Monday, May 16, 2011

Reading Journal, Borgias, Thrones

Monday morning musings...

Finished The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One) last night. Damn it. Super duper cliffhangers. Rawr. Grrrrr.

Moving on to positivity, here's what Mr. Abercrombie accomplishes in his breakout novel. He does write excellent fight scenes, by the way (noted in one of the back cover blurbs). He compels the reader to root for the underdog. That's a skill, a talent. There's a nice balance between action and narrative, the plot moves forward and the protagonists' lives become interwoven in an interesting way.

He breaks many of the rules that we unpublished writers read again and again in all these ever-so-helpful writing tip blogs. That, in and of itself, is a statement. If you have the talent, it will show. He does. So, instead of taking everyone's advice and having your unique style and voice get washed out in a vanilla coated style compendium of zero risk storytelling - just do what you're gonna do.

This is the lesson I'm finding, again and again, every time I pick up a genre novel. At the end of the day, you cannot argue with success.

Having said that, I get really frustrated with reading 500 pages and not having any resolutions. I won't be doing that. That's not likely to stop me from picking up Before They Are Hanged (The First Law: Book Two). Dang it. :-p


Ah, the Borgias. They're going down! I think they rather dragged out last night's episode, considering next week is the season finale... hmm. They're going to leave me on a cliffhanger, too, aren't they?

Damn it.

What can I say after last night's episode? I like Holliday Grainger all the more these days.

And, I told you so, Juan Borgia's an idiot. "Hey, let's just wait for the cannons to fire!" Actually what he said was, "Who gives the order to charge?"

Which, really, says more than any commentary I could add at this point.



Last night captured the essence of the relationship between Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon superbly well. And while *I* don't think Maisie Williams looks much like a boy at all, considering the parallel historical time period, I think it's clever that the viewer gets that perspective: she's dirty and not in a dress = boy with long hair.

I think it's a little funny that "sex scene" = "exposition and backstory time". It's almost insulting! (Truly, a good whore is going to piss off her client? Even if she's trying to be cheeky, repeat business insures her income.) I guess it's a reasonable time to chit chat, but the scene with Cersei and Robert was much better.

Ser Loras and Ser Renly. Varys and Illyrio. I weep. Television forces the giant HERE IT IS spotlight, where a novel allows and encourages the reader to take the clues, the hints and draw their own conclusions. Read the book.

I can appreciate that we didn't see Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen in this episode, though the timing for Dany is a bit off. Crossing the Dothraki Sea should've taken a whole episode. The action should have clung to her more tightly once they arrived at Vaes Dothrak (which they did in the last episode, as I recall.)

But the Wall? No, the viewer can assume that the four new friends are bonding, being beaten up by Aliser Thorne and teaching Ser Piggy how to fight - the next episode will be a good time to let them take their vows. Their lack of presence in this most recent episode works.

Aside! Apparently some viewers were upset by the demise of direwolf Lady in episode 2. GRRM has addressed that on his Not A Blog, in a manner which I must fully endorse. Spoiler alert: There's going to be a lot more death before the end of the season.


Not to get overly meta, but lately I have seen a number of stories where the perceived ruler is fat and decadent. Is this a trope? Or is this a statement towards modern governments - those we choose become bloated, indulgent and selfish, and the countries are actually run by appointed bureaucrats, who are completely out of touch with (and unaccountable to) the common folks?

I do not like the trope. Medieval times were too harsh. A man (or woman) who could not hold their kingdom would lose it. Having said that, it certainly makes sense as a plot point - because at least the reader can appreciate why the ridiculous ruler is going to see war (there is always war).

What's next for me to read? I'm deciding between Dune, Songs of Love and Death: All Original Tales of Star Crossed Love, and Kushiel's Scion (Kushiel's Legacy).

In other (personal and irrelevant) news, this weekend marked the first time in two weeks that I was able to eat and not feel pain. The Crohn's has gone back into remission. Huzzah! Now to be a little indulgent myself and regain the weight I've lost... and edit the beast, dang it. ;-)


  1. The Borgias was amazing this week... I had become somewhat less thrilled with it the last couple of episodes... I can't think of a better actress to play Lucretia ... she does a wonderful job... innocently beautiful.. but growing so much, so quickly in her strengths.. :)
    Thank you for "what you are reading next"
    I just went to amazon to download a sample of "Songs of Love and Death...." I love to read of the aching of hearts who may never be together.... the longing passion is lovely then....and reading of it always makes me hunger for the same.

  2. Sorry I missed this comment until now. I agree, Lucretia carries the show, as far as I'm concerned. She's doing great.

    "Songs of Love and Death" has been surprisingly good, for what it's worth.

    Thanks for the comment, Songbird.


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