Book Review : Hay Fever

I recently finished Hay Fever: How Chasing a Dream on a Vermont Farm Changed My Life, a nonfiction book by Angela Miller. This autobiographical mini-memoir follows the adventures of a literary agent who purchases a goat farm with a dream of creating a top-notch goat cheese creamery.

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The book describes how Ms Miller decided to embark on the adventure of starting a cheese farm, and all the steps it took to get to a point of profitability. The chapters include anecdotes about farm upkeep, purchasing goats, breeding, milking, making cheese, and the struggles in selling the final product.

One thing I enjoyed about the book was the honesty of the author. She told stories, both good and bad, about the farm’s toils and troubles. One story that stuck out in my mind was an incident when they had a large shipment of cheese returned because the taste didn’t measure up to their usual quality. Or another incident where they sold some kids (baby goats) who were supposedly diagnosed with a terrible goat disease. These things aren’t exactly good publicity, but they do represent real things that can happen when trying to manage a farm.

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My biggest complaint about the book was a simple one: no pictures! This kind of story desperately needs a photo section. I would have loved to see pictures of the farm, the goats, and the people involved. The descriptions of the cheese making process would have meant more with photos of the milking barn, the cheese making equipment, the drying room, and the final cheese wheels. Luckily there are photos on their website, but I wish they had included some in the book as well.

Another small negative has nothing to do with the book itself, but with Ms Miller’s experiences. She started out as a successful professional in New York City, with tons of contacts and networks of wealthy, influential people. It seems that a lot of the early success of her farm may have been due to this (for example, getting the cheeses into fancy restaurants the very first year of operation, or having the farm mentioned in newspaper articles and TV shows), making it difficult for average folks to duplicate. So anyone looking to this book for a “how-to” on starting an artisan cheese making operation isn’t going to have a realistic view of what it takes to be successful. Most people start with far fewer advantages than this farm did and will have to work a lot harder to make it.

Overall, I enjoyed Hay Fever as a light nonfiction piece. I wouldn’t recommend it as a how-to type book, but it’s an interesting read if you’ve ever been curious about what running a working dairy farm is like.


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Into the Labyrinth chapters 39-48 (end)

Today I read the final stretch of “Into the Labyrinth”! The stakes are ramping up in this penultimate book!

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“At his age and with his looks, he probably doesn’t get invited to a lot of parties.”  Ok, I’m getting tired of people ragging on Xar for his looks. He’s a hundred year old dude who has probably fought for his life like a zillion times. He’s not going to be a Calvin Klein model here.

– Speaking of Xar’s appearance, it’s funny that none of the mensch even mention the Patryn tattoos. I’m sure he’s wearing robes that cover most of his body, but they should still be able to see the backs of his hands, his neck, and his forehead, which are all tattooed. I’m assuming that’s how Aleatha was able to connect him with Haplo in the first place.

– No way Zifnab is really dead! I get the feeling he has eternal plot armor due to his comic relief role. No one who breaks the fourth wall that much is actually in danger of dying.

– The name “Kari” is forever ruined for me because of The Incredibles. It will always remind me of a scatter-brained teenage babysitter. 😉

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– Ah, so Drugar was transported to another citadel, not into the past as I had guessed. That makes perfect sense…I completely forgot about the other citadels! Duh.

– Nooooo Drugar! He deserved a happy ending the most out of all of them. ;_; At least he got to see his people again…

“Why indeed, traitor?” came a voice from the crowd. “Especially since your minion carries an ancient knife of foul magic, wrought by the Sartan for our destruction!” Haplo looked to see who had spoken. The voice sounded vaguely familiar…   It’s totally Sang-Drax. No one else in the Labyrinth could have known about the Cursed Knife.

Haplo soothed it [the dog] as best he could, patting it on the head and telling it that all was fine. He wished someone would pat him on the head, tell him the same thing.   I feel the same way sometimes! Though since the dog is part of Haplo, someone *is* patting him even as he wishes for it.

He [Alfred] asked questions, gabbled on about how brilliant it all was until Haplo wished for just one other possibility, and that was a window out of which he could throw Alfred. Lol! I’m just glad to hear about him doing something other than fainting or staring at his shoes.

Haplo was on his feet, staring at her. And suddenly she was in his arms, and he was in her arms, neither with any clear idea of how it happened. The dog, not to be left out, crowded between them.  Yet another thing that dogs actually do! My dog Chester loves turning a hug into a group hug that includes him! 😄

Alfred blushed. “I can take no credit for it.” He smiled faintly. “I met a man with a dog.”  You know, that would actually be a good ending line for the whole series!

“Be the hero of my own life,” Alfred repeated softly.   That’s actually really good real-life advice for all of us. Whoever you are, be the hero of your own life!

“Your…what you said. Friend,” Alfred said shyly. “Did I say that?” Haplo shrugged. “I must have been talking to the dog.” But he was smiling. “Yes Alfred, you are my friend.” Haplo held out his hand – the hand that was powerful, tattooed on the back with blue runes. Alfred extended his hand – white, shriveled, with knobby wrists and thin bones, its flesh cold and clammy with fear. The two hands met, clasped, gripped each other firmly.     AWWWWWWWWWWWW  Excuse me, my heart is melting. ❤

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– Ok, weird question…have the serpents always been grey? I swear I don’t remember them ever being described that way. I imagined them being red all over… *shrug* I also remember when they were first introduced on Chelestra, their eyes were green AND red, now the eyes are just described as red.

– Whoa, Xar’s arrival at the end completely surprised me. I was so wrapped up in the battle that I forgot all about him!

Xar’s voice was cold. “I return to Abarrach.” He looked with satisfaction on Haplo. “To the necromancy.”  Noooo, Haplo! I’m hoping my theory about the dog being able to “store” his soul is right. I know the dog will have something to do with saving him, because the writers mention over and over that Xar and Haplo had it with them.

The lord spoke the runes; a sigil formed in the air. The flaring rune struck Marit, slashed across her forehead.  Welp, so much for that godawful marriage! Good.

~

Aaaand that’s it for Into the Labyrinth! Only one book left to go!


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Into the Labyrinth chapters 19-38

Time for chapters 19-38 of Into the Labyrinth. In this installment, we finally get to the $#@* Labyrinth! 🙂

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-I’m intrigued by the possible romance between Aleatha and Drugar. An elf/dwarf romance is a lot rarer and more interesting than elf/human. Especially considering how shallow these elves are in general, and Aleatha in particular. Though to be honest I’d rather see Drugar end up on one of the other worlds, where he can be with other dwarves.

“Dukes ate mackinaw” I’m assuming this means “deus ex machina”. (Confirmed a few pages later)

– A-ha! I knew Zifnab’s dragon wasn’t just an ordinary dragon. It’s able to take other shapes, like the “imposing man all in black”. Or is that it’s true form and the dragon form is an alternate? Who is this guy? Will we ever find out?

“Did that Haplo send you here?”  Sang-drax hastily intervened. “This is Xar. Lord Xar. The man Haplo is my lord’s subject. My lord sent Haplo. Haplo did not send my lord.”  Good job preventing a tantrum, Sangy! I can just see the vein popping out anime-style on Xar’s forehead.

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– Is it just me, or does the conversation between Zifnab and the dragon-man sound a bit…suggestive? What exactly is this “warming drink” business about, because it sounds like something other than tea is involved. (Or do I just have a dirty mind?)

“The Sartan’s only concern is for Haplo.”  Awwww. They’re obviously friends now, even if neither one will openly admit it.

“And to think I’ve been worrying about you in the Labyrinth all this time, picturing you dead or worse.”  “You were concerned about me?” Alfred asked.   Awww again! BFFs.

The dog came trotting up. Tail wagging, tongue lolling, it started toward her, as if it had found a friend. Marit threw her dagger at it.   Marit, don’t make me come into that book and kick your ass. 😡 Respect the dog!

– Yay, finally! The Labyrinth!

“And there are none of our people know living, who started at the First Gate and made it all the way through to the end.”  Yikes! This part of the Labyrinth must feel very creepy. Lost in time, almost.

The Sartan…had left behind innumerable volumes, some of which must contain something other than their constant whining – complaints about how tough things were, how awful their lives had become. He grew irritated every time he tried to read one.  You know, Xar has annoyed me with his accusations of “whining” in the past, but in this case I think he’s justified. Hearing the Sartan complain about their equivalent of first-world problems while his own people were being slaughtered in a hellish prison *would* actually qualify as whining.

“…and then Xar saw the madness. It dropped like a final curtain, dousing the memories, putting out the fires, clouding over the red-hot skies, blotting out the horror.”   I’ve wondered this whole time if Zifnab was really crazy or if he was just pretending, but I guess that answers the question.

What if the old man was right? What if Sang-Drax was a traitor?  Wait, you refused to believe Haplo a bazillion times, but *one* conversation with Zifnab and now you believe? WTF dude? Is it because he’s a Sartan…which means you trust your enemy over one of your own? Out of every character, you make me headdesk the most, Xar. 😛

Haplo remembered clearly what a wonder Alfred was at leaping across chasms.  Lol

“Alfred,” Haplo said quietly, “I need you.”  Awwwwwwwwwwww

A sturdy limb running up the back of his frock coat supported him like a second – and in Alfred’s case firmer – backbone.  Pfffft lol. Poor Alfred. I was hoping he would get some confidence before the series was over, but there isn’t much time left. He seemed to be getting a little tougher when he was with the other Sartan on Chelestra, but being cast into the Labyrinth (and losing Orla) seems to have undone that growth.

The dog began to grow…and then it was looking down at its master, tongue lolling, bathing them all in a rain of slobber.  Have I mentioned that I love Dog? I LOVE DOG.

Hugh the Hand gave Haplo a quizzical glance. “You people could take over the world.”  *nervous laugh* Right on the nose there, Hugh.

– I’m surprised to see Patryns here at the First Gate. You would think that this part of the Labyrinth would be deserted, since presumably everyone would have moved on long ago as more gates were cleared. I hope we get to learn more about these guys and their signal fire. And they said someone sent them…who?

– So Drugar’s rune took him on a trip…to the past, perhaps? The dwarf with the mug mentioned Pryan, so it can’t be a different world. The past is my guess at the moment.

– The whole sequence of Alfred trying to lay down and get comfortable had me grinning.

~

That’s it for now! Tonight’s reading should take me to the end of this book, and the final cliffhanger of the series!


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Into the Labyrinth – chapters 1-18

Time to crack open book 6 of the Death Gate Cycle! Here we go with chapters 1-18 of Into the Labyrinth.

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-“Abarrach: World of stone, world of darkness”  Arrakis…Dune…desert planet

-“But how to worm it out of the corpse?” Ha! I see what you did there.

-As horrible as Abarrach is to live in, as a reader it’s nice to be back here. I think this is my favorite of the four worlds.

-“The catacombs were a depressing place in a world of depressing places.”  I like this line.

-How mad would Xar be if he got wet with the magic-eating seawater? His whole opinion of himself revolves around how powerful he is. I can’t imagine the tantrum if his magic was taken away!

-“I would take you into the Labyrinth. I would let you hold the dying children as I have held them.”  Xar is an interesting character, because in spite of his arrogance and lust for power, he does seem to genuinely care for his people. He seems to have at least part of his anger coming from the tragedy of the Patryns trapped in the Labyrinth…not as much as Haplo, of course, but it’s clearly *part* of his true motivation. He’s not just evil for evil’s sake.

-“Xar stared hard and suspiciously at the hat, thinking it might be a hidden source of power. He received the odd impression that it was sulking.”  Zifnab has the Sorting Hat, doesn’t he? He probably personally borrowed it from Godric Gryffindor. 😄 Come to think of it, if this book had been published a year later, Zifnab probably would have made Harry Potter references in the text!

-“Pity about Bane.”  Not really, hahahaha

-I’m really suprised that Xar used Samah as a “test run” for his first resurrection. You’d think he would be way too important to risk messing it up. Sure, Xar didn’t have a lot of choices, but still. If I play devil’s advocate and think of what to do in his place, I would send a Patryn to one of the other worlds to grab a mensch or two to practice on while Samah pickled a bit.

-“…he added in wheedling tones.”  Oh Xar, you’ve fallen so far. Wheedling? Didn’t you just sneer at Haplo about “whining” not too long ago?

-“But I’m beginning to believe these dragon-snakes have their own goals, which may or may not coincide with mine.”  …REALLY? YOU JUST NOW FIGURED THAT OUT? AFTER HAPLO TOLD YOU THAT EXACT THING LIKE 5 TIMES? #headdesk

-I’m surprised that Samah exited the story so quickly. I thought he would be a major player from now till the end. :O

-“She walked through halls still stained with blood…the blood was Sartan blood, blood of their enemies, so the Patryns had made no attempt to remove it, left it splattered on the walls and floors.”  I love the Patryns. 😄 They’re such edgelords.

-So, Marit is Haplo’s old flame from the Labyrinth days. I was wondering if we would see her again…though to be honest, I’m way more curious about their child.

-I am VERY THANKFUL that we didn’t have to endure a sex scene between a young woman and a bazillion year old man. Hooray for the ravages of time and lack of Viagra!

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-“And if I deem that Haplo must die, you will be the one to slay him.”  Wait, *if* you decide that Haplo must die? Dude, you already made this decision last book. Or are you having second thoughts about having your almost-son walk around as a smelly corpse?

-It appears that Xar had the ability to rune-join with people this whole time, so it’s interesting that he didn’t do this with Haplo in the first place. He possibly could have avoided Haplo turning against him if they had been in constant contact through the events of the past five books. The text even mentions that it doesn’t have to be a hetero union, since Xar asked Marit if she had ever joined with “any man or woman”. It feels obvious to me that he joined with Marit specifically to avoid having her go rogue like Haplo did. I wonder if he regrets not doing it the first time.

-I totally visualize Ciang as Tilda Swinton’s character in Dr Strange.

-“And she couldn’t very well find out from his corpse.”  Well, not on *this* world, anyway…

-“The tools of death created their own darkness.”  Another line I just like.

-“The knife…appears to have been forged by a human. It is ugly and misshapen…” Hey, what’s that supposed to mean? As a human, I can’t help but feel a bit insulted.

-“And she knew it was the weariness of despair – a weariness that could be deadly in the Labyrinth. It meant you didn’t care anymore. It meant you found a quiet place and lay down and died.”  ARTAX, NO!

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-Poomonia? I’m assuming that’s spelled like that on purpose?

-“Let go of the past. Reach out to the future with both hands. It will be a good one for you and your people.”  Haplo says this to Jarre, but I can’t help thinking that he’s also saying it to himself. That’s what the Patryns need to do…once they’re free from the Labyrinth, they need to move on and re-establish a new life instead of obsessing with revenge.

-“The scrift-bosses appeared in their midst and immediately began bossing, which was what they’re supposed to do, so no one minded.”  LOL. Great line.

-I love every word of the section from the dog’s point of view. They really captured a dog’s personality and thinking processes (ok, this one is a lot smarter than average, but you know what I mean).

-“And while doors and walls had not stopped the dog when it was going to rescue its master, such obstacles might well stop it from sneaking inside to steal sausages.”  This is a really interesting bit of info! It gives us a little insight into the dog’s powers; apparently it can accomplish magical things when it really matters, but not on any old whim. It’s also interesting that the dog actually thinks about its abilities and judges whether or not to use them, instead of things just automatically happening on instinct. Of course we already know the dog isn’t a real dog, but it’s still cool to get some details about how the magic works.

-“I bore her. Alone. In a squatter’s hut.” “A girl-child?”  Yay, Haplo’s kid is a girl! 😀

-Poor Haplo. I was expecting him to be heartbroken when he learned that Xar wanted him dead, but at this point he’s so wounded and tired I don’t think he cares too much. Poor guy. I want to hug him. ;_;

That’s it for today! More later!

Throwback Thursday – Bunnicula

It’s #ThrowbackThursday! I’d like to share one of my absolute favorite book series from childhood: Bunnicula!

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This fun children’s series, written by James Howe (and Deborah Howe on the first book), is about a family of pets, told from the animal’s point of view. I adore anything fuzzy (or scaly, feathery, etc), so talking animal books always appealed to me as a kid. These stories are about Bunnicula, a bunny rabbit with black markings that look like a cape and a talent for sucking the juice out of vegetables. Though the vampire bunny is the title character, its the other  main characters, a shaggy dog named Harold, a cat named Chester, and a dachshund puppy named Howie, who are the real stars.

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One of the things that drew me to this series is the fact that Harold and Chester get along. I love both cats and dogs, and I hate that they’re usually made bitter enemies. But while Chester may be a bit testy at times, he and Harold are friends and partners and always solve mysteries and protect their family together. In fact, I love the characters so much that my current dog is named Chester, after the cat. Sorry, I wasn’t naming a dog “Harold”! 😉

My favorite of the books is the second one, “Howliday Inn”. In this story, Harold and Chester are boarded at a kennel, and get caught up in a murder mystery (no actual death, of course). I read this book so many times that it’s nearly falling apart!

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It looks like there were a few more books in the series published after I was out of childhood. Sometime when I’m feeling whimsical I might grab a copy and check them out. 😉

Do you have any book series that you loved as a child?

(Illustrations by Leslie Morrill and Lynn Munsinger)


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Wizarding World Book Club

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I just heard about this: the Wizarding World Book Club, which will start in June over on Pottermore. It involves reading one Harry Potter book a month and joining in on some fresh discussion of each one. Sounds pretty cool!

I think I’m going to sign up and do it. It’s been ages since I read the series, so it’s about time for a re-read anyway. I was a HUGE fan of HP back in the day! Is anyone else going to participate?

P.S. Holy crap it’s been 20 years since the first HP book! :O


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Death Gate Cycle fanart roundup!

Even though I’m not done with the series, I got tired of waiting and went on a Death Gate fanart hunt. I love fanart in general, and book fanart is special because we (usually) don’t have any pre-made visuals to go on. You get to see each artist’s own unique interpretations of the characters, which is super fun! 😄

I’m posting thumbnails of some of my favorites here; click the picture to go the the artist’s full size version, or click the link to their gallery for more great art!

This art is completely gorgeous. *_* This would make a great poster! (Belegilgalad’s gallery)

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Also by Belegilgalad, some sketches of Alfred. I love the animated movie style of these!dg2

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I *love* this one! It’s the scene in Hand of Chaos where Haplo takes charge of the elven ship.  (Crowscribbles’ gallery)

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Hooooly crap…this is one fantastic piece of photo-realistic artwork. Amazing! (Melusaaste’s gallery)

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Another incredible piece by Melusaaste, featuring Hugh and Bane. The artist captured Bane’s “cute but evil” look really well!

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I have a special affection for this piece, because their drawing of Haplo is the closest I’ve seen to my own mental image. I also love Alfred’s goofy clothes, which are exactly as described in the books. (Glockart’s Livejournal)

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Hooray for minor characters! I love this fun drawing of Grundle, Alake, and Devon from Serpent Mage. Check out Grundle’s cute side whiskers! (Sarapsys’ gallery)

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Words cannot express how much I adore this Haplo. SO CUTE! 😄 (TheHappySatan’s tumblr)

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That’s it for now! I’ll be on the lookout for more art, especially if I can get Elfwood loading…right now I get a 504 gateway error. ;_; Considering the age of the books, there’s bound to be more art on there, if I can get it to function!


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Shannara Chronicles Review

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I recently binge-watched season 1 of The Shannara Chronicles on Netflix. I’ve never read the original books, so I came to this show with no previous knowledge other than knowing it was in the fantasy genre. It’s a bit surprising to see that the series was produced for MTV, since adaptations of nerdy books don’t instinctively seem to fit in MTV’s style. But fantasy has been rising in popularity lately (yay), and I’m not too picky about who pays the bills as long as they try to make a genuinely good adaptation!

The story of Shannara Chronicles, adapted from The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks, revolves around the death and rebirth of a magical tree called the Ellcrys. As the tree dies, it slowly releases an army of demons from an Elven prison, where they had been successfully bound decades before. To prevent the demon army from wreaking havoc on the world, an elven princess, a half-elf healer, and a human bandit must journey together to empower a magical seed that will rejuvenate the tree and keep the demon horde at bay.

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It’s inevitable that this show will be compared to the two biggest fantasy adaptations of our time, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. Shannara Chronicles seems to fit right in between the two. It’s definitely not as dirty and gruesome as GoT, either in content or appearance. But it does have a few distinctive made-for-MTV qualities about it, such as the modern songs that occasionally play in the background, or certain design choices (like Wil’s beanie), and the “everyone must be super-attractive” casting. It has some LotR similarities in the overall look and feel of the world, especially the elves, as well as the changes made to update an older story for a modern audience.

One of those changes most likely had to do with gender. I was pleasantly surprised at the involvement of the female characters, considering the age of the book. I don’t expect miracles out of a 30+ year old novel. 🙂  I glanced over the wikipedia summary of the plot, and it seems that many of the female roles were beefed up a bit, especially Eretria. I’m pleased with the result. All of the characters, regardless of gender, seemed to be meaningful contributors to the story, which is definitely a good thing!

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Visually, the show looks pretty good. The settings and costumes are nice; they looked reasonably realistic, but not as grim-n-gritty as GoT. Occasionally there was a set that looked a little derivative, particularly the “gathering of the demons” scenes, which looked very similar to the orcs assembling in Mordor. One small complaint I have is that there seemed to be too many identifiable remnants of the pre-apocalyptic world. It was stated that 3000 years have passed since the apocalypse, yet there are still rusty cars and paper-decorated high school gymnasiums standing around looking only a century old at most. Three thousand years is a looooong time, too long for much of anything other than stone to still be standing.

The pacing seemed a bit fast, which isn’t surprising considering that an entire book was adapted into only 10 episodes. I had no trouble following the plot, but a few of the characters, particularly Bandon, felt kind of thin because we didn’t get a lot of time to get to know them. The deaths might have had a bit more emotional impact if we had more time to get attached to the characters.

Overall, I enjoyed season 1 of Shannara Chronicles and I’m looking forward to the next season (which has already begun filming). I hope the show is successful, and helps pave the way for more fantasy adaptations!


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Hand of Chaos, chapters 34-46 (end)

The last few chapters of Hand of Chaos! The finale awaits…
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-“I want to be king.” Bane said.  Yeah, I bet you do, Joffrey Jr!

-“Our weapons are courage, honor, the determination to defend what is right.” …and yet you happily live in a society that has slavery. Obviously “what is right” has a unique definition, according to elves…

-“Funny how things work out.” Yeah, funny how things just “happen” to work out in a carefully crafted fictional story. 😉

-“Speaking of souls, where is yours?” “Where’s my *what*?” “Your soul. We know you have one, but it’s not with you.”  YES, finally the dog gets an explanation! And it *is* like a daemon. So, the dog first appeared when Haplo was about to give up and die at the last gate in the Labyrinth. Somehow his soul manifested into the dog, which encouraged him to live and keep fighting. And when Haplo was tortured by Xar, the dog was banished away until Haplo was able to rediscover the goodness in himself again. So now I’m wondering what the future holds for dear doggie…will he eventually be reabsorbed back into Haplo? Or stick around as a lifelong companion/conscience? Maybe if Hugh is successful in his kill, the dog can hold Haplo’s soul for him so he won’t have to die permanently.

-“Forget the damn ferns!” Lol. I’m glad Haplo’s core personality doesn’t change as he gets more goodguy-ish. 😄

-And there’s the scene on the cover! The actual description of Krishach is a little more dead and skeletal and horrible than the one on the cover, but I suppose you have to make some concessions to “shelf appeal”. But like I said before, I’m happy any time the cover actually depicts something from the book!

-My theory for the Kenkari mystery book: instructions for the Kicksey-winsey to complete the line-everything-up-and-geyser-it plan. Which means the elves could have fixed the world all along, but didn’t.

-“Rees’ahn promised to stop the practice of using human slaves to power his elven dragonships.” About time. The non-reaction everyone seemed to have to the slavery going on was kind of disturbing. Even the other humans didn’t seem to care.

-The description of the dog being forced onto the dragon. Poor pup! And poor handlers too…having worked in an animal hospital, I can tell you that even a medium-sized dog can put up a spectacular fight when it REALLY doesn’t want to do something. I have vivid memories of two or three kennel attendants piled on top of a dog, trying to hold it still for a simple nail trim.

-“You must tell Haplo, when he’s dying, that Xar is the one who wants him dead. Will you remember that name? Xar is the one who says Haplo must die.”  I. HATE. THIS. #@^$#. KID. *flips all the tables*

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-“Xar will understand. He’ll have to understand.” Poor, sweet, innocent Haplo. Xar’s not going to understand. 😦

-“Hawse-hole” Lookie there, I learned a new vocabulary word.

-Yay, Bane insists on taking Dog with him. Good. Dog is the best. Dog will fix everything!

-YEEEESSSS BANE IS DEAD!!!!!!!! HALLELUJAH! PARTY TIME! IF ANY NECROMANCER COMES NEAR, KICK HIM INTO NEXT WEEK. BURN THE BODY ASAP. WHOOOO-HOOO!

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-So resurrecting Hugh caused Bane to die? Fine with me! Thanks, Alfred, you’re a bro. ❤

-“bumbling friend” Yay, Haplo is now openly admitting that he’s fond of Alfred.

-Limbeck’s spectacle chase reminds me of the scene near the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, when they were all scrabbling for the jewel on the nightclub floor.

-“Jarre reached into one of Limbeck’s baggy pockets, pulled out a sheaf of ink-stained paper, and, removing the sandwich, handed the speech to Limbeck.” Ok, this made me laugh.

-“Remember to fulfill the condition you promised. Tell Haplo that Xar is the one who wants him dead.” Really, Kenkari? You don’t think it’s a little weird that your god would give you an order like that? Poor Haplo. Why does everyone want you to suffer?

Whew, reading the climax of a book is kind of exhausting, isn’t it? This wasn’t among my favorites in the series, but it was still a pretty good read (especially the part where Bane bites it, bwahahaha). Next up, “Into the Labyrinth.” I’ve been waiting for a chance to get a good look at the Labyrinth and the Patryns, so I’m excited about this one!


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Hand of Chaos chapters 23-34

Time for reactions to chapters 23-34 of Hand of Chaos. In this episode, I pine for non-existent Haplo and head-desk over Iridal!

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-The “grise” is a nice worldbuilding touch. A world where water is scarce would naturally require finding alternative ways to keep clean. (Random fun fact: in ancient Greece and Rome, before soap was discovered, people would clean themselves with olive oil. They would rub it on their skin to loosen dirt and sweat, then scrape it off with a tool called a strigil.)

-So, Alfred resurrected Hugh…I’m glad it was pointed out that he doesn’t remember doing it, because that otherwise that makes his reactions to the necromancy on Abarrach seem odd and a bit hypocritical. My question: if resurrecting Bane caused Hugh to die, who died because of resurrecting Hugh?

-“give me a few barls and a bowl of soup” Speaking of a world where water is scarce, wouldn’t that make soup a bit of a luxury? I consulted Google to see if real life desert cultures commonly ate soup back in the day, and I couldn’t find much info (lots of modern recipes, but nothing about pre-modern customs).

-“There’s not enough barls in the world that could pay me to march into the heart of the enemy empire and fetch back that little–” The flare of her rainbow eyes warned him not to proceed.  Poor Iridal, she has no idea about her monster of a child. Whatever Hugh was going to call Bane, it probably wasn’t strong enough.

-Iridal promising the dragon a treat when they got home…I can only imagine what would qualify as a dragon treat. A whole goat? A side of beef? A person?

-Where is Haplo? Seriously, he’s almost absent in this book so far. I’m enjoying the story, but this is a long time to go without the main character.

-“The guards played at rune-bone”  Is this the same rune-bone they played on Abarrach? I thought that was a Sartan game, since presumably humans wouldn’t have enough knowledge of Patryn runes to make a game out of them. Maybe it’s an earlier version of the game, with the same ruleset but using symbols other than Patryn ones.

-There’s a whole paragraph in the conversation between Iridal and the Ancient about how amazing Hugh’s knife skills are. We already know he’s an ace assassin, so I wonder if specifically emphasizing the knife talent (how he can kill someone and no one even notices they are dead) will be important later…

-“And the cold eyes, that never met Hugh straight on, had a peculiar cast to them, a red glint that Hugh found disconcerting.”  Uh-oh. The serpent Illuminati are everywhere!

-Is it really wise to injure the dominant hand of an assassin as an initiation? I mean, a blade cutting deep enough to hit bone would likely cause serious damage to the hand; there are tons of important tendons, ligaments, and nerves in there. At the very least they could use the non-dominant hand in case something was irreparably damaged. Of course, this is a world with magic, so maybe they could heal it anyway?

-Finally we get to Haplo again!

-I thought at first that the ultra-clumsy elf merchant who was desperate for his fruit shipment was Alfred in disguise, until I remembered that Alfred is in the Labyrinth right now.

-The Kenkari are the first decent elves we’ve encountered on Arianus. It’s a nice change, cause most of these elves SUCK.

-“Bane would be her redemption, hers and Sinistrad’s. All the evil his parents had done – his by commission, hers by omission – would be expurgated by their child.”  Wow. Iridal, you REAAAAALLLLYYY don’t know your kid, do you? Yikes.

-When Hugh puts on the Unseen clothes, which cover everything but his hands… uh-oh. That’s bound to be significant later.

-“He sent me this. I’ve been in contact with him.” You know, Iridal, I’ve been *trying* to be nice to you because of your tragic life and all, but this is the last straw. You are way too gullible. Trusting Bane = everyone getting f***ed. Holy shit.

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-“The dog fell back obediently, though it continued to eye Hugh, its head cocked to one side, as if it couldn’t quite figure out what this new game was but would go along since they were old comrades.”  Aww, Dog is so cute. ❤

Oof, I have to stop there. I really want to read more, but I need to leave a decent enough chunk for the next reading session. This book is almost gone!