The last time I read The Wheel of Time was in anticipation of A Memory of Light. The culmination of the series was a big deal for me. I discovered The Wheel of Time shortly after The Shadow Rising (book 4) was released, which means I waited over twenty years for the series to finish. I was a kid when I started reading it and a man when the series concluded. In the interim I lost two immediate family members, graduated from high school, college, grad school, and law school, got my first job, got my first real job, got my first promotion, changed careers twice, lived in four states. The Wheel of Time was a constant through all of that. It may be the only reason I read fantasy today—for the better part of a decade I would not have read any fantasy but for a new Wheel of Time book every two or three years. It was the excitement that the book would be finished that turned me back toward fantasy permanently.
As a kid, I reread the books obsessively, rereading each at least once in anticipation of the next book. Later I would read the newly published book once and leave it at that. Once I even *gas* went months after publication before buying the newest book. A hectic life since A Memory of Light kept me from a full reread. I got married, became a father, changed careers again, and lived in two more states. Oh, and started two blogs. My desire to write reread posts here was part of the delay. Rereading four million words and writing about them is a much bigger commitment.
A year and a half into the pandemic, only one thing could convince the world that normalcy was set to return: an MCU movie in the theaters. The MCU is back with a solo Black Widow movie, several months and also several years late. I’m not a huge MCU fan, although my interest has grown over the years. I decided to take advantage of a Disney+ subscription, the long delay, and Black Widow’s arrival to watch all 24 movies. I approached them in timeline, not release, order, so I started with Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain Marvel. I watched all of them for this project except Far From Home, since what I saw in the theater wasn’t worthy of spending money to rewatch (although I spent money to watch the even worse Hulk solo movie). A handful of the movies were first watches, not rewatches: Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3, and Ant-Man and the Wasp. Some of the movies I have watched several times (and recently). Others it has been awhile (13 years for The Incredible Hulk).
A preview of where I come down on the MCU: I ranked the Captain America trilogy ahead of the Iron Man and Thor trilogies, on average, and the average rankings put Phase Three ahead of Phase Two, and Phase Two ahead of Phase One.
(Links to my original reviews are included where I wrote them, but I ignored them while ranking the movies. I found my views on rewatch frequently different than my initial impression in the theater, and I wasn’t trying to keep the ratings comparable across MCU movies when I set them.)
My ranking of the twenty-four MCU movies, from worst to first, after the jump:
It’s like Korg said: “Another day, another Doug.” Only it is another month and another month-in-review post. It was a, dare I say, normal month, brought to you by science and human ingenuity and a remarkable fast and effective set of vaccines. My wife and I had our first maskless, kidless date night. We took no-angel to her first baseball game, and the two of us survived two trips out of town by my wife. I took my new kayak out on the river twice. I even found time to do some reading.
In which Rand and company travel to Toman Head by Portal Stone, a trip that spans several months and many, many lifetimes.
I am for the first time devoting an entire reread post to just a single chapter, both because the Portal Stone-provided glimpse at the multiverse is one of my favorite chapters and concepts in the entire series and because I believe it is heavily underrated by the fandom as a whole.
There is much that could be ascribed to Portal Stones that gets ignored or credited elsewhere. And here, with the visions of the future, Jordan offers us, ahem, a portal into his vision for the full story.
John Maddox Roberts is probably my favorite of the Conan pastiche authors, but Conan the Rogue isn’t my favorite of his Conan books. It is a fun book, and the concept of Conan as the greatest rogue of all in a city of rogues is a good one, but it gets bogged down at times in the execution and can feel a little too generic outside of the baroque, film noir-esque plot machinations.
Warm weather, breweries, getting out on the water, camping—is it any wonder I didn’t get much reading or blogging done in May, even with the semester ending? I’m looking forward to more summer reading, but it was a great month.
I took some time after the semester ended for some projects around the house, digging a French drain* at my house and ripping out the existing landscaping directly around my mom’s house. Of course I didn’t get either project finished as quickly as I thought I would, or get to the other projects I had planned. I bought a kayak but haven’t taken it out yet. The highlight and capstone of the month was no-angel’s first camping trip, her first rafting trip, and her first time touching a fish. She was an absolute trooper and had a BLAST.
Buehlman had me at “stag-sized battle ravens.” That alone was enough to make me jump at an ARC of The Blacktongue Thief when offered one by the publisher. And we do indeed get a giant warbird (if not quite so much as we might hope or dream), but The Blacktongue Thief is so much more than that. There is epic fantasy-scale worldbuilding with pulp sensibilities, magic and mayhem, death and despair and hope. It is already on my short list for best books of the year, and would be even if I actually had time to properly keep up with my reading.
I haven’t done one of these in a while. And I technically didn’t wait–I finished my advance review copy of The Blacktongue Thief a few days ago. It is you who can’t wait, because I can already tell you that The Blacktongue Thief would be on my best-of-the-year list at the end of the year if I still did that sort of thing.
April was one of those where-did-it-go months. There are months I stay busy, know I’m not reading, and fret all month about it. April was almost over before I realized with shock I had only finished two books (I squeezed out a third on the last day of the month).
I paid similar scant attention to the blogs. I got a decent amount up but didn’t realize until the end of the month that I had posted three reviews to Hillbilly Highways and zero to Every Day Should Be Tuesday. At least I didn’t buy many books.
They are being quiet about it, but Amazon has given the greenlight to season 2 of its Wheel of Time show, despite season 1 still shooting, let alone not having aired. Shooting of season 2 is to start immediately after season 1 finishes shooting. This makes a lot of sense. There are advantages to continuous shooting, especially given the pandemic-related disruptions to shooting season 1 that led to a long gap in filming. But this also signals faith by Amazon executives in the existing work.
It is finally here: something I didn’t know I needed until I watched it. I had written off Justice League and the DCEU. I probably never would have watched the Snyder Cut of Justice League but for Godzilla vs. Kong, my primary impetus for signing up for HBO Max.
I can thank David French for casting the Snyder Cut as the final chapter in a Superman trilogy. That led me to first watch Man of Steel and the Batman v Superman Ultimate Edition. It was my first time watching Batman v Superman in full and in its Ultimate Edition form. It was my first time watching Man of Steel period. I did watch the awful theatrical cut of Justice League.
The bottom line is that the Snyder Cut is really damn good, if not perfect. It is a vast improvement over the theatrical cut. And it does in fact form a coherent trilogy.