Saturday, July 28, 2012

Question answered?

In a recent post I asked about the magic in Tamora Pierce's Tortall books: they've got mages who can do fantastic things, why can't those mages just scry to see where this person/thing is?
I may have found an answer, in her book Immortals: Wild Magic.

"George, there are more illusion spells and diffusion spells that there are stars. Scrying is an inexact magic: I have to know what to look for. All right, I'm good, but even I can be overwhelmed or outflanked. Alanna nd Jon would tell you the same thing" (240).

This might prevent someone from using scrying magic to find a lost object/person.

It ain't real syndrome

Often in books of magic, it's explained that normal people will come up with the most amazing excuses to deny its existence. I've decided to call this the "it ain't real syndrome" and keep track of where I find it in novels.

(My theory is that it's a common theme because magic is real, and many people don't like to acknowledge it. Perhaps including the writers who use the "it ain't real" syndrome in their novels.)

The following from Welcome to the Jungle by Jim Butcher, and it is Harry's explanation to Will of how she'll forget about the magic she's seen.

"And because everyone knows that there's no such thing as magic, when you actually see it happening, that's your response. You don't know what you just saw because it obviously can't be what it looked like, since that's impossible. By this time tomorrow you won't be completely certain that you clearly remember any of it. A few weeks after that, you'll wonder if your fear caused your mind to exaggerate some of the details. And a few years from now, you'll be sure that you were so scared that you just imagined all of the parts you can't explain."

Yep, fear will explain anything weird that you saw.

Thoughts: Welcome to the Jungle

Another blogger and my boyfriend have both been telling me that I need to read The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Book one is on hold at the library, and yesterday I read what is a prologue of sorts, the graphic novel Welcome to the Jungle.

I really enjoyed it, although I was getting irritated about Butcher putting a helpless little female into the story. But then I realized...she isn't a helpless little female. Not really.


Of course, I'm talking about Will. When she first shows up she's the classic talks too much to have any brains, isn't letting our hero get a word in edgewise. Then when the bad guy (sorry, bad girl :D) confronts them Will is positively cute when she cowers behind Harry. That's right, cute.

But I reassessed my opinion with the following passage, later on in the book.

"Moe looks like he's going to tear her head off. And she just walks up to him, talking quietly. After a minute, he quiets down. She never wavers. It's the sort of thing I've read about, but never seen actually happen. Beauty and the Beast. She sits holding hands with him for a few minutes. Then she just leads him back over to the door of his enclosure. He goes along with her, gentle as anything. Incredible."

Walking up to an angry gorilla? That takes considerable courage, and isn't something that the classic "helpless little female"could do.

I quickly revised my opinion of both Will and Jim Butcher. If she's following along seeming helpless, it's because she's in over her head with the magic and magical beings. And the cats big cats, since presumably she doesn't know cats like she knows gorillas. Nor would she be familiar with cats that have blazing eyes and who work with other feline species to hunt individuals down. And her babbling whens he first met Harry? I'm guessing that was just surprise. Certainly, she doesn't babble pointlessly later on in the book.

[I am aware this is poorly written. Think of this as a notebook entry, it's not meant to be college essay material.]

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Changes in names

I just wrote another post sort of on this topic, but rather than editing it and adding this in I'm just writing a new one.

I'm revisiting the Song of the Lioness books by Tamora Pierce. She later wrote (is writing?) the Beka Cooper books, which take place in the same world but 200 years earlier.

There are some definite interesting differences in the world between those two times. One of them is that in Beka's time the god of death is known as the Black God. But 200 years later, in Song of the Lioness, he is known as the Dark God. I'm curious about how this change happened. I guess it's a relatively minor change. But I'm still curious. :)

EDIT 7/28/12: Later in this quartet, he IS called the Black God. Huh.

Song of the Lioness revisited

I'm rereading the Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce. Yes, I keep talking about her books. Probably because she's my favorite author (I think).

It's funny to revisit this quartet though. I'm reading it and I realize that things aren't as fully developed as they could be. Pierce's later books have more depth. I guess it's because they're her earliest novels? They're certainly good stories, and lay the groundwork for her other novels, but there are two things that have been bugging me.

Alanna as a boy

Alanna disguises herself as a boy so that she can become a knight, and trades places with her twin brother. He rides off to the convent where she was supposed to go (though unlike Alanna he won't need to hide his gender -- the convent takes boys as well as girls) and Alanna becomes "Alan" so that she can become a knight.

Certainly, this would be easier for them to do than it would in our world, since they don't have Facebook. And yet...

Someone, other than her trusty manservant Coram, must have been in both her home Trebond and to court, and realized that something was up. And in book two Alanna travels through Trebond on her way to visit her brother Thom. Didn't anyone wonder why she was there in a squires uniform, instead of being dressed like a proper lady? How could she keep her secret for so long?


Faithful is also in the Beka Cooper books, which were written after Song of the Lioness but which actually take place 200 years earlier. Faithful is a purple eyed black cat that is Alanna's friend, but who is also known as Pounce by Beka.

(By the way, does anyone know if there will be a fourth Beka Cooper??? I can't find info either way. At the end of book three it looks like there won't be another, yet there has to be, since Pierce writes quartets not trilogies. Right???)

Pounce is definitely magic, and he's obviously magic when he is known as Faithful. Yet, something seems a little off.

SPOILERS for both quartets

At the end of Beka Cooper: Terrier Faithful swallows a curse that would have killed Beka (unless my memory is off). Yet in book two of Song of the Lioness Roger manages to put him to sleep with a sleep spell. This doesn't add up. How could a magical being powerful enough to survive a death curse be so easily put to sleep?

...unless Roger is just that powerful? I seem to remember now that a mention in one of the Immortals books that some humans are powerful enough to pose a threat. Now I'll have to look that up...

Yes, what you're seeing since the spoiler alert is my actual train of thought, as I'm thinking it. Unedited. Admitting that I need to do more research before I complain that it really is a plot hole. :)

In conclusion...

This is my rambling post about how the quartet isn't quite what I rememebred, but I'm having fun. And having of which (about Pounce) will have me looking up info in the later Tortall books. :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fourth wall and other stuff

...why does my book blog have more followers than my new regular blog? FYI, my main blog is no longer A College Girl's Days, it's Dancing With Fey at Just FYI.

Now, onto bookish stuff!

Nerdfighteria is reading Fahrenheit 451by Ray Bradbury this summer. (If you don't know what a Nerdfighter is, Google it.) All the copies are checked out in my local libraries, which is annoying but also a good problem to have. That means people are reading the book. But I did find that there is a graphic novel that I could get my hands on. I checked it out, figuring that it would give me something to do while I wait for the book book.

This isn't actually a review of the graphic novel by Tim Hamilton, but I will say that I enjoyed it. I just wanted to comment on something in the book, while making it clear that I'm referencing the graphic novel. Which is very faithful to the book (I's been a few years since I read it) but still wanted to mention that detail.


Specifically, I want to talk about the wife. And the stupid "family" of hers that lives on three walls of her living room. Or entertianment room. Or whatever it is.

She has a TV of sorts that takes up three walls of one room in her house. But she wants to get a fourth wall, saying "It'll be even more fun when we can afford to have the fourth wall installed" (20). Fourth wall, hmm...where have I heard that phrase before?

In the performing arts, the "fourth wall" is the barrier between the audience and the performers. By adding a fourth wall to her TV, the wife (whose name I cannot remember and am not looking up because it seems irrelevent) is enclosing herself inside her entertainment and will then have completely insulted herself from the real world.

She's already trying to insulate herself. When Guy is sick and needs help she isn't very interested in taking care of him. He requests that she turn her entertainment off and she responds "That's my family" (42). She finally agrees to turn it down. Later when Guy insists on sharing his books with her she says "Books aren't people. You read and I look around, but there isn't anybody! Now, my 'family' is people. They tell me things: I laugh, they laugh! And the colors! And besides, if captain Beatty knew about those books -- he might come and burn the house and the 'family.' That's awful!" (61) I'm not going to get into a discussion here about whether books are more real than TV, but it's pretty amazing that she considers her TV to be so real.

...I know this could do with some editing, but the purpose here is really just to get my thoughts down.


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