Dreams Made Flesh

Standard

I got home exceptionally late today. Or exceptionally early, depending on your point of view. I was supposed to arrive home on the 1st, and ended getting back at 5am on the 2nd. Not having slept, it’s technically still the 1st for me.

Anyway. When I got home there was a box outside my door. A box covered in Amazon Prime stickers.

That’s funny, I thought. I’m not a Prime member. Also I don’t remember ordering anything.

Then it clicked — it must be my Christmas gift from my best friend/sister! I knew she was getting me something via Amazon, and I’d totally forgotten about it during the week+ vacation/down time during the cold from hell at the Ogre’s place.

(By the way, that cold? Still sticking around. I am more than ready to be well, thanks, Universe.)

I hustled inside and put down all my things (I had a lot of things) and excitedly grabbed the box. It was addressed to “Babby van Loon” — definitely from my sister; that’s her special nickname for me.

As I brewed some coffee in my Keurig (mainly to test out if the cups I’d been given for Christmas would work in it — they’re the “we work in most coffee systems” kind, not Keurig-specific ones — and they do) I grabbed a knife and carefully cut the tape on the box. It was difficult, because I was as excited as a…um. Kid on Christmas. (There has to be a better analogy out there somewhere.)

When I pulled away the plastic packaging, what did I find?

Christmas gift from my bff/soul-sister arrived! She knows me so well. <3Only an omnibus edition of one of my most beloved book series — The Black Jewels Trilogy.

I’ve read this trilogy several times. I adored it so much in high school and college that I would constantly lend my copies out to people, just so they could see how amazing it was — then I’d buy a new copy, and the cycle would begin again. Hence why I didn’t have a copy till now, and it was on my wishlist on Amazon.

The Black Jewels Trilogy is one of my biggest inspirations as a writer. When I read The Black Jewels Trilogy, I learned that it was possible to write a matriarchal society in fantasy that wasn’t some anti-feminist screed. (I know there are probably other writers who have done this, and likely before Anne Bishop did. That doesn’t matter, here — what matters is The Black Jewels Trilogy was the first series I read where that was a thing.)

I’ve heard people call The Black Jewels Trilogy “fluffy”, and I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit. There’s romance, and some characters do get to live happily ever after — but this series is dark. There is sacrifice. There is loss. There is some seriously messed up crap going on. There are big stakes. The Black Jewels Trilogy is anything but fluffy.

If I read it again today would I love it as much as I did in high school? I don’t honestly know. I’ve changed a lot as a reader and a writer since the last time I read the books. I’m more critical now, especially of things I love. I’m sure there are lots of problems in The Black Jewels Trilogy.

But honestly, I’m just not interested in deconstructing it and picking it apart. I may do that with other things I’m a fan of, because it’s good to pick apart the things you love — to admit that nothing is perfect, that everything has its problems. That way when you trash the stuff you hate, no one can get on your back for only picking on things you have a loathe-on for. (Or, well, they can — they just won’t have much of a solid foundation on which to base their arguments.)

The Black Jewels Trilogy, however, remains one of my first fandom obsessions, and still one of my favourite book series ever. I read the continuation books as they came out, most recently The Shadow Queen, Shalador’s Lady, and Twilight’s Dawn. I loved them all as much as I remember loving The Black Jewels Trilogy — so perhaps, if I reread the Trilogy today, I would adore it as much as I always did.

I refuse to pick it apart. It’s a solace for me; it’s a comfy blanket. It reminds me that sometimes the broken and the beat down can repair themselves, can win against the forces that try to tear them apart. It reminds me that love prevails.

I’m not pulling at those threads. I’m not pulling that blanket apart.

I’m putting the book in a place of honor on my shelf, and when I have some time to read some fiction this year — I’m pulling it down and reading it again.

Thank you, sister. You knew exactly what I wanted, but more — you knew exactly what I needed. A reminder that the stories I write — the stories inspired so much by The Black Jewelsare important to other people, just as The Black Jewels are important to me.

Advertisements

30 in 30: Day 27 (in which I shamelessly plug my own writing, but I’m entitled as it’s my fracking birthday)

Standard
Cover of "Snow Queen"

Cover of Snow Queen

If a book contains ______, you will always read it (and a book or books that contain it)!

This is honestly a very tough question. It’s hard to think of a single thing that will always make me read something; I could say strong female lead characters, but that’s not true — there are books that I refuse to read containing that quality.

I suppose something I am truly a sucker for is a sense of myth in the story. Kushiel’s Legacy is a very good example of this; not only is there a very rich backdrop to the story, filled with different cultures and myths based loosely on ones from Earth, but the story of Phedre and Joscelin has its own mythic quality — these characters are true heroes on the hero’s journey, and their deeds will be talked about in centuries to come.

Other examples of this mythic quality, not limited to books:

  • True Grit (the recent one)
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • The Fifth Sacred Thing
  • Lord of the Rings (though, I will admit, I did not finish reading the books — it’s the films I have a true love for)
  • Harry Potter
  • Green Grass, Running Water (by Thomas King)
  • The Tir Alainn Trilogy by Anne Bishop
  • The Black Jewels Trilogy (same)
  • The Snow Queen, by Joan D. Vinge
  • anything by Ursula K. LeGuin, the First Lady of Fantasy
  • Bellica, by Katje van Loon (why shouldn’t I shamelessly plug my own awesome stories, I ask you)

It’s the sense of myth that truly gets my heart racing, that makes me cry for the characters (yes, including my own), that wraps me up so completely in the story that when it’s over I am bereft for having lost a part of myself.

However, that’s the beauty of myths — once I am done mourning, I can read or watch and experience them again, and allow myself to fall in love many times with the same, heart-rending story.

30 in 30: Day 18 (Wiccans in Space, female-dominated societies, and the family Jewels)

Standard
Cover of "Daughter of the Blood (Black Je...

Cover via Amazon

Favourite Opening Scene to a Book

This is honestly something I haven’t given a lot of thought. Either the opening scene of a book is interesting enough grip me and I read the rest of the book, or it’s not and I don’t. I don’t rank the opening scenes as “favourites”.

A few books’ opening scenes that stand out are Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop, The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk, and an as-of-yet unpublished work the name of which I can’t remember by Kara Smith, an old friend of mine from high school. It was science fiction — Wiccans in space, basically, except way better than that phrase would lead you to believe. I need to find my copy back and reread it — Kara is an excellent storyteller, and the work is unfinished (well, the copy I have is), so it’s really the biggest clit-tease in the world to read the story over and over again. I should try and look up Kara again. Haven’t spoken to her in ages.

I digress. Aside from those opening scenes, I don’t know. Like I said, it either grips me or it doesn’t, and beyond that I really don’t think about it.

30 in 30: Day 06 (in which I quickly get distracted just thinking about a certain Shalador Warlord)

Standard

Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time

My favorite series is The Black Jewels Series (not Dark Jewels, which it is commonly known as because the Pit of Voles had it listed as such, no doubt so they could get around the fact that the author explicitly requested no fanfiction be written at this time — now I see they’re being more brazen about it, bless their little hearts), by Anne Bishop. I’ll read anything she writes, honestly, and the only things of hers I’ve yet to read are The Shadow Queen and Shalador’s Lady. Mainly because of time and money.

My favorite book in the series (so far) is The Invisible Ring. Jared is just totally fucking dreamy; I almost want to jump into the book and jump him.

And yeah, that’s it. Fucking Jared. Goddamn hotness of EPIC PROPORTIONS.

I’ll be in my bunk.