Sunday, April 11, 2021

A Soviet Union's Lord of the Rings film is found.

An all-but-forgotten 1991 Soviet-made production of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings has been found, probably like the Ring itself, at the bottom of a river or in dank lightless cavern given its low quality.

“It’s so bad it’s good,” said Dimitra Fimi, a senior lecturer in fantasy and children’s literature at the University of Glasgow. “It’s a weird concoction of stuff — some of it is really close to the narrative and other bits are curtailed somehow.”So far, Tolkien fans in Russia and the West seem to appreciate the production for what it is and what it is not. Everyone knows it is not the director Peter Jackson’s blockbuster “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy of the 2000s.  “–Ęhere is no sense in comparing these films,” said Nikolai Matchenya, a 31-year-old fan from Pskov, Russia. “It’s like comparing a new car with new computer systems inside with old, mechanical automobiles.”  The effects? “Too old-fashioned,” he said. The acting? “Poor.” The costumes? Those were “not bad.”  Few would argue about the effects, at least. When the wizard Gandalf sets off magic fireworks, the actor lifts his cape and drawings of fireworks appear. A bug-eyed bird puppet stands in for a giant eagle, and the villainous Sauron appears as an eye superimposed over a cup of pink ooze. Magic is often depicted with a watery effect and some spooky music.

Still, the history behind it is interesting. The Soviet government was less than fond of Tolkien, publishing no official translation of The Hobbit until 1976 and this with ideological alterations, while The Lord of the Rings itself was basically outlawed for decades. Why? Possibly because the Men of the West are the unequivocal good guys fighting and uphill but ultimately victorious war against the Enemy in the East.

For myself, I find this film interesting though hardly impressive. Gollum looks more like a mutant cabbage and Gandalf a cosplay Merlin wannabe who could barely find a decent costume. I look at that image of the above and I even cannot tell who is who. (No, I have not and do not intend to watch it. Time is far to precious, and I am not enough of a movie person to see a stunted version of a masterwork.)

Sunday, April 4, 2021

I just started for the second time The Sorceress and the Cygnet by Patricia A. McKillip, the first book of her Cygnet Duology.

I just started for the second time The Sorceress and the Cygnet by Patricia A. McKillip, the first book of her Cygnet Duology. 

Time to return to Ro Holding and a tale of stars and time, in which the very constellations are at odds and a realm must, without armies, fight to live.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

I just finished Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master Trilogy

"Answer the unanswered riddle."
I just finished Harpist in the Wind, book #3 of Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master Trilogy.
Reading this series a second time was nothing short of incredible for, knowing the answers to the riddles from the outset, one realizes the true depths of McKillip's cunning. It was clear from the first chapter of book one that she had this cataclysmic riddle-game planned point for point, one riddle leading into another as warriors and wraiths, harpists and shape-changers, and a farmer-prince with three stars on his face came into his power alongside a princess of An. It is, in the older and more profound sense of the word, awesome. The strictures of wizardry may teach the avoidance of death, yet those of riddlery teach that the person who flees from death often finds themself running towards it and that it is better to turn forward into the unknown rather than backward toward death. And it was riddlery that won the day.
"Beware another riddle-master."

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Valar morghulis. To be, or not to be. Valar dohaeris. All the world's a stage.

"Robert had been jesting with Jon Arryn and old Lord Hunter
as the prince circled the field after unhorsing Ser Barristan in the
final tilt to claim the champion's crown. Ned remembered the
moment when all the smiles died, when Prince Rhaegar Targaryen
urged his horse past his own wife, the Dornish princess Elia Martell,
to lay the queen of beauty's laurel in Lyanna's lap.
He could see it still: a crown of winter roses, blue as frost."
Apparently George R.R. Martin is to do a Broadway show about the Great Tourney at Harrenhal. My reaction? The short version is give my disregards to Broadway. The long is that Ser Barristan Selmy once noted that "Prince Rhaegar loved his Lady Lyanna and thousands died for it," so what could possibly go wrong in a play that sets the stage (no pun intended) for the carnage to come? ūüėď The Tourney at Harrenhal just reinforces Maester Aemon's unwise words that "love is the bane of honor, the death of duty." 

Beyond that, GRRM has signed a New Five Year Deal with HBO and HBO Max for a new drama series entittled the House of the Dragon, which is based on his Fire & Blood prequel to A Song of Ice and Fire, which chronicles House Targaryen 300 years before the War of Five Kings.

Monday, March 22, 2021

I just started Harpist in the Wind

"Beware the unanswered riddle." 

I just started Harpist in the Wind, book #3 of Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master Trilogy. 

Who is the Star-Bearer, and what will he loose that is bound? What will one star call out of silence, one star out of darkness, and one star out of death? War has come, born of riddles and wizards and shape-changers out of the sea, the hope of victory lying in the answers, three stars, and the efforts of Morgon and Raederle and their friends. And the truth about a certain harpist. 

"Beware another riddle-master."

Sunday, March 21, 2021

My father and I just finished The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

My father and I just finished The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. 

Interestingly, this was the first time we read a book that I had already read before yet he had not - and I am happy to say that he had as grand a time in the Four Lands as I did the first time and again on this return visit to end anew the awesome power of the Warlock Lord. 

Farewell Shea and Flick Ohmsford, Hendel the dwarf, Durin and Dayel of the Westlands, Balinor, Menion Leah, Panamon Creel & Keltset, and last but anything but least Allanon.

I just finished Heir of Sea and Fire

"Beware the unanswered riddle."

I just finished Heir of Sea and Fire, book #2 of Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master Trilogy.
By the unconquered Kings of An I had forgotten how brilliant this book was and is, and that oath stirs quite a bit a trouble in a land where ancient grudges will pull themselves, bones and all, from the grave. Including a sea-born sorrow that makes Raederle of An quite the riddle herself as questions and wizards move to the destroyed Wizards City. War is coming, one that even the hate-filled dead have a stake in. A war that will test the very strictures of riddlery.

"Beware another riddle-master."

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Quote of the month

"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." - Silvia of Innail

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Just started Heir of Sea and Fire

"Beware the unanswered riddle."
I just started Heir of Sea and Fire, book #2 of Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master Trilogy.
Who won the riddle-game with Peven of Aum? Morgon of Hed, and thus did he win the right to marry Raederle, the second most beautiful woman in the three portions of An. But wining that riddle-game began another, and now Raederle must find the farmer-prince as deadly riddles gather like blood-crazed crows in and for a battle barely understood.
"Beware another riddle-master."

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

I just finished The Riddle-Master of Hed

"Beware the unanswered riddle."
I just finished The Riddle-Master of Hed, book #1 of Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master Trilogy.
Never let your enemies build walls around you, least of all walls of ignorance propped up by truths and knowledge. Thus is the first part of the riddle of Ghisteslwchlohm, and the fate of the Wizards' City of Lungold, solved, a tad late, by Morgon the Star-Bearer as a war long silenced begins anew. A war that is the ultimate Riddle Game.
"Beware another riddle-master."

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Began playing Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology

Back in 2012 I finished playing the DS game Radiant Historia, marking it with the facebook post:

Radiant Historia...a gameboy game with a book-worthy storyline, character you love, and a moral lesson that you never forget. I just finished it. Thank you Raynie, Marco, Aht, Rosch, Gafka, Eruca, Sonja, Kiel, Viola, Lippti & Teo.... And above all, Stocke. Thank you for your lesson and commitment to your friends.

Like the best books, it was one of those games that stay with you. Yet I was never wholly satisfied with the ending, not because it was not well done but rather due to the fact that the wound causing the desertification was again bandaged instead of healed – and at great cost. A 'solution' Stocke was frustrated by long before the price was paid. 

Well, now it is time to see if that changes, for I just began Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology, the remake of the original. As I said in my first post on the matter, I am less than thrilled with the redesigned artwork, but this not enough by a longshot to stop me seeing if, this time, history will play out the way it truly should. Whether this really is a perfect chronology. Already I see slight different, and one major one upon who I have placed a large amount of hope: the mysterious historian Nemesia. As Lippti said, "Countless possibilities fade into the darkness. Yet there exists a razor-thin path of light." A path I am determined to find so as to avoid the price paid before or, if paid it must be, make it heal instead of bandage the wound. To, in the long term, prevent the sands from engulfing everything.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Take the Black

It appears that the phrase "take the black" meant something in Fantasy before GRRM's admittedly brilliant use of it regarding the Night's Watch. Back in 1976, to "take the Black" at the College of Caithnard means one has achieved the highest rank of riddle-mastery, for there Riddle Masters wear black robes. (How I had forgotten this fact I do not know.)

What is the first and last rule of riddle-mastery? Answer the unanswered riddle.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

I just started The Riddle-Master of Hed, book #1 of Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master Trilogy

"Beware the unanswered riddle."
I just started The Riddle-Master of Hed, book #1 of Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master Trilogy.
After that brief touch with the grimdark, I feel a need to cleanse my soul - and I know of no better way that by re-reading this classic series. Tis an absolute delight returning to the High One's realm where the ancient art of riddlery is taught at the College of Caithnard, and seeing such dear friends as Morgon of Hed, Deth, and Raederle of An again. Indeed, this series has a special place in my heart, for here McKillip taught me the fifth kind of riddle (and, as everyone knows, riddles are my stock-in-trade).
"Beware another riddle-master."

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

I am stopping the grimdark Monarchies of God by Paul Kearney

Well, that was unfortunate yet not quite unexpected. Time to do that which I have only done twice before: quit a Fantasy series and consign it to the literal recycle bin.
Yes, I am stopping Monarchies of God by Paul Kearney, the series I began two days ago, as sadly my suspicions were more than borne out. After GRRM, I can smell the grimdark and this more than well-written Fantasy rewrite of the effects of Fall of Constantinople combined in dark union with the Spanish Inquisition and Christopher Columbus' 'discovery' of America reeks of that cynicism which I so utterly despise and is so aptly named the Treason of the Intellectuals.

Good riddance. (And yes, I am literally going to toss this filth into the recycle bin.)

I can hear you saying, "Ian, by your own admission you started to book two days ago. How can you say such things, make such strong accusations, so quickly?" My answer: research. Those two days prompted me to Google whether Monarchies of God is classified as grimdark, for I was uncertain seeing as it came out before A Song of Ice and Fire essentially created and lionized the sub-genre. 

What did I find? Well, the Wikipedia page dedicated to it says "the series is noteworthy for its ruthlessness in dispatching major characters...[and] has also been criticized for its pessimism." Ring a Westerosi bell? Beyond this, many Fantasy websites and Reddit users classify it as a lighter form of GRRM while still unquestionably grimdark. Yet the last straw was an interview of Paul Kearney, namely a specific question asked and the author's answer:

Question: "Another observation is that there’s very strong melancholy in your protagonists – Hawkwood, Corfe, Rol. They are often forlorn and sad if determined. What is the reason behind that? Is there some part of Paul in the books’ heroes?"
Kearney's answer: "Possibly. I do not believe that mankind is basically good with a few bad apples in the barrel. I believe that mankind is intrinsically weak and selfish and will happily indulge evil, provided it does not interfere with everyday life. Some shining exceptions exist, but they are by definition not the rule. So for those who have some experience of the world outside their comfortable little box, this is a given. Life is hard. It makes you pay. You must struggle merely to survive. I guess that attitude bleeds into my characters."
An answer/belief which is, like the grimdark it spawns, the complete and utter antithesis of the Spirit of Tolkien in addition to being an almost dictionary definition of the Treason of the Intellectuals. By rights all who espouse such cynical tomfoolery should feel the full force of my contempt so hard as to frost their windows.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Just started Hawkwood's Voyage, book one of the Monarchies of God by Paul Kearney

Just started Hawkwood's Voyage, book one of the Monarchies of God by Paul Kearney.
I will not lie: I have grave suspicions regarding this series as it reportedly toes the line of and even crosses into the grimdark so, unlike with other books, I make no unspoken vow to finish it. That said, it starts with a bang for something stirs in the depths even as religious warfare has felled the Holy City of Aekir. (Hopefully I do not regret this, but it has sat unread, untested, on my shelves for too long.)


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

I just finished The Sacred Hunt Duology by Michelle West

Sound the silver horn, call the hunt.
I just finished Hunter’s Death, the second book of The Sacred Hunt Duology by Michelle West.
Duty is a hard master, requiring sacrifice no less than and often because of love - which of course is what in the end makes the duty worthwhile and noble. Duties driven by love-born oaths freely given, responsibilities and cares willing taken. By such oaths was Dark God Allasakar pushed from the mortal plane, by such sacrifices willingly made. Breodanir and the City of the Twin Kings is safe. The Hunter's Price is paid.

Thank you and well done Stephen and Gilliam of Elseth, Evayne, Kallandras, Meralonne Aphaniel, Jewel Markess, Torvan and Devon ATerafin, The Terafin, Espere, Zareth Kahn, Princess Mirialyn ACormaris, Lady Elsabet of Elseth, Soredon and Norn of Elseth, and last but not least Cynthia of Maubreche.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Terciel and Elinor news

Terciel and Elinor comes out this November, and if the cover is any judge it looks amazing. What I find interesting is that Mogget is in the form of a cat here. Terciel told Sabriel that Mogget always took the form of an albino dwarf boy with him; as I recall, he was unaware of Mogget's name and that he could become a cat.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Black History Month

I have never made a post regarding Black History Month because, as I have often said, I avoid as many real-world matters as I can here on Stars Uncounted. However, for everything there is a first time so I will give my take regarding race in Fantasy literature. The short of it is that I agree with Ursula K. Le Guin, who has criticized what she describes as the general assumption in Fantasy that characters should be White and that the society should resemble the Middle Ages. Of course, the Fantastic has expanded quite a bit since she uttered those words, with cultures and settings that are far from always clearly Medieval, and yet the Whiteness of characters and a general European cultural flavor remains. Why is this so? Honestly, I am unsure. Maybe it is habit, maybe it is that White authors feel unqualified to base their created cultures off those not their own or fear being accused of cultural appropriation; maybe Black authors feel non-European based cultures would be of lesser interest to readers. I cannot say. I do, however, think it is a problem that the Fantasy genre must needs overcome. Knights and castles are nice, but they get old after a while; which is why I seek unique Fantasy these days.

Yet I can say that of one seeks quality Fantasy with non-White characters then I highly recommend The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin; and I say non-White instead of Black because the skin color of the characters is primarily described as red-brown. Better yet, the only White people in the Earthsea universe are from the Kargad Lands and are they are described (and typically act) as savages.

One also might be interested in the Vows and Honor Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey. While most of the characters are White, one of the series' two main protagonists is Tarma shena Tale'sedrin who is a black-golden skinned woman from the southern Dhorisha Plains. Not ideal, perhaps, but Tarma is one of my favorite characters in Fantasy literature period and, furthermore, Mercedes Lackey absolutely skewers sexism in the series.

There is in addition Moon-Flash and its sequel The Moon and the Face by Patricia A. McKillip. An anthropological Fantasy book for lack of a better term, though it is marked as 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, 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.





These are the three that stick out in my mind insofar as having Colored main protagonists go. Doubtless I am forgetting others from my own bookshelf, but I seldom notice skin-color in Fantasy literature unless it carries a racial bearing that impacts the plotline of the book in question. For while it is true that Fantasy tends towards White main characters, those protagonists are never racist towards secondary characters where skin-color is concerned; thus any concern regarding race is always based on a purely cultural standpoint. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan is a perfect example of this for, while cultural prejudices exist aplenty (though rarely from the five core characters), skin-color is a non-issue.

Now I can hear you saying, "but what about Black Fantasy authors? The three series' mentioned above were written by White women." Simply put, I never pay attention to the author's race or gender when searching for or reading Fantasy. It simply does not enter into my calculations. As said Anne McCaffrey, "A good story is a good story no matter who wrote it," meaning, in this context, that when I am in a bookstore searching for new Fantasies I just pull out whatever looks interesting, read the back and/or inside cover, and if it passes muster I give it a try. As I have said in the past, to me the Art is far more important than the Artist. Not that there is anything wrong with searching for and filling your bookshelf with works written by Black authors, but it is not my style because, like with this blog, Fantasy is where I go to escape all real-world matters.

"I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which “Escape” is now so often used: a tone for which the uses of the word outside literary criticism give no warrant at all. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls? The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it. In using escape in this way the critics have chosen the wrong word, and, what is more, they are confusing, not always by sincere error, the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter." – J.R.R. Tolkien

“Stories of the sort I am describing…they cool us…hence the uneasiness which they arouse in those who, for whatever reason, wish to keep us wholly imprisoned in the immediate conflict. That perhaps is why people are so ready with the charge of 'escape'. I never wholly understood it until my friend Professor Tolkien asked me the very simple question, "What class of men would you expect to be most preoccupied with, and hostile to, the idea of escape?" and gave the obvious answer: jailers.” – C.S. Lewis

And if you want to move beyond literature? Well, I am no expert, but Avatar: The Last Airbender (and its sequel The Legend of Korra) is a flawless example of an exemplary Fantasy where none of the cultures are European-based and several protagonists are dark-skinned.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Quote of the month

 "A question like ‘How big is Faerie?’ does not admit of a simple answer. Faerie, after all, is not one land, one principality or domain. Maps of Faerie are unreliable, and may not be depended upon. We talk of Kings and Queens of Faerie as we would speak of the Kings and Queens of England. But Faerie is bigger than England, it is bigger than the world (for, since the dawn of time, each land that has been forced off the map by explorers and the brave going out and proving it wasn’t there has taken refuge in Faerie; so it is now, by the time that we come to write of it, a most huge place indeed, containing every manner of landscape and terrain.) Here, truly, there be Dragons." - Neil Gaiman

Monday, February 1, 2021

Mystery at the Lighthouse

One thing I have noticed is that people seldom think about how literature affects anime and gaming, mostly because such references to them as appear in anime and games are to literary works which are no longer in the popular mainstream. As I have stated, I avoid Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy more or less like the plague; not because I do not respect them so much as that they are simply not taste. However, the two merge with anime and gaming enough to warrant acknowledgement.

Recently I watched Mystery at the Lighthouse, the 13th episode of the original Pokémon anime (i.e. when Ash first sets out in the Kanto Region), and was again struck by its quiet majesty. In basic plot, omitting the ending so as to avoid spoilers, Ash & co. are lost but soon arrive at a lighthouse on a foggy coast where they meet its keeper, a Pokémon researcher named Bill who spends his time studying rare Pokémon. Namely, he says, one so unique and that no one had ever laid eyes on it; the last of its kind searching down the aeons for a friend. A Pokémon he learned of when he heard a strange noise coming across the ocean one night, a haunting, plaintive call echoing across the mist-shrouded sea, but that was the last time he heard it's cry. Then, in a benevolent attempt to lure the Pokémon, he broadcast a similar answering call across the ocean. Needless to say that before the episode's end the nameless Pokémon makes an appearance, wading through fog and sea to the lighthouse, its calls matching the fog horn. Of course, this was the very early days of Pokémon anime, so the writers made the mysterious Pokémon a super-sized Dragonite (it is not named so, but the outline is clear) instead of a truly unidentifiable legendary Pokémon that would later be revealed and play a role many episodes down the line, but knowing what it is does not take away from the haunting power of Mystery at the Lighthouse. A fact the writers were well aware of as the episode is purely based off acclaimed sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury's The Fog Horn short story.

At this point, dear reader, I recommend that you read this short story here is the link – before continuing, as otherwise you will face serious spoilers (worry not, for it can be read in under ten minutes). Ready or not, here we go. The Fog Horn details a lighthouse keeper who observes the arrival of a gigantic, prehistoric creature emerging from the waves each year, coming in answer to the fog horn which tricks the monster into thinking he has found another of his kind, one who acts as though the monster did not even exist. The lighthouse keeper turns off the fog horn and, in a rage, the monster destroys the lighthouse before retreating to the sea. This may sound rather pedestrian, but Bradbury's reputation is well-earned and the story hooked me by the heartstrings in a heartbeat. Hence I will say no more so as not to rob one of the chance to read it if one has not done so already. Taking 30 minutes on Netflix to watch Mystery at the Lighthouse would be order too as one will note that I did not spoil the ending. 

Having read and seen both, one will agree that Pok√©mon did an excellent job evoking the primal, lonely mood of The Fog Horn, particularly given that it was an anime for young children. Children like me who grew up never knowing the episode's origins because the relevant short story is no longer in the popular mainstream. I only found out by, being curious to learn more about the giant Dragonite if possible, looking up the episode on Bulbapedia and saw this in the Trivia section: "The plot of this episode was likely based on the short story The Fog Horn by Ray Bradbury, which also contributed to the creation of the Godzilla franchise. In the story, a sea monster who is the only one left of its kind, hears a fog horn that sounds similar to its own voice and it is attracted to it." (Yes, sadly I have heard of Godzilla and would like to keep my limited knowledge of it just that, limited, because my opinion monster movies and whatnot is low at best. It is interesting, though, is it not, that a franchise such as Godzilla which we all grow up hearing about whether we want to or not can maintain such mainstream fame while its progenitor, short story, is out of the limelight.) 

Seeing as I have asked you, dear reader, to read a short story and watch a 30 minute Pokémon episode, I think it only fair that I stop for now. I will speak of the games tied to literary works in a later post; and no, when I say "tied to" I do not mean in the obvious way that, say, the game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is tied to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

"That is not dead which can eternal lie. And with strange aeons even death may die." - H.P. Lovecraft

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Ursula K. Le Guin USPS stamp.

The United States Postal Service has announced its latest batch of stamp art, including one honoring Ursula K. Le Guin which will be released later this year. A giant in Fantasy literature, she laid the groundwork for future authors people talk about Harry going by train to Hogwarts, but first Ged had to travel by ship to the School of Roke – and wrote of Dragons and dealt, philosophically, with death and inner balance like no other of her day and as few have since. The stamp honoring her will be the 33rd stamp in the USPS's Literary Arts series.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The official show synopsis for Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings TV adaptation

About three years ago Amazon announced a TV adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and now we have the official official show synopsis:

"Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of N√ļmenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone."

An interesting reveal, to be sure. Per this synopsis, I would guess that the show will take place during the 2nd millennium of the Second Age, covering the forging of the Rings of Power, the War of the Elves and Sauron, the Sack of Eregion and the Founding of Rivendell. They ought to bring back the movie actors of Galadriel, Celeborn, and Elrond for this. Maybe even Gil-Galad.

"We have reached the borders of the country that Men call Hollin; many Elves lived here in happier days, when Eregion was its name." - Gandalf

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

I just started Hunter’s Death

Sound the silver horn, call the hunt.
I just started Hunter’s Death, the second book of The Sacred Hunt Duology by Michelle West.
Averalaan, City of the Twin Kings and capital of the Essalieyan Empire, the height of human civilization, was in Ages past the seat of Allasakar, the Lord of the Hells. Now he seeks to return, and death is his herald as demon-kin lurk in the shadows of the city that was once his. A city the Hunter God's servants approach for this very reason while the daughter of the Unnamed enters the field proper to aid them. Yet the Hunter's Death is the loss every Hunter Lady, Lord, and brother fears, and between it and the Dark God I fear greatly for Gilliam and Stephen
Are you the hunter, or the prey?

Monday, January 4, 2021

RuneScape's 20th Anniversary

RuneScape turns twenty today (and yes, I still unashamedly play ūüėÄ Just reached level 101 Archaeology, in fact.)

I just finished Hunter’s Oath

Sound the silver horn, call the hunt. 
I just finished Hunter’s Oath, the first book of The Sacred Hunt Duology by Michelle West.
The Hunter God is real and his Breodani god-born child and servants those both blessed and cursed by Him must aid the Order of the Knowledge and vise versa as the Covenant threatens to break with the rise of the demon-kin and their Dark God. Yet while the breaking would doom Breodanir, it is in Essalieyan that the threat must be faced. Time is short, not always linear as seer-born Evayne can confirm, and against them. Luck to you, Hunter Lord Gilliam and huntbrother Stephen. Fulfill your oaths.
Are you the hunter, or the prey?

Sunday, January 3, 2021

What makes Fantasy literature special

One of the reasons I love Fantasy literature so much is that it expands the limits not only of imagination but of compassion. Think about it. When reading the Fantastic one becomes emotionally attached to a world that technically does not exist, grows to love and hate characters as if they were born of true flesh and blood rather than of ink and the mind of the author. One learns to care deeply about people and events that have no technical bearing on the real-world, yet that selfsame care gives it tremendous bearing to the point that readers laugh and cry, cheer and mourn, sing and think alongside the characters as if they were as real as anything. This, I believe, is what makes Fantasy so very special. Other genres, like realistic and non-fiction, expand our minds in unquestionably invaluable ways, to be sure, yet they are rooted in the real-world we live in and thus automatically have an emotion bearing upon us. The Fantasy genre, however, expands our compassion beyond the here and now, beyond the world we live in, tearing down the emotional barriers separating the the real from the 'unreal'. Why to mark the word unreal as such? Because, in the immortal words of Pablo Picasso, "Everything you can imagine is real."

J.R.R. Tolkien says that "Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory." Quite true, and he explains why quite eloquently:

"I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which “Escape” is now so often used: a tone for which the uses of the word outside literary criticism give no warrant at all. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls? The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it. In using escape in this way the critics have chosen the wrong word, and, what is more, they are confusing, not always by sincere error, the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter."

The key is that a Deserter leaves because they have stopped caring, desiring only to flee trouble and pain, a want that could never be met in Fantasy literature for it, to again quote Tolkien, contains "beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords." It "does not deny the existence of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance." Yet a Prisoner escapes knowing this, knowing that our real-world is hardly ideal and choosing to escape into the Fantastic because they want to feel the triumphs and tragedies of others, choosing, willingly, to experience both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords that is beyond their power to influence, much less control. That takes courage, and a heart that can, again, treat that which is technically unreal as quite real. To expands one's emotions to encompass people who never lived doing impossible things in places that do not exist as if they were dear friends or hated enemies, and in the end seriously and emotionally viewing the assorted characters as such.

That is what makes Fantasy literature so very special. Again, I have infinite respect for other genres, but the ability to create one's own fully populated world that is real enough for others to escape into set the Fantastic apart and is, beyond doubt, why we live in a Golden Age of Fantasy. (Point of order and not to state the utterly obvious, one does not have to be a prisoner to adore Fantasy. Goodness knows I do not consider myself such.) Finally and on a side note, today is J.R.R. Tolkien's birthday, so raise a glass and toast "The Professor!"