Old words for old worlds

On the use of the past to explain the present

Tolkien’s own translation of Beowulf to come out in May 2014

One link to rule them all: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/19/jrr-tolkien-beowulf-translation-published

I am so beside myself with joy and excitement that I can barely type. Yes, my hunger for more Tolkien, Beowulf and Old English literature is so boundless, so infinite and OH MY GOD I WANT THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW.

On Medieval Warfare, Revisited (but it’s not that great this time)

Medieval Military TechnologyWhile my first draft keeps chugging along (more on that very soon), I thought I would interrupt my regular programming with a short review of another book on medieval warfare that I read last month. It is the second edition of Medieval Military Technology by Kelly DeVries and Robert Douglas Smith, published by the University of Toronto Press in 2012. I should note that DeVries was a contributor in Fighting Techniques of the Medieval World, a book I have previously reviewed. This was not the reason for my acquiring it, however. It was in fact an impulse buy, after reading some rave reviews on Amazon, where people said it was the new reference on the subject.

Fair enough. But my short answer to that has to be this: sorry, but no way.

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Introducing Project LOSK

So there it is. I’m now officially writing a Fantasy novel.

My working title is The Legacy of the Silent King.

This title will never be the official one, if you must know. My wish is to come up with a satisfactory title that does not follow a nomenclature of the X of Y kind. But this can wait.

Tonight’s word count: 548.

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Part Three of a Medieval Warfare Reader: A Deeper Look

Eleven books, fourteen months and three thousand pages later, all the high priority items on my reading list have been completed, finally. This experience has been quite rewarding, though sometimes demanding. I am therefore both happy and relieved to conclude my Medieval Warfare Reader with three superior titles that are not to be missed (or at least the first two — see below on why) by both the history aficionado and the serious Fantasy writer. My opinion on how to leverage the knowledge of actual history in writing Fantasy has been made clear enough in the first and second part of my series; I will not push that particular topic any further here.

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The Ways of Castles (Part Two of a Medieval Warfare Reader)

This second installment of my Medieval Warfare Reader has long been in the making; more so than the first part, in fact, for I wanted to increase my understanding of castles, and from that my ability to imagine and describe them, before learning about armies and soldiering in ages past. I find few fortresses in Fantasy as interestingly unique as the Hornburg at Helm’s Deep in The Lord of the Rings. Given that my project of Fantasy has an overt inclination toward martial matters, I try to hold myself to a similar standard. I mean that only as a reference, of course. I’ll be damned if I ever quit looking up to the master of Fantasy.

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Medieval Warfare: A Reader (Part One)

The only acceptable reason for not blogging is that I should be writing instead. I am not. In the past months, I have rather spent most of my free-time reading, which I hope is at least near-acceptable. My defense? Research. Good and well-crafted stories are written by those who know what they are talking about and I believe this holds true with Fantasy just as well.

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Link: Fantasy armor and lady bits

A lot of Fantasy art sucks. Oversized, oversexed, overboard all the way. Puerile and sad, really. Now, I have recently stumbled upon the following blog post by an armorer, on the contentious topic of female armor: http://madartlab.com/2011/12/14/fantasy-armor-and-lady-bits/.

Many fair points in there. Wonderful post. This is required reading.

My plea for philological Fantasy

I have to admit that in recent weeks, thanks in part to a discussion with a fellow Fantasy enthusiast, aspiring author and blogger, my view of my view of Fantasy has somewhat evolved. I have always been careful not to needlessly disregard the various incarnations of the genre that I dislike. However, after starting to understand better what I want, need and wish for, I find it increasingly difficult not to criticize. There is this criterion by which I judge the genre that I cannot let go. It is part of what I am. It was what moves me. It represents everything I believe Fantasy should stand for. Its very soul, I say. I cannot ignore its neglect in any form any longer, for better or worse. I would say the worse, as nobody is making friends by being judgmental.

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The fantasy of history in the history of fantasy

Everything I have written so far on this blog adds up to the suggestion that Fantasy is not really defined by elves, dragons or magic, but rather by the use of the ancient past as a vehicle for stories. At this point, however, it should be quite obvious that a further qualification is needed: if the past matters so much, then what is the difference between Fantasy and History? Are they any different? Of course they are. But in my view, a simple scale opposing fact to myth is a gross and insufficient measure of their demarcation.

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Skyrim: a true dance with dragons

This blog is generally not for reviewing videogames, but I must indulge with a one-time exception for the sake of Skyrim, the fifth game in the The Elder Scrolls series developed by Bethesda. A one-time exception for a single topic: dragons.

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