Book Review – A Feast for Crows

A Feast for crowsA Feast for Crows has been my least favorite book in A Song of Ice and Fire thus far. I recall being almost 700 pages into this novel and I literally said to myself “Nothing majored has happened to move the story forward..”. Even worse, their wasn’t much content regarding some of the main characters in the entire saga! Which to be fair, it wasn’t until I almost finished reading the book when I saw George R.R. Martin’s note regarding why their wasn’t much content regarding Jon Snow, Tyrion, and Daenerys and having to break up the novel into two. This gave me an entirely different perspective to this novel.

In this book the notion of religion, and the different types thereof is a really prevalent. We get to read more about the different religions in this fictional world and the mythologies behind them and how it shapes the different cultures within this world. Some of our heroes take new identities. Finally, as to be expected, we get to read of new locations in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire that we haven’t been before.

Having read George R.R. Martin’s brilliant first three books in this series, gives me excitement that this book was just a mere setup to what will be the epic events that will be following in the next novel A Dance with Dragons.

Book Review – The World of El Cid

The World of El Cid
It seems the more I read chronicle like writings, the more I tend to enjoy them. The World of El Cid: Chronicles of the Spanish Reconquest is a book that consists of four different chronicles by different original authors that depict the deeds of the different Kings of Leon and Castile, and now legendary knight, El Cid. In addition, these chronicles also includes quite a few stories of the deeds of certain nobles.

Being the longest conflict in human history, the Iberian reconquest is such an incredible complex topic. The chronicles narrated here are from the events in the 11th and 12th centuries. One of the most interesting aspects during this time in history was the political nature of the Christian Kingdoms and Moorish Taifas. The different political alliances, and intrigue during this era was absolutely incredible. At times, I even found it to be comical.

Unlike other chronicle works that I’ve read, here the writings are shown in a sequential timeline order of the events. We get to read the state of the Iberian Peninsula before the existence of El Cid, and chronicles that occur well after his death.

Reading this book without any prior knowledge might be somewhat confusing. It certainly doesn’t help that all the kings and queens have the same name!

For anyone new wanting to read this fantastic book, I would first highly suggest viewing the YouTube Real Crusades History Channel, El Cid and Reconquista playlist.

Book Review – Morgoth’s Ring

Morgoth's Ring

Of all the books in The Complete History of Middle-earth series, Morgoth’s Ring has been so far by favorite book thus far. The primary reason being is that their is an incredible large amount of new texts here that we really haven’t seen in the first 9 books. The texts included in this book were originally written around the same time The Lord of the Rings was being written and post Lord of The Rings publication.

One of the primary themes in J.R.R. Tolkien’s works is death; Men are mortal and Elves are immortal. In The Lord of The Rings and in Akallabêth we mostly get to read and understand death from the perspective from of Men, however in this book we get to read about the meaning of death from the perspective of the Elves. Aside from the death of Elves, we also get to read about their customs raging from when they were elven children, growth, dating, and marriage. This book deals a lot with the origin of Tolkien’s creations. As with Elves and Men, we also get to read more about the origin of ocs or “orks” as it was later implied by Tolkien.

In the following interview, Christopher Tolkien perfectly depicts the difficult task of his father’s attempt of trying to explain the metaphysical aspect of his creation.

Book Review – The Order of Santiago

The Order of Santiago

The Order of Santiago: The History of the Catholic Military Order Sworn to Defend the Iberian Peninsula is a book that describes this medieval crusader Order from its initial necessity to its current present form. The first part of this book is a mere primer of the crusades. I think it does an excellent job depicting this incredibly complex topic in short easy to understand manner, and more importantly it does a good job describing the concept of religious knighthood, and how eventually the crusades occurring in the holy land affect those in the Iberian Peninsula. It describes the differences between the Order of Santiago to other Iberian religious military Orders, as well as to the ones that originated in the holy land.

While I think this is a great book, I was slightly disappointed it didn’t covered the topics in great detail. The Order Santiago played a massive role in the reconquista, so I would’ve love to read about the role the Order had in the vast amounts of military campaigns that it was a part of, instead of brief high level overview.

Another example I would’ve love reading more about the Order’s different Grand Masters, as well of the deeds of its famous knights. This goes in part with the role the Order had in the conquest of the Americas, which it’s hardly mentioned. For example how some native chieftains were knighted and those knights played a massive role in the wars of conquest.Nicolás de San Luis Montáñez

Nicolás de San Luis Montáñez

I know such thing most likely require years of research, this book felt more like a college thesis paper. A very good paper (with lots of great potential).

To my surprise, what I’ll remember more about this book is not necessarily related the Order of Santiago, but learning of the role Byzantine nobles had during the Umayyad Caliphate conquest of the Visigothic Kingdom.

Book Review – Sauron Defeated

Sauron Defeated

Sauron Defeated is the 9th book in The Complete History of Middle-earth volume series and last book concerning The Lord of the Rings. This book is divided into three sections. The first section covers the writings regarding the ending of the epic tale of the Lord of the Rings. Here we get to read a significant amount of the Battle of Bywater! But perhaps what struck the most to me was the writings regarding the departure, end, and epilogue of The Lord of the Rings. The beauty of reading The Complete History of Middle-earth is getting to know the unpublished versions of the story, or in some cases a significant large amount of new content extending the story. Christopher Tolkien’s literary analysis also includes quotes and snippets from his father’s letters. Which in this book, we get read the longer version of the ending of the Lord of the Rings that Tolkien himself later regretted of not having it to incorporated as the official ending.

The second part of this book is regarding The Notion Club Papers. This consists of texts Tolkien wrote during his time being part of a literary scholarly club at Oxford. While some of the material we’ve already seen in The Lays of Beleriand and on The Lost Road and Other Writings.  Here we get to see how the influence his peers had in his works. Particularly how the legends of Atlantis and European history influence in Tolkien’s Legendarium.

The third part of this book is regarding The Drowning of Anadûnê. Closely related to part of two of this book, we finally get see the evolution of the history and narrative of Númenor and its direct link from the myths in the Silmarillion to world of The Lord of the Rings.

Triss Merigold Prime 1 Studio Statue

After just three months of it’s initial release, I finally got my third Witcher 3 statue from Prime 1 Studio. Unlike the Geralt and Eredin statues, the Triss Merigold statue is very simplistic (though not in a bad way). The Eredin statue took me well over 30 minutes to put it together, and even the Geralt statue took me a few minutes to set it up initially. However, setting up this new Triss Merigold statue was extremely simple (took no more than 5 mins to put together). The box included instructions, but quite frankly they’re not even needed. The statue consists of the base, main body torso, pair of arms, head and the flaming magic spell.

The first thing I noticed when I received the packaging, was how relatively small the box was compared to Geralt’s and Eredin’s.

Triss Merigold Prime 1 Studio Box

I’m an avid watcher of various statue collecting YouTube channels, and I’m well aware of the good reputation Prime 1 Studio has, but seeing their statues first hand is were I truly get to appreciate and admire the incredible good work Prime 1 Studio does. In my opinion they’re hands down the best current statue company.  The head sculpt of Triss is beautiful. Her entire physique is gorgeous, the dead Foglet on the base is incredibly detailed.

When I first submitted my pre-order, I didn’t realized the exclusive edition was still available (which the price for both the collectors edition and exclusive is the same!). However I didn’t even bother cancelling my order because in my opinion the exclusive edition additional magic spell was not going to be my preferred display option. In addition when I originally submitted my pre-order, I got a $100 discount from Sideshow Collectibles on the order, on top of my rewards points. So the total cost of the statue was just $715 including tax and shipping.

Overall I’m really happy how the statue ended up looking. The next statue I’ll be receiving, hopefully in a month from now will be Ciri of Cintra.

Angry final season Game of Thrones fans can Fuck Off

We’re on the eve of the grand finally of HBO’s Game of Thrones TV show, and unless you’ve been living under a rock these last two months, it is has been all over the place. Making the TV show and in my opinion more importantly, the entire universe of A Song of Ice and Fire, be a part of our current popular culture. Having read the first three novels of this awesome fantasy universe, and mostly likely read the remaining two published novels by this summer. I’ve never watched a single episode, nor am I planning on watching them, as it simply does not interests me. I love the novels, however I could care less for its live action adaption.

So learning there was a vast amount of the TV show audience that are not fond of the final season was both amusing and enraging at the same time. What made my blood boil was learning that there was an actual online petition to completely redo the final season. Seriously, over a million people have taken the time out of their miserable lives to fill out an online application to redo the final season simply because the’y’re not happy with the episodes is absolutely pathetic!

Humanity never ceases to amaze me. I ask, do these morons know that the actual tale of A Song of Ice and Fire is not yet completed? If so, do these idiots know what “fan fiction” is? The final season is mere fan fiction and NOT canon. I suspect the overwhelmly majority of the idiots complaining of the final season do not understand this concept. Instead of complaining like petulant children, these one million idiots that signed the online petition should instead write their own “fan fiction” extension or version of the story like the rest of the fandom literary world has been doing for decades.

 

Online petition: https://www.change.org/p/hbo-remake-game-of-thrones-season-8-with-competent-writers

Book Review – Historia general de las Indias (Part 1)

Originally banned by the Spanish Crown, this is perhaps the very first book I’ve read that’s been officially banned for a large number of years. This book is a historical chronicle that many modern historians reference too, so I opted to read the work in its original Spanish form. Written in the 16th century, obviously this work was written using a very much archaic Castilian vocabulary. I found it amusing finding some archaic Spanish words not present in the modern form of the language, but still present in modern Portuguese. Needless to say, I didn’t found this book to be difficult read in terms of its language (excluding the entire Papal Bull of 1493 which was included in its original Latin text).

The book starts with the depiction of the world, Columbus’ voyages, and early settlements in the Caribbean to the mainland Americas, and finally with the conquest of Inca Empire and the civil wars that immediately followed. It is important to note that author of this book, Francisco López de Gómara was a religious cleric, so many of the chronicles are told and seen from a religious side of things.

This version of the General History of the Indies, does not include the chronicles of the Aztec conquest and biography of Hernán Cortés. This book describes the geography of the Americas in a really good manner. Not quite incredibly detailed as Tolkien, but definitely quite up there. Aside from the geography, you’ll read about how they perceived the new animal species, foods, native tribes, and cultures that the Spanish encountered and told from their perspective.

Unfortunately, this book does not chronicle the events of the different conquests and colonization in sequential order. Which I found somewhat confusing at times, since there were multiple instances were certain individuals die, and a couple of chapters later that specific individual is involved in a different event were they’re still alive. I also found it confusing when the author used different name variants for the same person.

As the title of this work implies, this book is a general simplification of what the conquistadores encountered in the Americas. This is somewhat understandable given the scope of the topic, otherwise this 400 page work would probably be over 10,000 page monster of a book.

I wasn’t aware of much of the history regarding the conquest of the Inca Empire. A very large portion of this book chronicles the deeds of Francisco Pizarro, conquest of the Inca Empire, and civil wars. To me, this was the most captivating portion of the book since all the events surrounding this explain a lot of the idiosyncrasy in all Latin American culture.

Overall, this is really fascinating read, and even though there were a couple some small side stories in this book that I personally see them as completely fictitious (ie find it hard to believe it really happened); this is still an extremely import book that describes our history.

Book Review – The Templars: The Secret History Revealed


Originally written in Italian, The Templars: The Secret History Revealed, chronicles the order’s existence from its creators to its ultimate demise by Philip IV of France.

Sourced from the Vatican’s own secret archives were a few scholarly individuals have access too, the author goes into incredibly detail depicting the history of The Knights Templar. You’ll read about the code of conduct of the Templars, their training, and religious piety. Detail information includes about Templar recruits to the type of clothes and armor they used; all of which had a specific meaning to it.

Most people know The Knights Templars as the military order of the middle ages that fought Muslims and protected Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. In reality they were that and much more. Were it’s only jurisdiction was The Pope, and having a great amount of financial power as well. The Knight’s Templar was an institution that would’ve rival other sovereign Christian kingdoms.

This 232 page book was extremely fast and easy read. Gaining an incredibly vast amount of information that I wasn’t aware of. I know historical works can be a little dry, but if you’re mildly interested about the crusades or middle ages political intrigue; then this book is a definitely must read. Perhaps the only drawback this book has is that it doesn’t go into detail about the legacy The Knights Templar had after their downfall.

Happy Tolkien Reading Day!

Today being the international Tolkien Reading Day, it’s difficult not to mention the upcoming Amazon Lord of the Rings television series. Given some of the type of YouTube channels I’m subscribed too (fantasy/book related), it’s been somewhat difficult for me to not see any news about this TV series. All of which I’ve completely ignored, and will continue to ignore. Primarily so I don’t give myself any positive or negative expectations towards it.

I have a love and hate view towards the Perter Jackson LOTR films. I was under the weather this weekend, and usually one of the things that I do while I’m sick and resting; is to binge watch both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movie trilogies. There are times were these films are absolutely cringe worthy, while there are other times were the films visualize the novels extremely well.

For example, when Gandalf explains to Pippin the meaning of death, and describes to him Valinor (the divine paradise of the Gods and elves). To me this was one of the very few instances the films beautifully portrayed the true underlying themes of the novel, and not the usual cookie cutter action movie tropes.

All we can do is hope for the best.