Daily Archives: Monday, July 16, 2012

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

“They gutted the book, making an action movie for 15-25 year olds. And it seems that The Hobbit will be of the same ilk. Tolkien became…devoured by his popularity and absorbed by the absurdity of the time. The gap widened between the beauty, the seriousness of the work, and what it has become is beyond me. This level of marketing reduces to nothing the aesthetic and philosophical significance of this work.”

In a sense, the notoriously stuffy son of J.R.R. Tolkien isn’t far off about the popularity of The Lord of the Rings and how it’s own momentum and popularity has inherently changed Tolkien’s creation. The original book(s), and The Hobbit and The Silmarillion, will always exist in their own right, and, for those who choose it, can remain untouched by the explosion of popularity seen by the series over the past 15 years. Would Tolkien approve of all the films and videogames, t-shirts, action figures, bed sheets and director documentaries that are now available, each leaving the footprint of another creator/corporate executive on the soil of Middle Earth? I don’t know, but I’m not surprised that his son isn’t happy about it. Read More »

River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay

In his critically acclaimed novel Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay told a vivid and powerful story inspired by China’s Tang Dynasty. Now, the international bestselling and multiple award-winning author revisits that invented setting four centuries later with an epic of prideful emperors, battling courtiers, bandits and soldiers, nomadic invasions, and a woman battling in her own way, to find a new place for women in the world – a world inspired this time by the glittering, decadent Song Dynasty.

Ren Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate of Kitai. That moment on a lonely road changed his life—in entirely unexpected ways, sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws. From there he emerges years later—and his life changes again, dramatically, as he circles towards the court and emperor, while war approaches Kitai from the north.

Lin Shan is the daughter of a scholar, his beloved only child. Educated by him in ways young women never are, gifted as a songwriter and calligrapher, she finds herself living a life suspended between two worlds. Her intelligence captivates an emperor—and alienates women at the court. But when her father’s life is endangered by the savage politics of the day, Shan must act in ways no woman ever has.

In an empire divided by bitter factions circling an exquisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far more than the burdens of governing, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading to events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.

Gorgeous, and matches nicely with the original cover for Under Heaven, the spiritual predecessor for River of Stars. Under Heaven is one of my favourite novels of the last five years, and continues to be a huge inspiration to me as a writer. To say I’m looking forward to River of Stars would be a severe understatement.