Tag Archives: The Hunger Games Trilogy

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!!!

Happy St. Valentine’s Day to all those who follow Thoughts on the Edge of Forever!! Here are some clips and photos to make the day a little more romantic…. 😉

First up, the theme music from one of the best romance films ever…!!!

Image result for Marvel Comics The Invisible Woman/Susan Storm Richards

Image result for wedge and iella antilles

Wedge and Iella Antilles

Image result for Jagged and Jaina Fel

Jagged Fel and his wife, Jaina Solo Fel

Image result for Mara Jade and Luke Skywalker

Marriage of Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade

Image result for Marvel Comics Jessica Jones Cage

Jessica and Luke Cage – plus their daughter, Danielle

Image result for aragorn and arwen

Image result for samwise and rosie

And now, the piece de resistance….

Image result for the princess bride


Horatio Hornblower, the TV Series

Image result for horatio hornblower tv series

Generally, when I find a film based on a book, I try to read the book as well as watch the film.  This is what I did when I learned that Howl’s Moving Castle began life as a novel; I read the book.

Sometimes I enjoy the book and film equally, while at other times I enjoy the book more than the film.  This is the case with the Hunger Games trilogy.  The cinematographers for the films did not do the books true justice on a number of levels – and there was no need to make Mockingjay into two films.  No need at all.

There are times, however, when I prefer what I see to what can be read.  In the case of the Horatio Hornblower television series, this is what happened.  Though I may someday read the books, I think that I will probably always enjoy the TV series over the novels.

I first saw the Hornblower series when it aired on PBS’ Masterpiece Theater.  I do not remember how old I was.  I know I was young enough not to understand some of what was said or implied in certain cases.  There is nothing wrong with that, of course; I enjoyed the adventure and got the gist of the important dialogue.  For a child, it is enough.

The novels starring Horatio Hornblower were written by C. S. Forester in the 1930s and possibly into perhaps the 1950s.  They star the fictional hero Horatio Hornblower, a young captain in His Majesty’s navy.  Forester eventually worked back from Hornblower’s position as captain to show how he rose through the ranks, and this is where the television series starts.

In the late 1700s, after America has won her independence from Great Britain, Horatio Hornblower becomes a midshipman aboard His Majesty’s ship, the Justinian, in order to pay a debt that his father owes.  The captain of the Justinian is a friend of Dr. Hornblower, and so he accepts Horatio as a midshipman with facility.

The day he gets aboard the Justinian is a wet, grey day.  Having never been aboard a ship before, Horatio has a little trouble holding down his dinner and throws up when he is introduced to the other midshipmen aboard the vessel.  Two of these – an older man named Clayton and a man about his own age, Midshipman Archie Kennedy (Jamie Bamber) – soon become fast friends with the seventeen year old Hornblower.

Aside from this incident, Hornblower finds the world of the navy to be pretty decent.  At least until the most senior midshipman, a bully named Jack Simpson, returns to the Justinian.  Simpson is about thirty and still a midshipman; at the time, a midshipman could start out as young as eleven.  The senior officers tutored the midshipmen in the arts of seamanship, tactics, and navigation until they could earn the rank of lieutenant.  Unfortunately, Simpson is as dumb as a stump when it comes to mathematics.  He could not navigate a bathtub, let alone the oceans.  Worse, he is a bully and a coward, and he takes out his frustration at being forever a midshipman on the other, younger midshipmen, who are all terrified of him.

All except for the new midshipman.  Hornblower is not afraid to stand up to Simpson, which is bad enough.  But when he also proves to be far and away the best at mathematics aboard the Justinian, Simpson turns up the heat on him.  Life aboard ship becomes almost intolerable, and when Simpson insults Hornblower during a card game, the young midshipman decides to try and rid both the ship and the navy of this scourge by challenging him to a duel.

His challenge shames Clayton who, knowing Hornblower will lose the match, knocks him out and takes his place.  Though he wings Simpson, Clayton himself is badly injured and dies of his wounds not long after.  The day he dies is also the day King Louis XVI is beheaded in France, leading England into war with the French Republic.

This leads Hornblower, Archie, and the other Midshipmen to be transferred to His Majesty’s ship, Indefatigable.  The Indefatigable was a real ship, commanded by the real Sir Edmund Pellew, the captain of the frigate within the film series and the books (played by Robert Lindsey to perfection in the TV series).  Pellew tells Hornblower in no uncertain terms that he does not think much of a man who lets others fight his battles for him, before ordering him to take part in no more duels while he is aboard the Indefatigable, or “the Indy,” as the crew calls her.

Image result for horatio hornblower tv series

In the meantime Hornblower is given command of Simpson’s division from the Justinian.  This division crew consists of Styles (Sean Gilder), a brawler who tends to leap into fights at the first opportunity; Matthews (Paul Copley), an experienced seaman and the senior member of the group; Finch, a small man who is at least as old and seasoned as Matthews, and young Oldroyd.

Hornblower finds the crew chasing down rats in the hold and betting on Styles’ ability to kill them.  Styles doesn’t do this with his hands but with his teeth; his hands are tied behind him and he has to catch and kill the rats with his mouth.

This sort of sport is not allowed aboard ship, of course, and Hornblower makes it clear that while he commands their division, Matthews, Styles, and the rest will not play these games anymore.  Not long after this the Indy captures her first French prize, but Hornblower is not above deck for the engagement because a member of his division is injured in the fight and he helps take the man down to sickbay.  He later distinguishes himself in battle, after a fashion, earning Pellew’s interest.  But Hornblower’s happiness aboard the Indy is dimmed when, coming to the rescue of a sinking British ship, he himself ends up helping a bedraggled Simpson to safety.

The episode reaches its climax in another duel between Hornblower and Simpson, which Simpson does not walk away from.  For this reason, in the U.S. the first episode of the Hornblower series is called “The Duel.”  In England it is known as “The Even Chance.”

There are eight episodes in the Hornblower series.  Starring Ioan Gruffudd as Horatio Hornblower, this was my first introduction to the actor.  Later, when he was tapped to play Mr. Fantastic in the Fantastic Four films, the first words out of my mouth on seeing him were, “That’s Hornblower!”  And so it has remained.  Whether he appears in 102 Dalmatians or the latest remake of The Jungle Book, the first words I say on seeing him are, “There’s Hornblower!”  It is lucky for me that he loves the character so much!

I enjoy the first four episodes of the Hornblower series more than the last four.  There is a joi de vive they have which the following four lack.  For this reason I prefer them to the sequels.  Still, whichever half of the set you enjoy more, you ought to try the series if you have never seen it before.  It is well worth your time and, no matter the cost, it is a great investment if you purchase it. 😉

Image result for horatio hornblower tv series

The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen

The Hunger Games

It has been a long time since there was a post here about a character in The Hunger Games. This article focuses on the lead character for Suzanne Collins’ trilogy: Katniss Everdeen.

Truth be told, Katniss drives me crazy. She is as thick as a fence post six ways from Sunday. Yes, she is skilled at hunting and surviving. She was a child who was forced to grow up quickly in order to protect and support her family. That is not my problem with her. My problem with Katniss is that her ability to read people is seriously lacking, and this is a survival skill everyone should practice. Her inability to understand others is a severe handicap which Katniss never quite overcomes as she works on surviving the deadly situations she finds herself in.

To avoid being too harsh, it is true that plenty of people in Katniss’ position would be unable to see the labyrinthine plots the chess players are weaving on The Hunger Games’ board. Often we are unaware of the webs others spin around us, or which we spin about ourselves when we “practice to deceive.” But that does not mean that some people in Katniss’ role would not be able to make a few educated guesses about the whats and wherefores of the forces at play in their lives.

Katniss does not appeal to me as a character. But her position in the world of Panem is hard to misunderstand. Like people in North Korea, or those who Russia kept in the Siberian gulags, the people of Panem live in cordoned off regions. These areas are prison camps. In The Hunger Games, they are known as Districts.

There are Twelve Districts at the beginning of the trilogy. Originally, there were Thirteen, but after the first rebellion against the Capitol, District Thirteen was destroyed by the government. This was also when the Capitol began the Hunger Games. In the annual Games, two children within the 12-18 age range are selected by lottery to be “tributes” in the arena. There are always two from each District; one boy, one girl. These two then have to face not only each other but the other twenty-two tributes in a televised battle to the death. The last child standing is the winner.

The winners receive enough wealth to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. They never have to worry about starving to death. But their children are still put in the lottery – the Reaping – and neither they nor their families will ever be free of the Capitol’s tyranny.

As an example, the dashing Finnick Odair, a Victor from District Four, was used as a sex slave by the politicians and rich citizens of the Capitol. Johanna Mason apparently refused this path with her characteristic vehemence; so the government killed her whole family to make an example of her to the other Victors. Haymitch Abernathy, who won his Games and embarrassed the Capitol in the process, lost his mother, brother, and girlfriend to “accidents” the government had staged.

These three Victors were free of the threat of starvation. They were not free of the dictatorship which was the Capitol.

At the start of the trilogy, Katniss understands that openly calling out the government on anything puts one at risk of swift retribution. But to her, the Capitol is a relatively distant threat. Living in the poorest District in Panem, District Twelve, Katniss’ hatred for the Capitol simmers under the concerns of daily survival for herself and her family. Ever since her father died in a coal mine explosion, she has had to provide food, clothing, and the other necessities of life for her mother and baby sister.

But Katniss’ attitude toward the Games is stood on its head when her sister, Prim, is Reaped for the seventy-fourth Hunger Games. Desperate to protect the only person she knows she loves, Katniss volunteers to take Prim’s place in the Games. Since she is sixteen, she can volunteer. Anyone over eighteen or under twelve is, by law, not allowed to volunteer to take a lottery winner’s place in the Games.

Through her experiences in the Games, both in the first book and during the next two novels, Katniss grows to understand the extent of her enslavement and that of her fellow citizens to the government. She has survived for four years by hunting and gathering, yes. In that regard, she is not dependent upon the “generosity” of Panem’s government.

But she and her sister are still under threat of being Reaped for the Hunger Games until they turn nineteen. So are thousands of other children, in and out of District Twelve. Katniss’ own vow never to marry, so she can avoid sending any children she would have to the Games, is not a vow everyone in Panem has taken. After a point, they simply cannot make this vow and keep it. We are supposed to “be fruitful and multiply,” after all. (Emphasis on supposed to, people!)

Up until her sister’s name is called at the Reaping, Katniss’ feelings toward those taken for the Hunger Games are, basically: “Sucks to be them.” Once Prim is chosen, however, Katniss is shaken from her detachment toward the Games’ bloody results. She has seen the Hunger Games broadcast into her home since early childhood. She knows what would happen to her sweet, innocent younger sister in the arena. Prim could not hurt a fly without crying over it. She would die on the first day of the Games.

Katniss will not let that happen.

Catching Fire

But the event which totally snaps her once detached distaste for the brutal, retaliatory punishment from the Capitol is the death of her ally, Rue. From District Eleven, Rue is the same age as Katniss’ sister. Despite the racial differences between the two, Katniss instantly feels attached to the younger girl for her habits, which mirror Prim’s. This attachment is made most obvious when the two become allies in the arena.

This is the reason Rue’s death infuriates Katniss. If she had watched Rue die on the television, she would have shrugged the event off. Having spent a few hours with Rue in the arena, and having watched her prior to entering the Games, Katniss has no such reaction to the younger girl’s death.

Rue’s death is Katniss’ turning point. She “buries” Rue with flowers, restoring the little girl’s humanity with that one act. To the Capitol, Rue was just a number, a face in the crowd. She was an expendable slave killed to keep the rest of the herd in line. They did not know her and they did not care to learn about her as a person.

Rue was a twelve year old girl with five younger siblings, loving parents, and more friends than you could shake a stick at. She protected and looked out for her siblings. She sang to the mockingjays so that the people of District Eleven would have a beautiful end-of-harvest-time alert each day. Rue was a gentle, sweet, loving little girl.   She was athletic and had a wide knowledge of healing plants. In another world, she would have had a future so bright it would blind most people.

The Capitol took that away from her. They chose Rue to be a piece in their murderous “Games,” along with twenty-three other children. They murdered a sister, a daughter, a little girl with enormous promise so that they could keep their power.

With Rue’s death, the Games stop being games for Katniss. For a while, the Games were simply another survival routine. Make it out alive, and her family would live as well.

Rue’s death changed the game. Peeta being in the game at all changed the rules, too. Katniss felt she owed him for inspiring her to work to survive. She owed him her life. How could she repay him by taking his? Her best hope for the majority of the first book is that someone else will kill him so she does not have to do so in order to clinch the win.

The Capitol drove everyone in the Districts to, and kept them on the brink of, starvation for one simple reason: to control them better. In situations like that of the Districts, a number of people start maintaining a “look out for number one” policy. A survivor of the North Korean prison camps revealed he turned his own mother in to the camp authorities to be killed so he would have more food to eat. The Hunger Games are based on a similar principle. Their aim was to keep the people of Panem so self-interested, so determined to protect themselves, that they could be herded about like sheep or cattle.

Katniss Everdeen is no sheep. She is more like a wolf. Out to ensure her life and the lives of her ‘pack’, Katniss’ aim is to survive deprivation at all costs. But this attitude was not confined simply to herself and her family. When she came home from hunting, Katniss sold some of her gains on the local black market. Indeed, this was mostly to earn the money she needed to get the non-edible supplies her family required, not to mention pick up other necessities or treats at bargain prices.

But it also helped her community. Other people, such as the Mellarks, benefited from the meat she brought back to the District. The Mayor of District Twelve had a fancy for fresh strawberries and was quite willing to ignore where they came from. In Catching Fire, Katniss makes sure to throw her Victor’s money around as often as possible. Guaranteed by law to never be poor again, Katniss does her best to shower coin on those she knows need it most. Her regular clients at the black market Hub do not turn her down, recognizing her generosity and accepting it.

Where Peeta is a man whose eye is on the future, who looks to the spring that always follows winter, Katniss is different. She was born with a soul of fire, the fire one builds in winter to keep alive during the coldest months of the year. When the day is at its coldest, when the night is full of threats, this is when “the Mockingjay” burns at her brightest.

This, of course, brings up an issue other people are always harping on with regard to Miss Everdeen. Yes, Katniss killed a great many people. Her nightmares from the arena are understandable. The arena was a stage set up by the Capitol politicians. She had to defend herself in order to survive the seventy-fourth Hunger Games but her opponents, the proxies of the government, were mostly her age or younger. She was not fighting trained troops, partisans, or paramilitary agents; rather she was facing other children, most as desperate as she was herself.

In the war which plays out in Mockingjay, things are different, though Collins does not distinguish the difference. This is exhibited best by Katniss and Gale’s indiscriminate firing on people in the Capitol near the end of Mockingjay.


Killing another human being is not and never should be fun or considered so. Gale breezes past this “red line,” as demonstrated by his virulent hatred toward the Capitol and its supporters/denizens with his determination to kill every Capitol supporter he can. In the process he embraces terrorism, along with President Coin, as they stage a compound attack against civilians and resistance medics. (These are yet more points which are against him.)

But Katniss finds herself in the opposite position, blaming herself for the deaths of all the soldiers on both sides of the conflict, even when she was not there. This is foolish, since the war was coming anyway. Katniss just happened to be the stand-in for the spark which ignited the war. If it had not been her, it would have been someone else. It is that simple.

Killing in self-defense or to protect others is a terrible thing. However, it is not murder. (Dean Koontz agrees; read some of his novels.) In a just war, a soldier fights to defend himself, his fellow soldiers, and the people back home. If he has a family, they and the soldiers he fights beside will be the ones he cares for most. Such a man is not fighting and killing for the hell of it, as some “experts” like to claim.

The war the Districts waged against the Capitol, though it was a civil war, was a just war. And even just wars are hell, because killing is never fun. However, the only way to be freed of the Capitol’s control was to fight for it. President Snow and his cronies were not going to grab a gun and go shoot at the Mockingjay themselves. They would need spines to do that, and they did not have those. Only cowards kill children, and President Snow and the other Capitolites running the Hunger Games were all cowards.

President Coin was, too. She bombed helpless children and Primrose Everdeen because it was useful to her campaign. That is evil of the highest order.

So Katniss’ nightmares are largely overplayed in regard to her part in the war, in this writer’s opinion. Her nightmares about the arena are more understandable and permissible, to my mind.

On the whole, I appreciate Katniss Everdeen. I do not like her, but no one said that affection for the main character was mandatory. The Hunger Games trilogy has a great importance for today. We stand “on the edge of a knife,” as the Lady Galadriel told the Fellowship when they came to Lothlorien. “Stray but a little” and we end up in the universe of Panem.

Getting out of that trap will be uglier by that point than climbing back to a just society ever will be. Which would we rather have, readers – a just society, or a civil war for our very freedom?

I know which I would rather have.

The Mithril Guardian

The Hunger Games: Peeta Mellark

The Hunger Games

Catching FireMockingjay















Often when I go to look up a story I have enjoyed, I find that the opinions of other fans regarding certain aspects of the story do not match up with my own. In some cases, this helps me to understand a part of the story I did not appreciate before. In some cases, it is a difference of preference, wherein I and another person can agree to disagree. In other instances, the disagreement is more than an argument over simple taste, but a debate over a point of the story or a character in the story.

That, readers, is the matter at hand in this post on one of The Hunger Games’ most important – and most maligned – characters: Peeta Mellark.

Peeta is a central character to The Hunger Games trilogy. He is Katniss Everdeen’s fellow District 12 tribute, who also happens to be desperately in love with her, a fact she takes forever to realize. In addition, if it were not for Peeta Mellark, there would be no Hunger Games trilogy, because Katniss would not have lived long enough to star in it. Peeta Mellark’s love for Katniss is actually the axis on which the whole trilogy turns!

Despite all this, Peeta is often dismissed as “boring.” One critic has called him (and Gale Hawthorne) “thinly imagined.”

It is always surprising to me to see what elements or characters in a story others think are so easily set aside from it. Peeta is not the first underdog character I have taken a shine to, and for that reason I am now engaged in writing a post vouching for his strengths. Oh, well, here goes nothing!

“Thinly imagined” is not a phrase I would use to describe Peeta at all, for one reason and one reason only: Peeta is one of the strongest (perhaps the strongest) characters in the entire Hunger Games trilogy.

Proof of his strength is shown to us very early on, and by none other than Katniss Everdeen herself. In her recollection of how Peeta saved her life and the lives of her family, Katniss recalls that Peeta burned two loaves of bread on purpose so that he could give them to her. This was after his mother had chased Katniss away from the bakery’s trash bins. When Peeta burned the bread, his mother slapped him across the face, berated him, and sent him out to feed the pig with the toasted loafs. Peeta pulled off the worst scorch marks on the loaves and then threw the bread to Katniss.

No one can tell me that Peeta did not see his mother’s reaction coming. From all the hints in The Hunger Games, we can safely infer that Peeta’s mother was not a kindly disposed woman. She sounds like an abuser – of her husband as much as of her third child (Peeta’s brothers were probably also mistreated by her, but we are not even given their names, so it is hard to tell). But somehow, despite all this maltreatment, Peeta turned out one hundred percent normal, not to mention extraordinarily kind and understanding.

Later, in the Seventy-fourth Hunger Games, Peeta is injured by Cato after Katniss drops a tracker jacker hive on top of him and the Career Tributes. He gets blood poisoning from the injury and lies on the riverbank for days with a high fever, until Katniss finally finds him and starts tending to him. Anyone of weak constitution – or weak character – would have died long before Katniss was able to find him. Peeta survived.

In Catching Fire Peeta proves his strength of character spectacularly when he paints a picture of Rue on the Training Room’s floor during his evaluation by the Game Makers. Painting a portrait of a former tribute whose death and subsequent, flowery burial by “the Mockingjay” earns him a ranking of twelve, making him a high profile target in the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games. Not only that, Peeta could not be sure his action would not put his family and everyone in District Twelve in mortal peril.   But Peeta painted the picture anyway because he wanted to hold the Capitol responsible “for just one moment” for what they did to Rue.

Finally, in Mockingjay, Peeta is rescued from the Capitol after he was captured by their forces at the end of Catching Fire. Katniss is thrilled to have him back – until it is revealed that Peeta has been “highjacked” and turned into a mad assassin the Capitol hopes will kill Katniss.

Peeta’s confused and beleaguered mental state, which shows no sign of improving when Katniss stays near him originally, is too much for her to bear. So she writes him off as a loss. Haymitch is able to chastise her into at least trying to reach Peeta. With her help, Peeta slowly starts to reorient himself. He shows definite signs of improvement before his and Katniss’ rebel squad end up trapped in the Capitol. But, save for a momentary lapse brought about by the situation, Peeta’s mind comes back into balance well enough that he can fight and overcome the Capitol’s manipulation and torture of him. It does not happen all at once, but eventually he does become his own master once again.

Would a “thinly imagined” or “boring” character be able to do any of this? Not likely. If one only looked as far as the surface, then Peeta could perhaps be described as a weak character. But the Hunger Games trilogy is not a series I would recommend to readers who only skate on a story’s exterior. There is depth to every story, be it shallow or several fathoms deep. I am a story scuba diver; I may not like all the depths I travel, but I am not averse to diving in most times.

So what is my judgment of Peeta Mellark? He is a strong character with an ability to survive the most devastating attacks against the human spirit: physical and mental abuse. What is more, he manages to maintain his generosity and good nature throughout his trials, proving that he can be beaten, but not conquered. It is, I think, his gentle nature which tends to make people write him off as uninteresting.

But, as Katniss proves, writing off a tortured gentlemen is a really stupid idea.


The Mithril Guardian

The Hunger Games: Gale Hawthorne

The Hunger Games Catching Fire Mockingjay

After Presidents Snow and Alma Coin, Brutus, Enobaria, Cashmere, Gloss, Glimmer, Cato, and Clove, I think the character in The Hunger Games trilogy I dislike the most is Gale Hawthorne. In part, this is due to the fact that I have never seen much use for so-called “love triangles” in any kind of story. In a “love triangle” plot/subplot, the girl falls for two totally different guys but cannot make up her mind which one she truly loves, blah, blah, blah, puke, puke, puke.

This is not a way to enhance my appreciation of a character. In fact, it is more likely to do the opposite, since all the “love triangle” girls seem truly capable of doing is a lot of dithering.

I mean, how hard is it to really know which guy is better than the other? Pretty generally, in a “love triangle” story, one guy is sincere in his love for the girl and the other guy is not. All the girl has to do is watch and see which fellah behaves better and actually means it and she’s found her guy. But instead we often have the girl wailing and gnashing her teeth while saying, “I can’t choose! I can’t choose!”

Oh, give me a break.

Anyway, of the two young men who end up vying for Katniss’ affection in The Hunger Games, Peeta wins out. Why? Well, if you cheat (the way I did) and read the Wikipedia files, it is said that Peeta beats out Gale because Gale and Katniss both have the “same fire.” (Funny how no one on Wikipedia mentions Gale also kissed and dated other girls prior to Katniss, which makes him, to my mind, to be of doubtful constancy. He fell for girls prior to her, what’s to keep him tied to Katniss forever after, hmm?)

Okay, having read The Hunger Games books, I can say that this thing about Gale and Katniss having the “same fire” is baloney. While Katniss and Gale both have fiery personalities, their fire is most definitely not the same. Katniss’ fire is her will to survive, no matter what. Gale’s fire, however, is the fire for vengeance.

This desire of his is understandable. Gale’s father died in the same mining accident which killed Katniss’ father. He is whipped in Catching Fire for hunting and killing a turkey so that he, his three younger siblings, and his mother could survive without recourse to the Capitol’s “liberality.” He saw his home destroyed and his friends killed when District 12 was burned to the ground. It is perfectly understandable that he would want revenge for all the suffering the Capitol had inflicted on him and those he loved.

But we are warned not to seek vengeance for wrongs committed against us for a reason. In his thirst for payback, Gale becomes very similar to the people he hates. His loathing for the Capitol is so strong that he sees Katniss’ harmless, fluff brained prep team – which has never known true suffering and want in their lives – as monsters. Never mind that they have been raised by the society of the city to be as helpless as children, he does not appreciate that the prep team’s only experience of ‘reality’ has been the decadent lifestyle of the Capitol.

Unlike Katniss, Gale has never been to the Capitol. He has no idea what the people in the Capitol are taught to believe, so he never considers anyone from the city as less than evil. The Capitol citizens are encouraged to lead the lives they do by the government of Panem. As the Hunger Games are a form of control over the districts, so this dissolute way of living is encouraged in the Capitol to keep the city’s people under the control of Panem’s government. Having witnessed life in the Capitol, Katniss has a better understanding of the mentality of its citizens than Gale does.

Gale shows just how far he has fallen when he devises an attack on the Peacekeeper base in District 2. The Capitol Peacekeepers have retreated into a mine/military base in a mountain in the District. With them are a number of District 2 miners and undercover rebel operatives. In planning the rebel attack on the mountain, Gale never stops to sympathize with the people who are pinned down in the mountain. He never stops, as Katniss does, to consider how many of the people inside the base are actually on the Capitol’s side – all he wants is revenge.

Katniss is able to convince the other rebel commanders to leave the District 2 people a way out of the mountain. Remembering her own father’s death in a mine, she is unwilling to condemn so many others to a similar fate. This is something Gale does not appreciate because – as I have already stated – he sees everyone who lives in the Capitol and at least half of the population of District 2 as the enemy. Katniss lacks the ability to articulate to him that his view is wrong, but in the end she knows he is in error and she also knows that he will not be swayed from his point of view.

This is what helps her to realize that Peeta is the better man. Consumed by the fire of his hatred, Gale will do whatever he can to strike back at the Capitol and make them hurt the way they have hurt him. That is all that matters to him.

The first hint of this is in Mockingjay. In the third book, Katniss and Gale witness Capitol hovercrafts bomb a hospital full of wounded District 8 inhabitants. While Katniss did not expect the Capitol to target the hospital, Gale did, leading her to say that Gale understands their enemy. Gale does in fact understand them for he has met the enemy and they are him.

So, is it the “same fire,” readers? I think not. I think it more accurate to say they have incompatible personalities with undeniable similarities. Gale’s flame is the fire of destruction; Katniss’ fire is for the preservation of life at the necessary price. Vengeance destroys, while survival recognizes the importance of humanity and life and – well, survives.


The Mithril Guardian

The Hunger Games: Finnick Odair

The Hunger Games Catching Fire Mockingjay

Initially, I did not want to read The Hunger Games trilogy. Bad memories from reading another series about teenagers fighting and killing people meant I never wanted to pick up a book with such a premise again. But between the urging of a friend and my own curiosity, I gave in and read Collins’ books, determined not to like them at all.

That changed while I was reading Catching Fire.

For anyone who has read the series, watched the film, or cheated and read the Wikipedia files on the trilogy, they know that in Catching Fire Katniss and Peeta end up allying with other tributes from other districts during the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games. One of their new ‘teammates’ is Finnick Odair, a victor from District Four.

Known for his good looks – which send almost every female citizen in the Capitol into a swoon – Katniss dislikes him for his reported string of Capitol lovers and shallow character. And until he enters the arena, Finnick makes himself appear to be a genuinely dislikable ladies’ man.

In the course of the Games, however, he proves to be a noble and generous fellow. He even shows a deep sense of humor. After he, Katniss, and Peeta escape a poisonous fog, they are left with scabs on their skin as they heal from the effects of the toxic mist. When a sponsor sends the three tributes medicine to cure the itchy scabs, Katniss and Finnick are the only ones awake when it arrives.

They begin applying the ointment to each other and discover that, while the medicine eradicates the itching, it also turns their skin an awful shade of green. Katniss then decides to awaken Peeta, whereupon Finnick says they should both do it in order to surprise him with their new color, which makes their appearance hideous. They do manage to scare Peeta awake, and his reaction to their startling “new look” subsequently sends the two into fits of laughter.

It is the one scene in the entire trilogy which actually made me laugh out loud while I was reading it.

In Mockingjay, however, Finnick’s vulnerable side is revealed as he struggles with the knowledge that Annie Cresta, a damaged District Four victor he is in love with, is now in the Capitol’s power. I have to say that I hated reading about his death in that book. I had grown to really like him by that point.

Finnick’s presence in the final two books went a long way to softening my view of the trilogy. It is strange how a second tier character can become so interesting; Finnick’s swashbuckling chivalry, wit, and fun-loving attitude both lighten the hard moments in the books and furthers their point. If I had to choose only one favorite character out of the entire trilogy, I think it would be Finnick.


The Mithril Guardian

The Hunger Games: Rue

The Hunger Games  Catching Fire  Mockingjay

I do not know how other readers feel about Rue, Katniss’ twelve year-old ally in The Hunger Games, but I liked her almost on the spot.   I am fairly sure that there are very few readers of the trilogy who could not like Rue.  Though tough, determined, and a competent survivor, Rue still possesses a measure of innocence throughout her part in The Hunger Games novel.  It was not fun for me to read about her death.

One of the interesting things about the character of Rue is her name.  Though “rue” is indeed the name of a plant species, I did not know that at the time I was reading The Hunger Games.  Instead, I thought of the other meaning for her name, which is:  “regret, sorrow,” or “to feel sorrow, remorse, or regret.” [Thank you, Merriam-Webster! 🙂 ]

And indeed the Capitol does come to “regret” Rue’s death in the Seventy-fourth and Seventy-fifth Hunger Games.  It is Rue’s death that is a turning point for Katniss because it infuriates her.  With her ally’s murder, Katniss realizes the fetters the Capitol has enchained her and all the other districts with:  In Panem, if the Capitol wishes you dead, then you die.  If they wish you life, you live, until you are no longer useful to them.  The people of Panem are slaves to a pitiless master who watches them kill each other for sport.

Katniss, however, defies the Capitol.  Not just in The Hunger Games, where she buries Rue in flowers.  Not simply where she saves Peeta’s life as well as her own.  She defied the Capitol prior to that.  She defied the Capitol by surviving her father’s death in the mines and her mother’s depression, ensuring the survival of her family.  By the Capitol’s thinking, as soon as Katniss’ mother became unable to care for them, Katniss and Prim should have been sent to the District 12 children’s home, a place where orphan children were brought up so that they could go to work in the mines.  It was of no consequence to the Capitol whether or not Katniss and her sister would have been happy and cared for at the children’s home, or whether they were treated as property that must be cleaned and fed, it should have happened.

And if it did not happen, then the girls and their mother should have starved, as other people in District 12 who could not care for themselves did.  There were more people where the Everdeen family came from, an idea which is stood on its head in Mockingjay, where District 3 victor Beetee mentions that the population of Panem is dying off.  This is primarily blamed on the war in the third book, but I am not inclined to believe that annually killing twenty-three youngsters (and, in the Second Quarter Quell, forty-seven youngsters) helped the population maintain a healthy balance, either.  Nor did the constant death in risky jobs such as, say, deep coal mining in District 12 and the harsh punishments meted out for infractions of Capitol law in all the districts help to sustain the population of Panem.

But as long as the Capitol retained control of the districts, that is, as long as everyone in Panem (even in the Capitol itself), lived and died according to the Capitol’s rules, then nothing was wrong.

But everything in such a system is wrong.  And that is what Rue’s death finally drove home to Katniss.

Though her part is as small as her stature, Rue is an unforgettable component of The Hunger Games.  She made sure, in her own small way, that the Capitol came to “rue” the day they Reaped both her and Primrose Everdeen for the Hunger Games.  From the day of her death onward the “odds” were no longer in the Capitol’s favor.


The Mithril Guardian