Thursday, November 19, 2015

Book stuff

I bought Ruby the latest Rick Riordan book about Magnus Chase, (Annabeth's cousin) who gets involved with the Norse mythological parallel world in Boston.

It's not as good as the Percy series, because Percy is more of a klutz for kids to identify with, and Magnus is 16... It took 19 chapters of boring back-story to understand the world of mythology, whereas the Percy books happen in earth, not Valhalla etc.

But once you get all the characters backgrounds and the lay of the land, it perks up. (Start at chapter 20 if you get bored).

And yes, there is a female "Valkarie", who wears a hijab. Her Iraqi mother had her by the (evil) god Loki but she is actually a good character. Why Iraq? well, one of the best descriptions about the Viking as traders was written by an Iraqi trader...this was one of the subplots in the book/move the Thirteenth Warrior.

 In the book, Loki and Thor are closer to the Norse myths (Thor is a dumb klutz, and Locki is charming but evil and manipulative).

I am also into the Outlander series. There is one horrifying scene where they burn a witch... in the book, she had killed her husband, so it was probably justified. But in the later books they run into her again, and she is even more evil and has killed more people to obtain "magical" power (e.g. to move through time).

A lot of the witch stuff is exaggerated but there were outbreaks of hysteria against witches that need to be condemned, but one has to remember that there were people who knew herbs and did poison people...

here is a thing to ponder: some early alchemists were indeed the descendents of modern scientists, but many went into to obtain power over others or get rich... the problem of creativity/science and manipulating the environment is one of the theme of Tolkien: not just anti materialism/anti science per se, but that those who create are often tempted into the temptation of power.

The elves use their powers to create beauty, for example, but the tradgedy of Feanor is that it made him proud and not care about those whose lives he wrecked when he sought revenge. and Saruman was again tempted into the 'dark side"...but like Sauron was originally good.

The ultimate temptation for men, of course, is not only to rule others, but to be deathless, which is why the rings of men destroyed the kings who wielded them, making them into wraiths.

Can you say "Transhumanism" people?

I am also rereading "Hungry Ghosts" about the terrible man made famines in Mao's Great Leap forward. Lots of westerners preferred not to see what was going on, or said it was exaggerated, pointing to McCarthy...


No comments: