Libromancer's Apprentice

Libromancer's Apprentice

The reading habits of a bibliovore & Technology Services Librarian
More at

Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : XVIII. Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien, Ted Nasmith,  Christopher Tolkien

The Noldor, strong and numerous, fair well in their alliance with Men.  For about five hundred years at least.  Time gets a bit wonky when dealing with the conniving of immortals, and "patience" becomes a bit relative.  I can't even say that Morgoth was really patient by waiting five hundred years because he built up his resources until he reached "good enough," and rushes out to burninate the countryside without really evaluating his plan.

His opening salvo is fire, rivers of flame, volcanoes, dragons, and Balrogs.  Morgoth's forces wrecked destruction on their unprepared enemy, but many retreated and regrouped, to strengthen those further away from the front and fortify defenses.  Fingolfin beholds the apparent destruction of his people, and calls out Morgoth in challenge.  Their fight is one of legend, a fight between demigods.  Morgoth rends the earth with his hammer, while Fingolfin springs away from Morgoth's blows, wounding Morgoth seven times.  But in time, Fingolfin tired, giving Morgoth the advantage, and three times he strikes Fingolfin down, until after the third time he arises, Fingolfin falls.  He deals one final wound to Morgoth, cutting off Morgoth's foot before he dies.

The hostilities continues for years, and sees the rise of Morgoth's servant, Sauron and the expanded use of Morgoth of not only spies but thralls and deceptive recruiting, claiming sympathy and then betraying.  Morgoth would also take captives and enslave their minds, only to let them "escape" to return home under his control.

These years reshape the landscape of Middle Earth, as Morgoth's power expands, battles rage, and the holdings of Elves and Men shift and condense.  Rulers fall and their heirs take on their mantles.  A decade of a war of attrition, with no clear victor, but many gains by the aggressor held off by determination and blood.

uuuh no thank you
Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie (Audio) - Holly Black

well, the first sex scene of the book (~3/4 of the way through) is a whole lot of NOPE for me... and i'm pretty sure i know what's going on in the second one and i'm also seriously not a fan.


otherwise mostly enjoying the book, though the fact the story seems to be "girl knowingly makes really bad decisions" rankles a little

December Read: We
We - Clarence Brown, Евгений Замятин, Yevgeny Zamyatin Hogfather - Terry Pratchett

Actually, I have two December Reads.

The first one is We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, the other is The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett.  A bit of a spread, I know.

I learned about We when a local book club ordered copies last year.  I had never heard of this Russian dystopian novel from the 1920's, and I was fascinated by the description.  It's a small book, but I hope it proves a worthwhile read, and small books are good for the end of the year when everything comes to a head.  So that's my Virtual Speculation pick.

The Hogfather on the other hand, is a delightful re-read, that I'm diving into with a group of others as a holiday buddy read.  It's one of my favorite Discworld novels, and I actually really enjoy the movie.  I'm not sure how much I'll be posting mid-read, though that seems to be a big part of buddy reads.  The problem is, I'll want to post 70% of the book.  So be it, right?

Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : XVI. Of Maeglin
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien, Ted Nasmith,  Christopher Tolkien

I suppose it's semi-redundant to say any particular chapter exists to introduce characters and set the stage, as we're reading a "history" text... but this chapter introduces us to characters and sets the stage.

The really short summary is the daughter of Fingolfin goes on walkabout, gets ensnared in a marriage, has a kid, then goes back home, sacrifices herself to keep her kid alive, and her kid brings glory to the Noldor while slowly becoming consumed with envy and anger.

Aredhel Ar-Feiniel, the White Lady of the Noldor, daughter of Fingolfin, once roamed far and wide in the realm of Valinor.  Now she lives within the bounds of Gondolin, under the rule of her brother Turgon... and after 200 years she's had enough of living in one spot.  When asked for permission to explore again, brother dear wanted her to do so his way.  If you haven't noticed by now, Tolkien rarely writes women who simply concede to what the men around them want.  So Turgon sends his guards to protect her, and she ignores them utterly and does her own damn thing.

Her walkabout brings her up against the Girdle of Melian, where she is barred entry (see last week's entry), so she continues around.  Along the way she loses the guards, and continues on alone until she meets the people of Celegorm who welcome her and invite her to stay on until he returns.  She stays for some time, but too restless to stay and so moves on and ends up in Nan Elmoth.

We've been in this wood before, back when Melian and Thingol met.  However, the days when Melian walked through these woods are long past, and it grew tall and dark, blocking the sun from its floor.  In these woods Eöl, kin of Thingol and known as the Dark Elf, resides since the Girdle of Melian went up.  For all that Eöl resented the the Noldor for the return of Morgoth, the role he plays in this story is more akin to the Noldor than his own branch of Elven kind.  He loves the twilight and shadow, night and the stars.  He, like someone else I could name, created masterworks with metal, devising Galvorn, a black and shining metal "as hard as the steel of the Dwarves, but so malleable that he could make it thin and supple; and yet it remained resistant to all blades and darts."

So, Eöl sees Aredhel in the wood and desires her, casting enchantments so that she wanders the woods until she finds him, and he takes her as his wife.  Consent here is a bit dubious, though they live in peace together for some time, and Aredhel shuns the sunlight, wandering far together at night with her husband, or alone, as long as she does not seek out the other Noldor.  In time, she bears a son whom she names Lomion, or "Child of Twilight" in the Noldor tongue, his only name until his father names him Maeglin, "Sharp Glance," at the age of twelve.

I can't imagine Eöl particularly liked hearing anything spoken in the Noldor tongue, and the fact that he names his kid after twelve years makes me really wonder about the father-son relationship for those twelve years.  Even with functional immortality, those first few years of life have to make an impression.

Maeglin spoke little, saw much, and learned all he could.  His mother told him tales of her kin, and in the telling, awoke a desire to see them again.  Maeglin also grew curious about his kin, and he and his father fought, Eöl wanting nothing to do with the "slayers of our kin, the invaders and usurpers of hour homes."  Tolkien doesn't really tend towards milquetoast characters central to the narrative, and if we consider this chapter a narrative in itself... we can make some guesses about how this all ends.  That's right, Eöl goes off, and then Aredhel and Maeglin go off their own way.  When he finds them missing he follows in pursuit, meeting little sympathy from those he encounters and receiving the earnest suggestion that he leave his family alone lest things end poorly for all.

The prodigal daughter and her son are received warmly, and perhaps because she's one of the first elves of even comparable age he's met (and perhaps because she is actually gorgeous), Maeglin develops a massive crush on Turgon's daughter.

Unfortunately, they were followed too closely and Eöl finds his way in full of wrath.  Turgon greets
Eöl as kin, but insists that the law be followed and Eöl must stay.  This goes over poorly, and Eöl argues vehemently for his son's return.  I'm not sure if this indicates quite how poor their marriage was or that Eöl considers Aredhel her own woman.  When told he must "abide here, or to die here; and so also for your son," Eöl decides that death of his only child is preferable to his son being raised among the Noldor.  Dude, maybe you shouldn't have married into the Noldor then.  Aredhel sacrifices herself, intercepting the javelin thrown at Maeglin, later sickening and dying from poison on its tip.

Maeglin becomes a great boon to the Noldor with his skills at metal craft learned from his father, and proves both deadly and fearless in battle.  Unfortunately he loves his cousin, Idril, who is not only too closely related but cares not for him.  So it is that Maeglin lets envy and jealous wanting corrupt himself, and so brings corruption into the heart of the Noldor... of which I am sure we will hear more of in chapters to come.

Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods - Danna Staaf

Because I just cannot not share this.  Even if I haven't gotten to bits relating to octopuses yet.

Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods - Danna Staaf

"True Facts About the CuttleFish" by Ze Frank


Giggleworthy and "relevant"

Legend of the Stars 2

This weekend, we lived a Gothic Horror/Romance.  With space wizards and light sabers.  On a real life heavy cruiser.  I did horrible things to amazing people, causing characters emotional trauma and player tears.  I lost track of the number of times friends told me they hated me or that I was the worst as they gleefully went deeper into the dark places of the plot.

photo of a woman's face in dark red lighting, grey hood, cybernetic jewelry, and branching blue line through her left eye.

Not only that, I portrayed a space wizard ghost trapped in a ship and who thinks its the AI.

Sometimes, life is pretty sweet.

I also admit that I'm a strange person.

When I was invited to contribute to Legends of the Stars 2 (website, Facebook), I think I had a bit of a brain glitch.  Really?  They wanted me to contribute?  Holy crap.  We'll hand wave the ensuing anxiety of whether or not it was a true invite that lasted through my first story development meeting up until I was officially on the writing team.

This made for one of my top LARP experiences so far.  I'm still buzzing from it.

I've never done a Nordic style LARP, so the writing and operation was something of a paradigm shift.  We created a setting with a loose scaffolding, a rich base, a range of conclusions, then set the PCs off like a like a bunch of kids with firecrackers.  A huge part of the game is helping players develop their own narratives, explore their characters, and become the heroes of their own stories.  I'm used to a much denser structure of modules and plot hooks... and an attendant increase in NPC roles and interactions.  The players are steering the plot and choosing the end conditions.  They say "we want to do something" and we help that occur.

The players came in as members of different Source temples, light and dark, to explore a several thousand-year old relic ship that appeared suddenly, belonging to the all but forgotten culture that predates the division of Source users.  Things of course devolve into confusion and different agendas and goals as literal and metaphorical ghosts of the past emerge.

As a storyteller, I enjoy dark stories, heavy in mood and quandary.  For me, the best conflict comes from the players themselves when put in situations that makes them question the core of their characters and goals.  That bit above where I mentioned friends saying they hated me or that I was the worst?  It was said with a smile.  The player tears were from player choice to dive down into a dark place in a scene and see where they could take it.

It turns out, Nordic style is incredible for this type of play.

My personal highlight (besides being untrustworthy traumatized space ghost AI for a weekend), came from dragging people down to the dark reaches of the ship late the first night and causing emotional upheaval.

Late Friday night I ran a "Source Vision" mod, acting as a scene shepherd more than an active participant, deep in the engine room of the ship.  Players were given a choice, "Protect" or "Shelter" and from there either went to a warmly lit corner or deeper into the engine room to a dark nook lit only by swirling black lights to receive their vision/dream.  This mod alone  made the weekend for me, the two roles were played better than I could have imagined, and the snippets I over heard and the expression on player faces as they exited told stories.  I later learned that this area of the ship was identifiable now as "the place of nightmares."

I also had the opportunity to wander around and do decision tree tarot readings for characters.  I first did in-character tarot at a C'thulhu LARP and it proved an amazing social locus, narrative tool, and all around amazingly enhancing and spooky activity for game.  There's nothing like pulling out cards that perfectly represent a character and the dilemmas they face.  For this game I picked up the Quantum Tarot deck, to fit with the theme, and told people their stories with it.  Everything about doing this was amazing for me, and it worked so well with the personal stories and narratives people were developing.  I knew this was something I found fun, but I had forgotten quite how much fun it really was, how much I loved the interactions that come from it.

dark robed figure stands over a sprawled figure in white, surrounded by lightsabers, while others from the edges watch, The players all bought into the game, their characters, and exploration.  Seeing the plot that they developed and delved into was incredible.  I wasn't kidding about tears, players found their character's wounds, and ripped the bandaids right off for all to see.  I played a scene where I was part of the FTL engines, frightened and angry at these intruders that were ripping us away from the identity and home we'd known for thousands of years and ended up with tears running down my face when I finally relented.  Players would come up to us and say "we want to do [THING]" and we'd go "OK, do it," and so much yes.  The ending and conclusion was truly entirely on the players.

I cannot wait until we start planning for Run 3, scheduled for October 2018.

Small Library, Awesome Authors

First off, OMG thank you to Grim & Char for coming out to the author event at my library.


Turn out from the town was... awkwardly small, despite amazing interest and people saying they were coming.  This tends to be a problem with small community libraries.


On the other hand, Scott & Elizabeth are kind of amazing and rolled with having so few people in the audience.  I think fun was had by all.  I can't really say I mind to conversational aspect of such a small group.


Scott afterwards offered that if we want a bigger event in the future... he'd be interested in coming back when his new book is out next year!

November Read: Grass
Grass - Sheri S. Tepper

I'm taking time to re-read some of my favorites, like I need an excuse to re-read Tepper.  I haven't read Grass since high school, so it should prove interesting what I remember and what I missed.  I know there are layers and connections I didn't see on my first read, including the connection between Grass and Raising the Stones and Sideshow.  It goes without saying that there are likely nuances I'll pickup on as an adult that I missed as a teen.

I'm a few chapters in already, and may need to go on and finish the trilogy once I'm finished up.

5 Stars
[Book Review] Viscera
Viscera - Gabriel Squailia

No one writes quite like Squailia.  I met her when we were both on a panel about body horror, and shortly afterwards looked up her book, Dead Boys.  It was strange, creepy, creative, and wonderful.

So that brought me to eagerly looking forward to reading Viscera, and it seemed like a good choice for an October read, so here we are.  Viscera is dark, funny, weird, creepy, unexpected, and human.  I also see a lot of what Squailia talked about in the panel, particularly at looking at gender dysmorphia in the framing of body horror. Excellent novel that I could not put down.

Discussion Fodder:

  • What are the different approaches to morality in the book?  How do the characters construct and frame their lives and behaviors?  Think of Ashlan, Hollis, followers of Fortune, and the Puppeteer.
  • How do the Gods fit into the story and the shape of the characters lives?
  • How does the author write gender and identity?
  • What genre would you say this book should be classified as?  How does it cross genres?
What was I thinking?

Somehow I got myself involved in writing for four LARP events going off this month, including the MES North East Regional Showcase and Legend of the Stars, Run 2.  It's made things a bit interesting around here.

I also wrote another Escape Room and ran it at my library, and am running a rework of the one I ran this summer at another library.

And the 14th sees Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch visiting my library for an author event I organized.



Author Event I organized at my library!


An Evening with Elizabeth Bear & Scott Lynch

Tuesday, November 14th, 6:30PM

Monson Free Library


Spend an evening with award winning authors Elizabeth Bear & Scott Lynch.  Bear writes rich science fiction and fantasy filled with complex and subversive plots and Lynch brings a flavor of Ocean's Eleven to high fantasy adventure.


Copies of their latest publications, The Stone in the Skull and The Book of Swords will be available for purchase.

Potentially the most disturbing/horrifying Laundry Files
The Delirium Brief - Charles Stross

I'm not that far in, but while they've always had an element of horror, with the lampshading of spy novels and the overall wit, the Laundry Files to me are more fun tentacular-horror entertainment than unsettling (though, to be utterly honest, some pretty horrific things happen in them).  Actually, The Apocalypse Codex got to me, but that's legit for some person reasons that made the evangelical pseduo-christian cult be something that is deeply deeply unsettling.


This one... well, things start out having gone all Pear Shaped, and Bob is playing damage control after the events... and things get more tangled from there.  I love the jibes at Trump, but without spoilers let's just say that within the first 1/8th of the book I've had an "Oh Fuck" moment.

Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : XI. Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien, Ted Nasmith,  Christopher Tolkien

The trees have fallen and the Silmarils lost.  Teleperion bears one last flower of silver, and Laurelin a single fruit of gold, which were taken and put into vessels to hang in the sky as great lamps.  With these lamps they resolve to illuminate Middle Earth, bringing light to the people's there and hindering Melkor's (literally) dark deeds.

Good news: the Valar have a solid idea that they need to actually pay attention to Melkor and the danger he poses.

Bad news: with the arrival of humans imminent (plus the waking of the dwarves), waging war on Melkor might take out the life they're charged with preparing the world for.

Isil the Sheen the Vanyar of old named the Moon, flower of Telperion in Valinor; and Anar the Fire-golden, fruit of Laurelin, they named the Sun.  But the Noldor named them also Rana, the Wayward, and Vasa, the Heart of Fire, that awakens and consumes; for the Sun was set as a sign for the awakening of Men and the waning of the Elves, but the Moon cherishes their memory.
cliffs and clouds rising above a sea at dawn

It's almost shocking to me to see that the waning of the Elves starts so early.  But the Sun and the Moon are hung in the sky, each steered by a Maiar.  Arien for the Sun and Tilion for the moon.  Arien... is kind of amazing, mightier than her hunter counterpart, a spirit of fire, undecieved by Melkor, and with eyes too bright for even the Eldar to look upon.  As the Sun Melkor dares not come near her and her might.  Like I said, kind of amazing.

The original plan was to have the Moon and the Sun in the sky at the same time, crossing opposed with their lights mingling.  Like many myths of the Sun and the Moon, the path the follow now is the result of an attraction between them.  In this case Tilion, wayard and uncertain in speed, seeks to come near Arien, drawn in by her splendor while yet the flame of Anar scorches him and the Moon itself.  Even when Varda decrees a change in path, a course across and under the world, Tilion's pace remains unsteady.

The withered husks of the trees still stand in Valinor, and while Melkor will not come near the Sun, his failed attacks against Tilion unsettle the Valar.  And so they fortify their home and mount continuous guards, closing all egresses save one, for the Eldar must at times need to breath the air from the land of their birth as carried by the breeze, and for their kin they refuse to sunder entirely from.

5 Stars
Viscera - Gabriel Squailia

seriously.  damn.


Gabriel Squalia writes like no one else.

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.