“Every person, all the events of your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you.”
― Richard Bach
If there were one word to describe the 765 page behemoth fantasy novel, The Elven, that word would be “epic” indeed. The Elven is a story that spans both place, time and worlds as two elves and one human try to hunt down a demon that has emerged without explanation in the human world.
The story begins with Jarl Mandred and his hunting party hunting for game near their small village when they come upon the corpse of an animal that has been viciously attacked. The nature of the animal’s wounds alarm the hunting party – it is unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. As the men prepare to set up camp, they are attacked by a creature that is described as being half man and half boar.
The only survivor of the attack is Mandred who fled to a sacred, yet forbidden structure that takes him to the world of the elves. Once healed from his wounds, Mandred is taken to Emerelle the elf queen and requests to form a hunting party to kill the creature that murdered his companions. Mandred is convinced the creature that attacked him has its origins in the elf world.
The queen allows for the assembly of a hunting party on one condition – she gets Mandred’s first born. Due to the urgency of the situation, Mandred complies.
It is during the assembly of the hunting party that Mandred meets the two companions that will be by his side throughout the rest of the novel; Farodin and Nuramon. Farodin is considered the fiercest fighter of the elf world and Nuramon a healer. In one of the strangest story arch I’ve encountered in a book, Nuramon and Farodin are part of a strange love triangle with a strong sorceress, Noroelle who, through a series of events has been banished to yet another world by the queen Emerelle.
When the hunting party reaches the human world they learn that the creature that Mandred was attacked by was a demon – a creature that should have been killed many years ago. There is no explanation why it suddenly reemerged, but what the demon does sets a series of events into motion that will impact the fates of all the characters involved.
The novel is epic in scope and has a sharp focus on the role of fate and destiny, and how you sometimes have to endure a lot of trials to finally achieve what fate has in store for you. Although enjoyable, the book did have several parts that would have benefited with some form of explanation, for instance, the peculiar relationship the elves had with the trolls. At one moment they are fighting each other, the next they are fighting side by side – what caused this sudden trust? Then there is also the lives of the dwarves, what happened to them during and after the final battle?
But most importantly, the most irritating aspect of the novel was Noroelle, in many aspects she was a very unconvincing plot device. Apparently it was the love that Farodin and Nuramon had for her that drove them on this long epic quest to try and free her from her banishment. It’s not that I disliked her, but she certainly owed one of the characters an explanation in regards to the origins of a certain child. She put one of the characters through quite a bit of hell and seemed to only want to write it off as a mere ‘oopsie’.
The decisions she made certainly deserved more explanation on her part considering the multitude of lives she put at stake – including those of her lovers.
Mandred’s personality went through a lovely evolution throughout the book. I enjoyed his interesting point of view as he observed the changes taking place around him. It was also quite clear to me that Nuramon was a healer; his abilities were highlighted several times throughout the book. The book however offered little proof supporting that Farodin was indeed the ‘fiercest fighter’. Yes, there was that scene where he alone attacked the troll fortress, but nothing stood out that said, ‘look! this is the distinguished elven fighter, Farodin’. To me there seemed to be nothing very extraordinary about him.
If you are looking for an epic fantasy to sink your teeth into, I would suggest The Elven by Bernhard Hennen – it certainly had its weaknesses, but enjoyable none-the-less.
☆☆☆☆½ – The Elven by Bernhard Hennen
“Look into any man’s heart you please, and you will always find, in every one, at least one black spot which he has to keep concealed.”
— Henrik Ibsen, The Pillars of Society
My roommate called me this morning from work – he needed a ride to the hospital, his extended family had made the decision to ‘pull the plug’ on his uncles life support.
I don’t know how to accurately convey my feelings right now. Two hours ago my roommate got home from the hospital after being dropped off by a family member. In the short time that I’ve known my roommate, which is approximately one year, he has experienced more deaths of family this way – including his own father – than anyone I’ve ever known.
Although I’ve gone through the turmoil of death of loved ones, there is no way for me to know exactly what he is going through. I can’t imagine what is going through his mind.
My roommate’s family has Huntington’s disease, and despite only being 23, he has seen this disease take the lives of numerous people in his family. In order to cope with these deaths many of my roommates relatives have turned to drugs. The devastation rippling through his family is unfathomable.
He is moving out because his aunt’s health is currently in severe decline. She is losing her home because she can’t pay for that and her medical bills.
My roommate is going through a lot – I told him that no matter what happens, he will always have a place here. He is always welcome back.
I don’t know how to be happy right now.
I momentarily must revert back to posting a personal blog.
I am in full panic mode – I’ve broken down crying multiple times today.
I fear that everything is unraveling.
Moments before work last night, my roommate – the one who has been living with me for almost a year. The one who so desperately needed a place to live because his girlfriend had kicked him out. The one I met through my [former] best friend and helped as much as I could.
He sent me a text letting me know that he is moving out.
Yesterday morning I thought for once everything was beginning to look up for me, and now I have to go through the worry and anxiety of finding a new roommate.
Two of the major reasons why I got this house to begin with… have moved out.
My morning has been filled with thoughts of whether getting this house was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made or not. The tears and the uncontrollable emotions keep coming unexpectedly for me today.
I feel so lost. Abandoned. I don’t know what to do and I feel I have absolutely no one to lean on.
The story of my life continues…
I need a new roommate – preferably someone who shares my interest of books and hopefully can also respect my stuff.
I wish I had the ability to just walk away from all of this – like my [former] best friend and my room mate have, but I don’t have that option.
I am stuck and I fear this is how things will be for the rest of my life. I don’t know how to overcome this.
Today I had to DNF a book – and I realize that I recently talked about this and how I rarely DNF, but I went into a book completely unprepared. It was a highly anticipated read for me this year – however, I neglected to factor in that the book is some form of experimental fantasy that isn’t even suitable for people who enjoy fantasy.
I struggle through fantasy.
Which is why The Vorrh by Brian Catling was perhaps a bad choice for me at the moment and I was only able to make it through 4 or so chapters before setting it down. What pushed me away is that there is no clear story line at all, it’s all jumbled word vomit that apparently people like a lot.
Sadly, I also have the sequel to this book, The Erstwhile as I had planned to read them back to back like I did books 1 & 2 of the Themis Files.
I do not know if or when I’ll make another attempt at these books.
I guess I enjoy clarity in the books that I read and, quite frankly, The Vorrh did not have that – or any semblance of coherency for that matter. Many reviews like to describe the book as being “lyrical” or being “a painting of words” – but they neglect to point out that it’s as “lyrical” as a dada poem or to mention that the type of ‘word painting’ they mean is something like a Jackson Pollock rather than a Rembrandt.
When I think of authors who paint with words, two come to mind: Jose Saramago and David McCullough – they use there words deliberately to create elaborately detailed and beautiful images in the stories they write. Catling on the other hand just strung a variety of words together with the blind hope something sensical came out – people with vivid imaginations apparently believe something worth reading did materialize…
…I remain unconvinced however.
The book has so many glowing reviews that I wonder if I was even reading the same text they were.
Although, for the time being I’m moving on from Catling’s catastrophe, I’m not exactly moving away from the fantasy genre. I’m going to make a worthwhile attempt at Bernhard Hennen’s The Elven and see if that works out better for me. So far – despite taking place in a mythical world, there is a coherent story line on display directly from the first page.
So this looks more promising.
Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group that began in 2013 that provides book related topics for readers so that they can produce content for their videos or blogs. Spending anytime on the Booktube wing of YouTube will show that T5W is quite popular, so I figured I would incorporate this into my blog as well.
The irony is that, for my introductory topic for Top 5 Wednesday; Fandoms You Are No Longer In, I will have to refer to television show that I watched when I was younger that I got heavily invested in. The reason is that I can’t recall ANY book related fandoms that I’d say I felt part of. I’m not sure why I haven’t been able to get heavily invested in books like I once did with TV shows.
So I’ll begin…
5. Six Feet Under
In short – I was obsessed with this show. I loved every aspect of this series and a remember staying up late just to watch the new episodes as they came out. Interestingly, I really didn’t know anyone else who liked the show – or watched it for that matter, so I would seek out internet chat rooms that talked about the show.
I moved on from Six Feet Under when I graduated high school and moved off to college. Although I was obsessed at the time for this show – I can’t really recall much of it now.
My entire family watched this together – along with it’s spin off’s. I just really enjoyed the science in it, along with the story lines. CSI for awhile was the thing that I would look forward to going home and watching.
Once again, in retrospect I don’t recall much from the series.
3. The Whitest Kids U Know
MANY of the phrases and inside jokes that I use with my friends can be sourced directly to this show. Randomly screaming out “Nailgun” when things are beginning to go weird has it’s origins with this show.
In regards to WKUK, I was certainly in a ‘fandom’ with this show. When new episodes would air, I’d get online and open up my instant messengers (AIM and MSN!) and quote lines from the shows to friends who would respond with lines from the show to me. Sometimes I’ll go back and watch entire seasons of WKUK just for the memories.
2. Boy Meets World
I watched every single episode of every single season of Boy Meet’s World from the first day it aired.
I was always envious of the friendship that Cory and Shawn had and continue to this day to have something like that.
In early post’s on this blog, I may even reference this show in regards to my [former] best friend and I. This show helped me to formulate what an ideal friendship should look like.
And now that things have fallen apart in the friendship between myself and my [former] best friend, I sometimes look to a quote from Boy Meets World for, perhaps, a glimmer of hope.
“You do your thing and I do my thing. You are you and I am I. And, if, in the end, we end up together, it’s beautiful.”
In many ways this show continues to shape my life – even in retrospect. It was a show that I grew up with in my teenage years and watched religiously – just like it’s predecessor, The Wonder Years. Recollections of the show does bring back a lot of emotions. It’s difficult to believe how many memories I have attached to Boy Meets World, and how integral large portions of it are to my life.
1. The Tribe
The Tribe is my Harry Potter/Hunger Games/ Game of Thrones / Throne of Glass etc. This IS the ‘fandom’ of my childhood.
The Tribe was a New Zeeland(?) TV show that had a plot similar to many modern day dystopian Young Adult novels. In The Tribe, a virus had been created that killed off all the adults, leaving a world of children who were fighting to stay alive. The kids form small groups – or tribes as they struggle through this new world. The primary tribe the show follows are called the Mallrats who live in an abandoned mall. The Mall rats are comprised up of outcasts of various other tribes who sought refuge in this mall.
Each kid plays a different role in the Tribe, there is the scientist, the engineer, the spiritual one, the farmer, the warrior, the scavenger, the deal maker, the leader, etc. The show had numerous stories interwoven into it that made for a very compelling show. As one character was trying to develop an antidote for the virus, others were trying to fight off an attacking rival tribe.
Barter was the way of conducting business.
The Tribe took on a whole bunch of grown-up topics, like teenage pregnancy, religion, depression, suicide, rape, sex, death, slavery and numerous forms of violence that you generally would not see in an American children’s show.
If Boy Meet’s World helped to shape the way I viewed friendships and personal relationships, The Tribe was instrumental in helping me shape my views of the world. It is the precursor that most likely lead me to the anarchist views I hold to this day. A lesson that both Boy Meets World and The Tribe taught me is that people must be valued over money and possessions.
A Tribe fandom still exists to this day. I will watch old episodes on YouTube when I’m in the mood. It was a lovely show that, whenever I meet someone else who once watched it, I feel instantly connected with. Although I have one older brother and two younger sisters – they never really got into The Tribe, so I’d always be watching the newest episodes with my mom – a connection I have with her that I would never trade.
Admittedly the first and second chapters of Amity Shlaes THE FORGOTTEN MAN are rather clunky – however, if you press on a, (as I like to call it) clarity-in-hindsight occurs where the argument being made in the beginning chapters begin to reveal themselves. Despite the book continuing to be a slow read, I am enjoying the later chapters far more.
Chapter three is where discussion of the Great Depression begins; or at least, where history likes to give it a starting point; October 29, 1929. The build up to this however, was years in the making. This is where the ‘clarity-in-hindsight’ aspect comes into play as Shlaes recap of the prosperity of the 1920’s among a wide range of industries is referenced. The feeling that people did not know how to adjust to the prosperity and take adequate precautions emerges. ‘Panics’ in the stock market were not new – the best way to handle them, however, varied greatly that when ‘black Tuesday’ occurred – there was not a consensus on how to handle it.
Conflicting opinions in regards to how to handle the stock market crash and the subsequent recession – and what part the government should play in helping to alleviate the economic hardships is where I begin PART 2 of THE FORGOTTEN MAN book discussion.
After the crash – one of the first financial plagues to sweep the country was deflation. Money was becoming scarce and, in some areas, non-existent due to it’s increased value. People could not afford the money issued by the Federal Reserve so some communities improvised by creating their own currency such as the vallar which was developed for a short time in Salt Lake City, Utah. Other communities developed barter systems.
Although these alternative currencies allowed people to make day-to-day purchases from merchants that accepted them, the money wasn’t an acceptable form of payment for the payback of mortgages and other bank issued loans. Citizens weren’t the only ones seeking a way out of the financial problems. The government decided to get idea’s about how to help the economy from elsewhere – and with, what appeared to be the recent success of the Russian Revolution, that ‘elsewhere’ was, indeed, Russia. Later in the book, Shlaes points out that the US government also was looking at Mussolini’s Italy to get ideas on how to confront the USA’s economic woes.
What I found interesting is how much experimenting was taking place both in the US and the world when it came to dealing with the economy. There were two new forms of governments that had emerged – both centralized in nature; Lenin’s form of Communism in Russia and Mussolini’s fascism in Italy. Democracy in the USA, as anyone knows, is an ongoing experiment. At the time of the Great Depression, the Federal Reserve was new – as it was created in 1913 and many banks were not part of it’s centralized money system.
In some aspects it was like the blind leading the blind trying to find the best solution in dealing with an expanding economy and a growing country. A lot of the proposed solutions of the Great Depression were the result of guess-work. The rise of the so-called ‘alphabet agencies’ of Roosevelt’s New Deal were the result of this guess-work; his experimenting.
Putting people back to work in whatever capacity was a clear goal of Roosevelt, the plan was to reinvigorate the economy with jobs, even if the government was the one footing the bill for it. Another experiment was finding the best way to, essentially, control the value of the dollar. Should the US be on the gold standard? Should the US leave the gold standard? The answer to this was debated and resulted in some indecisiveness.
Meanwhile parts of Europe were growing weary – Chancellor Hitler of Germany had entered the political arena and pulled the fledgling Wiemar republic out of it’s depression and was already leading the country into a reconstruction stage. In an effort to protect their gold – people began sending it (or returning it) to the United States for safe keeping.
One thing that appears evident is that Roosevelt believed that, in one way or another, it was the government’s responsibility to get the US out of the depression. That without the government’s careful guidance of the economy there would be no recovery. He perhaps got this notion from Russia (which soon would be recognized as the Soviet Union) or even from Mussolini – regardless he didn’t seem to believe that the economy, left to its own devices would save itself. And that ultimately is the crux argument that Shlaes is attempting to make; that Roosevelt’s interference in the economy enhanced the depression instead of relieving the country from it.
I’ll have further thoughts in Part 3…
I believe that I have solved the roommate crisis.
Yesterday I met with a prospective roommate and I couldn’t be happier. He is a nurse who currently commutes an hour to work and was looking for a place closer.
Him and I talked for several hours and we shared a lot that we had in common. I haven’t had an ‘adult’ conversation like that in such a long time. It, quite honestly gave me an adrenaline rush.
The fact that he is also a nurse gives me a peace of mind that is difficult to describe.
I am very happy about this situation – I feel better and more calm about it than even when my [former] best friend was here.
This new roommate, although younger than me is much closer to my age. He also know’s what it is like to live alone and have to be responsible for himself. These are qualities that I haven’t seen in any of the other people that have inquired about the room.
So much of my stress has been alleviated due to this. Now I can more whole-heartedly focus on other things.
WATCH THIS SPACE – As you might’ve seen from my previous post – I intend on transforming this blog into an (almost) exclusive book review and/or discussion blog. Like now, I may have a post or two about my personal life, but I do want to focus heavily on books.
This blog that I started over a year ago has chronicled the many ups and downs my life has taken as I try to navigate being an adult in a world riddled with people that continue to have the mentality of children.
Things are looking up.
Today I’m going to walk to the park with a notebook and perhaps write some poetry or a short story.
Look for part 2 of my The Forgotten Man book discussion in a few days. I’m still on the fence about given up on this book, I will give it another 100 pages before making that decision.
It’s a new day!