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Showing posts from September, 2016

Lord of the Rings : The Towering Read - Book 4, Chapter 3

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And like that, we've reached Mordor.

Of course, Mordor isn't just Mount Doom or a fortress, it's a country boxed in by three mountain ranges.  Not only that, but the only feasible fronts from which to attack for our various friends and allies all benefit from nearly impassible mountains and well fortified passes.

While it is true that Sam and Frodo never asked about other ways into Mordor, I can't help but wonder at cunning deliberation on the part of Gollum or if it truly was a later thought as he began to plot how to separate Frodo from the Ring.  They believe his urgent warnings of threat and danger, but I don't know if they would have trusted his offering of a secret way into Mordor.  In the face of the impossibility of the gates, his other way in sounds at least necessary, if still fraught with peril.


This occurs as Gandalf and Sauron are facing off in Isengard and the Palantir is thrown out of the tower... except we get it in the film probably about an two ho…

Lord of the Rings : The Towering Read - Book 4, Chapter 2

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The Dead Marshes and the chapter as a whole are a reminder of what came before.  Little things like Gollum singing to himself, referencing his riddle game with Bilbo, to big things like the phantom bodies in the marshes themselves.  We learn the name before we know the reasons, something that I believe is part of the growing threat that the journey faces.

Samwise is quite pragmatic in considering the threat Gollum poses, but Frodo also knows that the promise made will hold for some time  (or at least some time before Gollum acts to gain his Precious for himself).  Sam's position is generally less than pleasant.  He knows enough to trust Gollum's ernest warnings, but he also knows that Gollum poses a growing and unstable threat.  He also has to deal with his best friend and ward slipping away under the weight of the Ring.  In most ways, the success of their journey rests on him.

There's also a certain fatalism to the chapter.  The fact that they are unlikely to survive…

Lord of the Rings : The Towering Read - Book 4, Chapter 1

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After the adventures of Book 3, we go back in time a bit to see what Samwise and Frodo have been up to as they head east.

Three days since they took their leave to a mixed level of success.  They're not altogether helpless in the wild, but they don't have the knowledge of the land and navigation that the older and more experienced members of the fellowship hold.  The bleak is interspersed with snippets of humor, such as Sam and his rope.


The elven rope turns out to have some special properties - a slight glow in the dark and releasing itself from it's secure tie at the top of the cliff.  Also that whole burning Gollum's skin thing.

Whatever Gollum once was, he's a far cry from the being once known as Smeagol, both in mind and body.  I wonder how Frodo would have acted, had Gandalf not played such a strong mentor role in his life and this journey?  What if Gandalf had not spoken of the importance of pity and mercy and Frodo instead just had Sam's (perfectly reas…

Lord of the Rings : The Towering Read - Book 3, Chapter 11

Triumphant (for now) our heroes ride off into the sunset as we come to the end of Book 3.

Gandalf is rather testy with Merry at the onset of the chapter.  I can only guess he's preoccupied since he rarely talks to the hobbits as if they are irritating children.  On the other hand, he knows this is only one of many battles to be fought, even if he's oddly stumped on the method of communication between Mordor and Isengard.  What does seemodd, to me, that with Palantir in hand, Gandalf is left wondering how in the world Saruman and Sauron managed to chat.  Actually, I'm going to step back even further and boggle that Aragorn identifies the "Orthanc-stone," bringing it's identity to Gandalf's attention.

This chapter serves as an ending and a reminder of continuation.  The story of Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, Gimli, Legolas, and Aragorn does not end here, but instead the time has come to look at the activities of Frodo and Samwise during all of this.


When watchin…

[Book Review] Monstress Volume 1: Awakening

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Monstress Volume 1: Awakening / Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda

By it's actual description, Monstress takes place in an alternate 1900s.  For whatever reason it read to me as a high fantasy, post-apocalyptic fairy tale pulling on Asian folklore.  I'll blame the alt-past vs far future on the gorgeously evolved alt-history and fantastical technology.  It could easily be a far future after various rising and falling of civilizations, leading to the shambles of once great nations still fighting for survival and power.

Central to the story is a young woman with an unexplained bond to a monster, both of whom are simply seeking to survive in a world antagonistic to both.

Highly recommend.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Image Comics in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.

ONCE BROKEN FAITH - Q&A with Seanan McGuire + Giveaway!

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Seanan McGuire has become a go-to author for me, writing smart, fun, and compulsively readable books.
Once Broken Faith is the latest October Daye novel. Part of me just wishes that Toby could have a nice, relaxing vacation... but let's be honest, its when things go wrong that they get all sorts of interesting. Toby is due for that break, and she almost gets it, the story opening to an amazing scene of domestic "normalcy" (or as normal as one can get with fae teenagers running around) that rarely shows up in her life.

But as they say, no good deed goes unpunished, and returning with a cure for elf-shot certainly counts.

Now her brief interlude of peace at home with her built family is interrupted as she's pulled into the dangerous world of pure-blood faerie politics as the only changeling at the conclave... and then the first dead body shows up.
As part of the release of Once Broken Faith, and with the help of Penguin RandomHouse, I was able to snag some of Seanan …

Halloween Book Bingo!

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Again, over at Booklikes there's a pretty awesome book bingo starting today!



This will be fun, even if I read some amazing contenders for these squares a few weeks ago.  /sigh.

20 Books of Summer - wrap-up

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I mentioned taking part in online Summer Reading back in June (link), and then never followed up.

The short version is I read far more than 20 books this summer, but I managed to work a title in for every square on the bingo board.  Some of the books I earnestly recommend... others, not so much.



Beach, sand, or sun on the cover:The Rumor / Elin Hilderbrand

New to you author: American Housewife: Stories / Helen Ellis

First book of a new series:Rock Me Two Times / Dawn Ryder

Adapted for the big screen: The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History / Robert M. Edsel

A blast from the past: Historical Fiction: How the Duke Was Won / Lenora Bell

Graphic novel or comic book:The Sculptor / Scott McCloud

Published June, July, or August 2016:The Nightmare Stacks (A Laundry Files Novel) / Charles Stross

Comfort Read: Wrong Place, Right Time / Elle Casey

Read in a boat, tent, or cabin:A Head Full of Ghosts / Paul Tremblay
Partially, at least.

A book that's be…