baroness emma orczy, brian jacques, c.s. lewis, castaways of the flying dutchman, disney, disney fairies, j.m. barrie, j.r.r. tolkien, lord of the rings, peter pan, redwall, return to neverland, secret of the wings, star wars, the chronicles of narnia, the clone wars, the pirate fairy, the scarlet pimpernel
Hello, and welcome to another list! This time, we are discussing the Top Ten Villains who Made an Impression on Me.
I mentioned in my TCWT post that I was thinking of posting this. Well, here it is, realized. 🙂
- Tash, The Last Battle, The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. Basically the demonic opposite of Aslan, Tash was a four-armed beast with a vulture’s head and demanded human sacrifice of his worshipers. Honestly, if Tash was not the father of lies (and desensitization), who’d want to serve him?
- Darth Sidious, The Return of the Jedi, Star Wars. Was there ever any quibbling? This villain is something of an archetype, but oh Force, he pulls it off with charisma. Darth Sidious made an impression on me, mostly because he was THE villain, back in the day when I was wide-eyed and clutching my teddy bear as I watched The Return of the Jedi for the first time. I mean, most villains want the hero dead. Sidious wanted Luke’s soul. How creepy is that?!
- Gabrielle Damien (Mademoiselle Guillotine), A&E’s Scarlet Pimpernel trilogy, based on the books by Baroness Orczy. Both blatant and shockingly vile, Mademoiselle Guillotine has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. What earns her a place on this list, though, is her hatred for Catholicism and disrespect for the sacred, coupled with her utter disregard for human life or dignity. Surprisingly enough, Damien was shot by the series’ main villain, which redeemed him, slightly, in my eyes. (That alone should tell you exactly what I think of Damien.)
- Maguda Razan, The Angel’s Command, Castaways of the Flying Dutchman trilogy, by Brian Jacques. She was a sort of mafia-boss-slash-mother-of-evil-slash-abomination. Think Sidious’ insanity crossed with the White Witch and then throw in a splash of Tash, and you have Maguda Razan. She kidnapped Ben basically because she wanted to feed off of his nightmares and the memories of his time on the Flying Dutchman years before.
- Shift, Ginger, and Rishta Tarkaan, The Last Battle, Narnia. Shift and his cadre of liars made a special impression on me. I was as enraged by their deceptions as the heroes of the story were (after reading the book, I had a dream where I was chasing Shift through Narnia, walloping him with a frying pan. I have counted it as one of my sweetest ever.) Their respective, well-deserved deaths (claimed by Tash, losing the power of speech, and claimed by Tash) were received by me with vindictive feelings of justification.
- The White Witch, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Narnia. The White Witch was a conniving deceiver, and I still think she hasn’t been portrayed correctly on screen. In the old BBC movies, she looked overdone (though that’s due to the style of the times), and her acting seemed overly dramatic. However, she was the better of the two portrayals, in my opinion. (Those movies also had the perfect Peter, too… *sigh* In fact, all of the Pevensies, Jill, and Eustace were perfectly casted. It’s the costume design and the special effects that I have problems with.) The White Witch in the new movies seems a bit too exotic for the role. (I have not seen the new movies. But from what I have seen, this is what I think.)
- Moriarty, Sherlock, based on the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Moriarty is one of those generic villains who wanted the hero dead in the original. However, his intellect earned him a spot on this list even before the BBC series. Andrew Scott’s acting brings the character of Moriarty to new levels; from mere brilliant criminal mastermind, he goes to total insane psychopath, playing a game against Sherlock. The biggest difference between Moriarty and Sherlock is that Sherlock has a reason to live, while Moriarty is “bored” by life, and his only reason to live is to play the game. (Also, is he coming back in Season Four?!)
- Cluny the Scourge, Redwall. He was the Redwall villain. He made a big impression on me mostly because he was almost like an orc only he was a rat, and I was eleven, I think. It was the more kid-friendly version of orcs, actually. 😛
- Grima Wormtongue, The Two Towers, Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Sauruman was an also-ran, competing for this spot, but though he managed to nearly permanently wreck the Shire, it was Wormtongue I felt made the bigger impression. There’s something in the human psyche that despises a truth-twister, and as a truth-twister Wormtongue definitely qualifies.
- Captain Hook, Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie. There was no way I was going to leave the number one villain of childhood off this list. (Sid, aka The Destructive Kid Next Door, from Toy Story was the only other person I’d consider for this spot, and he comes nowhere near to what I felt from Hook.) Hook was scary. He wanted to kill Peter. He was able to use Peter’s cockiness against him. That’s what I liked about him as a kid.
Pros as a teenager/young adult: Hook is the most sympathetic villain you will come across in children’s literature. He is wonderfully fleshed out, and even has more backstory than Peter, though parts of his past are shrouded in mystery. Since Peter symbolizes the innocence and wonder of childhood (in my fanfiction re-telling of Peter Pan I go so far as make him a metaphor for fairytales and the far reaches of the imagination,) Hook thus symbolically, by extension, wants to do away with the innocence and wonder and imagination of childhood. Yet he still feels bad about it! (“No little children to love me.”)
And last but not least, for a word about Hook in The Pirate Fairy. In my opinion, Hook (played by Tom Hiddleston) was the best part of The Pirate Fairy. Without him, it would have been just another Disney fairy movie, (No offense, Secret of the Wings), with its corresponding message of “follow your heart”, “believe in yourself”, and “have faith” (well, scratch that last one, it’s actually from Return to Neverland.) IS THERE ANYBODY ELSE IN ALL THE WORLD WHO WANTS TO SEE A REMAKE OF Peter Pan, only with Hiddleston as Hook and Asa Butterfield as Peter?! (And a properly vindictive Tinker Bell, from which Disney has recently strayed?!)
Anyway, Tom Hiddleston played a thoroughly entrancing Hook, making us feel like he was a good guy who’d fallen in with bad companions, until the turn-about near the end, when he shocked us by the fact that, though he is able to believe enough to fly (grown-ups flying is still really nausea-inducing for me, unless it’s the Return to Neverland version of Wendy; in my opinion, it detracts from the mystique it should have–Disney, please do your research!), he is the mastermind of the pirates’ plan.
The other thing I’d love to see with Hook would have to be a story where he ends up helping Peter, Wendy, Michael, John and the Lost Boys to save Neverland (or helps Wendy, Michael, John, and the Lost Boys to rescue Pan.) Actually, this is the plot of the latter part of the retelling I’m working on, though it would be nice to see other people’s takes on it as well. 😉
- Captain/Admiral/Grand Moff Tarkin, Star Wars. No, actually, there is no number eleven. 😛 Tarkin is just the runner up. As is everyone else after him on the list. Tarkin struck me as evil because he’s a sociopath who doesn’t care who gets in his way, and he will stop at nothing to see the Jedi removed from military service (mainly because of their MORALS, which is vile in the extreme,) and vilified as well, if possible. Tarkin is a good example of why, after the Clone Wars began, for the Jedi there was really no good way out. They are keepers of the peace, not soldiers, as Master Windu explains, but once they’ve begun as a part of the fighting, they are no longer able to withdraw, due to people like Tarkin, who would gladly perpetrate all kinds of atrocities if the Jedi were to leave the field of war. Also, the war has horrible effects on their young (Ahsoka Tano’s inability to relax, for one, and Barriss Offee’s fall for another), and not just on their young: Pong Krell, a full Jedi Knight, is allured by the power the Dark Side offers and falls. (In fact, Obi-Wan and Anakin’s journey is actually a microcosmic allegory for what is happening to the Jedi as a whole. Ever since Qui-Gon’s death, Obi-Wan has been doomed to failure with Anakin by both his own promise to train Anakin and his [often conflicting] oath to serve the Republic and Jedi Order. Obi-Wan’s unwillingness to talk about his emotions, furthered by Anakin’s tendency to throw it back into his face when he summoned up the guts to do so, exacerbated the problem, sending them, inextricably linked, in a downward spiral, which ended with Anakin’s fall, which wounded Obi-Wan in a way that he never recovered from. Similar things happened with the Jedi Order and the crippled, failing Republic.)
- Pong Krell, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Yes, most of my villains are from Star Wars or Narnia, I’m well aware. -_- This guy is the reason why the Jedi were vilified in the latter years of the Clone Wars. As explained above, he sold out his loyalties to the Republic and Jedi Order in the hopes of gaining a place in what he believed to be Dooku’s “New Order”. In the process, a bunch of clones were murdered, including Waxer, the trooper who befriended the little girl (Numa) back in Season One. (I am still in shock from Waxer’s death. And it’s been almost two full seasons since Umbara!) Umbara was an attempt on the Clone Wars writers’ part to show the darker side of war, and was the first incident of friendly fire actually shown on the Clone Wars. Man, did they nail the story. :’-( (I totally wanted to see Obi-Wan finding out about Krell’s treason and come and fight him and be incredibly awesome and do some tail-kicking, but it didn’t happen, and I guess the episode was more effective this way. However, there was a darker side to the clones taking Krell down; they proved that clones could, in fact, defeat Force Users, even those of dubious alignment.)
- Sauruman. He laid waste to the Shire, desecrating something we held sacred. And he was killed by Wormtongue, partially redeeming the Rohan traitor.
So, there’s my list of Top Ten Villains who made an impression along with three runner-ups. (Sorry Dooku did not make it onto the list, he’s awesome and I love to write him, but he didn’t make nearly the impression on me that even Cluny did.) I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading, and God Bless!
a swiftly tilting planet, a wind in the door, a wrinkle in time, beginnings, book reviews, brian jaques, c.s. lewis, castaways of the flying dutchman, catholic culture, creative writing, endings, j.r.r. tolkien, john flanagan, lord of the rings, madeleine l'engle, ranger's apprentice, reading, redwall, reviews, robert louis stevenson, star wars, the chronicles of narnia, the hobbit, time quintet, treasure island, writing
Now, before I get into the TCWT post, I want to just make one little announcement.
Today is the shared birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins! *confetti flies everywhere* Happy birthday to the Ringbearers!
Beginnings and endings. Now this reminds me of a paper I wrote in high school! Which will never see the light of day until it gets a boatload of revising. So don’t ask. Or you can ask, but be prepared for it to not happen for a very, very long time.
Specifically, my favorite beginnings and endings.
Let’s do this by series.
First of all, favorite beginnings and endings for The Chronicles of Narnia.
- The Magician’s Nephew, both as a beginning to the series, and its own beginning and ending. This. Book. Rocked.
First of all, we have the story of how Diggory and Polly met, and the fact that they were sent into Narnia by a ruthless pseudo-scientist/magician who was also partly insane (wouldn’t any number of YA authors just love to try their hand at a plot this juicy nowadays?!), but it’s not just that that makes the book great. It foreshadows World War II and people like Mussolini, Stalin, and Hitler. (I would not be surprised to hear that Lewis did not approve of the US’s alliance with the USSR. Good grief, I don’t approve of it. And I’m American.)
Well, this book as a whole is the beginning of Narnia and the Chronicles of Narnia series. But its opening, while modest, is no less of a favorite for me. And its ending! The hiding of the magic rings (we’ll get to Tolkien and the rest of the Inklings later, I promise!), the cure of Diggory’s mother, and the promise of hope.
- The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. The book that began it all. Seriously. Was ever story so well encapsulated? It wraps itself up very well, and smaller elements that were included (especially the Professor, who is–guess who? Diggory Kirk [yes, that is really his last name!], all grown up! and Susan’s horn, which becomes a major point in the plot of Prince Caspian.)
- The Horse and His Boy. Unlike the rest of the Narnia stories, this one actually does not have anything to do with “our world”, unless you count the presence of the Pevensies (SPOILER! 😛 Who cares, anyway?! Most of you have already read all of the Chronicles of Narnia!) The ending is good, okay, but it’s the ending I really love. This is the one Narnia book that describes Archenland, and it tells us about the people of Archenland, and gives a very satisfying ending.
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Okay, yes, I love pretty much all of the Narnia series, but Dawn Treader stands out among the Narnia books. Again, the beginning is not nearly as euphoria-inducing as the ending is. It appears that Lewis may have been playing with the idea of the Seven Friends of Narnia at this point–of course, though, at this point only Lion, Witch, Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and Dawn Treader were written, which means that Diggory was only a flight of imagination, and Polly probably hadn’t ever (in Lewis’ mind) come into Narnia at all yet. The three aforementioned books were intended to be a trilogy, complete in themselves, and it seems that Lewis didn’t plan to write any more books. However, step back and take the series as a whole. If you read them in Narnian-time order, not writing order, then by the end of Dawn Treader there are seven friends of Narnia. (Susan hasn’t left the group yet, remember.) And Dawn Treader and The Last Battle are the most similar in style, and ending as well. Coincidence? Most likely not.
- The Last Battle. If I have to pick one favorite Narnia book, it is this one. (Dawn Treader is a close second.) First of all, the opening is riveting. An impostor Aslan? Narnia’s King captured? WHAT?! IT DOESN’T EVEN BEGIN IN “OUR WORLD”?! WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?! *squees*
Seriously, though. ❤
This Narnia book raises the stakes like no other. (I plan on making a list of the top villains who made an impression on me, to show you what I mean.) However, this book is also probably the one which is hardest for a child to read. (You’ve been warned.) It is both heartbreaking, exciting with its call to war, the rage against the lies… It is a true emotional rollercoaster. This one, more than any other of Lewis’s books, made me understand what “passion” really meant. More than any other book, really.
And now, for the ending. While some people are upset that Susan didn’t get to the “True Narnia” in Aslan’s Country at the end of the series (read more about that here, and I highly recommend the rest of his blog for thought-provoking stuff on theology and popular culture!), I was both saddened by the fact that Susan had made herself not to believe in Narnia (which was, by the way, a recurring theme throughout the book–which is why, now, whenever I hear anyone say anything REMOTELY smacking of “We’re out for ourselves!” [*cough cough* “The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs!”], I always throw a fit and demolish their argument in a blaze of righteous flurry and the occasional lightsaber-to-their-newspaper), and gladdened by the fact that by the very fact of her leaving the Friends of Narnia she was given a second chance. The problem, really, that we’re talking about here, is the bland/blase reaction of the remaining Friends of Narnia to her exclusion. But you’ll just have to read Malcolm’s post, linked in above, if you want to know what Lewis’s thoughts on the whole “Problem with Susan” issue was. I’m not giving it away to you! You wouldn’t go find his completely awesome blog otherwise!
Anyway, back to the ending, proper. It is, in my opinion, a very satisfying close to the series. It was a blissful, happy, euphoric ending. It echoed the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse to Tridentine Rite lovers like me). In fact, I am thinking about making myself a T-Shirt that says “The Rapture only happens to people who loved The Last Battle!” (DISCLAIMER: The author of this post does not believe in the Rapture as preached by certain Christian sects. She does, however, believe that reading The Last Battle will bring you pretty freaking close!)
Sadly, I have not read Lewis’s Space Trilogy often enough to include it in the runners. I haven’t even finished it. :’-( Still, enjoy my dear friend Rosalie’s description of Dr. Ransom here. ;-P *notices some people in the crowd gawking at the picture* *bangs them on the head with a newspaper* READ THE DESCRIPTION! NO GAWKING AT THE PHOTO!!! (I don’t care HOW attractive you may find Ewan McGregor, keep the fawning off my blog!)
Next up: Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet!
A Wrinkle in Time begins with the cliche beginning “It was a dark and stormy night.” It doesn’t stop there, though. It makes it its own. And in the end, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which vanish in a gust of wind.
However, A Wind in the Door gets the top place on this list, I think. It begins with “There are dragons in the twins’ vegetable garden.” and ends with the unforgettable:
“You were gone long enough. Did you count the stars or something?”
“We don’t have to count them,” Meg said. “They just need to be known by Name.” Calvin’s eyes met hers for a long moment and held her gaze, not speaking, not kything, simply being.
Then she went up to Charles Wallace.
Seriously! BEST. ENDING. EVER!
A Swiftly Tilting Planet, both beginning and ending, is tied up in Mrs. L’Engle’s adaption of St. Patrick’s Breastplate, called “Patrick’s Rune” in the story:
In this fateful hour
I place all heaven with its power
And the sun with its brightness
And the snow with its whiteness
And the fire with all the strength it hath
And the lightning with its rapid wrathAnd the winds with their swiftness along their path
And the sea with its deepness
And the rocks with their steepness
And the earth with its starkness,
All these I place
By God’s almighty help and grace
Between myself and all the powers of darkness.
Does that give you goosebumps? It does to me!
And finally, for the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings books. Now, I think that, while LotR’s beginning was interesting enough, it’s not quite the same as Hobbit‘s. “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.” How’s that for a great opening? It certainly gets questions started as to what a Hobbit is and why it lives in the ground! However, since Hobbit is the prequel to LotR, it makes a lot of sense that way. Frankly, though Hobbit‘s ending is satisfying enough, LotR’s is, in my opinion, the stronger of the two. Both bring about great changes in the world of Middle-Earth. Hobbit sees the return of the King Under the Mountain and the cities of Dale and Esgaroth, while LotR has no less than the return of the King Elessar to both Gondor and Arnor, and the destruction of the One Ring and the overthrowing of Sauron to boot!
In Hobbit, it was Bilbo’s poem that made the greatest impression on me.
Roads go ever on and on
Over rock, and under tree
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass, and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.
Roads go ever on and on,
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that have a-wandering gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows greenAnd trees and hills they long have known.
And in LotR, Frodo sums it up best: “We set out to save the Shire, Sam, and it has been saved; but not for me.”
In the end, both the Bagginses go into the West with the Elves, in search of Valinor, and Sam returns home to his wife and children. “Well, I’m back.”
Note to Ranger’s Apprentice fans:
I am so sorry, but RA is not eligible to run. Like the Space Trilogy, I haven’t read it enough to know the beginnings and endings very well.
Now for Brian Jaques’ work.
I especially love Mariel of Redwall for its beginning and ending. The book begins with an amnesiac Mariel arriving on the coast of Mossflower country, promising (as Liam would say) the search for the truth about her past. And it closes with the defeat of Gabool and the departure of Mariel and Dandin to go in search of adventure. However, The Legend of Luke and Martin the Warrior, not to mention Mossflower, were close seconds: Legend of Luke for its opening and closing sequences, detailing the building of Redwall Abbey, Martin the Warrior for its description of Martin’s barely-existent childhood and (SPOILER ALERT!) the cheek to kill off a character we really loved to drive Martin southward, toward Mossflower Country, and Mossflower for the arrival of Martin at Kotir in Mossflower and the closing defeat of Tsarmina, who had enslaved the woodlanders.
And as you’re probably already tired of this, I think I will stop after just one more.
Castaways of the Flying Dutchman trilogy.
WHY MR. JACQUES!? WHY!? *bursts into tears*
Each of these books is complex, detailed, involves a much intenser battle between good and evil (sometimes more openly manifested!) than the Redwall books, and remains vivid in the imagination for days and years afterward. (Why do you think I keep on forgetting and naming yet another protagonist “Ben”?! Hint: It’s not just Obi-Wan’s doing! *Obi-Wan shoots an annoyed glance in my direction*) It’s like… gah! I don’t know what to compare it to! Think Jedi Apprentice (Melida-Daan specifically), only little Obi-Wan has a dog and his destiny is tied to the sea, and gaaah the feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelsss…. *breaks down crying* *Obi-Wan relents and comes over to pat me on the back*
Okay, bad comparison. Let’s see. I think the closest I can get is it’s a bit like Treasure Island (which had a marvelous ending in its own rite,) a bit like what Star Wars would have been if the story centered around Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon had survived to train Anakin, and the sorrows the Elves must face when the younger Children of Illuvatar die. It also has strong resonances with Ranger’s Apprentice (shut it with the whatever-apprentice similes, Erin, before you burst into tears again!) It’s the only series with a ‘young’ protagonist (SPOILER the protagonist is eternally fourteen) I’ve ever read where the hero had no permanent mentor. Sure, he has a mentor/father figure who dies, but after that other people mentor him as well… sort of.
The thing about these books is that the endings are always both sweet, and at the same time, heartbreaking, since Ben and Ned (that’s Ben’s telepathic friend, the dog) must wander the world constantly, helping those they come across, and they can’t let anyone know that they’re immortal.
I just want to give them both a great big hug.
*sigh* Excuse me, please. I just wanted to make myself reread all those books. (Dare I say, oops?)
Thanks for reading (and especially for sticking through until the end!), and God Bless!
As requested by Professor V.J. Duke and icedmocha34, here it is. My latest endeavor, and my first attempt at sci-fi/psychological thriller. It’s also my first attempt at first person POV, so don’t expect it to be perfect. This isn’t the whole book, though, and be forewarned: It’s not even a “complete”, coherent short story, just a sample chapter. It will not explain itself. It’s only meant to whet your appetite…
That much said, carry on, brave reader. >:-D
When you’re an amnesia victim, the only thing that’s certain is that life won’t be easy. Because when you have amnesia, nothing is certain.
For a victim of amnesia, life is full of uncertainties, undecided variables. Do you remember nothing of your past? Fragments? Up to a certain point? Or are you able to remember everything in your past, but are unable to form any new memories?
My past is a blank slate, one that won’t ever be written on. It’s hard when you can’t recall your childhood, when you don’t know who taught you to read, your parents, the little lessons you learned… the skills remain, but you can’t remember learning them. You can’t remember who taught you. Some days, I just stare blankly at the pages filled with my handwriting, which is familiar, and at the same time subtly wrong, as if it should be different, somehow.
There are other people in the support group, people who still have their families, the identities they have built up over the years. They tell me about the strange feeling they get when looking at photographs in the albums, pictures of them at places they can’t remember ever going; they tell me about similar happenings when a casual acquaintance who doesn’t know comes up to them and makes small talk, and their smiles remain frozen on their faces as they try to recall where they have met—and more difficult still, what their names are.
Myself, I can’t rely on any of that. I had to create myself, because when they found me I was alone. They’ve never been able to identify my family. I had nothing on me to tell who or what I was before. The first memory I have after waking up in the hospital is looking down at my personal effects. A polo shirt—a rusty brown color. Faded jeans. A belt. Nothing more. There was nothing in my pockets when I was found, battered and bruised and unconscious after being struck by a hit-and-run driver. They weren’t sure how long I lay there before I was found and rushed to the hospital, but it was long enough that I should not have survived.
Somehow, against the odds, I did survive.
Sometimes, I remember scraps—bits and pieces. A glimpse of color. A smell. The corner of the rain-washed sky, such a vibrant, lovely blue, with brilliant white, fluffy clouds scudding across it. The waving branches of trees. A chalkboard, with one equation written on it, that’s somehow significant, but I don’t know how or why.
Try as I might, I’ve never been able to find that equation elsewhere.
There are things lurking just beyond conscious thought, waiting for me to uncover them.
And then there are the dreams. Sometimes they’re simple flashes, like the memories. Sometimes they are simple words, isolated from both meaning and circumstance, sounding stilted and strange severed from both execution and consequence. “Anomaly” is one that comes back over and over again, with never an explanation. Sometimes they’re complex chains that I can never remember afterwards, though I can remember the impression that they were vivid, and complex. More than once, I have racked my brains and come back with nothing after such a dream. It is the most frustrating thing in the world, to feel that the mystery of your past is finally within your grasp, yet to feel it melting away, not fully comprehended. The second most frightening fate an amnesia victim has to face—every day—is the possibility that they might never remember.
The absolute most frightening is coming to terms with it.
“He forgot his umbrella today.”
The ceiling fans rotated slowly, moving the air around despite the fact that the temperature had dropped just after the downpour started. Outside, things were colored blue and gray and streaming watery, like half-finished watercolors sprinkled with vodka on a tilted canvas, but inside the colors were bright, well-coordinated, dominated by sunny lemon yellow; unusual for a coffee shop, but unsurprising, considering that the building had started life as a small café, before being bought by a different owner.
All eyes turned toward Nell, where she sat in her regular seat at the second of the two tables by the window. She, in turn, was gazing out the full-length windows that faced the sidewalk and street. Kara and Leslie shrugged it off and went back to their earnest conversation at their table in the corner, like the stereotypical pair of checker players in a country store; but Justine, though her expression remained bored and she did not look up from her newspaper, perked up enough to ask, “Who?”
Nell leaned her head sideways against the glass, the better to watch the blurred figure through the storm water streaming down the other side of the glass and the sheets of rain. “That man. He passes by here at exactly five-seventeen each day. I suppose he takes the bus home.” Justine shrugged, apathetically, and went back to her newspaper. Nell stared out the window with a slow sigh.
The figure was of medium height, its only distinguishable feature through the water-hazed glass. His features were a vague, indistinct smear of dark juxtaposed on light. Indeed, Nell had identified him by posture alone. He walked along the sidewalk in exactly the same way each day; now, at the end of summer and beginning of back-to-school madness, he carried the briefcase in one hand, the jacket he had worn in the morning slung across his other arm. He always walked upright, unusually so, giving the illusion that he was taller than he really was. His gait was much brisker than the other people traversing the sidewalk. Nell frowned. There was something vaguely different today, something that could not be attributed to just the rain…
Her train of thought was interrupted as the bell over the door jangled—someone really needs to tune that thing, Nell thought, wincing—and someone entered, accompanied by a gust of wind and veritable sheet of rain. The person had to throw all their weight against the door to close it again, despite the spring-loaded catch. The bell clanged again as the door closed, and the stranger stood inside, dripping on the patterned tile floor.
Before she looked, Nell knew instinctively that the person was the man she had been watching a moment ago. She stared at him, bored out of her mind, and thus interested in the smallest of details. Tousled brown hair plastered close to his head dripped onto his shoulders; his dress shirt was soaked through, the material becoming transparent and clinging to his skin. He was lean, not overly muscular, but looked slightly out-of-place in the formal outfit. The trousers had to be uncomfortable, as wet as they were. His thin, slightly angular face sparkled with water droplets; darkish eyelashes clung together over mild brown eyes.
Realizing that everyone was staring at him, he laughed, self-consciously. “The weather man is proven wrong, yet again,” he said, and walked up to the counter to order a hot chocolate, his shoes squeaking wetly and squishing with each step. All the eyes in the coffee shop followed him, some curiously, others absently. After waiting a few minutes, he received his drink and went to a corner to sit down. The others stared at him for a while longer, rudely, but eventually all of them went back to what they were doing. Nell finally looked away, uncertain as if she should say something or if she should leave the matter alone. At last, she decided to leave it alone. Eventually, the stranger finished his hot chocolate and got up and left the shop as a brief respite from the rain allowed him to exit, still only partly damp.
“How are you doing today, Connor?” Mr. Aglana asked. I sat up very straight in the chair, hands folded on my lap, my postured correct, but guarded and tense. There was something about him that always made me uncomfortable, put me on my guard.
“Very well, sir,” I replied. Perhaps it was the office. The décor had always seemed ostentatious, yet at the same time, depressing to me. The colors were all dark, the upholstery ornate. A huge painting in a gilt frame adorned the wall behind the desk, but I could not distinguish any details. I had never been able to see the painting. It had always been in shadow from the draperies. I tried to keep from glancing around, instead gazing fixedly at a spot a little to the left of Mr. Aglana’s balding head.
“And how was your week?” I fought the urge to fidget or shrug.
“Uneventful,” I said, casually. In the silence, I could distinctly hear every sound in the room. The soft wuff-hiss of the air conditioning. The soft squeaking of Mr. Aglana’s fine office chair as he leaned forward. The dynamic rap-tap-tap as he drummed his fingers lightly on the desk. He eyed me with some asperity.
“You know that won’t do, Connor,” he said.
“The job… is going fine,” I said, haltingly. Somehow, I felt uncomfortable, discussing my life—my private life, what was left of it—with Mr. Aglana. “I began two more articles but for some reason I can’t access the business search engine from the apartment any more. I’ve had to do all my research from the office. Everyone is doing their best to not pressure me too much—thank you for that, sir—” I did owe him that much—“and Mr. Clark said he’d move the deadline back, due to the fact that the Wi-Fi in the apartment is acting up again.”
“What about your personal life?” Mr. Aglana pressed. I shook my head.
“I still haven’t made any friends yet,” I said. Mr. Aglana raised an eyebrow. “I don’t want to tell anyone I have amnesia,” I said, unwillingness almost choking me. “I don’t want pity. I want people to interact with me normally. Still, I’m too—too—”
“Socially awkward?” Mr. Aglana put in. I opened my motuh. The words sounded like they should be right, yet they felt so inescapably wrong, as if there was something off, something that I was missing. I wracked my memory for the word I was searching for, then settled for a simple nod when I couldn’t locate it.
Well, it was close enough, anyway.
Seemingly satisfied, Mr. Aglana rose and offered me his hand, and I took it. As always, his grip was not very firm, and his hand was icy. Strangely enough, as my fingers touched his, a chilly current ran through me, like a cold thrill. Something buried deep in my psyche strained for the surface; I grasped desperately at it.
Bright lights in my eyes, making it hard to see. I blinked. Snatches of a conversation, not meant for me or directed at me. “Failed—try one more time—” Pain. I struggled, fighting against unseen demons seeking to drag me down. Something—there was something I needed to see—to hear—to remember. Scraps of a face, bits and bytes incoherently blended, broken apart. Something raked across my memory. I fought. I didn’t fight long. Oblivion.
I blinked, and the flash was gone. Mr. Aglana’s secretary was already escorting me out.
Meh. Why do I always label my chapters with Roman numerals? It’s certainly not intentional, to look classy… hmm.
Who cares, anyway!?
Hello, my dear readers!
It’s been a while since I turned out a song fic, so I think this one isn’t overdue, by any means. This one is to Erutan’s cover of “Come Little Children.” (Yes, I know the video is a BBC Merlin fan video, but the original video was disturbing. Certainly much, much more disturbing than this one. Remind me to never watch Pan’s Labyrinth. *shudders*)
Anyway, if this doesn’t turn out self-explanatory, please tell me in the comments and I’ll see what I can do to fix it. I’ve been working on it so long I certainly need a second opinion.
Content Warning: Very dark in places, though there’s a shine of hope at the end (I had to give you that much, right?! 😉 ) Slight language warning. Death. That’s it.
Come Little Children (Sidious’ Lullaby)
Sidious smiled at the limp form of the Jedi growing cold on the ground by his foot, arms still wound around his dead apprentice, even in death. He turned his back on the dead apprentice and dying Jedi, laughing inwardly as he thought how it had come to this. The ultimate revenge, even if it did mean that he lost his potential apprentice.
A sound behind him disturbed his delightful musings. Sidious whirled around to see the Jedi rising to his feet. It seemed that Kenobi was not quite dead yet, and his eyes were hard, cold, empty, bereft of anything save purpose. Before Sidious could react, he had taken the dying Jedi’s lightsaber through the body. The last thing Sidious heard before departing from the world he had only ruled for mere hours was Kenobi’s cold, merciless voice whispering, “That was for Padme, and for Anakin.”
Damn you, Sith. Damn you to hell.
Come little children
I’ll take thee away
Into a land of enchantment
Come little children
The time’s come to play
Here in my garden of shadow
Dark gray eyes glistened with tears as the Jedi Master cradled his one-time apprentice. He sobbed into Anakin’s hair, unwilling to let go, even though Anakin had long since gone still, was beginning to go cold.
There were no words to this grief, only tears. There was no peace, only pain. There was no comfort. Only guilt.
I did this. I did this. I killed him!
Sidious stood over the Jedi, gloating. “You finally found a battle you could not win, didn’t you, Master Kenobi?” Slowly, Obi-Wan moved to rise, still holding Anakin’s still form. Sidious ignited his lightsaber through the Jedi Master’s defenseless body, and Obi-Wan slid back to the ground, without a cry or a gasp.
Follow sweet children
I’ll show thee the way
Through all the pain and the sorrows
Weep not poor children
For life is this way
Murdering beauty and passion
Lightsabers clashed, blue on blue, the edges of one blade a dirty, smoky color, the other almost pure white to its core. Sidious watched and smiled sardonically. It had been easy, all too easy, to twist the apprentice’s mind, to deceive the master. And now, they were locked in mortal combat. The Sith Lord cackled in glee, relishing the mental torment and the conflict.
It ended all too quickly. Kenobi did not see the opening that Skywalker had left, or perhaps he had, and did not capitalize on it. That was the irony. A second later, Skywalker’s enraged attack forced him forward, impaling him on his mentor’s blade. The lightsabers fell from nerveless hands, in unison, clattering and growing still in a terrible syncopation. Kenobi slid to the floor, catching Skywalker, his face a broken mask of concentration with pain and horror showing through the cracks. “Anakin? Anakin!” The cry was a howl of grief and loss in the Force.
“You’ve caught me again, Master,” Skywalker coughed. Sidious frowned. He thought the boy had actually turned on his mentor. Kenobi held him close as the death rattle proclaimed Skywalker’s last exhalation.
“I won’t ever let you go again,” he promised, his voice breaking. Hardening, ice-scoured eyes turned toward Sidious. “You. You did this. You did this!”
Hush now dear children
It must be this way
To weary of life and deceptions
Rest now my children
For soon we’ll away
Into the calm and the quiet
Sidious smiled down at the half-open, confused, cloudy green-blue eyes of the new knight. Kenobi blinked, unseeing. Sidious’ hand hovered over the oblivious Jedi’s face, the black heart within him urging him to put those eyes out forever, but he stayed it. No. It would be far sweeter to force the Jedi to watch as the world around him fell to pieces.
Obi-Wan groaned. The smell in the air around him reminded him of the perfume of death: sickly sweet. Horrid decay mingled with the half-remembered echoes of something… something… He struggled, surging upward, but he seemed to be pinned down. In the murk, there was something lurking, hiding just beyond his reach. A cold melody, alluring but with a heart of stone, echoed through his mind. He shuddered instinctively away from it. He was alone… why was he alone? Shouldn’t there be someone with him?
Above him, somewhere, a voice, as cold and harsh as stone, shot with the fires of some damnation beyond imagination’s span, as ancient as the bones of the earth but with none of earth’s lasting strength and stability and kindness to support life, dry and rattling as some desiccated, dead thing, spoke. “Sleep, Jedi. Sleep, and do not forget how your master fell. Yes, he left you. His failure will become yours in time. Soon, very soon, the Jedi will fall.”
Resolve hardened in him like steel leaping from the flames of the forge. He fought; he strove against the will, and it was not his loss that pressed him down into the empty inky blackness of oblivion, into deeper, swoon-like sleep.
Come little children
I’ll take thee away
Into a land of enchantment
Come little children
The time’s come to play
Here in my garden of shadow
Obi-Wan held his apprentice’s body, redeemed in death, and prayed that his tears would be enough. For himself, he did not fear. He had never been afraid of death; he had always been more concerned with hurting people. Death had a tendency to follow him around, but it never got easier. It was growing cold already, and Obi-Wan wondered for a moment how long it would take for him to follow Anakin in death.
It was strange. There had been pain at first, but now there was none. It didn’t hurt any more, and though he could feel his heart stutter, his mind was no less clear. He drew in a breath, the tell-tale rattle already in his lungs.
In the last moments, the confines of space and time opened to him, and he saw a vision in which their heroes—Padmé and Yoda, and Ahsoka—continued on, renewed the Jedi Order, which rose from the ashes, wiser and stronger. The Republic returned, to democracy, and reforms began. Anakin’s unborn children grew, and Ahsoka and Ben guided them to adulthood, as Jedi, in peace.
Sidious was dead. The shadows had departed from the Force.
He and Anakin had triumphed. They had given rise to a new era.
Then, peaceful, Obi-Wan slipped the bonds of matter and awoke to a wider world.
advanced burglary, c.s. forester, cressida cowell, french, frightening foreigners, horatio hornblower, how to train your dragon, humor, john flanagan, ranger's apprentice, selay'uu, star wars, writing
I beg your pardon, my readers. I know it’s been too long since I posted. Sadly, this update is not from Camelot. Rather, it’s from one of my weekends back at Selay’uu.
Just before it started to rain on Saturday night, I was out, wandering through the woods of the estate, practicing my sneakery skills. Camicazi had beaten me in the last Burglary&Sneakery&Escapery contest, and I wanted to boost my skills before the next one. (Don’t be afraid, readers–I never participate in Burglary outside of the contest. And Hiccup always starts speaking Gallican whenever he competes. I think it’s a bad habit that Gobber sort-of pushed him into.) I had asked Gilan for lessons, but he was out at the moment.
I was almost at the border of the estate when I heard a whoop. Naturally, thinking someone might be in trouble, I turned right back around and ran for the wind-breaker tree line behind me, and as soon as I’m past the trees, I see it.
Will Treaty has somehow fallen through the roof of an ill-maintained outbuilding on the Selay’uu estate. (I should really talk to Mistress El’ye about taking care of the thatch.)
The rest of the day, naturally, was spent in trying to rescue him. And then it started to rain. Again. And we all got soaking wet, as Obi-Wan, Horatio, Halt, Winter, Isaac and I all tried to get him out of there…
At least we all got a good laugh out of it… sort of…
Thanks for coming by, as always, and don’t forget to offer Horatio and Isaac your condolences (they both have colds!) God Bless, and have a great day!
absent parent syndrome, aps, c.s. lewis, characters, controversy, courageous, creativity, disney, frozen, morality, oocs, out of character syndrome, spontaneous expedient character defamation syndrome, star wars, story dynamics, veggietales, writing
In which Erin delivers her totally-not-offensive run-down of the hit movie…
Okay, I fibbed. This will probably be offensive, though it’s not intended to be. It just depends on how the readers take it. (Please don’t be offended, readers mine. I’m just trying to be totally honest with you.)
A couple of weeks ago, I saw Disney’s hit movie Frozen. Those of you who are fairly conversant with me will remember how I said that I was very upset because I missed out on the “experience” of Frozen, per se; I had received so many spoilers (from generally well-meaning quarters, but also from trolls [not the small round rolling love experts, but the mean Internet entities,]) that by the time I saw the movie, there was nothing left to spoil. Sure, the movie was a good movie, but I would have enjoyed it a whole chunk more if I hadn’t had it spoiled for me.
That much said, even though I love a few things about the movie, there were a few things that bother me. But just to be polite, I’ll mention the things I loved about Frozen first.
- It’s about two sisters, their relationship, and family.
- It involves the sisters becoming closer and their familial bonds becoming tighter (though not quite a la Courageous, which by the way is a fantastic movie and you should REALLY SEE IT if you get the chance!)
- It’s the first Disney movie to be honest about early mornings. (Check out Anna’s bed-head!)
- It’s the first Disney movie to give young women the message that the first guy to catch their eye may not always be Mr. Right.
- Eight words: “You can’t just marry someone you just met!”
“Wait, what?!” Disney’s actually telling someone to wait for the banns?! *LE GASP!*
- Anna actually believes in true love. (You’d be surprised how many Disney “heroines” say they do, but their actions say otherwise…) And FYI, true love is not love at first sight. It’s the kind of love that grows on you, that steps forward and says “I love this person even though they are horrible and egotistic and snappy in the mornings” and sends you swooning to the floor and sweeps you off your feet. It’s the sort of love that is a decision that becomes a miracle. It doesn’t have to be between spouses or lovers. Siblings can find it too. To quote the Veggietales (which is TOTALLY more quotable than Disney!) movie Duke and the Great Pie War, “True love’s the kind of love that puts others first.” (I love Duke and the Great Pie War too–not only was it the story of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz with the spotlight on Boaz, which we don’t really see that much, but it had a story featuring baby Moses and ten-year-old Miriam back to back with it. Pure gold.)
- Though Anna and Elsa have their falling-outs, they still make up in the end. (It was fear, not anger, that drove Elsa away.)
- Anna is the true hero of Frozen. Let me say that again: Anna is the true hero of Frozen.
When I heard the songs from the movie (completely out of context), Elsa sounded like a selfish, pettish little pest, while Anna sounded like the naive, sweet person (the classic Disney princess stereotype.) And when I saw the movie, I could identify with Elsa’s angst, but I completely fell in love with Anna. Though it was hard to respect her when she fell in love with Hans, her off-balance moments and spunky, eager, cheerful demeanor more than made up for that. (Get the idea I love Anna much?) Also, Anna is a Christ figure. Like Christ, she has to suffer for her sister’s sins even though she is entirely innocent (except if you want to blame her for being deceived by Hans, who is a much better actor than even Palpatine, really, so you people who love Anakin Skywalker and want to make excuses for him… YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE if you hate Anna over her naivety.) Also like Christ, she ends up saving her sister’s life, upon which Elsa, like Peter, begins to sob… over her “denial” of Anna and their wasted time. Sorry, Elsa. Your ice powers may be visually stunning, but your kid sister TOTALLY has you beat on this count.
Now for the things I didn’t like.
- Absent parents/parents with bad philosophy. Why does Disney (all of popular culture, in fact) have this vicious tendency to pick on parents?! GAH. They deserve our respect for what they do for us! This is just so annoying.
- Teenaged rebel princesses. BOTH of them. (Not only historically inaccurate, but
- Also, there is the fact that there may be a more insidious message to the absent/bad parenthood dynamic. “Conceal, don’t feel”? This sounds eerily similar to the statements anti-Christian propaganda attributes (often falsely) to Christianity. (Yes, I called it propaganda. Live with it.) People think that Christians want to tie people down, to force down their “natural impulses” and live a perverted, repressed life. No. That is not what Christianity is at all. Read C.S. Lewis, for heaven’s sake! He argues it totally better than I ever could. Moving on…
- Song lyrics.
GAH. This is the number one thing that disturbs me about this movie.While I loved “Frozen Heart” (OHMYGOODNESS IT JUST FORESHADOWED THE WHOLE MOVIE IN ONE SONG I LOVE YOU BRILLIANT WRITERS!!!), and the sweetness of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” and the adorable “In Summer” (and Olaf was a marvelous foil without being ridiculous, by the way! Also, he was more than just a plot device! He made a place for himself, and he is the sweetest thing!), “Let it Go”, which is probably the one most popular song from the film, had a part that had me torn between being disturbed and feeling sick. Here it is:
that perfect girl is gone
No right, no wrong, no rules for me; I’m free!
- SINCE WHEN DOES DISNEY CHANNEL JOHN LENNON?! (yes, I am aware of the pun. *pokes Disney Channel with a stick* die, you…)
- Does anyone else see the problem with this? Apparently, it’s a bad thing to try to be perfect (though having a “perfect image” is, actually, a problem, in my opinion), rules are also bad, and the second line just reeks of moral relativism. (Yes, I do have a problem with that! There is absolute right and wrong!)
Poor Disney. They have the same problem with lyrics and/or lines that Revenge of the Sith did: “Only a Sith deals in absolutes”? There’s a cringe-worthy rhetorical trap right there, and it totally ripped-off Obi-Wan, whose tenure as a Jedi and a character was otherwise absolutely shining. Of course Obi-Wan Kenobi believes in absolute right and wrong! Look at his actions, for the love of the Force!!! He has been wronged too many times in his life to believe that there is no such thing as moral absolutes (since he doesn’t have the throw-up-your-hands victim mentality that would be the only other option in this, I believe that this is safe to assume.) Seriously, Star Wars would be better served if we clipped this line entirely and put subtitles on it instead, claimed the audio was broken, and attributed that what Obi-Wan really said was “I am not your enemy, Anakin.” That speaks better to both the audience and the character. (In fact, when I eventually do see the movie, I will be mentally substituting that for the sickening rhetorical and out-of-character trap that we see above.) The line that was used can’t help but jar, and it ruins the pacing of the scene, making Obi-Wan seem to preach when it seems more in line for him to say something personal which brings a moral conclusion (leading by example, anyone?) to the character as well.
(Most fans agree–sometimes Lucas doesn’t really know what’s best for the franchise.)
Okay, there’s my rants on why Frozen (and Star Wars too) is flawed. Please don’t send me hate mail for ruining your childhood fantasy/favorite movie for you. (MWAHAHAHA–ahem. 😛 )
Thanks for reading, have a great day, and may God bless you! 🙂
Where to begin…
Okay, let’s start with the fan-rave.
First of all, I have been back and forth over the entire length of Wilderland, and I have never encountered characters quite like those of Ranger’s Apprentice. (Cookies for everyone who gets the reference in that sentence. And not the follow-your-computer-creeper kind, the yummy kind… only they’re virtual. Sorry.)
By order of appearance (Morgarath, you aren’t eligible, since you’re a villain):
- Will. Will is the main character, and it’s basically his coming-of-age story. However, Will is the sort of person (rather like Hiccup from How To Train Your Dragon) who has to fight to be a hero. It doesn’t come naturally to him. What does come naturally to him?
Curiosity. Friendship. And, often getting him into trouble, intuition, a quick mind, and a sharp tongue.
Will isn’t your average fearless fantasy hero. He gets jittery at times, all right. He has a hyperactive imagination. And, when he’s under pressure, he snaps at people, sometimes very bitingly indeed. He’s a bright boy, but he needs a guiding hand, and he’s nearing the age when he has to leave the life of a castle ward. Deep down inside, I think that Will is plagued by the feeling that he’s useless, and more than anything else, he needs a purpose in life.
Will is an orphan, but that didn’t define his character; it was merely part of his backstory and gave Will’s character depth without dominating his character. This is especially incredible, seeing that orphaning your characters is often a path directly to the realm of the Mary Sue. Will is an orphan, but there is much more to him than just that.
(I refer to Will, Gilan, Jack Frost, Obi-Wan, Garen, Hiccup, Peter Pan, John Watson, Merlin, and the collective heroes of several of my stories as “my boys.” Being one of “my boys” guarantees getting hugged a lot, and used for an example in blog posts frequently. Several characters from Lord of the Rings would be “my boys” too, but they’re all too mature and dignified. 😉 )
- Horace. The Ruins of Gorlan isn’t just Will’s coming of age story. It’s also Horace’s. Horace was an orphan and castle ward alongside Will, and he and Will consistently picked on each other throughout their respective childhoods. However, Horace isn’t an archetype bully. Battleschool helps Horace to reach his potential, and also partially takes away his enmity toward Will, and they leave their differences behind them and become friends after saving each other’s lives.
Though Will and Horace are roughly the same age, it’s hard to always remember that. Sometimes, seeing that Horace is so much taller and broader than Will, people assume that Horace is much older, and the audience occasionally thinks that as well. And when Will mouths off at Horace, you get the impression that he’s the elder. However, Will isn’t actually “more mature” than Horace at the beginning of the book. They’re equals, but in different ways, if that makes sense.
- Halt. Oh. My. Goodness. I’ve bitten off more than I can chew here, I think. How to describe Halt?
Well, Halt… is Halt. He’s taciturn and strong-willed, and does not bare his heart to anyone, ever. He never says exactly what he means when it comes to how he feels; you have to read between the lines.
Halt is his own person. He has his own style. And I think that frankly, whichever actor who they picked to play him getting the character down would be the biggest roadblock they’d come across if they ever tried to make the series into a movie.
Halt, as Gandalf or Mr. Beaver would say, isn’t safe, but he is trustworthy. And that’s probably the best way anyone will ever come up with to describe him.
- Tug. No, Tug isn’t a person. He’s Will’s pony. (If you make a Brony joke in the comments, I will find you. But you won’t see me. You won’t even know I’m there, until I brain you with my frying pan, and you’d better count yourself lucky I wasn’t using my bow.) Ranger horses are a breed apart, as Horace remarks toward the end of the book. They’re extremely intelligent, loyal, and brave animals, even if they are on the small side.
Tug isn’t just a horse, though. He has a personality, and a mind of his own. Not that he ever rebels against what Will wants to do, he just has opinions. And, like Bill, the pony from Lord of the Rings, he shares them.
Ranger horses are trained to communicate with their riders when someone or something else is approaching, to only allow people they know to mount them, and to stay where their riders tell them to. Each Ranger horse has a code word that basically asks for the horse’s permission before they accept a new rider, as Will finds out the first time he mounts–or tries to mount–Tug. Without a polite “Do you mind?”, Tug will just buck you off. And Tug is fast. Tug would give his life to protect Will. It’s not surprising that, after a while, Rangers start to hold whole conversations with their horses, is it?
- Baron Arald. (Okay, this one is out of order, but cut me some slack!) The Baron of Redmont Fief is a kindly man who loves a good joke, but unfortunately for him, everyone always seems to take him seriously. If only the common folk of his fief would realize that he was only joking!
- Gilan. Gilan, or Gilan Davidson as I’ve heard him referred to, was Halt’s first apprentice, and a rarity among the Rangers; not only does he use the two knives and the bow, but also a long sword. Gilan often acts flippant, but under that humorous exterior, he is always thinking ahead and watching out for danger. (If you’ve heard me talk about Xanatos as a good character rather than a villain, or if you’ve read certain stories with a good version of Xanatos, you’ll have a good idea of what Gilan is like, but only what he is like. You have to read the books to actually get Gilan. Frankly, Gilan, Tug, Halt, and Will are all contenders for the title of my favorite character of all time. Gilan is the only one of “my boys” who doesn’t try to push me away or act shocked when I hug him. Which makes him very good to cry on, as well. 😛 )
Now, for the story. While the Wargals are basically just hairy versions of orcs and the Kalkarra might be likened to the Nazgul (I, however, think the Kalkarra are more like the Balrog), this story isn’t just a rip-off of the Lord of the Rings. For instance, the Wargals are far more primitive than orcs and are completely dependent on Morgarath’s will to act. On their own, if they have no motivation, they will mill about harmlessly. But more than that, the story centers about Morgarath’s desire for revenge on certain people, the ones who were most instrumental in thwarting his takeover before. Since it has not been thousands of years since his previous attempt to take over, his revenge is more direct and immediate than a general desire to wipe out the Heir of Isildur and break the back of Elendil’s line. Much of the story, however, deals with Will’s training and his and Horace’s struggles with the common problems all young people face while growing up. The final third of the book, though, is a satisfying package as the hunters become the hunted and, despite their fears, the central cast of the book go after the Kalkarra. (No spoilers!)
Much of the story is driven forward by the interaction between the characters (which is as it should be, but sadly, in so many works, often isn’t), and there are drawbacks and consequences if we lose, and the battle isn’t determined only by the central factors. By this, I mean there are factors outside the control of either combatant, and they do play in, which is all too rare in much of fantasy. There are setbacks, and some setbacks are caused by the characters’ mistakes; actions have consequences and so on.
On the other hand, there are a few moments in which the heroes get rather brutal, but I think that that is understandable, if not acceptable; Halt lives in a harsh world, and he wants the other characters to be able to survive in it as well.
The humor is clean, and unexpected. I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading the book, which I normally don’t do. I chuckle and giggle; I don’t laugh aloud much.
After reading the book twice, there are a few problems with John Flanagan’s writing that I noticed. For instance, there were a few confusing shifts in the point of view he was using (ex., leaping from Will’s thoughts to Halt’s in a rather distracting manner), and there were a few elements that were not tied in as well as I would have liked, but all in all, the book was a good read. And, for those of you considering reading the series, don’t let those problems turn you off! They virtually disappear by the next book, The Burning Bridge. And the series does get better as you go along. *wink* *wink*
The one thing that really bugs me is (small spoiler!) Will and Alyss’s kiss at the end. If you read the first book alone, it just doesn’t seem to belong. In the context of the series, it fits in well enough, but I still think it could have been integrated better.
The only sad thing about this book and series is that it is so freaking hard to even attempt fanfiction with it. (Those among you who read this blog often will know that I am an avid writer and connoisseur of all things fanfic, especially song fiction and dark one-shot AUs.) All the loose ends are generally tied up very neatly, and it’s hard to envision, sometimes, what they’d be doing outside the confines of the books. It does, however, offer up some marvelous tidbits that would make for wonderful character-examining one-parters. (Such as the scene at the end of The Kings of Clonmel… *sobs*) The sad thing about Ranger’s Apprentice fanfiction is that, since it’s a young reader’s series, the majority of the fanfiction often ends up populated by one-dimensional OCs, or worse, Mary Sues. Some of it doesn’t even get Will’s way of thinking and personality right, and that is, to me, pretty much unforgivable. It’s sad. Even sadder are the stories where everything bad happens to Will and it really breaks him down and completely takes him out of character. Those stories just don’t make sense to me. (I’m not a fan of one-man-against-the-world fanfiction, in case you didn’t know that. Especially when it comes to Ranger’s Apprentice, which is, as I’ve noted before, very much driven by characters’ interaction and friendship.) There are even *shudders* Halt haters out there. How is such a thing possible, I ask you?!
However, there are a few people out there who write marvelous shorts for it.
I’m going to shut up now.
So, the overall verdict is:
- Marvelous characterization
- Incredible handling of otherwise-overused plots and elements, turning them over into something unexpected and brilliant
- Well-written character interaction
- A generally bright (non-depressing) atmosphere
- Lovely humor
- Setbacks are used effectively
- Some moments which I would rate PG-13, but fortunately the morality is absolute and not protagonist-centered *throws up* Protagonist centered morality… yuck.
- A few writing/editorial errors, but nothing that warrants stopping reading in my opinion.
I definitely recommend reading the books. While they are not by any means giants of fantasy, they are well worth reading.
The title is in tribute to Professor V.J. Duke, who suggested that I post on this. It seemed only natural to make the title Punchy-ish, to me. 😉
Now, to get on to what I am really posting about.
I am sorry I have been so absent recently. It’s really a matter of college (which, I think, secretly wants to eat my soul, as I mentioned to the Professor earlier today.) But anyway, something that’s actually fit to print (or rather, two somethings, as the case proved) happened starting on Wednesday and ending on Friday.
On Friday morning, I had been innocently going about my business at my horticulture class, and I saw a daylily (hemercallis spp.) with an actual seed pod on it. Our daylilies at home look something like a cross between a regular lily and a firecracker. (Added to that, they’re a vibrant orange.) They actually have double petals, which is a hybrid thing, which is probably why I never saw them ever actually setting fruit.
Anyway, I thought that if I could get enough daylily seeds, maybe I could start them and grow some daylilies myself. The instructor did mention they would be easy to breed. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, as it turns out, I had a stowaway.
Hidden in one of the seedpods was a fat, round brown spider about the size of a large pea or a petite blueberry. And it must have been happy in my pocket–it was nice and warm, after all.
Anyway, I get home and I want to change after spilling something on my pants, so I take off my jeans and put on a skirt, and I go to take the daylily seeds out of my pocket, and while I’m at it, I feel something fuzzy and withdraw my hand. Oh look! It’s brown and a lot bigger than the other seeds… AUGH! It’s moving!
I jerked my hand away (I didn’t scream, though–you would be proud of me, beloved readers!) and picked up my jeans, holding them at arm’s length; took them to an area of the house with linoleum, and collected a clear plastic cup and a piece of card stock. Then, I move to flush the spider out of the pocket. However, by now the spider has moved to the waistband of the jeans, so I edge him off with the cup and onto the linoleum, trap him, slide my card stock under him, and my mother helps me take him outside.
(Then I went back inside and did a bit of research to make sure I was not harboring a brown recluse *shudders* in my pocket, but that bit of the story is less glorious, so I’m leaving it out. 😉 )
The other story, which began on Wednesday, is a bit more puzzling, and it’s open ended to boot.
On Wednesday, my horticulture class was out and about, identifying plants for practice, and we had just gotten to the purple wintercreeper when I saw a pretty red berry in the foliage. I leaned down and picked it up. One of the boys from my class said, “Look, a snack!” I said, “I don’t think it is safe to eat,” and showed it to the instructor, who confirmed that it was probably from the nightshade family. The boy took it and offered it to me. “Enjoy.”
Two Days Later…
On Friday, I went back to the class and had a good time with some new friends I made. However, as we were all admiring the ‘Husker Red’ penstemon, the same boy offered me a mushroom of some unidentified type.
I think he’s making a habit of jokingly offering me things that may or may not be poisonous, but is he just being silly… or is he flirting?
What do you think?
Thanks for dropping by today, and God Bless!
Okay. It’s the school year, so naturally I’ll probably be posting more on politics and social theory than much else. (Sorry, people. It’s not my fault.)
Today, we’re going to talk about indoctrination. (No, don’t say that word, Erin! That’s a nasty word. It’s a dirty word. It’s an ugly word.) Well, maybe not so much as you might think.
Indoctrination is one of those words that people like to throw around in conjunction with the viewpoint that they themselves do not espouse. It’s a way of attempting to scare off debate by using words that, let’s be honest, we don’t really understand (ask two people what political correctness is, for example. You won’t get the same answer from both. I can tell you that much.) It’s one of those words we don’t really understand. It appears very often in correlation with the words “them,” which is another logical fallacy that I’ll be posting on soon. (Who are “them”? Well, that’s a post for another day.)
Let’s look up the word “indoctrination”, shall we?
Here, let’s look at Merriam-Webster Online: