December 2010


Definitely taking a Christmas holiday, and should be back with Part 3 of the Casting Call and Part 6 of the MS&T re-read next week.

Merry Christmas!

So, for those of you living under rocks, or that quite possibly just don’t care about things like this, the awesome sci-fi/fantasy site Suvudu has recently finished a ‘Villains Only’ Cage Match, and the winner of all the villains was The Mountain That Rides – yes, another G.R.R.M. creation who has no logical reason to be able to beat people like The Reaper, but pulled through by sheer fanboyism. Well, Suvudu has decided that The Mountain will now go up against the last Cage Match Winner, Rand al’Thor. If you don’t know who that is, I doubt you’re reading this blog.

Rand is essentially a demi-god. He is the most powerful channeler to have lived in over three thousand years, he has the memories of a past life of another extremely powerful channeler, and has at his disposal Callandor – a sa’angrael so powerful he is scared to use it. True, Callandor has some flaws, but even without that, in the latest book, Towers of Midnight, he was able to wipe out an army of hundreds of thousands of Trollocs, fades, and Draghkar in a matter of hours. Plus, as any who have read the latest book know, it is a defendable position that he is no longer insane – he was apparently cleansed during his tenure on Dragonmount. Which means it is unlikely he would have any problems against regular, non-channeling villains.

Meet The Mountain that Rides. Sure, he has no fear, but he is basically just a large brute who beats opponents to death, usually right after (or before) he rapes them. This match is literally the equivalent of Goku being challenged by some thug on the street who picked a few pockets in his day, and now consider himself the King of Thieves.

Anyway, Suvudu offered to take submissions for write-ups of how we (the fans) expect the battle to go. I did not know about this submission thing until it was too late to send in – the submission deadline was December 10 – but I figured I would put ‘pen to paper’ and tell my version of the story.

A few quick notes – I have taken some liberties with both the voice of Clegane, and the plot currently going on in the Wheel of Time. I also inserted into the story the assumption that Rand knew why he had to fight Clegane, but not how he had attained the information. Please forgive me these things.

Enjoy.

******

Well, that went better than expected, Rand thought to himself, looking out over the Fields of Merrilor at the massive army that now followed Mat, and the Aes Sedai who – though grumbling about it, he was sure – were preparing to go to war for the first time in a very long time. He knew he should be focusing on the Black Tower right now, knowing that they would be a knife twisted deep in his back if he ignored them before heading to Shayol Ghul, but he also knew – or felt sure about, anyway – that someone else was about to settle that issue once and for all. He still felt guilty that he had let things get that far, but knew that those whom he had put his trust in would see things settled with Taim. And maybe, just maybe, Taim would even make it out alive, and come looking for vengeance on the Dragon Reborn. Rand’s fists clenched as he thought of that hateful man, but he quickly calmed himself, preparing for his journey.

He looked around to make sure no one else could see where he was going – Min was speaking with Elayne – how could I have not known she was pregnant!? – and Egwene was tending to Aes Sedai concerns. Perrin and Mat were discussing something with Bashere, and the Wise Ones were with the clan chiefs, preparing for battle. Aviendha was still somewhere far south and east, somewhere in the Waste, but he felt concern from her, concern like he had never felt. He wanted to go to her, but he had one last thing to do. Ducking inside his pavilion tent, he quickly wove a Gateway, and stepped through. He threw a weave atop it to hide it from site, should anyone step into the tent.

His boots touched on a rocky path, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. He did not know where he was, only that it had been promised by those who he could not ignore that he would be here at this time. Before him stood a towering brute of a man, impossibly large, holding a massive sword in one hand and a thick shield in another. The man appeared to be waiting for him, but Rand did not know him except by name, and could not see his face behind the helmet the man wore.

The two stood facing each other for a long moment, and then the man apart from Rand spoke.

“So you are the one I’m supposed to defeat? I have been sent against a priest? A gimp prophet?”

Rand smiled and looked down at his brown robes, realizing he did look very dissimilar from most warriors, though beneath his robe, Justice was sheathed – hopefully he would not lose this blade, as he felt sure it would be needed when he finally met the Daughter of the Nine Moons again. He had not brought Callandor – he still feared its power, and had also known he would not be allowed to bring any women to link with him here.

“Who do I speak to, friend?” Rand called to the hulking man, measuring the distance between the two of them. “And why do you think you must defeat me?” Rand knew who this was, but thought it would be best to appear courteous at their first meeting. He seized the Source, just to make sure it was still available here, and was filled with the chilling cold of the One Power, surging through him like a tempest.

The man growled and ripped off his helmet, revealing a horribly scarred and gruesome face. “I am the one sent to defeat you! I know you have powerful sorceries, but I have already beaten Death himself, and have no fear of you.”

Rand scowled – this was already going in a way he had hoped to avoid. This man, Gregor Clegane, known by some as The Mountain That Rides, was supposed to be an unstoppable killing machine in this strange world, and one who felt no shame at his immoral deeds.

“I can offer you sanctuary if you come with me. My forces ride towards a battle that will determine the fate of my world. We need all the help we can get. I would be willing to…” Rand cut off as he saw the Mountain was laughing.

“You will give me Sanctuary?” the man spit incredulously. “I fear no one here – those who come before me, whether they be made of metal, whether they be immortal undead, or whether they be gods themselves . . . they die. I have defeated the most powerful being in all creation, why should I fear you?” Clegane lowered his helmet over his head again. “You speak trickeries and nonsense.”

The Mountain That Rides began striding forward, cautiously. Rand tried one last time to reason.

“Your fighting skill is legendary, Clegane! Your prowess would do our people well. Your sins can be forgotten – you can start anew with us. There is evil in our world that makes yours look insignificant – surely you wish for a chance to do what is right?”

Clegane ignored Rand, closing the distance – he was less than twenty paces away when he charged.

Rand sighed and, just as the Mountain was about to reach him, wove a Gateway beneath the man’s feet. The huge knight stumbled for a moment, then tumbled headfirst through the Gateway, appearing a hundred feet back up the path, and falling on his face.

Rand smiled and said, “I offer one last time. Call it a treaty – a truce between us, even if temporary. Let us hold off our battle until my work is done.”

Clegane growled and rushed forward, twirling his sword, and almost dancing with anger – Rand could see the man had strength and skill with the blade, but it was odd seeing the difference in this sword master and those Rand had himself confronted.

As the Mountain approached, he slowed cautiously, seeming concerned that Rand had not yet made a move. Rand held his arms wide. He felt the One Power, a torrent of fire and ice, and let it fill him to the brink. He knew Clegane could not see any indication of his power, and felt pity for the small man, but time was running out.

“Will you yield to me and allow this nonsense to end, so that we may both continue with whatever tasks we have?” Rand asked, allowing his voice to take on the quality it once had always taken when he was in the Void – cold and distant.

“Yield? Yield!?” the man roared, and charged, setting his point straight towards Rand’s heart.

Rand released the energy within him in two weaves. A massive thunderclap was heard as the ground beneath Clegane roared upwards and threw the man into the air, head over heels. At the same time, bright light – searing and white – appeared all around, blinding his opponent. It was not his most impressive demonstration, but it would work. He casually caught Clegane before the man hit the ground, wrapped him in flows of Air, and spread his limbs apart as though the man were being put to question.

Rand approached, his smile gone. He drew Justice with his good hand and without slowing, put the point to Clegane’s neck. He made sure to put a little pressure on the blade. Weaving flows of Fire and Air, the air around the Mountain heated up, causing sweat to immediately start pouring from the man’s pores, and weaving flows of Earth made the ground beneath them tremble. Finally, with just a trickle of Air, he threw Clegane’s helmet off the man’s head. There was no fear in the man’s eyes, just rage and anger, and Rand knew this could not be won in any other way.

He spoke softly, almost a whisper. “I fight for the salvation of all the people on my world, good and evil alike.” His voice rose slightly, and he allowed the Air to pick up in a frenzy, whipping his clothes about. “Your evil is foul, and you deserve death a hundred times over, yet I was willing to spare your life for a greater good.” The wind was torrential now, and thunderclouds appeared overhead out of nowhere, lightning flashing within. “I have been told to be here to settle a trial – a Trial of Might – a flaming tournament, while in my world, the creation of all evil such as yours is ready to break free and crush me and my friends.” Air, Fire, and Spirit caused Justice to glow and heat up. Clegane began to look concerned, but it was too late. “I have wasted my time – I was told this could only end with one of our deaths, and by dint of prophecy, I should have known there would be no way around it. Should you be reborn one day, I hope your spirit is cleansed.”

Rand released all the energy that was left within him into a single focused weave. It was the most complex weave he had ever woven, all five Powers forming a white sphere which surrounded Clegane. The sphere disappeared, taking Clegane with it, and the air rushed to fill the void he had made. Rand thought he may have seen contentment in the man’s eyes before he had erased him from existence, but knew better than to hope for good in someone so foul. He knew that he had done something impossible – he had ripped the man’s soul from this existence – from all existences – and hoped it was for the best. But he could not imagine ever having this man born again in any world, to wreak the havoc in another life that he had already done.

Rand looked around at the rocky road – he had allowed the storm to settle, and patches of sunlight shone through – and looked down at the helmet which Clegane had been wearing. Picking it up, and channeling Air and Water to clean the filthy thing, he tucked it under his arm, turned around, and strode back through the Gateway. There was still work to be done.


There it is. I know I’m not a fantastic writer, but I think that’s a pretty accurate representation of how the battle would go down. Don’t forget to vote!

Vote here for the Suvudu Cage Match.

Rand al’Thor is a character from the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson; Ser Gregor Clegane (The Mountain That Rides) is a character from the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin.

Here is part two of my The Wheel of Time Casting Call. I forgot Amathera last week, so she’s first, and then we’re on to the B’s. For all the you could possibly ever hope to read (and plenty I’m sure you don’t care about) in regards to how I’m doing things here, please refer to the Part One as well as the Introductory Post, where I go on in endless detail about why I think what I think when I think it. And if nothing further needs saying (which, let’s face it, is true), we shall move on to the casting now.

Amathera
Amathera, the Panarch of Tanchico, who became just ‘Thera’ once the Seanchan took over, is Julian Sanders’ love interest. She is described as being well short of her middle years, lovely, and having a ‘pouty mouth’ and dark hair. So we’re needing someone not into her middle years, considered to be attractive, dark hair, and pouty lips/mouth. I’m going to put someone up that people have a tendency not to like…

Liv Tyler as Amathera
Liv Tyler is, for the most part, all of those things above. And she’s really not that bad of an actress, despite the rep she’s got from a couple of bad movies. Many will know her as Arwen, from The Lord of the Rings movies of course, but she’s been in other movies as well, and I feel she tends to hold her own pretty well.

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
Lord of the Rings movies
Armageddon
Empire Records (awesome!)


Bain
Bain, one of the Aiel ladies who follows Faile around forever, and become part of the love circle that Gaul so humorously participates in. She’s never really given a lot of description, except that she has ‘fiery hair,’ and dark blue eyes. And she is the taller of her and Chiad. We have no true indication one way or the other about her age, but I can probably be assumed she’s relatively young.

Laura Prepon as Bain
Laura Prepon is a beautiful young actress who fits pretty close to the criteria. It is going to become very hard to cast all the Aiel women at proper heights, since there just aren’t that many extremely tall actresses in Hollywood, but I think height (for some characters) can be sacrificed for acting chops and general looks. Prepon doesn’t always have ‘fiery’ hair, but she often does, so I think that works for her.

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
That 70’s Show
Various Other TV Shows


Bair
Bair is one of the oldest Wise Ones of our ‘main’ character Aiel, and is almost always described as wrinkly, leathery, grandmotherly, or all three. She needs to be powerful (as all the Aiel do), and needs to have a pretty strong presence.

Vanessa Redgrave as Bair
Vanessa Redgrave has been, for the years I’ve been watching TV and movies, ‘the grandmother’ in countless shows and films. I remember her from several TV shows and movies, and always think, “Hey, it’s that woman who always plays the grandmother.” I think she’ll do a fine job as Bair. Plus, she’s already been in one movie called The Gathering Storm, so it’s like it’s destiny or something.

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
Deep Impact
Cradle Will Rock
Various TV Shows


Basel Gill
The innkeeper and owner of ‘The Queen’s Blessing,’ friend of Thom Merrilin, and general all-around ‘good guy,’ Basel Gill is the ‘trustworthy’ type of innkeeper – that is, he’s fat and jolly. He is described as having a pink face and being very round, and having a pleasant smile.

Paul Sorvino as Basel Gill
There are a few good portly actors still around, but not all of them fit the ‘pink’ face-ness of Mr. Gill. Paul Sorvino is one who does. He often plays lawyers and gangsters, but I think he would be able to pull off the friendly innkeeper pretty well.

Places you’ve possibly seen him:
Goodfellas
Romeo + Juliet
Many TV Shows


Bayle Domon
The Illianer captain of the Spray who inadvertently saves Rand, Mat, and Thom’s lives in The Eye of the World has taken on a bit of a larger role in the later series. Though he is not by any means a main character, he is around often, and is attached to Egeanin. He is a large man, muscular and wide, and do be ‘as big as a bear,’ according to Nynaeve.

Robbie Coltrane as Bayle Domon
I think the first time I ever saw Robbie Coltrane was in Goldeneye – the movie itself was pretty terrible (as were most of the Brosnan-era Bond movies), but Sean Bean and Robbie were two ‘lights upon the darkness’ in the movies. He’s a big fellow, and very wide, and I think would do well as our crazy-talkin’ Illianer.

Places you’ve possibly seen him:
Harry Potter (duh)
Goldeneye
The World is Not Enough


Berelain sur Paendrag
The beautiful ‘First of Mayene,’ I knew all along Berelain would be of the characters toughest to cast – not because, like Our Heroes or the SuperGirls, she is so important, but rather because she has a very strict criteria as ‘one of the most beautiful women in the world,’ and that can be something difficult to be objective about. Lanfear will be the same way, but I’ve known who would Lanfear since I started this project in my head.

Anne Hathaway as Berelain
2011/01/13 – I am leaving this here, but Anne Hathaway is no longer my choice for Berelain. See Post 3 for more info.
Anne Hathaway fits all of the criteria for Berelain. She is ‘pale,’ she is ‘dark haired,’ and she is beautiful. I think many would have a hard time honestly trying to say she was not those three things (even as subjective as ‘beauty’ is), but on top of all that, she’s a really fine actress. I don’t have any doubts that she could pull off Berelain with ease.

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
Get Smart (the new one)
The Princess Diaries
Brokeback Mountain


Beslan
The son of (the late) Tylin, Beslan is first introduced as a bit of a nuisance – one of those ‘why won’t you just leave Mat alone??’ characters (of which there are many). He eventually comes into his own, after the unfortunate demise of Tylin, and right in time to be not-so-much-into-his-own-because-of-the-Seanchan. He is dark haired, young, and has ‘beautiful black eyes.’

Elijah Wood as Beslan
I cannot think of too many actors with ‘black eyes,’ but as far as young, dark-haired, and pretty good looking go, there are many. And Frodo wins this one. Elijah Wood, who I never really cared for until he became Mr. Baggins, (and who also played a pretty awesomely horrifying villain in Sin City) has come into his own well in recent years – just like Beslan (should have). He’ll make a good queen’s son.

By the way, with as much fame as Elijah got from the LotR, it’s amazing how hard it is to find decent pictures of him.

Places you’ve possibly seen him:
Lord of the Rings movies
The Good Son
Sin City


Birgitte
Birgitte Silverbow is the heroine of many hundreds of gleemen’s tales and legends. She is also now Elayne’s Warder, after having been ripped out of Tel’aran’rhiod by Moghedien. She has long, golden hair, and sharp blue eyes, and is supposed to be relatively tall.

Ali Larter as Birgitte
Ali Larter, who you probably know from Heroes looks almost exactly how I picture Birgitte. She’s pretty, with ‘golden’ hair, tall, and has a warrior-like build to her. And she already knows how to do the action role, so no extra training required to look like she’s battle-hardened. The picture above is presumably captured from her time spent with Valan Luca and the circus.

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
Heroes TV show
Legally Blonde (yeah, I went there)
Final Destination movies


There goes Part Two of the Tier 3/4 categories. Next time (probably after Christmas), we’ll do Caroline Damodred up through Darlin Sisnera. I hope you’re finding this interesting, and please comment if you have any suggestions, or just want to ask more details about why/how I chose various actors.

Cheers!
E.S.

I think I’m finally on a decent schedule here – it took awhile, but I was able to find a balance between writing and ‘Real Life.’ So anyway, here we are for Part Five of The Dragonbone Chair, in which we read and discus chapters thirteen through fifteen. Lots of dark, scary places coming up here.

As I will say with each and every entry into this series, If you have never read this series before, and have somehow found this site by accident, there WILL BE MASSIVE SERIES-BREAKING SPOILERS throughout this re-read and analysis. I do not believe I can stress this enough. DO NOT read this if you have never read the series before, unless you just don’t mind knowing how a many-thousand-page epic series concludes. There will be Spoilers. The will be MANY Spoilers. You have been warned.

Now, let’s delve the dark and dank dwellings of dead denizens, discover depraved deviants , and desire the devotion of those dancing in disregard of our distress.

13 – Between Worlds

Summary

For the first little while, Simon wanders in sorrow and darkness, before remembering the crystal Morgenes gave him. He knows he is already lost, but resolves to move forward. He makes his way through the dark, lonely corridors, passing crumbling side-passages, and having to skirt around piles of debris in the main passageway.

He was doing just that – squeezing around an obstruction, the light-wielding hand held over his head, the other feeling before him for a way past – when he felt a searing pain like a thousand needlepricks run up his questing hand and onto his arm. A flash of the crystal brought a vision of horror – hundreds, no, thousands of tiny white spiders swarming up his wrist and under his shirt sleeve, biting like a thousand burning fires. Simon shrieked and slammed his arm against the tunnel wall, bringing a shower of clotted dirt down into his mouth and eyes. His terrified shouts echoed down the passageway, quickly failing- He fell to his knees in damp soil, smacking his stinging arm up and down into the dirt until the flaring pain began to subside, then crawled forward on his hands and knees, away from whatever horrible nest or den he had disturbed. As he crouched and frantically scrubbed his arm with loose soil the tears came again, racking him like a whipping.

He continues on, nursing his swollen arm, sure that he has missed an important turning of the path somewhere, but resolute nonetheless. He twists and turns his way deeper and deeper into the underground complex, trying his best to remember the red line he had seen on the map Morgenes had given Josua, but knowing it is too late for that. Eventually, he notices it is getting much hotter in the pathways, and smoke is filling the air. He worries that perhaps Shurakai – the dragon Prester John has slewn – has a brother, and he is walking into a dragon’s lair, but continues on anyway, seeing an orange glow up ahead.

He eventually realizes he has found the castle’s foundry, and fears going into such a populated place, but knows he has to get past it somehow if he is to continue. He skulks through the shadows, dodging workers, and eventually finds another dark passageway further down, where he continues his journey, crawling. Soon enough, he notices a bluish light glowing around him, and he can see the walls – moss-covered – are covered in old, chipped tiles. He decides to walk on two legs again, and before long, it is apparent that he is in a section of the castle that was once the Sithis’ Asu’a – there are tiles walls, arches, flagstone paths, and rooms everywhere. He looks inside one room.

It was a chamber, perfect in the blue glow, as perfect as if someone had left it only a moment before. The ceiling was high-vaulted, covered in a tracery of delicate painted lines, a pattern suggesting thorn bushes, or flowering vines, or the meandering of a thousand meadow streams. The rounded windows were choked with rubble, and dirt had poured down from them to silt the tiled floor beneath, but all else was untouched. There was a bed – a miracle of subtle, curving wood – and a chair as fine as the bones of a bird. In the room’s center stood a fountain of polished stone that looked as if it might fill with singing water at any moment.

‘A home for me. A home beneath the ground. A bed to sleep in, sleep and sleep until Pryrates and the king and the soldiers have all gone away . . .’

A few dragging steps forward and he stood beside the bed, the pallet as clean and unsmirched as the sails of the blessed. There was a face staring down at him from a niche above it, a splendid, clever woman’s face – a statue. Something about it was wrong, though: the lines were too angular, the eyes too deep and wide, the cheekbones high and sharp. Still it was a face of great beauty, captured in translucent stone, forever frozen in a sad, knowing smile.

As he reached out to gently touch the sculpted cheek his shin nudged the bedframe, a touch delicate as a spider’s step. The bed crumbled into powder. A moment later, as he stared in horror, the bust in the niche dissolved into fine ash beneath his fingertips, the woman’s features melting away in an instant. He took a stumbling step back and the light of the sphere glared and then waned to a dim glow. The thump of his foot on the floor leveled the chair and delicate fountain, and a moment later the ceiling itself began to sift down, the twining branches moldering into soft dust. The sphere flickered as he lurched for the door, and as he plunged back out into the corridor the blue light guttered out.

The light is now completely gone as Simon continues further and deeper into Asu’a’s ruins. He realizes he may be deeper than the Kynslagh, and finds that the walls are becoming moist, and he can hear the sound of dripping water. Some of the moss down here is luminescent, and it gives him a bit of light to see by, so that he can see the vast rooms he goes through. He begins to hallucinate that broken pillars are actually whole, and that the ruins are actually in good repair, and fears he is going mad. He begins to hear more voices, seeming to be the shouting of a great battle, and thinks he sees people running to and fro. As he crawls forward, fearing the visages around him, he realizes he has come to a great spiral staircase, twisting ever upward and upward around a silent lake.

He began to climb, pulling himself up to the next high step with trembling, sweat-slippery fingers. As he mounted higher, sometimes standing, sometimes clawing his way up in a scrabbling crouch, he peered out from the stairs. The silent lake, a vast pool of shadow below him, lay at the bottom of a great circular hall, bigger by far than the foundry. The ceiling stretched immeasurably upward, lost in the blackness above with the top of the slender, beautiful white pillars ringing the chamber. A foggy, directionless light glinted on the sea-blue and jade-green walls, and touched the frames of high-vaulting windows that flickered now with an ominous crimson glare. In the middle of the pearly mists, hovering above the silent lake, sat a dark, wavering shape. It cast a shadow both of wonder and of terror, and it filled Simon with inexpressible, pitying dread.

‘Prince Ineluki! They come! The Northerners come!’

As this last impassioned cry echoed in the dark walls of Simon’s skull, the figure at the room’s center lifted its head. Gleaming red eyes bloomed in its face, cutting through the fog like torches.

‘Jingizu,’ a voice breathed. ‘Jingizu. So much sorrow.’

The crimson light flared. The shriek of death and fear rose from below like a great wave. At the center of it all, the dark figure lifted a long slender object and the beautiful chamber shuddered, shimmering like a shattered reflection, then fell away into nothingness. Simon turned away in horror, enveloped in a strangling pall of loss and despair.

Something was gone. Something beautiful had been destroyed beyond retrieval. A world had died here, and Simon felt its failing cry embedded in his heart like a gray sword. Even his consuming fear was driven out by the terrible sadness that cut through him, bringing painful, shuddering tears from reservoirs that should have been long dry. Embracing the darkness, he lurched on up the endless climb, winding around the mighty chamber. The shadows and silence swallowed the dream-battle and the dream-chamber below him, bringing a black shroud to pull over his fevered mind.

He climbs until he feels metal and succumbs to fatigue.

Commentary

I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here, but seriously, if you are not reading along on your own, you should be. Tad Williams gives utterly beautiful descriptions of both the ancient wonder, as well as the pure horror, that Simon experiences while he is down in the dark, and it simply cannot be summarized properly.

This long chapter gives us the first ‘real’ foreshadowing of certain things that are to come in this series. Though there have been a few whispered, ghostly voices before, and odd visions, none so strong as those Simon sees in this chapter. We get hints of specific events (such as the Witchwood Gardens burning), and a little bit of taste of Jingizu/Sorrow, but not as much as the next chapter. We also see the first part of a major theme that continues until the end of the book – that of returning to places we’ve been before. There are a lot of subtle metaphors in this series, and many that are not-so-subtle, about “coming home,” and “we’ve been here before,” and the like, but none of those things are so bluntly put out there as when Simon returns to the dark of Asu’a in the final book. What is most remarkable – and I’ll expand on this when we come back here later – is how much Simon matures between now and then. He is helpless now, having just lost his father-figure, but when he returns, he is a man in his own right, and is able to make his way through with courage, a bit of skill, and not-so-little savvy. But again, we’re talking about the now.

And the now is ‘Fear,’ ‘Hopelessness,’ and ‘Sorrow,’ wrapped in Darkness and Decay. This chapter is one of the most ‘claustrophobic’ (if such a term can be accurately applied to a passage of a book – and I say it can be, so there!) chapters in any book’s history. The brooding darkness, the loneliness, the oppressiveness of the stone walls, remind me of only one other scene in fantasy literature – the very short scene where Frodo must travel through Shelob’s lair in The Return of the King. Some could compare it to Moria, sure, but in Moria, Our Hero had companions and friends, and had people to defend him if needed. Simon is on his own like very few heroes in fantasy ever are, and he despairs of it in such a realistic way, that it makes me extremely tense to even read this chapter.

And Jeez-be-jazz, those frakkin spiders! I think that would have done me in right there. Arachnophobia does not even begin to describe the horror of that scene, and I can only imagine what Simon must have felt, and then afterward, what he must have pictured every time he needed to balance himself against a wall – especially once his glowy crystal went out! And that’s sad, his little crystal goes out pretty quickly, but I guess Morgenes had no way of knowing how long it would take Simon to make his way through the tunnels.

A few things I didn’t quote above were important emotion-wise, but not necessarily plot-wise. In particular, Simon thinks back of how Morgenes had called him ‘My boy,’ in his last moments, and had also mentioned knowing Simon’s father. Very emotional to find out some deep truth like that at such a time that you can never expand upon it.

Not really a lot else to talk about this chapter, but sad Simon met sad Ineluki for the first time, whether or not he knew it. Onward!

14 – The Hill Fire

Summary

Simon awakens in a crypt in the lich yard, and stumbles outside into the night. He is angry at the people who have cost him his home, and curious at the little he can remember from the endless wandering, but knows he needs to move on. He moves through the lich yard, but eventually stumbles and cannot rises – he falls asleep on the ground. He dreams of a wide, dark river, and on the other side, a woman – his mother – is cradling something, and calls for him to cross the river to be at her side.

And then Simon saw that what she had cradled, that which now dangled from an outflung hand, was a doll – a doll made from reeds and leaves and twining stems of grass. But the doll was blackened, the shriveled leaves curling back from their stems, and Simon knew suddenly that nothing alive crossed that river into the twilight country. He stopped at the water’s edge and looked down. Down in the inky water there was a faint gleam of light; as he watched, it rose toward the surface, becoming three slender, shining shapes. The sound of the river changed, became a kind of prickling, unearthly music. The water leaped and boiled, obscuring the objects’ true forms, but it seemed that if he desired to, he could reach down and touch them. . . .

“Seoman . . . !” his mother called again. He looked up to see her farther away, receding swiftly, as though her gray land were a torrent rushing away from him. Her arms were held wide, and her voice was a thing of vibrant loneliness, of the cold’s lust for the warm, and the darkness’ hopeless desire for the light.

“Simon . . . Simon . . . !” It was a wail of despair.

Simon bolts upright, realizing the cry is coming from outside his head – a figure in gray, across the lich yard, was calling his name. Simon jumps up and flees, thinking this to be a ghost after him, and runs for a long time, keeping the castle at his back. He eventually sees a fire on top of Thisterborg – Simon realizes he has been climbing this hill for a little while now, and is near the top. He slows down, trying to decide if he should meet whoever is up there – perhaps they have food and drink. Simon reaches the top, and sees the ‘Anger Stones’ everywhere, and remembering that Morgenes had called this night ‘Stoning Night,’ he thinks this must be some sort of ceremony.

On top of the hill, surrounded by the Stones, men stood in cloaks, huddled near the fire. Simon crawls forward and remembers many of these men are part of the Erkynguard, and feels stupid for coming to this place now. Then, to the north, Simon (as well as all the men) hears the sounds of creaking wagon wheels.

Dim, pale shapes that slowly became horses appeared at the fringe of the fireglow; following behind, growing distinct from the night, was a great black wagon. Black-hooded figures walked on either side, four in all, matching the wagon’s stately, funeral pace. The flickering light revealed a fifth atop the wagon, hunched over the team of ice – white stallions – this last figure was somehow larger than the others, and darker, as if it wore some cloak of obscurity; its very stillness seemed to speak of a hidden, brooding power. The guards still did not move, but stood rigidly watching. Only the thin mewing of the wagon wheels punctured the silence. Simon, transfixed, felt cold pressure in his head, a gnawing clutch in his vitals.

‘A dream, a bad dream . . . Why can’t I move?!’

The black cart and its attendants drew to a halt just within the circle of firelight. One of the four standing figures raised an arm, the black sleeve falling away to reveal a wrist and hand as thin and white as bone. It spoke, voice silvery-cold, toneless as ice cracking.

“We are here to fulfill the covenant.”

There was a stir among those who had been waiting. One of them stepped forward.

“As are we.”

Watching helplessly as this mad fancy progressed, Simon was not at all surprised to recognize the voice of Pryrates.

Pryrates and the other ‘person’ speak back and forth that they have brought ‘what was required,’ and Pryrates pushes someone forward. Simon catches a glimpse of one of the other ‘people’ that came with the wagon and realizes it is one of the White Foxes Morgenes had spoken of. The White Foxes lift something that looks like a coffin off their wagon and bring it forward. Simon recognizes Breyugar as the person Pryrates has bound, and the White Foxes don’t seem impressed with the priest’s gift. Elias steps forward and confronts Pryrates, demanding to know what is really going on here, and the priest soothes the King. The ‘Foxes accept the gift of Breyugar, and Pryrates prepares to murder the man with a knife, speaking some sort of ritual in the process, when Breyugar breaks free and runs straight towards Simon’s hiding place, before tripping and falling very close to the boy. As the guards gather him up, Simon realizes Pryrates is looking directly at his hiding spot.

‘Who is there?’

The voice seemed to fly on the back of the wind straight into Simon’s head. Pryrates was staring right at him! He must see him!

‘Come out. whoever you are. I command you to come forward.’

The black-robed figures began a strange, ominous humming, as Simon struggled against the alchemist’s will. He remembered what had almost happened to him in the storeroom, and braced himself against the compelling force, but he was weakened, wrung dry like piece of cloth.

‘Come out,’ the voice repeated, and a questing something reached out to touch his mind. He fought, trying to hold shut the doors close to his soul, but the probing thing was stronger than he by far. It had only to find him, to grasp him. . . .

“If the covenant no longer suits you,” a thin voice said, “then let it be broken off now. It is dangerous to leave the ritual half-spoken – very dangerous.”

It was the hooded figure speaking, and Simon could feel the red priest’s questing thoughts shaken.

“Wh . . . What?” Pryrates spoke like a man new-wakened.

“Perhaps you do not understand what you are doing here,” the black shape hissed. “Perhaps you do not comprehend who and what is involved.”

“No . . . yes, I do . . .” the priest stammered […]

Horribly, a part of Pryrates’ thought had not left Simon’s mind, some clinging tag-end that the priest had not pulled back: he could almost taste the alchemist’s quivering expectancy as Pryrates pulled up Breyugar’s head, could sense the priest responding to the low murmuring of the hooded ones. And now he felt something deeper, too, a chill wedge of horror driving into his raw and sensitive mind. Some inexplicable other was there in the night – a terrible ‘something else.’ It hovered over the hilltop like a choking cloud, and burned inside the seated figure on the wagon like a hidden black flame; it dwelt also in the bodies of the standing stones, infusing them with its greedy attention.

Pryrates finishes the ritual and slashes Breyugar’s throat, the blood spilling on the coffin – Simon can still feel Pryrates in his mind – and the coffin begins to open. The open coffin reveals, through a purple haze, a long gray sword. The soldiers flee in terror as the priest pushes Elias to pick up the deadly blade. As he does, the wind subsides and the five black shapes at the wagon wait silently. Elias hails the ‘Storm King,’ and thanks him for the gift – as he does, the fifth black shape on the wagon turns into a mass of red light, and at this point, Simon flees down the hillside, eventually falling down and succumbing to sleep (again).

Commentary

Another chapter that is really hard to summarize due to the very important conversations which take place, but I did my best.

This is part two of a series of chapters in which Simon is lost, friendless, and on his own, and does not know how to handle the various things he witnesses and experiences. By accident, he stumbled upon not only the people who wanted him dead, but the entities who were behind everything, and the only thing he could do at this point was flee. I bring this up specifically because of this: I believe it was at this point in the series, my first time reading it through, when I began to truly realize what kind of story we were in. No, I don’t mean an ‘epic fantasy’ story, though that definitely makes itself known here as well, but rather a story about a regular, everyday hero who just has to make the best of what life throws at him.

Simon is very different from just about every other single fantasy protagonist ever, minus a very obvious Mr. Frodo Baggins, in that he has no powers. Simon is never to grow up and gain cosmic, world-shaking powers, and he is never to become one of the finest knights in the lands. He does have a heritage, and he does – according to Morgenes – have ‘abilities’ he doesn’t even know about yet, but I attribute that more to his strong willpower than anything else. And that is the ‘kind’ of story I’m talking about. I began to realize here that we would not ever be reading about ‘Simon the Brave World-Conquering Chosen One of Prophesy, Light, Good, and Awesomeness,’ but would rather always be reading about ‘Simon the Brave, but otherwise rather ordinary guy who somehow manages to make the best of horrible situations’ – and frankly, I was okay with that.

You see, this series was the second of ‘real’ fantasy novels I ever read, after The Belgariad, and I had already had my taste and fill of world-shattering superpowers. So I was actually very much looking forward to this. What I did not know to expect was how well Mr. Williams would eventually do at making me accept that an ordinary person such as Simon could actually become a real hero – he doesn’t Crack the World or anything, but he is one of the people who makes it possible for Good to overcome Evil at the end. And that is important. It makes the story a very inspirational one, all things considered – kind of like a The Karate Kid with magic and swords.

Where was I going? Oh yeah – of course, at this point, all I truly understood was that I was reading a book about a guy who had no abilities, and would possibly be running for his life in most situations, and as I said before, I was okay with that. Which makes it even more obvious to me how well-written Simon the character is as a believable person.

Onto the chapter itself, I quoted part of Simon’s dream because I believe it is the first mention we see of the ‘Three Swords,’ though not in such obvious detail that someone who hadn’t read the books would know what was going on. I find this very curious at this point in the story, because it happened before Simon’s horrifying experience within Pryrates’ mind up on the hill. Why is that important? Well, I may be missing something (likely?), but I think what we’re seeing here is some sort of ‘dark prophecy’ already pushing its way into Simon’s mind. You see, I know that eventually, we find out about the ‘Three Swords’ being important for the bad guys, and before that, we spend a lot of time thinking they’re important for the good guys. But before that, the first true indication we get of their importance is in Simon’s venture on the Dream Road with Binabik and Geloë (later in this book). Well, we know that the prophecy of the ‘Three Swords’ is part of the whole ‘False Messenger’ thing we eventually hear so much about, but right now in the story, in my mind, there is no real reason that Simon should be seeing anything about these swords. He has no idea or indication that they are even remotely important, and at the time he had that dream, there was no real reason for the bad guys to be putting visions of the Swords in his head, since he’s not important yet, and he’s not connected with Pryrates yet. So yeah, ‘Why did he have that vision?’ – I guess is the purpose of that massive paragraph.

Beyond that, we get to see Sorrow/Jingizu, and we get to see it have an immediate effect on Elias, stupefying him quite literally ‘out of the box.’ That should have been an indication of Bad Things to Come, and I know that Elias does have occasional moments of clarity later on – I guess we just have to assume that his willpower is not what Simon’s is, and he could not overcome the temptation and evil of the sword.

Not much else to say except, “Hey Miriamele, next time you want to greet a scared, lonely boy in a graveyard after he’s been running for his life, try to make your encounter with him a little less terrifying.” That’s all.

15 – A Meeting at the Inn

Summary

Simon awakens around noon on the first day of Maia – Belthainn Day – to find himself still uncomfortably close to Thisterborg. He knows something horrible happened in the night, but his memory is strangely clouded. He begins following the Aldheorte Forest line, and eventually finds the Old Forest Road and signs that he is approaching civilization again. For a moment, he ponders searching for work in a village close by, but then realizes that the Erkynguard would likely find him if he did so. He eventually sees a crossroads ahead.

Topping a rise, he saw the road before him intersected by a dark swath, a crease of wagon tracks that emerged from the forest and meandered south across the fields; a woodsman’s road, perhaps, a route from the woodchopper’s harvesting-place to the farmlands west of Erchester. Something dark stood, angular and erect, at the meeting point of the two roads. A brief twinge of fear passed through him before he realized that it was too tall an object to be someone waiting for him. He guessed it to be a scarecrow, or a roadside shrine to Elysia, the Mother of God – crossroads were infamously strange places, and the common folk often mounted a holy relic to keep away loitering ghosts.

As he neared the crossing he decided that he had been right about it being a scarecrow – the object seemed to be hanging from a tree or pole, and swayed softly, breeze-blown. But as he came closer he saw it was no scarecrow. Soon he could no longer convince himself that it was anything other than what it was; the body of a man swinging from a crude gibbet.

He reached the crossroad. The wind subsided; thin roadway dust hung about him in a brown cloud. He stopped to stare helplessly. The road grit settled, then leaped into swirling motion once more. The hanged man’s feet, bare and swollen black, dangled at the height of Simon’s shoulder. His head lolled to one side, like a puppy picked up by the neck-scruff; the birds had been at his eyes and face. A broken shingle of wood with the words “M THE KINGS LAND” scratched upon it bumped gently against his chest; in the road below lay another piece. On it was scrawled: “POACHED FRO.”

Simon stepped back; an innocent breeze twisted the sagging body so that the face tipped away to stare sightlessly across the fields. He hurried across the lumber-road, tracing the four-pointed Tree on his chest as he passed through the thing’s shadow. Normally such a sight would be fearful but fascinating, as dead things were, but now all he could feel was sick terror. He himself had stolen – or helped to steal – something far greater than this poor sneak thief could ever have dreamed of: he had stolen the king’s brother from the king’s own dungeon. How long would it be until they caught him, as they had caught this rook-eaten creature? What would his punishment be?

Simon runs from the gibbet and eventually reaches the village of Flett, but decides not to stick around. Once past the village, he curls up near a stream and goes to sleep. He awakens (from a rather disturbing dream) to the sounds of a crowd of people coming up the Old Forest Road toward Flett. Everyone is singing and having a grand ol’ time, celebrating Belthainn Day and the raising of the Maia Tree, and Simon desperately wants to join them, but has to force himself to stay away. He follows from a safe distance, and watches the merry-making continue for a long time, feeling very sorry for himself for not being able to join the jubilant crowd. Later, a woman stands up and sings a beautiful song, then sits back down with her ‘young man.’

As the black-haired girl sat down again the fire crackled and spat, as if in mockery of such a damp, tender song.

Simon hurried away from the fire, his eyes filling with tears. The woman’s voice had awakened in him a fierce hunger for his home; for the joking voices of the scullions, the offhand kindnesses of the chambermaids, his bed, his moat, the long, sun-speckled expanse of Morgenes’ chambers, even – he was chagrined to realize – the stern presence of Rachel the Dragon.

Once night arrives, Simon approaches the village again, hoping to find work at the inn. He stumbles into Cadrach, the monk he had met a year earlier in Erchester, and is excited to see someone he knows who is likely not after him. Cadrach offers to buy Simon a meal in return for Simon’s kindness the year before, and they both go into the inn and eat, Simon listening to Cadrach tell stories of his time as a monk, or even just comical tales. Eventually, the innkeeper approaches and demands that Cadrach pay up, as he’s got quite a tab. Cadrach tells the man they are almost done, and after the keeper leaves, pulls out his purse. He then realizes he has no money (commenting about pick pockets), and asks Simon to pay for the meal.

Simon heard Cadrach’s words only vaguely, a babble of sounds in his ale-muddled head. He was looking not at the hole in the purse, but at the seagull worked on the leather in heavy blue thread. The pleasant drunkenness of a minute before had turned heavy and sour. After a moment he raised his stare until his eyes met Brother Cadrach’s. The ale and the warmth of the commons room had flushed Simon’s cheeks and ears, but now he felt a tide of blood that was hotter still mounting up from his fast-beating heart.

“That’s … my … purse!” he said. Cadrach blinked like an undenned badger.

“What, lad?” he asked apprehensively, sliding slowly away from the wall to the middle of the bench. “I’m afraid I was not hearing you well.”

“That . . . purse … is mine.” Simon felt all the hurt, all the frustration of losing it come welling up – Judith’s disappointed face, Doctor Morgenes’ sad surprise – and the shocked sickness of trust betrayed. All the red hairs on his neck stood up like boar’s bristles.

“Thief!” he shouted suddenly, and lunged, but Cadrach had seen it coming: the little monk was off the bench and skittering backward up the length of the inn toward the door.

Cadrach runs out the doorway, but Simon is stopped by the keeper, who doesn’t believe Simon’s story and thinks the two are in on this scam together. He leads Simon outside to talk to some Erkynguardsmen who are in the village, but Simon is able to headbutt his captor and flee.

Commentary

Well, not really a lot to talk about in this chapter. This chapter seems to me to be one of those infamous styles of ‘the world keeps on turning’ type chapters in fantasy books, where the author shows how even though the Hero/Protagonist has been through great stryfe and adventure, the world has not noticed. We see it clearly as Simon muses on the fact that he has lost his home, his friends, and his safety, but the villagers of Flett still get to celebrate Belthainn Day.

Simon’s loneliness is pretty stark in this chapter, but it is not even close to the worst that he goes through. He is still just the innocent at this point though, so his burdens and the horrors he has witnessed seem all that much worse – sure, the torture he must endure at Inch’s hands later, or the loneliness and thought of dying in the snow before Aditu saves him, are both actually worse than this, but by those points, he has matured and come to accept (for the most part) what he is, and is able to weather those trials much better. Right now, he is alone, and completely unprepared to handle that feeling. It probably doesn’t help that he’s really hungry by now either.

And then Cadrach comes to make everything better. By which, of course, I mean that he does a lot of what Cadrach eventually becomes known for – making everything worse. I believe I mentioned before (and looking back, I am correct – I did mention) that I was always suspicious of Cadrach’s treachery with Simon’s first encounter with the monk, but that still doesn’t make this easier to bear. And the fact that Simon remembers so vividly the shame he had felt when he had first lost the purse only drives the act further home. It makes me sad that treachery like this exists – not thieves and the like, we know they’re everywhere, but rather those who would prey upon innocents, and take advantage of people who just don’t know better. I guess that’s what all thievery is in some way or another, but pretending to be someone’s friend and confidant, and then betraying them. . . well, that sucks, Mr. Cadrach/Paedrig/Whoever You Are.

What makes it even worse is, I have seen it done in almost the exact same way ‘in real life’ by actual living, breathing priests. My father is a minister, so I got to hear lots of the gossip of church folks growing up, and I saw firsthand a lot of harm that comes from people blindly putting trust and faith in someone just because that someone is a ‘man of God.’ None of this ever came from my father, of course – as far as I know, he was (and still is) one of the most honest men I’ve ever met in my life. However we did have a minister of youth at a church I grew up in that I found out later had had some rather horrible dealings with some of the young ladies in the church.

Tangents, they’re fun, right? So anyway, Cadrach, we’ll see you again (again), and try not to act like too much of a douche in the meantime, ‘kay?

******

So that’s it for this session. Part Six may be slightly delayed due to that whole ‘Christmas’ thing coming up soon, but I’ll try not to let it go too long.

Cheers!

E.S.

Welcome back to another Tuesday Top Five, in which I force my opinion of things upon you and you hopefully nod in agreement. Today’s installment is of the Top Five Magical(ish) Swords in Fantasy novels and series. I did not do ‘All Fantasy Weapons,’ because I am probably going to do non-swords at another time (there are some cool bows and axes out there), and there are plenty of swords to choose from here. So here we go.

#5 – CallandorThe Wheel of Time Series, by Robert Jordan

Callandor, The Sword That Is Not A Sword, The Crystal Sword, is a powerful sa’angrael in Jordan’s world. It is meant as a tool for the Dragon Reborn to use to channel far more of the One Power than he normally would be able to, and is rarely (if ever) used as an actual sword.

The sword itself is very long, and made of what looks to be glass or crystal, and was protected for thousands of years until Rand was able to ‘pull it from the Stone’ of Tear. Afterward, he did not use the blade much, and eventually even put it back into the Stone, only to have it retrieved recently in preparation for the Last Battle.

The power of this sa’angrael is immense. Moraine once mentioned that Rand could level a city with the sword, and that is likely to be extremely understated, since it appears now that the Sword is possibly the main tool to be used in the Last Battle.

#4 – The Sword of LeahShannara Series, by Terry Brooks

This sword was not originally magical, and was just the family sword of the Leah lineage. It was carried for generations until Rone Leah had it enchanted by dipping it in the waters of the Hadeshorn.

The blade is black and has the power of ‘life and death,’ and can cut through magic, but also creates a bond with the wielder, causing them to be more and more dependent on the sword.

The sword is shattered and reforged at least once, and was used to help defeat the Shadowen in an important battle.

#3 – Stormbringer – Various novels by Michael Moorcock

This vampiric and highly powerful sword is actually a demon who has taken the form of a weapon. Elric of Melniboné uses through many of his stories.

The sword is a huge, black blade, covered in runes and glyphs. It can cut through just about anything known to man, and it drinks the souls of its victims, entombing them within its body. Being a demon, it is conscious and is a force for Chaos.

The blade is used by Elric throughout the Wars of Law and Chaos, and eventually turns on its wielder, killing Elric just as it seems all will be made right, and looking to corrupt others.

#2 – The Sword of the Rivan KingThe Belgariad and Mallorean, by David Eddings

This sword from David Eddings’ series, used as both a symbol and powerful weapon, is first introduced in the main story during the fourth book.

It is made from star metal, and is very long and gray, and without the Orb of Aldur, cannot be lifted. Once Belgarion places the Orb of Aldur on the pommel, he (and only he) can lift and wield the sword, thus proclaiming him as the Rivan King, as well as preparing him for his final battle with the god Torak.

The sword was part of one of the Prophecies attempts to help prepare the Child of Light for the final confrontation between the two Necessities. Belgarion uses the sword to defeat Torak in a climactic duel.

#1 – Blackwand, the Vlad Taltos series, by Steven Brust

Blackwand is Morrolan’s ‘Great Weapon,’ and is used whenever Morrolan must enter battle. Its official Serioli name, translated, means Magical wand for creating death in the form of a black sword, but Morrolan kindly shortened the name for conversations’ sake.

Physically, the longsword is of black and unreflective metal, with a plain crosspiece and a smooth black hilt. Like all Morganti weapons, the sword has the power to utterly destroy the soul of those it slays (keeping them from being resurrected), but since it has a soul and will of its own, it can choose not to destroy the soul, and can even protect the wielders soul. It can also blast a powerful and lethal black beam of energy from its tip.

Morrolan received the sword when he was searching for a place of power, a sacred artifact, and a soulmate – he argues that the sword is all three. The sword apparently has a bit of a female demeanor, according to Vlad, and is ‘aggressive and temperamental.’ The sword is very loyal to Morrolan, going so far as to kill another wielder when that wielder used Blackwand to strike down Morrolan.

******

Honorable Mention – Excalibur – Every story EVAR about King Arthur, by various authors

It is very hard to list any of these weapons without mentioning the Sword of the British King. Most magical weapons in fantasy stories have roots, histories, and creation myths that in some way or another, come from what we know and remember of Excalibur.

Though other rightful British Rulers have been rumored to have carried the sword, it is most-remembered as the sword of King Arthur. It has the power to blind its enemies, and even the scabbard protected the wielder from dying from loss of blood.

******

There you have it. What have I forgotten? Let me know, or recommend me something to read with some new kick-ass swords in it.

E.S.

Well, I’ve gotten things going here. I want to let you know though, this is actually a pretty tough project. People don’t often think about the complexities involved in choosing good actors and actresses for such popular roles who also fit the look of the characters. ‘Tain’t easy folks, is all I’m saying, and that’s just knowing that I have to make myself happy with these decisions – not even considering that you guys will probably want to be happy with who is casted as well.

I want to say a few things before I get started.

First of all, there is no possible way to get actors and actresses who look just like what their character should look like. In fact, it’s impossible to even try. Therefore, for my casting, I have given myself two ‘rules’ to work within. The boundaries are this – the actor/actress just have a similar defining feature as the character, and, he or she must be an actual actor or actress. The first rule means that, if the most common thing used to describe a character is their hair color (say, with Elayne, when it mentions her red-gold/sun-colored hair), then that is the major physical attribute I use. Height is the second-most important consideration after hair-color, since the Wheel of Time makes so many mentions of it. The second rule means that I won’t be using people who are only models, musicians, etcetera – they must have had a speaking role in a motion picture to be included.

A few other things worth mentioning. First of all, for more information about which characters are in which Tier, refer to the Introductory Post I made last week. There was a comment that Lan should be brought up to Tier 2 or even Tier 1, and while I certainly disagree with Tier 1, I could possibly be convinced he’s a Tier 2 character, just let me know what you think. Also concerning this, please remember I combined the Tier 3 and Tier 4, and that’s what we’re working on from here on out.

Secondly, for the descriptions of the characters, I am going very simple – I am using whatever is said under “Character Description” about the character over at the WoT Encyclopaedia. Therefore, if the only description there is “she’s old,” even if I could possibly find her hair color by digging through 10,000+ pages, I am not going to do that, and will at that point make a few assumptions. And on the subject of character descriptions, I have always pictured the Aiel as very much Native American-ish – their heights, hair and skin coloring, and even culture is extremely reminiscent of this. However, due to the fact that the number one feature in describing Aiel is usually their height and their light or red hair, those are the two features on which I will be focusing. This means that most of the Aiel I’ve cast are Caucasions, and I hope that is okay with everyone. While we’re on the subject of ethnicity and race, a lot of time, skin-color is mostly left out in tWoT, other than to say “a person is dark-skinned,” or “a person is pale,” or things of the like. This is not the case when speaking of very specific races, such as Sea-Folk and Seanchan – I take this to assume that the majority of Randland is Caucasian-ish. I do not intend to step on anybody’s toes, but with only a few exceptions, there are no black actors and actresses cast.

Thirdly, I am assuming an infinite budget for the casting of this film. What does that mean? It means that if I want to assume that the director is willing to pay the quite-literally billions of dollars it would cost to get all these people together on the same set, then that is exactly what the director will do. I decided not to limit myself by trying to think “how would one realistically cast this series” – the cast is a very ideal one.

Fourth, for the sake the fact that this may take a long time, and could also have been done ten-twenty years ago, I am saying that all actresses and actors I cast, it is assumed they will remain alive long enough for me to finish this project. That means that I won’t be recasting someone who is played by an older person if that person happens to pass away in the near future. At the same time, I will not be doing anything like, “well XXXX actress would have made a great YYYY character 10 years ago, let’s pretend she’s still only ZZZZ years old.” That’s just goofy (as much as I want(ed) Julia Ormond to play Moraine originally).

And finally, a note about pictures – in particular, in regards to female pictures. In my scouring, I have found that for most of these actresses, under the age of say, 30, the pictures tend to be like they’re modeling a dress. Many were pseudo-pornographic. I have tried to choose pictures where the actress or actor looks professional, and in certain situations, may even look like they’re playing the role they’re in. However, for some of the actresses, it was like swimming up a waterfall to find pictures that didn’t look like they were selling lingerie. With that being said, some of the females’ pictures are rather, ahem . . . skimpy . . . so hopefully that won’t cause any offense. And it’s not that there weren’t also plenty of male photos of similar ilk, but definitely, it seems to me that actors are photographed in suits much more often than actresses are photographed in dresses. Ah well…

Well, that’s all the intro we need, I believe. Let’s get started, shall we? Here are the first eight of Tier 3 (and Tier 4, technically) in alphabetical order.

Adeleas Namelle/Vandene Namelle
These twin sisters have been in the series for almost as long as the heroes, though they have had limited screen time. The descriptions of these Sisters usually includes the fact that they are both very old, that they both have white hair, and that they both have very fine features. Well, I’m just going to use one actress to play both parts (since there is a bit of humor in that Mat could never tell them apart), and that person is Maggie Smith.

Maggie Smith as Adeleas and/or VandenePut a little bit of dye in Maggie’s hair, and you would not even be able to tell that the description above isn’t just talking about her, instead of fictional characters. Maggie is a very stately lady, often playing sophisticated parts in movies with a very serious manner. Here’s a picture of her being ‘wizardly,’ suitable for either character.

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
The Harry Potter Movies
Sister Act
Hook


Alanna Mosvani
Ah yes, that woman, the one who bonded Rand against his will, and then has done very little in the seven books since then to redeem herself. She is supposed to be very beautiful, often described as ‘dark and fiery.’

Gina Holden as AlannaGina Holden has played a lot of one-shot roles in television shows, and each time I’ve seen her (which has been on Supernatural and Smallville), I’ve been at least relatively impressed with her acting, and thoroughly impressed with her looks. Here she is wearing her Ajah’s colors (what little she’s wearing, that is).

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
Saw3D
Various CW TV Shows
Harper’s Island


Alivia
The ex-damane in Min’s fabled Viewing, the person who will ‘help Rand die.’ She likely has a pretty important role to play. She is over four hundred years old, but doesn’t look it, due to her remarkable strength in the One Power. She has yellow hair with streaks of white, and ‘fine wrinkles’ at the corners of her ‘blue eyes.’

Meredith Baxter as AlvivaMeredith Baxter is most commonly known for the roles she played in Family and Family Ties. She has a very strong personality and look, and has just the right amount of crow’s feet to look like what I picture of Alivia, though she would need a bit of dye. Here she is in damane-gray (though not a dress).

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
Family
Family Ties
Various Cold Case episodes


Alliandre Kigarin
Alliandre, Queen of Ghealdan, Blessed of the Light, Defender of Garen’s Wall, is one of Perrin’s followers as of Towers of Midnight – she asked for his protection from Masema, and has been with Perrin ever since. She is in her middle years, has dark hair, and a long-ish nose.

Julia Ormond as AlliandreJulia Ormond is one of two actresses I would have chosen to play Moraine if I had done this twelve-fifteen years ago. She was once beautiful, but I don’t find that she’s aged particularly well. She still has a majestic presence about her, though, and should be able to pull the Queen with no problem. Best ‘queenly’ picture of her I could find.

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
First Knight
Sabrina
Legends of the Fall


Aludra
Aludra is the Taraboner Illuminator who has run into (and been hanging out with) Mat several times now. She has dark hair (no longer in braids in the Taraboner style), is pretty, and has a ‘small, full mouth.’ The ‘full mouth’ description is an odd one, I assume it means ‘full lips,’ so that’s what I went with.

Rachel McAdams as Aludra
Rachel McAdams fits that criteria, as long as my definition of RJ’s description works (and honestly, even if it doesn’t, I’m going with it). I never really liked Rachel McAdams, though my wife is very fond of her as an actress. She tends to be stronger in mostly comedic roles, I feel, but I’m willing to give her a chance.

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
Sherlock Holmes
Red Eye
Wedding Crashers


Amys
Our first Aiel to be cast, Amys is one of the Wise One Dreamwalkers, and is also a channeler of the One Power. Because of this, she looks younger than she really is, though she has white hair anyway. As an Aiel, she needs to look strong and fierce.

Patricia Wettig as Amys
I’ve gone with Patricia Wettig, who does not have white hair, but I think that can be dealt with pretty easily. What she does have is strength of character, and a strong, tall presence. Her voice could be a bit stronger, from what I imagine of Amys, but once again, I believe that could just be handled by her acting.

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
Brothers and Sisters
Prisonbreak
Cityslickers I and II


Androl Genhald
Androl is a Dedicated at the Black Tower, first introduced in Winter’s Heart, and then playing a much larger role in Towers of Midnight. His only true description that I’ve found is ‘square-faced with heavy eyebrows,’ so that gives us a lot of opportunities to pick and choose. And I’m going with someone that (my guess is) many will believe should be reserved for higher-tiered characters.

Zachary Quinto as Androl
Zachary Quinto, the guy with the heaviest eyebrows I can find, looks suitably brooding and dark to be a Dedicated under the thumb of Mazrim Taim. He has some pretty serious acting chops, and even looks the part – behold, here he is in an Asha’Man coat! 🙂

Places you’ve possibly seen him:
Heroes TV Show
Star Trek (2009)
Various Single Appearances on TV through the 2000’s


Aram
Aram is the grandson of Raen and Ila, and is a Tinker. He is dark haired, dark-eyed, and handsome, and is a youth like Our Heroes. Until is untimely demise in Knife of Dreams, he was hanging around Perrin, acting rather surly all the time.

Aaron Johnson as Aram
The least-famous celebrity on this casting call today goes to Aram – Aaron Johnson will be his actor. I actually don’t know him extremely well, but thought he was pretty good in Kick-Ass. Here he is, looking too damned pretty (and quite Frodo-like) for his own good (I’m sure Perrin would have something to say about it as well).

Places you’ve possibly seen him:
Kick-Ass
Nowhere Boy
Shanghai Knights


Well, there you have it. Part one, the first eight, which also happened to be all the “A’s” in Tier 3/4. I will be doing eight more next week as well, until we’re done with this Tier. I do hope you’ve enjoyed it, and I hope you’ll comment if you find any particular improvements I could make, or have any questions to ask. I will say, I have already chosen all the actors and actresses to play the characters, so you don’t need to give me any suggestions unless you just want to. But I won’t confirm or deny anyone until they’ve been posted here on the site! 🙂

Cheers!
E.S.

Welcome back to Tuesday Top Five, in which I procrastinate on the larger projects I’m currently working on, while pretending to put up meaningful content! Hey-o!

This week, I’m looking at the Top Five Mystical(ish) Locales in Fantasy novels in which I would like to hang out. A note before I start – my ranking system is very subjective, and quite possibly includes extremely arbitrary criteria (which I will hopefully be able to expand upon and share with you), so I admit that my Top Five may not be the same as your Top Five. In which case, I ask you to please inform me what your Top Five would be. Come on, it’ll be fun!

#5 – Room of Requirement – Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling

The Room of Requirement is every taunted/victimized/bullied person’s dream. It is a room that literally only appears when a person is in desperate need of the room, and when the needing person enters the room, one finds it filled with any and all of the necessary items one may be in immediate need of.

The Room was first seen when Harry was needing a secret location from which to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts to students who were wanting to learn true defensive measures. Harry later used it to hide a very special potions-making book, and also to later find a very important hidden item that Voldemort needs to have protected.

#4 – The Vale of Aldur – The Belgariad and The Mallorean, by David Eddings

The Vale of Aldur is a valley, surrounded by mountains, that is the holiest spot of (and home to) the god Aldur in David Edding’s Belgariad and Mallorean series. Within its bounds are the towers of many Aldur’s disciples (including Belgarath), and ‘the Tree,’ a massive tree that is at least 7000 years old.

Sitting under the tree causes a feeling of contentment, wisdom, and truth, much like sitting under the Assattha (or Bodhi-tree) caused Buddha to gain much the same. The Vale itself goes through regular seasonal changes, but seems impervious to bad weather and effects, and overall just seems like a pretty kick-ass place to chill. And you can dine with a god every now and then.

#3 – The Great Forest of Naclos – The Saga of Recluce, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Also known as The Accursed Forest, by that name, it doesn’t seem like a place to visit. However, the Druids of Modesitt’s world live there, and protect everything within, and what they don’t protect, the Balance itself protects. Also, you can apparently learn how to balance Order and Chaos magic there, which gives you Ultimate Power.

Most of the inhabitants are Druids, or those the Druids are friends with, and according to the few stories which have large portions taking place in the Forest, everyone does a job which lets them fit with the Balance, and lives a relatively relaxing, and carefree life.

#2 – Jao e-Tinukai’i – Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, by Tad Williams

Another forest, but city is like no other. Made only of colored silk and cloth, and the home to the immortal Sithi, Jao e-Tinukai’i (jow-eh-ti-noo-keye-ee) is the city of spring. The city is forever wrapped in spring, with fruits growing, flowers blooming, butterflies flying (and creating tents!), and everyone there pretty much just leaves you alone. You can spend days or weeks just listening to the birds sing to you, or to the babbling of a brook.

Of course, the downside is, mortals are not allowed in (and cannot even find it) without the consent and aid of the Sithi, and once they’re in, they are not allowed to leave, so you kind of have to spend the rest of your life there. But, I could think of far worse places to spend my life.

#1 – Valinor – The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Undying Lands and the realms of the Valar, the final resting place for elves and other goodly beings in The Lord of the Rings. Valinor is an island far to the west, accessible only by way of ‘the Straight Road,’ a magical path off of the earth’s curvature that the elves use, and is protected from all harm and evil.

Those who enter the Lands will be undying, and will live in peace and happiness for the rest of their lives. Sounds a bit like heaven (both real and metaphorical), and I can’t really imagine a better way to take the final voyage.

******

So where would you go? What have I missed, and what more should I know?

E.S.

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