Thursday, October 18, 2018

I just finished playing Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (Erika's path)

I just finished playing Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (Erika's path).
As always, it is an utter joy to play these games: a bookworthy storyline with real, fleshed out, unique and compelling characters who all unite makes for dialogue no less compelling than the tactical battles that makes Fire Emblem a standout.
In this case, having the main princess and prince characters be siblings was a nice change and, between the Renais Royals and Innes & Tana of Frelia, this game explored brother- sister relationships as no Fire Emblem games have thus far. (Naturally the themes of Dragons, friendship, and peace were the same, but they never get old).

Peace and prosperity to you, Erika, Ephram, Innes, Tana, Lady L'Arachel, Lute, Colm & Neimi, Gerik, Marisa the Crimson Flash, Joshua, Saleh, Myrrth, Duessel the Obsidian, Dozla, Rennac, Vanessa, Ewan, Comag, and Lyon the tragic.
(I will, of course, see you all again; when I follow Ephram's path).

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

My father and I just finished reading The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell

My father and I just finished reading The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell.

While not possessing the skill of Jones or McKillip, Haskell has for the second time proven their equal in imagination crafting a story that at first seems simple, yet soon evolves into a great mystery and then puzzle. A puzzle which is a delight to attempt to solve. This story took the whole the cursed princess archetype to new levels: 12 Romanian princesses to be exact, and a curse that combines worn-out slippers, sleeping death, and a young herbalist's apprentice determined to conquer mystery and war one remedy at a time.  

A toast (of Alethe) to you, Reveka, and farewell! And farewell to Princesses Otilia and Lacrimora, Didina and Adina, Brother Cosmin, Mihas, Armas, Marjit, Konstantin, and Dragos.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm

"A wanderer and a cursed child. Spells and magic. And dragons, of course."
Welcome back to the world of Alagaësia!

Such delightful news indeed to announce that Christopher Paolini is returning the wondrous world of his The Inheritance Cycle, international bestseller and the first great Fantasy series I read on my own in the 6th grade (my father having read The Lord of the Rings to me the year before)! Of course, Inheritance fans have long known that we would get to return to Alagaësia – that Paolini was writing some sort of "Book Five" – but we never knew what form it would take.

Now we do: a new series no less if the Tales from Alagaësia - Volume 1 is any implication, and The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm looks like a truly wondrous book. Honestly, I would say more to express my excitement as my love for this series is second to none save The Lord of the Rings itself, yet cannot without violating my blog law of never writing spoilers! But oh, to see Eragon and Saphira again!! So here is the link, and my only grief is that I will now be able to start it once it comes out at the year's end, for I will of course still be reading Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time. (Ironic, is it not? Forced away from true dragons by the Dragon Reborn.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Top 40 Fantasy Book Blogs (#36)

At Lake Cuiviénen by Ted Nasmith
"The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords." - J.R.R. Tolkien

As one can see by the badge now gracing the right column, it is my great honor and greater pleasure to announce that Stars Uncounted - Ian's Fantasy Bookshelf is now counted among the Top 40 Fantasy Book Blogs! This is an acknowledgement/award that I never expected to receive for the simple reason that I never believed this blog worthy of such; indeed, one of my family had to convince me to put my name forward and, even when I did, my hopes were not exactly high.
The lesson: that I guess I should listen to my own advice about always having faith in one's abilities so long as one puts their whole heart into it.

I must also, therefore, extend deep thanks to my friends who for years had urged me to create a Fantasy blog until I at last did so on Thursday, May 19, 2016.

So, with that out of the way, let the journey continue! To terra incognita!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

How to make your own System of Magic

Not long ago a old friend wrote to me saying, "I'm working on a myth-based fantasy book for the first time and I’m seriously struggling with building a magic system. Since you’re the master of all things fantasy - How do you usually go about it when you’re writing, or do you have any good reading recommendations for some inspiration, from your vast reading?"

Naturally this was/is an excellent question because reading about these wondrous & mystical realms is one thing, and writing one is a different matter all together. But often trying to craft your own unique system of magic can seem like the hardest part of all, so here – as I detailed to my friend is how I go about it:

The first thing you must decide is how ornate and prevalent you want yours to be. Some, such as J.R.R. Tolkien, have a restrained use of magic: You do not see Gandalf casting a lot of spells or throwing fireballs in The Lord of the Rings; when danger comes, Gandalf draws Glamdring (his sword). Yet there is still a steady presence of magic in Middle-earth, subtle yet bright, clear, and elegant.Then there are authors like Rowling, whose Harry Potter is full of flashing spells - but with carefully laid and complex rules behind and them, making the magic system work and adding realism and depth to it.
In general, the larger the role a magic system plays the more complex it is. Neither style is better, just different, as while the restrained kind is typically easier to craft, the often complex rules of the ornate system can help drive the story. The restrained kind often lends to a more epic feel, yet the ornate can be analyzed by the reader and bent in truly fascinating ways.

After you choose, the rest
i.e. the actual system of magic you are striving to create depends entirely on the world and characters you have crafted. For example, you will have to decide whether your system will conform/relate to one of The Nine Magics.

Inspirational readings I can also offer: The first five being some of the best myth-based Fantasies around, and the bottom two being the best examples or the more ornate yet unique/excellent systems of magic (beware, the two categories oft blur):
  • The Sea of Trolls trilogy by Nancy Farmer (Celtic and Norse myths) 
  • The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott (All myths, believe it or not) 
  • The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Copper (Arthurian legends) 
  • The Children of the Lamp series by P.B. Kerr (Arabian myths) 
  • In the Forests of Serre by Patricia A. McKillip (Slavic myths) 
  • The Abhorsen Series by Garth Nix 
  • The Vows and Honor trilogy and its companion By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey

Beyond this there is little more I can offer save one final recommendation: read the Sanderson’s First Law article, written by the acknowledged Master of Magic Systems, acclaimed Fantasy author Brandon Sanderson.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A girl and her white bear

One often hears the time honored phrase "a boy and his dog." Well, I now coin a new one: "a girl and her white bear."

Lyra (& mouse-Pan) and Iorek Byrnison
To the left is Lyra Silvertongue riding her armored bear friend Iorek Byrnison (who gave her said last name), from Philip Pullman's unquestioned masterwork the His Dark Materials trilogy. This image is so striking, a girl riding atop an apparent polar bear, that it has for decades been ingrained within the Fantasy genre's psyche; as it should, given the unforgettable story it helps bring to life. Yet that is also why I was so startled years ago to see the image below as the cover of a book called East by Edith Pattou. 
Rose and the white bear
Indeed, I instantly called to my Dad over from a few shelves away (we we in a book store) and said, "Mmm, a girl with a polar where have we seen that before?" He replied in kind, saying that image had certainly been appropriated by Pullman. As a matter of fact we already had the book, but had more or less forgotten it, so seeing it served as both a reminder and sparked my curiosity, though I naturally assumed it must be at least somewhat based of His Dark least until I read the back-cover and then, a few years later, when Dad and I both read the read. Pattou's work is, as it turns out, little like Pullman's (save for the love and adventure part), East being an adaptation of an old Norwegian folk tale entitled East of the Sun and West of the Moon. Which is interesting because the Iorek and his kin call themselves "panserbjørn", which is Norwegian and Danish for "armored bear".

I would thus speculate that His Dark Materials is derived more from old lore than is commonly thought. In fact, the proper name for The Golden Compass is Northern Lights, just as North Child is for East. Just as compasses also bear a prominent roll, and a far journey to the distant and mysterious and magical north. And, in both epics tales of loves and destiny, the girl and her white bear grows to share and unbreakable bond.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Golden Age of Fantasy

How fortunate that we live in a Golden Age of Fantasy! I mean, truly, is there any doubt? Fantasy literature has passed from a little-noted genre to a mainstream phenomenon, given large sections of all bookstores and libraries, a whole theme park in the case of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, with GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire recently breaking into the world of TV series in the form of HBO's The Game of Thrones. Indeed, following The Game of Thrones came the The Shannara Chronicles as an adaptation of Terry Brooks' Original Shannara Trilogy, and now BBC is developing a TV series for Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. Then one has phenomenally popular authors like Garth Nix,  Brandon Sanderson, Patricia A. McKillip, Rachel Hartman, Tamora Pierce, Mercedes Lackey, Patrick Rothfuss, Diana Wynne Jones, Christopher Paolini, Michael Scott, John Flanagan, Kristen Britain, Kristin Cashore, Alison Croggon, Neil Gaiman, Jo Walton, Kelly Barnhill, Brian Jacques, Jonathan Stroud, and so many others (and these are just the ones I personally have heard of). All of whom have in the last decade or two written amazing works with substantial and dedicated fandoms.

Furthermore, all the while the old masters remain readily popular and available. The Founder of Modern Fantasy J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings of course, but also others just as the recently passed
Ursula K. Le Guin whose
Earthsea Cycle took a different approach to the genre. Much like Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising Sequence and Pullman's aforementioned
His Dark Materials. Actually, several of the authors listed above are old masters; I merely listed them up there because have until recently or still are writing.

But now I think a bit of history is in order. How did we find ourselves in this wondrous Golden Age of Fantasy? The answer, unsurprisingly, begins with J.R.R. Tolkien.
No one denies that Fantasy literature owes its bones to The Lord of the Rings; it essentially swamped all previously written works of Fantasy, and it unquestionably created "Fantasy" as a marketing category. Indeed, all the author's I have listed site Tolkien as a defining influence, from GRRM to Jones, from Rowling to Paolini, from McKillip to Croggon. Knowing that Tolkien came first, you cannot read any other books without seeing his hand-print. Indeed, in the immediate years following LOTR, its popularity created an enormous number of Tolkienesque works (using the themes found in The Lord of the Rings).  
Then, in 1977, Terry Brooks' The Sword of Shannara came out. Some now call the it a LOTR imitation, but I disagree utterly; it is Tolkienesque, for a certainly, yet is its own story and the Four Lands has a  history/lore unique to that of Middle-earth and populated by engaging characters; furthermore, to call the two subsequent books in the Original Shannara Trilogy LOTR imitations is nothing short of madness. Regardless, however, the key fact is that Brooks' was breakthrough success that publishers had been yearning for: the first true master Fantasist since Tolkien and Shannara became the first Fantasy novel to appear on, and eventually top the New York Times bestseller list. As a result, the genre saw a boom in the number of quite popular titles published in the following years, such as Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Then came The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb (which is one my to-read list) and The Blue Sword and its companion The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley.

Yet the Golden Age had yet to begin. It needed a push. Well, several pushes, actually, and the next of those was Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time (which took decades to complete and is my current book), followed by the more swiftly finished Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series by Tad Williams. Both international bestsellers, with Williams' work setting the seeds of inspiration in the mind of George R. R. Martin and the much later and regrettable rise of Grimdark Fantasy.

Yet still the Golden Age had not begun. Fantasy was present and popular, yes, but it needed, frankly, another Tolkien; another The Lord of the Rings. Another undeniable literary classic to inspire another whole generation of readers. And we got it in The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling...hence my name for her, the Heir of Tolkien. One does not need me to list the virtues of Harry Potter nor how it differs from LOTR, but it was the classic that started the Golden Age of Fantasy – pushing the genre forever into the canon of Great Literature increasingly intertwining with mainstream fiction. A process aided by the international popularity of other works such as Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle, Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan, and so many others that have have listed.

Now, with both Rowling and Tolkien to draw upon, Fantasy has blossomed into a still-growing and flourishing garden of authors and worlds one can spend literal decades reading (I speak from experience). Truly the popularity of the Fantastic is not lessening but rather the opposite, as noted in the first paragraph. Let us glory in this Golden Age of Fantasy! This Golden Age of Imagination!

"At its best, fantasy rewards the reader with a sense of wonder about what lies within the heart of the commonplace world. The greatest tales are told over and over, in many ways, through centuries. Fantasy changes with the changing times, and yet it is still the oldest kind of tale in the world, for it began once upon a time, and we haven't heard the end of it yet." - Patricia A. McKillip

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want your children to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." – Albert Einstein 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Dragon Age Inquisition - The Dawn Will Come

I have never played the game Dragon Age: Inquisition so there is little that I can say about it. But I am always searching for inspiring music regardless of the source and, upon finding this, was moved in a way few songs ever touch me. And why not, for it in many ways encapsulates the values and spirit of the High Fantasy: a sense of moral high-minded optimistic realism, wisdom, and personal integrity. Trust me, you do not need to understand or have any knowledge of the game's story to feel the power of this scene and song.
Shadows fall and hope has fled
Steel your heart, the dawn will come
The night is long and the path is dark
Look to the sky for one day soon
The dawn will come

The Shepherd’s lost and his home is far
Keep to the stars, the dawn will come
The night is long and the path is dark
Look to the sky for one day soon
The dawn will come

Bare your blade and raise it high
Stand your ground, the dawn will come
The night is long and the path is dark
Look to the sky for one day soon
The dawn will come

Friday, August 24, 2018

Gandalf the White, not Wight.

Why does it keep coming back to the Bridge of Khazad-dûm? So, in brief, George R.R. Martin says that J.R.R. Tolkien’s killing of Gandalf was influential in his decision to kill off his own characters:
“By the time I got to Mines of Moria I decided this was the greatest book I’d ever read… And then Gandalf dies! I can’t explain the impact that had on me at 13. You can’t kill Gandalf… Tolkien just broke that rule, and I’ll love him forever for it. The minute you kill Gandalf, the suspense of everything that follows is 1,000 times greater. Because now anybody could die. Of course, it’s had a profound effect on my own willingness to kill characters at the drop of a hat.”

I have always said that GRRM got the wrong message from Tolkien, but this is pitiful 😑 Gandalf was reborn as Gandalf the White, not Gandalf the Wight. Frankly, this statement is senseless per GRRM's own previous words saying that Tolkien should have kept Gandalf dead. I would say more but, seeing as I already have in an earlier post, there is no need.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Wheel of Time

So it begins...
The great journey begins.

Long have said that I would not read this series. I now eat those words to read countless more. I have just started The Eye of the World, book #1 of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. 

I have just witnessed the tragic death of Lews Therin Telamon, called the Dragon, Lord of the Morning, and lastly Kinslayer.
(Unlike usual, I do not silently swear to finish this series, but by the Light I mean to try!)

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

Friday, August 10, 2018

My father and I just finished The Cygnet and the Firebird

My father and I just finished The Cygnet and the Firebird by Patricia A. McKillip, the final book of her Cygnet Duology.

I am in awe. Again. Again yet more so. Again. If the first book was of stars and time, this one was of Dragons. Far from Ro Holding there lies the Luxour Desert where Dragons shift themselves out of time and legend, literally. A landscape so vast, wondrous, and timeless that it defies description save that it pulses with the ancient, beautiful, primal wonder and majestic power of the Dragon.

In this distant place Mequet and Nyx found riddles and puzzles writ not in stone but in the human heart for, more than any other book, this story is driven by the question of whom to trust amid a crime that cries as a Firebird and hunts the Cygnet as a Dragon. Most books are driven by events that in turn shape the characters' personalities; yet under the Cygnet it is the opposite, the personalities that drive all which in turn results in the most brilliant conversations I have EVER read. Brilliant, unpredictable, and so filled with human heart.

May the stars guide your paths Meguet Vervaine (& and the Gatekeeper), Nyx Ro & Brand Saphier, and Rad Ilex.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Just finished The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill

Just finished The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill.

I can only say this: Off all the countess books I have read, few possess the heart of this one. It is a fairy tale. Death of family, an ancient and wild and tempting magic managed by a Witch, an Enchanted Forest, a Bandit King, an aging good Queen, a wolf, and Nine Speaking Stones.

And Ned the Witch's Boy. And Aine the Bandit King's Daughter. It has been an absolute delight getting to know you both, sharing in your joys and terrors and heartbreaks and forged friendship. To the sea!

(Caitlin, thank you so much for suggesting this way back when!! It has earned a special place on my shelves)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Fantasy morality

In the intro page I say that my morality, manner of speech, style of writing, and building blocks of thought may all be traced to Fantasy books I have read. Well, perhaps I ought to compile some of that morality to show, in sum, what said fantastical literature can do for a person. Naturally I am limited to what I have long called "nuggets of wisdom" within books and a more complete set of quotes (not limited to Fantasy literature) can be found on the Quotes page. Yet there is something to be said for conciseness, a simple set of strictures to go by, and this, or near enough as makes no matter, is mine:

The sentiment of the Abhorsens: "For everyone and everything, there is a time to die." 

From Ogion of Gont, Wizard of Re Albi: "To hear, one must be silent." 

Faramir on purpose of war: "I do not love the bright sword for it's sharpness, nor the arrow for it's swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend."

Silvia of Innail: "The law is that the hungry must be fed, and the homeless must be housed, and the sick must be healed. That is the way of the Light."

Chrodechild of the Blades of Night's Veil: "The responsibility of rulers is to protect their country and their people. To that end, naturally, they must employ various techniques. Different faces that depend on the time, the situation and the people with which they are dealing."

The last words of The King under the Mountain: "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

Landen, Prince and slave and swordmaster: "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!"

Cadvan of Lirigon: "To love is never wrong. It may be disastrous; it may never be possible; it may be the deepest agony. But it is never wrong."

Gandalf on legends: "Pay heed to the tales of old wives. It may well be that they alone keep in memory what it was once needful for the wise to know."

Herald Dirk of Valdemar: "There's no such thing as 'one, true way'; the only answers worth having are the ones you find for yourself; leave the world better than you found it. Love, freedom, and the chance to do some good they're the things worth living and dying for, and if you aren't willing to die for the things worth living for, you might as well turn in your membership in the human race."

From the witty and not quite moral scholar: "A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge."

Kerowyn the merc: "Make someone a devout, fanatical anything, and his brain turns to mulch."

Merriman Lyon, sometimes called Great Uncle Merry: "For ever and ever, we say when we are young, or in our prayers. Twice, we say it. Old One, do we not? For ever and ever ... so that a thing may be for ever, a life or a love or a quest, and yet begin again, and be for ever just as before. And any ending that may seem to come is not truly an ending, but an illusion. For Time does not die, Time has neither beginning nor end, and so nothing can end or die that has once had a place in Time."

Od: "Power shaped by wonder and curiosity; even love. Not by fear and laws that shut out instead of inviting it."

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The tales that really mattered

One of the most memorable, an thus justly memorialized moments from Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers movie was Sam's moving speech in Osgiliath about the tales that really mattered.

Yet, seeing as in the books Frodo and Sam never went to that ruined city, it is easy to think that said speech was nothing but a brilliant piece of script writing on Peter Jackson's part.
It is not so. Nay, in the books and also near the end of The Two Towers, Sam makes a similar speech to Frodo as they near and climb the Stair of Cirith Ungol:

'I don't like anything here at all.' said Frodo, `step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid.'
'Yes, that's so,' said Sam. `And we shouldn't be here at all, if we'd known more about it before we started. But I suppose it's often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually - their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on - and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same - like old Mr Bilbo. But those aren't always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we've fallen into? '
`I wonder,' said Frodo. 'But I don't know. And that's the way of a real tale. Take any one that you're fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don't know. And you don't want them to.'
'No, sir, of course not. Beren now, he never thought he was going to get that Silmaril from the Iron Crown in Thangorodrim, and yet he did, and that was a worse place and a blacker danger than ours. But that's a long tale, of course, and goes on past the happiness and into grief and beyond it - and the Silmaril went on and came to Eärendil. And why, sir, I never thought of that before! We've got - you've got some of the light of it in that star-glass that the Lady gave you! Why, to think of it, we're in the same tale still! It's going on. Don't the great tales never end? '
'No, they never end as tales,' said Frodo. `But the people in them come, and go when their part's ended. Our part will end later - or sooner.'
'And then we can have some rest and some sleep,' said Sam. He laughed grimly. 'And I mean just that, Mr. Frodo. I mean plain ordinary rest, and sleep, and waking up to a morning's work in the garden. I'm afraid that's all I'm hoping for all the time. All the big important plans are not for my sort. Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We're in one, or course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards. And people will say: "Let's hear about Frodo and the Ring! " And they'll say: "Yes, that's one of my favourite stories. Frodo was very brave. wasn't he, dad?" "Yes, my boy, the famousest of the hobbits, and that's saying a lot."'
`It's saying a lot too much,' said Frodo, and he laughed, a long clear laugh from his heart. Such a sound had not been heard in those places since Sauron came to Middle-earth. To Sam suddenly it seemed as if all the stones were listening and the tall rocks leaning over them. But Frodo did not heed them; he laughed again. 'Why, Sam,' he said, 'to hear you somehow makes me as merry as if the story was already written. But you've left out one of the chief characters: Samwise the stouthearted. "I want to hear more about Sam, dad. Why didn't they put in more of his talk, dad? That's what I like, it makes me laugh. And Frodo wouldn't have got far without Sam, would he, dad? " '
`Now, Mr. Frodo,' said Sam, 'you shouldn't make fun. I was serious. '
`So was I,' said Frodo, 'and so I am. We're going on a bit too fast. You and I, Sam, are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: "Shut the book now, dad; we don't want to read any more." '
`Maybe,' said Sam, 'but I wouldn't be one to say that. Things done and over and made into part of the great tales are different. Why, even Gollum might be good in a tale, better than he is to have by you, anyway. And he used to like tales himself once, by his own account. I wonder if he thinks he's the hero or the villain?
`Gollum!' he called. `Would you like to be the hero - now where's he got to again?'

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Professor Tolkien on languages

C.S. Lewis called him "Tollers" during their lifelong friendship. Bow before this incredible mind that is vast beyond the thoughts of elves and mortals. Class and genius and (dry) humor epitomized, Professor Tolkien compares the learning and crafting of new languages to new, fine wines. Indeed, he invented the world of Arda (Middle-earth & Undying Lands) simply to give his invented tongues a home.
I cannot put my admiration of this man into mere human words.

(This video is from the BBC Archive)

The languages were the first thing Tolkien created for his mythos, starting with what he originally called "Qenya", the first primitive form of Elvish. This was later called Quenya (High-elven) and is one of the two most complete of Tolkien's languages (the other being Sindarin, or Grey-elven). The phonology and grammar of Quenya are strongly influenced by Finnish, Latin, Greek and elements of ancient Germanic languages, and Sindarin is strongly influenced by Welsh.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

I just started The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill

After reading an old joy it is best to then read something new and unique. Thus I just started The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill, a single-standing Fantasy that already burns with an ancient yet charming and potent power right out of fairy tales and antiquity.

Thank you Caitlin for suggesting this back in college 🙂 I swiftly bought, never forgot, and am already hooked on this truly unique and clearly heartfelt book.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

I once again finished The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Shadow of Sauron
Thus once again I have and to my joy finished The Return of the King and with it The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. The book to which I owe so much: my love of reading, my interest in myths and legends, the mithril-plating upon my moral backbone.

Thus came Aragorn
The White Tree of Gondor
To this masterwork that is my DNA writ in ink and awe, I quote the illustrator Ted Nasmith, who once flawlessly described the wonder and power of this book that is the Father and Founder of the Fantasy Genre in but a single sentence: "It opened up in me a dormant love of lost and misty times, myth and legend."
Truly and for me as well, as before my father convinced me to let him read it to me aloud I hated reading.

And now, for the first time since before high school, it is done again, and I am filled with awe-anew for now I pick up much that I had missed before and my regard of Tolkien climbs higher still.

Until next time my dearest friends. I would say a longer goodbye save for the fact that if there if one thing in my life that is certain it is that I will see you all again. Maybe next year or ten times that, but it will occur.

"Roads go ever ever on,
Under cloud and under star.
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen,
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green,
And trees and hills they long have known.

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone.
Let others follow, if they can!
Let them a journey new begin.

The End of the Age

But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

Still round the corner there may wait  
A new road or a secret gate,  
And though I oft have passed them by,  
A day will come at last when I  
Shall take the hidden paths that run  
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Fire Emblem: The Three Houses

I have always been a passionate fan of the Fire Emblem video game series, for the stories are book-worthy and full of characters who I truly came to love and care about. Thus I am thrilled to say a new game, Fire Emblem: The Three Houses, is in the works. A whole new would is this, so a toast to friends not yet made and battles only a true master tactician can win!

Friday, June 29, 2018

My father and I just finished The Sorceress and the Cygnet by Patricia A. McKillip

My father and I just finished The Sorceress and the Cygnet by Patricia A. McKillip, the first book of her Cygnet Duology.

I am in awe. Again yet more so. Usually when reading a McKillip book it feels as though Ages of the World pass between pages, so great is per poetic power over atmospheric language. Yet this tale under cygnet and star transcended time in such a fashion that it felt like we have been reading it forever, with Ages passing so swiftly that they became meaningless. 

In this book, stories old as Ro Holding and woven out of stars spring to life, confounding the very grounded and yet beautifully intricate Ro House as Wayfolk man is compelled to aid these powers for the return of his love. Thus an epic tale is born as a realm is threatened, all without marching armies or a trace of civil unrest. A tale which teaches a most important lesson: Some powers are meant to be known and not used, and in some areas it is better to make the choice to stop learning; and with every heart you burn knowingly it is your own you cast into the flames.

May the stars watch over you Corleu of the Wayfolk, Meguet Vervaine, Nyx Ro, the Gatekeeper, Rush Yar, Calyx Ro, Holder Lauro, Iris Ro, and Tiel of the Wayfolk.