Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Comes Again

I was 19 when first I read Stephen King’s The Gunslinger, the first book in his (then incomplete) magnum opus, The Dark Tower. It may have been my first King novel; I’m not sure at this point looking back if I read The Stand before or after ripping through all the Tower books that were out at the time, but I want to say Mid-World was where I entered King’s universe and Captain Trips came later. What I do remember clearly is that from the very first line,

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which I would call one of the most perfect opening lines in fiction, I was hooked. And seeing as I’ve just made my second trip all the way from that apotheosis of all deserts to Can’-Ka No Rey (my first complete re-read since the final volume was published in 2004), this seems a good time to have a chat about the series.

(Spoilers, gunslinger… but not for you.) Continue reading

Quick Review – Star Wars: A New Dawn

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Cover image shamelessly lifted from Amazon. (Btw, Kanan never actually uses that lightsaber in the book, though we do get to hear plenty of how sexy he thinks Hera is.)

As I write this I’m trying to think how long it’s been since I read a Star Wars novel. I was never much of one for the Expanded Universe. The entirety of my exposure to the EU is Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (the first Star Wars novel, published before The Empire Strikes Back was released, and thus worth a read if just for its unique take on where the story was going before a sequel to A New Hope became a sure thing) and the fan favorite post-Return of the Jedi Thrawn trilogy, which I’m told is about as good as the EU ever got (and which I’d probably give a solid B as sci-fi literature). Oh, and I read the official novelizations of the prequels when they came out for some reason, probably because as a lifelong Star Wars OT fan I was grasping at whatever rare straws of gold I could find in the trail of dung that was the prequel trilogy. And I played a few of the games, especially Knights of the Old Republic (a.k.a. the best thing to happen to Star Wars since the original movies) and for a while I DMed a group playing Star Wars d20, so I suppose all that counts. But beyond that Star Wars has mostly just been the movies to me. My nerdy friends have told me about moons falling on Chewbacca, the lovechild of Captain Planet and the Borg invading the New Republic, and a Solo kid racking up dark side points, but when the EU turned into a Force ghost it didn’t mean much to me as a fan. Continue reading

ASOIAF Re-Read–RE: The end of Dance, what’s next in Wind

It’s satisfying to see Martin bring so many scattered plot threads together over the last 300 pages of A Dance With Dragons, though it’s a bit maddening how many of those plots go unresolved by the end. The book is over, but Act II is not quite at an end, not before the battles at Meereen and Winterfell. If anything, the end of A Feast For Crows felt like a better stopping point–the last few hundred pages of Dance feel like they could more appropriately have been the first chunk of The Winds of Winter, the forthcoming sixth book. Not that I wish there was less of the book–it just feels like a weird place to cut the narrative. Imagine if The Empire Strikes Back ended with Luke leaving Dagobah for Cloud City, and the battle against Vader and the big “No, I am your father” reveal happened in the first twenty minutes of the next movie, which came out three years later. That’s what the end of Dance feels like. Continue reading

ASOIAF Re-read – RE: A Ball of Beasts up to the end of A Feast For Crows

Spoilers for future seasons of Game of Thrones. If you haven’t read the books, turn back while you still know nothing, Jon Snow.

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already read the books and therefore already know that A Song of Ice and Fire book four, A Feast For Crows, and book five, A Dance With Dragons, largely cover the same period of in-universe continuity, albeit from different points of view. Martin split what would have been one massive fourth book into two volumes, with the resultant book four featuring mostly new POVs in King’s Landing, the Riverlands, the Iron Islands, Braavos and Dorne, and book five featuring, well, everyone else. What’s more, book five catches up to book four a bit over the 500 page mark, and from then on POVs from book four like Cersei and Jaime crop up in ADWD’s home stretch. Fan-favorite Arya Stark is thus far the only character to appear as a POV in every book in the series. Continue reading

ASOIAF Re-read – RE: A Storm of Swords

There are all kinds of spoilers beyond the current season of Game of Thrones discussed herein. Read at your own risk.

It’s A Storm of Swords, the book where everything officially goes sideways and you realize you know nothing about where this plot is going, Jon Snow. This book serves as the series’ first major transition, the end of act one and beginning of act two. After book two, the shit is in mid-air on its way to the fan, and you don’t have to wait the whole book for it to hit the blades. So, to recap the first 3/5 of book three, roughly adapted as Game of Thrones season three: Continue reading