Book Review: The Life

I’ve had this book on my shelf for years and have never prioritised reading it, which is a shame because it’s good. It’s a short and easy-to-follow guide to Christian belief and the life of Jesus which does a good job of laying out the significance of key events as well as arguments for and against his identity as the Messiah and his eventual resurrection.

I also really enjoyed the detailed look at Jesus’ life viewing him as a real, living, friends-and-family-having person, who lived in a context. Oddly, the detail that jumped out at me most strongly was something very simple: I often wondered why Judas had to specifically pick Jesus out for arrest when everyone there had seen him around quite a lot at this point. John and Walley point out that there would have been very little moon around Passover and this was taking place in a garden; it was dark!

I recommend it for anyone who would just like to find out a bit more or get a slightly different angle.

Character Death (Again)

So there’s a book I read recently which I’m obviously going to review properly, but I’m stuck outlining the review because there’s a lot I want to say but there’s one character death in particular that has kind of set up home rent-free in my head.

Spoilers (not all death-related) for Viper, the Hunger Games trilogy, The Hobbit, the Hobbit Movies, Luck in the Shadows, and Game of Thrones.

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The Chorochronos Archives

I’m delighted to announce that one of my short stories has been accepted to – and published in – a new anthology: The Chorochronos Archives!

Book cover of The Chorochronos Archives
The Chorochronos Archives

It’s a fun collection of time-travel and alternative-history short stories and you should check it out (and particularly let me know what you think of I Did But Dream)!

Book Review: The Good Knight

The Good Knight by Sarah Woodbury is a historical murder mystery and romance set in medieval Wales, starring a rebellious knight named Gareth and a bard’s daughter named Gwen, who also moonlight as spies and amateur detectives.

I have a lot to say about it, some of which is major spoilers (like, identity of the murderer spoilers), but in summary: I liked it but was also kind of dissatisfied. Three stars.

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Are Dwarves Funny?

Many moons ago, I encountered a podcast on Tolkien’s works. I don’t remember much about it, but one thing that did stick with me was a comment one of the presenters made about the origin story of the dwarves as described in The Silmarillion. The presenter said that he thought it was comedic and added that, well, of course it was comedic. They’re dwarves.

Well, uh… no.

Spoilers for pretty much all Tolkien’s works.

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Book Review: Blood Sisters: The Women behind the Wars of the Roses

I’m a little torn about this book. I’ve not really read another book that attempts the same kind of thing. The idea is that it follows the lives of several women who are much involved in the War of the Roses. As with a lot of British medieval history, you hear a lot about the men, but this book aims to talk about the relationships between the various women: Elizabeth of York; Cecily, Duchess of York; Elizabeth Woodville; Margaret Beaufort; Margaret of Burgundy; and Anne Neville. She goes deep into the fact that there were friendships and communication between them even when their husbands were enemies, and it’s a great alternative view of the history.

The biggest weakness, in my opinion, was actually the inclusion of Anne Neville. I understand why the author made that decision – Anne is, after all, Richard III’s queen – but there is almost no trace of her left in the historical record. That in itself is odd, given who her family is, but in this book it meant that there was a lot of guessing and speculation and the book slowed significantly every time Gristwood tried to talk about Anne. The uneveness of the sources between different women leads to a rather uneven narrative as there’s a lot of information about one person and then a struggle to give a similar account of another.

It’s not my favourite Wars of the Roses book, but it is worth reading.

If you enjoy my blog, you might also enjoy my novel: Bladedancer’s Heirs. You can also find me on Goodreads and Wattpad!

Book Review: A Very Stable Genius

This is an interesting book that was only slightly spoiled in my case by the fact it took me a very long time to read. That meant that by the time I finished it – as you might guess partly from the time I’m writing this review – Trump was already out of office and a lot of the revelations that came out in the book were really no longer that interesting. Its time had passed.

Another problem was possibly that I had forgotten large chunks of the beginning by the time I finished the book, so that was another thing that took some of the punch out of it!

I don’t regret reading it, but I’m not 100% sure that I would recommend it any more.

If you enjoy my blog, you might also enjoy my novel: Bladedancer’s Heirs. You can also find me on Goodreads and Wattpad!

animate-mush asked on Tumblr:

How does existing with in a prequel, where certain outcomes are known going in, interfave with the construction of appropriate stakes? I remember being bored silly during the Legolas Bolg fight because I knew that neither of these characters could possibly kill the other, rendering the whole exercise pointless

It’s pretty much the same issue, though your options are a bit narrower; if it’s a prequel and I know such-and-such a character – Legolas in this case – will survive the battle, that’s similar to cases like Yugioh – the stakes are too high and I know the author is bluffing – and Scarlet Pimpernel – huge flashing character shield. It makes “Will Legolas die?” an inappropriate question to base the stakes around, so an alternative is needed.

The Hobbit movies actually had some good options set up for themselves with Legolas, because they could base the stakes around his relationships with Tauriel and Thranduil without affecting what had already been established in Lord of the Rings. The appropriate stakes for Legolas in the Hobbit movies were “Will he get the girl” and “Will he and his father heal this emotional rift”/”Will he break from his oppressive father” (that conflict was so badly-written, for real). We knew he’d live, but we didn’t know whether or not he had a girlfriend or wife waiting back home during Lord of the Rings.

Of course, the same points extend to if we know other outcomes – if Legolas had mentioned his wife Tauriel and their three kids in Lord of the Rings, we would know he was going to get the girl, so you’d need something else to add spice to the story (“how does he get the girl?” is still a story, but it can’t be the whole thing).

All that means that, yeah, the Legolas-Bolg fight was completely pointless as framed, because it was independent of everything else and the only thing at stake was Legolas’ life. If it had been framed as him fighting to protect Thranduil or something, it could have been a demonstration of how much he really does love his father or something and then they could have bonded or something and it could have had stakes (added to the fact that technically they could have got away with killing Thranduil, which adds some stakes there, though that is on no level what I would recommend), but not when the only stake was the life of a character we knew would live.

This is also a great demonstration of the problem of not having any stakes and how boring things can get without them!

Gimli: Books v Movies

I’m currently working on a big post on the presentation of dwarves in Tolkien and derivative works, but as often happens I started down a massive rabbit-hole. This was one I should really have seen coming, but I got into a big discussion on how Gimli is presented in the book and the changes that were made in adaptation.

Spoilers for Lord of the Rings, book and movie. Mild spoilers for The Hobbit.

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