Tuesday, September 27, 2016

[Re-read] A Feast with Dragons, Chapter 17: Jaime I

This post contains spoilers all the way up to the epilogue of A Dance with Dragons.

Yay, time for another re-read post. The journey through A Feast with Dragons continues unabated if excruciatingly slow. Today we reach the 17th chapter of the combined re-read of George R.R. Martin's two doorstoppers, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, using the chronological order suggested by Boiled Leather. So far, I have to say the combining of chapters hasn't made much of a difference, partially because I tend to forget where we are in the timeline anyway, and partially because we've mostly been treading through Feast so far. To my pleasant surprise, however, I'm also finding new appreciation for much of what I read, being better able to "marry" the 'new' with the 'old. Yeah, Feast is dirt-old already, but it still feels relatively new to me. I guess one of its problems was that it had so much expectation and wild anticipation, and that it may have failed (in my eyes) a bit because it wasn't the story I expected or imagined, much like how the Star Wars prequel trilogy suffered from high expectations and anticipation; it was so different from the original trilogy in a lot of ways that I guess it became even harder to accept it. And I never have and never will; GRRM, on the other hand, I am willing to work with; there's enough goodness here to possibly ignore the flaws that are creeping into his saga. I can't ignore the inanity of Anakin Skywalker's turn to the Dark Side, but it's easier to ignore, say, Maggy the Frog's prophecy although I've never liked it coming into play. It's just a small thing, not detrimental enough to frustrate. Anyway. It's JAIME's turn, his first chapter in the combined re-read, and in case you didn't know Jaime is possibly my favoritest character in a gallery of great characters so I'm kind of excited to return to him now, at sunrise on the fourth day. Join me as we go a-explorin'.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lit Upd

It's been a while since I read and finished a novel that wasn't either related to the return of Star Wars or was a novel I've read at least once before, but last night I pushed through and finished Mark Lawrence's The Liar's Key, second volume in a trilogy centered on the Prince of the Red March, with the not very memorable name Jalan Kendeth (I don't know why, but I actually had to check his name online now; despite having been immersed in the novel for such a long time. My brain refuses to latch onto the name; I do remember Snorri, Kara, Kelem, Hennan...just not the main character, whose POV I've been reading for so many pages. Existence is weird.

I'm not going to launch into an in-depth review but if you're a fan of A Song of Ice and Fire it's a good bet you might enjoy Mark Lawrence's setting, the Broken Empire. It began with a preceding trilogy, featuring another prince, and I suppose you're better off reading about the exploits of Jorg of Ancrath before moving on to Jalan Kendeth, but I am sure this second trilogy (called The Red Queen's War, which began with Prince of Fools) may be enjoyed without having read the previous trilogy. What makes Lawrence a great read is that he has some great concepts going on, and, contrary to many fantasists, actually knows how to weave a compelling, well-written tale. It's not as ambitious perhaps as a Martin or Erikson, but I'd place it alongside some of the "second tier" fantasists such as Joe Abercrombie and Patrick Rothfuss in terms of quality (they're all wildly different, though).

While reading The Liar's Key I've also been re-reading - for the third time now - Steven Erikson's Deadhouse Gates and that one is just getting better and betterer. What a brilliance, wow. Next on my to-read-fantasy-list is my first attempt at Guy Gavriel Kay (Sailing to Sarantium), and beyond that I have plans to read the rest of the Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne - I read and enjoyed the first one (The Emperor's Blades) but for some reason I never soldiered on, despite the story being interesting enough. But I also want to try Glen Cook, and I still haven't acquired copies of Steven Erikson's Fall of Light and Joe Abercrombie's Sharp Ends. And I have to restart Ian C. Esslemont's Dancer's Lament as I kind of forgot to finish it and now I remember nothing of it.

Most next up, of course, is another re-read chapter, which I hopefully will have up as a post by the end of this week.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

[Re-read] A Feast with Dragons, Chapter 16: Cersei II

Re-reading both A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons has so far been a nice experience, and I find myself (slowly) drifting to a more appreciative stance on the narrative (though there have been a few chapters where I've been bored out of my mind, as mentioned in those re-read posts) but I kind of struggle keeping the chapters apart so from now on I'm going to add the actual chronological numbering in the post title (makes it easier for me to find back to where I was). So Cersei II from Feast is the 16th chapter in the reading order proposed by Boiled Leather. This also means I'm ditching the silly made-up chapter titles, and good riddance I say. It's time to get serious. After all, while my posting is infrequent at best, I still aim to finish this re-read before The Winds of Winter come howling down from the North. Maybe.

As long as Mr. Martin keeps writing chapter-length blog posts on the Hugo Awards, football and all the other stuff that he enjoys, I should be good. All right, Cersei Lannister! My favorite love-to-hate character throughout the 'original trilogy', I still find myself not quite enjoying seeing the world of Westeros through her eyes. Giving Cersei her own POV kind of ruined the mystery for me, as I found the character so intriguing, ruthless and seductive in the first three books; and not being in her head (and seeing her through the eyes of surrounding POVs) made her a far better villain, in my opinion, than seeing what is actually going on in her head: it takes away a lot of the charm of the character. Oh well, I'll probably go into many a detail on this aspect throughout the re-read of her chapters, so I might as well just forge ahead. Ladies and gentleman, open your copy of Feast to Cersei II, here we go (alternatively, here's a short summary of the chapter). Oh, and Tower of the Hand are also featuring Cersei Lannister as the fourth-most loathed character of Westeros! That's pretty loathed.

There will be spoilers! For everything.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

14 reasonable reasons

TOR.com has published a nice article supporting my thesis that Steven Erikson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen is amazingnessness. Check it out right here!

Can it be compared to A Song of Ice and Fire? No, not really. It's a whole 'nother experience. They're both fantasy, of course. An acquired taste, Malazan, but you know, I can't help but want to pimp this saga, much like I used to pimp A Song of Ice and Fire, oh, in the early 00s. The best case for Malazan remains, of course, that it is an actual finished work, with a resonating, solid ending. And there's so fricking much of it, too - the ten books of the main cycle (which are all you really need), in addition to six or is it seven companion volumes by co-creator of the world Ian C. Esslemont, in addition to a plethora of novellas. It starts out rough (Gardens of the Moon) but by the end (The Crippled God) it's like..the most profound thing ever.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

[Re-read] Arya I - So Many Gods, So Few Friends - Part II

It's actually happening, I'm back into the combined re-read of George R.R. Martin's A Feast for Crows (2005) and A Dance with Dragons (2011), all in preparation for The Winds of Winter (2017) but also because it's kind of fun to go back into these books and write a little about the process of doing so. Quick recap: Arya has been delivered safely to the front of the House of Black and White by a captain Yorko Terys, and she's right there on the steps leading up to the front door, as we delve back into the story. Note that I'm careless with regards to spoilers for what's coming further down the line.

(As always, I'm using the All Leather Must Be Boiled merged reading order to make both books into one overwhelmingly large re-read project).

Who will open the door for Arya? Will it even open at all? And just why did the captain make sure Arya knew his name? Will this chapter conclude with a stunning cliffhanger or peter out like some of the other chapters read so far? Hit the "Continue Reading" button right below. Le-e-et's queeest!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Latest news on The Winds of Winter

There was some commotion (also known as hype) over at the A Song of Ice and Fire Reddit-channel. Apparently, George had blogged so little during August that it could only mean one thing: he was gearing up toward announcing the completion of The Winds of Winter. This, in addition to the speculation found in the thread I linked to, led to some fever for many followers of the saga which might as well have been called The Literally Neverending Story.

Fortunately, Mr. Martin was back on his blog today, not only stating how much he was thinking about his magnus opus A Song of Ice and Fire (if you're desperate enough, you can imagine that's what he's really talking about when he mentions the Hugo Awards, the new football season, Wild Cards etc) but also, in the comments actually saying he's not going to a particular con sometime way off into next year because Winds.

So there you have it, exciting as it is; a 2018 release date just became a little more likely (though I still hold to my bet of 2017, though I'm beginning to doubt it).

In other news, I discovered Harmonquest this week, an entirely silly show (combining live improv and animation in a, I suppose, novel way) that nonetheless managed to scratch that fantasy gaming itch. Full of juvenile jokes that probably only are funny if you've played some Dungeons &/or Dragons...though it didn't actually scratch my itch so much as make me itch and pine for a good old session of epic fantasy adventuring. The novelty wore off after a few episodes, though, but eh, I was entertained there for a while (but the hype-generation at Reddit is more entertaining).

I'm almost through Mark Lawrence's The Liar's Key, what can I say, it's not as entertaining as his previous trilogy featuring Jorg of Ancrath, but at times it is really good; and at times it loses its pull and I go days (weeks?) without reading on. Still, Lawrence is definitely reaching the second tier league. The first tier remains occupied by Martin and Erikson (and Tolkien), though I am getting behind on my Erikson, haven't even grabbed a copy of his latest novel (Fall of Light) or latest novella (whatever it's called). It almost feels like Steven Erikson publishes books too fast. Which is a nice change of pace, of course, eh? The Winds of Winter. That title makes me chuckle, these days.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Star Wars off my chest

I know I should be doing my re-read post now, but I had to get this off my chest.

As I mentioned in my previous post, much of this summer was spent in a galaxy far, far away. I like being in that galaxy, despite hating the prequel trilogy and not caring much about all the stuff going on in novels and cartoons. The Force Awakens kind of re-ignited the passion, though, so I have found myself watching the Rebels cartoon, and buying and reading some of the new novels coming out. Before The Force Awakens, Disney and Lucasfilm discontinued the ongoing, extremely large "Expanded Universe", and started a new era with a new canon (though so far, they are basically just re-jigging the old expanded universe a bit and adding the new stuff), so here was my chance to jump back in and follow the stories that are meant to support and enhance the new trilogy of movies. Despite some silliness, The Force Awakens did revitalize my love for the series and now I'm all aboard for the further adventures of Rey and Kylo. I guess I'll never get rid of this hangup.