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It's the first reading thread of 2020!

Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 7, 9:48pm

Post #1 of 17 (413 views)
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It's the first reading thread of 2020! Can't Post

I hope it's not indicative of how my year will go that I almost forgot to post the reading thread today.

At any rate, I've caught up with the recent Smithsonian and Archaeology magazines and gleaned the titles of several intriguing-sounding Australian and Kiwi mystery novels from Mystery Scene magazine.

I'm on the last chapter of the audiobook of the 1935 Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane mystery/romance, Gaudy Night, which was written by Dorothy L Sayers and read by Ian Carmichael. Well done all around, in terms of plot, voice, and all those components which make a successful story. I'm sorry, though, that the debate on the role of women in society that underpins the plot isn't nearly as dated as I would have thought it was several years ago.

In print (well, in pixel, to be exact) I'm reading Witches Abroad, another in Terry Pratchett's witches series. In this installment, the three witches---Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat---travel to a city where stories come true. Or else. As always with Pratchett, it's funny and thought-provoking at once, with gorgeous flights of fancy and plays on words. I know it's just coincidence that Pratchett refers to a Magic Kingdom Laugh

So what have you been reading?

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow....


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jan 8, 3:14am

Post #2 of 17 (372 views)
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"Minas Tirith", "The Siege of Gondor", and "The Pyre of Denethor". [In reply to] Can't Post

From The Lord of the Rings, of course. Fascinating to imagine what it might be like to live through a war while your leader is going insane. I led a Reading Room discussion of "Minas Tirith" back in 2005 and of "The Siege of Gondor" in 2008. Here is my first post (of twelve) in the latter series:

The Siege of Gondor I -- Words, Sentences, Paragraphs, Sections.

This is the shortest sentence in that chapter:

"Go!"

This is the longest sentence in that chapter:

"For at the beginning Faramir spoke only of the errand upon which he had been sent out ten days before, and he brought tidings of Ithilien and of movements of the Enemy and his allies; and he told of the fight on the road when the men of Harad and their great beast were overthrown: a captain reporting to his master such matters as had often been heard before, small things of a border-war that now seemed useless and petty, shorn of their renown."

These are words unique to that chapter:

accused, balusters, befit, belike, birdlike, brazier, catapults, charcoal, clutches, convulsion, dole, dregs, embalmed, embalmers, incalculable, madman, madmen, mourners, overmatched, petty, subtleties, thankless, unblessed, unbreakable, unchecked, unfit, unlightened, unlit, unthanked, and winch.

The number of unique "un-" words stands out!


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


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Annael
Immortal


Jan 8, 4:03pm

Post #3 of 17 (319 views)
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Ayoade on Top [In reply to] Can't Post

I saw Richard Ayoade on "Graham Norton" talking about this book and he was so funny and dry I just had to get it. One of the funniest and also wittiest books I've ever read, a scathing dissection of a movie I'd never heard of: "View from the Top," starring Gwyneth Paltrow as a girl from the wrong side of the tracksTongue with big dreams. His "analysis" is interspersed with reminiscences and outright flights of fantasy. My favorite is his imagined argument with the guard at a studio gate (Ayoade has been turned down for a role & wants to get in to talk to the director), in which he drops a quote from a French philosopher and the guard says "don't proof-quote Alain Badiou to me, I haven't got the time."

(I'm stealing that line, it may prove useful in certain contexts.)

We were delighted to find that "View from the Top" is available on demand through Xfinity, so, armed with Ayoade's analysis, we'll be watching that as soon as the Jeopardy super-tournament is over.

Next up: "Broken for You."

I am a dreamer of words, of written words. I think I am reading; a word stops me. I leave the page. The syllables of the words begin to move around … The words take on other meanings as if they had the right to be young.

-- Gaston Bachelard

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967
my blog: https://jodybower.com/myths-archetypes-in-film/


(This post was edited by Annael on Jan 8, 4:06pm)


Solicitr
Rohan


Jan 8, 6:20pm

Post #4 of 17 (309 views)
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Subject [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Fascinating to imagine what it might be like to live through a war while your leader is going insane.


...like being a Lancastrian during the Wars of the Roses


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jan 8, 7:30pm

Post #5 of 17 (296 views)
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Or on a smaller scale: "The Caine Mutiny". [In reply to] Can't Post

You and I once had a short interesting discussion on a different forum about analogies for that story.


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


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Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
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Starling
Half-elven


Jan 8, 8:00pm

Post #6 of 17 (290 views)
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Brilliant [In reply to] Can't Post

I have this on my list. He is one of my favourite people. Cool




Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Jan 8, 8:38pm

Post #7 of 17 (287 views)
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FWIW [In reply to] Can't Post

View From the Top is one of my guilty-pleasure movies. Cool

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


My original fantasy writing

My LOTR fan-fiction


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jan 9, 11:25pm

Post #8 of 17 (214 views)
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Denethor opens the door for Death to enter. [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't remember if this came up explicitly in our past discussions, but it was at least hinted at: the entrance to the city's tombs is referred to as the "Closed Door". It's only a few minutes after Denethor orders that door opened that the entrance of the city falls to the Witch-king, who then says to Gandalf: "Do you not know Death when you see it?"


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


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<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
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How to find old Reading Room discussions.


squire
Half-elven


Jan 10, 12:53am

Post #9 of 17 (207 views)
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Maybe [In reply to] Can't Post

It's a good connection, but I'm not totally convinced. Mostly because Gates and Doors are a massively present theme throughout the book, so it's not impossible that two of them show up in this chapter each for their own reasons. In the book, a Gate or Door represents a crux, where one must make a choice or an attempt to pass through a single opening in what is otherwise an impassible barrier.

Start with the famous door to Bag End itself, get into Farmer Maggot's land through his back gate and then another gate to his house, find the gate to the Ferry, continue with the gate in the High Hay whereby one leaves the Shire, pass into the innards of the Willow "like the snick of a lock when a door quietly closes fast", then pass into safety through the door to Tom's house, exit the Barrow via a door opening Eastwards, enter Bree via the Gate which the mysterious stranger leaps over, watch the Riders pass through the gate and then the door to Crickhollow and then "ride down the guards at the North-gate", etc. etc. and that's just Book I. Many many other examples will come to mind as one reviews the entire book.

Now what your thought brought to my mind was this: where else, besides the Witch-king at the Gate of Minas Tirith, does any character forbear to pass through a Gate that has been opened when it had been barred or closed?



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jan 10, 5:56am

Post #10 of 17 (183 views)
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Aragorn, but he changes his mind. [In reply to] Can't Post

At the same gate as the Witch-king. But he soon after enters the city at Gandalf's request.

Fatty at the gate to the Old Forest.

Wormtongue doesn't want to enter Isengard once he finds that its walls and gate have been destroyed, but Treebeard makes him.

Concerning the Paths of the Dead, we are told "the way is shut" but Aragorn enters anyway: Halbarad follows despite foretelling that his death lies beyond it; Gimli almost forbears to enter but does so after shoring up his courage.

Frodo at the Black Gate, sort of. Troops arrive to enter, but we don't see it open, although Gollum perhaps does. And the chapter is titled "The Black Gate Is Closed".

Frodo runs toward the gate of Minas Morgul, before Sam and Gollum stop him. I'm not sure it's open then. It certainly is open when the Witch-king's host departs, but he doesn't try to enter.

I doubt you were thinking of any of these; what am I forgetting?


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


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Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
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N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jan 10, 4:16pm

Post #11 of 17 (149 views)
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No wait, it is Aragorn! [In reply to] Can't Post

Surely you're thinking of the door to the treasure hoard of the Dead.


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


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Old Toby
Grey Havens


Jan 11, 3:55pm

Post #12 of 17 (123 views)
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A Discovery of Witches [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh my, it's been a long time since I've visited these boards! Sigh! But here I am again. I've most recently been reading Deborah Harkness' series starting with A Discovery of Witches, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I got started on the series after becoming addicted to the weekly TV show (now finished with Season One). I actually read a later book first called Time's Convert, which I didn't care for. But so far am happy with the first book in her series. Witches and vampires and demons, oh my!

My only complaint - and I do have one - is that her descriptions during the main characters' more intimate scenes become too Twighlight-ish, and not in a good way.
But all in all, I hope the other three books in the series maintain the momentum of the first.

"Age is always advancing and I'm fairly sure it's up to no good." Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher)


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jan 12, 6:49am

Post #13 of 17 (111 views)
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Life after death for Aragorn, Denethor, and the Witch-king? [In reply to] Can't Post

These passages have all been queried individually in Reading Room discussions through the years, but what exactly is Tolkien teling us with these hints of post-mortem appearances?

Aragorn described in "Lothlórien":
"And taking Frodo's hand in his, he left the hill of Cerin Amroth and came there never again as living man."

Denethor described in "The Pyre of Denethor":
"And then Denethor gave a great cry, and afterwards spoke no more, nor was ever again seen by mortal men."

The Witch-king described in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields":
Shapeless they lay now on the ground, torn and tumbled; and a cry went up into the shuddering air, and faded to a shrill wailing, passing with the wind, a voice bodiless and thin that died, and was swallowed up, and was never heard again in that age of the world."

Did Aragorn return again to Cerin Amroth as a dead man? Was Denethor later seen by someone other than mortal men? Was the Witch-king heard again in a later age?


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


Annael
Immortal


Jan 12, 4:32pm

Post #14 of 17 (98 views)
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we're going to watch it [In reply to] Can't Post

as soon as my friend finishes reading the book. I think our viewing is going to be a bit . . . prejudiced, however.

I am a dreamer of words, of written words. I think I am reading; a word stops me. I leave the page. The syllables of the words begin to move around … The words take on other meanings as if they had the right to be young.

-- Gaston Bachelard

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967
my blog: https://jodybower.com/myths-archetypes-in-film/


Eruvandi
Tol Eressea


Jan 13, 3:11pm

Post #15 of 17 (79 views)
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"Mansfield Park" and "Dragonwitch" [In reply to] Can't Post

Two totally different titles by totally different author's, I know. Tongue I have broad reading tastes.

I just finished listening to "Mansfield Park" by Jane Austen on audio. It was (I think) one of the last novels I hadn't read by her. Overall, I enjoyed it and related to Fanny Price a lot as her personality was much like mine. I liked her quiet strength and determination in the face of the way many of the other characters were unkind to her and tried to pressure her to do things she didn't want to do (and overall made me want to punch them for being jerks. :P). She resisted them without ever becoming unkind herself and I respect that.

"Dragonwitch" by Anne Elisabeth Stengl is the fifth book in the fantasy series "Tales of Goldstone Wood" which is one of my favorite series of all time by an author who is still living and writing. She's an author who has really inspired me and encouraged me in my own writing journey. I first read this series in 2015 so now I'm slowly rereading it in between reading books that are new to me. Figured starting the new year off with a book I know I love would be a good thing. It's quite long, but I'm really taking my time to savor it. Funny how I remembered how beautiful and deep these books were and yet I'm struck by that depth and beauty anew during these rereads. "Dragonwitch" in particular has deep themes of redemption being available no matter how far you've fallen, and also themes of even the smallest, unlikeliest people being able to make a huge difference for goodness in the world. Hmm... that last theme seems familiar somehow.Wink Anyway, I LOVE IT SO MUCH. *hugs the book*


I'd like to read Pratchett someday. Someone suggested I start with "Guards! Guards!" when I do get around to trying his stuff. Do you agree with that recommendation, Lily?

They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy
They can say, they can say I've lost my mind
I don't care, I don't care, so call me crazy
We can live in a world that we design
'Cause every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it's gonna take
A million dreams for the world we're gonna make
-"A Million Dreams" from The Greatest Showman


Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Jan 13, 3:24pm

Post #16 of 17 (75 views)
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Yes, I do [In reply to] Can't Post

I love everything of Pratchett's, but the Guards series is my favorite. Sam Vimes rules!

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow....


Eruvandi
Tol Eressea


Jan 13, 3:34pm

Post #17 of 17 (67 views)
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Good to know. Thanks! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy
They can say, they can say I've lost my mind
I don't care, I don't care, so call me crazy
We can live in a world that we design
'Cause every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it's gonna take
A million dreams for the world we're gonna make
-"A Million Dreams" from The Greatest Showman

 
 

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