And I Quote: On Fantasy

Someone posted the following quote on Tumblr:

Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to Middle-Earth.”

-George R.R. Martin

To which @odinsbitch replied:

I read fantasy to REMIND myself there is beauty and magic and goodness in reality. I read fantasy to remind myself that reality itself is changed and shifted by how I look at it. When I fly on Southwest Airlines I always choose a window seat so that I can look at and see the cloud-castles and curve of the horizon and the way the sunlight turns the rivers into liquid gold and lose my ability to breathe because I am not Icarus. I can fly as near the sun as I want and my wings don’t melt because my wings are made up of both fantasy AND reality, wax and canvas and iron and bone wings as strong as I am.

Reality is the whimsical graffiti in the dirty alley in Cleveland. Reality is the chaotic circus of a strip mall where people are bad and selfish and good and welcoming. Reality is seeing the blue sky reflected on the Chicago skyline and thinking I already live in Minas Tirith.

Middle Earth is not better than here. Gormenghast is certainly not better than here. I believe it’s true that fantasy can remind us to listen to the siren songs and relish the color in our real lives. It does spark desires deep within us. But I want my fantasy to remind people that they don’t have to visit hollow hills to find adventure or Oz or Shangri-La to find love. We make ourselves heroes and villains in reality every day. I want my fantasy to remind readers – and myself – that we shouldn’t long for Camelot. We should create it right here.

When I die, I hope I’ve already built my heaven around me.

And to which I say “Amen!” to @odinsbitch.

While fantasy is awesome, the more I read or watch fantasy, the less I am surprised by what people can imagine anymore. The real world, however, is fantastic enough as it is, and the more I see of it, the more I am convinced that it will never cease to amaze me.

So many memes, so little time

Because I wasn’t able to blog since Friday, I’m going to catch up with some memes today!
 
 
 

 What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next?  (Hosted by Should Be Reading)

 
 
I’m currently reading:
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

I’m almost 200 pages into the book, and I’m comfortable with GRRM’s writing style so far.  However, I can’t be sure if this is because I recognize most of the scenes and the dialogue from the HBO series.  I remember that this helped a lot when I read J.R.R. Tolkien after seeing the movies. (What’s with the double Rs?  Hrmmm.  Note to self: Think of a pseudonym with double Rs when you publish a story someday. :P)  I think the true test of my capability to read GRRM will come when I read A Clash of Kings before Season 2 comes out.  If I find the text readable even when I’m faced with unfamiliar situations and characters, then that means GRRM (or at least A Song of Ice and Fire) is for me.  I’m still trying to decide, though, if I’m going to do that or if I’m going to hold out until Season 2 is out.  I was able to hold out on the Sookie Stackhouse books for 3 seasons of True Blood, so…

What I like about reading A Game of Thrones right now is the invaluable insight into the characters’ emotions and motivations.  While the showrunners did exceptional work in adapting the book and capturing some of those inner character moments, there is still so much that someone like me who is new to the series can take from the book.  I like the Daenerys and Jon POVs, which comes as no surprise considering I liked them on the show.  It’s a bit unsettling trying to reconcile the ages of the book characters with the actors, but they fit the personalities of the characters well enough that it’s easy to forget about age.
 
 

The Hero of AgesI just finished reading:
The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3) by Brandon Sanderson

Oh man, I can’t remember crying so much over a fantasy book!

It took a while to finish this as it was DENSE (700+ pages).  Dense but not too dragging, although Sanderson tends to ramble.  However, that’s expected of a Sanderson novel, and I’ve gotten used to it.  His ramblings, while sometimes long and unnecessary for character development or plot, tend to be mentally stimulating, so I find myself actually reading them and paying attention to them rather than skimming over the pages until the next plot-related action comes along.  The monologues do enrich the mythology and philosophy of the book, and I find it easier to find logic in what’s happening in the story after reading them.

This book took an emotional toll on me because of the focus on the war against Ruin and the life-changing journeys that the characters had to go through to survive it.  So much has changed since Mistborn: The Final Empire, and Sanderson did an amazing job making the evolution of the characters and the world very believable.  And because even the mythology evolved, the series has become not just a plain epic fantasy story, but Sanderson’s personal commentary on the genre.  Sanderson is not as easy to read compared to other fantasy giants out there like, say, Margaret Weis, but there are a lot of rewards for those who will persevere.  He understands fantasy very well and I believe this is what Robert Jordan’s wife saw in him and why she selected him to finish The Wheel of Time.

I found myself re-reading Book 1 (The Final Empire) several minutes after I got a hold on my emotions after finishing this book.  Life was as simple as it could be back then for the characters, and I wanted to relive those days and to try to look for any clues that Sanderson might have left then about the conclusion of the series.  I loved the scenes where Vin pretended she was Lady Valette and had to attend all those society balls and events.  She was terrified, and yet she loved the gorgeous dresses and the dancing and the frivolity in spite of her fears and prejudices, and I do too.
 
 

What’s next:
In Too Deep (The 39 Clues #6) by Jude Watson

I’m going to take a break from the epic fantasies to try to finish The 39 Clues series.

I managed to get Books 6-9 as a bundle during the Scholastic Warehouse Sale, so I might as well finish all four.  I need to catch up before everyone starts discussing the second series.  I’ve already had to endure a lot of spoilers for the first series because I came into it too late, so I’m not anxious for a repeat of that, especially considering that one of the draws of The 39 Clues is trying to figure out whodunnit and howtheydunnit.  It’s not as fun if you already know the “who” before getting to read about the “how”.

Oh, and Jude Watson! I’m very biased in favor of her last The 39 Clues contribution before this one, so this should be a lot of fun.
 
 
 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

 
 
My pick for the week is:

The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus #2)
By: Rick Riordan
Publication Date: 4 October 2011

In The Lost Hero, three demigods named Jason, Piper, and Leo made their first visit to Camp Half-Blood, where they inherited a quest:

“Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire the world must fall.
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.”

Who are the other four mentioned in the prophecy? The answer may lie in another camp miles away, where a new camper has shown up and appears to be the son of Neptune, god of the sea…

Riordan left fans high and dry at the end of The Lost Hero, so this book ranks very high on my wishlist.  It’s going to be a treat to find out just how Riordan treats this section of his new series considering there were so many loose ends from the first book that he has to seamlessly integrate into this one.

Riordan’s brand of YA fantasy depicts how mythology is present in our mundane world, and it’s something that he explores with such wit and humor, so I always have fun reading his books.
 
 
 

“Want Books?” is a weekly meme hosted at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now.

 
 
The Night Circus
By: Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

I first learned about this book when I read that David Heyman, producer of the Harry Potter films, bought the film rights and was planning to produce the adaptation. Then when I interviewed Samantha Sotto, she also mentioned this. The story sounds intriguing, and it would certainly make for a great movie.

The Fairytale Nerd told me that this book is available already, but only in hardcover. My wallet is still in dire straits, so I’m going to have to wait a bit longer to get my hands on this.