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Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : XIX. Of Beren and Lúthien

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If you've read the main Middle Earth novels, it's hard to remain unaware of Beren and Lúthien.  Their love story is the basis of a cycle we see repeated most notably between Arwen and Aragorn, and a song we hear within The Lord of the Rings.  I'm not going to compare it to Romeo & Juliet, because this isn't a cautionary or satirical play about impulse and naivete that takes place within a single week.  When Tolkien does romance, he goes big.  Realm shaking politics, claims to immortality, and epic trials of valor and devotion.

Our story even starts with the weight of love and grief, as Sauron uses Gorlim's desperate hope that his wife still yet lives to bring about the downfall of Beren's father and his men.  After slaying the orcs that killed Barahir, Beren spends the next few years wandering in solitude and needling Morgoth until a bounty is placed on his head equal to that on Fingon, High King of the Noldor, and orcs flee at rumor of him rather than see…

[Book Review] Grass

Grass / Sheri S. Tepper

It was good for me to return to this book, ten to fifteen years since I read it last.  I think, on reflection, while I loved the story then, a lot went over my head.  Which is a bit surprising since Tepper isn't exactly subtle in this book...  Not all science fiction is political, but you can count on examinations of politics, morality, and gender in Tepper's works.  This does end up with some instances of archetypes rather than characters, but she makes it work well, in part by using an archetype with depth that other characters to reflect off of.  Some of the mystery is lost in a re-read, but there were still enough details that I missed or forgot that I hunted for clues throughout.

I throughly enjoyed my reread, and plan on hitting up the other two Arabi books in the near future.  At almost 20 years old, Grass does not suffer from anachronisms, neatly sidestepping how society and technology has changed between 1989 and now.

Discussion Fodder:
How does…

Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : XVIII. Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin

The Noldor, strong and numerous, fair well in their alliance with Men.  For about five hundred years at least.  Time gets a bit wonky when dealing with the conniving of immortals, and "patience" becomes a bit relative.  I can't even say that Morgoth was really patient by waiting five hundred years because he built up his resources until he reached "good enough," and rushes out to burninate the countryside without really evaluating his plan.

His opening salvo is fire, rivers of flame, volcanoes, dragons, and Balrogs.  Morgoth's forces wrecked destruction on their unprepared enemy, but many retreated and regrouped, to strengthen those further away from the front and fortify defenses.  Fingolfin beholds the apparent destruction of his people, and calls out Morgoth in challenge.  Their fight is one of legend, a fight between demigods.  Morgoth rends the earth with his hammer, while Fingolfin springs away from Morgoth's blows, wounding Morgoth seven times.  …

Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : XVII. Of the Coming of Men into the West

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And behold, Elves discover Men. 

Or more specifically, an Eldar discovers Men, because they already associated with the Dark Elves.  We've covered a basic summary of Men in this story in Chapter 13, but it lacks depth or a clear sense of timeline.

Finrod Felagund, lord of Nargothrond stumbles across a camp of Men under the leadership of one Bëor (really named Balan, but I guess the Elven name wins out) by chance and becomes rather fascinated by them. After they fall asleep he steals into the camp, and they awake to the sound of an elf singing and playing with such skill that they had yet to encounter.  They at first take him for one of the Valar, but he stays among them and imparts knowledge, forging a bond between these Men and his line.

Thanks to some Elven mojo, and some pre-exisiting familiarity with Elven speech, the bypassed linguistic barriers without much difficulty.  Bëor shares little of their origins and their journey, just that a "darkness" lay behind them.  …

December Read: We

Actually, I have two December Reads.

The first one is We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, the other is The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett.  A bit of a spread, I know.

I learned about We when a local book club ordered copies last year.  I had never heard of this Russian dystopian novel from the 1920's, and I was fascinated by the description.  It's a small book, but I hope it proves a worthwhile read, and small books are good for the end of the year when everything comes to a head.  So that's my Virtual Speculation pick.

The Hogfather on the other hand, is a delightful re-read, that I'm diving into with a group of others as a holiday buddy read.  It's one of my favorite Discworld novels, and I actually really enjoy the movie.  I'm not sure how much I'll be posting mid-read, though that seems to be a big part of buddy reads.  The problem is, I'll want to post 70% of the book.  So be it, right?