Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fool's Assassin: What we can expect from the new Fitz and the Fool book (with GIFs)

I'm too old for this shit. I'm 26 and I actually hyperventilated when I saw the cover and the excerpt pop up online yesterday morning. (I have to say I'm not a huge fan of the cover. Fantasy book covers tend to be very generic. Can't wait for the Jackie Morris design, but anyway...) But these books are special. I've lent them to people who hate fantasy and never saw them again. My fantasy hating father read the Farseer trilogy twice. In one year. A GIF has not yet been invented that sufficiently communicates my feelings for these books. So here I go, making a big messy blog about what might happen when "Fool's Assassin" is released in August.

SPOILERS for Farseer, Liveship Traders and Tawny Man trilogies.

1. Chronology

"Fool's Assassin" will take place right after "The Rain Wild Chronicles" (and I'm not just saying that because Hobb confirmed it in a recent interview). All stories in the Elderlings books take place chronologically, so it's safe to assume "Fool's Assassin" will follow suit.

2. Location: Clerres

We've been everywhere in Six Duchies and beyond. Except this place. Clerres is the Fool's homeland. It is the place he supposedly returns to after "Fool's Fate". And I can't honestly see the Fool returning to Six Duchies, so it's a pretty safe bet the story will take place there. There are so many questions about Clerres. And there's just too much potential for an exciting new story there for Hobb to ignore it.

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3. Dual Fitz / Fool POV

Those of you wondering if they should read the recently published excerpt, go ahead and do it. I promise you, it spoils nothing. The excerpt makes it clear that "Fool's Fate" will open the same way every Fitz/Fool book opens - with Fitz's emo retrospective of his childhood. No spoilers / surprises there. It also establishes a POV. Again, Hobb has already confirmed that the story will be told from first person POV but she didn't specifically say it was exclusively Fitz's POV (even though she was asked). I think there is a real possibility we'll finally get to see the Fool's side of the story, and here's why:

a. "Fitz and the Fool" trilogy is about two characters who are currently at the opposite sides of the world. It may very well take a whole book or two before they are even on the same continent again, and Fitz's POV alone will not be enough to sustain the story.

b. Hobb has been revealing more and more about the Fool in every book. The next logical step would be to make him a POV character.

Fitz and the Fool are basically the same person (or they were before the Fool kissed their skill connection away at the end of "Fool's Fate"), so I envisage a hilarious Gollum-like narrative.

4. Subjects

The school for White Prophets is obviously a powerful institution. I wonder just how much power it wields in Clerres and the rest of the land. And exactly how high up are the Whites in that (I’m assuming) political food chain?

The Catalyst
a.k.a. Fitz. Both Shrewd and Chade - somewhat insensitively but very accurately – referred to Fitz as a weapon several times in the story. And he is a weapon, and a double-edged one at that. Even the Fool used him as a tool. And the thing about weapons is that you don’t leave them lying around. I really, really wonder just how dangerous a Prophet-less Catalyst is. Another interesting thing about Fitz is that as a Catalyst he was much more powerful than his Prophet.

Religion was first addressed by Hobb in a significant way in "Liveship Traders". What I found most interesting was the conflict between the religion of Sa and other minor branches of that religion (Wintrow almost got beaten to a pulp because of that at some point in the story). It was also mentioned in "Fool's Fate" that the priests of Sa ended up denouncing the White Prophet ‘religion’ as heresy and White Prophets as liars and freaks of nature. A religious war / conflict seems like the next logical step. I want to see the priests of Sa coming down on the remnants of the ‘White’ following like a ton of bricks. And I want them after the blood of the latest White Prophet.

5. It's the end of Fitz / Fool story

Let's be honest, this trilogy is almost certainly the last we're going to hear about these characters. No matter how Hobb wants to end their story, I can't help but feel she's ready to tie all the loose ends and end this ride. She made it very clear she was ready to do it at the end of "Fool's Fate".

To be perfectly honest, I'm absolutely terrified of this book. It took me years to come to terms with the ending of "Fool's Fate" - which I now view as a perfectly justified and the only logical conclusion to that story. And even though most people acme around and accepted the ending, I know that we were all completely gutted by it all those years ago. Hobb faced a massive backlash after "Fool's Fate" came out, and things were pretty heated for a couple of years. I just hope she isn't mad enough to actually kill off either Fitz or the Fool to put an end to the whole business. And she mentioned in an earlier interview that a lot of people will not like where this trilogy is headed... And the first book is called "Fool's Assassin"... And the publisher's reaction does't inspire much confidence...

You know what, I think the Fool is going to get killed in the first book and the rest of it will just be filled with Fitz angst. And while we wait for that particular cookie to crumble, here are a couple of links you can follow to pass the time:

Robin Hobb's Facebook - regularly updated thanks to Office Kat.
Jane Johnson Baker's Twitter - Hobb's Publisher.
Perplexingly @ Tumblr - I've been in this fandom for a long time, and I have never seen more perfect fan art. Ever. Period. Here, have a piece:

Monday, December 30, 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

September Readings

Just Kids | Patti Smith

Some 23,000 feet over New South Wales, I cried as I finished "Just Kids". Years ago I came across a book of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe in a dusty old bookshop across from Flinders Street station (this shop, I'm sorry to say, no longer exists). I didn't know that I was looking at Robert Mapplethorpe's work.

I had no idea who he was. All I knew is that the work was too confronting. Even for me. I just couldn't see the point. I ended up buying another photography book with a Bill Henson print in it. I don't know why I remembered that, but the moment Patti started to describe Robert's work, I made the connection. Now, years later,
I feel that I need to find that book again.

"I was asleep when he died."

It's strange when a story set in a time and a place so completely alien to you manages to touch you this much. "Just Kids" is a love story and a eulogy. Perhaps the book is so powerful because Patti's love for Robert shines through every page.

Tiny Beautiful Things | Cheryl Strayed

"Tiny Beautiful Things" appeared on several "best of" lists on Brain Pickings (which is where I found out about the book in the first place), and with good reason. Cheryl Strayed, or Dear Sugar, as she is known on her column on The Rumpus has the kind of no-bullshit, kick-in-the-ass approach to advice on life, love and all things in between that we all so desperately need every now and then. I would highly recommend this book to absolutely everyone.

"Write like a motherfucker."

"Your assumptions about the lives of others are in direct relation to your naïve pomposity. Many people you believe to be rich are not rich. Many people you think have it easy worked hard for what they got. Many people who seem to be gliding right along have suffered and are suffering. Many people who appear to you to be old and stupidly saddled down with kids and cars and houses were once every bit as hip and pompous as you.

When you meet a man in the doorway of a Mexican restaurant who later kisses you while explaining that this kiss doesn’t ‘mean anything’ because, much as he likes you, he is not interested in having a relationship with you or anyone right now, just laugh and kiss him back. Your daughter will have his sense of humor. Your son will have his eyes.

The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.

One Christmas at the very beginning of your twenties when your mother gives you a warm coat that she saved for months to buy, don’t look at her skeptically after she tells you she thought the coat was perfect for you. Don’t hold it up and say it’s longer than you like your coats to be and too puffy and possibly even too warm. Your mother will be dead by spring. That coat will be the last gift she gave you. You will regret the small thing you didn’t say for the rest of your life.

Say thank you."

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Thursday, April 25, 2013

March Readings

As one of the pillars on which the Gothic genre stands (the other being Anne Radcliffe's work). The Monk (1796) has been on my radar for some time. I didn't know what I expected but I didn't expect a page turner.

The American Psycho of its day, The Monk created an uproar because of its graphic (by the standard of those times) sex scenes and violence. Though I found the latter harder to read, I still think it's inferior to Melmoth the Wanderer (1820). There is a clear parallel between Melmoth and Monk - the monastic theme, particularly the chase through the subterranean passages under a monastery.

Though I read many disparaging reviews, I see The Monk for what it is - a huge leap forward for the whole Genre, and Lewis - a trailblazer. Albeit a deranged and sadistic one. No wonder De Sade praised him to the stars.

I guess I've been desensitised by Huysmans, David Madsen and such, but I found The Nun a bit underwhelming. I was, however, shocked to find that whole scenes in Melmoth were pretty much copied from this book. Well, Melmoth laid foundation for The Picture of Dorian Gray, so I guess this fact can be overlooked.

This book popped up during a lunchtime conversation at work one day. Actually, it was the movie that was mentioned first. I looked it up, watched the trailer than read a few extracts from the book. The next day I went ti the library and got the book. I put all other reading on hold and smashed through it in two sittings. Loved every moment of it. Little gems like that just brighten up my day.

I've never lived in sharehouses, but I crashed on a few brown couches all along the Southern shore so I can at least recognise most of the situations even if I can't directly relate to them.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Library Time!

On Friday after work I was very excited because I finally had time to visit my favourite library. I was strolling down the street, telling all the friends I met that I was super excited about going to the library this Friday evening.

They were all giving me the most pitying looks.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Ovid's Metamorphoses

I'm reading Ovid's Metamorphoses at the moment. I resolved to read a poem a day from it, so I can pursue other books at the same time.

Stories from Greek mythology that Ovid incorporated into his Metamorphoses have inspired painters through the ages.

The basic theme of the Metamorphoses is that everything changes. Some of these mythological stories show creatures changing species or gender. There are great tragic love affairs and horrible betrayals of the closest and most innocent family members. In the beginning, the world was created from an immense formless mass, the first metamorphosis. Gradually, the changes Ovid describes move from the world of the gods to the world of humans, although the gods are still there, around the edges, and the human Julius Caesar is deified. In the final book, the philosopher Pythagoras gives some non-mythic explanations for metamorphoses.

Melvyn Bragg explores the enduring appeal of the Roman poet Ovid's work Metamorphoses. With A.S. Byatt and A. Catherine Bates.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Hobbit Art

I finished The Hobbit and I absolutely loved it. My only regret is that I didn't read it as a kid, it would've been my favourite book.

Hobbit Covers

The Hobbit Illustrations by Tolkien

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Films I didn't know were based on Books

Requiem for a Dream (directed by Darren Arnofsky) was based on a book of the same name by Hubert Selby, Jr.

Cosmopolis (directed by David Cronenberg) was based on Don DeLillo's novel.

A Dangerous Method (directed by David Cronenberg). The screenplay was adapted by writer Christopher Hampton from his 2002 stage play The Talking Cure, which was based on the 1993 non-fiction book by John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method: The story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein.

There will be Blood (directed by Paul Thomas Anderson) is based on Oil! - a novel by Upton Sinclair.

Psycho (directed by Alfred Hitchcock). The screenplay by Joseph Stefano is based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The novel was loosely inspired by the crimes of Wisconsin murderer and grave robber Ed Gein, who lived just 40 miles from Bloch.

A History of Violence (directed by David Cronenberg) is an adaptation of the 1997 graphic novel of the same name by John Wagner and Vince Locke

Cruel Intentions (directed by Roger Kumble) is an adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, written by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos in 1782

Seeping Beauty (directed by Julia Leigh) was inspired (if not loosely based) on House of the Sleeping Beauties - a 1961 novella by the Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata

The Skin I live In (directed by Pedro Almodóvar) is based on Thierry Jonquet's novel Mygale, first published in French and then in English under the title Tarantula.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

February Readings

Just finished reading Andrew Crumey's "Pfitz". It's my kind of book. I really loved the premise, but I felt there could have been more to the story.

I'm only just about to start reading The Hobbit, and I already know what happens to Thorin.

Screw you, internet.

Also, fangirls make me sick. It's LOTR madness all over again, only now I'm older and more bitter.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Viggo Mortensen reading "The Little Prince"

Ah, Le Petit Prince, the literature of choice for high school students studying French everywhere. A rite of passage, if you will. Well, fear not freshmen! No longer will you have to struggle through Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s masterpiece in the original language. You don’t even have to read it in English. Instead, allow your ears to be dazzled by Viggo Mortensen, a.k.a. the Lord of the Rings trilogy’s very own Aragorn, as he rumbles his way through the beloved fable as part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s 70th anniversary edition.

Listen Here

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Robin Hobb Covers

I haven't done this in ages. Looking through all the Robin Hobb posts on tumblr makes me want to cry. I don't even know what my feelings are doing anymore...

I found these through Blue Willow Red Leaves tumblr - a wonderful collection of beautifully illustrated Japanese book covers. The Fool's Fate covers are nowhere to be found, though. Not yet, anyway. I'll add them as soon as I find them.

These covers were illustrated by Koji Suzuki

Fool's Errand

Golden Fool