Sojourn: A Story of Acceptance

Sojourn2Well, I finished the third book in the Dark Elf Trilogy – Sojourn by R.A. Salvatore. And I have to say, once again, I forgot how much I enjoyed this series and it feels so good to come back to it.

However, coming back this time around has brought many new revelations. As we as readers experience life, it undoubtedly changes the way we experience novels. We learn from our interactions with people and form new ideas and beliefs. That alone should be all the reason to support rereading books. You never know what will speak to you.

Sojourn details Drizzt’s first years on the surface. He wanders around, not knowing the language or the region. Heck, he doesn’t even know about seasons and nearly freezes during his first winter. He also makes new friends and learns how to be a ranger. And by the end of the novel, he comes to a semblance of truce with Bruenor Battlehammer, who is one of the main characters and one of Drizzt’s best friend.

But at heart, this book is about acceptance, both of self and from other people, something that appeals to me greatly as I focus on similar topics within my own writing. Drizzt wants nothing more than to be accepted on the surface world and have a place to call his own, friends to call his own, and a life of meaning.

He says:

It would happen suddenly, I imagined. I would approach a gate, speak a formal greeting, then reveal myself as a dark elf… Suspicions would linger about me for many months, but in the end, principles would be seen and accepted for what they were; the character of the person would outweigh the color of his skin and the reputation of his heritage.

This is a powerful passage in the novel. It’s something that Drizzt greatly desires and something that we all want as well. At least that’s what I hope. But in the light of recent events in our country, from police brutality to violent protestors to the bigotry and racism of certain political figures, I think we could all hope for a little more compassion and understanding. There’s more to Drizzt Do’Urden than his skin tone and there’s more to the people around us as well. We just need to take a moment to put aside our prejudices and listen a little.

Once again, a great novel. I give it a 4.5/5.

Coming up, I’ll start on the Icewind Dale Trilogy, the next three books in Drizzt’s journey.

 

The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Part 2

Well, folks, when I left you last, we were about halfway through Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass. You can read my review of the first half here. Now that I’ve finished the second half, I can say with absolute certainty that I will be keeping up with this series.

The second half of the book was a lot of investigation into the enemies of Albion. Characters are running around, looking for clues and fighting monsters. And it’s all well paced, so that you are wanting to keep reading at the end of the chapter.

The romance sub plot develops and has an excellent ending. We also see Gwen finally mature a bit. And we get a hint at some far greater evil enemy that will no doubt come to bear in the sequels.

But the best part for me, and perhaps the part I was most looking forward to, happens at the climax. We finally get to see an aerial battle. I’ve always enjoyed reading these and would have been very disappointed if Butcher hadn’t delivered on the unspoken promise to feature one. There’s lots of cannon fire and aerial acrobatics to keep you intrigued for the last fifty or so pages. It was exhilarating and I found my own heart speeding up with the ebb and flow of battle, a difficult task with the number of battle scenes I’ve read over the years.

And Butcher ends the novel well, which is a difficult task to accomplish. We are left knowing that evil is coming and that bad things are going to happen. And because we are connected to  the characters now, we will have to follow them into their futures. Very excited for the sequel when it comes. I give this novel a solid 4/5.

The next read will be Salvatore’s Sojourn, Book 3 in the Dark Elf Trilogy. Stay tuned for a review.

Happy Shopping at Aldi

Let’s face it. I hate shopping. I’m sure a lot of people do, especially you fathers out there. But I really hate grocery shopping. But one store has made it much better for me. Aldi.

Before we get too far in, let me give a little context. My wife and I used to do the majority of our shopping at Walmart. The town we grew up in pretty much just had one and that made for one stop shopping. So when we moved to St. Louis, we did the same and found our local Walmart.

It was horrible. There were boxes everywhere on the floors. The shelves weren’t stocked or they were sloppy and unorganized. But worst of all, the people there, both the customers and the employees were just rude and standoffish. Now, I’ve worked in places like Walmart before and I expected a little better than that.

So we started looking for other places to shop, especially after our son was born. Parents know what it’s like to have a baby or toddler in the cart. It can get a little… interesting, to say the least.

Then we were blessed to find Aldi. This store blows my mind every time I go in one. First, the prices. They are the lowest around for excellent food. Their produce is far better than you would expect for the price. And, thank heaven, the store is organized.

But the biggest and best quality is the atmosphere. Everyone in there is friendly. The employees are always smiling and offering to help out. And the customers are far kinder than you find at Walmart. I’ve had so many positive interactions in the store.

Aldi is the place to shop. I always walk out with a smile on my face rather than my nerves frayed. I recommend it to anyone, particularly parents who want to be able to shop for groceries without having their nerves ruined by a bad shopping experience.

Libraries have Souls

As I was reading the first half of Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass, I came across a passage that I thought was masterfully written and appealed to the author in me:

Bridget blinked once. “Books do not have souls, sir.”

“Those who write them do,” Ferus said. “They leave bits and pieces behind them when they lay down the words, some scraps and smears of their essential nature.” He sniffed. “Most untidy, really — but assemble enough scraps and one might have something approaching a whole.”

“You believe that the library has a soul,” Bridget said carefully.

“I do not believe it, young lady,” Ferus said rather stiffly. “I know it”

Now, granted, this might come off as the author imposing a little too much but for those of us who are book lovers and library lovers, we can really appreciate it. Have you ever walked into a large library or even an old library and just felt like you weren’t alone anymore? Like someone was there to comfort you if you were feeling down or laugh with you at some joke you had heard?

It’s that feeling that assures me that no matter what technology we may have, no matter how popular e-books become, libraries will still exist. People will still want the feel of paper in their hands. And authors will never run out of stories to write.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Part 1

519T2WI7QgL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_When I was growing up, I remember Treasure Planet coming out and loving it. I read Treasure Island as a kid and it was okay, but this new idea that the ships were in space and flying through the air, with aliens and what not, completely set my imagination going.

That same joy of pirates and ships flying through the air naturally drew me to Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass. I’ve only read a couple of Butcher’s Dresden Files and thought they were pretty decent, having heard my work compared it his from many friends and colleagues. But I am happy to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading The Aeronaut’s Windlass.

I’ve decided to split my review up into two parts. This is really a large book, over 600 pages. And to be honest, I’m only halfway through it. (Remember, I’ve also go
a full time job, writing, and being a father. Reading happens, just slower than I’d like some times.)

The novel is firmly rooted in the steampunk genre, with interesting gauntlets that shoot etherium and ships powered by steam and ethereal winds. There are warriorborn characters who have lion blood in them. And there are talking cats, which was pretty neat.

The book was a bit of a slow start for me. I really like to jump in and get to the action quick, but with 600 plus pages, I could understand taking a little more time. Butcher takes the time to craft some very interesting characters who you come to really root for. Captain Grimm is by far my favorite, this stoic captain of the Predator. He runs a tight ship, as they say, but he has a past that we don’t quite understand but I am excited to learn more about as the book progresses. The other main character of the main cast is Gwen Lancaster. Gwen is a very naive and confident noble. Her character is the one that I hope to see the most growth in as I read more. She is very sure of her ways and it gets her into a lot of trouble. But she’s also just turned 18 and we can all remember having that confidence at that age.

The book has many aspects that would appeal to all kinds of readers, from steampunk to mystery to military, even a little romance is starting to develop. I highly recommend it so far, at least the first half. We shall see how things go though.

Stay tuned for Part 2 and my final thoughts on the novel. Until then, here’s a photo of a tattoo a friend of mine has, wishing you all a beautiful life.

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