Monday, September 30, 2013

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett Read Along Part 3

If you haven't read the book, or the whole series, why not join in and read along with the rest of us? This week the links to the other posts can be found at Dab of Darkness.

This week we read through to the end of the book.

1) What did you think of Annagramma's blunderings and then her reveal to Tiffany about her parentage?

Anna is a perfect example of someone who is so chronically insecure that they can only feel good about themselves by putting everyone else down. She is obviously very embarrassed about her lowly background and now suffers from being a terrible snob. I have met quite a few people like that and I am afraid to say that learning of her background does not make me feel anymore sympathetic towards her because she is such an unpleasant person.

2) Lady Summer makes herself known in this section of the book. How did your impressions change with each time we saw her?

At first I thought that she was going to be vindictive and aggressive towards Tiffany, but that would have been a far too human response to the situation. I really liked the way that we came to understand her as we followed the Wintersmith on his journey towards being human. In the end we came to understand that they were both incapable of understanding the human condition, which made it much easier to relate to their mindset.

3) Ah, the Cornucopia, the Horn of Plenty. Was it all you expected? What would you ask from the Cornucopia if you had it for a day?

I had never expected a Cornucopia to be quite so useful as a weapon, but it did pretty much what I expected. I loved the way that it could learn languages and the scene with You and the chickens was pure genius: at least it did not splat out tons of cat food!

As for what I would ask for . . . I have a favorite restaurant, which is in Rome, Italy, and I have not been there for three years now, which is a crying shame. I would love to have some of my favorite dishes from their menu – the marinated anchovies, spaghetti alla carbonara, pasta with chickpeas, baked lamb, calf liver, roasted porchini, zucchini, seasonal greens, gelato and various desserts. All washed down with a jug of the house red . . . sigh . . .

Ok, total geek out moment – I stuck the restaurante’s name into Google and they now have their own website!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so happy I could almost cry!!!!!! Take a look at Antica Boheme and you will see some of the food that I dream about! The opera music is because they are just across the street from the Teatro Dell’Opera and it is a favorite eating spot for the artists that appear there.

4) Werk, werk, werk. So many chickens! Which is worse: 5 kilted Feegles hiding under your bed or a house full of chickens? What would you do with so many of the feathered egg-laying manure factories?

I cannot imagine that just five Feegles would be much trouble, but this is a tough decision . . . at least they could get themselves out of the house and I assume that they do not poo all over the place at random. On the other hand, the chickens are useful and tasty: I have friends who keep chickens already, so I could probably find homes for them and enjoy lots of fresh eggs in the future.  However, on balance I would take the Feegles, because chicken poo is horribly smelly and would do terrible things to my hardwood flooring! :D

5) The winter was a harsh one, with wolves in the ice tunnels. However, Mistress Weatherwax put a stop to the wolves but never said how. What do you think she did?

I imagine that she just gave them a long, hard stare, which was enough to make them slink back to wherever they came from. My other suggestion is even more terrifying: perhaps she simply let You have ago at them . . .

6) The immortal who tried to make himself into a man: did you enjoy the Wintersmith's attempts to make himself a man?

As always, Sir Terry takes traditional themes and turns them on their heads or rewrites the usual ending. So often we see elementals like the Wintersmith anthropomorphized and made into a very human character but here we see that this is an impossible outcome. It is such a joy to see gods and other mystical creatures or forces of nature as truly inhuman and unable to think as we do. It also allows quite a lot of humor: I particularly loved the scene related by the barmaid of him eating a sausage. In many ways, the Wintersmith was somewhat similar to the Hiver in his desire to be human and also in his total inability to understand what that meant.

7) Granny Weatherwax tests Rob Anybody's spelling and then sets him a heroic task. Do you think she was right to set that in motion or do you think someone else would have come up with the same idea?

I thought it was fairly obvious that Roland was going to be the Hero in this story, although I was not sure what he would be needed to do. It was also obvious that Tiffany was too fixated with the Wintersmith to even think about releasing the Summer Lady, and the Lady’s taunts did not exactly help with that. Without Roland and the Feegles, the Lady would have remained dormant and the balance would not have been restored, so it made perfect sense that she had to be rescued.

I loved the scene where Rob called the book on accountancy – I cannot imagine a book that would require more of an heroic effort to read it all the way through! :D

8) Finally, did you applaud Tiffany's solution to the Wintersmith dilemma? Did you find the ending satisfactory?

As with the Hiver, Tiffany made the Wintersmith finally understand that it could never really be human, so that was a satisfying ending. I also enjoyed Roland’s transformation into a proper Hero and the brave decision to show that Tiffany could not handle everything by herself. The fact that she was totally blind to everything except the Wintersmith was appropriate because she was more than a little in love with him. It also fits into Sir Terry’s usual template, where his heroes are not perfect, all-powerful beings, but simply humans with some extra talents.

However, I was a little disappointed by the ending because it was over too quickly. There was so much build up that I would have liked to see it drawn out a bit longer. This was possibly more of a problem because Sir Terry did not choose to repeat the beginning of the book in any way. Roland’s journey through the Underworld was excellent and atmospheric, but seemed a little rushed, as did the final confrontation with the Wintersmith. I suppose that it did not help that I felt no real fear for Tiffany. Having seen her defeat the Hiver and travel through the world of Death, it was very difficult to imagine that she could ever be in true danger. Ultimately this reduced the impact of the ending because it did not carry the emotional rollercoaster ride that was needed.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan: Week 8

If you haven't read the book, or the whole series, why not join in and read along with the rest of us? This week the links to the other posts can be found at Dab of Darkness

This week we read through to the end of Chapter 49.

1. Seems like Mat has made himself the unwilling hero of the day, now with his personal army. What's in the future for him? Will he ever come to terms with his fate?

I can only assume that he will become an important General in Rand’s ever-increasing army. As more nations join the Dragon in his fight against the Dark One, it will be important to have someone with a great deal of military experience to offer advice, and Mat seems to be fulfilling that role. Also, it will be useful to have someone that Rand can trust completely and who is not seen as belonging to any of the various nations. Rand would cause all kinds of problems if he raised a member of one nation above the others, so Mat gives him a good way around that issue as well.

At the moment it does not look like Mat is happy to accept his fate, but that will not prevent it from happening. If I were his friend I would advise him to just make the best of the situation and resign himself to role that the Pattern has selected for him. However, I am not sure that Mat will ever be happy about the responsibility that he is being forced to accept, but if Han Solo can become all respectable and dependable then I am sure that Mat can do it a well.

2. Three books later, and we're back in Cairhien. How did Rand handle the nobles? Who do you think he means to put on the Sun Throne?

Although I applaud Rand for treating the Tairens with quite a bit of contempt, I am not sure that it is such a great idea to give them any excuse to rebel against him. I suppose that they are still terrified of him, and his massive army of Aiel will keep them in check for some time to come, but I worry that they will scheme against him and that he will eventually have rebellion and obstructive behavior to deal with. However, I am not sure that they understand any other form of leadership.

As for the Cairhienin, they seem to be genuinely won over by this slight against the unwanted Tairen presence in their city. I can understand why they would be worried that he intended to keep them subservient to those sent to offer them ‘aid’, so his announcements would reassure them that Cairhien would return to being an independent state. This alone should win him plenty of support amongst them for the short term.

I have a sneaking suspicion that he intends to place Elayne upon the Sun Throne. I am not quite sure where that idea comes from. Perhaps there was some mention of Morgase being a possible contender for it earlier in the series. As with Mat above, Elayne would be someone that Rand could trust implicitly and, as a non-Cairhienin, she would not divide the nation as would surely happen if he selected one noble over another.   

3. With two nations and the Aiel behind him, Rand should be more than a match for anyone. Who is next?

I expect that he is headed to Caemlyn next. We know that Morgase has ‘vanished’ and I am sure that this has become common knowledge by now. It makes perfect sense that Rand wants to either return Morgase to the Lion Throne or hold it for Elayne. Either way, he will need to deal with ‘Lord Gaebril’ and remove him from power. I can see this being a personal priority for Rand, because of Elayne, but it also makes good strategic sense because Andor adjoins Cairhien.

After that, I am not sure. I doubt that he will need to subdue the Borderlands as they are likely to rally to his banner anyway. We know that Faile’s father is wandering about somewhere with an army from Saldaea, so we may encounter him sooner rather than later, although I suspect that he is riding to The Two Rivers and will actually join with Perrin’s forces. This would mean that Rand would hold everything directly to the west of The Spine of the World, apart from Tar Valon. This would be a relatively strong position for advancing into Illian, Murandy, Altara and further west.

4. This moodiness and snapping from Elayne and Nynaeve, is it from the pressure of hiding or something else? Maybe some of the female audience can chime in…

To me they sound like sisters bickering, or perhaps I should say that they sound like my sister and me when we had to live together and were constantly arguing. Now that we live apart we get on very well and never argue at all, but all that enforced proximity can get very wearing. This is especially true once you get to know each other very well, because you start to be aware of those annoying little habits that the other person has and begin to anticipate them, so that when they happen it is even more infuriating. In short, I think they have got to know each other so well that they are no longer on their best behavior and allow themselves to get angry with each other. That is all the feminine wisdom I can offer!

Obviously, I cannot comment on how men cope when they are cooped up together for prolonged periods . . . but if my husband is anything to go by, it involves copious amounts of farting and lots of toilet humor . . .

5. Looks like Nynaeve sparked quite the mess by having both Galad and Masema look for a boat. Was this at all avoidable?

I guess it could have been avoided if Nynaeve had not spoken to both men, but I can understand why she asked Masema for help as he is in a position of power. The addition of Galad’s ‘good intentions’ was the real problem: he was completely oblivious to all the pain and suffering that he had caused by his actions. I can now see why Elayne and Gawyn are so critical of him. How many people were killed, injured, made homeless, etc. because of his refusal to act quietly and without stirring up trouble? It appeared that Masema had forgotten all about his promise, but I am quite sure that Thom, Juilin, Uno and the gang could have ‘persuaded’ the captain to take them along for a nice boat trip.

6. Who do you think could take Galad on in a swordfight?

Not many people, to be honest. Probably Lan, who seems to be the best swordsman that we have seen and is a bonded Warder as well, which might help. Other than that, I would have to guess that Rand could possibly match him in skill with a sword, but might not win in a straight fight with no channeling involved. Mat and Perrin might best him if they could fight with their chosen weapons, as could some of the Aiel, such as Rhuarc, if they could bring themselves to fight a swordsman. Oh, and I bet Loial could give a good thumping with his staff, but he would not want to do it and would keep apologizing all the time! :)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

SSS Extra: Celtic Moon by Jan DeLima

Celtic Moon finally hit the bookshelves on Tuesday, which was quite a surreal “Squeee!!” moment.

You can follow Jan’s exploits on her blog:

And several websites highlighted the book this week:


Sue's Saturday Suggestions #67

Interesting Books

Cursed by S.J. Harper, review at Fangs For The Fantasy

Meet FBI Agents Emma Monroe and Zack Armstrong.
She's cursed. He's damned. Together, they make one hell of a team.

Emma Monroe is a Siren, cursed by the gods and bound to earth to atone for an ancient failure. She’s had many names and many lives, but only one mission: redemption. Now that she works missing persons cases for the FBI, it could be just a rescue away. Unless her new partner leads her astray.

Special Agent Zack Armstrong just transferred into the San Diego Field Office. He’s a werewolf, doing his best to beat back the demons from his dark and dangerous past. As a former Black Ops sniper, he’s taken enough lives. Now he’s doing penance by saving them.

Emma and Zack’s very first case draws them deep into the realm of the paranormal, and forces them to use their own supernatural abilities. But that leaves each of them vulnerable, and there are lines partners should not cross. As secrets are revealed and more women go missing, one thing becomes clear: as they race to save the victims, Emma and Zack risk losing themselves.

I have listed these titles in earlier SSS posts: check out my SSS Books Page for links to more reviews:

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, review at Escaping one Book At A Time

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor, review at Books Without Any Pictures

The Grim Company by Luke Scull, review at On Starships and Dragonwings

Throne of Glass by Sara J. Maas, review at Rinn Reads


Over at Bookworm Blues, Sarah is Celebrating Female Authors

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