Libromancer's Apprentice

Libromancer's Apprentice

The reading habits of a bibliovore & Technology Services Librarian
More at libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com

Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : X. Of the Sindar
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien, Ted Nasmith,  Christopher Tolkien

We change gears for a bit, looking at the Sindar, those that started the "Great Journey," but who stayed in Beleriand instead of crossing the ocean.  After all, there's more than just Valinor.

I have to assume if you're reading The Silmarillion  you're at least vaguely familiar with The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.  But if you aren't, I hope that the fact that Tolkien makes specific mention of the birth of Lúthien stands out.  Spoiler, she's kind of a big deal, and not just because she's the daughter of the Maiar Melian and the Elven King Thingol.

The focus here is of the meeting of the Dwarves and the Elves, and what came of that meeting.  The
Elves experienced a bit of a shock on learning they were not the only creatures who spoke and crafted (Valar and Maiar excluded, of course).  The dirty secret being, of course, that the Dwarves predate the Elves, and were just in forced hibernation for awhile.  The Dwarves keep their secrets though, and learn the Elven tongue instead of sharing their own, and a cool friendship between the races grows.

However, having a Maiar to help guide your your King and entire Kingdom proves surprisingly beneficial.  I originally didn't include surprisingly... but then thought about the mess of things the Valar have been making, and decided that this did all work out surprisingly well.  She had the foresight to advise the building of a kingly stronghold against yet unrealized evil waking in Middle Earth, and to seek the skills of the Dwarves in the building.  From this the Dwarves learned knowledge and skills from Melian and gained great pearls from Thingol, and considered themselves well paid indeed.  From this a city is wrought from the labor of Elves and Dwarves alike, each bringing their skills together for a single purpose and so created Menegroth.

Time moves on, and during the Third Age of Melkor's captivity the Dwarves bring news to King Thingol that evil still lurks in the dark northern reaches, multiplying and roaming forth.  Kudos to Thingol for listening, had he not things would have turned out much darker.  So they were able to drive off the creatures of evil, and with a stocked armory against future trouble, and Menegroth became a place gathering of the scattered hosts of people.

The Sindar and the Dwarves knew nothing of the destruction of the trees, but when Melkor cried out in his contest with Ungoliant, they heard and were afraid.  Ungoliant comes north into their realm, but Melian provides protection.  But meanwhile Melkor rebuilds his stronghold, and Menegroth comes under attack from different directions, and only at a high cost do the Elves prevail at all.  The Elves of Ossiriand lose their King, taking no king after him, and many pulling away in wariness and secrecy, becoming the Laiquendi, the Green elves, while others merged with Thingol's people.  The shipwrights are driven to the rim of the sea itself.  And so Thingol draws all his people within, and Melian spins forth a wall of shadow and bewilderment to protect them.

But Fëanor is coming, changing the shape of Middle Earth with his own host.

Source: http://libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/10/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion_14.html
Review
2.5 Stars
[Book Review] A Scandal in Battersea
A Scandal in Battersea - Mercedes Lackey

The Christmas season has come to London, along with a new moon, and there are things that take advantage of the dark of night (reviewer aside - why Christmas Eve and not Solstice?).  Among all the gifts and cheer, a Book finds its way into the hands of a resentful young man who desires power.  What starts as a sacrifice and invocation, soon proves dark and alien, to a dangerous end.

So.  Mercedes Lackey has written a story with Lovecraftian flavor.  This has resulted in probably the coziest "C'thulhu Mythos" story I have ever encountered.  Note: there is no direct reference in name or language to the Mythos, but the traits are heavily present throughout.  It also gives us more of her vision of Sherlock Holmes & Co, as introduced in A Study in Sable, and stars the ever steady Nan, Sarah, and their birds.  If you want more Nan and Sarah, or just want cozy Mythos story, give it a try.  If the idea of a cozy Lovecraftian novel hurts your mind, I recommend skipping this one.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of DAW (Penguin RandomHouse) in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.

Source: http://libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/10/book-review-scandal-in-battersea.html
Mo is scary badass
The Fuller Memorandum - Charles Sross, Gideon Emery

And I feel horrible for the fact that I tend to forget this.  Admittedly, she's basically a secondary character until she gets her own book, but... what she can and does do... she is a frightening woman.

 

Kudos to Stross for actually plotting out what she does even when the primary narrative is "shit Bob gets into" - and for the emotional trauma of what they do hitting both of them, not defaulted to just the female character.

URL
Queerbrarian

A thing I wrote last year on National Coming Out Day, ICYI.  A day late but still largely relevant.  Except there's been even more stuff I could link to as steps backwards.

Review
4 Stars
Delightful, but perhaps a bit unavoidably repetitive
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction - Neil Gaiman

Some really great little selections here, but, as I titled it, it's a bit repetitive in places.  There may be two essays back to back that come from a similar root, or key stories that are referenced multiple times.  Other essays are wholly distinct from each other.

 

It also, of course, has the advantage of being read by the author, so that is always pleasant.

 

Definitely made me curious about some authors and works I've never listened to, and it is overall a solid collection.

Review
4 Stars
Can't wait to make some of these
Homemade Root Beer, Soda & Pop - Stephen Cresswell

So I guess my star rating is a bit nebulous, but there's a lot in here I want to attempt making, and it all seems reasonably feasible!

October Read: Viscera
Viscera - Gabriel Squailia

Sometimes I put a book on my book club list because I desperately want to read it but other books keep getting in the way.  Yes, this is a problem in my life.

I discovered Gabriel Squallia when we were co-panelists for Lovecraftian Intimacy: Body Horror & Mind Melds at Arisia 2016.  Long story short, I found Squallia inventive and fascinating, descriptions which I would both apply to their first novel, Dead BoysViscera promises fantasy, horror, comedy, wit, and wonders.  Sounds like a good October read to me.

Source: http://libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/10/october-read-viscera.html
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : VIII. Of the Darkening of Valinor
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien, Ted Nasmith,  Christopher Tolkien

For a time Melkor avoids those hunting him, still empowered with the ability to change shape or pass unseen.  Meanwhile, Ungoliant, a creature of whom her origins are wondered at by even the Eldar, made her home within Avathar, taking on the form of a giant spider, and consuming any Light that fell within her grasp and spinning it out into shadowy webs.  Ungoliant is the progenitor of the Spiders we meet throughout The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Shelob and her ilk, dark creatures in spider form that are burned by blessed Light.  Melkor seeks her out, taking on his guise of a Dark Lord he bore in Utumno, a form in which he remains, and strikes a deal.  "Do as I bid; and if thou hunger still when all is done, then I will give thee whatsoever thy lust may demand."

Under a cloak of darkness woven by Ungoliant, Melkor strikes at Valinor in the midst of a celebration of thanks giving and forgiveness.  Fëanor comes in simple presentation, and reconciles with Fingolfin before the throne of Manwë.  Manwë, the Valar, and the Eldar may have wished for a sight of the Silmarils that Fëanor left locked in Formenos, but the triumph of Melkor would have been more complete had he brought them.  Melkor strikes down both Trees, and Ungoliant drains any vitality they hold into herself, and then the Wells of Varda, growing and swelling so large that even Melkor fears her.  And so darkness falls on Valinor, a darkness imbued with living shadows as our antagonists leave, their vengeance complete.

Troy closed his post off with Voltaire, but I'm going with Blue Oyster Cult, and making a Career of Evil (it was that or Skull Crusher Mountain).

Source: http://libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/09/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion_30.html
Review
4 Stars
[Book Review] Sweet Revenge
Sweet Revenge: Passive-Aggressive Desserts for Your Exes & Enemies - Heather Kim

Sometimes I'll pick a book up just for it's title or it's cover.  If it's a cookbook we're talking about with the promise of gratuitous puns, well, I'm pretty sold.

The book delivers on promised tone and puns both, fun, snarky, and well explained.  The recipes veer into the unexpected, with the inclusion of various snack foods such as Doritos and Hot Cheetos as part of the flavor, texture, or highlight of sweet treats.  But even if you're conservative when it comes to flavor combinations, there's plenty for you here, and a number of recipes you can make a more traditional version of by simply sidestepping the inclusion of the salty munchie in question.

A fun addition to your cookbook collection, and if you're in a library one I think that will definitely circulate on amusement value alone.

Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Capstone via Netgalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

Source: http://libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/09/book-review-sweet-revenge.html
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : VII. Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien, Ted Nasmith,  Christopher Tolkien

During this time Fëanor creates his Masterwork, the Silmarils, in which he captures the light of the Trees.  Varda imbued the rings "so that thereafter no mortal flesh, nor hands unclean, nor anything of evil might touch them," (which leaves me wondering how the Silmarils and the quasi-mortal half-Elves would interact) and Mandows foretold that the very fates of Middle Earth lay within them.

 

I'm going to assume no one here is surprised that Melkor wants them for himself?  I actually find Melkor's desire and frustration regarding the Silmarils backing for his claims about teaching Fëanor being little more than lies.  He could make many great and terrible things, but these lay beyond his power.  That being said, there's nothing to say how much knowledge from Melkor made its way indirectly to Fëanor.  What cannot be denied, however, is how skilled and insidious were Melkor's lies.  He spoke to them of favoritism, of ambition, and glory.  And, it cannot be denied, Melkor is good at subversion.

Fëanor is called to account for aggression triggered by his own ambition and poisoning by rumor.  While this reveals Melkor's influence, Fëanor is not held blameless for his action and is banished, creating a fulfillment of Melkor's words.  With his heart tied to the Silmarils and the pain of his banishment, leaves Fëanor ripe for temptation.  Melkor tries, but incites such wrath that even he experiences fear, slinking away to lick his wounds and bide his time.

The light of the Two Trees still shines, but now the Valar wait uneasily for the fragile peace to shatter again.  The next Chapter is "Of the Darkening of Valinor," so I think we know that shattering comes soon.

Source: http://libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/09/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion_24.html
Quote
"It's not irony or satire if it's indistinguishable from the real thing. Shouting slurs at people isn't somehow mitigated by whether you really, secretly mean it or not."
Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate - Zoe Quinn

Crash Override by Zoe Quinn, page 75 (footnote)

Review
3 Stars
[Book Review] Rat Queens Volume 4 : High Fantasies
Rat Queens Volume 4: High Fantasies - Kurtis J. Wiebe

Previously Reviewed:

 
This is undoubtedly the Rat Queens I've come to love, but there's a lot missing and I don't know where it went.  It's not just the missing story between the end of Volume 3 and the beginning of Volume 4 that's jarring and confusing, no matter how happy I am to see Hannah back in the heart of things.  Even with an overarching plotline, Volume 4 reads like a series of vignettes rather than  cohesive story.  There are pieces missing, and some of those pieces belong to the very heart of the story.
 
Don't get me wrong, I laughed at walking in on Hannah's dad with the ghost of her mom, the adventure that boiled down to a dick joke by a bored magical frog/pufferfish/thing, and I love pretty much everything Braga.  But I know these unruly, riotous women can do more than make me laugh.  I know they can make me feel... and that wasn't here.
 

I'm hoping it's just a symptom of shake-up, with a dalliance with web comic form that perhaps was awkwardly handled, or just adjustments and growing pains of a re-launch.  It's a fun read, but doesn't stand as strong as the first volumes.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Image Comics in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.

Source: http://libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/09/book-review-rat-queens-volume-4-high.html
ummm...
Dawn and the Impossible Three - Gale Galligan, Ann M. Martin

I'm kind of uncomfortable with the colorist's palate in this book and the fact that the Japenese characters were given a literal orange-yellow skin tone.

techie giggling
The Jennifer Morgue - Charles Stross, Gideon Emery

I love how he snipes about power point and Apple user culture.

Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : VI. Of FĂ«anor and the Unchaining of Melkor
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien, Ted Nasmith,  Christopher Tolkien

All good things must come to an end.

Things start out quite nicely, with Melkor locked away, the Eldar gathering and enjoying a time of peace.  We even have a love story.

Spoiler: it all ends horribly.

As soon as I read that Míriel could only stand to bear a single child and that Finwë wanted more my first thought was "Well, this is going to end poorly."

steep cliffs under a twilight sky, overlooking the sea

Tolkien enjoys his epic love stories, ill fated or destined for greatness.  And so we have the marriage of Finwë and Míriel, deeply in love and from whom comes perhaps the greats of the Noldar artisans, Fëanor.  Birth is never easy, something that we often forget when it happens behind the closed doors of hospital rooms.  Women undergo intense physiological and psychological changes during pregnancy and at the end of it they suddenly have another life they are responsible for.  Actually, one of the biggest fears I have regarding spawning is that with my baseline neurochemical imbalances (and other factors) I have a deep seated fear of postpartum depression and/or postpartum psychosis.

Míriel bears a son, and "was consumed in spirit and in body; and after his birth she yearned for release from the labour of living."  I can't help but feel intensely frustrated with Finwë expansive grief when his wife says "No more children."  Functionally immortal with their first child yet a babe, they have time (let alone arguments about bodily autonomy and reproductive choice).  In a few decades or more, maybe she would look at her life and reconsider how she felt about bearing another child (or not, and that's OK).  Instead he displays a complete inability to understand the depth that is wife was suffering.  Maybe there was nothing Finwë could do to save Míriel, and the Eldar are a young race with much to be learned about heart and mind.

So Míriel lays down in the gardens of Lorien to rest, and her spirit departs.  I'm still not convinced this is not a deep deep depression and it's repercussions.  A literal "giving up the ghost," but not a deliberate suicide in my interpretation (I realize others do not agree with this assessment).  Meanwhile, Fëanor grows up brilliant, strong, and glorious, creating masterworks of metals and gems, and for a time married to Nerdanel who provided balance to his life and bore him seven sons.

And then, in no particular order, Finwë marries again and Fëanor is decidedly not happy with his stepmother or new brothers, Fëanor largely splits from the family and becomes his own force of driven angst, and Melkor makes parole.

How I summarize what comes next (to see video link you'll probably have to view on blog page):



Manwe is simply too innocent and too good to understand evil, though Ulmo and Tulkas grok what's going on.  Or maybe they're just distrustful and hold a grudge, but that's better than anyone else, so I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.  In this case, even with Melkor confined to a region, the Valar are showing a depressingly characteristic lack of wisdom or understanding of things beyond their personal and limited scopes.  "But fair-seeming were all the words and deeds of Melkor in that time, and both the Valar and the Eldar had profit from his aid and counsel, if they sought it."

Interestingly, while the Valar and the Eldar, the Noldar in particular, availed themselves of Melkor's knowledge, Fëanor holds a deep seated hatred of Melkor deep enough to surpass any desire or ambition.  “But he lied in his lust and his envy, for none of the Eldalie ever hated Melkor more than Feanor.”  I was surprised by this, I totally expected Fëanor to succumb to ambition based on all the hinting this chapter gave.  I guess his dark destiny still awaits.

Predictions: things will continue to worsen, including in several theoretically preventable ways.

Source: http://libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/09/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion_20.html
I have no idea what's going on
Dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany

But I'm liking it.

 

Writing is also incredibly lyrical.