Oh look. There goes all my plans for regular posting. It’s been about a month since I last posted and it irritates me that all my good intentions and plans were derailed. I blame the holiday season. Working retail at Christmas messes with my routines, my sleep habits and my time.
Normally I’d come home from work, cook dinner, tidy up and then ensure the kids did their chores/homework. Once they are settled, I’d then disappear downstairs to my cave and type up something here, paint a miniature or work on my Star Wars game. Since the beginning of November though, I’ve not done any of those things. My RPG stuff sits stagnant in the bag I use to carry it all and has been there since the beginning of October. My paints sit similarly unused and obviously the blog has been silent for the past month as well.
There’s hope that as we near Christmas and the retail nightmare that is my life, subsides to little more than a bad dream I will get back to a much more regular routine.
In the meantime, have fun without me. I have laundry to fold.
I was supposed to go and see Neil Gaiman tonight, but my cat decided that I would be spending time at home with a tweaked back.
The little #&$@!! tripped me at lunch time in the kitchen today. I managed to catch myself but the effort twinged something painfully in my back. Then, one of the day home kids pulled a stupid and I had to haul him up from where he’d wedged himself in between the wall and the bed, further exacerbating the issue to the point where I’m hobbling and immobile.
You have no idea how much I hate and disappointment I have flowing through my veins right now. If Palpatine ran out of hate lightning, I could easily refill his supply about 1000 times over and still have some to spare.
This was something I was really looking forward to. Beyond anything else this year and it all comes crashing down because of a stupid cat.
Stan Lee shaped a lot of my early life without even knowing it. Through the pages of Spider-Man, The X-Men and the rest of the comics that make up the Marvel Universe I learned to differentiate right from wrong. I learned that good guys win. Most importantly, I learned that with great power, comes great responsibility.
He told stories about heroes. Heroes with super-normal powers. Those heroes were flawed. They struggled against adversity. Those heroes fought for a better world. Sometimes they stumbled, but they never stopped fighting the good fight.
I remember watching some mid-80s Incredible Hulk cartoon with Stan’s iconic “True Believers” narration and being instantly hooked. I watched the cartoon because it was cool and it was the Hulk, but I went back every week for more because Stan’s voice over made everything cooler.
Here’s the problem with challenging a creative type like myself with making a list about something I’m passionate about. It won’t stop. Limit myself to seven books? I’d rather cut off my good right arm. Like I said at the beginning, the number of books that have influenced me may be closer to seven hundred rather than seven and while paring it down to seven was challenging, there were definitely a few that I left out.
I purposefully left out a number of books that my friends had already posted, even though they meant a lot to me because I didn’t want to dilute their contributions by saying ” Oooh! Oooh! Me too!”. There were also quite a few books that I debated over for various reasons and while they influenced me, and were definitely among my favourites, they have been supplanted by the books that made the list.
This list is by no means comprehensive. I may revisit this theme again in the future and go a little deeper down the rabbit hole of my favourite authors and/or books but in the meantime here is a glimpse of a few more books that orbit the being that is me.
And so we come to the final day of the challenge. As they say, you should always save the best for last. To that end, I give you…
This is definitely, by far, my favourite book and series in recent memory. The style is a retrospective story within a story somewhat along the lines of Scheherazade. Sometimes it becomes nested stories within stories within stories. Rather than having to tell a story to prevent themselves from being killed. The main character, Kvothe, tells the story of his life to a chronicler, telling him it will take 3 days (something unheard of). This is day 1.
Kvothe, is a prodigal musician and arcanist (read: sorcerer). He is self-confident, humanly fallible, and wholly believable. He is a character that lives, breathes and steps right off the page, fully formed.
The magic is understated, more steampunk science than sorcery. It works in this setting
The main draw is the story itself. It sucks you in like nothing else. Rothfuss has a way with words that makes you believe you can feel the air move around you like a whisper or feel the force of a whip crack.
I wait “patiently” for the third book in the trilogy. Is it here yet?
I had an extremely hard time deciding between this and Raymond Feist’s Magician as today’s book. Both books have an almost equal hold on me for similar reasons. Ultimately I went with this one, because I read it first and that counts for something right?
Pawn of Prophecy and the whole series of books that followed were always a fun read. It was the first “series” of books that I read (I don’t count Lord of the Rings as a series, as it really is just one big book split 3 ways). It was my first chance at watching a character develop over time, and grow through the series. The characters within became parts of my life and because I knew them so well, they helped me identify things about myself that I didn’t quite understand. They really were the perfect companion for a dorky kid stumbling through puberty.
I loved the system of magic. The Will and the Word. It’s how magic should always be in my mind. Simple. No fancy scrolls or incantations. Focus your will, say the word to release your will. Just don’t try to delete something from existence. The world has a Conservation of Matter clause that kicks back pretty hard if you try to break it.
Like all books do, it does have its flaws, (Namely that the whole 2nd series is the same as the first, just everyone is… older and has levelled up a few times), but for a young reader’s first steps into the great beyond, you can’t go wrong.
Tomorrow is the last day of this silly little challenge. I’m going to have to go out in style. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about Names…
I can’t do a book list without including this book. For everything that I love about storytelling, about epic journeys about larger than life characters (and smaller than average ones as well) came from the seeds this book planted.
Does it have its faults, indubitably. But it, beyond any other book, made 9 year old me want to turn the page. To find out what happened next. To see where the story led. I wanted to be a Ranger like Strider (though never a king like Aragorn, too much spotlight), A wizard like Gandalf, and a burglar like Bilbo Baggins.
I read it many times in my youth, and my original copies have cracked and broken bindings that are well past repair. I read it again, around the time the movies were released (cause I’m THAT kind of nerd) just to re-familiarize myself with the minutiae and there was still depth to the story that I missed as a child. Few books can do that.
I posted the cover to this version, because for one I had a hard time finding a cover that matched my original one and secondly, This is just the best damn picture of Gandalf ever. Thank you John Howe!
Here’s a version that isn’t battered and cracked.
As for what comes tomorrow, I’m somewhat torn as to which way I’ll go. It will either involve Magicians or Sorcerers. I haven’t quite decided yet.
I make no bones about my geekiness. I was, am and always will be a nerd.
As I blogged about fairly recently. I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for D&D. It fueled my imagination. It increased my vocabulary well beyond my grade level. It allowed me to make complex mathematical calculations in my head. It empowered me to make friends. It made me problem solve and develop both communication and teamwork skills. It allowed the introvert inside me to learn to sometimes be an extrovert. It was in fact, the genesis of everything that I can take credit for today.
And yes Dorothy, if you noticed that every single one of those skills is something I can translate on to a resume today, you wouldn’t be wrong.
To anyone who reads this and fears D&D is evil and we’re all a bunch of Satanists bent on bringing about the apocalypse… 1) Please pry open that closed mind of yours and realize that D&D is nothing more than a tool to develop young minds into social, independent, smart, funny, radically thinking individuals who will amaze you with their skills. 2) Sod the Fuck off!
Tomorrow, we shall discuss dungeons deep and caverns old.
My wife says I have a “type”. What kind of type you ask? A type of woman? A type of speech? No, a type of book. She says that we can go into any bookstore and walk the shelves and she can spot my “type of book” almost instantly just by it’s cover. She’s not entirely wrong. I do have a type, though it’s not as evident as she may make it out to be.
My type generally lies somewhere between historical fiction and genre fantasy with a solid story for a backbone. Often its a series. More often than not, the main character is rogue-ish in demeanour or skillset. The covers often feature cloaked individuals performing roguishly nefarious deeds.
So without much preamble, the next book that I’m choosing is:
I inherited this book from my mother. I was bored one day, had nothing to read and she thrust it at me, warning me that it may just be a little too complex for me. I suspect it was to give her a moment’s peace more than anything else. “What’s it about,” I asked? “Merlin” was all she responded.