Knife of Dreams, Part V

JordanKnifeOfDreamsBannerWelcome everyone to Book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Knife of Dreams over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia,  is our host and can be found in the comments. Check out Sue’s post at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers and Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia, cool non-spoilery fan art.

This week, we covered Chapters 19-23. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. Our favorite Origer bachelor is finally married.  Any wise words for the newlyweds?  The Ogier are torn on whether to leave this world or help humanity out.  Do you think Loial will be able to sway them?

My wise (ass) words to Erith would be to keep Loial stocked in good traveling clothes and scribing materials and to perhaps travel often with Loial just to avoid regular conflict with her mother-in-law. Of course my words of wisdom to Loial would be to let Erith think all the traveling is her idea.

Once again, I am reminded of Tolkien’s Ents, and their Entmoot where they take a very long time deciding on whether or not to help out the hasty humans, elves, dwarves, and humans. Knowing how that turned out, and also suspecting that the Dark One won’t leave the Steadings & Ogier alone, I think the Ogier will eventually fight evil rather than flee.

And I hope that Loial will be able to sway them sooner rather than simply walk away to join Rand at the Last Battle and have Ogier decide that is much more exciting than any Ogier business and join him later. Though I suspect that Covril or Erith may have a hand in persuading the Ogier, even if it means shaming them into caring about this world.

2. It’s been a while since the last surprise trolloc attack.  Who could have been behind this one?  Why now, and why so incredibly many?  Lews Therin took control of Rand’s channeling.  Will we see that again, and what kind of consequences might it have?

I wasn’t expecting a massive trolloc attack on the heals of an Ogier wedding!

Since the Dark One and Moridin want to keep Rand alive for now, I don’t think they were behind this attack. No, my eye turned toward Mazrim Taim. After all, if Rand, Logain, and a bunch of their closest followers fell in a trolloc attack, he could reign supreme (at least until the Dark One had him bale fired). Of course, this would mean that he has a hotline into a Forsaken who wants Rand dead now (as I don’t think Taim has been given command of so many myrrdraal). Taim would guesstimate that it would take oodles of myrrdraal and oodles X 20 to take out both Rand and Logain. Good for him that he miscalculated.

In this case, it was a very good thing that Lews took over the channeling and saved the day. But Lews isn’t the most stable Channeler out there, so I can see him losing it in a moment of disturbed surprise or intense anger and wiping out half of Rand’s army. Rand seriously needs to lock that shit down. Perhaps this is what Cadsuane needs to teach Rand, but first he would need to trust her enough to 1) confide in her about Lews and 2) Allow her to guide him, perhaps even entering his dreams or thoughts for a short time to do so. Good thing she is such a snuggable motherly type woman that Rand could so easily learn to trust. Not!

3. Lan departs to fight his own war, but Nynaeve won’t let him do it alone.  Any thoughts on the actions of either?  Any chills during the scene in the inn?

And yet for the third time during 1 reading session, I was surprised! I know that Lan has had a death wish since he learned he was the last Malkiri King, and that it intensified when Moiraine disappeared through that door angreal, but he really is a dense idiot sometimes. First, he can’t hold some pass in the north against hordes of trollocs and myrrdraal BY HIMSELF, no matter how good he is, no matter the terrain. So wrapping his suicidal inclinations up in honor and duty and heroics isn’t going to fool anyone in that scenario. Two, thinking that Nynaeve would simply let him do so is silly. She owns him now. Yep. You can put the love spin on it if you wish (and I do believe she does love him), but she is very, very possessive too. His life is now hers and she won’t be tossing it away.

And I was a bit surprised that Nynaeve was grown up enough to let Lan go and do his duty. I was also quite pleased to see her spreading the word near and far, calling in men to join Lan. Essentially, it’s like organizing a big party on sheep butchering day back in Two Rivers. Nynaeve is definitely the one to organize such an affair.

4. Rand again works his ta’veren magic and the rebellion in Tear is no more.  Darlin, who was a rebel not four books ago, is king.  Do you think he has sufficiently demonstrated his loyalty, or are you worried?  Rand is focusing on Arad Doman.  What do you think his plan there is?

We just saw Rand and his entourage take out thousands of trollocs and several dozen to a few hundred myrrdraal. If Darlin hasn’t heard about that yet, he will soon. So if he is planning any kind of subterfuge now, he will probably reconsider upon hearing that tale. So, no I am not particularly worried. Plus, he also was privy to seeing Cadsuane call Rand on his rude manners, so he knows he can be both pushed and reigned in without exploding. So it is unlikely that Darlin will decide to rebel ‘for the sake of the realm and to save his people from the mad Dragon reborn’.

I don’t know what Rand is planning in Arad Doman. Would he be leaving certain Waygates open to kind of channel where the trollocs turn up?

I think Eivind mentioned this in the last two weeks, that Robert Jordan had only planned 12 books and so he was trying to wind up some things in this book so that all could be tied off in the next book, right? But for us, we could have to wait to Book 14 to find out what goes down in Arad Doman.

5. The Sea Folk have chosen a new Mistress of the Ships and are being conscripted for the Arad Doman plan.  Meanwhile, a whole race of islanders commit suicide!  Where on Earth did that come from? Will it have any impact at all or is it just one of those… things?

I think the mass suicide was balance that Rand was contemplating earlier when he rode through town and the man fell out of a balcony onto his feet instead of his head, etc. Min says that for every evil, there is a good, while Rand takes the pessimistic opposite. Perhaps this mass suicide was the balance for all those who escaped Ebou Dar.

I expect it will sadden Rand when he hears of it, but I don’t expect any major ripples from it. I think it will just be another of those things that Jordan throws in to give the world depth.

6. An important sitting is called and the rebel Aes Sedai finally learn some important news (Saidin is clean, and they’ve been harboring a Saidin-channeling female forsaken for six books).  Are you happy that Halima was rooted out?  Sad that they weren’t caught?  Will they rethink their Asha’man policy now?

There was a lot of great stuff in this section. Being carried around in Ramanda’s head was interesting (romance adventure novels! prudish about ankles and boobs! set in her ways despite evidence to the contrary, especially concerning the new elderly novices, etc.).

I have been taken an impish glee in shocking the Aes Sedai. And I expect I am not alone in this. I really enjoyed the reactions to the Asha’man, and the announcements about bonding, both the offering up of Asha’men to be bonded and the fact that silly Sisters were already bonded to Asha’men.

I was surprised that Ramanda put it together first and called out Halima. Since Halima is a Forsaken in disguise, I figured that she wouldn’t be caught yet. Though I think it might have been pretty spectacular to have her fight an entire encampment of Aes Sedai.

Some of the Sisters are already moving along and not living in the past (cool with getting rid of the age limit on entering the Tower, etc.), and I think most of them will come to treat the Asha’men as equals in time. However, we will always have some sticklers like Ramanda and they will make it that much harder to prep for and win the Last Battle.

Other Tidbits:

That was a swift, simple wedding and I totally didn’t expect it. I wonder what does happen when you fondle an Ogier ear? And if they pierce their ears, is that the same as in humans piercing their nipples?

Lews Therin is starting to make some sense to me and I think I like the chap well enough to buy him a pint of beer: Only those who trust no one are truly insane (paraphrased).

Is it just me or is Nynaeve becoming some sort of a prude in her ‘old’ married life? What was that interesting dress she wore in the circus in which she met Masema?

I loved watching Logain stroll in and chat with the Sea Folk, calling them to pay service to the Dragon Reborn. And with the end of the world just around the corner, I think he is right to hold them to it even in their grief.

Interview: Henry Herz, Editor of Beyond the Pale

HerzBeyondThePaleFolks, please welcome author and editor Henry Herz to the blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed his works (Nimpentoad & Beyond the Pale) and just knew Henry would be a lot of fun to interview. Want to know how Seth MacFarlane and Leonardo da Vinci are similar? Curious about Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes? Keep reading and enjoy!

What drew you to organizing an anthology that focused on the sub-genre of paranormal Young Adult/New Adult?

I love the phrase “beyond the pale”, and everything sprang from that. Beyond the Pale is an anthology of fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal stories that skirt the border between our world and others. Was that my imagination, or did I hear something under my bed? What was that blurred movement in my darkened closet? There is but a thin Veil separating the real and the fantastic, and therein dwell the inhabitants of these stories.

The noun “pale” refers to a stake (as in impaling vampires) or pointed piece of wood (as in a paling fence). “Pale” came to refer to an area enclosed by a paling fence. Later, it acquired the figurative meaning of an enclosed and therefore safe domain. Conversely, “beyond the pale” means foreign, strange, or threatening.

Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

Long ago, fantasy literature (although not labelled as such) directly influenced culture. There was no scientific method – people were scared of the unknown (falling off the edge of a flat earth, comets, dragon hunts, witch burnings, etc.). Today fantasy literature only affects pop culture. Few people seriously believe “Winter is Coming”, but it’s still fun to say at cocktail parties to establish geeky credentials. :)

HerzNimpentoadIf you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I’d have to say The Lord of the Rings. I read it in elementary school. Reading it again for the first time as an adult would be a very different experience.

Conventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of promoting a book and what are some of the least favorite parts of promotion?

For me, book promotion is the hardest part of indie publishing. There is always more to do, and if you’re not careful, it can drown out the time for writing. My favorite part is attending events where I can meet the authors and the readers who appreciate their work. I moderated a fantasy/science fiction panel at San Diego Comic-Con featuring award winning and NY Times bestselling authors David Brin, Jason Hough, Jonathan Maberry, Rachel Caine, Jim Butcher, and Marie Lu. That was also the initial public unveiling of Beyond the Pale. What’s not to like?

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. In that classic fantasy, he writes about allomancers – wizards who gain power by ingesting small amounts of powdered metals. A game about how such wizards would fight each other could be cool. Maybe there is such a game, and I simply haven’t seen it. Another good choice would be the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne.

Who are your non-writer influences?

Great question. Certainly some illustrators have had a strong influence, like Maurice Sendak (yes, he wrote too), David Peterson (Mouse Guard), Aaron Becker (Journey). I’m also awestruck by people who are gifted in multiple disciplines, like Leonardo da Vinci or Seth MacFarlane (I never expected to put those two in the same sentence).

HerzHowRhinoGotHisSkinFrom your own writings, are there any characters you would like to cosplay? Have your kids, and co-writers, done any cosplay?

It would be fun to cosplay Nimpentoad, the protagonist of my fantasy early chapter book of the same name. But that would be quite an elaborate costume. My co-author kids and I enjoy attending conventions, and while we’ve occasionally worn armor and hefted fake weapons, I wouldn’t call it cosplay. We lack the dedication and time to create the truly inspired costumes that would qualify us for cosplay.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

I’m a big fan of retellings. I had the idea of retelling Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes from a fantasy perspective, swapping creatures for the human characters. When I researched the concept, I found a couple of books out there, but they didn’t work for me. The gauntlet was tossed. Our version, Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes, will be published by Pelican in 2015.

Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories are justifiably acclaimed. But, having been written so long ago, the language is outdated and too complex for today’s younger readers. So, my sons and I indie-published a picture book version, How the Rhino Got His Skin. See www.birchtreepub.com.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

It is always a pleasure to meet someone who was touched by my writing. That’s why authors write. Similarly, I’ve had my share of gushy fanboy moments meeting such inspiring authors as Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, David Brin, Orson Scott Card, Vernor Vinge, and Brandon Sanderson.

Lastly, please tell us a bit about the cover art for Beyond the Pale. Does it represent an overall concept for the book, or does it draw more on a single story contained in the anthology?

The cover art for Beyond the Pale represents an overall concept for the book. It’s entitled Snow White, and was done by Abigail Larson. She illustrated our picture book Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes. Love, love, love her dark style! If you agree it would look great on your bookshelf, please consider getting a copy via Amazon, Kindle, or www.birchtreepub.com.

Beyond the Pale, edited by Henry Herz

HerzBeyondThePaleWhy I Read It: Yolen, Ahmed, Butcher – How the hell could I turn down this book?

Where I Got It: A review copy courtesy of the blog tour (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: For those who enjoy mystery and creepy and fantasy in their short stories.

Publisher: Birch Tree Publishing (2014)

Length: 200 pages

Editor’s Page

When Henry Herz emailed me and asked if I would like to read & review a collection of stories he edited, I couldn’t turn him down for two reasons: 1) I loved his book Nimpentoad and knew that if he put the same care and delightful whimsy into Beyond the Pale as he did Nimpentoad, then I was in for some great reading; & 2) There’s stories by Saladin Ahmed (loved his Throne of the Crescent Moon), Jim Butcher (a Dresden Files short story!), Jane Yolen, and Peter S. Beagle, plus many more. I was not disappointed. This is a great collection of works, not only for the known-to-me authors that I enjoy so much, but also for introducing me to several new-to-me authors that I will be seeking out there work and devouring (yes, I am pointing at you, Ms. Heather Brewer).

Each story in this book has the wonder or mystery built in to it, and some stories end in such a way that the reader can make of it what they will (or need). Our heroes often found themselves questioning reality as they knew it, having to act on what their senses where telling them, and sort it all out later (or forget about it to stay sane). While several of the stories have a touch of the creepy and/or horror, it never goes so far as to be a true horror collection – which suits me just fine. There is awe (The Shark God by Peter S. Beagle), wonder, and hope (Misery by Heather Brewer and Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela by Saladin Ahmed). And, of course, I have to mention Jim Butcher’s Even Hand, a Dresden Files story told from the viewpoint of Johnny Marcone, crime boss of Chicago and Harry Dresden’s constant nemesis. For Dresden fans, this is a real treat. If you haven’t read any Dresden Files, don’t worry, it works great as a stand alone, and may even entice you to dive into Harry Dresden’s world.

This book gets full marks for entertainment. I enjoyed the cover (awesome art!) and the story line up. If you find you need a short story anthology for that commute or those 20 minutes before you nod off at night, this is worthy.

What I Liked: Great authors come together to entertain me!; awesome cover art; I now want to be a Shark God for Halloween; I have a slightly different view of Johnny Marcone thanks to this short story; Heather Brewer’s story, Misery, will stay with me for a while (in a good way).

What I Disliked: No dislikes here, though I am hoping that Henry Herz creates more anthologies.

What Others Think:

My Bookish Ways

Fiction State of Mind

Knife of Dreams, Part IV

JordanKnifeOfDreamsBannerWelcome everyone to Book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Knife of Dreams over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Sue’s Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers is our host. You can probably find Eivind there. Liesel at Musings on Fantasia, cool non-spoilery fan art, so don’t miss checking her post out.

For the fourth week in a row, I am a bit late posting. I am a weaver and this past weekend was one of my biggest shows of the year, and it was super busy. Today, I have been mostly a vegetable, lying about in bed catching up on Knife of Dreams.

This week, we covered Chapters 13-18. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. Elayne seems to be having an ‘interesting’ time because of her pregnancy. Do you think that she is right to be so confident of her continued survival just because of Min’s viewing? Are you concerned that she and Birgitte are going to make a massive error of judgment because of either tiredness or pregnancy-induced irrationality?

I think Elayne is taking too many chances. After all, Min’s viewing didn’t say that Elayne needed to be anything more than a comatose vegetable carrying her babes to birth.

On the other hand, it is immensely entertaining and quite the opposite of what we normally see pregnant women doing – trying to be as protective of their unborn as much as possible.

And Birgitte has been in enough tough situations that she should know that sleep is really important. So I am a little surprised to see her pushing things to the edge of incompetence like this.

2. Some new allies have arrived, but the castle and, possibly the whole city, are rearranging themself at random. How do you see the siege of Caemlyn playing out? Will the mercenaries remain loyal or will Arymilla be able to bribe them? Can Elayne attract any of the Great Houses that have adult leaders?

I think a few strategic executions would suss out much of this nonsense – like some of the leaders of the mercenary groups. If Arymilla buys a few, then Elayne will have the law on her side and can take this action. I think once she shows an iron hand, she will attract more of the house leaders. After all, most folks seek stability, not necessarily right or noble.

As for the castle rearranging itself, that is freaky. Makes me think a little of Hogwarts. So I would want to place some highly recognizable art in the halls and on the walls to help me figure out how things have been moved about. Also certain scents could be used. You could have the mint wing, the lavendar level, the chamomile basement, etc.

3. Aviendha discovers a super, new Talent and then gets whisked away by the Wise Ones. I found this chapter rather jarring for some reason: perhaps I am just accustomed to the meandering pace that the past few books have adopted! Do you think that Aviendha’s departure will have a serious effect on Elayne’s morale, or ability to stop herself throwing things? Do you find it a little too convenient that the pair can now identify the use of angreal and also recreate them?

Oh yes, I found this chapter both jarring and very convenient plot wise. It was jarring partially because of Elayne snapping at everyone, but then having Aviendha whisked away didn’t really make sense to me. If Rand ordered the Aiel to march somewhere, I think he would have made a provision that Aviendha was to stay and guard Elayne. Plus, it was very sudden and I have a hard time seeing even the Wise Women being so hard-hearted as to readily separate Aveidnha and Elayne during a seige while Elayne is pregnant and with The Last Battle coming.

But I can also see that separating Aviendha and Elayne is the only way to get Mellar to move against Elayne. With Aviendha guarding Elayne night and day, Mellar wouldn’t have stood a chance. So, for plot’s sake, we have to move Aviendha somewhere else.

And of course we need to the two to be in contact, so we have this other convenient plot device of Aviendha IDing the angreal, several of which are for long range communication. And I believe that is what Elayne sent with her. So, now they just need to figure out how to activate them.

4. Captain Mellar is certainly a man in great need of a sharp dagger to the jugular. Do you think that this latest shadow will be anymore successful than the last few? Do you think that Mellar will be able to hold himself in check much longer, or will Elayne’s rudeness finally provoke him to violence?

I think this latest shadow will bring Elayne some info, otherwise Jordan wouldn’t have written him in to the storyline. And I think that with Aviendha’s departure and Elayne’s increased rudeness (deserved though it is), Mellar is very, very close to acting. Again, I am concerned that Min’s viewing only requires Elayne’s body to remain alive long enough to deliver her babes and that Elayne is being too reckless, on several fronts.

5. Someone is bumping off members of the Kin. Do you think it really is one of the two sisters under suspicion of Adeleas’ murder? Do you think that the Kin will scatter and flee once it is revealed that someone is targeting them, or will they stand firm and try to defend themselves?

Well, it is someone using saidar. So far, we haven’t had a Dark Friend Windfinder, right? So, maybe for one to rear her black-hearted face. But could also be Black Ajah. The fact is, we have a lot of bad guys running around, uncoordinated, many of whom don’t even know the others exist. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jordan gives us a brand new bad guy knocking off the Kin. We could even have a Dark Friend among the Kin.

And, yes, I expect the Kin to rally and defend themselves once they know what is going on. After all, they had to defend themselves as a group for centuries before now.

6. Arymilla has a very unstable alliance built upon threats and deceit. Do you think that she can hold it together long enough to take Caemlyn? What do you make of Nasin and his ‘simple’ granddaughter: am I the only one who thinks that they are playing a very cunning scheme to use Arymilla’s army for their own ends?

I think Arymilla is being used, and therefore, yes, her army will hold behind her as long as the puppet masters believe they can take the throne. If Arymilla is killed or Elayne makes a decisive blow, then they will pull their support.

Yep, that simple granddaughter isn’t so simple. I expect Nasin & family are using Arymilla and that if Arymilla were to somehow take the city and the palace, she could well find herself accidentally killed by friendly fire.

7. Rand has the link to Mat and Perrin that all three share, but he now has a link to Moridin as well. Do you think that this could work to his advantage, or will it be a massive weakness? Do you think it is connected to his nausea when seizing Saidin?

I think this will initially be a weakness for Rand. He hasn’t been the most proactive in most instances, especially the psychological and info gathering stuff. I expect the Moridin is using the intelligence he gains from looking through Rand’s eyes way more than Rand is using the info he has access to.

But eventually, good will conquer evil. So I expect that Rand will some day, some way pull off some sort of fake out on Moridin and be able to trick the evil sod and kill him.

I don’t know why Rand still has continued nausea and weakness when seizing saidin. Honestly, I thought that cleansing saidin would have taken care of that. So now I think it is linked to whatever Cadsuane must teach Rand in order to survive. Perhaps she knows how to block Moridin’s voyeurism. Perhaps she just makes a really good cup of mint chamomile tea.

8. Covril has arrived with Erith! How quickly do you think that she can organize Loial’s wedding? How does Cadsuane know her?

Haha! Poor Loial. He just assumes he will have to give up his beloved quest and book. I think that both his mother and his wife-to-be will see how miserable he is and Erith will assist him in his quest. She can make sure he stays fed and polish his quill on a regular basis. ;)

And yes, of course Covril will have to see the two married straight off before she can retire back to her Steading. I wonder what an Ogier wedding is like?

Cadsuane has been around for centuries, so I expect she has had many dealings with the Ogier over the years. Though since so few are adventurous, I would expect that she knows Covril adn her lineage because she went to study with the Ogier women at some point.

Other Tidbits:

I am kind of glad that Rand doesn’t have to be around for the snappy, angry stage of Elayne’s pregnancy (which I hope she comes out of soon).

Is it just me, or do others occasionally want to smack a Wise One or two upside the head for over use of physical reprimands?

I really wish that Mat, Perrin, and Rand would figure out that they can communicate with each other via their shared rainbow vision.

Bubonicon 2014: Saturday

ABQ Steampunk Society & Cherie Priest

ABQ Steampunk Society & Cherie Priest

The Saturday of Bubonicon is where the most stuff happens – lots of panels, plenty of readings by individual authors, the mass autographing session, and the costume contest. For this post, I decided to talk about the panels and in another post I will share my crappy photos of the costume contest and talk about all the cool art I saw in the art show room.

First, let me say the Con Suite was awesome. This is my first time partaking of it and I was impressed. The hotel house rules put the Con Suite up on the 16th floor and they have to cover the expensive items (i.e. the TV) and the floor with plastic – which kind of makes you feel like you are walking right into a kill room, except there is all this food and nerdy people having merry geeky conversations. There were simple breakfast burritos that you could dress up with salsa or cheese, plenty of fruit, bagels, various beverages, and all sorts of appropriate con food (minion cheese nips!). And donuts! It’s been months since I had a donut and I was just dreaming about them last week.

Connie Willis on the Ten SF Worlds You Need to Visit panel, Bubonicon 2014

Connie Willis on the Ten SF Worlds You Need to Visit panel, Bubonicon 2014

Then off to my first panel of the day, Secret History versus Alternate History: Splitting Hairs. Since Ian Tregillis couldn’t make it this year (sniffle), Walter Jon Williams filled in as moderator. He was joined by Cherie Priest, John Hemry (AKA Jack Campbell), S. M. Stirling, & John Maddox Roberts. Williams quickly defined the terms ‘secret history’ and the grammatically correct ‘alternative history’ to the panel’s agreement. This panel was part history lesson and part discovery of other great authors of the genre that I need to hunt down and devour. Priest talked about how boiling water, two ladies (Clara Barton & Sally Thompkins), and their insistence to remain in charge birthed the organization we know today as the American Red Cross. There was also plenty of talk about dirigibles (real and fictional), submarines, and the what if photography came around a bit earlier (since all the tech was there but no one had put it together). Stirling highly recommended checking out the memoirs of Anne Lister, a mountaineer & traveler who died in the 1840s. Fredric Brown was also recommended, along with Anno Dracula by Kim Newman.

The ABQ Steampunk Society hosted a tea and chat with Cherie Priest that everyone was welcome to attend. The ladies of the ABQSS were all decked out in their outfits, complete with gadgets and personas. The tea was hot, the room chilly, the conversation excellent. Leah R, the ABQSS Event Organizer, was dressed as Briar Wilkes from Boneshaker (hooray!). Various steampunk touchstones in modern culture were discussed such as the tv series Jack of All Trades (which I need to Netflix!) and the robot Boilerplate (who has a tidy little faux history and website). Beyond Victoriana is a blog that focuses on steampunk, and especially on steampunk beyond the boundaries of England and English culture. I had quite a bit of fun browsing around on this site. Of course, Priest gave us a little history lesson (which is tied to one of her books) concerning Maria Boyd, a spy for the Confederacy in the Civil War. I forget exactly how Maria came up in conversation, but she had a fascinating life starting in her teens with plenty of marriages, internment camps, spying, affairs, etc.

Ernest Cline on the Pop! Culture Influences panel, Bubonicon 2014

Ernest Cline on the Pop! Culture Influences panel, Bubonicon 2014

Alas, the tea was drunk the hour was over and we all had to shove over for the next item on the schedule. I was off to Pop! Culture: Influences of Today’s Life, a panel moderated by Cherie Priest and which included Ernest Cline, Scott Phillips, Gabi Stevens, and Lauren Teffeau. Some of this panel I got, some I didn’t. I am a produce of the 1980s, but it was heavily influenced by country music and nothing but country music (unless I heard it in a movie). Don’t fret; I rectified this somewhat when I escaped to college and discovered all sorts of emo and alternative music. But there are still gaps in my 1980s cultural references as there were plenty of movies/music/tv that I wasn’t allowed to experience. Other parts of the panel, i totally got, like I can completely understand why someone (Cline) would want a DeLorean or two, and why they would trick them out with paraphernalia from Ghostbusters, Star wars, and KITT. There was plenty of talk about Star Trek, MST3K, and Atari to go along with it. Also, I learned an important Star Wars trivia – the gold dice hanging from the Millennium Falcon in the first movie were later stolen from the set and didn’t make a reappearance in the subsequent films.

Daniel Abraham moderating the Sidekicks & Minions panel, Bubonicon 2014

Daniel Abraham moderating the Sidekicks & Minions panel, Bubonicon 2014

The fun continued with Sidekick and Minion Cliches & Comic Relief, moderated by Daniel Abraham (who is half of the awesome writing team James S. A. Corey, the other half being Ty Franck). He was joined by John Hemry, Claire Eddy, S. M. Stirling, & Connie Willis. This panel started off with a rousing discussion of the definitions of sidekick, minion, and foil and then friendly banter about the differences, followed by examples – Pinky & the Brain, Harry, Ron & Hermione, Sherlock & Watson, Batman & Robin, Don Quixote & Sancho Panza. Who’s a foil (someone there to constantly screw up and create opportunities for our hero to look good)? Who is a minion (someone forced into assisting our evil empire builder)? Who is a sidekick (and there was tons of discussion on exactly what role the sidekick plays)? And here is another new-to-me author to add to my TBR pile – Sean Stewart. Then someone mentioned a podcast done in the style of old-time radio theater, The Thrilling Adventure Hour.  A few movies/tv shows, such as The Venture Bros. and Grabbers, were also mentioned.

Ten SF Worlds You Need to Visit Before You Die was moderated by Connie Willis, who was joined by Yvonne Coats, T. Jackson King, John Maddox Roberts, and Courtney Willis (Connie’s husband). If you think I blathered on before, well, there was tons of good stuff discussed on this panel, and I could go on and on – but this is already a really long post. So let me say the following books/authors were recommended by the panel: The Wood Wife, H. Beam Piper, Samuel R. Delany, Discworld, Barsoom, Andre Norton, Redshift Rendezvous, Robert Forward, Riverworld, Karen Anderson, Richard K. Morgan, James White, Earthsea, And Flatland. There, if that doesn’t keep you in reading for 6 months, I don’t know what will.

David Lee Summers at Bubonicon 2014

David Lee Summers at Bubonicon 2014

The last panel of the day was What Scares You Now? Horror Today which was moderated by Craig A. Butler. He was joined by Cherie Priest, Scott Phillips, David Lee Summers, & Joan Saberhagen. First, let me say that I was NOT stalking Cherie Priest on Saturday. It just so happens that she was in nearly all the panels I had an interest in. No, the stalking came the next day – just kidding. But we did get to share an elevator (and some morbid humor) with several other ladies. Second, half the panel started off introducing themselves and their fear of centipedes. Hence, there was a fair number of centipede jokes throughout the hour. There was plenty of discussion about vampires and zombies; Priest said an interesting thing that I will attempt to clearly paraphrase: the two are opposite sides to the same coin. One makes you unique, powerful, desirable, and autonomous while the other strips everything unique from you, makes you undesirable, and leaves you no longer in control of yourself. I am sure there is a senior psych paper in that somewhere. Saberhagen was difficult to scare, as she fears none of the made up monsters. She did have bits and pieces to add to psychological terrors, such as when your senses say something is in front of you or happening that your mind says can not be. And of course there were lots of recommendations of what is good in horror now: Salem’s Lot, Manhattan, The Day After, Kate Kerrigan, The Ape’s Wife & Other Stories, The Slenderman.

And there we have most of Saturday. It really is a small convention, but that lets me ride the elevator with book celebrities and ask pesky questions at every panel (if I wanted to). And I get to know some of the regular con goers too. Plus several of the local authors bring their spouses and kids, so that is always cute to see.

Knife of Dreams, Part III

JordanKnifeOfDreamsBannerWelcome everyone to Book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Knife of Dreams over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Liesel at Musings on Fantasia, cool non-spoilery fan art, is your host. And you can probably find Eivind (walking WoT encyclopedia) over there in the comments. And hop on over to Sue’s Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for some great deductive reasoning skills in calculating how things will fall out with the plot.

For the third week in a row, I am a bit late posting. But this time I have a SUPER GREAT reason (as opposed to the flood and the sinus infection of the previous 2 weeks) – I was at Bubonicon 46! Hooray!

This week, we covered Chapters 8-12. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) We finally get more details on Aludra’s plans with the elusive bell founders and all. Do you see this plan succeeding? What will it mean for the Last Battle? How will it play out?

Back when we first heard about Aludra’s plans (2 books back?), I thought her super secret weapon (which I expect will turn out to be canons) were to be used against the Seanchan. But here we are, on the road with the circus, and we still don’t have canon. Much to my dismay, we haven’t fired them yet. I do enjoy my weapons.

So it is becoming clearer that Aludra is simply doing this for the shear joy of it. I think she and I could be friends. Good friends. Friends who enjoy the firing range for hours at a time and then go sit around the campfire afterward drinking and talking about the firing range.

But to answer the question, because that is why we are all here, yes, I do expect Aludra’s plan to work and for us to have canons for the Last Battle. And I expect this will give the Last Battle a slightly steampunk feel to it, which Brandon Sanderson will write beautifully and it won’t freak out any of the genre purists.

2) Mistress Anan finally reveals some of her past. Were you surprised by anything she said?

I think I stopped being surprised by things in WoT when Moiraine took Lanfear into the angreal doorway. If Jordan can do that to 2 of his most important characters, then he can do anything (and most of the time make it believable and entertaining). As with so many of the characters in this series, Mistress Anan has a past. This is one of those things Jordan does very well – even his minor characters have a past. Even if Jordan never pulls on the past for a particular character, he has done it for any number of other minor characters. So here we are, Book 11, and I have to assume that any character that walks onto the stage does have a past and that it may be crucial to some plot point later. Basically, Jordan made it so i can’t dismiss any of the characters as mere window dressing.

That ramble said, I would like to know what more Anan knows about angreal and the fox/elfish people that Mat ran into. I was thinking that Anan was a senior Kin woman, but can’t recall if she was ever explicitly called so. She knows plenty about Aes Sedai, weaves, the power, and angreal.

3) We saw tons of Mat and Tuon this week. From her snapping a’dam onto Aes Sedai necks to finding out she might have had her siblings assassinated to seeing Suroth’s plan to declare her an impostor and have her killed in action to participating in a knife fight for/with her, Mat had his hands full. Feel free to comment on any part of this story line. What stood out to you, shocked you, delighted you? Where do you think it will go from here? What repercussions will it have?

The a’dam seen with the Aes Sedai made me uncomfortable. First, the Aes Sedai were being high-handed and annoying, but that is all their training will allow them to do in a case like this. Tuon was also being high-handed and annoying by ignoring them, and ignoring the bigger picture of the war, etc. Yet her training as an upcoming imperial ruler wouldn’t let her do anything else.

So when she had her servants snap a’dam on the Aes Sedai, part of me was highly amused – the Aes Sedai who felt they were in the moral right and also felt superior due to their powers all of a sudden found that they had no powers and the ‘moral right’ didn’t matter without the power to back it up. It was nice to see some of the wind knocked out of their sails. And this made me uncomfortable because it came at the cost of slavery.

So now that we have seen this loss of power with the Aes Sedai, and hence they have to approach the problem with a team effort and wits instead of force, I totally expect Jordan to do the same thing to Tuon at some point. How do we ever get the Seanchan to recognize Channelers as full humans? Well, we start with their ruler(s), such as Tuon. And to have Tuon change her core mind on this, there will have to be something drastic – like she will need to be completely helpless without the assistance of Channelers – or better yet, she will have to call down lightning, etc. And if she can Channel, and she is the next Seanchan Imperial ruler, we obviously can’t collar her.

Plus, I expect Mat to point out her inequity at some point in a harsh but loving way and Tuon will have to see how her slavery ideas may loose her the greatest lay she will ever have.

4) A Shiota ghost town makes a rather disturbing appearance in Mat’s life. What do you think was the cause of it, and what does it mean for our characters?

I think this is another one of those Bubbles of Evil things – but with ghosts. And while Mat didn’t have ready arrows to shoot the man and his horses (giving them a quick, easy death), I wonder why no one else in the caravan took car of business. Someone surely had bow & arrows, javelins, stones and sling? These are armed, talented folk. I think it would have been very hard to listen to the horses screaming like that for all those long minutes while they died.

For our main characters, I don’t think it means too much as it is unlikely that any of them will get trapped in a bubble like this and die. It might be that one could wander into a bubble like this and take a while to figure out what was happening and get a good scare out of it before escaping. But I fully expect that they would escape.

5) Apparently Mat, Thom, and Noal might be setting out to rescue Moiraine. Were you surprised by this, or by what was finally revealed to be in her letter to Thom? Do you think they can succeed?

I think I am most intrigued by the ‘Dearest Thom’ part. Dearest? Hmmm…..Past sexytimes?

We have known for a book or 2 now that Lanfear wasn’t dead, so it was quite easy to suspect that Moiraine was not dead either. And I was pleasantly surprised to learn that those fox/elfish people are holding her because they are super intriguing and of course I want some of our heroes to go to their house and raise a ruckus.

Jordan has wrapped these people in dangers and unknowns, so a lot can happen. Truth to tell, I do worry about everyone except Mat and Moiraine. We need those two to come out of this in order to move the plot forward. Thom or Noal could die or be trapped there, which would be tragic and sad, but the plot could still move forward. I suspect that Noal still has some critical part to play in the plot – but I can’t say if that is in freeing Moiraine, or in the Last Battle. So perhaps Thom will have to be the one to fall in this quest.

6) Someone tried to assassinate Perrin. Who do you think it was and why? What do you think of how things are going with his alliance with the Seanchan? Will their forkroot plan work?

Did Moiridin order his underlings to take out Mat and Perrin? And since a lot of folks know where Perrin is, he is the logical first target. I think Moiridin is behind this as he could instill the right amount of fear to have failures poison themselves.

So far, I think Perrin is doing fairly well with the Seanchan. He is straight forward, which they can appreciate, and they are starting to trust him a little bit; this shows in that they fill him in on his social faux pas.

Yes, I expect the forkroot plan to work and for Faile and Perrin to be reunited. Initially, there will be lots of sparks, hugs, kisses, and sexytimes. But then Faile will here the naughty rumors about Perrin and Berelain and she will go back to the jealous dunce we all know and bemoan.

Other Tidbits:

Which Aes Sedai was tossing dirt clods and crap at Mat, via the power? Naughty, naughty!

Nolan was so ready to take on Tuon and her servants when the Aes Sedai were collared. Very, very interesting!

I love the Seanchan hairstyles – and how they freak out the Randlanders (just a little).

Interview: David Lee Summers, Author of Lightning Wolves

SummersLightningWolvesFolks, please welcome David Lee Summers to the blog once again. He’s previously gifted me with a bit of his time in this other interview. Today we chat about fairy tales, Star Wars, Cherie Priest’s works, awkward fan moments, and question over the correct use of the term ‘parsec’. I had quite a bit of fun in reading through David’s answers and I expect you’ll be as entertained as I am.

Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

One of my favorite poetry collections is Jean Hull Herman‘s Jerry Springer as Bulfinch or Mythology Modernized. Throughout her collection, Ms. Herman recounts stories of Greek myth and recounts similar episodes from the Jerry Springer Show. It all goes to show that we not only project our hopes and aspirations into our myths, we also reflect who we are as human beings on our myths and sometimes we don’t always come off in the best light.

No matter what genre a writer tackles, they’re going to react to those things around them. Now a science fiction writer might either add some wish fulfillment and create the world she hopes will come about, or she might create the world she fears. The same is true for fantasy. We’ll raise up our better selves in the form of heroes and noble creatures while also dashing ourselves through villains and monsters. In answer to your question, I think modern fantasy fiction simply gives us a lens by which to view the modern world and attempt to make the best choices as human beings. A century from now, people will look at our fantasy in much the same way as we look at Grimm’s Fairy Tales, as a window into past times.

HowellSummersKeplersDozenGiven the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs?

The fantastical beasts of fiction I would most like to encounter would be any Maurice Sendak‘s wild things of Where the Wild Things Are. They look vicious, but really, all they want to do is play and I could be their king by simply being fierce at them.

Although I love dragons and gryphons and would love to see one from a safe distance, I’d probably also want to avoid them at all costs because I’m not sure there would be a safe distance.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

I would love to see a PC game based on Cherie Priest‘s Clockwork Century novels. It would be fun to see a lot of the different locations and situations visualized. It could be done as a quest game with different objectives. I’d love to campaign through her alternate Seattle underground, or aboard the speeding train of Dreadnaught, or through the streets and swamps of her steampunked New Orleans from Ganymede. For my part, I would like to play the part of airship pirate captain Andan Cly, but there are plenty of great characters that a player could choose to be in this world.

SummersOwlDanceWhat nonfiction works have you found useful in building fictional worlds, cultures, and plots?

One of the go-to books in my personal library is The Atlas of Past Times. It was a book I found on remainder on a shelf outside a bookstore, but I find it a great quick reference when I’m checking where boundaries were at a given point in history or who was in charge of what, which can then point me to other historical reference materials. This is very useful if I’m working on a historical story, alternate or otherwise. It also reminds me about how fast boundaries have changed in human history.

In general, I think the most useful books for building cultures are collections of folk tales. I’ve used Grimm’s Fairy Tales, American Indian Myths and Legends by Erdoes and Ortiz, and Vampire in Europe by Montague Summers. There are also a lot of good projects where people have collected folktales on the web. These tell you a lot about people’s hopes and fears, their morality, and their taboos. Reading folk tales along with books from other times and places can open your mind and help you consider what future or fantastic cultures might be like.

NASA has many great online resources not only for their discoveries, but the spacecraft and vehicles that made them. This can be helpful when you’re thinking about how vehicles work in space. Plus, they often give you references for places to look for more information.

The way I approach any story at the beginning is to think about what building blocks I need for the story. Will I need to know about a certain region of the world? Do I want to build a culture that’s analogous to a culture that has existed? Sometimes I have books that will help answer those questions in my library. If not, I’ll go to the online card catalog for the local library and see what kinds of books they have on those subjects.

SummersTheSlayersWhich ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

Paradise Lost by John Milton is one I’ve always wanted to sit down and work my way through because it inspired so much of the modern lore about angels and demons—things people think are Biblical but aren’t. I’d also love to read the Iliad and the Odyssey all the way through. I’ve read large chunks of the latter, but it’s been a long time. On a somewhat lighter note, I’ve been looking for a good translation of Jules Verne‘s ‘Round the Moon, the sequel to From the Earth to the Moon. Verne ends the first book on a cliffhanger, with his crew going to the moon, but we don’t find out what happens until the second book and I haven’t tracked down a copy yet!

From your own writings, are there any characters you would like to cosplay? Have others dressed up as characters from your books?

In fact the outfit I often wear to steampunk events is inspired by the clothes I describe for the inventor, Professor Maravilla in Owl Dance and Lightning Wolves. It’s a cravat, brightly colored waistcoat, and tailcoat. The bounty hunter, Larissa Crimson, was created by my daughter as her steampunk persona for events. As it turns out, she appears as Larissa on the cover of Lightning Wolves.

So far, I haven’t encountered anyone outside my family dressed up as a character from my books, but I’d be absolutely delighted if they did. They’d get a free book and I’d have to take a picture with them!

SummersSolarSeaIf you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

I would start with Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. After all, she pretty much invented both modern science fiction and horror with Frankenstein. Next would be Arthur Conan Doyle. It would be great to meet the man behind Sherlock Holmes and see if I could get him to recount stories of some of his famous hoaxes. Another British author of the period who would be fun to have at this table would be D.H. Lawrence, to discuss both poetry and his perspective on northern New Mexico at the time my grandparents were doing their best to make a life there. Leigh Brackett would have to be on the list for both her role in early pulp science fiction, but for a Hollywood writing career that ranged from working with Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep, to John Wayne in Rio Bravo, and finishing with the screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back. With Leigh Brackett there, I would have to invite Ray Bradbury. Even though I got to meet him before he died, there are so many more things we could talk about and discuss now than when I met him in the early days of my career.

Who knows what they would order if left to their own devices, but with three people from England and two of them from the late Victorian period, I’d be inclined to invite them over to a sumptuous holiday meal of turkey and all the trimmings. If I were preparing it, it would be a smoked turkey with mole sauce on the side. I’d make sure there was plenty of wine and beer available. The one time I was with Ray Bradbury that he ordered something, it was a Heineken.

SummersDragon'sFallIf you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in SFF literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

The hard part of this question is that a college semester is only going to have limited time and you can’t read all the greatest, best, or the most influential works. My inclination would be to use Frankenstein to discuss science fiction’s beginning as cautionary, morality tale. I would move on to Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon to discuss the rise of science fiction as an optimistic genre. Starship Troopers would probably serve as classic military, hero-driven science fiction and as a jumping off point for the role of politics in science fiction. Dune would probably come next to show a continuation of the heroic saga, but subverted by the sensitivity of ecology and drug culture at the time it was produced. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester would probably come in there, too, to show how heroic science fiction could be completely subverted, allowing for the rise of cyberpunk and other genres. A novel like Paolo Bacigalupi‘s The Windup Girl would serve to show the return to science fiction as cautionary tale, the introduction of steampunk and a jumping off place for a discussion of the future.

Lots of other books would certainly be mentioned, if not substituted for these. Certainly Ray Bradbury’s novels and stories would be discussed. Lois McMaster Bujold and the Miles Vorsagian novels would be good examples of character and plot almost becoming primary to any particular science fictional element. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy could come in as part of a discussion on the role of humor in science fiction. So many books so little time!

SummersRevolutionOfAirAndRustCare to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

It was more cool than awkward, but last year at Phoenix Comicon, a fellow bought a copy of Revolution of Air and Rust. He was nice enough, but said he’d read it over and let me know what he thought. The next day, he came back to the table with one of his friends and he immediately bought Owl Dance and told his friend, he absolutely had to buy Revolution of Air and Rust. “That’s one of the best things I’ve read.” That just made my day.

As for awkward fanboy moments on my part, I went to see Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan on the day of release with friends of mine from across town. We were all in high school at the time. They introduced me to their friend Jan Bixby. We were having a great time in line talking Star Trek, science fiction, and generally geeking out when an older man built like a bantam rooster with hair that looked like it put combs in their place walked up and had a few words with Jan. One of my friends pulled him aside and introduced me to him. “This is Jan’s dad, Jerome.” I shook his hand, then said something like “Pleased to meet you, sir”, then he went on his way. A beat or two later, I put it together. Jan Bixby’s dad was Jerome Bixby, the author of such original Star Trek episodes as “Mirror, Mirror” and “Requiem for Methuselah” plus the great, great horror story “It’s a Good Life” which was made into a Twilight Zone episode starring Billy Mumy. I think I was speechless and muttering incoherent syllables for a while afterward. One of my friends had to point out in typical high school fashion, “Yeah, but he’s just Jan’s dad.”

SummersSpaceHorrorsWhat is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

One argument that seems to crop up from time to time is whether or not soft science fiction has any value influencing scientists. For example, someone might point to the infamous line from Star Wars where Han Solo says the Millennium Falcon “made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.” In the context of the movie, it’s clear he’s referring to parsecs as a unit of time, when in fact, they’re a distance that was initially based on the size of an arcsecond of angle on the sky. The claim is often made that not only is this bad science, it’s going to lead kids away from the sciences and we’re going to raise a generation of idiots. Therefore, this kind of terrible science needs to be eliminated from science fiction at all costs.

However, most astronomers I’ve known have gone into science precisely because soft science fiction got them thinking about the adventure of space at an early age. Carl Sagan famously fell in love with Mars because of Edgar Rice Burroughs, who got almost everything wrong about Mars. I’ve known generations of scientists who got interested in science because of both Star Wars and Star Trek. In my case, I remember hearing Han Solo’s line from Star Wars and wondering what a parsec was. Was it anything real? When I looked it up, I found out they got it wrong. So what? I still loved the adventure of Star Wars, but I have to admit, I felt a little bit superior to the writers of Episode IV. A whole new world opened up to me and I started looking up even more stuff.

So my side of the argument usually runs something like this: Science fiction influences scientists not because it’s right but because it’s fun. Sure as writers, we should do our best to get it right, but it’s the fun that makes people care. I’ve yet to meet anyone who stopped having an interest in science because George Lucas didn’t know what a parsec was.

Places to Find David Lee Summers

Hadrosaur Productions

Tales of the Talisman

David Lee Summers: Wrong Turn on the Information Superhighway

David Lee Summers’ Web Journal

Goodreads

Amazon

Facebook

Twitter

Knife of Dreams, Part II

JordanKnifeOfDreamsBannerWelcome everyone to Book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Knife of Dreams over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, I am your host. Make sure to catch Eivind in the comments. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s Musings on Fantasia for cool non-spoilery fan art and hop on over to Sue’s Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for some great deductive reasoning skills in calculating how things will fall out with the plot.

For the second week in a row, I am a bit late posting. This week, I blame a sinus infection that has me in a frustrating amount of pain. the headache is killer!

This week, we covered Chapters 2-7. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Beonin, Ashmanaille, & Phaedrine chat about theories on who the channeling male murderer is. Did you enjoy Beonin’s logic? Do you think other Aes Sedai are drawing the same conclusions? Will such assumptions and conclusions hinder Rand’s plans in preparing for the Last Battle?

The Aes Sedai seem pretty bent on laying these murders at Rand’s feet. In the end, I fear this will allow Halima to go undetected for a great length of time and allow him/her to wreak some major havoc later on.

And why do none of these Aes Sedai think outside the box? Has the traditional White Tower ruined the collective thinking power of a whole generation of Aes Sedai?

And of course, I do fear that these assumptions will come to hinder Rand’s plans, like he needs any more hindering with the constant war her has going on inside himself.

2) Elaida had thought to show the world her power by snatching a monarch in the night and she plans to show even greater power by putting that monarch back on his royal seat. Do you think Mattin Stepaneos, king of Illian, will be cooperative? What other setbacks to Elaida’s plan can you predict?

I expect Mattin to be cooperative to a point – like that point in which he once again sits a throne. Then I expect he will throw it back in Elaida’s teeth and the White Tower will take another hit in reputation. Egwene is going to have tons of community outreach to do once she takes over.

And of course I expect many other rulers will no longer welcome Aes Sedai to their throne rooms after this, expecting (or fearing) such blatant betrayal of all common courtesy. People won’t cower before Elaida; instead, they will be hiring hitmen to take her out.

3) Once again the Forsaken get together for a tickle and tell dinner party. We saw some new technology on display. Do you think we will see further advanced tech and in more prominent use as the series continues? Do you think Moiridin can keep them all in line?

For several books now, there have been hints and some small demonstrations of advanced tech. However, I expect Jordan will keep that low key for the entire series, as this is primarily a fantasy series, not scifi/fantasy. While genre boundaries don’t matter as much these days (thank goodness), they were in full use when this series started. Hence, due to fan base expectations, I doubt the publisher would be OK with a storyline veering away from the core fantasy genre.

Some of the Forsaken are already plotting to kill Moiridin. The Forsaken have not struck me as particularly bright, but I think that can also be said of Moiridin (who is brutal and a bit crazy). So I doubt he will be able to get them all to do everything he requires of them and he may even be taken out by the Forsaken.

4) Perrin meets with the Seanchan. Were you impressed with his display of martial capability? What about that sulfur stench? Even if this plan goes off without a hitch, do you see continued friendly relationships between Perrin’s forces and the Seanchan?

I loved Perrin’s simple yet elegant display of martial capability. Obviously, the Seanchan came to a swift appreciation for the Two Rivers longbow.

What is up with the Hell Hounds (the source of the sulfur stench)? They seem to be keeping tabs on Perrin, or someone in his group. Like scouts seeking out the target and then reporting back. Of course this has me concerned as no one enjoys tangling with a Hell Hound, let alone a pack of them.

Yes, I expect the Seanchan will continue friendly negotiations with Perrin after Faile is safely back home. For one thing, Perrin is a straight shooter and the Seanchan will learn quickly that they can deal with him openly and honestly. Second, it shoulnd’t be long before the Seanchan in Randland start hearing about the calamity that has struck their homeland; they will need allies.

5) Faile has a lot of decisions to make, and soon. She is determined to escape before Perrin can attempt a rescue; she has the Oath Rod; Galina appears near breaking; and Rolan is still putting flowers in her hair. Will her actions muck up Perrin’s rescue? Will Galina’s duplicity be undone? Will Rolan get even one romantic night, one which will never be spoken of again?

Oh es! I totally expect Faile to muck up Perrin’s plans, potentially getting people injured or killed. I can’t blame her for wanting to escape, but her unhealthy attitude of showing up Perrin is juvenile.

Uh….perhaps I have mentioned before how ridiculous I find Faile’s character?

I am SO looking forward to Galina’s duplicity being caught. But knowing the Aes Sedai, she could very well sneak off in all the mayhem and she won’t have to pay for her actions.

You know, I would be OK with Rolan being granted one night of Faile sexytimes. I think this would mellow Faile considerably towards the women who pursue Perrin. At least, she wouldn’t be able to give Perrin any more shit. Not justly, anyways. Perrin seems to be the kind of guy who would take it for a lifetime.

6) Mat has bought a new horse, razor breed, and given Tuon a pet name (Precious) to counter her little pet name for him (Toy). And then we learn that Noal is related to Jain Farstrider! Guesses as to why Noal has such strong feelings on the adventures of his cousin?

I am guessing that Noal may be Jain Farstrider and decided to dissemble a bit by saying he was his cousin. Noal sure did speak vehemently about Jain going of on adventure and leaving his wife to die alone. Sounds like Noal has major regrets. I can see him being a good guiding force in Mat’s life, if Mat can stop thinking of him as an old harmless idiot.

7) Mat’s little ter’angreal secret is out and the Aes Sedai traveling with the circus are VERY curious. Do you think this will cause a problem later? Bethamin, a former sul’dam, channeled some powerful weave, to her great distress. Could she turn out to be a powerful Aes Sedai in the future?

Once again, I expect the Aes Sedai to pester or outright ‘borrow’ Mat’s ter’angreal for study. And of course, in the very long run, I expect some baddie to eventually hear of this extra protection Mat has and instead of channeling like a good channeler, just go for the throat (which, unfortunately, may actually work).

Yes, I think some of the sul’dam wil prove to be as powerful as the top ranking Aes Sedai, much to the Aes Sedais’ distress. ;)

Other Tidbits:

Beonin spilled all to Elaida! This is a problem. A big one. I feel sorry for Beonin’s Warder who was left in the dark about this one.

Some of the Shaido gai’shain have sought protection in the beds of their captors. I believe there was one brief mention of a woman gai’shain seeking out her female captor’s bed. I truly appreciate the diversity Jordan built in to this series, in so many ways.

Knife of Dreams, Part I

JordanKnifeOfDreamsBannerWelcome everyone to Book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Knife of Dreams over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Eivind is our host and you can probably find him in the comments. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s Musings on Fantasia for cool non-spoilery fan art and hop on over to Sue’s Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for some great deductive reasoning skills in calculating how things will fall out with the plot.

I had to post late this week because we had a flood last week and I was just wiped out from the actual event and then clean up efforts.

This week, we covered the Prologue and Chapter 1. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. Eamon Valda finally buys it, and Galad is now (at least de jure) Lord Captain Commander. Do you think he will be able to muster the children and fight back in any meaningful way? Or is this effectively the end of the order?

Well, I was looking for something else perhaps 2 months ago (perhaps a list of the Forsaken) and the answer to this question was revealed. I guess folks aren’t big into spoiler warnings for this series since it has been out for so long. Perhaps I should reveal the ending to The Hobbit?

Digressing…….Back to the question. First, before stumbling upon that bit of info, I would NEVER have expected Galad to rise to Lord Captain Commander. While he is a stickler for the rules, he is also a good person. I can’t see him raping and torturing his way through a country like Masema’s men do (and some of the Whitecloaks). And the 2 previous Lord Captain Commanders have been pretty ruthless.

So with that in mind, Galad is going to have to get a bit more ruthless, and suspicious, in order to stay alive, let alone retain the title of Lord Captain Commander. But I can’t see Jordan just letting this constant nuisance dressed in snazzy cloaks & armor fade out. So I expect them to be around for the end of the world.

2. The Seanchan suffer some shocking defeats at the hands of Ituralde. Suroth is furious and sends away almost all the air scouts. Will this help Mat out? What do you think is in the future for Ituralde?

First, Ituralde has incredible fashion sense, with the lace and the beauty patch on his face. Very chic.

I think anything that unbalances Suroth, who we know to be a Darkfriend, will help Mat or one of our other heroes. So if Ituralde’s sense of style (on or off the battlefield) does that, I am all for it.

Some of our WoT Quad have mentioned that Ituralde is the last of the greatest battle generals to enter the storyline. So I expect him to win a lot of battles, some of them decisive. I don’t know if he will survive to the end as we have had only tiny little bits of him so far. And I expect some of the key players will have to die in the final 3 books.

3. Semirhage has been busy in Seandar, and Seanchan as we know it (or more accurately, didn’t know it), has ceased to exist. Without support from their homeland, do you think the return is now doomed (in the long term)? Might this force them into accepting an alliance with Rand, once it becomes known?

Yes!!!!! Oh, when I heard this, I did a little dance. I know, I shouldn’t root for Semirhage, but the Seanchan have been pissing me off since they first appeared on Randland thinking they could just conquer the entire land and that they were entitled to do so.

Now with their homeland all in tatters, I hope they realize they will need to make alliances, respect the various peoples of Randland, in order to simply maintain their existence and their possible chance to return home and resurrect their homeland.

4. The Black Ajah hunters have stalled, and Pevara is now being sent away on a mission to bond Asha’men. Talene managed to hide, but Alviarin is still on the right track. Where do you see this storyline going?

Uh….Well, perhaps I wasn’t paying close attention….again.

I expect Pevara to fail at forcing a bond upon Asha’men. Period. Though it could turn rather amusing if she is bonded to one of them.

Alviarin is highly motivated to serve the DO, so I expect her to continue to cause trouble until someone kills her.

5. Of all the things that could happen between Galina and Perrin, what were you wishing for? Do you suppose she succeeded in stalling him?

Galina was doing a lot of lying and I wondered if Perrin could smell her lies and played along with part of it? Of perhaps he could only smell fear on her, which could be explained by the Aes Sedai fear and revulsion towards Asha’men.

If he didn’t pick up on Galina’s lies, then I want to slap him upside the head. He knows that things may not be as they seem. He has met and fought with Wise Women. So he knows that just because you can channel doesn’t mean you are bound by oath to tell the truth.

The rude little evil part of me wishes that Perrin had tortured Galina to verify the truth.

As for stalling Perrin, no. It sounds like they were nearly set to follow through on some plan anyway and that grabbing Galina just gave them a little extra info.

6. Egwene has been installed as a novice again, and sees advantages in her situation. How badly do you think will Elaida regret not having her tried? Is Egwene right in refusing rescue? And do you think she will manage to hold the rebellion together by proxy (in tel’aran’rhiod)?

Oh yes, I definitely hope that Elaida comes to regret not having Egwene beheaded on the spot. I really want Elaida to regret that decision just before she is exiled, Stilled, or killed. Or perhaps all 3. I’m easy that way.

Yes, Egwene is right to refuse rescue just yet. She is in a unique position to learn a lot about her enemies in the White Tower and get that intel to the Aes Sedai outside the Tower through T’A’R.

As for being able to hold the rebellion together….well, I think the Aes Sedai who greatly desire power and see the rebellion as a way to it will hold the rebellion together. Of course, they might not do much to help free Egwene so I hope she packed some clean undies for her (probable) long stay in the Tower.

Guest Post: Jim Bernheimer, Author of Prime Suspects

BernheimerPenniesForferrymanFolks, please welcome Jim Bernheimer back to Dab of Darkness. I have enjoyed a few of his novels and a short story collection to date. ‘Enjoyed’ really is too light a term. I tore through three of Jim’s books back to back. Little housework was accomplished that week. So it is with great pleasure that Jim agreed to do a guest post and tell us about his latest book, Origins of a D-List Supervillain. You can also check out the Dab of Darkness interview along with my reviews of Prime Suspects, Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, and Horror, Humor, and Heroes.

A Post That’s Pretty Much About Nothing

I’ll start with thanking Susan for allowing me to come on and do a guest post.

She gave me a plethora of topics to choose from, which was cool, and it gave me the opportunity to use plethora in a sentence. Unfortunately, as I read on it became crystal clear that all her imaginative ideas weren’t clicking with me. The good news was she said I was free to come up with my own topic.

I’m a writer. How hard could that possibly be?

The answer is very. In the aftermath of finishing my latest novel, I find myself devoid of any meaningful ideas, so I’m going to try and totally wing it.

BernheimerOriginsOfD-ListSupervillainObviously I want to talk about my new book, Origins of a D-List Supervillain (available in paperback, Kindle/Nook, and with the audiobook coming soon). However I figured I shouldn’t be blatant because savvy and intelligent readers, like those visiting Dab of Darkness, can spot a shameless, self-promoter hawking their wares from a mile away. So I figured I’d have to be clever when I insert a paragraph promoting the prequel to one of the highest rated novels in the superhero genre. Y’know, so people won’t roll their eyes at me when they read this and do so without seeming to pander to this well-read and fascinating audience.

Prequel? Yeah, I wanted to be like George Lucas and go there – only with less Jar-Jar, because that’s how “Meesa Roll.” Anyway, I just did a single prequel. That’s all I had material for, which is also sort of like, well movies 1-3.

Maybe I should get rid of that last bit? Picking on the prequel trilogy and Jar-Jar is low hanging fruit. Then again, most everyone laughs; so I guess it stays.

What am I working on now? That’s always good to talk about. People like that, but that’s usually at the end of the guest post and I don’t think I’m quite there yet. Plus, it’s fairly self-evident. I’m reasonably certain that everyone can see that I’m out contacting blogs and trying to promote my latest novel. Also, there are all those tasks that my wife has reminded me that I’ve been neglecting while writing my latest rollicking adventure that’s already receiving a number of excellent reviews from readers.

I told her that I needed to spend most of July marketing it, so I’m safe for a few more weeks. The deck has lasted this long. Sanding it down and then applying a new coat of stain during the hottest months of the year doesn’t sound like anyone’s idea of fun in the sun. Really, I should be thanking you folks for helping me delay that particular bit of nastiness. If sales continue to improve, I can probably make it to fall before the honey-do list becomes a get your butt off the computer and do something other than convert oxygen into carbon dioxide list.

I can’t really say I suffer for my art. It’s more like I suffer without my art or whenever my wife of twenty years realizes she married a slacker. I’m not sure.

BernheimerConfessionsOfDListSupervillainSo thanks in advance for doing me a solid. What does that really mean anyway? It’s a good thing I’m just typing this and not saying it. After all, I’m about to turn forty-five. Isn’t it embarrassing when middle aged men try to use hip terms to try and sound cool and with it? The pinnacle of my wild side is usually Friday Night Magic or playing Cards Against Humanity, which clearly makes me a rebel without a cause. (Perhaps a rebel without a clue is more appropriate?) That’s when I’m not busy writing a number of really excellent books that are so good that everyone should take a moment and check out my Amazon author page right here – http://www.amazon.com/Jim-Bernheimer/e/B0028OE2UA

I figured putting my youngest daughter in the picture with me would help my sales better than one of just me. We just got a new puppy, so he’ll probably be in the next picture I upload there along with my daughter. My goal is to get enough cute things in there to offset my ugly mug because I’m kind of like the Grumpy Cat without the viral Internet presence. Heck, I just searched Amazon and discovered that the Grumpy Cat has an author page. It has a book out with 298 reviews! That eclipses even the 263 reviews for Confessions of a D-List Supervillain! Though, my story has a significantly higher rating. I can still hang my hat on that.

Now I can say I did some research for this guest post.

Do you think Susan will notice? If you folks are reading this either she didn’t or is tolerant of my rambling and feeble attempt at humor.

Wow! I’ve got over eight hundred words done and it’s about time to tie off the loose ends. This might prove to be difficult because the whole thing has been just one big loose end covering for a marketing ploy.

BernheimerSorceressI suppose now would be the right spot for talking about the next books I’ll be working on. My wife and several fans want to see the third Dead Eye novel and there is also a small, but rather vocal group who are eagerly awaiting the third Spirals of Destiny installment, but considering how well the D-List books are doing, I’d be an idiot (or an even bigger one than I already am) not to write more in that universe. So yes, I’m hoping to have two more D-List books ready by the end of the year. Also, I’m collaborating on a screenplay adaptation of my novel Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective mystery because I want to be that author who is muttering how Hollywood corrupted my art while cashing their check. For enough money, I’d even let them write Jar-Jar into … No! I’d have to draw the line somewhere.

Places to Stalk Jim Bernheimer

Website

Amazon

Goodreads