Author Archives: The Mithril Guardian

About The Mithril Guardian

I like stories.  Whether they’re on film, in song, or in print, I always remember a good story.  They remind me of paintings.  People cannot see them without learning something.  So it’s a good idea to look at a story from as many angles as possible.  I can watch the same movie a million times and still I will learn something that I did not know before.  Thoughts on the Edge of Forever is where I get to focus on what I learned from stories; what was not obvious the first time, the second time, or the umpteenth time. Earlier posts are written in the form of letters, usually to specific characters, to point out what I saw in a particular story or heard in a piece of music. Some of those letters, though, are like letters to the editor. Why did someone write a story this way and not another? Would the story have turned out better if the writer had done something different? These ‘letters to the editor’ will probably never be answered by the writers - the characters certainly will not answer anything - but their contents are still up for debate. After all, unless you ask a question, you will never get an answer. Still, civil ground rules apply. Any foul language or other form of abuse will not be tolerated in Thoughts on the Edge of Forever. I mean, who wants to be around the guest at the dinner party who is being nasty? Practically nobody, since people go to a party to have fun, not to hang around a grouch. So let’s have fun! The Mithril Guardian

Just Can’t Get Enough of This Music!

Get your jam on, readers! Here are some more great pop tunes to bring a smile to your face and lighten your mood. Star-Lord would be pleased. Yeah, man!

Enjoy!

The Mithril Guardian

Come On, Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

 

Walk of Life – Dire Straits

 

9 to 5 – Dolly Parton

 

Life in a Northern Town – The Dream Academy

 

Listen to the Music – The Doobie Brothers

 

Already Gone – The Eagles

 

Strange Magic – ELO

 

Tiger – Fabian

 

Praise You – FatboySlim

 

Crimson and Clover – Tommy Jones and The Shondells

 

Why Do Fools Fall In Love? – Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers

 

Chase – Giorgio Moroder

 

She’s Gone – Hall & Oates

 

Life in One Day – Howard Jones

Advertisements

Book Review: Black Horses for the King by Anne McCaffrey

Black Horses for the King by Anne McCaffrey - Reviews ...

Black Horses for the King is the first Anne McCaffrey book that I have ever read. No, I am not joking; prior to this, yours truly had never done more than peek at a page of Miss McCaffrey’s books. The Dragon Riders of Pern series is on my “to read” list, but so far this blogger has not actually read those books.

Knowing her reputation with those novels, however, Black Horses for the King looked like a good place for this writer to begin getting to know Miss McCaffrey and her work. While it doesn’t strike me as an excellent piece, it is enjoyable and well written. I really have no complaints about it, beyond a few minor nitpicks.

The story begins with Galwyn Varianus, who has been apprenticed to his uncle, a rough sailor and pagan who despises him. Following his lead, the crew picks on the boy mercilessly. The fact that Galwyn is currently cleaning up after six seasick passengers below decks isn’t helping much, since their discomfort is making him ill, too. Despite that, he is doing his best to avoid telling off the sailors; doing that only makes them increase their cruel teasing. But when one of the sailors insults the lad’s mother, Galwyn whirls around, ready for a fight…

…Only to be stopped by Comes Artos, the Dux Bellorum. Artos is Latin for Arthur, making this novel an Arthurian tale. Miss McCaffrey, however, is leaving off the magic and other familiar trappings in order to remain as true to history as she can. She is also focusing on an almost mundane aspect of the legend – the large horses Arthur had to buy to repulse the recurrent Saxon invasions.

Artos is sailing to the continent to buy big horses he can breed with the larger ponies in England so that his men can face the Saxons on better terms. On their ponies the Britons cannot face the pagan invaders, since the animals are incapable of carrying the large Englishmen for great distances or long amounts of time. In order to out-maneuver and overcome the invaders, Artos and his Companions need bigger horses. So they are sailing to Septimania to buy them.

When apprised of the Comes’ plan, Galwyn finds he approves of it. Having grown up in a Roman villa prior to his apprenticeship with his uncle, the boy has a fondness for and skill with horses. He would much rather tend the animals than sail, but due to his father’s death, working at sea appeared to be the best way he to support his mother and sisters until he can find a different profession. And better companions.

Black Horses For The King ISBN 9780552529730 PDF epub ...

But when his uncle’s crew goes too far, Galwyn seizes his chance and escapes his hateful relative’s ship. He then buys a pony and follows Lord Artos to the fair in Septimania. There his knowledge of horses, his ability to bargain, and his skill with languages prove invaluable in the purchase of a large group of black Libyans – stallions, mares, and foals. Following their purchase he, Artos, and the rest of the Companions lead the animals to port in order to bring them back to England.

Shipping the creatures across the ocean is difficult work, since they are as unused to the water as the Companions, who are too busy taking care of them to get sick this time. On their first arrival in England, Galwyn makes a final end to his apprenticeship under his uncle. Staying with Artos and his Companions, he helps bring the other two sets of horses to Britain.

From there, he travels to a farm where the animals will be tended and allowed to breed with each other and the biggest Briton ponies. On the way he becomes apprentice to the horse expert friend of Artos, a man named Canyd. Canyd and his fellow horse masters are trying to make the first horse shoe in order to protect the animals’ feet. As Canyd likes to remind everyone around him, whether they want to hear him or not: “No hoof, no horse!”

Black Horses for the King does not strike me as the best of Miss McCaffrey’s work. Still, it is an enjoyable story that presents a good picture of the times in which it is set. Horse and history lovers will find it a great read, and it is hard to stop once you get going with it. In the final analysis, it is a worthy book from a good author.

‘Til next time, readers!

Black Horses for the King by Anne McCaffrey (Paperback ...

The Law of the Jungle by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book has a strong message for teamwork ...

The Law of the Jungle

by Rudyard Kipling

NOW this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.


Wash daily from nose-tip to tail-tip; drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting, and forget not the day is for sleep.

The Jackal may follow the Tiger, but, Cub, when thy whiskers are grown,
Remember the Wolf is a Hunter — go forth and get food of thine own.

Keep peace withe Lords of the Jungle — the Tiger, the Panther, and Bear.
And trouble not Hathi the Silent, and mock not the Boar in his lair.

When Pack meets with Pack in the Jungle, and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken — it may be fair words shall prevail.

When ye fight with a Wolf of the Pack, ye must fight him alone and afar,
Lest others take part in the quarrel, and the Pack be diminished by war.

The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, and where he has made him his home,
Not even the Head Wolf may enter, not even the Council may come.

The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, but where he has digged it too plain,
The Council shall send him a message, and so he shall change it again.

If ye kill before midnight, be silent, and wake not the woods with your bay,
Lest ye frighten the deer from the crop, and your brothers go empty away.

Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates, and your cubs as they need, and ye can;
But kill not for pleasure of killing, and seven times never kill Man!

If ye plunder his Kill from a weaker, devour not all in thy pride;
Pack-Right is the right of the meanest; so leave him the head and the hide.

The Kill of the Pack is the meat of the Pack. Ye must eat where it lies;
And no one may carry away of that meat to his lair, or he dies.

The Kill of the Wolf is the meat of the Wolf. He may do what he will;
But, till he has given permission, the Pack may not eat of that Kill.

Cub-Right is the right of the Yearling. From all of his Pack he may claim
Full-gorge when the killer has eaten; and none may refuse him the same.

Lair-Right is the right of the Mother. From all of her year she may claim
One haunch of each kill for her litter, and none may deny her the same.

Cave-Right is the right of the Father — to hunt by himself for his own:
He is freed of all calls to the Pack; he is judged by the Council alone.

Because of his age and his cunning, because of his gripe and his paw,
In all that the Law leaveth open, the word of your Head Wolf is Law.

Now these are the Laws of the Jungle, and many and mighty are they;
But the head and the hoof of the Law and the haunch and the hump is — Obey!

Book Review: Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones

Retro Friday Review: Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne ...

Previously, Diana Wynne Jones’ novel Howl’s Moving Castle was reviewed here at Thoughts. It was so good that I thought an analysis of the sequel was in order. Castle in the Air has the great distinction of improving upon the framework in the original story, something that doesn’t always happen in modern fiction.

It begins in the Sultanates of Rashpuht, a country far to the south of Ingary, the nation where Howl’s Moving Castle takes place. A young carpet merchant named Abdullah is standing in his booth at the Bazaar, daydreaming about being a prince. Though Abdullah’s father was a rich carpet merchant, everything but his booth went to his first wife’s in-laws because he was disappointed in his son.

Just why he was upset with his son Abdullah doesn’t know. And at this point, it doesn’t matter to him, either. Despite his daydreams, Abdullah is a very happy carpet merchant. He sells enough goods to make a comfortable living, and he is content to never be wealthy or leave the Bazaar. In truth, he really does not have a reason to want to leave; his reveries just add a touch of romance to his otherwise ordinary life.

In the middle of his latest fantasy (which, for the first time, features a beautiful princess), a customer appears and asks to sell him a carpet. He wants five hundred gold pieces for the rug, but Abdullah is skeptical. The mat is in bad shape, and even if he wanted it, he certainly wouldn’t pay five hundred gold coins for it.

So when the man says it is a magic carpet, Abdullah is intrigued but disbelieving. He allows the stranger to enter the booth proper in order to have him prove that the carpet can fly. Even when a commotion occurs in the next stall, the carpet merchant keeps an eye on his customer as the man orders the rug two feet into the air.

The carpet does as it is told and, after checking to make sure none of the usual tricks could have been pulled to fake its flight, Abdullah agrees to buy the carpet. Several hours are spent haggling over the price, and he finally pays two hundred fifty gold pieces for the mat before going out to lunch. Worried the rug will fly away when he leaves, Abdullah ties it the center pole of the booth to make sure it stays put.

Castle in the Air (First Edition)

It does. But in order to keep an even better eye on it, Abdullah puts the carpet on top of his bed (which is made up of other carpets piled one atop the other). During the night, Abdullah wakes to find himself in a luscious garden. There he meets a girl – a princess – who mistakes him for a girl.

How can she make that obvious error? Simple – the only man she has ever seen is her father, the Sultan. Confused, but convinced this is all a dream, Abdullah tells the princess about his daydreams. And because he thinks he is still asleep, he makes it sound like his daylight fantasies are the truth.

The delighted princess, who identifies herself as Flower-in-the-Night, absorbs his tale with avid interest. But when the two try to experiment with the carpet, they accidentally give it the wrong command, sending Abdullah back to his booth post-haste. He wakes up again the next morning feeling blue, until he realizes that he was not actually dreaming. The carpet transported him to a real palace where he met a real princess named Flower-in-the-Night.

Abdullah spends the rest of the day buying paintings of different men so he can bring them to Flower-in-the-Night (who is still convinced he is a woman). Once he has done this, he tries ordering the carpet back to the palace at once. But it doesn’t budge, throwing Abdullah into despair. There appears to be a secret code word that will “activate” the magic carpet, but since he does not know it, he is stuck.

Once he calms down a little, though, Abdullah reminds himself that the carpet definitely took him to the palace the previous night. Deciding that he must have mumbled the code word in his sleep, he asks the rug to transport him to Flower-in-the-Night as soon as he speaks the word in his sleep. Meanwhile, he waits anxiously for nightfall so he can go to bed and return to his princess.

The plan works, and Abdullah shows Flower-in-the-Night the pictures. She studies them all, especially the ones showing the most handsome specimens, then declares that none of them are as handsome as her midnight visitor. Confirming that she is now sure he is, in fact, a man, Abdullah falls to discussing marriage with her. As it turns out, Flower-in-the-Night is to be betrothed to the Prince of Ochinstan (the Rashpuht name for Ingary). Upset upon learning that it is common for men in Rashpuht to have more than one wife, Flower-in-the-Night declares that to be an unfair arrangement, especially when Abdullah says he thinks even the Prince of Ochinstan already has several wives.

Castle in the Air Audiobook | Diana Wynne Jones | Audible.com

The discussion of marriage eventually brings the two to talk about their relationship. It isn’t long before they both decide to elope, and Abdullah begins to set the plan in motion. He narrowly escapes being married to his two fat cousins before the following nightfall. After selling off his stock and sewing the money into his clothes, he goes to sleep on the carpet.

Sometime later, he awakes in the garden. Flower-in-the-Night rushes out to meet him, and it looks like their fairy tale life together is about to begin…

…Until an enormous, dark djinn arrives and snatches up Flower-in-the-Night.

Things begin to pick up from here, but I won’t spoil the rest of the story for you, readers. Suffice it to say this novel is as good – if not better – than its predecessor. The humor is top notch, the characters are well drawn, and the story is executed beautifully. It is a great read.

But you don’t need to take my word for it. Pick up Castle in the Air and Howl’s Moving Castle at your earliest opportunity and read them for yourselves. You won’t regret it!

Until next time!

Castle in the Air (Howl's Moving Castle, #2) by Diana ...

Happy Easter! – Cold Iron by Rudyard Kipling

Image result for easter the resurrection

Cold Iron

by Rudyard Kipling

“Gold is for the mistress — silver for the maid —

Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.”

“Good!’ said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

“But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.”

So he made rebellion ‘gainst the King his liege,

Camped before his citadel and summoned it to siege.

“Nay!” said the cannoneer on the castle wall,

“But Iron — Cold Iron — shall be master of you all!”

Woe for the Baron and his knights so strong,

When the cruel cannon-balls laid ’em all along;

He was taken prisoner, he was cast in thrall,

And Iron — Cold Iron — was master of it all!

Yet his King spake kindly (ah, how kind a Lord!)

“What if I release thee now and give thee back thy sword?”

“Nay!” said the Baron, “mock not at my fall,

For Iron — Cold Iron — is master of men all.”

“Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown —

Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.”

“As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small,

For Iron — Cold Iron — must be master of men all!”

Yet his King made answer  (few such Kings there be!)

“Here is Bread and here is Wine — sit and sup with me.

Eat and drink in Mary’s Name, the whiles I do recall

How Iron — Cold Iron — can be master of men all!”

He took the Wine and blessed it.  He blessed and brake the Bread.

With His own Hands He served Them, and presently He said:

“See!  These Hands they pierced with nails, outside My city wall,

Show Iron — Cold Iron — to be master of men all.”

“Wounds are for the desperate, blows are for the strong.

Balm and oil for weary hearts all cut and bruised with wrong.

I forgive thy treason — I redeem thy fall —

For Iron — Cold Iron — must be master of men all!”

“Crowns are for the valiant — scepters for the bold!

Thrones and powers for mighty men who dare to take and hold!”

“Nay!” said the Baron, kneeling in his hall,

“But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of men all!

Iron out of Calvary is master of men all!”

Happy Easter, readers!

The Mithril Guardian

Reference(s):

http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/cold_iron.html

A Ballad of Trees and the Master by Sidney Lanier

Sidney Lanier - Poet | Academy of American Poets

A Ballad of Trees and the Master

by Sidney Lanier

Into the woods my Master went,
Clean forspent, forspent.
Into the woods my Master came,
Forspent with love and shame.
But the olives they were not blind to Him,
The little gray leaves were kind to Him:
The thorn-tree had a mind to Him
When into the woods He came.

Out of the woods my Master went,
And He was well content.
Out of the woods my Master came,
Content with death and shame.
When Death and Shame would woo Him last,
From under the trees they drew Him last:
‘Twas on a tree they slew Him – last
When out of the woods He came.

Tunes! Tunes! Tunes!

There are a couple of new pieces mixed into today’s list, readers. At least, I think they are new. This blogger does not pay a great deal of attention to the world of music, which is obvious, considering her taste in songs.

Oh, well, whether these are new or old hits, they are worth a listen nonetheless. Have fun listening to the tunes, readers!

The Mithril Guardian

 

Turn! Turn! Turn! – The Byrds

 

Behind the Clouds – Brad Paisley

 

Find Yourself – Brad Paisley

 

Blue Suede Shoes – Carl Perkins

 

Tequila – The Champs

 

Hot Rod Lincoln – Charley Ryan

 

Route 66 – Chuck Berry

 

Sunglasses at Night – Corey Hart

 

Something So Strong – Crowded House

 

Karma Chameleon – Culture Club

 

Riders on the Storm – Creed

 

Runaway – Del Shannon

 

Come Go With Me – The Del Vikings

 

Runaround Sue – Dion