- Wizard's Hall by Jane Yolen.
- The Howl Series by Diana Wynne Jones
- The Eye of the World, book #1 of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
- The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell
- The Cygnet Duology by Patricia A. McKillip
- The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill
- The Dark Is Rising and Greenwitch by Susan Cooper
- The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip
- The Healer's Keep by Victoria Hanley
- La Belle Sauvage, Volume #1 of The Book of Dust trilogy by Sir Philip Pullman
Hall of Fantasy
- The Spirit of Tolkien
- Types of Fantasy
- The Nine Magics
- I am Ian E.S. Adler
- The Bookshelf
- Hidden Gems
- Triad of Songs
- Riddle Mastery
- Heroes of Light
- Females in Fantasy
- The Role and Proper Usage of Magic Thingamajigs
- GRRM the Anti-Tolkien
- Rumors of the Wheel
- Race in Fantasy
- The Final Lesson
- Artist vs. the Art
- Fantasy Book Tiers
- The History (and Golden Age) of Fantasy
- How to make your own System of Magic
- Seas Uncharted
Monday, December 31, 2018
Sunday, December 30, 2018
Lovely to see the Drew children again as we return to Cornwall to tack back something of the Light that was stolen by the Dark and the neutral Wild Magic. Lovely to see that sometimes a little kindness can do what great magics cannot, so a special salute to Jane.
Monday, December 24, 2018
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Thursday, December 6, 2018
Of course, one who has read my opinion of GRRM the Anti-Tolkien already knows that I wholeheartedly agree with this. However, this post is not just another long rant regarding A Song of Ice and Fire but, rather, an attack on the cynicism that fuels it and which goes beyond George R.R. Martin. A cynicism which amounts to another concept known as the Treason of the Intellectuals, in which academics accept and espouse cynicism because – in a nutshell – they believe that Power and Politics will near-always emerge triumphant over morality. Hence the best, wisest, course of action is to embrace this truth and put forth one's intellectualism to working with thus shaping the policies of the Powerful until they resemble/accomplish the political agenda of the academics.
Permit me to offer a quote from the J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings:
"A new Power is rising. Against it the old allies and policies will not avail us at all. There is no hope left in Elves or dying Númenor. This then is one choice before you, before us. We may join with that Power. It would be wise, Gandalf. There is hope that way. Its victory is at hand; and there will be rich reward for those that aided it. As the Power grows, its proved friends will also grow; and the Wise, such as you and I, may with patience come at last to direct its courses, to control it. We can bide our time, we can keep our thoughts in our hearts, deploring maybe evils done by the way, but approving the high and ultimate purpose: Knowledge, Rule, Order; all the things that we have so far striven in vain to accomplish, hindered rather than helped by our weak or idle friends. There need not be, there would not be, any real change in our designs, only in our means."
Sound familiar? If not, then recall these words as the ones spoken by Saruman to Gandalf when trying to convince him to join him in an alliance with Sauron. What is striking, however, is how neatly the Treason of Isengard matches the description of the Treason of the Intellectuals. Saruman and Gandalf had been sent to Middle-earth with the purpose of overthrowing Sauron, something that Saruman clearly still intends to accomplish, except that rather than fighting Mordor he now means to become Sauron's ally so as slowly twist and replace him on his dark throne.
Naturally Saruman is an very extreme case, as it would be far from fair to call cynical intellectuals ambitious agents of clear evil. Yet the crux of the matter is that, like Saruman, those academics who engage in intellectual treason believe that fighting Power and Politics with human determination and basic morality is a fool's errand and thus join the other side if they see any hope in altering it from within to suit their visions. In short, it is the temptation to accommodate oneself to the nature of the times, as Niccolò Machiavelli would have put it, and to ally – cautiously but definitely – with the Power that is rather than the principles that were. Saruman's mad vision may have been to replace the Lord of Mordor as the tyrant of Middle-earth, but, as can be seen, when striped down to their essential organs there is very little separating Treason of Isengard from the Treason of the Intellectuals.
Which, to bring this post to a full circle, is one of many reasons why I am the Enemy of the Grimdark. Because A Song of Ice and Fire and the genre as the whole offers a cold and cynical view of humanity coupled with the apparent lesson that the honorable and compassionate usually end with their heads upon a stake. It teaches that treachery is profitable; that morals do not pay and are near powerless to effect the wider world.
"Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost." - Charlie Chaplin
"Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us." - Stephen Colbert
The cynic is one who never sees a good quality in a man and never fails to see a bad one. He is the human owl, vigilant in darkness and blind to light, mousing for vermin, and never seeing noble game. The cynic puts all human actions into two classes — openly bad and secretly bad. - Henry Ward Beecher
"A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past; he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future." - Sydney J. Harris
"The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were...and ask why not." - John F. Kennedy
"Cynicism isn't smarter, it's only safer. There's nothing fluffy about optimism." - Jewel Kitcher
"The greater part of the truth is always hidden, in regions out of the reach of cynicism." - J. R. R. Tolkien
Saturday, December 1, 2018
Plenty of time to read The Wheel of Time, right...?
Well, once again I see why getting to the new Fantasy books that have long graced my shelves is proving so difficult... IT IS BECAUSE THE OLD BOOK SERIES' REFUSE TO END!! On 10/10/2018 Paolini announces The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm out of nowhere. And today I go to the bookstore and find The Red Fox Clan, book #2 of the new Ranger's Apprentice: The Royal Ranger which is nothing less that an entire sequel series follow-up to the now-old book #12 (called The Royal Ranger) of the main Ranger's Apprentice series.
My reaction: YAY!! HELP!! AUGH!! (all at once).
Seriously, the minute I finally begin moving through Robert Jordan's heavyweight what happens? All the my careful planning goes out the window as two of my dearest other series leap out like the unexpected ghosts of departed and beloved friends returned to life and calling to me 😲😵 Tis a cruel and unusual literary punishment and blessing by every definition of the words as I leap for joy and curse the skies with a single breath: the first for the sequels and second for the timing of this which is nothing short of maddening. Naturally I intend to follow my own long-held rules and finish The Wheel of Time before starting these others, but...😩
Monday, November 19, 2018
I have just started The Great Hunt, book #2 of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.
The Horn of Valere is found and travels south to Illian, yet the hunters and the hunted are each the other in this game. Darkfriends wearing white and those true to the Light in conflict despite the return of spring. As the Prophesies of the Dragon state, "Let tears flow, O ye people of the world. Weep for your salvation."
Saturday, November 17, 2018
Thursday, November 15, 2018
This is it. This was it. The last the of the Many Worlds of Diana Wynne Jones - Mistress of the Multiverse and Lady of Endless Surprises whom I put second only to J.R.R. Tolkien himself. And, as usual, Dad and I ended up pounding our fists against the bed and crying aloud in the purest shock as her utterly unpredictably yet expertly woven story wound from quiet beginning to thunderous end.
This is the end of over a decade of reading. Since elementary school my father and I have laughed and learned with her, always knowing that another Diana Wynne Jones book lay on the horizon - another book we knew with every fiber of our souls that was good and moral and a literal roller-coaster ride to read.
She knows every Fantasy stereotype, trope, and trick in the book – indeed, she lists them into an actual book called The Tough Guide to Fantasyland – and purposely subverts and/or circumvents them; I once judged myself wise enough in the ways of Fantasy to be able to see through basically any trick. Well, Jones first shredded the banner of my pride, then reduced the plain it stood on to a smoking crater! The ability to surprise is her signature and she will tear down literary arrogance like hurricane winds will leaves! "We've been Jonesed!" was our agonized yet delighted yell whenever she got us (as she did at least twice each book). Yet she is also an excellent teacher and, while Dad and I never realized our dream of anticipating a Jones surprise before it happened – my signature line being "Well, since we've thought of it then it can't be right" – without her we would never have been able to barely anticipate Patricia A. McKillip as often as we do. Hence the students never matched the teacher, but we learned well.
Thank you, Diana Wynne Jones. Thank you so much for so many precious stories and reading memories. Our reading time and life itself will not feel the same knowing that we do not have a fresh world of yours to explore.
And Enchanted Glass was a stellar and most fitting ending; a classic that showed her ability to weave chaos and mind-bending complexity into an outwardly simple tale.
Happy days to Andrew Hope & Stashe, Aidan Cain, Tarquin, Rolf, Groil, Shaun, Trixie, and the unrelated Mr. and Mrs. Stock.