Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It's the time of year again when my reading time will seriously suffer because the Stanley Cup playoffs have started and there is MUCH hockey to be watched. This year isn't as bad as the past few, since the Leafs didn't make the playoffs, I'm only having to pay attention to my beloved Wings. But since Detroit is playing a Canadian team in the first round, I'm actually getting to see the games. Which is awesome. But as I said, my reading suffers in the Spring.

But despite the distraction the playoffs present, I did manage to finish Mad Merlin by J. Robert King. It wasn't bad, but it is the first time that I actually felt like... yeah yeah, I know what's going to happen, Arthur beats the Saxons at Badon Hill, blah, blah. I never usually feel like that with an Arthurian book, I mean face it, I ALWAYS know what's going to happen with an Arthur book. Depending on when in his life they're focusing, I know that he becomes King, marries Guinevere, founds the Round Table, fights a lot of Saxons, defeats the Saxons, has years of security, the knights go off to find the Holy Grail, gets killed by Mordred. End of story (unless you're doing the once and FUTURE king side of his story). But this book is obviously ending early in Arthur's reign, and is going to be using the victory at Badon over the Saxons as the climax, but I'm just kinda... ehn about it.

It's not that I'm not enjoying the book, it has some neat ideas, like Merlin being the fallen ex-god Jupiter and Excalibur forged from the actual word of the Christian God, but I've found the characters rather hard to enage in because there's SO much focus on the magic and the clash of religions. Wow, I cannot believe I'm actually complaining that there might've been too much magic in this Arthurian telling, but I think I am.

I did like that the conflict with the Saxons was also them bringing their gods with them to conquor Britannia, but we all know that didn't work. The Saxon people might've eventually won, but it was the Christian God who won the religious wars, stamping out or appropriating the gods of the Saxons, the Celts, the Romans, etc. So yeah, that aspect I did find interesting, but I did think there was a little too much focus on such things.

Still have to finish Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure though. But I also started re-reading my run of Y: The Last Man, since I just got all my trades back from a friend who had borrowed them.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I'm still only about half way through Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure. Its not bad, but it hasn't really grabbed me much. I like it, its still amusing, but I find that Dave and Danny are not quite as funny apart as they are together. But, with Dave's book its quite interesting to find out that he still keeps in close contact with a few of the other Dave Gorman's he met, just as Danny made some good freinds out of Join Me. I liked that :)

Last Monday (not the one yesterday), I had forgotten my book at home and so had nothing to read AT THAT MOMENT, and so decided to go to the World's Biggest Bookstore. I love that place. It truly has the best selection of Fantasy/Sci-Fi books out there. Now, if I want just normal mainstream, popular fiction, then a Chapters or Indigo will do, but for fantasy? Nothing but World's Biggest. Lately, they've taken to having displays of 'theme' books, i.e. all humourous fantasy (Tom Holt, Robert Aspirin, Terry Pratchett, etc.) or all books prominently featuring Dragons, or all Canadian fantasy (Guy Kay, Michelle West, Charles De Lint etc.) or all Arthurian themed books. Squee! So yeah, saw that and had to pick up a couple I hadn't read yet. And its acutally been a few months since I've read any Arthurian and the withdrawl was starting to set in, so I picked up Mad Merlin by J. Robert King and Knight Life by Peter David.

I'd read another Arthurian themed book by King, called Lancelot du Lethe, and I enjoyed it, so thought I'd give this one a try. Its not bad, it has all the magic left in and has to deal with Arthur's ascention to the throne. Its got some weird ideas in it (Merlin is actually a 'slain' Jupiter, he was cast out from being a god and made mortal when he lost his followers to Jehovah), but the characters are quite good and Arthur comes across as quite charming, which, for being such a great leader, isn't always the case. So yeah, so far, not bad. Oh, and B finds the author's name very amusing, since it is pretty much his name, just rearranged a little bit. So he keeps referring to it as 'the book he wrote' :)

The second book, Knight Life, I'd been meaning to pick up for awhile because Peter David is someone I'm very familiar with through comic books. He's written all kinds of stuff, from the only Hulk and X-Factor issues I've ever read (and rather enjoyed), so a fabulous retelling of Aquaman's origin to the very enjoyable first bunch of issues that was Young Justice (I will say that as the run of YJ went on, I did have some problems with it, but there was some comedic gold in those first few issues), so I'm curious to check out his take on a modern version of Arthur.

And that's where I am this week.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I loved Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. It was a tremendously funny, touching and deep book. It humanized Christ in a way that I, someone who doesn't really count themselves as a Christian, never thought was possible. And as I've always thought that Christ, despite his divine connections, was supposed to be the human side of God, he always felt so... untouchable to me in the Bible. There was never anything that made me want to follow his teachings in the Bible, but that may be because the Bible is presented as this 'authority', and I don't believe that anyone other than Christ himself could be the 'authority'. But anyway, I'm not about to run out and become a true believer, but I just really liked the way Christopher Moore characterized Christ, or Joshua as he is called throughout the book. Even just calling him Joshua instead of the more familiar, Jesus (which Moore has Biff point out to us is the Greek form of the name Joshua) goes so far in humanizing Christ. As does the first time we (and Biff) see him, in a scene that made me fall in love with the book nearly right away; Joshua is around nine years old and he has a squirming lizard in his mouth. He takes the lizard out of his mouth, hands it to his younger brother James, who proceeds to smash it with a rock and kill it. James then hands the lizard back to Joshua, who puts it in his mouth again, and brings it back to life. Biff cannot help but think there's something different about this kid.

The main crux of the story is that Joshua passes those 'missing' years, the ones none of the Gospels cover, but going to learn how to become the Messiah. He does so by finding the three men who believed he was the Messiah right from his birth; the Three Wise Men. He (and Biff) journey to China, India and what would be modern day Afghanistan to learn the ways of magic, the Buddha and some Hinduism/Yoga. Its fascinating and a wonderful idea.

But most importantly along the way to learning to become a Messiah, it is Joshua's best friend Biff (Levi who is called Biff, named so because the sound of him being repeatedly slapped upside the head by his parents is the sound 'Biff') who teaches Joshua to be human.

It is a wonderful book, and even though the ending is such a foregone conclusion, I couldn't help but be sad at the end because for the first time, I felt I connected to Christ not as the ideal, or the sacrifice or the martyr or what have you, but as a person.

So yeah, plowed through that one and now I'm onto Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Alrighty, I finished Danny Wallace's journey into culthood, er, sorry, collective-hood, Join Me.
It was a very good read, but not as side-splittingly funny as Are You Dave Gorman? Join Me was definitely more introspective, but still a journey about self discovery. Danny was inspired to create Joine Me when a Swiss great uncle of his passes away, and Danny is told by some family members, that at one point, this uncle had wanted to start a collective of people living on his farm, helping each other, living in harmony, etc. Basically a commune. Danny finds this wonderful and so places an ad in a newpaper, asking people to simply "Join Me". All they have to do is send him a passport photo. And from there it begins and it grows throughtout the UK to Belgium, Norway, and even the Far East.

I did find it sad that Danny and his girlfriend Hanne, who was such a wonderful character in Are You Dave Gorman?, eventually did break up over Join Me. To her, it was just 'another stupid boy-thing', whereas to Danny, it was an important meeting of minds, of people inspired to do good deeds, etc. It was sad that they couldn't agree on it (although Danny was a prat and hid his collective from her for most of it), although Hanne did eventually join him, but only as a member, not as his significant other again.

So anyway, good read, quite thought provoking really.

And now I'm onto some Christopher Moore hilarity, reading one of his older books that I'd been meaning to read forever but haven't gotten around to, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. It promises to delightfully irreverant, but with enough good punches to also make you think. Christopher Moore hasn't failed me yet.