The Dragon Reborn

The Dragon Reborn is book three in the Wheel of Time series. There are many things I liked in this book and several things I didn’t. I’m sure many things I discuss below will come to fruition or find resolution at a later point in the series, but today I am just giving my reaction/opinion of the story so far. Be forewarned, this post will contain spoilers. If you are currently reading the series for the first time, tread lightly. If you have already read the series, feel free to have a few laughs at the comments I’m sure will be amusing as you are privy to the information I have yet to read.

Before we begin, I am loving this series. There are several things I may critique/comment on here but don’t think any of them are jabs at the story or Robert Jordan, because I am having a great time.

Now, let’s begin with the beginning, or shall we say the prologue. This book opens up with the Children of the Light. I think these guys are dumb. Most readers probably agree with me. They have been riding around causing trouble in the name of the Light like some fanatical cult and it just irks me. The opening leads us to believe their leader, Pedron Niall, is planning some interesting maneuvers that will allow this group to gain a ton of power. Then we never really see these guys again the rest of the book except when the girls humiliate Dain Bornhald by abusing their power and pissing off Verin. Which, to be honest, I couldn’t care less about Dain having lost his dad in the previous book. I hate these guys. Especially Byar, but I think Byar and Perrin will have to face off later on and Perrin will totally wreck this guy, and I look forward to that confrontation. As for the rest of the Children, they are pretty much Darkfriends as far as I’m concerned.

Speaking of Perrin, let’s go ahead and move on to him. Perrin is one of my favorite characters so far. He is my kind of guy. Physically powerful but a thinker who tries to read a situation before acting and he doesn’t like to hurt others (except the Whitecloaks he destroys while saving the Aiel from the cage). He tries to do what is right. But I wish he would stop trying to hide from what he is and accept his abilities to communicate with wolves. I’m not sure why he fights it so hard. He knows Elyas can control it without turning feral, but he did see the villager who did lose himself to this ability so I understand his concern. He doesn’t even try to learn any amount of control except how to shut it off. I know he will come to terms eventually, but I’m impatient. Maybe Faile will help this arc progress.

This book introduces Zadine/Faile who becomes (rather quickly) important to Perrin. They become a little too close a little too easily for my opinion. I don’t care if Min (who also disappears completely after the early chapters) predicted the caged Aiel, the falcon, the hawk, a Tuatha’an with a sword, and an encounter with Lanfear at some point. In this book we only get the caged Aiel and the falcon in the form of Faile. We do not get the Tuatha’an with a sword, the hawk (which I assume may be another woman, interesting), and the encounter with Lanfear unless we count the dream encounter. I do like how Hopper is his dream guide though. Anyway, as for Faile and Perrin, I feel like we didn’t get much of an introduction to her as a character and I’m a bit underwhelmed with her at the moment. She is a hunter for the horn but she becomes privy to the fact that the horn has been found and that Mat has blown the horn, thus securing her tie to the group and effectively ridding her of her initial goals. I guess I’ll just have to wait until we get to know her more. I have started book four and it seems like she and Perrin are already married though. I feel like I missed something.

Moving on. This book is different from the first two in that it doesn’t follow Rand at all. It is all about Perrin, Matt, and Egwene with Nynaeve and Elayne. Out of the nearly 800 pages I think Rand was in like 15 of them. This is fine and it’s great to get more of these other characters, but I hoped to get a little more from what I consider our main character especially after what happened at the end of book two.

I did like how Mat gets his own storyline. I mean, he practically becomes a sideline object after he takes the dagger in book one. Even when he blows the Horn of Valere he doesn’t really contribute much. The heroes he calls didn’t even talk to him (did they?). After he is healed, we get a reintroduction to him as a character which I thought was fun and engaging even though his luck seems to be way too convenient and he is a little bit of a dick. I’m sure his luck will play out interestingly moving forward. Egwene does see him playing dice with Ba’alzamon in her dreamworld intuition thing.

I’ll save Shai’tan for later and move on with Egwene. She and Elayne become Accepted pretty quickly despite their transgressions. I do think the ritual to become Accepted is great. We get to see so many things that can reveal potential plots/glimpses into the alternate realities. That is if they are actually real. We also get an intimate insight into each character we see go through it as they must face their fears. It just seems they are raised to Accepted without them having been trained properly. Is the Aes Sedai simply merit based? I thought it was a highly disciplined organization. There is so much that goes on within the Aes Sedai network too. Liandran (this bitch) and the Black Ajah make all relations tense in the tower and we can’t trust anyone. I never liked Elaida, but we are led to believe she might be Black Ajah, but then toward the end it seems like she isn’t and really just cares about Elayne. I don’t know about this story arc, but I’m ready to find out more. I hope Liandran gets the collar if you know what I mean.

Oh, and how the hell does Lanfear just walk around the White Tower with nobody noticing? Seriously. She practically yells to everyone she runs into that she hates Aes Sedai and for sure isn’t one. That doesn’t throw any red flags? Can she just hide her use of the One Power from every single Aes Sedai it the tower and walk around freely? No one questions her being there if she isn’t Aes Sedai? She even turns into Else at some point? I have no idea what to think about her and she is barely in this book after barely being in the last one in which she first appears. I think all we really learn about her in this one is that she can control the dreamworld somehow and she thinks she is better than Ba’alzamon.

Lets talk about the Forsaken real quick since Lanfear is supposedly one of the strongest. Have they all escaped? Are they all already in positions of power across the land? When and how did this happen? We learn of several in this book. One controls Illian. One controlled Tear (did he die?). One, presumably, has turned our strong queen Morgase into a weak little infant. How does she go from threatening the White Tower to the mind slave of some random dude. Also, I’m looking forward to the Morgase and Thom reunion. If it doesn’t happen I’ll be disappointed. I find it strange they are now everywhere and pretty much controlling each city in their own version of the Great Game. I know the Forsaken are supposedly super powerful, but the speed of their ascent in the various regions of the world is striking. Did I miss any Forsaken that showed up in this book? I don’t remember.

Anyway, what’s next? Lets move on to the Dark Lord since we don’t see Padan Fain in this book. I’m sure he will pop up later. We get another showdown between Rand and Ba’alzamon again at the climax of this book. I swear, if I find out that Rand needs to find five more Horcruxes before he can kill the Dark Lord for real, I’ll be pissed. I know this series came out first, but I couldn’t help but notice that he has fought the big baddie twice…..and a half if we count the first book. Each time he believes he actually killed him. I hope this trend ends here.

Rand has Callandor and we for sure know the Aiel are the People of the Dragon and will be showing up a lot more now. I’m okay with it since I like them as characters. They remind me a little of the Fremen from Dune though I know they are much different. I did feel like the confrontation at the end was a little anticlimactic. The Forsaken in the Stone of Tear gets roasted by Moraine fairly easily just prior to Ba’alzamon randomly showing up in the shadows. Then Ba’alzamon runs like a wuss which seems unlike the character he is supposed to be. I think part of the reason it seems anticlimactic is that we see so little of Rand throughout the book and then we go right back to him like the long absence wasn’t even a thing. I also thought it was funny that the name of the book is technically Rand’s title and he isn’t even a major character in this one. 

Okay. I think that is all I have to say about this book. I’ll continue to post about my read-through of this series as I complete each book. It may be awhile before I post about the next few since the next three books are the longest in the series. I have been getting a lot of reading in though so maybe it will only be a few weeks before I post about book four.

I knew this series had a huge fan base and I’m glad to have met several after my post about book two. I hope to meet many more as I read along, but I am also cautious about not having anything spoiled for me. However, if you are a fan, welcome and I’m glad to meet you. I welcome all discussions but try to keep it contained within the first three books for my own sake. At least until I discuss book four. Other than that, comment away. There is nothing more fun than discussing a book with fellow fans.

The Great Hunt

I know I said I wouldn’t write book recommendations for each of the Wheel of Time books since there is 14 of them and, let’s be honest, you only need the first book recommended in a series to get started and determine for yourself if you will finish it. That said, this post is not technically a recommendation. I thought it would be fun to track my journey through this enormous series. So, here comes my thoughts on The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan. I will keep this post spoiler free (which proved harder than I thought) for anyone who hasn’t read it yet, but I am absolutely open to having a discussion in the comments with any spoilers. I would greatly appreciate it if you do not include spoilers from later books so nothing is ruined for me before I get to it.

I finished this book about two weeks ago (and about two weeks after I finished the first book). I flew through it. I found myself absorbed in the story and wanting to read it with any free time I had, which is a sign of a good book. I have to say I am greatly enjoying this series. Right now I’m about 2/3 through the third book and will probably finish it before this time next week. Of course, there were things I liked and didn’t like as there are for nearly every story. So let’s begin.

One thing I didn’t like that is completely excusable is the lack of resolution for some story arcs. Obviously there is plenty of story left to resolve some of the arcs that begin in this book (or began at the end of the first book), so I can live with a few unknowns at the end of this one. Though unless there is going to be a long play, there was one specific character that I was expecting to see a resolution with, and I have no idea where Mr. Merchant Darkfriend is currently (hopefully that doesn’t give anything away). Honestly, I would have been okay with just a short description but I’m sure he will pop up later on.

This book begins the trend (I’m assuming it will continue to be one from where I am currently) of using prophecies. These prophecies, some to be potentially accurate and others probably not, are used to heighten expectations and let the entire population of this imaginary land be somewhat in-the-know of what we as readers are experiencing. Prophecies are a great literary tool and I think Jordan uses them well.

One thing that is only slightly excusable is the Seanchan. I was intrigued by them and they obviously created some questions, which so far many are unanswered but still interesting (I hope I get the answers thought it may be awhile). They of course created conflict and allowed for some great character development. They also were an interesting commentary on slavery and psychology. I’m not going to write a literary analysis of this, but I’m sure I could if I was so inclined. Human history is littered with societies that included slavery, but this is a different take on it since many things apply to only Jordan’s world.

I’ve become a big fan of Loial. Maybe because I also love books, but also because he is odd man out. He is too hasty for an Ogier and is considered young at the age of 90, yet he now travels with those who he considers hasty and naive in many ways. The Ogier as a people often remind me of the Ents in Lord of the Rings with their relationship with nature and their view concerning the actions of those who live shorter lives.

Also, what is up with Selene? I felt like every time she is mentioned I was reminded that men go simple-minded in front of gorgeous women (which is not entirely true) and that good-looking people are highly influential (which pop culture today proves to be true unfortunately). I know she is dangerous and I found myself at times shaking my head at how some characters interact with her.

Let’s not even talk about Ingtar. I like that guy and choose to continue doing so.

The introduction to fast-travel in the first book via the Ways was interesting, plausible, and enjoyable. Then we get another means of fast-travel that opens up an infinite world of possibilities and I’m unsure of how it will impact the remainder of the story. Especially since the theme of dreams is further explored. Either way, I got a Skyrim vibe from this form of travel. I hope it doesn’t get overused as I continue through the story because it could easily become an overly convenient way of getting characters around.

Well, that’s all I have for this book. I’m afraid things are already starting to merge in regards to what happens in each book. I’ll post about The Dragon Reborn shortly after I finish it so the events are little more fresh. I may very well include spoilers moving forward so I can discuss things freely, but I’ll give a heads up either way. The last thing I want to do is ruin anything for anyone.

As always, I’m happy to discuss this book with you so leave a comment.

Happy Reading.

The Unexpected

Have you ever experienced a story that left you utterly lost? As in, you don’t remember what your perception of life was before experiencing it. Where you can’t stop thinking about the characters and what happened to them. Have you experienced a story that meant more to you than you thought originally possible?

I think some of the stories that hit us the hardest are the ones we never saw coming. By this, I mean the stories we knew little to nothing about but gave it a shot because something drew us to it, and before the end we realize too late that it wove itself through our muscles and bones and became as important to us as the air we breathed. At least, for a little while. The obsession fades usually after a few days but we will always recommend the story to our friends and maybe re-read, re-watch, re-listen to the story so we can experience it all over again. But it won’t be quite the same as that first time. Every re-experience is just a reminder of how it left us both empty yet fulfilled. We are just a story junkie chasing that first high.

Not the best analogy, but I think you get the point, and I hope you know what it is I’m talking about. Stories have power. They can make us question things and help us grow. They can teach us new things or make us question old things. They can do all of this across one page or an entire series, within one episode or even within five minutes of a movie (think of that scene from UP, you know which one I’m talking about). We are drawn to stories because we want to experience something. The type of story I’m focusing on is the one that comes out of left field to completely knock you off your feet. The type of story that is the reason I write. Even if I write 100 books and only 3 pages perform the magic I am talking about, then it will all be worth it.

There are several stories I can think of that left me catatonic. Simply sitting there, somewhat withdrawn into myself, wondering. Just wondering. Sometimes about the characters or what happened to them or sometimes about what my life is and what more I can do with it. I would love to hear what stories have affected you in this way. Please, leave a comment or send it to me from the contact page.

Stories like this don’t come around often enough for my liking. Maybe once or twice a year if I’m lucky, but I recently experienced one that I wanted to talk about before my obsession with it faded. There are many reasons I enjoyed this show (yes, it’s not a book this time). The show is a Netflix original called Violet Evergarden.

One thing I absolutely enjoyed and will enjoy for probably a long time is the soundtrack. I think I first heard of this show because it popped up as a suggested soundtrack to listen to online. I listen to a lot of orchestral soundtracks. I didn’t listen to this one until after I watched the show and now I own the soundtrack and am listening to it right now as I type this post. The second thing I found drawing me in was the character and the world she inhabits. The setting is a post-war era similar to maybe the 1920’s. The show takes place in a fictional world but it has a feeling similar to what I imagine life may have been after World War I. Our main, title character was a war orphan who was trained and treated as a weapon through the end of the war. The story picks up after the war has ended and Violet sets off to learn what happened to her commanding officer and what his last words to her meant. In her journey, she becomes an Auto-memory Doll, which is someone employed to write letters for other people and help them say what they cannot seem to put into words. Many of the people cannot write themselves. All the letters are written on a typewriter (which has me dusting off my old typewriter that was given as a gift many years ago). Her character development is enthralling even though most episodes are independent stories that build her experiences. Again, the soundtrack is amazing and music adds so much to shows and movies. The animation (did I mention it is animated?) is gorgeous. The entire show is well paced and I found myself watching several episodes at time and finishing the short 13 episodes within one week. The show gave me a feeling of nostalgia. Of a time simpler to the world we live in and the busy hustle and bustle of our technological world. That alone was worth the watch for me to be honest.

Nothing is better than finding a story this way. Unexpectedly and leaving you hopeful. Giving you an experience you will never forget. One you cherish and want to shout about so everyone else can feel how you feel. But of course we don’t because that is rude and you know that builds expectations which then hinders the story for others. You have to let others find it on their own. I know I gave away a lot about the show I just wrote about and I’ll apologize to you now if that gave you expectations for it, but I won’t really mean it because you may not watch it regardless or you may watch it now because I wrote about it and it caught your interest and you may not have heard about it otherwise.

The unexpected story is what we hope for when we give a book, show, or movie a chance without knowing anything else about it. I encourage you to go out and find something you have never heard of that sounds interesting and give it this chance. It may become a treasure to you. Yes, there are plenty of other stories your friends are recommending, but go out there and give the unknown a shot. You may find yourself recommending it to your friends, and fervently.

With that, I dedicate this post to the unexpected. May we all find such stories when we need them. To remind us that there is something out there we may have forgotten, or to remind us of what we dream to be.

Two Years Online

My second webiversary came and went and I almost missed it. I’m only a week late but I wanted to write a post about my blogging career. Last year I described what had been going on in my life on and offline with the main focus being on my writing. Here I go again.

To start, I spent the entirety of 2018 writing a minimum of two posts a week for this blog. One flash story and one book recommendation every week with a few random microfiction stories and personal posts thrown in. I am happy to say I persevered with that schedule and did not miss a single week. I got engaged and married last year. We did a little traveling to England (where I got to drink a beer in a pub frequently visited by J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis at Oxford) and Ireland (where much fun was had). I continue to work a full-time job that greatly cuts into my writing times.

Unfortunately, I did not have any stories published last year but then again I didn’t submit many to even be considered, which is why I’ve switched things up this year. I have foregone my weekly posts to focus on writing short stories to submit for publication and I hope to get at least five stories published this year. I really want this blog to turn into a history of my writing career. I want this for several reasons. One: so I can look back on it and see how my writing has progressed and how I achieved my dream of becoming a published and hopefully full-time writer (once I have achieved and maintained it). Two: so others can see my progression as well and hopefully use it as an example or for inspiration to achieve their dreams. To show fledgling writers (like me at this moment) that hard work and perseverance are key to getting published. Things don’t just magically fall into place. Let this blog be a glimpse behind the scenes of a writer’s career.

Since I’m on the topic of beginner writers, I recommend a few things that can help get through the self-doubt and start your own progression. My first suggestion is get a good group of friends that love to read and write and meet with them to discuss your own writing. A good writing group can do wonders. If you don’t have this (like myself), then I suggest finding a good writing community through the wonders of the web. I know for a fact that Twitter has an excellent writing community that is supportive and inspiring. You get to see what everyone else is working on and what they are struggling with (which often is something similar to what you are experiencing). You’ll get to ask questions and see different things going on. It’s like a giant, fun, friendly group of writers who help each other even though we don’t know each other, and you’ll find writers who are just starting out or have published many books. If you are just starting out, you can find me there @YarberWrites. I’d love to be your friend. My second suggestion is to just write. Write as much as you can and about whatever you want. The more you write the more material you will have and the more practice you will get. No one has to read it if you don’t want them to. My third suggestion is start a blog (like this one). You’ll be surprised how much it can help to write for an audience (even if there isn’t one when you start). I’m happy to say my list of writer/blogger friends has grown to more that I thought possible when I first started. Writing blog posts is great experience and helps in many ways when it comes to writing. You get practice and interaction with viewers, and it helps you get past the fear of putting your writing out there. Believe me, I had that same fear. It still comes around here and there, but most readers are great supportive people.

Back to some updates. I am no longer on Patreon for various reasons (mainly I didn’t think it was the right platform for me), but I have gotten back on Goodreads after creating an account and forgetting about it for several years. I have a new goal to read more than I have been and I thought Goodreads would help me with this since you can track your progress and create reading goals. You also get to see what all your friends are reading as well. I’d love to be your friend on this platform as well. Just click here and add me.

Though I may be posting less this year, I plan to post a couple times a month at least. Many will be book recommendations and others simple updates like this or discussions about authors or other topics. I may post a story every once in a while but I’m working on getting my work out there for publication in literary journals. I believe this is my next step in my writing career. I hope you don’t mind.

I hope you are working toward your own dream and are taking steps forward to make it happen. I also hope (since I’m biased here) that you are reading fun things and learning other, new things. I have no doubt you can achieve your dream. It may take time and a lot of effort, but you can do it. I’m much farther along toward my goal than I was two years ago. You got this.

Happy Reading.

How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World

I was fortunate to see a pre-screening of How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World this weekend. The movie officially releases later this month. I know this blog is mainly about books and my own writing, but it really is about all types of stories. Besides, this movie series is based on a book series by Cressida Cowell so it still fits. I also only wanted to talk about it because of my chance to see it early.

Fun Fact: I didn’t actually see the first movie in theaters (I can’t tell you why because I of course like dragons and it was something I was sure to be interested in). The second movie I did make sure to see opening weekend, and now I’ve seen the third and final installment before its opening weekend. Easy to say I’m a fan. This series is probably my favorite Dreamworks animated series. That being said, I was able to go into this movie with little expectations. I always try to do this so I’m never disappointed. Easy to say that I was definitely not disappointed. I enjoyed this movie greatly and I think part of it was the fact it is the final chapter of a journey that started eight years ago when the first movie was released in 2010.

How To Train Your Dragon

This movie wraps up the series extremely well and the thematic undertones were strategically placed. This movie’s overall takeaway, from my opinion, is that growing up means being strong enough to let some things go. I almost never tear up during movies, but I have to admit that there were two moments I had to hold back.  To keep this post spoiler free, I’ll let you take that as you will. Of course, certain things can be expected since it is the third movie in a trilogy, but I think the personal growth of Hiccup and his ability to learn, with the help of his friends, that he is stronger than he thinks of himself is the main story arc. It’s something that we all need reminding of from time-to-time.

There are many things I can say about the main villain Grimmel, but again, I want to keep this spoiler free and the things I would talk about would contain spoilers. What I will say is that his character is hypocritical and believes in a world-view that unfortunately I think many people today may align with. Please don’t believe that there are any political undertones to this movie. What I’m vaguely talking about is humanity in general. People believe different things and that is okay. Stories have to have villains and heroes and they almost always have opposing views. The villain is usually believes in things that are grossly evil, but not always. In this case I don’t think he is evil. I think he believes in something that we, the audience, will agree is unjust.

The story picks up after the second movie nicely and ties all three movies together as a final installment should do. Overall, I think this movie will be enjoyed by all current fans of the series. Especially you, reader who found their way here just to get more information about the upcoming release. When you watch this movie, allow yourself the chance to watch it with a child’s eyes, and I hope you grow alongside our beloved characters. As I have.