The Name of the Rose

•October 29, 2013 • Leave a Comment


You know, maybe it’s just me, but I simply cannot picture Christian Slater as Adso. He’s too… Christian Slater-y for my liking. I cannot, however, un-see Sean Connery as William of Baskerville, it’s the perfectly smug role for him.

The Name of the Rose is a 1980 novel by Umberto Eco, originally published in Italian. It was translated and was a film in 1986 starring, yeah, Sean Connery and Christian Slater as Brother William and his junior scribe novice friend, Adso of Melk. I’ve previously read Foucault’s Pendulum, and while I still have no idea what happened there, The Name of the Rose is much, much easier to understand and ends really quite well.

The book is said to be a real account of events in the year 1327, where a series of killings occur at a monastery in the mountains of Italy. Adso, at that time a young man, records the events in his old age many years later, and it is a translation of his manuscript we are supposedly reading. This device works fairly well, as we are only privy to what Adso knows of the events, and on the few occasions where he gets ahead of the narrative, he rebukes himself, which is enjoyable.

Unlike my experience with Foucault’s Pendulum, I finished this novel and went “ahh, that makes sense!”, which I was not expecting to do. I found all the elements clicked nicely at the end, like a detective novel should be. Sure, I like to rag on Sherlock Holmes for using the same device of “the narrator doesn’t have all the same pieces the real sleuth does, so you can’t really see the answer”, which to me is generally unsatisfying, but I feel the difference is this: Sherlock Holmes, and in particular A Study in Scarlet, pulls a nonsense answer literally out of nowhere. It makes Holmes seem smart because he makes utterly insane deductive leaps which turn out to be correct. When WIlliam of Baskerville confronts the killer at the end of The Name of the Rose, he lays out precisely how he came to these conclusions. It’s logical, it makes sense, and you feel as if you could have made that same conclusion yourself, were you as learned a scholar as William.

Sherlock Holmes is an autistic genius who shoots up cocaine and pulls his answers from the aether. William of Baskerville is an educated man who actually deduces things. Anyone could be like William; no one can be like Sherlock.

Is it good or is it ain’t?

It’s good. I can see myself rereading this for pleasure, despite the interminable religious and philosophical debates which I will readily admit to skimming when they clearly extend for more than a page or so. It’s cool to see William sling knowledge in verbal fisticuffs with other people, but when none of the references make sense because I am totally unfamiliar with the works discussed, the sick burns are slightly less amazing.

Gotrek and Felix Double-Bill!

•August 22, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I’ve fallen behind on posting about books as I read them. Couple that with me having so much time on my hands I don’t often feel like reading, and you get a prolonged silence. 😦

skavenslayer Skavenslayer is the second book in the Gotrek and Felix series. Look at that goofy pose Felix is in on that cover. That’s the least threatening pose I’ve seen someone in on any cover ever, by Sigmar’s Hammer!

Having read all those Grey Seer Thanquol books, I knew Thanquol runs across Gotrek Gurnisson, the fearsome axe-wielding dwarf Slayer, and Felix Jaegar, his sworn companion who records his adventures and eventual doom. At least once a book, Thanquol would stew over his various defeats by that erstwhile pair, and so of course a book titled Skavenslayer was the perfect place for even more Grey Seer Thanquol action. And it does not disappoint!

Thanquol, you see, is planning a campaign to overrun the human city of Nuln, which is where our heroes have set up shop, first as sewerjacks patrolling the sewers for criminals and mutants, and later as bouncers in a particularly seedy bar. When they stumble across Thanquol’s plot, his brilliant scheming mind decides to manipulate them to crush his enemies in skavendom and inadvertantly spoils his own plans.

Is it good or is it ain’t?

It’s good! I was happy to see Thanquol return (from my point of view) and be just as bitter and suspicious as ever. The book itself feels like a step towards a more cohesive, novel-like narrative than Trollslayer did. It’s still set up like a bunch of short stories, but the stories are all connected by melieu, so it just has more solidity and is easier to follow and get into. A Good Book.


Daemonslayer is the third book in the Gotrek and Felix saga! One day in Nuln, Gotrek receives a letter promising him a great doom. As a Slayer, he is sworn to seek out nigh-impossible challenges so that he may die and reclaim his honour. Felix Jaeger is sworn to follow Gotrek wherever he goes, recording his adventures to craft of them an epic tale so all may remember the name of Gotrek, Son of Gurni!

Hundreds of years earlier, the Chaos Wastes in the north of the world expanded and swallowed the dwarf city of Karag Dum. Only two dwarfs escaped. Borek, the last survivor of Karag Dum, launches an expedition to find the city and recover several lost artefacts of great power, as well as any dwarfs who may still be alive within the city itself after so long.

Suffice to say, that is not so easy a task. And there is also a daemon, as the title implies.

There is also Grey Seer Thanquol. Oh my god, yes.

Is it good or is it ain’t?

It is the best Gotrek and Felix I have read thus far, so yeah, it’s damn good. Daemonslayer is actually structured like a real novel this time! No longer a series of stories, this is a book, full stop. I think what it does so well is taking Felix out of human society. Given that the Empire is a thinly fictionalized version of medieval Europe, it is very familiar and Gotrek is the one who is an outsider. But when Felix is dragged off into dwarfen culture, he becomes a wonderful vehicle to explore a new world which is not very much at all like our own.

Daemonslayer is in turns melancholy and hot-blooded. It treads a nice balance between people talking and people kicking every possible ass.  There are absurd fights and great set-pieces, with hilarious characters cropping up like Snorri, the dim-witted Slayer who only speaks in third-person.

And the final battle in the Hall of Wells? Holy shit.

Outlining is fun!

•August 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Not really. But it kind of is.

I’m working on the outline to a novel I want to write, and the longer it gets, the more I start to give names to people who are in the narrative and start thinking about who they are and what they do. And then I start to think “well, I guess these people need their own scenes, because one guy cannot be in every single scene, this is not one of those books.”

Anyway, I’m using Google Drive to write. I find its comment feature really useful, because I can work on a section and not be exactly happy with it but move on anyway with a little note left for myself that says, for instance, “Make this not shitty.” It helps keep my momentum up, which is probably the most important part of the exercise. As soon as I stop for more than a few seconds to figure out what something should be, I wind up dithering and losing focus. And that’s not good at all. No one benefits when I dick around and start F5’ing GBS, looking for new posts to read. I don’t write and you, noble people, don’t get to someday read that writing I could have been doing.

And then you will have to delay the tributes of money and skulls you will bequeath unto me in rapturous thanks for the heavenly gift of my writing. My work will change the world, like Wyld Stallyns’ music did.

Just you wait. Just you fucking wait. emot-argh

What the fuck is a chapter, anyway?

•August 7, 2013 • Leave a Comment

As I dick around with the outline to a writing project, I reflect upon these things called “chapters”. What are they? What purpose do they serve? How do I know when to use them, instead of just a blank line to seperate “scenes”?

As I understand it, the concept of “chapters” came from the old serial story format guys like Charles Dickens wrote in, where the newspapers would publish his novels a chapter at a time, thus chapters were essentially short stories unto themselves like episodes of a tv show.

Episodes of tv shows? Hell, I get that. That makes a novel like a season box set!

But are books like that now? Hardly ever! That form of chapters seems very much out of fashion, so what are we left with?

It seems to me chapters are like a way of breaking up the narrative into easily-digestable chunks so you can “read a chapter before bed” and not have to start a few hours ahead of time; as a way to move on to a different “episode” once the current one is out of stuff to write about; a marker to indicate a thoroughly disconnected portion of narrative, so as to eliminate potential confusion.

But that’s my thoughts, and I still don’t really know how to properly use them. Writing in chapters is great fun, as I’ve discovered while writing chapters for A Game of Bones and its upcoming sequel (A Clash of Kinks, apparently; I don’t like that name, but my preferred one is pretty offensive, so we won’t be seeing that on the Kindle store anytime soon), because it gives me a structure and an end point, a goal or what have you. So writing my outline, I’m staring at these huge paragraphs of story/plot/total bullshit, and wondering where chapters should go in this mess!

Writing is hard… 😥

The Ugly Side of Fame

•August 6, 2013 • Leave a Comment

No, Chris. We all still remember that time you beat the shit out of Rhianna.


•July 28, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Do you like Aliens? I like Aliens. Let’s talk about Aliens.

There’s a joke in the film where the new LT is briefing the Marines before deployment, and he confuses two soldiers for one another; Hicks (Michael Biehn) and Hudson (Bill Paxton).

People in real life also confuse these two, despite them looking and behaving nothing alike.

I am convinced people would never make this mistake had the movie not made it first.



This is a post about tea.

•July 15, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I find myself drinking tea often nowadays, to the point where I want a little china tea pot to steep a couple bags in at once so I can have several cups instead of brewing them all seperately. My english background is presenting, oh no, now I want a tiny garden to putter about in!

I really like how darjeeling has that raisin taste to it. I’m a dirty whore for grape flavours.

Chamomile has an undertaste I can only describe as “nutty”. I understand it’s the actual flowers of a plant instead of random leaves, perhaps this is why!

This box of orange pekoe from Twinings calls it “Ceylon Orange Pekoe” and I always call it “Cylon Orange Peacock” instead. It’s not too bad! Sort of generic, though.

I quite enjoy how Earl Grey is loaded with bergamot. No wonder Captain Picard had an IV drip of this shit, nnnf.

Irish Breakfast is the superior blend to English Breakfast.

That is all!

The Crippled God

•June 13, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Oh, look, a book I read nearly a year ago but for some reason never published my article about. Huh.


It’s finally over. The Malazan Book of the Fallen. All ten 1000+ page novels, with intricately interweaving casts and plots, it’s done. (Except for those new books coming out, shh!)

And now the dust has cleared, the cards are on the table, and I have to say… this was probably the weakest book in the whole franchise.

Now, I get the first book was somewhat intended as a standalone, developed originally as a feature film script based off Steven Erikson and Ian C. Esslemont’s GURPS campaign. Combine that with the decade between it and the second novel, Deadhouse Gates, and you have a great recipe for things not lining up at all by the end. (Didn’t Fener already die in Memories of Ice?) I accept that, it’s natural in a long-ass story like this. But the resolution to this novel, and by extension the entire series, is not anything close to what I expected and I’m frankly a little bewildered by it. The ending is boring and ultimately it doesn’t really ring true to me.

The Crippled God himself is a God from another universe altogether, dragged into the Malazan one several millenia earlier and chained because of dumb reasons. In doing so, he was mutilated and became a bitter force of suffering, hating everyone and just wanting to see everyone dead. He’s been kind of floating about since the early books mostly as a concept but actively fucking with things about halfway through. This is a great concept, I’ve thought it really awesome since I first read it. There had been very little indication the series would lead towards doing something about him, however, and it seemed to be actively painting several other threats as the real issue facing the world. So it came out of left field for me that not only was everything bending towards neutralizing him but the good guys, the Bonehunters, were actually going to help him go home and be friendly!

Is it good or is it ain’t?

It’s good enough. I mean, you won’t be reading this without having read the previous nine books, right? So by this point, it could be a picture book in the style of Richard Scarry and we’d probably all be choking it down. Could you pick this up without any background or context and go “yeah, this is a rockin’ story!”? Hell no. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this was even a great ending to the series, because it abruptly changes gears from Endless War to, well, not necessarily something happy, considering all the lovely characters who bite it, but it doesn’t end how you’d expect. It feels off, like Erikson just wanted it done with and chose the path of least resistance.

That being said, if you got past Midnight Tides, you’re probably in this for the long haul and have no choice but to read this book. So who cares what I think?

Lost & Found

•June 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment

lost and found

Lost and Found is about a man named Marc, a commodities trader from Chicago. He sells chocolate on the exchanges, and uses this gift to pick up chicks. While on a camping trip, Marc is abducted by aliens who, in a fit of irony, wish to sell him as a commodity.

On his adventure, Marc meets a dog named George, a squid named Sque, and a shambling horror named Braouk. Though from different worlds, they become friends and work to escape their captivity.

This book establishes its four main characters well. Each has a distinct voice, and the alien races are nicely varied.

Unfortunately, Foster’s idea of alien names involves a lot of J’s and apostrophes. It gets tiresome.

Is it good or is it ain’t?

It’s good. Most Alan Dean Foster stuff is readable in a light, enjoyable way. Perfect for lazy afternoons.

I wrote this post with the keyboard set to Dvorak. It took most of an hour!

Kill me.

I deserve exactly what happened to me.

•May 14, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I don’t drink regularly enough to develop a tolerance for alcohol. My strategy for when I do drink is to get stuff which is kind of gross but still good, so I won’t get really hammered yet still enough to enjoy myself. Usually that means I wind up getting beer or spirits to mix into things. But, ah, no, you see, this time I thought “hey, I deserve tasty alcoholic drinks” so I got me a bottle of Sandeman.

It’s tasty! Kind of sweet, which surprised me considering it’s dark red colouration.

It’s also 19.5% alcohol.

I deserve exactly what happened to me.