Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Strictures of Riddlery

It is sad really that the art of making and answering riddles has been so diminished since the advent of modern history, or at least since collapse of the time-honored respectability granted to Bards, storytellers, and others who partake in oral traditions. 

"The riddle-game was sacred and of immense antiquity, and even wicked creatures were afraid to cheat when they played at it." - J.R.R. Tolkien

These days it is only those who works within the realms of Fantasy who wholly and truly appreciate the power and potency of riddles, a far cry from when Kings and Heroes placed great weight upon them.
Then again, why not? For in the Fantasy genre lives the misty mystery of the ancient past, and so we glory in the enigmatic and such puzzles as twists minds into first comprehending and then solving Gordian Knots.
As such, I have taken it upon myself to compile a list of all the best riddle quotes in the Strictures of Riddlery, and while I borrow the term from Patricia A. McKillip's The Riddle-Master trilogy, I draw the quotes from several sources both within and without Fantasy literature (for true and masterful usage of riddles is rare even within the genre).

"Good riddles do, in general, provide us with satisfactory metaphors; for metaphors imply riddles, and therefore a good riddle can furnish a good metaphor." - Aristotle

"The best answers solve more than one riddle." - Magic: the Gathering

"A riddle is a tale so familiar you no longer recognize it." - Patricia A. McKillip

"A riddle is nothing more than a trap for small minds, baited with the promise of understanding." - Magic: the Gathering

"All is a riddle, and the key to a riddle...is another riddle." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Beware the unanswered riddle." - Patricia A. McKillip

"Eyes see only what is possible. A trained mind can explore the impossible." - Magic: the Gathering

"A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer." - Karl Kraus

"The worthy shall cultivate a nimble mind to perceive the glorious wonders that await them." - Magic: the Gathering

"When caught between the riddle and its answer there is no freedom." - Patricia A. McKillip

"Beware another riddle master." - Patricia A. McKillip

It is this last one, however, that is the most important. A fact I learned from painful experience. Talking of which, being a Fantasy reader (& hopeful author) and a riddle-maker with over 200 self-made riddles to my name, I have of course crafted many of my own such sayings. However, I am withholding them for special, later, uses: namely the Fantasy books and plotlines bounces about in my head. Whoever said that writers have total control over their worlds and characters clearly did not speak from experience for, as Victor Frankenstein can testify – albeit in a more physical and dramatic fashion – instilling life in something has consequences. Anyway, for I digress, here is the to critical quote:

"The Riddle Master himself lost the key to his own riddles one day, and he found it again at the bottom of his heart." - Patricia A. McKillip

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Just started Demon's Law

There is a good argument that this book in the
reason for the phrase "do not judge a book by
its cover."
"Bard, come forth; face me."  

Just started reading Demon's Law, book #2 of the Tales of the Bard series by that master of myth named Michael Scott. (Tis a pleasure returning to this most excellent, if a tad odd, series)
The Cataclysm has come and gone and where this tale will bring Paedur the Bard I have no clue, having a story take place in the World of the Dead - meaning new and dynamic friends met will already be dead - is a new one on me.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Just finished The Elenium

Just finished The Sapphire Rose, book #3 of The Elenium by David Edding.

What is there to say upon finishing a  book series you adore a second time, save that it was pleasure to see old friends again and picking up insights you missed the first time? In this case, not much so I shall end it there

Bright roads and a happy spring to Sirs Sparhawk and Kalten of the Pandion Knights, Sir Ulath of the Genidian Knights, Sir Tynian of the Alcione Knights, Sir Bevier of the Cyrinic Knights, and Berit, Talen, Lady Sephrenia of Styricum, and the Child-Goddess Aphrael.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My father and I just finished The Castle Behind Thorns

Supposedly it is a kids' book. I reject the term. My father and I just finished The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell, an outwardly simple yet unpredictable and enchanting, it is truly unique fantasy so filled with heart and humanness it could resurrect the dead. 
And friendship. And forgiveness, for even the most broken of hearts can be mended. Mens videt astra.

"You do not forgive because the person who wronged deserves it.You misunderstand the point of forgiveness entirely. The only cage that a grudge creates is around the holder of that grudge. Forgiveness is not saying that the person who hurt you was right, or has earned it, or is allowed to hurt you again. All forgiveness means is that you will carry on without the burdens of rage and hatred.” 
- Merrie Haskell

Monday, August 7, 2017

His name is Will (or Wil)

Will Stanton (The Dark Is Rising Sequence)
Will Parry (His Dark Materials)
A common tactic utilized by Fantasy authors is to give their main protagonists common, unremarkable names – likely so that the readers will be able to more easily identify with them. 
The name Will is perhaps the best example of this, as four of Fantasy literature's most noteworthy authors employed it: Susan Cooper in her The Dark Is Rising Sequence, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice, and Terry Brooks' Original Shannara Trilogy.

One can almost feel a kinship between them just by looking and, in fact, I once wrote to Philip Pullman via his website asking him the following: "Did you name Will Parry after Will Stanton from Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising Sequence? I thought you might have because your Will leaves his mother with a Mrs. Cooper at the start of The Subtle Knife." His reply was brief and pointed "In a word, no." – but, frankly, I do not believe him. Naturally Will Parry is very different from his Stanton counterpart but, given the evidence provided in my question coupled with Susan Cooper's fame and the fact that the two even look alike, I take Pullman's brevity and word choice as a way to dodge my query. 
Will Treaty (Ranger's Apprentice)
Wil Ohmsford (Original Shannara Trilogy)

 As to the rest, three of the four had, shall we say and to avoid spoilers, issues with magical thingamajigs, two are orphans, three have blond hair, three had complicated love lives, three had somewhat gruff and unshaven mentors, and all four experience difficult journeys.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Tis been far too long since I posted some music, which is, after all, one of the great joys in life that the High Fantasy espouses!
Now I do not play Skyrim (from the Elder Scrolls games series) nor do I know much about it. Yet I recognize good music when it graces my ears, to say nothing those deeply infused with the wonder and power and Fantasy. (It must be remembered, after all, that Fantasy games have no less story potential than Fantasy literature).

"Our hero our hero claims a warrior's heart. I tell you I tell you the Dragonborn comes..."