lenora_rose: (Default)
Off to Folk Fest. Will be even more quiet here than usual.

Have some pics. No toddler shots, just my vanity.


Hair, glasses, a mural )
lenora_rose: (Default)
For those not on Facebook, this is the hair. Pics are probably big, so putting in a cut tag.

Read more... )
lenora_rose: (Roman Gossips)
Well, the response to the last post was somewhat gratifying, and somewhat embarrassing - since I kind of thought that the post was a bit whiny and self-pitying. But it was meant as a kick to get me to post more, and more of substance.

I will freely confess that some of it was being a little surprised at nary a comment on a post that started with a corpse in a car. But maybe there really wasn't that much to say.

Anyhow, I did my vanity/whine post. And I thank you call for answering more graciously than I asked.

____________________

Just finished the fourth of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books. I read the first based one someone's comments that it really was a book perfectly tailored to the tastes of ten-year-old-boys, as I wanted to see what she meant. And decided she was right, but couldn't quite point to exactly why and how. It was a fun read, but I could tell the target audience was an intelligent, pre-pubescent child, probably male (and hitting puberty as the series goes on).

it's also the ONLY children's or YA series I've read that actually seems to MERIT a comparison to Harry Potter. Even though it's almost cliche to do so in reviews and the like, because of the "Potter sold Hugemungousness, let's try and draw the same fans" effect.

Like Harry Potter, this is a fairly light story about a boy discovering his magical heritage and, by the way, nearly getting killed by some horrible monsters along the way. And book by book, a larger story arc develops, and the story gets darker, the stakes get higher, and people actually start dying and not coming back. The gods, including Percy's father, get nuanced the way the older generation in Harry Potter does, the good ones turning out to be less than perfect, some of the bad ones (Or at least the ones who don't like Percy) turning out to have some good sides. And partway through, there turns out to be a prophecy which *might* refer to Percy/Harry being the key to saving everyone from the Big Bad.

But I'm finding that there are a number of things it does better than Harry Potter as a series.

1) Consistency in worldbuilding. There seem to be fewer gaps in Riordan's magical world. it still doesn't quite mesh convincingly with the muggle/mortal world either, and THERE it seems to have more flaws and leave more questions than the Potterverse. But within itself, Riordan seems to have figured out a few more of the details of how his magical side works, and carries them through better. Some of this is because of the next:

2) Brevity. Riordan keeps a tight focus and keeps things coming. Potter sprawled. In that sprawl were two things - more room for complicated backstory, and more room for describing the OMGcool world Rowling was making.

The sprawl in the worldbuilding isn't *all* bad, though certainly it's part of why the books got bloated word-count wise (And the word count sprawl was an unqualified problem several times). Sprawl left Rowling room to imply there was a lot of the world she was making that Harry only barely touched on, a lot more recent history that affected what was on screen, a lot of implied futures, and suggestions of what happens in places other than Hogwarts. It has its weakness - leaving one wanting to fill in holes or unclear details - but it has the strength of making the world seem larger and grander.

In Riordan, everything we learn does come back to the current plot and to some major character, if not to Percy himself. There's a lot less recent history involved to use to build the characters on, though ANCIENT Greece has is obvious affects on the current story. There's less sense of a world beyond the US and the Greek Gods, that anyone Percy himself doesn't meet isn't important. But it has a strength, too; less room to make people go "Hold on, this and this don't work together." (EG, portkeys suddenly showing up in book 4)

However, Riordan has another trick, oft wished-for, which is that the attacking monsters and the action-packed incidents ALSO act as the moments to describe the backstory, illumine character, and show how the world he's invented works. Sometimes people explain things in between incidents, too (There's always *some* need for breathing space) but several times, a difficult decision on a quest is also a shining character moment.

3) Not everything is about Percy. Which sounds like it contradicts the above. Except, it works. In Harry Potter, after the first book or two, everything really does seem to come back to Harry being the Chosen One. By the last three books, Harry is always right, when he jumps to conclusions, however apparently illogical his reasoning is. Most of the people who like him take his side, and most of the people he doesn't get on with are pure baddies. (The exception is Snape, whom Rowling attempts to redeem a bit, with less than perfect success, but he seemed to be the one attempt to make a nuanced villain. Even Draco's inability to flat-out kill isn't painted as a redemption.) Harry's companions go away bit by bit, even the two he doesn't dump for no good reason, and that's it, it's all about Him.

In Riordan, Percy is wrong several times, torn several times. He's saved as often by his companions as they save him, and more importantly, some of his companions get their own significant quests, and their own personal triumphs, and this seems to happen more as the books go on, not less. There are story arcs other than his all over; for the daughter of Athena, for the cyclops, for the satyr. It may look more and more like the prophecy is pointing to him, period (And note I have not read the last book), but there are other prophecies, other duties. His potential love interests aren't Mary Sues (Ginny Weasley) or ciphers (Cho Chang), but girls who happen to be, in addition to other qualities, somewhat interested in him.

People who don't like him (Clarisse, Dionysus) turn out not to be all bad. People turn out to be good or evil independent of how they feel about Percy Jackson. (Some people get to dislike him because he blurts out nasty things about their hypocrisy or their cruddy behaviour, instead of their evil side being revealed by their treatment of him). People get upset about things he had nothing to do with. People triumph in things he has no part in except to stand and cheer, or bear witness.

The thing about all these traits is, they're present in the earlier Potter books, and less so in the later. The girls in Harry Potter either get less nuanced if they had nuances by the third book, or never develop them if they lacked them in the first few books.

The funny thing is, I still like the first Harry Potter books better, and I like the best moments in the later ones better. There's more ways to deal with a problem than to slice apart a monster until it poofs into dust. (Although even there, there are more moments where I wonder at the morality of the behaviour of 'good' characters in Potter).

The Philosopher's Stone is a stronger start than The Lightning Thief, even if the Goblet of Fire is a weaker middle book than the Battle of the Labyrinth. And the Prisoner of Azkaban is a pretty damn good book regardless.

But I think Riordan makes a better overall example of how to pull off a multi-book series for middle/YA readers, how to layer a multi-book arc over a fast-moving single-book plotline.

Next up: Complete change of pace. Georgette Heyer's Cotillion, and three other library books. Then either Martha Wells' The Cloud Roads (It arrived! At the end of February! It wasn't predicted to be shipped until April! Squee!) or SHerwood Smith's Coronets and Steel.
lenora_rose: (Default)
I'm getting the impression lately I'm talking to my mother and myself. And sometimes Sherwood Smith (who rocks, though not for that reason).

This leads to a vicious circle where I post less, and less of interest, which usually causes people to stop paying attention, which means I post less...

Can you guys shout out here if you're actually bothering to read? or if there's something I should talk about?
lenora_rose: (Plot Bunnies?)
(ETA: Something weird happened with the date and time of this entry, so I deleted and reposted the LJ version.)

Item the first:

This is what I did last week that I didn't mention. It's amazing how unphotogenic I am; this was the best of a bad lot.



And this tells you how much work I've been doping at work this week. because bit by bit, this popped up. These are familiar characters to me, but this particular story isn't goign any further right now, so I might just as well show it here.

(This is not, by the way, a precise match to the text I was writing at work. That was in longhand, and it got revised as I went, as things do when entered into the computer).

A Bit of Apocrypha )

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
lenora_rose: (Plot Bunnies?)
(ETA: Something weird happened with the date and time of this entry, so I deleted and reposted the LJ version.)

Item the first:

This is what I did last week that I didn't mention. It's amazing how unphotogenic I am; this was the best of a bad lot.



And this tells you how much work I've been doping at work this week. because bit by bit, this popped up. These are familiar characters to me, but this particular story isn't goign any further right now, so I might just as well show it here.

(This is not, by the way, a precise match to the text I was writing at work. That was in longhand, and it got revised as I went, as things do when entered into the computer).

A Bit of Apocrypha )

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
lenora_rose: (Plot Bunnies?)
Item the first:

This is what I did last week that I didn't mention. It's amazing how unphotogenic I am; this was the best of a bad lot.



And this tells you how much work I've been doping at work this week. because bit by bit, this popped up. These are familiar characters to me, but this particular story isn't goign any further right now, so I might just as well show it here.

(This is not, by the way, a precise match to the text I was writing at work. That was in longhand, and it got revised as I went, as things do when entered into the computer).

A Bit of Apocrypha )
lenora_rose: (Default)
Well, I think nobody will be mixing me up with Brannie_bird again for a while...

Cut because photos )
____________

edited to add: I should have put a bloody link to Flickr for the other plates. Here it is.

Also, I've downloaded the rest of the raw pictures of the plates from the end of term - or rather, the raw views. No, I don't have any raw pictures of plate 8. Maybe I should take pictures of it in its current state; it's one of the ones that turned out better.

I have the last of the china paints I need to do what i want to do to them, also as of today. (Today was busy. Today was also my wedding anniversary, but the timing of the hair thing was a coincidence. Though Colin rather likes it. In the "Big goofy grin" way.)

I also downloaded a picture of this tiny cutie:

Read more... )
lenora_rose: (Default)
Well, I think nobody will be mixing me up with Brannie_bird again for a while...

Cut because photos )
____________

edited to add: I should have put a bloody link to Flickr for the other plates. Here it is.

Also, I've downloaded the rest of the raw pictures of the plates from the end of term - or rather, the raw views. No, I don't have any raw pictures of plate 8. Maybe I should take pictures of it in its current state; it's one of the ones that turned out better.

I have the last of the china paints I need to do what i want to do to them, also as of today. (Today was busy. Today was also my wedding anniversary, but the timing of the hair thing was a coincidence. Though Colin rather likes it. In the "Big goofy grin" way.)

I also downloaded a picture of this tiny cutie:

Read more... )

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