Buddy Read

March into Middle-earth: The Fellowship of the Ring Buddy Read, Part Two

March Into Middle-earth

Welcome to the second part of my re-read/buddy read of The Fellowship of the Ring! I discussed Chapters I – V last week. The buddy read is also taking place on my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks if you’re interested in joining over there.

This discussion will cover Chapters VI – XI of The Fellowship of the Ring, and will contain spoilers for the book.

  • OH GOD NOT THE OLD FOREST. It brings back horrible memories of trying to navigate that place on Lord of the Rings Online. It’s a horrible, horrible maze that you get lost it and can never leave.
  • That eternal question – who is Tom Bombadil, really? He knows EVERYTHING, he says he was there long before the elves, the Ring has absolutely no effect on him when worn and he does not seem to be tempted by it. I know there is a theory that he is one of the gods of Middle-earth, and the Lord of the Rings Wiki has other theories too, but whatever he is, he’s certainly interesting. If he is a god, I’m glad he doesn’t interfere with the quest any further than making sure the Hobbits manage to get past the Old Forest and Barrow Downs. It’s interesting to note that his Sindarin name was Iarwain Ben-adar, which means ‘Oldest and Fatherless’.
  • I was actually considering the fact that there is something odd about Tom Bombadil, and not necessarily a good kind of odd. Then I found this theory that says he could in fact be the most evil force in Middle-earth. What do you think?
  • The Barrow Downs would have been pretty wonderful to see in the films, and ever so creepy, but they would have required the character of Tom Bombadil to be included. I think the reason he was left out is because no-one knows who he truly is, and those who just watched the films and had not read the books might not have understood this, and thought it was something to exclude those who had skipped reading the books. In addition to some of those scenes perhaps not being entirely necessary, and the need to cut down a large book into a 2 1/2 hour film.
  • prancing pony gif

  • It takes the Hobbits around three chapters, or fifty pages, to reach Bree from the Shire. This feels slow when you consider how much the film condensed this time down. But it also makes a lot of sense, because the journey needed to feel urgent and perilous. The book gives us more time to ‘explore’ Middle-earth through the hobbits’ eyes, and hear some of their travelling songs. I love it, but I understand why it was reduced.
  • Oh, Barliman Butterbur. You lovable idiot.
  • We don’t even meet Strider/Aragorn until Chapter IX. And of course, the rest of the Fellowship later on.
  • ‘No, I don’t think any harm of old Butterbur. Only he does not altogether like mysterious vagabonds of my sort.’ Frodo gave him a puzzled look. ‘Well, I have a rather rascally look, have I not?’ said Strider with a curl of his lip and a queer gleam in his eye.

  • Look at the quote above, AKA Aragorn knowing that he rocks the scruffy look. What a man.
  • Alright, no need to get cocky.
    Alright, no need to get cocky.
  • All the geography of Middle-earth is so familiar from playing Lord of the Rings Online. All of these areas that are mentioned perhaps once in the books, are ones that you can actually visit in the game. It’s so wonderful reading about them and being able to picture them in my head.

How are you enjoying the book so far? Are there any parts within these chapters that you really loved?

Buddy Read

March into Middle-earth: The Fellowship of the Ring Buddy Read, Part One

March Into Middle-earth

Welcome to the first part of my re-read/buddy read of The Fellowship of the Ring! This series of posts will most likely consist of four parts, split into two posts covering five chapters, and two posts covering six. The buddy read is also taking place on my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks if you’re interested in joining over there.

This discussion will cover Chapters I – V of The Fellowship of the Ring, and will contain spoilers for the book.

  • Words cannot describe just how happy I was to re-read this book. From the very first chapter, I felt like I was at home. I have re-read the series almost every year since the age of 10, so it is so familiar – but I never get bored.
  • The opening with the Shire is just so perfect, instantly setting Hobbits up as country bumpkin folk, with a comfy, cosy lifestyle. A lifestyle that I WANT PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
  • One thing that got me thinking, and that I discussed a little with Claire over Facebook, is how do Hobbits make money? Obviously there are richer families, such as the Bagginses and the Brandybucks who seem to be the known, wealthy families of the Shire. But there are others like the Gamgees, who are clearly poorer. Sam and his father, the Gaffer, are both gardeners. In the first chapter we also see that there are Hobbit farmers, millers, barmen/maids, postmen and, later on, a mayor. I get the impression that a lot of Hobbits sustain themselves through farming and gardening, but they must have other sources of income.
  • I never really thought about the Mathom-house, as mentioned in the first chapter, but apparently it’s basically a museum of old and unwanted Hobbit gifts and items. Now that is one museum I’d definitely like to visit, just to learn more about Hobbit history and culture.
  • Some dwarves turn up before Bilbo’s party. Are they previous members of the Company? Obviously not those who died in The Hobbit, and perhaps not Balin, whose tomb the Fellowship visits later on in Moria (although there is quite a gap between the party and the Fellowship entering Moria, so he could be there), but are they old friends visiting? Or just delivering the dwarven-made birthday gifts?
  • Hobbits are in their ‘tweens’ between their 20s and the age of 33. That would make me a Hobbit tween!
  • One of the many reasons I'd be happy with a Hobbit lifestyle.
    One of the many reasons I’d be happy with a Hobbit lifestyle.
  • I forgot how beautiful the songs and poems that Tolkien added to the story are. I’m so glad they incorporated some of them into the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, even if they’re not always used in the same context.
  • This is something I picked up just by circumstance: the other day, I was walking between campuses at work, and went down Northmoor Road. I noticed a blue plaque on one of the houses, took a closer look – and it was Tolkien’s house! I was pretty excited to find that, maybe I’ll go back one day and take a picture. But it made me wonder if he named the North Moors, which only appear once or maybe a few times in passing, after the street he lived on.
  • The fact that Tolkien made up so many different languages, and went into so much detail about each one, always astounds me. His grasp of linguistics was seriously impressive.
  • I did notice that Tolkien often ignores that literary device of ‘showing, not telling’, and frequently has his characters narrate stories for the benefit of the reader and the other characters. I guess the problem here is that there is so much back story, that if he kept breaking off to narrate the history of Middle-earth and the One Ring, it might not work so well.
  • And another reason: SO GREEN AND BEAUTIFUL!
    And another reason: SO GREEN AND BEAUTIFUL!
  • With every line that was taken directly from the book and used in the film, I read in the voice of that character in my head, which was pretty fun!
  • This is hard to describe but LotR feels so easy to understand – I don’t know if it’s because it’s super familiar and I’ve read it so many times, or I’ve just read more ‘complicated’ fantasies lately. By complicated, I mean those with difficult names and an alternate word for EVERYTHING, where you basically need a glossary so you can double-check everything.
  • One thing I noticed was that, within the first few chapters, Sam said ‘Lor bless me!’ twice. This sounds like a very Christian saying, and kind of stood out in a book that is set in a world with its own, non-Christian deities.
  • If you’ve seen the film of The Return of the King, you might remember Pippin singing to Denethor as Faramir gallops into battle. The haunting song, called ‘Edge of Night’, is beautiful, but actually comes from Chapter IV of the book, and is in fact part of a walking song that the Hobbits sing as they make their way to Bucklebury Ferry.
  • I’m actually pretty glad that the Nazgul don’t speak in the same way in the film that they do in the book. They’re somehow scarier when they just utter a few words…

Phew! That feels like a lot of notes for just five chapters! What do you think of the beginning of the book?

Buddy Read

Throne of Glass Readalong 2016 – Part Three

Throne of Glass Readalong

As I said in my post last week, I will be running a Throne of Glass readalong until 18th January. In case you missed them, you can find Part One here and Part Two here. I plan on re-reading the first three books in the series before finally reading the fourth and most recent addition, so I thought I’d turn it into a bit of a blog event and encourage my readers to join in! Whether you’ve read the book before or are reading for the first time, feel free to leave your thoughts! And of course, as this is a readalong discussion post, there will be spoilers for Throne of Glass ahead.

Today I’ll be discussing the third part of the book – chapters 28 to 39.

The third part of the book sees yet another brutal murder of one of the Champions by an unknown force, and Celaena coming up with a plan to infiltrate the Yulemas masked ball.

  • This is quite possibly one of my absolute favourite quotes from this part of the book. It describes Celaena playing billiards.
  • Celaena jabbed the cue, and hit the ball with such force that it zoomed toward the back wall of the table, knocking three coloured balls out of its way before it collided with the number three ball, sending it shooting straight for a hole.

    It stopped rolling at the edge of the pocket.

    A shriek of rage ripped from her throat, and Celaena ran over to the pocket. She first screamed at the ball, then took the cue in her hands and bit down upon the shaft, still screaming through her clamped teeth. Finally the assassin stopped and slapped the three ball into the pocket.

    And I absolutely pictured Celaena having a screaming match a la Regina George…

    scream gif

    No? Just me? Okay then…

  • Celaena’s friendship with Nehemia grows. I love this friendship. There is a tendency in Young Adult fiction to use the female best friend as exposition – the main character can discuss boys and romance with them, therefore sharing this information with the reader too. And I say boys and romance specifically because they seem to be, about 80% of the time, all that these friends talk about. Celaena and Nehemia, on the other hand, discuss politics, languages, and they learn from each other. It’s a genuine friendship based on curiosity and mutual interest and I just want to cheer them on, maybe make them little friendship bracelets…
  • Chaol getting embarrassed over the mention of periods. Boys will be boys… even in a fantasy world. It’s all okay contemplating the fact that Chaol may have to kill someone in the future due to his position, or that he will most likely see (or has already seen) a lot of death, but periods? No way! Can’t deal with those nasty feminine issues! Menstruation reduces the toughest of men to screaming babies, apparently.
  • We’re told that Dorian is a womaniser, but somehow I can’t imagine it. I could see him as a big flirt – but actually sleeping around? He seems to have this innocent quality to him that makes me think he’s not done anything but sweet talk a little too much. Unless that is how he is actually meant to be and I’m just misreading it (or reading it correctly in that case…). What do you think?
  • Celaena’s reaction to sweets. Like a little child, so adorable. Or… like Andy Dwyer from Parks & Recreation. 😉
  • sweets gif

  • Dorian and Celaena finally kiss, after lots of lusting and wistful gazes. This is going to be a foolish move, and you know it. The Crown Prince and an assassin? Uh oh…

What did you think of Part Three?

Review

#ReadGoldenSon: Review of Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

When I mark a book as ‘read’ on Goodreads and I’m planning on eventually posting a review, I often like to leave a reaction GIF as a placeholder. This was said GIF for Golden Son:

shocked gif

Thank you, Emma Stone, for so accurately portraying my feelings at the end of this book. That GIF will remain alongside my review, because as they say, a picture (or GIF, in this case) paints a thousand words.

Golden Son was pretty much everything I wanted and expected from Pierce Brown, after the absolute wonder that was Red Rising. However, it was so, so much more brutal than the first book, but that’s what it needed. As the stakes rose, as Darrow’s task grew more and more dangerous and he grew more determined, there needed to be an element to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Brown pulls it off for sure, with this violent and shocking addition to the series that kept me reading and gasping at each twist and turn.

Occasionally, I felt a little bit lost by the (seemingly) endless names, so thank goodness for the character list at the beginning of the book! Whilst I would have enjoyed a bit more about Darrow’s time at the Academy – the book skips a year or so, to move things forward, and I would have liked that element of development, there is really not much else I can fault about Golden Son. The events suddenly felt so much more ‘real’; Darrow was no longer in the confines of his education and training, but out in the ‘real world’. This time, it felt personal.

With a lot more politics this time round, Golden Son had less of the action than Red Rising, but it certainly wasn’t lacking in it. There were so many reveals and surprises, so much going on. And that cliffhanger. Oh… help. I mean, I’m frustrated about having to wait the couple of months between reading Golden Son and the release of the next book, Morning Star, so I feel very sorry for the people who read Golden Son as soon as it came out, and have had that horrendous wait in between (not long to go now!).

Whatever happens in Morning Star, I feel it is going to be even more brutal, even more heartbreaking, and even more astounding than the events of Golden Son. And that is definitely something I do not want to miss.

 

This review is part of the #ReadGoldenSon readalong hosted by Hodder, in preparation for the release of Morning Star.

Golden Son

Buddy Read

Throne of Glass Readalong 2016 – Part Two

Throne of Glass Readalong

As I said in my post last Monday, I will be running a Throne of Glass readalong for the next three weeks or so, and discussed Part One last Thursday. I plan on re-reading the first three books in the series before finally reading the fourth and most recent addition, so I thought I’d turn it into a bit of a blog event and encourage my readers to join in! Whether you’ve read the book before or are reading for the first time, feel free to leave your thoughts! And of course, as this is a readalong discussion post, there will be spoilers for Throne of Glass ahead.

Today I’ll be discussing the second part of the book – chapters 14 to 27.

Part Two sees the first Tests for the Champions begin, but we also learn a little more of Chaol’s background. Cain, who becomes Celaena’s main nemesis, is introduced – and shortly after, the murders begin. One by one, competitors for the King’s Champion are being picked off in an incredibly violent manner.

  • One thing I often wonder in fantasy stories is why our holidays are sometimes used. Maas mentions Sammhain (Halloween) and Yulemas (Christmas, although could be a winter solstice type festival).
  • We learn more about Celaena’s history with Sam, but there’s still a lot missing.
  • Both Dorian and Chaol seem to be falling for Celaena – one quicker than the other. When we see her through their eyes, she seems to be in a more vulnerable position, softened slightly.
  • I hate the use of the term Dark Lord! It’s so cliched and overused in fantasy fiction. However, it’s only mentioned once here, and used as a backstory element rather than being a current threat, so it’s not quite as bad.
  • The book takes on more of a ‘magical fantasy’ feel when Celaena finds the sarcophagus. Instead of being a book that could easily be set in our world, albeit in the past, it’s suddenly clearer that this is not our world when the magical elements come into play.

What did you think of Part Two? What do you think of the developing relationships between Dorian, Chaol and Celaena?

Buddy Read

Throne of Glass Readalong 2016 – Part One

Throne of Glass Readalong

As I said in my post on Monday, I will be running a Throne of Glass readalong for the next three weeks or so. I plan on re-reading the first three books in the series before finally reading the fourth and most recent addition, so I thought I’d turn it into a bit of a blog event and encourage my readers to join in! Whether you’ve read the book before or are reading for the first time, feel free to leave your thoughts! And of course, as this is a readalong discussion post, there will be spoilers for Throne of Glass ahead.

Today I’ll be discussing the first part of the book – chapters 1 to 13.

This first part of the book sees Celaena Sardothien, also known as Adarlan’s Assassin, being taken from the Endovier Salt Mines, where she has been imprisoned and enslaved for over a year. Her ‘rescuers’ are Crown Prince Dorian Havilliard, and the Captain of the Guard Chaol Westfall. Dorian wants to enter Celaena into a competition to be the King’s Champion, and eventually personal assassin. If she wins, she will have to work for the King for four years – and then she will have her freedom, and be pardoned from all past crimes.

Later chapters show that, despite his position as Crown Prince, Dorian clashes with his father often. Celaena meets the King and the other champions, and begins her training. She also meets a princess called Nehemia, from the country of Eyllwe.

  • One little note before the book even properly starts – I always appreciate it when books include maps at the beginning! It makes it a lot easier to get my bearings of a fantasy country or world.
  • I’ve always read Celaena as Celina, even though I know it must be Suh-lay-na due to the spelling. However, I still read it my own way throughout this re-read – it’s stuck!
  • Additionally, I still have no idea how Chaol’s name is actually said, even though I’ve met Sarah/seen her talk about the book, so I’m pretty sure his name was mentioned…
  • Compare Celaena’s first thoughts of the guys: Dorian = ‘… achingly handsome…’; Chaol = ‘It’d be nice to see his blood spill across the marble’ …
  • I never really thought about the different sides to Celaena before – she is both tough and quite girlish at times. Of course, anyone can be both – but it feels like quite a sudden juxtaposition in this case.
  • One thing I want to know… is everyone in Endovier a hard criminal? Are they all assassins, murderers etc, or all kinds of criminals? It feels like the justice system of Celaena’s world is quite harsh – are there petty thieves, perhaps people who stole just to feed their families, mixed in with all the killers? I kind of get the impression that this is how it works. But I also feel like at least a couple of people would have lasted as long as Celaena, or escaped/nearly escaped.
  • We see a small hint of Celaena’s past in chapter 5 – for those reading for the first time, I can’t wait for some big reveals!
  • I feel like I’m reading so much more slowly this time, trying to soak in every detail. Since I already know what happens, I don’t feel the need to rush ahead in order to find out.
  • I forgot that Celaena is actually quite witty, wonderfully flirty and actually quite adorable – despite being an assassin.

What do you think of Throne of Glass so far? I’ll be discussing Part Two on Monday!

Misc.

#ReadRedRising: Red Rising Fantasy Casting

Read Red Rising

As part of the Red Rising Readalong hosted by Hodderscape, I will be sharing my fantasy casting of the book. If you’re not familiar with Red Rising by Pierce Brown, then take a look at the blurb:

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

As I read and reviewed the book only a few months ago, I did not want to take part in a readalong discussion, but thought I’d add something else to the mix. It’s also something I’ve been wondering about since learning that there were be a film adaptation some time in the not so distant future. I’ll also be posting my review of the sequel, Golden Son, in January. Be warned – this post may contain spoilers!

And now for my fantasy cast…

No Cover

Darrow au Andromedus – ???

Off to a good start… this is the only cast member I’m truly stuck on. I just can’t think of the perfect person to play Darrow. Within the first book he ages from 16 to 18, so I feel the actor would have to be able to somehow pull off both ages. However, often when books such as this are adapted, characters are often aged by a couple of years. He would have to also be able to pull off the Red look as well as the Gold look.

Saoirse Ronan

Eo – Saoirse Ronan

Saoirse Ronan was one of the first names that popped into my head when I considered the part of Eo. I think she looks similar to how I imagined her, plus she has a fairly soft-spoken manner which I believe fits well. However, she can also play strong-willed characters, which works for Eo’s other side.

amandla stenberg

Mustang/Virginia au Augustus – Amandla Stenberg

Amandla Stenberg was fantastic as Rue in the first Hunger Games film, and I think she’d really be able to pull off Mustang/Virginia – that performance alone is enough to convince me! And of course, she’ll need good chemistry with whoever plays Darrow.

John Boyega

The Jackal/Adrius au Augustus – John Boyega

John Boyega is sure to soon be a household name, with his appearance in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (which I still haven’t seen!). I think it would be interesting to cast him in this role as Mustang’s brother, and one of Darrow’s enemies.

Isaiah Washington

Nero au Augustus – Isaiah Washington

Having seen Isaiah Washington as the Chancellor of the Ark in The 100, I can say that he is definitely capable of playing a strong figure of authority. Therefore, I feel that this role, as the Head of House Augustus and a member of a very important family, would suit him well.

Richard Harmon

Sevro au Barca – Richard Harmon

Another cast member of The 100, Richard Harmon came straight to mind when I read the description of Sevro. Sevro is similar to that of John Murphy, Harmon’s character in The 100: cunning and sly, but I also feel that he fits the physical description.

Sean Bean

Ares/Fitchner – Sean Bean

Do I need to explain this one? Sean Bean IS Ares.

Dylan O'Brien

Cassius au Bellona – Dylan O’Brien

I thought about this one for a little while, but I’d really like to see Dylan O’Brien in the role as Cassius au Bellona, Darrow’s friend turned enemy. I feel like he could really bring something to the role.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Julian au Bellona – Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Julian au Bellona is quite small and slight, a friendly boy but not one really cut out for the contest. Thomas Brodie-Sangster is quite baby-faced and definitely looks a lot younger than he is, so I think he’d be quite a good fit for the part of Julian.

What do you think of my casting? Who would you cast in a film version of Red Rising? Most importantly – who should be Darrow??