For some years I’ve had some writing up on Wattpad, but following the Viacom deal I’ve decided to pull it down. I may or may not post it elsewhere (like a sub-page on here) but if anyone does want to read some writing practice I wanted feedback on or a lightly-edited NaNo that I might scrub up for real publication, it’ll only be there until the end of this month!
Well, I’ve talked about the other two members of this love triangle at some length, so why not?
Programming note: this is going to be about the movie version of Kili, which is not very much like the book version of Kili in part because of Dat Love Triangle. I’ll talk about the differences when they seem relevant, but I’m not going to do any kind of commentary on Kili in the book.
Naturally, spoilers for The Hobbit and the Hobbit movies, as well as Lord of the Rings (book and movies) and the Twilight series.Continue reading “Hobbit Movies: Kili”
Quick programming note – the blog isn’t dead but IRL stuff has been taking up all my mental bandwidth for a few months; I finished another round of studying, started a new job, and am making another push on editing my next novel, plus still slowly recovering from the effects of 2020.
I have posts on Kili and Rey in the works, along with more book reviews and plans for musing on villains, masculinity in Tolkien, and some introspection on my own abiding love of deeply-problematic children’s books from the 1930s-50s.
As soon as I get my life back in order, normal programming will resume!
The Devil’s Novice by Ellis Peters is another one of the Brother Cadfael medieval murder mysteries. It begins with the arrival of Meriet, a new novice at the monastery who insists that he wants to become a monk as quickly as possible, but doesn’t fully explain why. It rapidly becomes clear that he has a very dark backstory and that he hasn’t turned his back on the world nearly as much as he’d like those around him to believe.
While Cadfael is investigating Meriet’s background, he meets his family and the members of his household and the mystery deepens, especially once the body of a murdered man is discovered.
I enjoy this story a lot; it’s not the first time I’ve read it and it’s always good. My favourite character is Cadfael’s friend Brother Mark, who is as adorable as ever.
I won’t go into spoilers, but I have to admit that I don’t much like Isouda, Meriet’s father’s ward. I know it’s common to describe a strong-willed girl as being too pushy, but I also feel like if you swapped the genders of Meriet and Isouda it would be extremely obvious why she was fleeing into a nunnery.
I recommend it for fans of relatively light-hearted murder mysteries.
Machiavelli: A Man Misunderstood by Michael White is an interesting book which gives a good insight into Machiavelli as a person, his background, and what he was trying to do by writing The Prince. However, while it was interesting and I wanted to like it, I got something of a vibe that White really dislikes the Catholic Church, at least as it was in the Middle Ages, and that this coloured his view of Machiaelli and the world in which he lived, which made it difficult to know how seriously to take some of the attitudes expressed.
It was interesting, but I’m not sure I’d strongly recommend it.
Daughters of Chivalry: The Forgotten Children of Edward I by Kelcey Wilson-Lee tells the life stories of the daughters of Edward I, giving a very interesting glimpse into the middle ages and the lives of actual noble women. Edward I had five daughters and they were all very different people affected in different ways by their experiences and the expectations put on them: mostly marriage but Mary was put into a nunnery as a child (and, especially for a nun, lived an extremely opulent life). They actually had a lot of agency and power, especially once widowed: a fact that often gets erased in discussions of the middle ages.
Daughters of Chivalry does a great job of putting together evidence, including writing by the princesses, to give an idea of their day-to-day life and show them as people. It’s also a good story! I recommend it for anyone interested in medieval England, and especially the role of noblewomen.
My personal favourite detail was that the eldest daughter, Eleanora, apparently really liked having silver buttons on her clothes.
Crusaders: An Epic History Of The Wars For The Holy Lands by Dan Jones is what I often term “a weighty tome”. It’s a physically large, but also wide-ranging, book which does what it says on the tin: tells the whole story of the Crusades together with an epilogue discussing the use of “crusade” terminology today and how loaded that word is.
One of the things I like about this particular book is that it relies heavily on personal stories to give examples of the bigger historical events, while never sacrificing the big picture. This means that a reader can get a good sense of what’s happening, but it’s also put in context so the meanings of events can be properly understood. It also does a great job of looking at multiple different sides and perspectives on the events. Despite the title, it’s not just about the crusaders, but also about the people they were there to fight! It also tells stories about ordinary people swept up in the crusades to give further perspective.
Also, it’s a really compelling read and a well-told story, making it enjoyable as well as interesting.
Pigeon Post by Arthur Ransome is very much in the nostalgia category: a fun children’s adventure story from the Swallows and Amazons ‘verse, in which the weather and the people are always nice and you can feel pretty confident that nothing really bad is ever going to happen. That having been said, the climax of the story is filled with very real, serious danger and our heroes have a very close escape.
One of my favourite things about the Swallows and Amazons books, especially ones like this that take place in a generally-safe environment is the way the stories are told through the eyes of the children and their imaginations. While it’s very possible to step back and tell yourself that this is a bunch of kids messing around pretending to be gold prospectors, the book always takes them entirely seriously and engages with their serious wish to find gold while avoiding the antagonistic adult and rival prospector “Squashy Hat”. Stepping into that world within a world adds a lot of the weight and stakes of a real adventure story.
Something I had forgotten – or possibly not noticed as a kid – which I appreciated was the fact that John, the eldest boy, is not the one the “natives” – i.e. the responsible adults – treat as being in charge; it’s Susan, the eldest girl. All the conversation about whether the kids will be able to manage camping up in the hills during a drought comes down to whether Susan thinks they can manage. I appreciated that. I also noticed a lot more of the relationships between the kids and the elder ones keeping an eye out for the younger ones, as well as the sense of responsibility the younger ones feel towards the older ones, which I quite liked as characterisation.
Worth checking out.
St. Peter’s Fair by Ellis Peters is another medieval murder mystery from the Cadfael Series. I’ve read it several times, but I always enjoy it, especially Emma, the main female character. She ends up at the centre of a love triangle which, unusually for me, doesn’t make me want to rip off my own face because it’s very easy to see why she’s much more interested in one guy over the other but also still fond of the other guy and wants the best for him. She also proves to be extremely brave and resourceful in a pinch and I enjoyed watching her reactions and how she deals with having her life upended by the events of the book.
These are my favourites. They are the culmination of everything else we’ve looked at and have so many moving parts that no two need be the same. When written well, they’re clever and full of adrenaline and character interaction and mostly – though not necessarily – the power of friendship. I love them.
So, without more ado…Continue reading “Action/Adventure Writing: Rescue”