In which Perrin and Egwene are rescued from Whitecloaks, Rand meets Elayne and visits with the queen, Basel Gill faces down Whitecloaks, Moiraine et al. arrive in Caemlyn, Mat’s possession of the dagger is discovered, and a decision is made to travel the Ways to seek the Eye of the Word (title drop!).
In a long series full of Lan’s badassery, this sequence has one of the very best examples (below the jump):
In which Rand and Mat are on the road, Rand and Mat learn to trust a skinny innkeeper, Rand channels, Rand’s channeling leads to Mat suffering temporary blindness (foreshadowing!), Rand and Mat make it to Caemlyn, and Loial is introduced (aww).
This has been one of my favorite sequences since I was a kid. Rand and, to a lesser extent, Mat gain power and influence pretty quickly in the series. They start their journey accompanied by Moiraine and Lan—powerful protectors. First they are separated from Moiraine and Lan, then they are separated from Thom. They are even separated from Perrin and Egwene. They don’t have anyone to rely on but themselves. They don’t even know if any of the others are still alive.
After the (virtual) insanity of March, April was almost . . . normal. I mean, I spend a lot of time at home anyway, so I just continued to do that for an extended period of time. We are in full hunker down mode. Things did start to slow down for me a bit, and the end of the semester is very welcome, but I still didn’t necessarily get a ton of reading done.
I finished five books in April. Which isn’t terrible considering, now that I look at it. I didn’t make much progress whittling down Mount TBR, though, because two of those books were reread (two Wheel of Time books) and I bought three books from my favorite local bookstore to give them a little extra support. I also picked up an ARC and two books I had been eyeing for a while (one a freebie and the other on sale).
I also didn’t get a ton of writing done: publishing just four posts at Every Day Should Be Tuesday and four at Hillbilly Highways. Which isn’t terrible considering, now that I look at it. It is more posts than I published in February or March. Most exciting is the very first installment of my Whiskey and Book Club, a new YouTube series in which I and another blogger talk about books and drink whiskey. If you are interested in doing a video, let me know. I want to get another one done this month. What I did not do is publish another Wheel of Time Reread post, and I am falling way behind. I hope to start playing catch up in May.
I picked The Dark Continent up as a comfort read. An apocalyptic novel in an apocalypse is a funny kind of comfort read, maybe, but that isn’t why I picked it up. I didn’t pick it up because it is speculative fiction; I picked it up because it is a thriller. I don’t read enough thrillers. The great thing about thrillers is that, as a genre, they tend to be extraordinarily well paced and make good use of suspense. They are the prototypical page turners. And, in a time when I haven’t been getting much reading done, I wanted a book that would encourage me to keep turning the pages.
As a comfort read, The Dark Continent succeeded, even if the subject matter is pretty dark and the book frequently grisly. It is ultimately pretty unbelievable in places and the plotting a little thin. It wound up being an enjoyable but disposable, popcorn read.
I commented when I first read Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories two and a half years ago (has it been so long?) that Beyond the Black River was one of my favorite of his stories. I also commented that it “could have been set on the Texas frontier.” I even went so far as to title my post covering the third volume from Del Rey collecting REH’s Conan stories Robert E. Howard Was the Texan Tolkien.
Many Howard fans, though, point to the American Colonial frontier in describing Beyond the Black River. I am gratified that Keith West at Adventures Fantastic hosted a three-part series by John Bullard (responsible for finalizing The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard) that definitely shows that Howard’s mind was on the Texas frontier and the Comanche rather than the Colonial frontier. Links to all three posts are below the jump.
Gregory Manchess’ artwork from the Del Rey collection
Between transitioning at work and taking care of a toddler most of the day, and the stress of watching COVID-19 chew through America, I don’t have a lot of time and energy for reading and less for writing blog posts. The solution? Avoiding the hard work of writing by recording a YouTube video instead, something that only requires talking and drinking (although the latter is not, as I understand it, strictly required).
Joining me for the inaugural episode of the Whiskey and Book Club ep. 1 is the inestimable Andrea from The Little Red Reviewer. You might know Andrea as the founder of Vintage Science Fiction Month.
How is it that I read so few books in March when it was at least five months long? March was . . . wild. No, that isn’t the right word for sitting at home on lockdown. But it certainly hasn’t been boring. We preemptively pulled no-angel out of daycare (now shutdown), all my class transitioned to online, and my wife certainly won’t be taking any business trips anytime soon. So I am spending early mornings and nights working and taking care of a toddler all day. It doesn’t leave much time for reading or writing (or ’rithmetic).
My stats look better than they are because I decided to DNF two books—Bleak House and Red State Blues—that I didn’t touch all month. At least I was good about acquiring new books, although I did order three more to support my favorite local bookstore. I just don’t have them yet.
I actually managed more blog posts—six—in March than I did in February. But one of those was my February month-in-review and one announced a temporary, quasi-hiatus at Hillbilly Highways. (I published four posts at my blog on hiatus and two posts at my blog not on hiatus ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.) Not bad, considering, I think. I do want to post more at Every Day Should Be Tuesday this month, but the blogs aren’t a priority at the moment. I do have a super special surprise cooking.