April Medialogging
By Dwip April 30, 2014, 8:22 pm Comments (0) RSS Feed for this post

This one’s coming in a bit late. Blame a week straight of migraines and writer’s block resulting from same. Too, if you’re wondering why there’s been almost zero content here all year, blame the fact that I’ve been sick almost the entire length of same. No, it has not been particularly fun.

Spent most of the month with Uhtred of Bebbanburg, and I’m wrapping that reread up. I have a whole massive SM Sterling reread to get through too, but I think I’m going to wait a tad on that, as there are some other things of interest I’d like to read this month.

Gonna be a whole lot of fiction this year, I think. Lots and lots of series I need to talk about.

YTD stats:

March: : 4 books; 4 fiction (1,450 p.) / 3 videos; 1 movies (2.6 h.); 2 TV seasons (15.2 h.)
April: : 5 books; 1 graphic (136 p.); 4 fiction (1,269 p.) / 1 videos; 1 TV seasons (6 h.)

Year to Date: 9 books; 1 graphic (136 p.); 8 fiction (2,719 p.) / 4 videos; 1 movies (2.6 h.); 3 TV seasons (21.2 h.)

Details for April after the jump.

04/12/2014 Bernard Cornwell, Sword Song: The Battle For London (2009 Harper trade paperback, 314 pages – Personal collection, 2009)

I find the subtitle of this one kind of amusing – the actual battle for London is over and done with well within the first third of the book, and basically serves as a setup for a whole set of conflicts that don’t even altogether take place in this book. We’ll be coming back to Aethelred and Aethelflaed a few times before we’re done here.

Of various note:

Gisela becomes Uhtred’s first love interest to actually survive an entire book, which is something of a record.

I’ve mentioned in the past that femnists have to have a hard time reading a Cornwell book, because man do women get the shit end of the stick in most of them, to the point where you kind of wonder about the author’s actual attitude. And then you get women characters like Aethelflaed, who in this and coming books refuse to take the shit given them and proceed to kick ass and take names. It’s kind of refreshing, really, especially in a Manly Men of Manliness series like this one.

Too, Cornwell’s done a lot of playing about with modern concepts of religion, and there are some pretty fun ones in this book. There’s a bit where a dead guy supposedly talks to people, which us modern types immediately think of as bogus, but which takes in the superstitious Uhtred, as it ought to; and, while Christians usually get a pretty kindly gloss put on them, but the whole Numbers 5:11-31 business is pretty shameful and awful. It also has the opposite effect of what its perpetrators in the book intended, which I suppose is all very poetic justice.

Maybe more on that last later.

04/15/2014 Steven Moffat, et al., Doctor Who: Series Seven, Part Two (2013 BBC DVD, 360 minutes, 8 episodes – Corvallis Public Library)

Having come in at the end of the whole Doctor Who thing with these posts, now I’m coming in at the end of Matt Smith’s run on the show, and as I noted in my post on part one of series seven, the shine is kind of wearing off the whole enterprise.

First the good bit: having finally sent the Ponds off to the ending they so richly didn’t deserve and exiting the rather tragic holding pattern the first half of the series found itself mired in, the Doctor picks up the plucky and witty Clara Oswald from the series opener. All well and good – Clara adds a certain energy to the show, and we’d frankly have been better off if she’d been around for the whole season rather than stuffing her into the back half like this.

The bad news is almost everything else. Most of these episodes are pretty basic fare, ranging from the awful (Cold War features a Soviet submarine crew that, unlike some other Soviet submarine crews is capable of speaking only in English accents) to the pretty good (The Crimson Horror isn’t all that horrific, but it does bring back the trio of Victorian aliens and Jenny which is good) to the mediocre (everything else).

Most of the episodes stick to the same three sound stages for the most part (Journey to the Centre of the Tardis sticks to the same three rooms), and while it ultimately becomes apparent that they’re saving the budget for The Name/Day/Time of the Doctor trio. That’s all well and good, but I quickly got pretty bored of the filler, and it felt awfully like everyone on the show did too.

Thankfully, The Name of the Doctor, while it doesn’t make the rest of this season worth it, per se, does restore us to some modicum of old time Doctor Who excitement, and for the first time in all of series seven I’m actually excited to see what’s going to happen in the upcoming specials when I can get my hands on them. I have my quibbles (they’re kind of pushing the whole Clara thing awfully fast, aren’t they, and seriously can we be done with River Song already), but eh. I dig it.

04/19/2014 Bernard Cornwell, The Burning Land (2010 Harper hardcover, 336 pages – Personal collection, 2010)

This series spends a lot of time comparing and contrasting Saxon vs. Dane. By and large, the noble Danes in this series are pretty noble (except when they’re not), while even the noble Saxons are still sort of slimy about it. As a case in point, oaths are a major point in the series, and especially in this book. Does Uhtred:

– Give Ragnar an oath to help attack Wessex?

– Give an oath to Alfred to serve Edward and Wessex?

– Honor his oath to Aethelflaed to protect her and Mercia?

Ragnar asks, Alfred expects, Aethelflaed tricks Uhtred into honoring that last oath. Almost always in these books, Uhtred would rather be a Dane, but those damn Saxons always seem to hook him back in somehow. And yet he goes, because he gave an oath. Big stuff.

And yet, we also have Aethelflaed, probably the big heroine of the series, repeatedly breaking her own marriage oaths. It doesn’t hurt that she’s love interest #6 (sorry, Gisela!) or #7 if you count Skade, but still, the characterization is interesting.

Speaking of Skade, I admit that large parts of this book fell flat for me, and she was in most of them. Most of the front 2/3 of the book are Uhtred shambling about with a random crazy woman who gets whacked at the end, and we’re getting slightly late in the series for that kind of thing, especially when it feels like Cornwell’s keeping Uhtred in a holding pattern for the climax of this book and the next one. Most of the interesting recurring characters barely show up with the notable (and happy) expection of Aethelflaed, and the whole book suffers for it.

That said, it does give me an excuse to type Aethelflaed a lot, and it’s a fun name to say and type, so there’s that I guess.

04/19/2014 Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead Volume 19: March To War (2013 Image Comics trade paperback, 136 pages – Corvallis Public Library)

It’s a little hard to write much about these dinky little issues where not much happens, but hey, looks like we’re finally getting on track with this Negan thing. Yay.

As a side note, it’s been ages since I’ve checked in with the comics. Watching the show, you forget how awesome most of the same characters are in the comics by this point.

04/24/2014 Bernard Cornwell, Death of Kings (2011 Harper hardcover, 320 pages – Personal collection, 2011)

04/28/2014 Bernard Cornwell, The Pagan Lord (2014 Harper hardcover, 299 pages – Personal collection, 2014)

Unlike The Burning Land, I am wholeheartedly enthusiastic about these latter two books in the series. They move forward some of the biggest plotlines of the series, they’re frought with tension, intrigue, and battle, and both books are extremely solid Cornwell.

That said, I haven’t got much to say about them. I suppose there’s a retrospective of Alfred to be discussed, but I don’t have much of interest to say about him.

In the event, our time with Uhtred is clearly nearing its end, and I have a whole roster of other books to make it through. But that’s for next month.

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