Sunday, July 23, 2017

Just started The Sapphire Rose

Just started The Sapphire Rose, book #3 of The Elenium by David Eddings.

This is the book which taught me that politics is FAR colder than steel. That, along with a solid idea of how the real-world Catholic Church functions. It must be remembered, after all, that the best Fantasies are firmly grounded in reality, for that is what gives life to all the evil gods, Child-Goddesses, and arcane cosmology coupled with blood-mad Sorcerer Kings.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Just finished The Ruby Knight

Just finished The Ruby Knight, book #2 of The Elenium by David Eddings. 

Generally speaking, one does not expect to have contend with evil divine-insects, renegade knights and churchmen, and Trolls in order to find the antidote to a rare poison. But some poisons are rarer than others and life is full of disappointments.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Heartsbane indeed

So begins season 7 of the T.V. series Game of Thrones. Doubtless you are all aware of my opinion regarding GRRM, so I shall strive to keep my rant to a minimum.

Those characters who do best in Westeros and the lands across the Narrow Sea, those who truly thrive, are employers of a sickening combination of murder, betrayal and often rape - all overlaid with a fine golden gilt of heartless cunning. 
The Starks say "Winter is coming," the Targaryens "Fire and Blood," and the old Valyrians "valar morghulis." Well, they are right, and those words will forever pursue those who put their hearts into GRRM's work. Why anybody would invest in such a realm is beyond me and thus I advise all to leave it. 
Winter is over for me – and it ended when I left Westeros.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology

"Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology – It’s been six years since Radiant Historia was released on Nintendo DS in 2011, but it’s time to return to Vainqueur and unlock the time traveling power of the White Chronicle once again in Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology. This beloved classic is an expanded 3DS port of the original game that will contain a great deal of added gameplay/story content, updated presentation, and new ways to experience the adventure! Coming to Nintendo 3DS in early 2018!" - Nintendo

Literally yelling with excitement!! Radiant Historia was and is one of my favorite games period, on par with Fire Emblem, Suikoden Tierkreis and, of course, Golden Sun. 

On a more serious note, though, the new art worries me. The old was perfect - both unique as well as giving an actuate impression of said characters' station and personality. This new stuff is next of kin to generic and I fear what that might mean for the game. Rosch's face frankly pains me as he looks like a sullen, spoiled and/or bitter man rather than the rough yet unfailingly kind veteran we all know him as. 


Still, I actually like Sonja's new look better; she was painfully thin before and, in addition, the new face conveys more of her fire. (And if that last scene in the above video hints at a romantic relationship between Stocke and Eruca I will tear the White Chronicle apart page by page in wrath.)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Just started The Ruby Knight

Just started The Ruby Knight, book #2 of The Elenium by David Eddings.

Don't you just LOVE having to deal with nefarious local church and royal politics while searching for a divine sapphire while a dark lord masses armies and spies? Not fun in the flesh, probably, but on the page the humor and intrigue is stellar.

(Please note that the cover art is terrible. That scaly creature is supposed to have nine fingers and two thumbs per hand as opposed to three standard claws.)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Just finished The Diamond Throne

Just finished The Diamond Throne, book #1 of The Elenium by David Eddings.

Hello again Sir Sparhawk of the Pandion Knights & friends. Glad to see you have not lost your sharp swords and sardonic tongues since I saw you last.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Charlotte Sometimes

My father and I just finished Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer.

A delightful children's classic that all ages can love, it shows World War I through the eyes of the every other day inadvertent time-traveler Charlotte Makepeace at a boarding school 40 years before her time living the life of another. The book is short and simply, but so full of heart.

My fondest regards to Charlotte Makepeace, Clare and Emily Moby, Sara Reynolds, Elizabeth, Susannah, Bunty, and Miss Agnes Chisel Brown.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

20 years ago today Harry Potter and the Philosopher's (Sorcerer's) Stone was published for the first time in Britain. Nobody knew it was going to be special and initially only 500 copies were printed.

20 years ago today we headed to Platform 9¾ for the first time and began our 1st term at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 20 years ago today we first met Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger. 
20 years ago today was, unbeknownst to all, a generation defining moment in which J.K. Rowling rekindled the fire her predecessor Tolkien began, sparking the Golden Age of Fantasy.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Elenium

Just started The Diamond Throne, book #1 of The Elenium by David Eddings.

An old favorite that had me literally howling with laughter the first time I read it, I look forward to seeing old friends again and reliving an epic adventure in which Church Knights work the magic of other gods and the real tyranny comes from human vices. 

See you in the palace tomorrow, Sir Sparhawk of the Pandion Knights.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Tower at Stony Wood

My father and I just finished The Tower at Stony Wood by Patricia A. McKillip.

Inspired by Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott, this book takes the tale to truly mythopoetic heights. A mystery woven in fine thread between several towers, we walked with valiant yet impoverished islanders desperate for freedom from their overlord, a knight journeying through a land of subtle magic and beauty, and a seal-like baker and her children seeing and weaving stories from a mirror in the tower at Stony Wood. And we met some fey sisters who know that an outwardly simple mission can weave the tangled threads of fate and chance together to restore magic and peace.

Happy days to Cyan Dag & Cria Greenwoode, King Regis Aurum of Yves & Gwynne of Skye, Thayne and Craiche Ysse, Sel and Melanthos of Stony Wood, and Idra, Sidera, and Una.

Just finished The Taste of Lightning

The three moons rise.

Just finished The Taste of Lightning by Kate Constable, sequel-companion novel of her Chanters of Tremaris trilogy. Seldom are drug lords and wars used in Fantasy, if ever, but Constable deals with it just as we deals will all else: frank and heart-filled honesty. And a climax fit to sing one's boots on fire.

Much work lies ahead, so good job thus far and good luck to you Tansy, Perrin, Skir, Evie, and Beeman (seriously). Please say hello to Calwyn for me, when/if you see her.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Downfall vs. Doom

It ironically appears that GRRM heavily based his Doom of Valyria and related events upon the Tolkien's Downfall of Númenor. 

The Downfall of Numenor
The Númenóreans were the strongest and proudest race of humans who ruled a vast overseas empire from their island home, they themselves having distinct physical features that set them apart from other humans (great height). Then, to cut a long story short, they fell from their wisdom and embarked on a deed that promised destruction. But before they fell, Amandil son of Númendil, Lord of Andúnië led his people away and so escaped the utter and complete rupturing and flooding that followed which coupled with the total annihilation of Númenor. His son Elendil would go on to found the Kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor in Middle-Earth.

The Doom of Valyria
In GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire universe, Valyria was the
strongest and proudest of civilizations, ruling a vast overseas empire from their peninsula  home, they themselves having distinct physical features that set them apart from other humans (purple eyes and silver-gold hair). Exactly how and why they fell remains a mystery, but before the Doom occurred, the daughter of Lord Aenar Targaryen had visions of a cataclysm that would overcome Valyria. A foresight which came true as the Valyrian Peninsula was flooded and shattered beyond repair. Thus he fled to Westeros, where his descendant Aegon the Conqueror would unite the land under the Iron Throne.

Thus in both cases did a noble House flee the vast empire before it's destruction and would go on to be Kings and lords of humans. Of course, Númenor as well as Gondor and Arnor are vastly more noble and humane realms than Old Valyria and Westeros, but the fact still remains.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Beren and Lúthien (a new Tolkien book)

As he does with everything, Tolkien takes Romantic Fantasy to a whole other level. Indeed, the romance between Beren of the House of Bëor and Lúthien Tinúviel makes the tale of Aragorn and Arwen look tame.

"Among the tales of sorrow and of ruin that came down to us from the darkness of those days there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures. And of these histories most fair still in the ears of the Elves is the tale of Beren and Lúthien." - J.R.R. Tolkien

(Tolkien often referred to his wife, Edith, as "my Luthien" for the Elf maiden in question was inspired from her)

Sunday, May 21, 2017


This is a legitimate fear. (Although, I think it is the fear of running out of bookshelf space that plagues readers the most. For example, I will not run out of new books to read for another decade at least, my shelves already being packed with fresh books. The problem is that most of them are volume ones...)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My people have a saying...

It is seldom credited, but one sign of a great Fantasy author is when, tucked comfortably within their works, are invented wisdom-sayings i.e. proverbs; one could also call these little nuggets of wisdom. It is not a rule, of course, as one can easily be a master of the Fantastic without employing such things, but those who do have – at least in my experience – always been masters.

Unsurprisingly, among the first and finest examples of this is none other J.R.R. Tolkien himself. Here are some of the best examples:

"He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom." 
"Valour needs first strength, and then a weapon."
"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens."
"Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves." 
"Often does hatred hurt itself."

Another fine example, and one who directly uses the term proverbs and makes them a more integral part of the story than Tolkien, is Mercedes Lackey. She literally created dozens for her invented Shin'a'in (People of the Plains) and Tale'edras (Hawkbrother) cultures. Lackey's proverbs are notable in that they are reminiscent to those of Ancient Asia e.g. "Just because you feel certain an enemy is lurking behind every bush, it doesn’t follow that you are wrong" is like to "Before telling secrets on the road, look in the bushes."
Other fine examples of quotes from the wondrous world of Velgarth are as follows:

"My people have a saying..."

"Knowledge will always be the best weapon against tyrants."
"Professionals are predictable, but the world is full of amateurs."
"You cannot have a battle without getting your fur in a mess."
"If it gets caught, it deserves to be eaten."
"That was then, this is now; the moment is never the same twice."

I have also heard that C. S. Lewis created a dozen proverbs in The Horse and His Boy, a book in his The Chronicles of Narnia series. However, as I have never read The Horse and His Boy I can provide no examples.

Monday, May 8, 2017

A return to Tremaris

The three moons rise.

Just started The Taste of Lightning by Kate Constable, companion novel of her Chanters of Tremaris trilogy.
It is with great delight that I once again enter the lovely world of Tremaris, only this time following new characters. Regardless, I have been meaning to read this book for years now, and the real question has always been...will there be a connection to Calwyn & co. other than a familiar world map? Time to found out.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Just finished Court Duel

Just finished Court Duel, the second book of Sherwood Smith's The Crown & Court Duet.
So ends a fast-paced and charming adventure. What is not to love about a barefooted countess aiding in taking down a tyrant and, most importantly, bringing love and laughter to a palace full of courtiers whose minds are so full of the high strategy that they cannot see a another human beyond their livery? The overall lesson: Never let past misunderstandings impair relationships; better to overcome them before they catch up with and trip you in dangerous places.

My warmest wishes for a happy future to Meliara of Tlanth & Vindanric of Renselaeus, Branaric and Nimiar of Tlanth, Savona and Tamara, and all my other friends of Remalna. You saved the kingdom and the Hill Folk.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Neverending Story

It is less than 400 pages, yet is longer than Harry Potter. It is less than 400 pages, yet the entire Fantasy genre is captured within it.

My Father and I just finished The Neverending Story by Michael Ende.

How to describe a book that is unlike any other, that robbed us of words almost nightly? All I can say is that if The Neverending Story is the only Fantasy book one ever reads, then one can call themselves a veteran of the genre. All I can say is that Michael Ende ranks with J.R.R. Tolkien himself. All I can say is that we supped with the Golden-Eyed Commander of Wishes within the Ivory Tower and drank the Water of Life between the black and white snakes who encircle and yet are within the Glory.

All I can say is thank you to Bastian Balthazar Bux and Atreyu of the Greenskins , to Falkor the luckdragon, to the The Childlike Empress who accepts all as they are and never uses her power, to Grograman the Many Colored Death, to The Old Man of Wandering Mountain, to Hero Hynreck and Hykrion, Hysbald and Hydorn, and, last but not least, to Carl Conrad Coreander.

I beseech all to read this book, to join Bastion on his first steps. But I warn you that
“If you have never spent whole afternoons with burning ears and rumpled hair, forgetting the world around you over a book, forgetting cold and hunger--
If you have never read secretly under the bedclothes with a flashlight, because your father or mother or some other well-meaning person has switched off the lamp on the plausible ground that it was time to sleep because you had to get up so early--
If you have never wept bitter tears because a wonderful story has come to an end and you must take your leave of the characters with whom you have shared so many adventures, whom you have loved and admired, for whom you have hoped and feared, and without whose company life seems empty and meaningless--
If such things have not been part of your own experience, you probably won't understand what Bastian did next.”

Monday, April 24, 2017

Literary kindred

I do not claim to be an avid reader of the Mystery genre – aside from a few kids' books and, more recently, the acclaimed historical murder mystery The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – but I have always had the deepest respect for the genre. In fact, it is fair to say, I believe, that Mystery and Fantasy are in fact literary cousins (with Sci-Fi being the Fantastic's only closer relative; a sibling, presumably).

One states this because, while a Fantasy novel may employ little mystery and a Mystery even less magic, both at their best utilize strategy/tactics, good vs. evil with relatively high stakes, and intellectualism. This is not to say that the two genres are not very different in several key ways, but these shared traits prove that they are enough akin to be called cousins. Further evidence of this is provided by the fact that supernatural (i.e. magical/Fantasy) elements are not exactly unheard of within the Mystery genre, and many a Fantasy author – such as J.K. Rowling – took great pains to add elements of mystery.

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." 
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle[1] 

"Caught between the riddle and its answer there is no freedom." 
- Patricia A. McKillip[2]

P.S. And if one still remains unconvinced, the two genres share yet another element: Pipes! Seems to me that the Grey Pilgrim and the detective of 221B Baker Street would get along quite famously, what with the former blowing colored smoke rings and the latter creating a (and I quote) "poisonous atmosphere" of tobacco smoke.

[1] Author of the Sherlock Holmes books (the Mystery genre's The Lord of the Rings equivalent)
[2] American author of fantasy and science fiction novels, which have been winners of the World Fantasy Award, the Locus Award, and the Mythopoeic Award. In 2008, she was a recipient of the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Palantír vs. Glass Candles

It appears that I have uncovered another leaf that GRRM took from Tolkien's book, a very subtle leaf that only one learned in the lore of Arda (Tolkien's fantasy universe) would spot amongst GRRM's thorns. And spotting, that it clarity of sight, is the exact nature of this discovery, for their is an unmistakable kinship between the Palantír of The Lord of the Rings and the Glass Candles of A Song of Ice and Fire.

The Palantír were made by the Elves of Valinor in the Undying Lands, the acknowledge apex of civilization in Arda. Called the Seven Seeing Stones, they resembled large dark glass spheres with murky depths (but are in truth indestructible dark crystals) and with them those with the skill and will can gaze upon many things across the face of the world. Gaze and communicate with those looking into other, different, Palantír despite the Seeing Stones being scattered across the vast realms of Gondor and Arnor. These magical artifacts burn with a strange inner fire when used and were rescued from the Downfall of Númenor by Lord Elendil and his sons and taken to Middle-Earth where they were set up in various towers across the Realms in Exile.

As to the Glass Candles, they were made in Old Valyria, the acknowledge apex of civilization in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire (see my comparison of Valinor and Valyria in my GRRM the Anti-Tolkien page). Like the Palantír they are dark, though of twisted and razor-sharp obsidian as opposed to smooth crystal, and it t is claimed that when the glass candles burn the sorcerers can see across mountains, seas and deserts, give humans visions and dreams and the ability to communicate with one another half a world apart. Sound familiar? Well, if not, then I should also say that these Glass Candles were rescued from the Doom of Valyria and give off twisted light when they burn. In GRRM's universe their most noted home is the Citadel, the great tower home and HQ of the Maesters.

Again this is a subtle point, but an unmistakable one, and illustrates well enough that George R.R. Martin may have borrowed more from J.R.R. Tolkien than is commonly believed.