Friday, November 24, 2017

Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?

Dad is still reading The Book of Dust and it is, as of now, the Christmas Season. So why not read a book about bells?

The necromantic kind, of course. Hence I just started Goldenhand by Garth Nix, sequel and final book of the classic Abhorsen Series. This is literally the second full Fantasy series I read by myself (back in the 7th Grade), so Goldenhand is like a joyous reunion and journey continuation with old and dear friends! 

I swear the Old Kingdom never looked so good. And I am doubly excited because, if that expanded map is any indication, we will travel further North this time.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Just finished The Battle of Hackham Heath

Just finished The Battle of Hackham Heath by John Flanagan, book #2 of his Ranger's Apprentice: The Early Years series.
All I can say is that it was a pleasure to see how Halt earned his legend and helped send Morgarath, once Baron and now Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, packing. Interesting learning more about the Warguls as a race, too.
The epilogue was a killer, of course, but how much eye rolling laughter can a guy take.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Colors of Madeleine

My father and I just finished A Tangle of Gold, book #3 of The Colors of Madeleine series by Jaclyn Moriarty.
An utterly unique cousin of Pullman's His Dark Materials, this series is so unlike anything we have ever read that I am at a loss as to how to describe it.
But I can reaffirm that the end does not justify the means, that one should never believe another is dead until you see the body, and that love and the bonds of friendship can be found in the strangest and most unlikely of places. That and alchemy. And this book gives the terms strange and unlikely a new meaning.

May a Gold ever sprinkle upon you Elliot Baranski & Madeleine, Keira, Princess Ko, Corrie-Lynn Baranski, Sergio, Belle & Jack, King Cetus & Queen Lyra, Agents Tovey and Kim, Abel & Petra Baranski, and all else of the incurably odd and charming Kingdom of Cello.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Amazon announces Lord of the Rings TV adaptation

Yes indeed, and you doubtless did not hear it here first, Amazon has announced a TV adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Frankly, I am ambivalent 😶 as on the one hand I do not see how this could even begin to match the movies. Yet on the other, Amazon is working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line and it is hard to fathom that such a team could produce a poor imitation. Also, I think the movies are set in such a high place that this cannot touch them. After all, if it fails then the movies look doubly good, but if the t.v. series succeeds then we can cheer.

What I find hilarious is that, according to the Hollywood Reporter, the series is Amazons attempt to find a challenger to the success HBO’s Game of Thrones and establish a big-name franchise. (I suppose that is one good GRRM's work did: showing the world that fantasy book adaptations are quite viable in T.V. series format.)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Just started The Battle of Hackham Heath

So my Dad and I had a little race going...whoever finished their current book first earned the right to be the first to read The Book of Dust. I lost by barely an hour, but luckily good books are never lacking and this seems to be the season for old favorites. Sooo...

Just started The Battle of Hackham Heath by John Flanagan, book #2 of his Ranger's Apprentice: The Early Years series. Time to return for a blast from the past and delight in tactical genius and and cheerfully insults of Halt and Crowley and all the rest. Morgarath beware.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Just finished the Tales of the Bard

"Bard, come forth; face me."

I just finished reading Death's Law - book #3 of the Tales of the Bard series by that master of myth named Michael Scott.A splendid little tale whose epic language and lore belies its size, Scott has again proven his unquestionable skill within the Fantastic.
Long roads and fair destinations to Champion of the Old Faith Paedur the Bard Shannaqui, to white-haired Katani of the Katan Warriors, to Owen the Weapon Master and Tien'Zo, to Kutor once of the Wastelands, to Fodla of the Legion, to the victorious Pantheon.
Remember the Magician's Law; the Force of Equals. (Which seems to take prescience over the Death's Law)
Remember the Dove's Cry; the Lament of Lugas.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

It looms over the horizon...silent and dark as a grave

Whoever says that Fantasy literature and real-world History are unrelated has clearly never read the genre's best. Just as with world mythology, the finest Fantasy authors draw on real-world events for inspiration, making the genre a kind of mirroring allegory of humanity as it was and is.

As it is what gave me the idea for this post, that would be most recent and most fitting Fantasy-History simile I am aware of. In the card game Magic: The Gathering, the latest set Ixalan – is based off mesoamerican lore and history with a slight touch of Indiana Jones; hence filled with treasure-seeking pirates, people riding dinosaur, a lost city of gold, and a general sense of braving the unknown and uncharted jungles and seas. All very well, and an excellent idea, for it draws upon some of I hold what be Fantasy's greatest quality: the sense that one is exploring unknown lands.

Conqueror's Galleon
However, in this set, MtG also decided to add real-world conquistadors and colonizers to the various factions of Ixalan. Are they Humans? Close. In a a brutally apt analogy, they are Vampires. And why not? To quote the MtG developers, "Think intrepid Spanish sailors searching for spices from the New World, but instead Vampires searching for fresh blood. They discover an indigenous tribe inspired by Mayans, Incans, and Aztecs. Peace? War? Who knows—culture clashes always create conflict, and conflict is necessary for a compelling story." Naturally the picture of the Vampire Conquistadors' arriving vessel looks dark and menacing, which makes sense as Vampires are not known for their sense of cheer in both mood and decorative inclinations. 
But is it really so far off from how the European colonizers arrived in the Americas? Sure their ships did not look Vampiric nor carried a sense of dread, arriving in bright daylight upon picturesque beeches and whatnot. Yet is the above picture truly so inaccurate? Did the Europeans not truly bring greed and death the Native Americans, seeking gold and spices as Vampire seeks blood? Per my own lessons, for I love History no less than Fantasy, the analogy fits hand in glove. Not literally, but spiritually, making the ship picture an excellent foreshadowing of the eventual fate of many Native American cultures: a mighty ship comes from lands unknown beyond the horizon, the dark clouds marshaling behind it blotting out the sun.