Wednesday, October 14, 2020

....hoofbeats...

Those days you did not intend to spend all of reading but do so anyway are some of the best days.

clip clop clip clop clip clop....hoofbeats...

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

"By Odin's empty eye socket!"

Growing up reading Fantasy and mythology coupled with having parents who raise one to genuinely despise profanity and other forms of crude language is a blessing. Why? Because in place of such base and/or simplistic words, one learns to be creative. I say "silence" and, in place of swear-words, oaths like "Thank the flame", "Gods and sacred Goddesses", "Fire and hemlock!" "Darkspawn", "Freya's tears", "By all the gods above and below the Earth", "Sacred flames!" and, when in physical pain, "Bones, body, and blood!". In other words, having one's manner of speech and style of writing forged by binge-reading Fantasy literature works out great! Even my mother says "Thank the flame" now, though her personal favorite is that time I swore "By Odin's empty eye socket!" (I was reading The Sea of Trolls trilogy by Nancy Farmer at the time, I believe, which is filled with oaths invoking the Norse gods. In fact, that is where the "Freya's tears" swear comes from. As to the rest, the "Fire and hemlock!" oath came from the Diana Wynne Jones' book of the same name, and "Thank the Flame" from Tolkien in that, back in middle school, when happy I would say "Thank the Flame or Anor" and when upset "By the dark fire of Angmar!" – i.e. "Thank the Flame" is a contraction of the former.)

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Quote of the month

"The young must grow old,
Whilst old ones grow older,
And cowards will shrink,
As the bold grow bolder.
Courage may blossom in quiet hearts,
For who can tell where bravery starts?
Truth is a song, oft lying unsung,
Some mother bird, protecting her young,
Those who lay down their lives for friends,
The echo rolls onward, it seldom ends.
Who never turned and ran, but stayed?
This is a warrior born, not made!
Living in peace, aye many a season,
Calm in life and sound in reason,
'Til evil arrives, a wicked horde,
Driving a warrior to pick up his sword,
The challenger rings then, straight and fair,
Justice is with us, beware. Beware!"
- Brian Jacques

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

I have just started Firebrand, book 6 in the Green Rider series by Kristen Britain

clip clop clip clop clip clop....hoofbeats... 

I have just started Firebrand, book 6 in the Green Rider series by Kristen Britain. Of all my thousand friends of Fantasy, few have my heart quite so much as Rider Sir Karigan G'ladheon – making it an unrivaled joy to return to the land of the Sacor Clans. But the shadow of a terrible future looms large as the grasp of winter clenches, for Mornhavon the Black and those loyal to his legacy are determined to restart and win the Long War he lost long ago. Which might be why Eletians have come and want to search for an old ally in the north.

clip clop clip clop clip clop....hoofbeats...

Sunday, September 13, 2020

I just finished The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm

I just finished The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm by Christopher Paolini, sequel to his The Inheritance Cycle.

Such a delight to see old and dear friends again while the mysteries of Alagaësia increase exponentially! From Murtagh to Angela to Urgal legends, Paolini never disappoints. Best yet, a new day has dawned for the dragons!

Until next time, Ebrithils Eragon and Saphira!

Atra esterní ono thelduin. Mor'ranr lífa unin hjarta onr. Un du evarínya ono varda.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Sunday, September 6, 2020

I just started The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm by Christopher Paolini

My favorite authors did not stand idle while I read Robert Jordan, so now begins the delight of catching up.

I just started The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm by Christopher Paolini, sequel to 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).

Such a delight to see old and dear friends again! Eragon and Saphira, and others from the wondrous world of Alagaësia - land of the Dragon Riders and the Ancient Language. 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 Stars Uncounted law of never writing spoilers. 

Kvetha Fricai, sé onr sverdar sitja hvass!

Friday, September 4, 2020

I have once again finished The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I have once again finished The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Once again I am amazed anew at the genius of the Father and Founder Modern Fantasy! Such a short book yet brimming with lovely characters, unforgettable places and adventures, all woven with timeless lessons old as the roots of the Lonely Mountain where the Arkenstone was found. How great wealth and the lust for it can poison even the noble-hearted but that, in the end, food and cheer and song and friendship are ever the keys in which victory, joy, freedom, and still greater friendships are unlocked; all girded of course with great courage, even when one's sword arm is small, in the face of overwhelming odds. Such is the nature of Tolkien, and the magic of this most extraordinary adventure of Mr. Bilbo Baggins cannot be overstated.

"The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
 
Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.
 
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."

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Robert Jordan, The American Tolkien

Given everything stated in the Rumors of the Wheel page (read the additions if you have not already), I think the epithet American Tolkien is not inappropriate to award Robert Jordan. Indeed, when I first began The Eye of the World, I kept telling my family that "I feel like I am reading another Lord of the Rings!" I am sure people will note the partial irony here, as I was once one of George R.R. Martin's most avid fans, calling him – as many did and do – the American Tolkien; until I named him the Anti-Tolkien, naturally. Why one and not the other? A good question, seeing as I listed a host of similarities between the two; a list which came after me saying that Jordan's Game of Houses is every bit as devious as GRRM's Game of Thrones. And before I answer that question I will lay forth another likeness between the two series: treachery. Anyone familiar with A Song of Ice and Fire is well aware that trust is valuable thing and sadly often repaid with a knife in the back or another form of treachery. As I have said, Westeros offers little aside from "blood, porn, and amoral lessons that corrupt the soul." The Wheel of Time is, blessedly, not like that and yet whom to trust outside of the core protagonists is just as large an issue...because one never knows who might be a Darkfriend. I will not say much so as to avoid spoilers, but Darkfriends are are humans who have been tempted with promises of immortality and power by the Dark One, or by other Darkfriends, into serving the Shadow. There are Darkfriends in all nations, people and communities, even those dedicated to fighting the Dark One, such as the Borderlanders, Aes Sedai and Whitecloaks. You never know who is secretly sworn to Shadow and their plots checker the series, mostly manifesting in strings of murders and betrayals of the most heinous kind. There were several characters whom I trusted who turned out to be Darkfriends, and countless more whom I and the core protagonists were afraid to trust for fear that they might be. In short, just as who to trust is subject of ripe speculation in GRRM's work, the same holds true in Robert Jordan's. Which brings one back to the question of why name one the American Tolkien and not the other? Because Jordan keeps to the Spirit of Tolkien even while playing the Game of Houses; even in the midst of Darkfriend plots where torture, betrayal and murder are planned. Where armies number in the tens then hundreds of thousands, the land wracked with war, crippling droughts and merciless winters, among other things. Because The Wheel of Time is not Grimdark Fantasy – which is, of course, the antithesis of the moral centeredness that defines the High Fantasy. As I have said, it is NOT a clone of The Lord of the Rings; indeed, it is far from it after the first book. But the bright souls of the two masterworks are kin.

Monday, August 24, 2020

I have once again begun The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien!

As I am still more than a little shell-shocked from finishing The Wheel of Time (quite understandable as it was a two year business and ended with a thousand-page heart-stopping climax) I thought it wise to go back to my roots. Which for me, and quite appropriately, is a hole in the ground. "Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."

Indeed, I have just begun The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien! Thus do I and with delight travel once again with Mr. Bilbo Baggins in the company of thirteen most eminent dwarves and of course the wizard Gandalf! I do not intend to read The Lord of the Rings afterwards as, oddly, I seldom read the two as such, but this will be the most splendid transition and, frankly, my soul needs the nourishment of Tolkien.


"Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.
 
The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,
While hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep, where dark things sleep,
In hollow halls beneath the fells.
 
For ancient king and elvish lord
There many a gleaming golden hoard
They shaped and wrought, and light they caught
To hide in gems on hilt of sword.
 
On silver necklaces they strung
The flowering stars, on crowns they hung
The dragon-fire, in twisted wire
They meshed the light of moon and sun.
 
Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To claim our long-forgotten gold.
 
Goblets they carved there for themselves
And harps of gold; where no man delves
There lay they long, and many a song
Was sung unheard by men or elves.
 
The pines were roaring on the height,
The winds were moaning in the night.
The fire was red, it flaming spread;
The trees like torches blazed with light.
 
The bells were ringing in the dale
And men they looked up with faces pale;
The dragon’s ire more fierce than fire
Laid low their towers and houses frail.
 
The mountain smoked beneath the moon;
The dwarves they heard the tramp of doom.
They fled their hall to dying fall
Beneath his feet, beneath the moon.
 
Far over the misty mountains grim
To dungeons deep and caverns dim
We must away, ere break of day,
To win our harps and gold from him!"

Sunday, August 23, 2020

I have just finished The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

The great journey ends.

I have just finished A Memory of Light, the 14th and final Volume of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (and completed posthumously by Brandon Sanderson).

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 returns again. In one Age, an Age of Prophecy, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, the World and Time themselves hung in the balance. A balance decided by the Last Battle. Tarmon Gai'don. A battle not at the end of Time but to keep it turning. So it is that the Karaethon Cycle comes to pass, the Dragon Reborn entering Shayol Ghul to wrestle for the fate of the world with the Dark One as, beyond, Tarmon Gai'don rages in the longest battle I have I ever read, detailing true apocalypse where the very laws and fabric of reality rip amid the desperate efforts of humans to live free and with hope. Willing to die so that other may live, and charging death unflinchingly to do so.

"The Shadow shall rise across the world, and darken every land, even to the smallest corner, and there shall be neither Light nor safety. And he who shall be born of the Dawn, born of the Maiden, according to Prophecy, he shall stretch forth his hand to catch the Shadow, and the world shall scream in pain of salvation. All Glory be to the Creator, and to the Light, and to he who shall be born again. May the Light save us from him."
 
Commentaries on the Karaethon Cycle, Sereine dar Shamelle Motara, Counsel-Sister to Comaelle, High Queen of Jaramide, circa 325 AB, the Third Age. 

Never in my life have I read a book series such as this. Vast in every sense of the word, spanning the world and all quite distinct cultures within it, populated by the largest cast of characters I have ever seen. Unique in way seldom seen in Fantasy: Tolkienesque in spirit and, in the very beginning, plot, but soon something else entirely. A mythos that is truly Robert Jordan's own, epic by every definition in that it, per its scope, the story is not just about the Dragon Reborn and his friends but, in addition and as is so fitting said by the website Dragonmount, it is the story of an entire world's struggle to deal with war and change, destruction and hope. Yet these are only a bare fraction of the themes, or a gross simplification rather, for each is viewed through the eyes of very different people.

"And his paths shall be many, and who shall know his name, for he shall be born among us many times, in many guises, as he has been and ever will be, time without end. His coming shall be like the sharp edge of the plow, turning our lives in furrows from out of the places where we live in silence. The breaker of bonds; the forger of chains. The maker of futures; the unshaper of destiny."  
Commentaries on the Prophecies of the Dragon, by Jurith Dorine, Right Hand to the Queen of Almoren, 742 AB, the Third Age. 
 
A classic battle between good and evil is at the heart, yet in a world where, unlike in Middle-earth, there are many competing agendas and clashing worldviews, cultural as well as personal, regarding how to meet the threat. A battle between selflessness and rampant self-interest and pride, yet often all three must work together. Cultural hatreds born of blood-feuds overcome, but doing so kicking and screaming. Simple resistance to change coupled with those who feel a great sense of responsibility wanting to avoid it and, indeed, bending over backwards in trying to do so.

The Borderlanders say "Death is lighter than a feather. Duty, heavier than a mountain" because that duty often involves sending others to their deaths. People you would like to save, people you feel you should be able to save, yet cannot. It is about those burdens and how best the heart can deal with them. About moving forward even when literally countless people and Shadowspawn are actively trying to kill you. As said Birgitte Silverbow, "If you must mount the gallows, give a jest to the crowd, a coin to the hangman, and make the drop with a smile on your lips." It is about caring, about accepting and giving love even in the face of fear that doing so will hurt those people you love. It about doing what needs to be done. It is, in addition and no less than the Dragon Reborn, about: 

"A woman, torn and beaten down, cast from her throne and made a puppet. A woman who had crawled when she had to  

It was about a man that love repeatedly forsook. A man who found relevance in a world that others would have let pass them by. 

A man who remembered stories and who took fool boys under his wing when the smarter move would have been to keep on walking.

It was about a woman with a secret, a hope for the future. A woman who had hunted the truth before others could.

It was about a man whose family was taken from him, but who stood tall in his sorrow and protected those he could.

It was about a woman who refused to believe that she could not help, could not heal those who had been harmed.

It was about a hero who insisted with every breath that he was anything but a hero.

It was about a woman who would not bend her back while she was beaten, and who shown with a light for all who watched."

It is about them all. 

Farewell, Tai'shar Light, Dragon Reborn Rand al'Thor, the True Flame of Tar Valon Egwene al'Vere, el'Nynaeve & al'Lan Mandragoran, son of battles Mat Cauthon & Fortuona Athaem Devi Paendrag, Perrin t'Bashere Aybara & Faile ni Bashere t'Aybara, Moiraine Damodred Aes Sedai & Thom Merrilin, Loial son of Arent son of Halan, Aviendha of the Nine Valleys sept of the Taardad Aiel, Min Farshaw, Elayne Trakand, Verin Mathwin Aes Sedai, Siuan Sanche Aes Sedai & Gareth Bryne, Jahar Narishma Asha'man, Jain Farstrider, Wise Ones Amys, Bair and Melaine, Dedicated Jur Grady, Clan Chief Rhuarc of the Taardad Aiel, Birgitte Silverbow, Morgase Trakand, wolfbrother Elyas Machera, Leane Sedai, Maidens of the Spear Sulin, Bain and Chiad, Gaul of the Shae'en M'taal, Cadsuane Aes Sedai, Tam al'Thor, Davram t'Ghaline Bashere, Gawyn Trakand and Galad Damodred, Talmanes, Damer Flinn Asha'man, Olver, Pevara Sedai, Androl Asha'man, the Little Wolf Rodel Ituralde, Bayle Domon & Leilwin Shipless, Alanna Sedai, Berelain sur Paendrag Paeron, Aludra, Logain Ablar, Tylee Khirgan, all the members of Valan Luca's circus, thief-catcher Juilin Sandar, thief-taker Hurin, Reanne Corly and all members of the Kin, Seaine Sedai, Soldier Fager Neald, Queen Alliandre Maritha Kigarin, Zaida din Parede Blackwing, Naeff Asha-man, Harine din Togara Two Winds, and so many others.
 
So it is that the Fourth Age dawns, the world in pieces yet protected by the Dragon's Peace and the People of the Dragon. The Towers White and Black whole, Aes Sedai changing and Asha'man loved. Children are about to be born, heroes reborn to protect that peace alongside the children of survivors who will inherent the world so many hundreds of thousands died to protect.

"And it came to pass in those days, as it had come before and would come again, that the Dark lay heavy on the land and weighed down the hearts of men, and the green things failed, and hope died. And men cried out to the Creator, saying, O Light of the Heavens, Light of the World, let the Promised One be born of the mountain, according to the prophecies, as he was in ages past and will be in ages to come. Let the Prince of the Morning sing to the land that green things will grow and the valleys give forth lambs. Let the arm of the Lord of the Dawn shelter us from the Dark, and the great sword of justice defend us. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time."
from Charal Drianaan te Calamon, The Cycle of the Dragon, Author Unknown, the Fourth Age.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

J.R.R. Tolkien wins against Nazi publishers

J.R.R. Tolkien

I know that I try to avoid all real-world matters here on Stars Uncounted, but this just too good because, in a nutshell, it shows just how high class John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was. As in known, Tolkien fought in the trenches of the World War I on the Western Front, most notably in the Battle of the Somme, yet he would much later pull off a much cleaner victory against a German Nazi publishing house. To cut a full history lesson to a more reasonable length, in 1933 Hitler's chief propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, established a team of of regulators to monitor the works of Jewish artists in film, theater, music, fine arts, literature, broadcasting, and the press for the purpose of eliminating Jewish people from engaging in mainstream German culture by requiring them to have a license in order to do so. This attempt by the Nazis to purge Germany of any culture that wasn’t (their incorrect definition) of Aryan in origin led to the questioning of artists from outside Germany.

One of these artists was the English J.R.R. Tolkien, whose publisher had a mind to get The Hobbit published in Germany. His publisher, not Tolkien himself – who loathed Nazi ideology, had many Jewish friends, and was considering abandoning the notion of a German translation of The Hobbit entirely. But his publisher convinced him to try and, predictably, the German publishers sent Tolkien a letter asking for proof of his Aryan descent. Tolkien's letter in reply is that clean victory I mentioned above, both correcting and slamming Nazi propaganda with sheer and utter class. Here is the link to the letter.

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.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

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.