Sunday, August 9, 2020

My father and I just finished Moonheart by Charles de Lint

My father and I just finished Moonheart by Charles de Lint. 

A strong urban Fantasy that, despite the gritty language, seamlessly blends and thrusts many elements and social perspectives of our modern world with and into the traditional if sometimes conflicting Ways of Celtic and Native American mytho-history in a rapidly shifting story in which The Dread That Walks Nameless must be confronted.

May you find peace of Grandmother Toad in life and in the Place of Dreaming Thunder that comes after, Sara, Jamie, Blue, Kieran, Thomas Hengwr, Taliesin, Tucker, Pukwudji, Ha'kan'ta & Ur'wen'ta of the rathe-wen'a, and Sims'amin of the quin'on'a.

The red ship draws nearer

It is done. The first book of the Fantasy series I wrote is ready to be sent out to a publisher. I will be sending it out in September, as everyone says that August submissions tend to pile up.

Watch for the red ship on the horizon.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Quote to start the month

"Sometimes a good man can do wrong. At times it is appropriate to punish him. At other times punishment serves nobody and the best thing to do is to let him continue and learn." - Morgase Trakand

Friday, July 24, 2020

I have just started A Memory of Light

The great journey continues. The Wheel turns.

I have just started A Memory of Light, the 14th and final Volume of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (and completed posthumously by Brandon Sanderson).
It is time. The storm has come. The Last Battle. Tarmon Gai'don. The World and Time itself hangs in the balance as the Dragon Reborn makes his demands on the Field of Merrilor and marches under the Banners Dragon and Light across the Mountains of Dhoom to Shayol Ghul to face the Dark One and all the forces of the Shadow. Nations shall crumble and humanity shall be unified. Lies shall be torn off in bloody waves as the earth shakes. The world shall be broken and made whole. "He shall hold a blade of light in his hands, and the three shall be one," says the Karaethon Cycle, "Red on black, the Dragon’s blood stains the rock of Shayol Ghul. In the Pit of Doom shall his blood free men from the Shadow." So is the hope of the Light, and the fear of those who love Rand a'Thor.
It is time. The storm has come. The Last Battle. Tarmon Gai'don.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

I have just finished Towers of Midnight

Mah'alleinir is forged
The great journey continues. The Wheel turns.

I have just finished the Towers of Midnight, Volume #13 of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (and completed posthumously by Brandon Sanderson).
Thus do the children of Morgase fulfill the Foretelling of the old false Flame of Tar Valon, the Sunburst giving justice to and serving the newly risen and proud Red Wolf while the Golden Lily claims the Sun Throne and White Boar finds true love in service. Thus does the gambler give up half the light in the world to save the world as foretold by the snakes and foxes to rescue an old friend, a true Servant of All. Yet the world hangs by a thread even as the Light gathers, the White Tower a threat and threatened both even as the Dragon Reborn makes final preparations to face the Shadow, while the City of Queens is aflame and the Uncrowned King charges death. The Age draws to a close and the armies of the world march to Tarmon Gai'don. To the Last Battle. It is time.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Love, lust, and Lyanna Stark

Maester Aemon one of the wisest, gentlest, and most beloved characters in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series – once said to Jon Snow: "love is the bane of honor, the death of duty."

Prince Rhaegar Targaryen
Lyanna Stark
Not so wise after all, I guess, as any moral and sane person would passionately state otherwise. Yet GRRM twists those words into a kind of sick truth in A Song of Ice and Fire, as exemplified in the character of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Dead during the events of the series, his history casts a long shadow throughout – making him a very present man for all that he lives only in the memories of other key characters. (Worry not, for what follows is essentially background knowledge, not spoilers.) Often described as a man of honor, a noble Prince who did his duty and had skills with both blades and books, his death and that of his House was brought about by a very singular event. Ser Barristan Selmy once noted that "Prince Rhaegar loved his Lady Lyanna and thousands died for it." Well, one of those thousands was Lyanna Stark herself and two others were her father and eldest brother. To cut a long take short, the already married Rhaegar showed an interest of Lyanna (who was betrothed to Lord Robert Baratheon) over his own wife and then, later, kidnapped her. A noble, married, Prince kidnaps a sixteen year old girl who is later found, after the war's end and Rhaegar's death. Found by her brother Ned in the tower where Rhaegar had taken her. Found dying in a "bed of blood". I admit that the exact nature of her death is still a subject of speculation with the fandom of the series, but Lyanna's husband-to-now-never-be told Ned his opinion in no uncertain terms: "And Rhaegar ... how many times do you think he raped your sister? How many hundreds of times?"
Lyanna died in a room
that smelled of "blood and roses"
An opinion which, given GRRM's penchant for rampant needless porn and rape, is quite believable. Hence one can see how GRRM makes a sick truth out of the words "love is the bane of honor, the death of duty" in his world for, by that twisted logic, if Rhaegar had not loved Lyanna he would not have strayed from his duty and lost his honor. Well, my answer is that any fool knows that no honorable person would EVER behave as Rhaegar did. Would ever commit such heinous crimes. Which adds yet another crime to GRRM's name: mistaking lust for love in his series. Mistaking and deceiving the readers into thinking so, for other more truly honorable characters, even Ser Barristan, speak fondly of him; speak of the good in Prince Rhaegar. Good in a kidnapper and likely rapist as well as unfaithful father and husband whose deeds led to the deaths of thousands? Not in any sane and moral person's book. Indeed, I have read in many other Fantasies the same definition of love: that to love is care about another above yourself and your needs so much that everything you do is designed to keep that person happy and safe. By that truth that everyone in their heart knows do I declare that Rhaegar did not love Lyanna as the beginning of their 'relationship' was him favoring her over his own wife, the middle being him abducting her, and the end was her dying in a pool of her own blood on the bed into the tower he had taken her to. A damsel-in-distress locked in the tower, as it were, only this time the handsome prince was the villain in every sense of the word; an appropriate twisting of that archetype, for in its traditional fairy-tale use the noble prince truly does love and care for the trapped lady in question. Yet GRRM, again, calls Rhaegar's feelings love and has more praise of the prince than otherwise throughout his work and to the extent that reader even feels sympathetic towards him. I know, for even I felt so back when I was one of the series' strongest fans. A feeling I spit upon now, for it is never hinted in even the vaguest terms that before his death Rhaegar regretted what he did to Lyanna. Never hinted that he felt remorse. Indeed, the Targaryen Prince even named Lyanna Stark's lofty prison the Tower of Joy.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Dragon's Madness

The Dragon Banner
The Coat of Arms of
House Targaryen of Dragonstone
While reading Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time I am struck at times by interesting similarities between it and George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. I have already stated in my Rumors of the Wheel page that before the Game of Thrones was played in Westeros the Game of Houses (also called "The Great Game," translated as "Daes Dae'mar" in the Old Tongue) was played in the Westlands and are every bit as devious as those GRRM spins. In fact, I think the Cairhienin contending for the Sun Throne could teach the Westerosi a few things in their endless wars for the Iron. More to the point, in reading the Knife of Dreams I recently came across a quote of Lews Therin Telamon, called "the Dragon" in his day and after that rang a distant bell in my brain. Then while aimless surfing the web I found myself on a wiki page dedicated to one Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen.

"A man who trusts everyone is a fool and a man who trusts no one is a fool. We are all fools if we live long enough." - Lews Therin Telamon

"It seems to me that a queen who trusts no one is as foolish as a queen who trusts everyone." - Daenerys Targaryen

Aerys II Targaryen, also called the Mad King,
and the father of Daenerys
Lews Therin Kinslayer
Quite the similarity there, beyond question. And as to the question of whether this is a coincidence, well, while I cannot read the mind of the GRRM, I can point out other marked similarities between the Stormborn and the First Among Servants (another of Lews Therin's titles). Beginning with their last names, as Telamon and Targaryen are not exactly worlds apart linguistically. Yet it goes well beyond that. Lews Therin is named the Dragon and was key to defeating the Shadow in the long-ago War of Power as per the prophecies of the day. Daenerys Targaryen is named the Mother of Dragons and is descended from Aegon the Dragon whose conquests she seeks to emulate but, more importantly, she appears to be the princess that was promised and, per the prophecy of Azor Ahai, is destined to save the world from darkness. Is there an echo in here? Yes, and in continues into madness. Literally, for as Barristan the Bold once noted, "Every child knows that the Targaryens have always danced too close to madness." Indeed, Dany's father and several ancestors killed countless and died themselves of it. Just like Lews Therin Telamon, who went horribly mad, was renamed Lews Therin Kinslayer, and whose fate makes the strong tremble three millennia after his death.

The Dragon Reborn
The princess that was promised
Do the above quotes combined with the all rest heavily suggest that GRRM's Daenerys Targaryen was at least partly inspired by Robert Jordan's Lews Therin Telamon? At face value perhaps, yet it is more accurate to say that the Dragon was the inspiration behind House Targaryen. Which brings up other similarities. The Targaryens, under the Aegon the Dragon, united Westeros under their banner in the War of Conquest, just as Lews Therin united and led the forces of the Light under his during the War of Power. It has already been mention that both Telamon and House Targaryen fell to madness that decimated their families made people curse their names. Yet in both cases, in both book series, this is the stuff of history. Was the Stormborn based off the First Among Servants? Not quite. Rather she is based off Rand al'Thor the Dragon Reborn. Remember that Dany is descended from, seeks to emulate, and is effectively called Aegon the Dragon come again in female form by Tyrion Lannister. Well, Rand is literally Lews Therin the Dragon come again (hence his title the Dragon Reborn). Remember that Dany appears to be the princess that was promised and, per the prophecy of Azor Ahai, is destined to save the world from darkness: "When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone." Well, Rand is the subject of the Prophecies of the Dragon (also called the Karaethon Cycle) and is destined to save the world from the Shadow. In fact, the two prophecies mirror each other almost exactly; just looked at the wording: "Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone." Not a far cry from the Dragon Reborn, whose coming will be largely identified by his taking the Stone of Tear. "The Stone of Tear will never fall, till Callandor is wielded by the Dragon’s hand. The Stone of Tear will never fall, till the People of the Dragon come." In short, both Dany and Rand are both ancient saviors come again, and there is a good argument that GRRM based the prophecy of Azor Ahai off of the Karaethon Cycle. Azor Ahai was called Shadowchaser. Rand is called by wolves Shadowkiller. Azor Ahai helped end the Long Night and there is a possible connection between him and the Battle for the Dawn in which the Others were driven back beyond the Wall in Westeros. Well, Lews Therin was named the Lord of the Morning and the Prince of the Dawn and was key in sealing the Dark One away which ended the War of Shadow (another name for the War of Power) in what is now named the Westlands. Also and briefly returning to linguistics, anyone familiar with ASOIAF knows the name Aemon as it is the first name of a certain maester at Castle Black, as well as the first name of various other members of House Targaryen in history. Yet the first instance of the name was in Aemon al Caar al Thorin, the last King of lost Manetheren among whose descendants the Dragon Reborn was raised.Which makes a double connection as not only did GRRM employ the name Aemon, he made it a not-uncommon one among the Dragonkings Targaryen.

Winter's Heart
Demons made of snow and ice and cold.
The ancient enemy. The only enemy that matters.
Furthermore, do not try telling me that GRRM is utterly unique is using the seasons as he does in relation to the Azor Ahai prophecy, for here is a section of the Karaethon Cycle that would sound perfectly appropriate coming from the lips of Melisandre or any Red Priest of R'hllor: "The Seals that hold back the night shall weaken, and in the heart of winter shall winter’s heart be born, amid the wailings of lamentation and the gnashing of teeth, for winter’s heart shall ride a black horse, and the name of it is Death." I am not saying that GRRM did a bad job, and indeed I have said in the past that he is an absolutely brilliant storyteller and at making winter and night a thing to fear; indeed, the Others are truly chilling enemies. "Winter is coming." "The night is dark and full of terrors." Yet reading The Wheel of Time showed me that A Song of Ice and Fire was and is not as unique as I first thought for by all appearances GRRM drew heavy inspiration from Robert Jordan. Nor am I the only person to notice this.

Moving away now from prophecies but continuing with the comparison, Remember that Dany and others worry about the madness in her blood and if/when she will succumb to it. Well, the same is true of Rand albeit that the madness comes from a different source which I cannot say for fear of spoilers. Finally, both struggle with the burdens of leadership and whom they can trust, which ties into the initially given quotes of Lews Therin Telamon, which Rand heeds, and Daenerys Targaryen.

In ending, I feel inclined to mention that I am not criticizing George R.R. Martin for drawing such inspiration from Robert Jordan. Anything but, as to do so would be hypocritical in the extreme given how the entire Fantasy genre draws heavily from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and Jordan is as guilty of that as any; perhaps more so. Not much difference between Ogier and Ents, right down to their long lives, love of trees, and "do not be hasty" motto. And just as the White Tower on Tar Valon stands guard against the Dark One Shai'tan, so too did the White Tower of Minas Tirith guard against the Dark Lord Sauron. To say nothing of Pit of Doom beyond the Mountains of Dhoom, which could not be a clearer tribute to the Cracks of Doom on Mount Doom. Finally, recall the name Aemon al Caar al Thorin, the last King of lost Manetheren? Well, Manetheren means "Mountain Home" in the Old Tongue, and quite fittingly as the nation's capital city was built into the Mountains of Mist, making the realm's true wealth based in the gold, silver, and other precious metals. As to Aemon al Caar al Thorin himself, he died defending his home from Trollocs. A fairly clear tribute to Thorin son of Thrain son of Thror King under the Mountain and the Dwarven realm of Erebor (called the Lonely Mountain) from The Hobbit. At the day's end, all roads lead back to Middle-earth.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The quotes of good friends

One does not need to be a famous (or Fantasy) author or a celebrity to say things that are worthy of being quoted. Indeed, I have always found the best quotes come from the part of us that is most connected to the human spirit, when we are thinking about the world and what it is to be human, for that is when Fantasy, the Spirit of Tolkien, links with each and every one of us. Why? Because while escapism may be the beating heart of the Fantastic, humanity, an examination of what it means to be human through adventure, are the lungs. Here are a series of quotes from personal friends of mine, posted by them on Facebook and then saved by me. (Naturally I have omitted their last names.)

"Humans are good. Some people are evil, and because of that we are forced to feel pain and anger and sadness. Some people will hurt us, try to break us and destroy us from the inside out. But that will never happen, because some people are not all people. Our humanness, the part of us that loves and feels and cares and defends, cannot be broken. That part of us is the human, and that part will always be good." - Sierra

"Tell people you love them as often as you can whenever you genuinely feel it." - Ali

"It's a great feeling when your favorite books touch places that you know, but we need to think about what these and other stories are teaching us with their silence. The stories we tell, fictional and non-fictional, curate the ways we imagine. Since history is at its heart story-telling, the limits of our imagination become the limits of our historical curiosity and compassion." - Sophie

"The point of the hero defeating the dragon isn't that dragons exist, it's that the dragon can be defeated." - Ag 

"It's okay if your best is 80% one day, and 40% the next. It's okay to waver. If we performed our best every day, there would be no room for growth, or observation, or pauses in the interim of, simply, living. We wouldn't be able to stop and remember to love what is around us." -Ali

"Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations." - Rachel

"The march of all of human history has no brakes, especially not for people trying to throw it into reverse." - Ben

"Don't worry about how your writing turns out, you will have all the time in the world to fail, fail again, fail harder, and learn to become better. Enjoy the transformation." - Lindsay

Patience does not always mean the waiting is meaningless. Patience is learning that the waiting actually has purpose." - Ali

"If you are feeling discouraged, distraught, confused, concerned about humanity, go spend some time talking to kids. You will see that hatred is a learned trait. Take control of that learning, because these kind and strange little geniuses are everything." - Violet 

"Respect is not handed to you just because you are older or more experienced. Respect is earned. The only thing I'll give you for free is the benefit of the doubt." - Eli

The left is a quote from my friend Maggie, and the right one was my reply.
This was, like the others, was part of a facebook conversation,
one I liked it so much I made this image out of it.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

I have just started the Towers of Midnight

The great journey continues. The Wheel turns.

I have just started the Towers of Midnight, Volume #13 of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (and completed posthumously by Brandon Sanderson).
The world has been saved from the Dragon Reborn yet, while the Pattern screams in agony at the Dark One's touch, it is revealed that the Lady of Pleasure yet lives albeit at a fair price. So it is that even when tortured the Age Lace weaves the threads of its salvation, for the Golden Crane rides for Tarwin's Gap and not alone even as the Children of the Light struggle to finally earn their name or be crushed by the relentless turning of the Wheel. So it is that the Prince of the Ravens must face the snakes and foxes, while the sons of Morgase must confront their mistakes as the world prepares for Tarmon Gai'don. The whole world, for the Towers of Midnight are far away indeed.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

Friday, June 19, 2020

I have just finished The Gathering Storm

The great journey continues. The Wheel turns.

I have just finished The Gathering Storm, Volume #12 of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (and completed posthumously by Brandon Sanderson).
The storm is coming yet the Light is strong, for though the Pattern trembles at the thunder the Ladies of Pain and Pleasure are ended. The storm is coming yet the Light is strong for, despite Seachan, the White Tower stands united under the True Flame of Tar Valon who now sits truly upon the Amyrlin Seat.
The storm is coming yet the Light is strong, for through the courage of Verin Sedai was poison used to rout the Tower's rot. The storm is coming yet the Light is strong, for sunlight peaks through the clouds as the Dragon Reborn laughs upon the broken slopes of Dragonmount as correctly foretold in the less than trustworthy Essanik Cycle: "At the end of time, when the many become one, the last storm shall gather its angry winds to destroy a land already dying. And its center, the blind man shall stand upon his grave. There he shall see again, and weep for what has been wrought." But the storm is still coming.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

My father and I just finished The Moon and the Face by Patricia A. McKillip

My father and I just finished The Moon and the Face by Patricia A. McKillip, sequel to Moon-Flash.
Leave to McKillip to harmoniously combine sci-fi with shamanism. To write an anthropological book in which, for Kyreol and Terje, the strange becomes the familiar and the familiar strange as two separate worlds come together through dreams that stretch across the cosmos, the innate power of the Riverworld, and love. All via journeys that are at once utterly different and yet parallel each other. Leave it to McKillip to answer the final and greatest question of the book with both a yes and no. As Icrane said, everything is simple. Even when it is complex.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

League of Legends

 "The things we carry should lift us up, not weigh us down.
Memories, love, and hope are the lightest necessities."

"Forgiveness is hard, but so very worth it."

So I finally did what several of my friends have been urging me to do for years, which is give the game League of Legends a try. My thoughts? It is a decent game and each character has solid lore behind them along with an always well-written short narrative featuring said character, good enough to establish an emotional attachment to them – which is of course the mark of excellent writing. My best characters are Kai'Sa the Daughter of the Void (whose image you see here) and Ashe the Frost Archer. My best characters because theirs are the stories that piqued my interest enough to finally give the game a try. While playing I found each character was full of worthy quotes which perfectly matched their personalities and background, so kudos to League of Legends for that; below her picture are two of Kai'Sa's and two of Ashe's are "Do not confuse mercy for weakness" and "Move quickly, position well, and the battle is won before blood is drawn." My verdict on the game beyond the lore? While I can see the appeal of it to many, the lore is really just to add flavor to a battle game without an overarching storyline, in which heroes like Kai'Sa and Ashe – who would never end up fighting each other – cross swords. Frankly I have little taste for senseless violence, though I of course know that such is not the intent behind League of Legends and am not condemning the game with these words. It is simply my own personal opinion. Do not get me wrong: I enjoy playing it. But lacking an true story it does not hold a candle up to other games such as RuneScape. I guess I just need to feel that the fantasy battles I fight mean something for the world they occur in.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Winterkeep, a return to the Graceling Realm Series


Graceling Realm Series by Kristin Cashore has always had a special place a in my heart. Its world is neither the most complex I have ever seen nor is the story the most sophisticated, yet the characters are carve a place into one's heart forever. It was a series I thought I had finished back in 2013 (three years before I began Stars Uncounted), marking it on facebook with the following post:

"I have just finished Bitterblue, third and final book of Kristin Cashore's Seven Kingdoms Trilogy.
I began this series years ago, starting with a girl named Katsa who thought she was Graced with killing, but found love, friendship, and her true Grace. I continued with a girl named Fire, a Monster from the Dells who was hated for what her father was but who, like Katsa, found love and friendship and piece with her powers. And then Bitterblue, a teen Queen of a shattered kingdom and an old friend who endured betrayal, heartache, adventure, and the true meaning of love and friendship; and the importance of learning the Truth and Healing.
Now I am done. Thank you so much for everything Bitterblue, Fire, Katsa, Po, Raffin, Bann, Giddon, Nash, Brigan, Helda, Teddy, Saf, and Hava. I love you all and will see you again someday. I promise."

Since then its name has of course changed from the Seven Kingdoms Trilogy to the Graceling Realm Series, which is just as well because I just learned that come January 19, 2021 it is to be a trilogy no longer. For on that date Kristin Cashore expands the Graceling Realm geographically as well as otherwise with her newest novel Winterkeep, the book being named for a new nation beyond the known world and presumably the Winter Sea. A book in which we will be reunited with dear Bitterblue, brave Queen and now 23-year-old friend as well as Giddon from the Council and good old Hava. And, of course, a new friend named Lovisa Cavenda. 

When I wrote the above facebook post saying that I would see my old friends again someday I meant when I eventually reread the series. Not going to be the case, apparently, and doubly so since Winterkeep will itself have a sequel. Honestly, when I finish The Wheel of Time I will have likely have to wait a whole year before reading anything new on account of the old series' refusing to end. A good problem to have, but still...

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

My father and I just finished Moon-Flash by Patricia A. McKillip

My father and I just finished Moon-Flash by Patricia A. McKillip.
Though categorized as partly sci-fi, McKillip is incapable of writing anything other than a lyrical masterpiece in which the words flow like a river off the page, though your soul, and back again. Which is not unlike the story as Kyreol's incurably curious nature leads her beyond what the people of the Riverworld, her people, had thought to be the edge of the world but is instead only the first stage of a long journey. A journey with her best friend Terje down the river and across questions to find answers that, though often shocking, leads both into the sky and a better understanding of the world, each other, and their dreams.

I have just started The Gathering Storm

The great journey continues. The Wheel turns.

I have just started The Gathering Storm, Volume #12 of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (and completed posthumously by Brandon Sanderson).
The storm is coming. Black and silver clouds gather in the north and farmers and smiths trade hammers and scythes for swords to meet it. The storm is coming. The Dragon Reborn has the Lady of Pain captive and marches to end the lord of the chaos' rule in Arad Doman. The storm is coming. The Seachan learn that in Hawkwing's homeland what they had dismissed as superstition is real, nightmares made flesh and come to kill. The storm is coming. The Forsaken gather and make plans for Tarmon Gai'don, for they drive the storm and mean break the Wheel. Yet in many ways the Wheel drives them, and Light has ever snatched victory from the maws of malice. The storm is coming.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

Monday, May 25, 2020

I have just finished Knife of Dreams

The great journey continues. The Wheel turns.

I have just finished Knife of Dreams, Volume #11 of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.
"When the Wolf King carries the hammer, thus are the final days known. When the Fox marries the raven, and the trumpets of battle are blown." So states the Prophecies of the Dragon and so has it come to pass, the gambler becoming the Prince of the Ravens while the Wolf at last rescues the Falcon and crushes the Aiel who betrayed themselves. So it is that as the Uncrowned King marches east as the fate of the Rose Crown is decided in favor of the daughter of Morgase while her oldest son leads the Sunburst north. The Golden Crane flies for Tarmon Gai'don! The White Lion shall march for Tarmon Gai'don. Thus are old plots concluded, old wars won. Yet not without cost in life and limb, for the Dark One touches and rots the world
– the Pattern loosening even as it gathers all loose threads in preparation for the gathering storm.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Yawns are VERY contagious

We all know that yawns are contagious. One person yawning causes another to yawn and soon the half the room looks like they stayed up half the night. But I have reached a new level in that I now yawn when characters I am reading (or writing) about yawn. Tis funny, I suppose.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

I have just started Knife of Dreams

The great journey continues. The Wheel turns.

I have just started Knife of Dreams, Volume #11 of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.
Tis known by the Aiel Dreamwalkers that the Land of Dreams is no less real than the walking world, and by Aes Sedai Dreamers that dreams may reveal the secrets and possibilities of the Pattern yet unwoven. So it is that the True Flame of Tar Valon learns that while walking a treacherous path her most hated enemy shall save her and that the gambler has fire in his hand that, in exploding, shall cause much death. So it is that the Foretellings of the False Flame shall be tested as the fates of Rose Crown, Sunburst, and the White Tower itself are tied to the children of Morgase. So it is that the Pattern gathers all loose threads in preparation as new alliances are planted in the promised soil of Tarmon Gai'don.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

Friday, May 1, 2020

I have just finished Crossroads of Twilight

The great journey continues. The Wheel turns.

I have just finished Crossroads of Twilight, Volume #10 of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.
It is said that the world is quiet when twilight reigns, as the creatures the day prepare for sleep while those of the night begin to rise, and vice versa. So it is that the world pauses for breath, some unaware and all unable to avoid the damage that was undone. So it is that the boundaries between Aes Sedai and Asha'man dwindle while the Dragon Reborn prioritizes his enemies and gambler grows closer to the Daughter of the Nine Moons. So it is that Black Ajah fights for its survival even as the True Flame of Tar Valon enters her city in dire peril. So it is made clear that the White Tower and Black can never stand separate as Flame and Fang. Only together, under the ancient symbol of Aes Sedai. Yet all the while a mysterious rot claws at the world.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Does the Wheel turn slowly?

"Is Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series a slow read? It is rumored to have a glacial pace. I read George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series and liked it, but I do not think I could stand anything slower."
This is a common, or at least not uncommon, concern of Fantasy readers trying to decide whether or not to dive into the Jordan's masterwork. Long series, even fourteen volume ones, faze inveterate Fantasy readers less than books with a slow pacing, so I will now address that concern more deeply.

In short, while The Wheel of a Time is hardly a fast-paced series, everything matters. No matter how small the event or character may be, the odds are strong that it/they will in some manner be relevant to the future. The butterfly effect is real here, as characters you might forget, or believed to be localized to a subplot long finished, will likely turn up again far from where you last saw them. People may compare it to GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire, arguing that GRRM's literary bloodbath is far more fast-paced, but this is an illusion. How many subplots in Ice and Fire truly matter? How many gripping intrigues developed by the High Lords playing their Game of Thrones actually ended up shaking Westeros and making a real difference to the story? The answer is very few, yet the story seems fast-paced due to GRRM's immense skill in the art of storytelling. He creates a near flawless illusion of speed that keeps the reader hooked. Which is no small feat considering that GRRM's grimdark tale has no natural endpoint. (Yes, I am aware that the Others must needs be defeated, of the prophecy of Azor Ahai and the prince/princess that was promised, and of course that someone must finally sit the Iron Throne uncontested. But the Others and the prophesy are marginalized by ruthless High Lords playing their game of thrones, and who sits the Iron Throne one year may be dead along with all their kin the next. Hardly natural endpoints for an epic Fantasy of such scale, in my mind.)
This is not the case with Robert Jordan. As Verin Sedai says in book #2, "The Pattern puts everything in its place precisely, and when we try to alter it, especially if ta'veren are involved, the weaving changes to put us back into the Pattern as we were meant to be." Meaning that, while Jordan's story may seem slower than GRRM's, every ounce of movement is real. Not an illusion, but a solid and true step forward and towards the clearly defined endpoint that is Tarmon Gai'don (the Last Battle), for the Wheel does not turn backwards anymore than time itself. Even the court intrigues, believe it or not as before the Game of Thrones was played in Westeros the Game of Houses (also called "The Great Game," translated as "Daes Dae'mar" in the Old Tongue) was played in the Westlands are every bit as devious as those GRRM spins. As Moiraine Sedai once said, "Everything is a part of the Pattern." Finally, I feel inclined the mention that the title "The Wheel of Time" is not Jordan tacitly acknowledging the series' length. Rather, it is a crucial and one of the most unique elements of the world he created: "The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.” (To see everything I have to say regarding the many rumors surrounding Jordan's work, please go to the Rumors of the Wheel page.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

My father and I just finished Taash and the Jesters by Ellen Kindt McKenzie

My father and I just finished Taash and the Jesters by Ellen Kindt McKenzie.
An absolutely magical story in a Fairytale Kingdom that consists of many of the usual tropes...except for one: tis the Jesters in Motley rather than the Knights in Shinning Armor that do the protecting and saving, which, in its way and most appropriately, stands every other trope on its head. A true hidden gem of Fantasy literature, we see the powers of evil in all their recognizable yet no less real forms, both magical and mundane, countered not by noble swords and true love's kiss, but by the cunning wit and common decency of court fools and ordinary people. Do not let the book's size deceive you. Like so many hidden gems the words seem to expand beyond the number of pages logic says should contain them. Deep, fun, and heart-stopping at times, Dad and I kept commenting on how surprised we were at how much we still had to read, and were riveted every step, leap, and jester's tumble of the way.

Absolutely stupendous work Taash, jesters Kashka and Piff, Bargah the witch, Lea, and Doro (and Nanalia). Evil may never be entirely slain, yet between the lot of you I doubt good King Aciam and Queen Ekama will need worry overmuch.

Monday, April 6, 2020

RuneScape's New Skill: Archaeology

"Dig deeper...war is coming."
Why am I still a proud player of RuneScape? Because of the game's book-worthy and more than unique story. I have posted about RuneScape in the past, such as when I completed the Myreque quest series, but this update is so very special indeed because it is an entire Skill, equal to others like Mining and Magic, yet dedicated 100% to story, to the incredibly intricate and undeniably rich history of the land of Gielinor. This past week I delved lost Zarosian fortress of Kharid-et to see how it fell at the dawn of the Third Age, then travel to Everlight to investigate the risen hope of the fallen realm of Hallowvale. I avoid the Infernal Source as I care little for Demonic Cults nor the promised power that comes from summoning them indeed I have spent half my life crushing such and similar Zamorakian things on various Quests and have not yet reached the level to ascend to the heights of Stormguard Citadel nor descend into the Warforge to see an old cave goblin friend. The lovely thing is that this fits right itnto the game because archaeology was and in a integral part of so many Quests. What mysteries lie below? What ancient powers both good and ill must we face or befriend? What puzzles lost to the ages must be solved in order to face what lies ahead or untangle a very modern mystery? Such is the glory of the game, to quote it, "RuneScape's quests are its pride and joy. No 'Kill 10 boars' here - each one is a hand-crafted slice of story." Nor am I the only one who agrees for, a full week now into the Skill, each Dig Site is as packed as it was on the day or release. Each player digging deeper.