50. January 13

I tend to hibernate in January. It’s partly the weather, which has been cold and miserable, and partly a kind of post-Christmas inertia which hits me every year. My blog has suffered along with everything else.

I have, however, started writing again. I’ve written the first three chapters of the third volume in my fantasy detective series. Genef, trainee investigator, along with her mentor, Rath, and her teenage dragon friend, Scratch, have travelled to The Ice Country to track down a crown that was stolen from their queen and that they believe might have been traded to a collector in this cold and forbidding place. They have just learned that they must go further inland, battling snow, ice and criminals. I’m enjoying the story. I know the rough outline, of course; some plotting is essential to any kind of mystery.  But the details are always a surprise and a pleasure to discover. I got tired of editing and formatting and decided I deserved some writing time.

I have been to the cinema twice. This is unusual for me because I tend to wait until films are available on DVD. We have a DVD projector and a reasonably big screen and most things are fine on that.

We decided to see Skyfall at the cinema to get the full benefit of the special effects and I have to say it was worth it. The film is excellent. It is quite different from most of the Bond films and doesn’t really fit the series well. I think it is better than the others, especially the more recent ones, particularly because it does not rely on gadgets, and the villain is not a stereotype. Daniel Craig brings a grittiness and realism to the Bond role that I think the other actors never matched.

Then we went to see The Hobbit – again. This time we saw the 3D version and it was truly spectacular. I absolutely loved it. In 3D the fight scenes were much easier to follow, which was good.  I was also surprised at how much more detail I noticed second time around. It’s a film that repays a second look!

I spent some time – almost a week – reading the final volume of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. After fourteen volumes (fifteen if you count the prequel, written a long time after the first books) that came out over twenty years, I was glad to reach a conclusion but sad in some ways to say goodbye to an old friend. Jordan, of course, died before the cycle was complete and the last books were written by Brad Sanderson, relying on extensive notes and plans. I know the story is Jordan’s but I think Sanderson is probably a better writer. He managed to keep my interest through a very long ‘last battle’ with lots of military detail, and that’s something very few writers could do. The ending was satisfactory but in some ways I was sorry to reach it. However, I would never read the series again. Now that I know the fates and futures of the main group of characters the earlier books would lose their appeal. That’s odd, because the same is not true of, for example, The Lord of the Rings, which bears frequent re-reading. I wonder what makes the difference? Jordan attempted to create a myth but I think ultimately failed in that respect.

I then turned to Pratchett’s Snuff, which was funny, serious and glorious, and to David Crystal’s The Fight for English, the subtitle of which is How the Pundits Ate, Shot and Left, a book which made me think very carefully about the way our language has developed over the centuries, and thus brings me back to my own writing.

January is almost over and perhaps I will manage to blog more often once Spring is on the way.

4 thoughts on “January

  1. Of course I’m looking forward to the next instalment of Genef’s adventures:) Glad you’ve made a start on it. I loved The Hobbit too even though I only saw it in 2D.

    I’ve haven’t read Jordan’s books so I can’t tell you why the world of Lord of the Rings seems to come off better but I think Tolkien’s world is so accessible – at least in LotR and The Hobbit – that people maybe identify with it more and despite the somewhat archaic language he sometimes uses those books are very readable (can’t say the same for The Silmarillion:P). And of course Jordan’s works are so extensive that the mere thought of wading through it all to a conclusion is daunting!

    • Tolkien’s work was, of course, influential in the development of modern fantasy writing, and publishers and reviewers always like to compare writers to him. But some really do stand comparison and others don’t. I think Jordan’s world was too ambitious – there was just too much for the reader to try to hold in their head given that it was one plot (covering about five years) in fifteen volumes – and at times he seemed to have lost the plot, or at least it didn’t move forwards much for a volume or so. There are other fantasy writers such as Tad Williams and George R.R. Martin who manage to make their worlds accessible and their plots believable (once you’ve suspended the initial disbelief and accepted the fantasy concept). There are others whose worlds simply don’t appeal to me; I abandoned Terry Goodkind’s Legend of the Seeker series altogether, for example, and couldn’t care less how it ends. So Jordan falls somewhere in the middle and I’m glad I persevered.

  2. January is for me that-first-month-on-the-way-toward-spring…
    Nice photo!

    I loved Snuff! But I love the City Watch in general, and Pratchett gets better with every next book. That’s a phenomenon, usually writers tend to burn out, especially with such long series.

    • Maybe because it isn’t quite a series, but rather a lot of different stories set in the same world. And each time he chooses a totally different and very serious aspect of the human condition to portray and still makes the plot fresh and much of the detail amusing. Sam Vimes is a wonderful creation.

      The photo is a hill near here but I took it a couple of years ago. There is the same kind of snow here at the moment. Spring seems a long way off!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.