Mistborn 2! Out at last!

Posted by me on Monday, the 27th day of August, anno domini 2007 at 12:19 AM, local time.

Just a brief update: Last week sometime, Mistborn 2: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson came out. I didn’t get around to buying it under Thursday, since the week was rather busy, but I got it finally late last week, spent way too much time reading it that night, and then finished it up Friday after work. It was very good! I was very happy with how it went. For a while as it went along, I was quite afraid the author was going to spite me by having things turn out differently than I hoped for, or at the very least waiting until the final book to resolve things to my satisfaction. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the author did not take that simple way out as a cliffhanger or something like that. By the end of the book, most of the plot lines were tied up nicely, and while there is certainly one plot thread (the main danger to the kingdom really) that is still open and needs resolution, all the minor sideline threads are finished up quite nicely.

The first book was much the same. Pretty much all the main internal conflict was resolved and there was just the one problem left for the next books. Now, I just have to wait one year (the guy is already finished with the book, I think, or close to it) for the final exciting chapter! In the meantime, I think most of my readers would probably enjoy the Mistborn books, if you haven’t already read them.

As an aside, I often find, after ready a great long book, that I suddenly feel like I need to find another book to read right away that will engage my interest as fully and enjoyably as the book I just finished. This might be part of the reason that over the years I have read so many books, one after the other. It is only when I get to a book that I don’t enjoy as much, start to get bogged down, and slow way way down in my pace, sometimes where the book sits on my nightstand for weeks or months without being touched, that I stop for a couple months from reading books so quickly. This is rather sad, but I guess its ok, since I do have a lot of other hobbies that I like to do, and sometimes I think I might read too much anyway. :-)

Luckily, with this book, I have no such problem. No offense to the choosers of books, but lately it has been Book Club books that have given me the most trouble. I really should finish that last one… It’s not very long anyway, and surely at some point here Andy will schedule book club. (*hint* *hint*)

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Harry Potter, with a few days to think about it

Posted by me on Wednesday, the 25th day of July, anno domini 2007 at 12:18 AM, local time.

So, I told myself I would blog today, since I’ve been rather bad about it lately. And so here I am.

Harry Potter. That’s all one seems to hear about these days. That’s fine. I’ll contribute :) Warning: If you havn’t read the last book yet, and you plan to do so anytime soon, please proceed with caution. Things may be revealed below that you would rather discover through your own reading of the book. But seriously folks, you’ve had like 3 or 4 days already. Plenty of time to finish it!

Moving right along, halfway through chapter one of the last book, I almost stopped reading to blog/complain about how disappointed I was in some of Harry’s actions and thoughts, but I figured it would be better to finish the book and present my reactions fully tempered by time and results.

After finishing the book, I still can’t say that I am completely happy with all the choices Harry made, and I still think he is too hot-headed and doesn’t think things through enough to fully garner my respect. And the movie that just came out (The Order of the Pheonix) portrayed Harry at that stage in a very similar light, where at some points I almost hated what Harry had become. Now, I grant that he was quasi-possessed by Voldemort, but still. Your friends are there to support you and help you through these difficult times. You don’t turn your back on them when they offer to help! In the book, I don’t think I was as angry with him at the time (during book 5, this is), but in the movie they had to cut stuff and tweak things and what resulted is a slightly different piece.

Anyway, enough about Harry’s childishness. The other thing I can say after finishing the last book is that in no way was I displeased with how things turned out. Going into book 7 the way things were, I could not have asked for a better outcome, really. Given the constraints of how I knew Ms Rowling was going to have things go in terms of Ron and Hermione (seriously, Ron? Ron is a dufus for six and a half books, then becomes a jackass, and then some great leader. I don’t buy it. He still isn’t good enough for Hermione.).

Though, I must say that when Ginny was first introduced in book 2 or 3 or whatever, I wasn’t very impressed with her either. She seemed, at the time, a very week character with no interesting qualities who hero worshiped Harry to the point of embarrassment. But, by the time we got the book 5 and 6, I was completely happy with how she had developed, and her strength of character was very encouraging. Despite Harry’s faults, he is still the hero of the series and does deserve to live happily ever after at the end, and since Ms Rowling deemed fit to occupy Hermione with lesser interests, Ginny is certainly someone who could be lived happily ever after with.

A few more items here in short:

Snape. Best possibly way that all could have been worked out. Very predictable, but altogether good. I’m glad they didn’t spend 7 books making us hate his actions but learn surprisingly good things about him for no reason whatsoever.

Malfoy. In the end, I didn’t need him to live, but it did allow a few more things to play by doing so. I’m ok with it.

Fred. Eh, there were already two of them. How many jokesters do you really need in a fictional universe? His death served a purpose and throughout the story, while he and George were humorous, I never really got attached.

Kreacher and Dobby. Good show. The redemption of Kreacher made the death of Dobby kind of balanced. Maybe? I know a lot of people were torn up when Dobby died. That’s fine, that’s fine. It was a noble sacrifice. I can’t claim that eye moisture didn’t increase at that point. But people do die in wars. House elves included.

Dumbledore. This goes back a bit to Harry’s irrationality at times. Seriously, nobody is perfect. And imperfect people in the spot light can get misrepresented by the malicious media. It happens. Harry should have been more open minded in the beginning, allowing both for imperfect friends and for malicious journalists. But anyway, I am glad that Dumbledore got the chance to explain himself a bit to Harry. That was nice, if only for Harry’s peace of mind.

Neville. Yeah Neville! I only hope that he and Luna got together and had some very interesting children. Ms Rowling didn’t deem fit to tell us about anything on the Neville-Luna front, and that surprised me, seeing how pat she laid everything else out. I’ll just have to assume, I guess.

The Nineteen Years Later Bit. I liked it. I was quite glad she put it in there actually. I know, I know, maybe now its harder for her to write more books in the series, but really, its not. There is a large gap that can be filled in there, and seriously. Its not like they die after 19 years. More stories can be told afterwards as well! Some might even be really good if they skipped another 10 years and told some stories from the adult point of view of Harry and Ginny’s and Ron and Hermione’s (and Neville and Luna’s !) kids. But I digress. Anyway, I was happy that I didn’t just have to wonder and hope that the right people got together, or that they got to have children, or that they were trying to raise their children properly in a post-Voldemort world, or that Hogwarts was still up and running and producing well-rounded and well-respected young wizards and witches.

Wow. I keep meaning to stop and say that anyone wanting to discuss more is free to bring it up. So, here I will stop and say that anyone wanting to discuss more is free to bring it up.

I was just saying the other day that I think that even with no more stories in the series, and nothing else whatsoever to talk about, people could discuss this universe and the people in it for probably the rest of their lives. Discussion of motives, actions and reactions, logistics, really cool objects (seriously, I am a very hetero guy over here, who never once has considered carrying a purse or handbag or merse or what-have-you, but when I was reading about Hermione’s magic bag that occupied essentially no room but could expand as big as needed to fit whatever you wanted into it… woah. I’ll take two please. And Hermione’s choice to fill it with books was pretty much exactly what I would do, I gotta admit.), etc, etc, can continue for a long time. People are still discussing The Lord of the Rings, for crying out loud, and that’s only 3 books (or so… plus prelude, histories, legends, notes, letters, etc., etc.).

Anyway, as an emergency session of book club was called for later this week specifically to discuss the completed Harry Potter series, I should leave some of that near-infinite well of discussion topics for that time!

Good night!

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Pride and Prejudice

Posted by me on Wednesday, the 27th day of June, anno domini 2007 at 11:39 PM, local time.

Ok, so, sorry guys, I’ve been a little lax this week in keeping up with the blogging. I claimed I would be doing better. But, I’m trying. I’m just weak. Baby steps, right?

Several months ago, I was convinced that I should watch the Pride and Prejudice movie (the 2005 version). I had never read any Jane Austen novels, thinking they were just for girls, or whatever nonsense you pick up here or there about such things. So, I watched the movie. As many people know, I’ve long been a sucker for simple romantic comedy, which is, I guess, how I would categorize the movie. I enjoyed it. Thought it was pretty good. I enjoyed the arguments between the main characters, thought the scenery was pretty good, and really like the piano music in the background.

So, between watching the movie, countless recommendations from some of my friends, wikipedia articles, and a couple other secondary sources, I thought I would read the novel. Barnes and Noble’s had the Jane Austen collection on sale, and there was a copy of Pride and Prejudice in the “Everyman’s Library” hardcover edition, which I collect. So, I bought them both (it’s a problem, I know) and read Pride and Prejudice. Then I read it again.

Spectacular. I gotta say, had I known that authors from the 1800s could write like that, I would have read more of them beforehand. The dialogue is superb. The characters were very well drawn, and by and large, you could not wish for a better book. It is an easy, quick read, and there really is no reason whatsoever to not read it at every so often. It just goes so quickly!

When I first read the book, I was very much gladdened that the character of Mr Darcy was much larger in the book than in the movie. By no means was he the main character, but at least in the book, there were many times where you got to see things from his point of view, and you could see the basis for some of his actions before Elizabeth got to interpret them and skew them to something despicable. I was very pleased. It was nice to have a strong male hero to, not necessarily counter, but certainly complement the wonderful heroine, the younger Miss Bennet.

Very recently, I decided that since I enjoyed the book so much, and had enjoyed the movie when I first saw it, I should watch the movie again, to better compare it to the book. I had recognized before, after reading the book the first time, that the movie didn’t have a lot of the scenes in it that the book had, but didn’t think too much about it. It was a movie, after all. They do that sort of thing. But, when I saw it the second time, I was almost disgusted at the amount of stuff that was left out. There was a lot of characterization that was simply not there. Whole scenes, whole characters, whole conversations, etc., etc. Not only do we see nothing from Darcy’s point of view, but we see nothing of the “relationship” between Elizabeth and Mr Wickham develop, and we see nothing of the real awkwardness of Elizabeth meeting Darcy’s sister for the first time. These things are key to the book, really!

In comparison to the depth and, dare I say, majesty, of the book, the movie is a collection of short quick sketches, each merely outlining a portion of the masterwork that is the book, “Pride and Prejudice”. The only redeeming qualities the movie really keeps is the wonderful piano music, which really, by the way, prompted the blog post about background music a few days back. And Keira Knightley is hot. But we already knew that from Pirates, and you could just watch that to get your fill. (And sorry to mention her name, I just am really curious about how much google PageRank that will earn me.)

Anyway, for all my complaints, its not a bad movie, and I must respect the initial impression it had on me, that led me to read Austen’s various novels. I have now read enough of them that I would like to compare and consider each of the greater pieces here in my blog, but that is a larger task for another day.

Almost entirely unrelated from that, other than I used the word in this writeup: dialogue. Not dialog. Seriously people. It’s bad enough when I see it everywhere, but to have my own spellchecker refuse to accept the correct form of the word, and suggest the improper bastardization, is downright unacceptable. At least there exist proper dictionaries online and in print yet that use and promote the correct form.

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More about Mistborn

Posted by me on Sunday, the 24th day of June, anno domini 2007 at 12:08 AM, local time.

So, I finished reading Mistborn yesterday and was very happy to find that it is pretty much one of the best books I have read this year to date (as I suspected it would be earlier). It was also pretty much entirely self-contained… there were a few loose ends, its true, and I have discovered that there are in fact two more books in the series forthcoming, making it a full trilogy (sorry Darcy!). The next book is due in August of this year, and the final book is finishing up now, and should be out by next summer.

Anyway, the book was quite fun. It has the feel of Ocean’s Eleven (or Twelve, or Thirteen, etc., etc.), in that the main characters collect a group of specialists in order to pull off a rather complicated plan against the opposition. The system of magic is quite well thought out (just as it was in Elantris) and rather novel for fantasy works I can bring to mind right now. I’ll leave those secrets for your own discovery, however.

In looking for other books by the author, Brandon Sanderson, I discovered his website (I just linked to it! Jeez!) and thence the books mentioned above as forthcoming. But, the other very cool thing I have discovered on this site is the author’s commentaries on his own books! Apparently, after he has written them, and the publisher’s editors have read them and made suggested changes, he has to reread them and make sure all corrections were, well, correct. So, as this could be rather boring, he writes down what he was thinking about each chapter, how we was trying to portray the characters, and missteps he took along the way. It’s very much like a director’s commentary on a movie. Each chapter of each book he has published has at least one writeup, if not more, along these lines. He releases them in the weeks following the initial publication of the book.

Well, anyway, I thought it was cool. I wish more authors would do so, as sometimes, when I am reading some books, I really wonder what the heck the guy was thinking when he wrote that!

That’s all the update I have for now. I rather think both Elantris and Mistborn are worth reading.

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Reading Books

Posted by me on Thursday, the 21st day of June, anno domini 2007 at 11:24 PM, local time.

Its interesting to me how a book can grab at you and pull you in. I started reading this newish (ok, I bought it new 5 or 6 months ago and it has sat on my queue since then) novel a couple days ago, but only got about 10-15 pages in, was tired and had a hard time focusing on the book. This was probably around 11:45pm or midnight or so. Not all that late, considering. The book sat there a few more days, unopened. I was just too tired to bother reading.

Last night, however, even though I was feeling a bit droopy-eyed, I thought I should really start reading it again and give it a bit more of a chance. Two hours later, I was wide awake and completely unconcerned that I would likely be a couple of hours late to work the next morning (not that I am usually concerned about such things anyway, as I’m sure many of you know). It was a very very good book. Still is, luckily, as these sorts of books are not short enough to finish in a single 4 or 5 hour stretch like some books not worth mentioning might be.

It is called Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. I’m not yet done with it, so I can’t tell if its the first book of a series or not. I have read the author’s only previous work before, and it was also a spectacular work of fantasy. I was quite pleased and recommended it to all my friends (it was Elantris). It was a standalone book, as far as I can tell, though certainly I would be interested in reading more in the same world. I think probably everybody who likes a good fantasy book should read these (and keep an eye on this author. He was brand new to the writing world a mere 2 years ago, I think.)

Uncle Orson reviewed Elantris back way before it even came out, and thats why I picked it up in the first place. For those of you not in the know, Uncle Orson reviews everything at that site, from books to music to plays, movies, boardgames, ice creams, stores, and even toilet paper, if I recall one writeup correctly. He’s been doing this since 2001 and has them all online for your perusal. Sometimes I agree, and sometimes I don’t, but he has gotten me to read books, watch movies, and see television shows I might never have found or bothered with before. And yes, I have mentioned him before. He is also a great science fiction writer, author of Ender’s Game, Prentice Alvin, Homecoming: The call of Earth, and other such gems.

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