Favorite Books

There’s this thing going around Facebook over the past couple weeks that finally reached me. No, not the Ice Bucket Challenge. I’m talking about a list of your top ten books.

Someone posts on their timeline and tags you in it. The copy and pasted section of the status reads:

“In your status, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t think too hard. They don’t have to be the ‘right’ books or great books of literature, just ones that affected you in some way. Tag 10(ish) friends including me so I can see your list.”

I got tagged by my sister and here is my list:

Hyperion – Dan Simmons
Game of Thrones – George Martin
Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkein
Shade’s Children – Garth Nix
1984 – George Orwell
Dark Prince – Russell Moon
The Iron Ring – Lloyd Alexander
Nine Princes in Amber – Roger Zelazny
Gates of Fire – Steven Pressfield
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

Obviously there are a lot of great books that I can think of that I didn’t include on here. Dune and Harry Potter for example.

I felt the list was supposed to be composed somewhat impulsively, so I stuck with what I first thought of.

So why did I pick these?

Hyperion is possibly one of the best space opera novels ever written. Dan Simmons is an excellent writer in nearly every genre. The story follows seven travelers in a space ship on a pilgrimage to the fictional Hyperion planet where a great monster, the Shrike, awaits them. The Shrike will grant a wish to one of the travelers and kill the other six. The travelers spend their voyage telling stories like in The Canterbury Tales (every story where characters sit around and tell stories now officially based off of Canterbury Tales). The stories focus on the travelers’ past lives and why they are going to get a wish. I put Hyperion on this list because it was the first book that made me realize I love fragmented stories. Like in TV shows where there’s an A plot and a B plot. I love that in books as well. Hyperion has three sequels that I’ve read as well, Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and Rise of Endymion.

Game of Thrones is the latest craze. I got into the series right before book 5 came out and consumed them at a rate of about one book per month. They’re good, they’re sexy, and they’re one of my favorite genres, medieval fantasy. Plus, it has a fragmented story line! Perfect!

Lord of the Rings is also a great book. My dad spent years reading me bits and pieces as bedtime stories. We started with The Hobbit when I was six and didn’t finish until I was eleven. The Lord of the Rings also inspired my favorite hobby, Dungeons and Dragons. So this one’s got too amazing things going for it. AND FRAGMENTED ACTION  ONCE AGAIN!

Shade’s Children was my first dystopia book. It’s fairly awful as far as complex themes go. Some robots from an alternate dimension invade Earth and start hunting humans for sport. The humans hide underground, but their society is kept alive by the robots or something? Sounds like a Matrix ripoff. Still, I loved it. Also, I was eight around the time I read it and there is the barest hint of sex in the book. I’m pretty sure it was my first exposure to sex, so it is significant for that reason as well.

1984 is the quintessential dystopian novel. Also, its by Orwell who is an amazing author. I loved this book and I still love it. I love the genre. Putting Shade’s Children on my list reminded me of 1984 so I put it on as well. Like I said, I didn’t think much about the list.

Dark Prince is probably one of the weirder ones on this list. It is the last book in a trilogy. The first book is called Witch Boy. The author, Russell Moon, has only written one other book. I’m not sure why he stopped writing because his stuff is quite good (or at least I remember it being good). The book tells the story of a teenage boy who suddenly discovers he is a witch and accidentally kills his girlfriend with his newfound magical powers. He then discovers that she was part of some weird witch cult which plans to use him in a plot to take over the world or something. My memory of the book is hazy, but I do remember loving it at the time.

The Iron Ring is a story that imitates Indian fairy tales. My dad read Grimm’s Fairy Tales to me when I was a kid and I loved them.  This was a continuation of that, but in an entirely different way. The stories were vaguely familiar because they used the same themes, plot devices, and stock characters, but they were also very different due to the setting for the story. Rajas instead of kings. Rakshasas instead of the Devil. It was really cool!

Nine Princes in Amber is amazing and everyone should read it. The book is the first in a series of ten books split into two halves of five books. The series details a titanic struggle between order and chaos across all dimensions. The center of order is called Amber. The series is extremely well written. One of my favorite parts is how Zelazny handles sexual or crude stuff in the books. He always alludes, but never mentions stuff explicitly. A character curses instead of “He exclaimed, ‘Shit!'” It’s very well done and I’d recommend it to everyone as long as you don’t require female characters. There aren’t very many of them…

Gates of Fire is a historical novel about the Greek defense of the Hot Gates of Thermopylae from the Persians. The story is stunningly realistic. The Spartans fight until their swords, spears, and shields are broken. All that’s left is their hands and they fight on against the Persians. I’ve always loved reading and learning more about the ancient Greeks and Romans. This novel gave me a means to do that in a more mature way.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy always makes me laugh. I loved the books and they are one of the few novels that I have read more than once. A few of the others on this list are also in that exalted category. The book is absurdist humor in a space opera setting, both of which appeal to me greatly. The Hitchhiker’s Guide was originally a radio show which I own a recording of and listen to occasionally in the car. If you like absurdist humor you should check it out!

Let me know what your ten would be in the comments!

-Mister Ed

The Fault in Our Stars Movie

I saw the Fault in Our Stars movie this weekend and I was a little disappointed.

It’s an excellent adaptation of the book and is a solid movie on its own.

I just couldn’t help comparing every little detail in the movie to the book.

So many small things had to be cut out and I missed everyone of them.

Charlotte is missing, Mr. Van Houten doesn’t play Bomfalleralla in Hazel’s car, the subtle clues of Augustus condition are all gone, the voice in the Anne Frank house is “Anne Frank’s” instead of Otto Frank’s, etc.

I’m sure this happens all the time with movie adaptations of books, but this was the first time I really noticed it.

I think that’s partially due to the amount of time between when I read the book and saw the movie.

For Fault in Our Stars there were less than two weeks between reading the book and seeing the movie.

Other movies of books that I’ve seen were usually a year or more between when I read the book and saw the movie (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Hornblower).

There are errors and missing parts when I look back on those movies, but I don’t care as much about them.

My sister has the same problem for the Harry Potter books, but for a different reason.

Because the books are so good, she’s read them several times. Enough that she’s memorized all those little details.

So when the movies are missing parts, it feels wrong to her. It feels like its not Harry Potter.

Same thing happened for me with Fault in Our Stars.

The movie is great, but it is not EXACTLY the same as the book.

I do recommend the movie and the book as well, but try to keep them separated by at least a month to avoid this problem from happening to you too!

That’s all for tonight.

-Mister Ed

An Overview of Gurutama Part 7

The elves of Gurutama live in the Lower Maw.
The elves of Gurutama live in the Lower Maw.

Previous: An Overview of Gurutama Part 6

Last time I mentioned that the elves allied with the dwarves against the human Najar Empire.

Elves are typically enemies of dwarves in high fantasy. Which is strange because they are both “good” races in D&D.

Tolkein started this trend by making dwarves and elves good, but having them disagree on nearly everything.

Tolkein’s dwarves and elves disagree on how to wage war, on how to act socially, on what professions are honorable, etc.

I controlled the elves and the dwarves in our Dawn of Worlds game, so I decided to change that rivalry into a partnership.

But first! Where did the elves come from?

Our first four races were based around the four elements. Water for Merfolk, Air for Avians, Fire for Humans, and Earth for Dwarves.

The second set of races only had three positions in it. One of my friends became too busy to keep playing the game and dropped out (resulting in his race, the Avians, becoming a subject population).

The new set of three was based off of the Hindu Trimurti, Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer.

The elves represent creation. Everytime I had the elves do something I always tried to tie it into creation.

The elves built many of the wonders of the world that exist in Gurutama.

This also allowed me to stay within normal elf stereotypes. They live in the forest, are good with magic and bows, and they make beautiful things.

In our Dawn of Worlds game, the elves showed up and began expanding through the Halusho Forest, seen above.

The elves joined the dwarves against the Najar humans because they also thought it was the right thing to do. Demons should be sent back to Hell after all!

The elves created the port city of Cyflenwi at the upper left of the posted image. This city supplied the dwarven invasion of Najar.

The city was subsequently taken over by the Merfolk and handed back to the Najar humans under some treaty or another. The details on it are a little hazy, just like everything else when you look too closely at the Dawn of Worlds game.

After Cyflenwi was taken over the elves became more independent from the dwarves. I’ll talk more about the rest of the elves history in my next blog post on Gurutama.

-Mister Ed

Next: An Overview of Gurutama Part 8