Sunday, April 11, 2021

A Soviet Union's Lord of the Rings film is found.

An all-but-forgotten 1991 Soviet-made production of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings has been found, probably like the Ring itself, at the bottom of a river or in dank lightless cavern given its low quality.

“It’s so bad it’s good,” said Dimitra Fimi, a senior lecturer in fantasy and children’s literature at the University of Glasgow. “It’s a weird concoction of stuff — some of it is really close to the narrative and other bits are curtailed somehow.”So far, Tolkien fans in Russia and the West seem to appreciate the production for what it is and what it is not. Everyone knows it is not the director Peter Jackson’s blockbuster “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy of the 2000s.  “Тhere is no sense in comparing these films,” said Nikolai Matchenya, a 31-year-old fan from Pskov, Russia. “It’s like comparing a new car with new computer systems inside with old, mechanical automobiles.”  The effects? “Too old-fashioned,” he said. The acting? “Poor.” The costumes? Those were “not bad.”  Few would argue about the effects, at least. When the wizard Gandalf sets off magic fireworks, the actor lifts his cape and drawings of fireworks appear. A bug-eyed bird puppet stands in for a giant eagle, and the villainous Sauron appears as an eye superimposed over a cup of pink ooze. Magic is often depicted with a watery effect and some spooky music.

Still, the history behind it is interesting. The Soviet government was less than fond of Tolkien, publishing no official translation of The Hobbit until 1976 and this with ideological alterations, while The Lord of the Rings itself was basically outlawed for decades. Why? Possibly because the Men of the West are the unequivocal good guys fighting and uphill but ultimately victorious war against the Enemy in the East.

For myself, I find this film interesting though hardly impressive. Gollum looks more like a mutant cabbage and Gandalf a cosplay Merlin wannabe who could barely find a decent costume. I look at that image of the above and I even cannot tell who is who. (No, I have not and do not intend to watch it. Time is far to precious, and I am not enough of a movie person to see a stunted version of a masterwork.)

Sunday, April 4, 2021

I just started for the second time The Sorceress and the Cygnet by Patricia A. McKillip, the first book of her Cygnet Duology.

I just started for the second time The Sorceress and the Cygnet by Patricia A. McKillip, the first book of her Cygnet Duology. 

Time to return to Ro Holding and a tale of stars and time, in which the very constellations are at odds and a realm must, without armies, fight to live.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

I just finished Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master Trilogy

"Answer the unanswered riddle."
I just finished Harpist in the Wind, book #3 of Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master Trilogy.
Reading this series a second time was nothing short of incredible for, knowing the answers to the riddles from the outset, one realizes the true depths of McKillip's cunning. It was clear from the first chapter of book one that she had this cataclysmic riddle-game planned point for point, one riddle leading into another as warriors and wraiths, harpists and shape-changers, and a farmer-prince with three stars on his face came into his power alongside a princess of An. It is, in the older and more profound sense of the word, awesome. The strictures of wizardry may teach the avoidance of death, yet those of riddlery teach that the person who flees from death often finds themself running towards it and that it is better to turn forward into the unknown rather than backward toward death. And it was riddlery that won the day.
"Beware another riddle-master."

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Valar morghulis. To be, or not to be. Valar dohaeris. All the world's a stage.

"Robert had been jesting with Jon Arryn and old Lord Hunter
as the prince circled the field after unhorsing Ser Barristan in the
final tilt to claim the champion's crown. Ned remembered the
moment when all the smiles died, when Prince Rhaegar Targaryen
urged his horse past his own wife, the Dornish princess Elia Martell,
to lay the queen of beauty's laurel in Lyanna's lap.
He could see it still: a crown of winter roses, blue as frost."
Apparently George R.R. Martin is to do a Broadway show about the Great Tourney at Harrenhal. My reaction? The short version is give my disregards to Broadway. The long is that Ser Barristan Selmy once noted that "Prince Rhaegar loved his Lady Lyanna and thousands died for it," so what could possibly go wrong in a play that sets the stage (no pun intended) for the carnage to come? 😓 The Tourney at Harrenhal just reinforces Maester Aemon's unwise words that "love is the bane of honor, the death of duty." 

Beyond that, GRRM has signed a New Five Year Deal with HBO and HBO Max for a new drama series entittled the House of the Dragon, which is based on his Fire & Blood prequel to A Song of Ice and Fire, which chronicles House Targaryen 300 years before the War of Five Kings.

Monday, March 22, 2021

I just started Harpist in the Wind

"Beware the unanswered riddle." 

I just started Harpist in the Wind, book #3 of Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master Trilogy. 

Who is the Star-Bearer, and what will he loose that is bound? What will one star call out of silence, one star out of darkness, and one star out of death? War has come, born of riddles and wizards and shape-changers out of the sea, the hope of victory lying in the answers, three stars, and the efforts of Morgon and Raederle and their friends. And the truth about a certain harpist. 

"Beware another riddle-master."

Sunday, March 21, 2021

My father and I just finished The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

My father and I just finished The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. 

Interestingly, this was the first time we read a book that I had already read before yet he had not - and I am happy to say that he had as grand a time in the Four Lands as I did the first time and again on this return visit to end anew the awesome power of the Warlock Lord. 

Farewell Shea and Flick Ohmsford, Hendel the dwarf, Durin and Dayel of the Westlands, Balinor, Menion Leah, Panamon Creel & Keltset, and last but anything but least Allanon.

I just finished Heir of Sea and Fire

"Beware the unanswered riddle."

I just finished Heir of Sea and Fire, book #2 of Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master Trilogy.
By the unconquered Kings of An I had forgotten how brilliant this book was and is, and that oath stirs quite a bit a trouble in a land where ancient grudges will pull themselves, bones and all, from the grave. Including a sea-born sorrow that makes Raederle of An quite the riddle herself as questions and wizards move to the destroyed Wizards City. War is coming, one that even the hate-filled dead have a stake in. A war that will test the very strictures of riddlery.

"Beware another riddle-master."