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I have a lot of things I *should* be working on... so what happens?

Yep, that's right, as I should be getting up and getting in the shower and going, I catch sight of a friend liking a picture someone posted, and I look at a few other pictures posted on that page, and I catch a glimpse of a picture as I scroll by that might involve a certain watery tart and a sword (but it may not, I didn't look at it closely, so it might just have been a knight-lady in a sunny woodland glade or something entirely different) and suddenly I'm scrambling to open a new window in Open Office, and I'm typing... and this is (completely unedited) what I get:

Lady in the Lake

By Everett A Warren

That's not how the story goes.

Her voice is raspy, cold, weighted down by the years. There's wisps of grey visible from under the cloak, but not much else you can read from her. Maybe the hunching over, that curve like a sapling that reaches fast for the light and then, over time, bends closer to the ground... maybe that arc is from the weight of that cloak. A thick, heavy, unforgiving material like a warrior might wear. Why scratch the armour when that dense, uncomfortable fabric will turn the sharpest blade and dampen the mightiest hammer. The kind of weight that is not for old women to bear, but is invaluable to the young warrior.

So she tells me that's not how the story goes, and I'm caught. Story is my stock and trade, and I had been telling all about Arturo and Kam and the Table Round and The Sword and I know the tale, know it through and through, the words tripping off my tongue beautifully, and each word lovingly crafted into the whole.

I should know better, because I do know better. And who could know better than I? After all, it was not some poor, bent beggarlady who had watched The Sword from its Sheath leap out into Arturo's hand, glimmering with glamours and preternatural light. It was not some scraggly withered wench who listened attentively to the Wise Woman Myrlynne as she prophesied and advised and taught the Boy Who Would Be King.

And it was not, most certainly and empathetically not, no way, no how, some vile peasant wretch of a hag, a grandmother of shit and dirt and nothing of any worth whatsoever, who slid the blade betwixt Arturo's plate and into that soft, yielding under layer of his flesh, letting his blessed royal lifeblood flow on to the battlefield on that, his last day, and...

Pardon. A moment please.


You see, I was there.

It was I.

I am Mordred.

Oh, some say I was Arturo's younger brother, some say I was his son. We called each other brothers, and although we spilt much blood side by side through the years, the blood that ran within us was wholly our own.

But that is of little matter, it merely clarifies some of the tales you may have heard. Which brings me back to this tale, and the tale I had been telling when this mere woman claims I am wrong and that my story is not what I know it to be, and that the tale I am telling takes a different path entirely.

My anger rises, and the years fall from me, the curse revived, and still... I listen to her, ensnared, myself and my audience now hers. I hear her words wind and twist and echo and resolve, and I wonder briefly if this is Myrlynne, freed from her entrapment -- which I was quite sure involved her death as well, or as close as I could manufacture to it -- and come to seek revenge, because so magickal are her speakings that I can not help but believe.

Copyright 2013 Everett Ambrose Warren

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Threshold by CaitlÌn R. Kiernan

The most important thing in a good horror novel is not, as monster movies might have you believe, the monster. That's secondary. You don't even have to know what, exactly, the monster is. Or whether there is even a monster anywhere at all within the pages. Now, in the good stuff, you may think you know who or what the monster is, and you may think it is safely several pages away from you, but when you get there, maybe there's just a strange odor, or some other sign that something was - might have been - there.

Good horror is a setting and characters. You kind of grow to like them. Some of them may up and die on you. Others - the lucky ones - might wind up in an asylum somewhere. The rest, unfortunately, are just waiting. And, if it's really good, they're not exactly sure that what they think might happen to them has any bearing in reality.

Good horror leaves you unsettled. Good horror keeps you out of cellars. Or, at least, has you constantly watching your back.

This is better than very good horror. And, if I ever happen to get down south again - specifically, anywhere in Birmingham - I will be looking around every corner and into every shadow. Most likely, I'll avoid that city in particular. This is, after all, great horror.

In some senses, this could qualify for the label "science fiction" in the sense that it is fiction and the science contained within is important to the overall story, and, essentially is what one of the primary characters is about. I've heard some complain about the characters in here - that they're pitiful, not exceptionally possessed of all the things any good Mary Sue author would want themselves their characters to have. These characters have all the flaws you can find in real live people, and these flaws can rip open like fault lines, just like they can in real people. I've known some of these folks - I've seen them in the graduate departments at a major university; I've seen them cowering in the sticky, thick sludge leaking from the dumpster in the alley behind a coffee shop; I've played in bands with them, and seen them up on stage. They don't always have things go their way. When they do, they are surprised. Usually, the find out later that it would have been better for them if things didn't go their way, maybe.

This is not the type of novel for those who think most things on the best sellers on the horror shelf are fine, upstanding examples of literature. Mostly, that's because this is a fine, upstanding example of literature that just happens to also be a deeply unsettling work of horror fiction, with a serious bent on paleontology and geology.
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(lj-cut text="Spoilerific Stuff Below The Cut!")

The last line of the last book: "Zuruck vom Ring!" clearly indicates that the planned schedule of Harry Potter movie releases - including some of the earlier ones, Das Ronngold1, Die Walkure2, and, of course, the penultimate Siegfried und Roy3 - should avoid coinciding with the release schedule for The Lord of the Rings films, but this advice was, apparently, ignored for the first two films in each series. Through the use of strategic delays, however, they managed to heed this advice for the later films. And, of course, that "competition" was just a trilogy.

Yeah, you gessed right, there aren't really any spoilers here. =)

I was somewhat correct last night: Justin now has a copy of Potterdammerung. He hasn't finished it yet. In fact, he means not to start it quite yet.

They were in bed by 9am last night. A local (to Laconia) bookshop put a copy aside for my mom so that it wouldn't disappear in the open-to-1am madness last night early this morning. They took a leisurely stroll over to the place earlier today and picked it up at a more sensible hour.

1: In which Harry extends a sizable loan to the Weasley's youngest son. Co-stars Andy Serkis as Alberich, a dwarf that likes rings and mutters "my precious" quite a lot.

2: I'll make fun of the rest, but I'm not going near valkyrie maidens with a 10' halberd, unless I'm on a wing-ed steed of my own.

3: In which Hogwarts sends the kids off to a foreign exchange in Las Vegas. William Peterson appears as one of the local instructors, teaching a special Care of Magical Creatures class focusing on insect and insect-like animals, as well as providing an extension to the Defense Against the Dark Arts curriculum regarding the usage of forensic magic.

(/lj-cut(poor imitation thereof))
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... if our household now owns a copy of the Potterdammerung, I have nothing to do with it.

I don't even know if Justin is aware it's out today, although I expect he does. One way or another, he's in Cow Hampshire and I'm not, so there you have it.

Besides, I still have a number of books in the To Be Read pile, and, although I might stuff it into the middle, it probably wouldn't even make it into the top 10. And I am reading s l o w these days.

The current in-progress book sat there for about 2 months now with only the prelude completed...

My reading time has been filled with other things. Like my own personal line of yachts and a few others that I don't own. Yet.

By the way, for reference, should anyone want to contribute a yacht or two, I was looking at the s87, Predator 108, Open 90, and Atlantica 78. Nice little boats.

Okay, so that was only one day that I spent reading about cheap tiny boats that only cost a few million dollars... *most* of you are aware of what I've been spending most of my reading time on, although at this time that's a Top Sekrit topic... (at least for a certain restricted audience =)
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Arcady by Michael Williams

This one came with fairly polarized reviews. Some said the language was beautiful, others said it made no sense and it was a terrible fantasy world.

I first came across Michael Williams in what many consider to be a low place - the Dragonlance novels manufactured by TSR. While this series started out meaning quite a lot to me - in fact those early books still do hold meaning, after all, three cats and a daughter have taken names from that source - after a while I noticed the quality of the story, the storytelling, the world cohesion, and, bluntly, the quality of the editing all took a nosedive. During that somewhat-later phase, Michael's novels were the highlights. The stories were interesting, the way he told them was interesting, and he brought with him a powerful usage of imagery, some so potent I can see them quite clearly more than ten years after having last read them.

I was hoping this wouldn't be a huge flop, but, as I read more and more reviews I worried more and more, so that when the book arrived I didn't try to move it forward in the "To be Read" pile. When it came up, I began, with some trepidation.

I didn't quite read it in one sitting - in fact, I paced myself well, for the most part. I spent much of the time waiting for signs that matched the impressions in the negative reviews.

I guess the basic problem is this wasn't Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, it could take place in our world, in a slightly earlier time, maybe even modern time, although certainly a more rural society. Technology could even be there, just not used. The whole usage of magic feels more like something from an urban fantasy than something referencing spellcasting rulebooks.

The only fault I can find with this, is that it is so open ended, it begs for more volumes to follow. I believe it did not hit the expected critical success, and, as far as I know, those further volumes never appeared.

Shame, really, because this was a good read. If you can handle not having all the answers - or can find or convince them to create and/or publish the rest - this is highly recommended.
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We went to see a certain piratey type movie today. And then we played Cartagena (review : game) and Pirate's Cove (review : game), and then we watched Dead Man's Chest (review : DVD).

Justin won Cartagena for the first time, and I utterly lost it - the only one who didn't get all six of my pirates onto the boat - for the first time. Along with Justin, both Rachel and Josh (a first time player) out-strategized me. They may have had me down and out, leaving me alone in prison, but when we next spent a year of sailing out of Pirate's Cove I never returned to the cove once, although I sent people back a time or two. In the end, I sailed to Treasure Island to take on Blackbeard, and, along with Justin, we brought him low and took the spoils. My planing was wise, and despite losing nearly everything - one more hit on my cannon and it would have been all over after a very close battle with Josh - I gathered more fame and fortune than all the other captains combined.

And, in PotCII: Dead Man's Chest we noticed certain things a lot more than we had the first time.

I suppose I should do this, because you know, click here and there just may be spoilers. )

I'll do an actual review once it's out on DVD. Until that time, go see it - preferably before you read the previous paragraph. Either immediately before or after seeing #3, watch #2 carefully.
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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I found this to be an excellent and engaging novel.

Based on the reviews of others, I first thought I would thoroughly enjoy this, and later began to worry that it was not as good as I had first heard. That skewed perspective made the first few chapters hard to get through. Once I realized that my own opinion sided more with my original perception, things went more smoothly - so much so that, by the time I hit some of the sticking points of the book's detractors, I laughed them off or had otherwise forgot they existed.

I was far more interested in what was going on in this magical past than what anyone was saying about the book in the present time, which is as it should be.

Like most books, it has words in it. To some tastes, perhaps it uses too many words. However, I found that the language used helped to reinforce the time period and setting of the book. I absolutely abhor advice to authors to simplify, to write sparingly: to present only modern prose, like that used in an action movie script. I'm all for that if you want to write an action movie.

It's always best to write for yourself - if you try to meet someone else's expectations you may fail and be unhappy or succeed and be unhappy. Could be you want to churn out factory-inspected insta-novels, could be they make series of movies based on them, could be you could become a multi-millionaire, or, you could do it the old fashioned way and win the lottery. There's only room for so many chief workers in that factory - could be you, but could be that annoying guy who's always goofing off, walking from one station on the assembly line to another, joking loudly and in bad taste. He stays later than the rest, and digs scrap words out of the trash can, so it's inevitable he'll be the one to deliver the bestsellers.

However, I much prefer to read - and write - a more beautiful, flowing language, and this book satisfies the one and helps fuel the inspiration for the other.
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The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure by Storm Constantine

I was really worried when I started reading this. It had been so long since I had read the first Wraeththu stories, would I have a clue what was going on?

No worries.

You could probably read this without the preceding volume - actually a trilogy, which I read as a single bound edition - but I think it might be best read as I had.

After going through the first book - or books - you keep your eyes open for a follow up, but find none. Desert winds blow, and sands cover up bits and pieces, until you're not even sure it ever really existed... and then you find hints that it's not a thing of the past, but rather of the present.

I think this volume is actually more coherent - understandable, considering Storm's had many years between the last words of the earlier work and the first words here.

I've seen this filed under "Horror" and it really isn't - it's fantasy. Maybe even urban - or, more accurately, post-urban - fantasy. Sure, the Wraeththu seem a bit like vampires when they are first introduced - especially through the eyes of those who haven't been incepted. The story and its world is more of a fantasy. It's a bit of a genre-bender, but horror - outside of that which can exist during battle scenes - really isn't one of its components. Maybe even sci fi would be more appropriate, in the sense that there are biological changes and thus scientific reasons that explain some of the fantasy elements.

The whole bit about inception as Wraeththu might turn some potential readers away, seeing as how, along with the foodie Liquor series by Poppy Z. Brite, causes some product suggestion systems to consider you a fan of gay lit. If you're closed minded or squeamish about such things, than this might not be a good choice for you. Shame, really, because you'd be missing a damn fine story.

That really takes a backseat to a more important development - which includes one of the first births of the brand new race, and what happens to this child as they grow - and it quickly becomes apparent that she is not quite the same as her fathers...
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Fairly new web comic out there - Looking For Group - by the folks who bring you the hysterical, not safe-for-work Least I Could Do, and featuring a sweet and lovable cast of characters (especially that mage. Very pleasant guy.) in a fantasy setting. Beautifully drawn, with a hilarious story line thus far. There's only 14 pages out there so far, so you can catch up quick and then wait around impatiently for the twice-weekly updates.
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#5: The Last of the Sky Pirates
#6: Vox
#7: Freeglader
         - All by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

This series, even more so than A Series of Unfortunate Events, straddles the line between childrens books and adult books - as with some of the stories of old, this is just good storytelling. The characters are intriguing, the settings fascinating, and the creatures are wondrous and strange.

These three books comprise an arc in the storytelling - although I do feel this series should be read in complete numerical order - that covers one character, a young librarian knight named Rook Barkwater. During the course of this arc, we travel from dangerous adventure - those wondrous strange creatures tend to like to eat lead characters and anything else eatable - to all out war.

With that, the scope of the action changes across the three, moving faster as you read through them.

Even if you generally avoid children's books, if you're into fantasy, this is one series you'll remember for quite a while.
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Sunday @ 7pm: I'm definitely going to need to come up another pirate story - the one I'm working on really wants to be 15,000 words or more. At the moment it's only a handful of paragraphs away from being my longest short story. Someday, it might even become that dreaded "N" word. Hopefully it doesn't go that far, even if it does grow beyond the boundaries of "short." I just don't think I'll be able to get away with skating over a few battles, raids, and other assorted piratical things before the mousetrap, as it were, snaps closed.

Some ideas are percolating into an actually-short story with Pelham and the crew of the 'awk - I can see them on board, and I know they've done other piratey bits before. They're a good way to gaining wider renown, so they must have had an adventure or two before Jilkey and shipmates started sipping ale and grog down at the Wriggling Eel... I'm just not sure exactly what those adventures - in particular, this one I'd like to tell - are. Before I get to that, though, I've got to keep playing the cat and mouse game. That longer story needs to sail to its end before the ideas sink below the waves.

The Australian steampunk thing needs to get some more attention - it keeps hinting at further details, but hasn't said, "Hey, here's my whole story!" yet. And at some point, I have to go visit with a certain heir to the Alexandrian Empire, because now that he's sitting a table with DaVinci, things are likely to get interesting. Although I think I do have to rework one of the core conceits of the entire story - the enigma that puts him on the path to the throne really needs to not involve encryption, what with that other guy's novel about codes and DaVinci and all making that whole connection seem somewhat less than original.

Further down in the piles of Stuff That's Not Done, there's The Gauntlet, which is quite a few chapters short of completion (or two chapters in, depending on how you want to look at it.) The Dreaming could use another story or two - there's still a lot more I want to do with that character and those settings. A couple of short story starts and fits are lying around, including a "prequel" to The Goblin and the Sorcerer (which is about something else entirely, but opens with the goblin and the sorcerer first coming across each other - or, rather, the goblin being caught on the edge of one of the sorcerer's spells, and unknowingly defeating the purpose of said spell.) There's also the Ellyssian Tarot - and that's likely to need a *lot* of work, as much has changed since I first outlined the deck.

For now, though, it's pirates. And maybe a poem or two.

Last minute update, Monday @ 1am: With the remaining outline still in place, the piratical type thing is 10,265 words. Mind you, the basic idea of the finale, in scattered semi-phrases (not even full sentences) is what nudges it over the 10,000 word limit. And all they've done is declare war on the Spanish navy, adding a frigate and two corvettes onto their kill list; as well as capturing most of the bounty of a well-laden ship filled with New World gold and other such trinkets. Since the sinking of the first man o' war was described in the outline as "Pelham joins Grim" or something equally descriptive like that. Seeing how this latest affair was but a very brief battle (they came, they sank, they looted) there still must be more to go with "several conflicts." It's only after that, as they return to Port Royal - likely Tortuga, given it's under British control and the Spanish navy is less than happy with them - that the finale slips into place. 15,000 words might be a bit tight, especially if Grim's daughter adds anyone besides the captain and the handsome young sailor with the nice singing voice to her own list of conquests. Sadly, for those interested in such things, I don't detail those particular events. They are, however, going to fit into nearly every scene she's in. Why, even as she killed the two refugees from the merchantman, she couldn't resist a kiss. Makes you wonder how ol' Grim can insist to the Captain that his daughter is not that kind of girl...

Even later last minute update, Monday @ 9:30am: Story is a harsh mistress. I had gobs of hours reserved for listening to the stories of two out of three of my pirate crews, and all I got from them were a few minor tweaks and embellishments. Later, upon the second attempt, which began shortly after the core of this update was written, and suddenly they were not just telling their stories, but they sang one as well. And, lo', when the dust settled and the smoke from the cannon fire thinned, the story was twice what it had been. Sadly, the characters did not quiet down - still have not - and I've gotten bits and pieces of the past, as well as hints of the future (perhaps even into the 1660's!) Two threads have presented themselves for further treatment. The first, that of the Bathoryesque female lead could be oh so much longer, but not all of her tale is suitable for mixed audiences (psychopathic murderers, and non-, and I would actually hope that there are far more of the latter in the audience, as two of these characters are enough of the former.) The other thread will wrap things up quicker, into somewhat of a neater package, and will follow closer to my original finale. In fact, the only real difference thus far is that one just might be alive in the wreckage, and of the other two leads, she is made to walk the plank first.
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Watching this movie is a bit like looking up to a mirror.

When we were kids, Peter Pan was an idol - he's never going to grow up, and he always has all these grand adventures with indians and pirates and flying and swords and on and on.

Peter Panning, lawyer, is afraid of flying. As a parent - the mostly-absentee father of two - he is afraid for his children: the very enemy of adventure. In business, he swoops down on floundering companies, buying them out, breaking them up, and selling them: as Granny Wendy points out, he has become a pirate.

Pirates, in the language of the story, are parents. Grownups. People with the inability to see what is really important in life, and to attempt to dictate their rule upon those that they can. To raise them right, to their way of thinking. To destroy their childhood and bring them to a soulless, productive adulthood.

When you look in a mirror, it's hard to escape the things you don't want to see: a bit too much weight around the middle, work playing a more important role in your life than your children, your best intentions at having a great family damaged by your attempts to meet those intentions.

When I watch the relation of Robin Williams portrayal of a middle-aged Peter with his son Jack, I can't help but think of relations between my first-born Justin and myself. I convince myself that I'm not doing that, or, at least not *that* bad, and in some ways it helps me see my situation clearer than I do on my own. The need to be present for my children, the need to keep the spirit alive and not just plod through life paycheck to paycheck. Or, for some, for larger and larger paychecks.

Of course, it's just a movie. Just a kids movie, and it's not really supposed to be that deep. It's a Disney product, not likely to be shown at art houses where a thoughtful analyzes and dissects its meaning.

And I enjoy it as such - a fun family film. Bright colors in Neverland, contrasted with the more subdued wintry weather in London. The war between the Lost Boys and the pirates. Mermaids, shadows, thimbles for kisses, crocodiles and clocks, Tinkerbelle, and happy thoughts.

All of which still manage to provide a reflective surface for parenthood in general, and being a father in particular.
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#5: The Austere Academy
#6: The Ersatz Elevator
#7: The Vile Village
#8: The Hostile Hospital
#9: The Carnivorous Carnival
         -all by Lemony Snicket

As I read these in very nearly a lump sum - quite different from the first three which I read here and there over the course of many a Friday night between dinner and poetry circle - and seeing how I absolutely refuse to include plot summaries in my reviews, a combination of the five in one seemed best.

That, and, as a series, you really don't want to pop in and out on a book in the middle of the lot - you're really best off beginning at the first and travelling all the way through... although you could probably get away with doing so on the first three, the fourth has a bit too much of a twist that relies on the first three having been read. These would be right out, as they build more and more upon what has happened before.

Suddenly, things do build - it's not just the same thing happening over and over, it just takes off, gaining momentum towards the work as a whole. It's a nice evolution - it starts in the more familiar ground of children's stories, and then becomes larger in scope as it goes.

Which, in some senses, sets you up for ever more unfortunate occurrences.

And that, of course, is what drives the machinery to read more and faster, to find out what happens next...
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The Nightmare Before Christmas (Special Edition)

I realized, as I sat watching this with Justin, that this movie - like a handful of others - will always have an additional special meaning to me.

First off, I love Tim Burton's stuff. His imagery, when you get to the essence of it, is always somewhere between Halloween and Christmas. Think of Edward Scissorhands, with the dark and eerie appearance, but with Edward's deep and loving innocence at its heart, or his second Batman film, with the Dark Knight lit with the bright lights of Christmas. However he may use that imagery in other movies, this movie, which starts on Halloween and ends on Christmas, is that imagery.

Danny Elfman, as a composer, also lives in that same realm, which is one of the reasons that the two work together so often. One of my favorite directors, and one of my favorite composers.

The story here is also great; simple, perhaps, but perfectly fitted to the whole of the work. The stop-motion animation brings back memories, as the narrator says at the opening, of those holiday worlds of old.

For me, though, what I will always remember is watching it with Justin about 10 years ago. I had just moved to Pennsylvania, and that move ended immediately in an split from Deb. I absolutely hated seeing Justin only on weekends - but I treasured that time spent, and it is really the only thing I remember much about from those months.

Like this movie, the separation spanned from (a month or two before) Halloween to (a couple weeks after) Christmas. I had no car, so a friend from work drove me to the mall to get Justin presents. A big yellow dump truck was the main toy - and, as it was a very tiny apartment, the truck carried a 3' tall tree in it.

I remember watching certain movies with Justin when he'd come over - this one and A Muppet Christmas Carol in particular - and I will forever identify them with a feeling that was a mixture of pain and pleasure, sorrow and heart-warming. Something kind of like the contrast between Halloween and Christmas.
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A Series of Unfortunate Events Book 4: The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket

Lemony switches things up on you in this fourth outing, and that shows character growth, at least in the orphans. Everyone else is still dependably true to form, and I think that's the point. The world is painted in very static brushes, and everything else behaves to pattern.

As always, Olaf seems - to the other adults - to be doing something wholly different because he is quite obviously, as Mr. Poe will point out, not Olaf. Although the orphans will, also true to form, recognize Olaf instantly through any disguise, they change in other ways, and that leaves the impression of their animated characters against a still life of the rest of the cast and world.

Quite a fun read, as always.
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The Edge Chronicles Volume 4: Curse of the Gloamglozer by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

This fourth volume of The Edge Chronicles jumps ship, as far as timeline and characters are concerned. A trip to the past helps deepen the story by giving us more information that will have a bearing on future portions of the story.

While I suppose you could start with this book, that's an almost unthinkable concept for me. However, if you haven't checked out this series yet, I would highly recommend it - as would Rachel and Justin. The world is highly detailed and lifelike. The ecology of the fantastic creatures - of which the Gloamglozer is central - has levels of structure; although some things seem whimsical or horrible, there is actually reasoning behind why the evolved to do what they do. Or are.

If you've started reading this series already, you become familiar with the Gloamglozer in the first book - he's what mothers use to discipline children, the bogey monster, the devil, and more. The stories don't pretend to be more than a fun adventure, but, unfortunately, they are. There's quite a bit of depth if you want to scratch under the surface. Some of the greatest themes in fantastic literature are handled here. There's echoes of Frankenstein, glimpses of Gormenghast, and more.

But then, it's just a kids book. Fun for all ages, eh?
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Hmmm... thought I posted this yesterday, and this morning it pops up as "restore from saved draft"... go figure.

Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy

I was a bit leery of this, as [livejournal.com profile] mizkit was published by a branch of Harlequin, and for some odd reason I've never been a fan of that particular publishing house.

Despite having a lot against it on those grounds alone, I figured I'd give it a go anyway, having heard from - I think - [livejournal.com profile] phantom_wolfboy that Luna published at least one other author that was worth reading no matter what publishing house; and if Luna was smart enough to pick up somebody he'd recommend, maybe they had a couple other good authors as well...

For all that this is an urban fantasy, a mix of Celtic and Native American myths, at it's core this is about a particular slice of the Celtic mythos: the Wild Hunt. I've always been partial to tales of the hunt, and I was pleasantly surprised - given my initial fears - that this fits nicely into that group of stories. I feel I learned a bit out of it - and actually want to go, erm, hunt down some source material on the hunt. Despite what certain leaders of certain countries might think, it's always good to learn new things, and it's nice to have a book coax you enough that you want to find out more.

I read this in a handful of short bursts, the last of which - maybe the third or fourth time I picked it up - covered probably three quarters of the book. Good stuff, and I'm curious enough about What Happens Next in these characters lives to see where things go from here.
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Drowned Wednesday by Garth Nix

I wanted to write a little about how the series was taking a turn here, with this third book, and I realized I've also got the fourth books in two other childrens series to review where I could say the same thing.

But really, this is the first one where it looks like Arthur might be shaping up to be more than in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sure, he fumbles through bits and pieces, but even then, it seems he's aware of his fumbling and he's trying to compensate for it, and maybe even correct the outcome a bit.

It's inevitable in a series set up like this that certain elements begin to become obvious as they repeat - yes, he's got to get another key; yes, he's got to free another piece of the will; yes, he's got to defeat the current day; yes, he'll learn a tiny bit more about what all is going on. Inescapable, really.

It's all in how these things come about, and there is a difference here. Wednesday is not Tuesday is not Monday, and so things don't quite happen as expected.

Of course, this one also has pirates, not to mention some of the most believable dreamlike unrealistic oceans ever.

A very enjoyable read for anyone into fantasy stories or any adults intelligent enough to read and enjoy things written for kids.
ellyssian: (Default)

To Charles Fort, with Love by Caitlín R. Kiernan

I've been reading [livejournal.com profile] docbrite's stuff since the days of the second novel, and when the Doc keeps mentioning [livejournal.com profile] greygirlbeast, sooner or later I had to investigate, and then I wind up reading more and more that makes me think I might actually like her stuff. It didn't take long before I decided to add pick up a book or two. I've since increased that to "all but a book or two," after reading only one of the short stories in this volume.

With my own writing, I prefer the short story, and, truth be told, as far as reading is concerned, I admire a good short story more than I admire a good novel. Telling a complete, satisfying tale in a fraction of the space is much more admirable than doing so in a larger volume. You want to tell just enough to get people thinking, to get them interested, and just enough to satisfy them. There's a balancing act, and what you don't tell is sometimes even more important - the pieces you don't fully explain, the dangling bits of wonder, those are what keep people thinking about the story long after they've read it.

These stories have that tantilizing quality, but they don't presume to think you need everything explained. There is an undeniable style to these stories, one of the more obvious elements of which is her ability to create an endless variety of compound words to describe a particular nuance. With or without such words (and she has said they are a stylistic phase, and now she doesn't use them very often if at all,) these are descriptive stories; you get impressions of scenes and feelings and characters, but there's some work for you to do. As a rather poor example, she may provide you with bits and pieces of an equation, but perhaps some of the numbers remain as variables, and maybe some of the operations aren't defined. The intent isn't so much as to arrive at a solution, but to savor the problem itself.
ellyssian: (Default)

Widdershins by Charles de Lint

Ah, as everyone says: the long-awaited story of how Jilly and Geordie realize they belong together... I suppose I'm somewhat obligated to note that, just in case you had missed all the other blurbs and bits and whatnot. That is what this book is About.

Two friends, finally understanding what everyone else in the known universe already knows.

And I knew that, while reading it. Said it on the back cover and the jacket flap and in-between the lines of every one of the books featuring one or more of the two of them that preceded this.

What I found myself latching on to had little to nothing to do with that - aside from the "Hey, Jilly is [livejournal.com profile] shadesong" thing every once in a while. For me, what this novel - which is also About the friction between immigrants and the locals, where the former are the Celtic myths and legends while the latter are those of the Native Americans - did was explore much further into the depths of the tribal history and that of the cousins.

I still cared about Jill and Geordie - in addition to 'song, my wife and I also see similarities between Jilly and my daughter Rachel, so there's lots in common there, and, well, Geordie is a fellow musician, so 'nuff said. It's just that the old folks on the NA side of things really connected with me.

While it would be a shame to be forced to take sides in such a conflict, should it occur, I know which side of the line I would stand on.


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December 2018

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