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Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : VI. Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor

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All good things must come to an end.

Things start out quite nicely, with Melkor locked away, the Eldar gathering and enjoying a time of peace.  We even have a love story.

Spoiler: it all ends horribly.

As soon as I read that Míriel could only stand to bear a single child and that Finwë wanted more my first thought was "Well, this is going to end poorly."

Tolkien enjoys his epic love stories, ill fated or destined for greatness.  And so we have the marriage of Finwë and Míriel, deeply in love and from whom comes perhaps the greats of the Noldar artisans, Fëanor.  Birth is never easy, something that we often forget when it happens behind the closed doors of hospital rooms.  Women undergo intense physiological and psychological changes during pregnancy and at the end of it they suddenly have another life they are responsible for.  Actually, one of the biggest fears I have regarding spawning is that with my baseline neurochemical imbalances (and other factors) I have a deep seat…

[Book Review] A Canticle for Leibowitz

A Canticle for Leibowitz / Walter M. Miller, Jr.

The back of my copy in hand lists an excerpt from The New York Times review, "Angry, eloquent... a terrific story."  I can't disagree with that.  A Canticle for Leibowitz is bleak assessment of humanity in a continual cycle of self-destruction and struggle for survival, with strong themes on information literacy, morality, and anti-intellectualism.

I think I would have been far happier reading it... maybe last year.  However, it is definitely worth reading and I'm glad I got to it.

Discussion Fodder:
This book in many ways is about cycles and patterns.  What cycles and patterns did you notice (themes, civilization, narrative, etc)?Does the Church as an archivist change the preservation and passing on of knowledge, and how does that manifest?  What are the differences between Science as a secular or as a religious practice?wWhat do you think of the permutations of society and cultures present?  What about taboos and supe…

Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : V. Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië

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This week, a picture says a thousand words.


The divisions between the Elves partially came down to luck, which I have various grumbly feelings about.  That those who were too far away to hear Ulmo's summons are a sub-classification in terms of Elven standing and lore is a bit snobbish.  Especially since the Valar could have reunited the groups much earlier than they did.

That being said, residing in Valinor and among the Valar wrought changes on the Quendi, so there is reason behind the division between the different groups.  And, while I generally bitch about the Valar failing their duties, even those doing some of them, Ulmo actually does seem to take care of the Elves, including forming an island for the Teleri and their love of the sea.  The Valar variously had their favorites, those inline with their own inclinations.  After all, they are only fallible, so such a human favoritism is almost to be expected.  But to their favorites they impart knowledge, wisdom, and skills, enri…

September Read: Dhalgren

Somehow Samuel R. Delany managed to stay under my radar for most of my life.  Reading about him and his works, I feel like the fact that I have yet to read any thing by him is absurd.
In Bellona, reality has come unglued, and a mad civilization takes root A young half–Native American known as the Kid has hitchhiked from Mexico to the midwestern city Bellona—only something is wrong there . . . In Bellona, the shattered city, a nameless cataclysm has left reality unhinged. Into this desperate metropolis steps the Kid, his fist wrapped in razor-sharp knives, to write, to love, to wound. So begins Dhalgren , Samuel R. Delany’s masterwork, which in 1975 opened a new door for what science fiction could mean. A labyrinth of a novel, it raises questions about race, sexuality, identity, and art, but gives no easy answers, in a city that reshapes itself with each step you take. This sounds exactly like a book I will love, and hopefully that proves true for the September Virtual Specula…

Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : IV. Of Thingol and Melian

Considering the significance of the moment covered by this chapter and Tolkien's treatment of epic love stories, this chapter stands out as shockingly short.  Elwë (referred to in the chapter title as Thingol), an was one of the elves to visit Valinor then come back to their people to offer the choice of haven in the Light of the Trees.

And then he comes across the Maia Melian, and that whole plan of residing in Valinor goes out the window.  We've met the Maia before, the name Gandalf probably rings a bell.  Melian brought song to the twilight of Middle Earth.

Beyond inspiring Elwë to abandon the life he convinced what would become a whole subset of his own race to follow, they are the first couple in a lineage of epic love stories that transcend race.  Melian births Lúthien Tinúviel, of Elven song and lore and her marriage to Beren.  The line continues through to Elrond, and then to Arwen who marries Aragon in her own repeat of the trials of Lúthien and Beren.

On the other ha…

[Book Review] The Brightest Fell

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The Brightest Fell (October Daye #11) / Seanan McGuire

Previously reviewed:
Once Broken Faith
Most of Toby's stories drop you into the action and feed you necessary bits of exposition as they barrel along.

This book takes the time to introduce you to the world setting, and in that marks a note of gravity and weight that has been absent at the start of the stories, but has always lain lurking.  In that, the novel starts off feeling like we've reached a new step, gone past some point of no return in both Toby's life and in Faerie itself.  Fitting, since ina the author's own words, Toby is starting to pay off debts created five or six books ago.

We know something is coming, hints have been dropped and there's the looming matter of Toby's debts to the Luideag.  Matters which were both brought starkly to light in Once Broken Faith when Luideag mentions it would take too long to replace Toby, and then later when she saves Tybalt's life.  But much of that is for a …

Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : III. Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor

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Wherein the Valar largely avoid doing their job, let things get bad, then scramble to make up for it.

"Through long ages the Valar dwelt in bliss in the light of the Trees beyond the Mountains of Aman, but all Middle-earth lay in a twilight under the stars."

Dwelling in their own private Haven is really not what they were sent to the world to do.  Yavanna moped about, but at least did what she could to protect the life that couldn't grow under the twilight.  Besides that...well, Melkor certainly took advantage of the situation, digging in and fortifying his position.  Most notably we learn about his fortress, Angband, commanded by his lieutenant, Sauron.

Finally the Valar realize maybe they should see about that assignment to prepare the earth for Iluvatar's children?  From this we see the greatest of all works of the Valar since they first came to Arda, that is the making of the new stars.  Not fully bringing light to the world, but bringing some... and this is the…