ranking System is, therefore, as follows:

Easy Simple riddles that have a token of complexity but can be solved fairly quickly by 1st graders. These are always (at least for me) Logic riddles.
Example: When alive I am green, when I die I am brown, when I live I stay up, when I die I fall down = leaf

Middle-ranking The most common level of riddle and, for me, the easiest to make. Sophisticated enough in wording, playing with words and logic, to pose a challenge to most for several hours. I typically use these to judge a person's (3rd grade to adult) skill in riddle-solving. Most tend to be Logic riddles.
Example: What can’t you keep until you give = a promise / your word

Hard Difficult to describe this level as these are typically just short step above Middle-ranking, being of more complex wording and often having slightly less obvious answers. Indeed, I call them Upper Middle-ranking at times. Both Logic and Wordplay riddles are common.
Example: You saw me where I never was and where I could not be. And yet within that very place, my face you often see = a mirror reflection

Master Few and far between are these riddles, both in terms of people able to make as well as solve them; even I have very few. As the name implies, only true master riddle-solvers can answer these, often only after hours of thought, for they require one to truly think outside of the box.
Example: ---- (Sorry, but I am going to keep these to myself. Torturing people with them is too much fun to spoil by posting the answers here.)

Grandmaster Answering one of these puts you in the riddle-solver hall of fame. Always Combination riddles (at least all of mine are), these can be counted on the finger of one hand and are hardly ever solved even by those who can answer Master-ranked ones. I have one myself and, though I have given it to hundreds of people over the years, only fifteen have ever solve it (and most of these took a few days to do so).
Example: ---- (Sorry but, as a rule, usually, it is never given unit a person or group has proven themselves at the Middle-ranking level.)

Championmaster Those insane riddles a hair's breath away from being unsolvable. I honestly do not know why I even bother listing this as a rank as, to date, my single riddle of this kind has only been solved once: by siblings Chloe and Heather, each of whom individually was a master riddle-solver, though it took them, working together, a full week to solve it. Frankly I only created the Championmaster riddle because my friend Devin, who had solved the Grandmaster, challenged me to craft a harder one.
Example: ---- (Sorry, but today I only tell this riddle to those select few who solve my Grandmaster...though none have solved it since the sisters).

Friday, March 2, 2018

A quick note

Yes, I am still reading The Book of Dust.
Slowly, ever so slowly so as to savor every word and page. (That, and life interferes with my reading schedule)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Use the Force. Trust your feelings.

One word for the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy: Pitiful.

It amounts to a bad remake of the original; Leia and Han leading the Rebellion against Imperials ruled by the Dark Side with Luke a Kenobi/Yoda blend, Kylo just another Anakin/Vader, and Rey a Luke figure right down to hearing Force voices & growing up on a destitute desert planet & saving BB-8 (the R2D2 equivalent with vital information that is hunted by Stormtroopers who themselves want to keep it from the rebels).
The Sequel Trilogy as any worthwhile sequel was supposed to be original, a new generation of Jedi trying to put the Republic back together and facing new, more unique, enemies in the process. I can see why Lucus and Hamill think little of it.

If this "was supposed to be" line sounds arrogant on my part, it is only because I hold Star Wars to the same standards as any work of literature. If a brilliant author writes something that is an inferior copy of the original – yes, David Eddings, I am referring to your The Mallorean and The Tamuli – then I do not read it. At this point it must be noted that the original Fantasy series' that preceded the aforesaid ones, Eddings' The Belgariad and The Elenium, are easily some of the most entertaining books I have ever read. I am not a laugh-out-loud sort of reader usually, yet these had be consistently howling. (Both are five-volume works, however, so if you have to choose then I recommend The Belgariad.)