12 Days of Christmas Book Tag

12 Days of Christmas Book Tag

So Christmas is officially on 12 days away. I think I’ve got/bought most of my presents but I still need a few bits. I’m not nearly as concerned as I should be though. I’ll just find something online and hope for the best as always. But the 12 days thing has got me thinking about something that bugs me. It might just be me but I get incredibly irritated when people use the phrase 12 days of Christmas incorrectly. I see so many online sales pre-December 25th called the 12 days of Christmas and it makes me crazy. We all know the 12 days of Christmas starts on the day itself and goes on until 5th January. Stop misappropriating it. Advent is advent. We don’t need another thing that’s only half the length. If it’s just because you like the song then we’ll write a fucking advent song for you. Now, you may be sitting there think “why don’t you just chill out with a mulled wine?” Well, I’d love to but I can’t help it. It’s just not right. Plus, it would mean I didn’t have a convenient link into today’s bookish post. I don’t have anything to review or rant about (other than the my mini rant above) so I’m doing another tag. As it’s that time of year, I’ll do the 12 Days of Christmas tag… even though it’s before December 25th.

On the first day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
A Partridge in a Pear Tree  : The Partridge Stood Alone In The Pear Tree? What is Your Favourite Stand Alone of 2017?
I primarily read stand alone novels these days so, if I’m correct, all of the books I read this year have been stand alones. So picking my favourite of the year will be tough. I guess it is either Lincoln in the Bardo or And Then There Were None. As the Agatha Christie was a reread, I’ll give it to George Saunders’ Man Booker Prize winning novel.
On the second day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Two Turtle Doves : Love Is In The Air, Who Is You OTP?
I don’t really do the OPT and ‘shipping’ thing. I don’t pair characters with other characters but I do pair myself with fictional people all the time. So, in terms of my bookish OTP it has to be Jaime and Brienne from ASOIAF as usual. Yes, I love the idea of Tormund and Brienne having loads of ginger babies but she’s meant to be with Jaime.
On the third day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Three French Hens :  In The Spirit Of Threes, What Is The Best Trilogy Your Have Read?
As I already mentioned, I don’t tend to pick up series or trilogies these days. So, as unoriginal as it may be, I’ll have to say The Lord of the Rings. It’s a fucking classic though and I’ve loved it since I first read it. It took me ages to finish it but I regret nothing.
On the fourth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Four Calling Birds : Since Series Usually Consist of Four or More Books What Is Your Favorite Series?
Urgh, why is everyone forcing fucking series on me? I love a stand alone. What’s wrong with that? Erm but, to go with the spirit of this tag, I guess it has to be ASOIAF. I think George RR Martin is a great (if sometimes inconsistent writer) who has created something wonderful. God knows how he’s ever going to end it but I’m here for the ride.
On the fifth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Five Golden Rings : One Ring To Rule Them All! Who is Your Favorite Villain/Antagonist?
I love a good villain. I’m always interested in a book that takes things from the perspective of someone who is, in most senses, the bad guy. Like Lolita for example. Nabokov manages to present someone who is so heinous seem like a nice guy. Although, if I’m honest, my favourite villain is probably someone more like Sauron. I guess I just like my bad guys to be cartoonishly bad.
On the sixth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Six Geese a Laying : Creation Is A Beautiful Thing! What is Your Favorite World/World-Building?
It’s a definite toss up between Tolkien and George RR. Both of these writers are great at creating rich and full worlds for their stories. I love diving into them.
On the seventh day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Seven Swans a Swimming: Who Needs Seven Swans When All It Takes Is One Good Animal Sidekick To Make A Hero Rock! Who Is Your Favorite Animal Sidekick?
I don’t know really. Maybe Hedwig? I honestly can’t think of the many characters with an animal sidekick right now. Either my memory is going or I’m not reading the right books. No wait… Fawkes. I love that little guy. 
On the eighth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Eight Maids a Milking: Milk Is So 18th Century! Which Book or Series Takes Beverages/Food To A Whole New Level?
This is a really odd question and I don’t think I have an answer. I guess the closest thing I can think of is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Who didn’t read that book as a kid and wish the Wonka factory was real? I guess it helps that I’ve just been flipping through Revolting Recipes as well.
On the ninth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Nine Ladies Dancing : Dancing is Just One Skill of a Lady! Who is Your Favorite Kickass Female Lead?
Brienne of Tarth… although she’s not really a lead per se. Well, she is a chapter POV character so it counts, right? I don’t care anyway. I fucking love her.
On the tenth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Ten Lords a Leaping: Leaping Lords? How About Who Is Your Favorite Leading Lad?
Does lad mean young boy or is it just a random synonym someone’s chucked in? I’m all for alliteration but I feel like a different word would have been better. I don’t know though because, despite being a raging feminist, I tend to read more novels with male protagonists. I guess, as it’s one of my favourite novels, I think Rob from High Fidelity is pretty cool. I mean he’s a bit of a dick but that’s even more reason to love him. I like my men to be flawed and have an encyclopaedic knowledge of popular music.
On the eleventh day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Eleven Pipers Piping: Where Would We Be Without Music? What Is Your Favorite Book or Bookish Thing That Deals With Music? (It can be about music, reference music a lot etc.)
Can I just say Haruki Murakami? I mean the guy used to own a jazz bar and bloody loves jazz. Music is such a huge part of all of his novels that you can’t really ignore it. Take Norwegian Wood, one of my favourites; music is just a central theme to the novel. I love how he weaves everything together in the narrative.
On the twelfth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
12 Drummers Drumming: Drum Roll Please…………………….What Is Your Favorite Read of This Year?
I’ll have to take some time to think about this… meaning check back here soon where I’ll write a separate blog post on this very topic. Mostly because I want an idea for upcoming posts but partly because I need to remind myself of what I read this year.
Top 10 Wen-sday: Top 10 Characters I’d Invite to my Birthday

Top 10 Wen-sday: Top 10 Characters I’d Invite to my Birthday

Just like Ronald Bilius Weasley, I am a March baby. Yes, just as Ron is celebrating his 37th year of his life on this very day, I will be celebrating turning 29 on March 5th. As a younger twin, I’m used to not really giving much of a shit about my birthday. I mean when you’ve spent 29 years sharing congratulations, parties and cakes, you start to feel that the whole thing isn’t really that special. Still, I feel it’s best to honour it in some way so for my monthly top 10 I decided to do a rundown of the fictional characters I’d most like to attend my birthday shindig. Not that it would be a wild affair. Don’t get me wrong, I like to party… but by party, I mean read books.

 Ten: Jay Gatsby (The Great Gatsby)

I know that if Gatsby did show up to my party that he’d end up hiding away and being all mysterious. However, I am willing to overlook that if I can get him to help me organise my bash. Of course, I accept that the whole event would then become a horrible metaphor for excess and superficiality but, hey. we all know there ain’t no party like a Gatsby party. He’s thrown quite a few Jazz Age ragers in his time so it would undoubtedly be a party that would go down in history… and I’m okay with that.

Nine: Rob Fleming (High Fidelity)

Rob is becoming another of those characters who constantly pop up on my top 10s. What can I say? I just bloody love this book. However, my reasoning here is for one thing: music selection. I reckon if I gave Rob the challenge to come up with an unforgettable party playlist then it would be the best thing we’d ever heard. It would be balanced and well put together with a mix of great classics, unknown hits, and cheesy pop songs. Ideal.

Eight: Brienne of Tarth (ASOIAF)

Am I just including Brienne on this list as a force of habit? Who can say? Well, I can. Yes, I think I’m just getting used to adding her to every list I possibly can but, also, she’s a bloody great character. I doubt she’d want to come to my party or, indeed, any party she didn’t have to. However, I still believe, wholeheartedly, that Brienne and I would be besties. We wouldn’t be at the heart of the party but we could escape from everyone else and have real talk. Or I could just repeatedly tell her how much of an inspiration she is.

 Seven: Kim Pine (Scott Pilgrim)

Kim is another one of those people who probably wouldn’t appreciate having to come to my party but she is also a character who I’m sure I’d get on with. We’re both super sarcastic, angry, and basically hate everyone. We’d get on like a house on fire and would throw some serious shade at the other guests.

 Six: Gandalf the Grey (The Lord of the Rings)

Yes, Gandalf is super old and kind of angry when he gets riled up. But, I have one word for you: fireworks. Yep, if Gandalf came to your party it may kick start a chain of events that sees you going on the longest and most dangerous journey of your life BUT he’d also treat you to some amazing pyrotechnics.

Five: Willy Wonka (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

For one thing, Willy Wonka seems like a guy with a dark sense of humour that I’d really love. For another, he’d definitely have to bring me a present of sweets, right? I mean he might bring enough for the whole gang but as long as I’m getting a box of Wonka Bars then I don’t give a shit. Plus, the Oompa-Loompas could very easily get together and organise a full on song and dance number for me, That’s got to be worth it.

Four: Deadpool 

I think I’d be so bold as to say that Deadpool was my favourite movie of 2016. I say that because I really can’t remember all of the films I watched in 2016. I mean Rogue One came close but Deadpool was the result of a long and arduous wait for the comic book character to get his proper on screen adaptation. Deadpool is insane and, whilst I admit he’s a little unruly, I’d love to see what chaos he brought to the party. Provided (film) Colossus or (comic book) Cable turned up with him to keep him in check we’d be fine.

Three: Hagrid (Harry Potter)

Hagrid is the nicest half-giant you could ever hope to meet and he’s a massive softy. He also seems to love birthdays. He turned up to meet Harry with a home-baked cake and it was just the sweetest thing ever.

Two: Tyrion (ASOIAF)

How can I possibly have a party without including the God of Tits and Wine to the guest list? Tyrion is Westeros’ original badboy. He loves a party and he’d be a great drinking companion. Just as my best friend and I have so many times before, we’d drunkenly talk about books and politics all evening. It’d be messy but, boy, would it be worth it.

One: Oliver Wood (Harry Potter)

I have to invite Oliver Wood. I mean he’s the closest thing I have to a book boyfriend. I’ve loved Oliver Wood since I was a child and, thanks to Sean Biggerstaff, I continue to love him to this day. The decision to make film Oliver a Scot did rather cement the idea that he’s my ideal man. Therefore, Oliver Wood is at my birthday looking all cute and Scottish. I’d listen to him talk about Quidditch plays all evening and never once let him know how bored I was.

Belated Top 10 Wen-sday: Top 10 Literary Couples

Belated Top 10 Wen-sday: Top 10 Literary Couples

Valentines Day is coming up and love is in the air. People are obsessed. I’ve been seeing chocolate hearts, soppy cards, and stuffed animals for bloody ages now. I’m getting sick of it but decided I couldn’t really avoid it. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of Instagram challenges, which has been fine but there are times when I really have to think about certain prompts. The most recent one I struggled with was “Favourite Literary Couple”. When it comes to traditional views on literary love I tend to buck the trends. I hate Romeo and Juliet. Heathcliffe and Cathy are a disaster. Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester is a creepy relationship. Gatsby and Daisy are in no way relationship goals. And the less said about The Fault in our Fucking Stars the better. So I struggled to find a literary couple that I actually was rooting for. It was pretty difficult, So what was the next logical step? To force myself to come up with 9 more. Obviously.

Ten: Rob and Laura – High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

I know I come back to High Fidelity so often but it is one of my favourite novels. So sue me. Still, I have to admit that I had to stretch my parameters a little for this one. I mean Rob’s initial relationship with Laura isn’t great and he acts like a complete dick towards her. It’s no wonder she leaves him considering how much he takes her for granted. However, the beauty of the relationship is that Rob is able to learn that Laura really is the ideal woman for him. He overcomes his demons and learns to accept commitment. At the end of the novel, Rob and Laura are ready for a real relationship.

Nine: Westley and Buttercup – The Princess Bride by William Goldman

I have my doubts about this one because it’s too much of a fairytale romance. Still, there can be no denying that the story of Buttercup and the stable boy is lovely. The lengths that Westley goes to in order to rescue his love are just something you can’t ignore. And “as you wish”? Well, I still consider those to be some of the most romantic words ever uttered in fiction. Westley’s love is so selfless. He says I love you by doing what he thinks Buttercup wants. And then, later in the novel, Buttercup reiterates Westley’s sentiments with her own speech. These two are focused on each other solely. It’s hard not to get swept up in the romance of it all.

Eight: Mr Hoppy and Mrs Silver – Esiotrot by Roald Dahl

Esiotrot probably isn’t a very well known Dahl story but it is one I’m kind of obsessed with. When I was younger I loved the mutliple tortoises because I was a kid. Now, I’m obsessed with the depth of Mr Hoppy’s love for his neighbour. He secretly buys loads of different sized tortoises on order to make her happy. It’s an incredibly weird love story but it’s an utterly adorable one. Who needs hearts and flowers when you’ve got magically a growing pet?

 Seven: Eowyn and Faramir – The Lord of the Rings by George RR Tolkien

When most people think of Lord of the Rings they’ll probably think of Aragorn and Arwen as the best love story. However, I’ve never been a fan of book Arwen. She’s weak, feeble and basically non-existent. The only thing we really ever learn about her is that she’s pretty. So it’s difficult to really believe or care about the depth of their love. However, Eowyn is a completely different story. Eowyn is an independent and strong woman who manages to help defeat the fucking Witch King. She’s amazing. So it’s great to see her settle down with a man who really deserves and appreciates her. The brief moments we see of them together are just glorious. A well-deserved happy ending for the two of them.

 Six: Khal Drogo and Daenerys – ASOIAF by George RR Martin

Okay, so this couple get off to a rapey start. I get it. I’m not trying to suggest that they’re perfect. However, Drogo and Dany quickly became a power couple who truly loved each other. When Dany started to take control of her relationship and become her own version of a Khaleesie this pair became almost unstoppable. She loved him and he adored her. It was perfect. He was going to give her the Iron Throne and she became the fearless and loving leader he needed her to be. Drogo’s death was definitely one of the most heartbreaking thing George RR Martin has ever done. This couple would have been the greatest leaders that Westeros had ever seen.

Five: Beatrice and Benedick – Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing is my favourite Shakespeare play. I’ve probably mentioned that numerous times. It’s mainly because Beatrice is the only Shakespearean leading lady that I can actually stand. She’s clever, powerful, and doesn’t give a shit about finding true love. Until her friends and family convince her otherwise. Yes, she and Benedick bicker but that’s all part of the fun. They have a real fiery passion and, when they come to realise that they actually love each other, then they are a perfect match. That passion and fire is turned on each other and they make a loving couple. It’s the classic Freudian thing of being mean to those you love most but it’s still a great story. These two are equals.

Four: Don and Rosie – The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I wasn’t sure about including these two on my list. I mean this book was adorable and everything but I felt it was a little too twee in relation to Don’s autistic traits. It seemed to be romanticising the condition and making the whole thing seem a bit too much like a fairy tale. However, there is something fantastic about seeing this relationship come about on the page. From their first meeting when Don decides that Rosie isn’t a viable candidate for ‘the Wife Project’ to his eventual realisation that she’s the only viable candidate.

Three: Remus and Tonks – Harry Potter by JK Rowling

Remus and Tonks got short shrift in the Harry Potter films. Their relationship is glossed over so much that it barely registers. I mean their son is mentioned once and he was supposed to be the mirror for Harry himself. It’s a disgrace. Still, in the books, their romance is a subplot that hangs around from Order of the Phoenix onwards. They have their problems at the start but eventually come to really care for each other. In the end, Lupin wants to keep Tonks safe but she doesn’t want him going in to battle without her. Their death is tragic but, in a sordid way, kind of romantic. They fight and die together. They’re two very good people who lay down their lives so their son can have a better life. That’s not just relationship goals; it’s parenting goals.

Two: Ned and Catelyn – ASOIAF by George RR Martin 

 When the Instagram challenge of “best fictional couple” came up recently these two were my first thought. I know Cat was supposed to marry Ned’s elder brother Brandon but, after he died, the pair managed to make the best of a bad situation. They were loving parents to their 5 children and they really cared for each other. Cat loved Ned’s quiet, stately, and moral ways and Ned loved her strength and determination. She even allowed Ned to bring his, supposed, bastard child into their family home and allowed him to be raised alongside her children. Yes, she had a certain amount of resentment towards Jon but you’ve got to give her props for not just chucking him out or having him killed or something. She clearly loved him enough to give him his way. It’s just a shame that we only see them together for such a short time in the books. If only Ned had gone back to Winterfell before confronting Cersei. The trusting old fool. They also happen to the best couple in the whole series. The only loving and stable relationship in all of Westeros.

One: Molly and Arthur – Harry Potter by JK Rowling

I can’t believe I forgot about these two when I did my post. I mean if there was one marriage in the whole of literary history that screams relationship goals then it’s this one. Molly and Arthur are not only fantastic on their own but together they have such a loving and happy relationship. It’s not a mad or crazy passion but it’s comfortable and real. They have a normal and loving marriage where they argue and disagree but, ultimately, they care for each other and their children. I think literature is too often littered with unrealistic romantic expectations. Everything is so hyperbolic and extreme. People falling in love in difficult circumstances and overcoming the odds to be together. It’s not for me. I just want people who are happy with each other. Where the relationships are easy and safe. They can rely on each other and things work with a little effort. Molly and Arthur are the most realistic representation of love that I’ve possibly ever read… if you ignore the magic and shit.

Top 5 Literary Husbands

Top 5 Literary Husbands

So I had every intention of writing a great and meaningful post for this week. However, my older sister royally fucked that up by getting engaged yesterday. I mean I’m happy and everything but I had to spend valuable writing time drinking champagne instead. So now it’s half 11 on Monday night and I’ve only just started writing something. It’s fucking ridiculous. I’m pretty much back to square one. That can only mean one thing: it’s time for a lazy blog post. With marriage now on my radar, I’ve decided it’s time to compile my top 5 list of male literary characters I’d be okay to settle down with. God knows it’s about time I give this some thought. Pretty much every YA-focused book vlogger I’ve ever watched seems to be editing this list on a weekly, if not daily, basis. To be fair, they’re lists mostly contain awful YA pretty boys I’ve never heard of or the awful men who wear breeches in classic novels. When will people learn, Mr Rochester and Heathcliffe are fucking creeps: not the kind of people you should aspire to marry. Anyway, just as some people don’t feel comfortable until they have their zombie apocalypse plan in place (yawn), I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep until I sort this fucking list out. So without further ado…

Number 5: Charlie Weasley (Harry Potter)
Okay, Charlie may not be the most obvious Weasley to chose as your future spouse because we really don’t know much about him. He is the family member we learn least about and only really meet once. However, he works with fucking dragons. Anyone who can honestly say they’d prefer to marry the guy who runs a joke shop or the one who has a ponytail and works in a bank really hasn’t thought it through. Fucking. Dragons. Charlie would be the most exciting husband in the wizarding world.

Number 4: Jorah Mormont (A Song of Ice and Fire)
I have to be honest and say, this is a bit of a cheat. I probably wouldn’t actually go near the Jorah Mormont that graces the pages of George RR Martin’s novels. He’s kind of old, hairy and is something of a creep himself. Really not the greatest catch. Plus, according to Dany, he’s nothing too special to look at. So why does he get pride of place on my list? Iain fucking Glenn. Despite being nearly twice my age, the man’s a babe.

Number 3: Rob Felming (High Fidelity)
Now I’m sure I’ve mentioned before just how much I love High Fidelity. I really do: it’s a fucking great read. Rob isn’t the greatest of characters for most of the narrative but he’s a changed man by the end. That’s the Rob I’d marry. The man who has realised how messed up he was and was willing to change. After all, without the fairly selfish beginnings, Rob has a lot of things going for him. He owns a record shop, which would be awesome, and would constantly make you interesting mix-tapes to listen to. I’m stuck in a rut in terms of my music tastes so I need all the help I can get.

Number 2: Boromir (The Lord of the Rings)
I know Aragorn would be everyone’s ideal choice but he’s a bit too madly in love for my liking. Boromir gets pretty short shrift because of that whole ‘trying to steal the ring of power and save Gondor’ thing. However, he’s actually a pretty great guy if you can just get over that. He’s brave, one of the greatest warriors Gondor has ever seen and he really fucking cares about his people. That’s why the ring could seduce him so easily. Plus, he made up for it in the end by saving Merry and Pippin. Plus, dat Sean Bean doe.

Number 1: Oliver Wood (Harry Potter)
Another slight cheat here really. Ever since I first watched the first Harry Potter film I was obsessed with Oliver Wood. Sean Biggerstaff was one of the most beautiful people my 13 year old self had ever seen. I loved him and, embarassingly, I used to email pictures of him to one of my schoolfriends to prove how gorgeous he was. So fucking cringey: I was super Tumblr before it even existed. Anyway, thinking about it now though he’s probably make a good choice. He has the potential to become a Quidditch star so would have a pretty steady income. He’s driven, athletic and tenacious. Having returned to fight in the Battle of Hogwarts you know he’s as brave as any Gryffindor. He’s also Scottish according to the films, which I find never really hurts.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

Watching The Hobbit trilogy has felt a bit like Christmas dinner. The first course is absolutely delicious and you come away satisfied and hungry for more. By the time the second one gets under way, you realise you’re getting fuller and could probably made do with some smaller portions. Then comes the dreaded final course. After the first two you’ve had so much fucking food you might burst but then someone brings out the Christmas pudding. You know you don’t need it but you eat your portion anyway and spend the rest of the day, uncomfortably full, half regretting you’re decision. It’s all lovely in itself but together it’s just too much.

Since the release of the first Hobbit film in 2012 I have defended Peter Jackson’s decision to drag the short children’s novel out to make three films. I argued that this relaxed and time consuming process worked well with the style Tolkein played up in his LOTR trilogy. However, upon finally sitting down to watch the final instalment at the beginning of January, I suddenly found myself wavering. Having lived with the Smaug-shaped cliffhanger for 12 months I was excited to finally see the great dragon wreak some havoc. What I got for my year long wait was 10 minutes of confusing CGI smashing and a weird, human bow and arrow. Yes, for all that waiting, Jackson only goes and kills Smaug off even quicker than you can finish your popcorn. What was the fucking point?
There is a lot to enjoy about The Battle of the Five Armiesbut I couldn’t help finding it all a bit unnecessary. I admit that I sat there in a bit of a strop because it had become painfully clear that Jackson was stretching this as thin as possible. So little happens in this film and what does happen is just not interesting enough to cover up that fact. There aren’t as many fun, geeky references for die-hard fans to pick up here and Bilbo becomes much less prevalent in all the chaos. The titular Hobbit who has so far guided us on this journey is thrown into the background as other, less interesting characters, take centre stage.
Having finally ended their journey and watching some other schmuck deal with their annoying dragon, the dwarves have everything they’ve ever wanted. Now they just have to keep hold of it. As it turns out, a fucking massive, unguarded pile of gold and jewels is something everybody is willing to kill for. Having spent the last two films building up the bravery of this ragtag band of brothers, The Five Armies shows them hiding from much of the conflict they have helped create. It’s fucking inspiring stuff.
Meanwhile, a weakened Gandalf is still trapped in Orc-ville desperately waiting to tie-up any remaining lose ends, no matter how unnecessary, with Jackson’s previous trilogy. Now the Necromancer has been unmasked, it’ll take some of the most powerful actors from LOTRto draw him back into that dark corner of Middle Earth. In scenes never before associated with The Hobbit, Galadriel, Saruman and Elrond help him escape by battling the dark forces only for Gandalf can go and situate himself in the middle of another fight he isn’t ready for.
There are obviously several stand-out moments that are incredibly exciting: I’m mainly thinking of the time when, thanks to a little outside help, the 92 year old Christopher Lee kicks orc ass. Part of me feels that that alone makes the film worth it. There are several shining lights within the cast; notably Luke Evans and Evangeline Lily as The Bard and the Jackson original, Tauriel. These two still manage to bring a refreshing and emotional performance in the midst of the tired appearances from Jackson regulars and the floundering of great actors lost in a CGI world.
For someone who created some excellent battle scenes in both The Two Towers and The Return of the King, Jackson has a great deal of difficulty keeping track of his five armies. The main part of this film I taken from such a small section of the book that there was a great deal of potential for greatness. Instead of the well choreographed and exciting battles we’re used to seeing, the Battle of the Five Armies is a complete clusterfuck of fantasy creatures fighting over some gold, complete with Billy Connolly on a boar.
Let’s be honest though, this battle was never really going to work, was it? After all, a massive, confusing battle over evil is one thing but a massive, confusing battle over money is just… confusing. I sat through the hour or so of fighting in this film wondering one thing: why should we care? The various races of Middle Earth coming together to fight for power and wealth? It’s fucking Victorian!
By this point there are just too many characters to keep track of and too many campaigns to follow. Everyone, Jackson included, just gets lost in the fray. For something that doesn’t take up much room in the book, the battle of the five armies truly outgrows its cinematic surroundings and becomes as Falstaffian as a battle is ever likely to get. It’s a shame that such brilliant actors and characters aren’t given enough time to develop. The director really struck gold getting Richard Armitage on board as Thorin but he has never really let the actor stand out. This final instalment was the perfect chance for him to shine but he was relegated to hamming it up as the fucking mad dwarf king. This whole “dragon sickness” plot is pushed a little too close to soap opera territory.
The Battle of the Five Armies isn’t a mitigating disaster but neither is it the film we hoped it would be. Of course, you will read plenty on the internet about the amount of the plot that is either a figment of Jackon’s imagination or out-of sync with Tolkein’s timeline. By this point, that’s just to be expected I’m afraid. It was always going to be a fucking stretch and you’re fighting a losing battle if you do anything but accept things for the way they are. Yes, Thraduil mentions the Ranger Strider despite the fact that Aragorn would only have been a boy at this point. Calm the fuck down. It’s Jackson’s lead up to The Fellowship of the Ring, he had to get a mention of the eventual King in there somewhere. This trilogy is Jackson’s gateway drug to the harder stuff on offer in LOTR. If you must get angry, this is the internet after all, then get angry about how fucking stupid it is to signpost the audience’s way into a story they’ve all seen more times than they can remember. It’s like that moment in Revenge of the Sith when Lucas emphasises the names of Padme’s children as if anyone watching is still fucking surprised.
Like the Star Wars prequels themselves, The Battle of the Five Armiesbecomes a bit of a showcase for all of Jackson’s worst qualities. The battle scenes drag on for fucking years, stories are resolved in whichever way allowed the writers to finish quickest, the romance is completely overblown, and the signposting to his later story is just fucking laughable at this point. Like Revenge of the Sithis for the Star Wars saga, The Five Armies is both the best of the LOTR‘prequels’ and the stupidest. It is as technically astounding as it should be but none of this matters when you’re just watching Jackson continually flogging a dead horse before your very eyes.

I guess I didn’t hate it but it was the first time during these trilogies that I was disappointed with the director’s approach. Non-stop action and tireless entertainment are one thing but I value necessity and validity of existence above all else. Plus, I guess I just find it fucking hard to swallow the “money is evil” message when it comes from the mouth of a man who stretched out a fairly short children’s book into a 9+ hour film going experience.  
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

On one of my random lunchtime bookshop trips I found this beauty on sale for half price and decided to pick up a copy. I thought I’d heard about it from someone on YouTube but, after some research, I’m pretty sure that I was mistaking it for another book. Nevertheless, I found myself at the starting point of a few uninspiring novels and, after being excited by the writing in the final sentence of the first page, I started my journey.

Half a King is fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie’s first foray in the ever growing world of Young Adult Fantasy. It is the first in the Shattered Sea trilogy and Abercrombie introduces us to Yarvi, Prince of Gettland, who, thanks to a disability since birth, has remained an outsider in a kingdom that values strength over all else. Just as Yarvi is on the cusp of giving up his right to the throne he is informed that both his father and elder brother have been killed, forcing him to take the Black Throne. Before Yarvi is able to get his head around his new position he finds himself betrayed; his chair stolen from under him whilst he is sold into slavery. What follows is his bull-headed quest for freedom and ultimate revenge.
Abercrombie, like many fantasy authors, is clearly trying to build on some of George RR Martin’s success and plays the Tyrion Lannister card with his hero Yarvi. Unable to rely on the physical prowess that both his father and brother have in spades, the young Prince has spent years moulding his mind and training for the Ministry. Yarvi is an interesting character and his growth along his journey is certainly something worth following. He has something of an everyman quality about him and is somebody that readers would definitely sympathise and identify with.
However, I have to question Abercrombie’s inclusion of the disability. For the most part it only figures as a way for the writer to further the plot and create the correct environment for the narrative to work. Throughout his journey Yarvi becomes a stronger and more self-confident leader but there is never any real acceptance of his physical impairment. There is a slight hint that he becomes less bothered by other people’s response to it but he still lets it control his life. I’d much rather there had been a moment of utter acceptance where, like Tyrion Lannister advises in Game of Thrones, Yarvi is able to “wear it like armour”. Instead it becomes nothing more than a dull and unnecessary literary device from a writer unwilling to look deeper to give his main character flaws.
This is a problem I see throughout Half a King: it just doesn’t go far enough. There is very little character development except in the group Yarvi spends the majority of his time. The novel is narrated from Yarvi’s point of view so the only understandings we have of people are the often childish insights he offers us. We learn some of their history but hear nothing of their drive or dreams beyond what they tell Yarvi, which, in order to move the plot forward, is very little. None of these characters really exist in their own right and are only included to move Yarvi’s story forward instead of participate. The desire to keep the plot moving forward has led Abercrombie to ignore any of the pesky but desirable exposition and deeper exploration of the people he is presenting to us.
Now I realise that in terms of good fantasy we have been spoiled by the like of Tolkien and George RR because of their unfailing conviction to the world they create. I mean these writers both immersed themselves, their characters and, most importantly, their readers in a rich and ancient world with its own languages, customs and complicated geography. Abercrombie takes very little time within the novel to develop the ideas of the world he has created. We get a sense of the Viking-like people and their focus on war but, other than the brief stops Yarvi’s ship makes when he is enslaved, we don’t get to see much of the wider world. We get references to the history thanks to the elf-ruins the group come across but, as with so many parts of the story, these are forgotten about as quickly as they are introduced. I can only hope that Abercrombie is opening up the world in his future novels because without any amount of depth there is little to keep the reader engrossed in this setting.
Now I realise this all sounds very negative but I did find myself wanting to finish this book. The reason that so many of these areas are underdeveloped is because Abercrombie is so focused on ensuring that the plot is continually moving forward. I guess that is my one criticism of both Tolkien and George RR: the pair is known to keep their heroes from reaching their destination with whatever distractions that they could find. Half a King is fast-paced and always moving towards its ultimate goal with the same tenacity and blind-sightedness of its main character. It is a positive that means the novel is an easy read that keeps the reader involved.
Abercrombie has a gift for description and some of his imagery is beautiful.  It is also the first time I have experienced such decent action sequences in a written work. As much as I enjoyed the ASOIAFseries so far I have to say that Martin’s skill doesn’t exactly lie in his fight sequences or battles. Half a King doesn’t include a great number of heavy action sequences but those that do arise are handled pretty deftly by the writer. They are drawn with care and attention and are planned out to ensure a lack of confusion for the reader.
Ultimately, Half a King is a good read if a little unadventurous. The novel was just never going to live up to the hype surrounding Abercrombie’s first YA novel. Despite the excellent writing on display, there are obvious flaws. It is annoyingly simplistic, perhaps a consequence of the different audience. I think for most of my reading I imagined Yarvi as a much younger child than he was meant to be because his actions and thoughts seem so childish. If it weren’t for the moments of violence I would have genuinely believed I was reading a book meant for pre-teens. Even the story is less complicated than I think the audience deserved and the so-called ‘surprising’ plot-twist became obvious about half-way into the novel.
Of course this could all just the curse of the first in a series. Without a doubt this is a solid foundation for Abercrombie’s future novels and there are several plot points that were hinted at that could create some exciting work. The slow introduction of Christianity above the multiple ancient Gods is something that was occasionally hinted at so I’m hoping Abercrombie has a plan for this development later. However, there are certain things that he would need to work on whilst continuing. I can only hope that there is more depth to the two further novels of the Shattered Sea series.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

The Hobbit came out last year amid great despair that it wasn’t a fitting adaptation of Tolkien’s loved children’s fantasy. As you may recall, I loved it and thought the real-time Dwarf dinner would have been exactly how Tolkien would have envisioned a film version of his simple tale. I was filled with excitement for the second instalment as soon as I stepped out of the cinema that first time but, thanks to the pressures of Christmas and a shortage of staff at work, I was left to wait until last week to view it. With the state of mind I was in, Peter Jackson would have had to do something horrific for me not to be even slightly impressed. Particularly when one of my many great loves, Benedict Cumberbatch, was the sexy voice of Smaug the dragon.

Unlike the first film, which many strange people argued was too sedate and slow, the second starts off at breakneck speed. Well after a brief flashback to Gandal (Ian McKellen) and Thorin’s (Richard Armitage) first meeting. Then it jumps right back into the middle of the action where the thirteen dwarves and their two companions are still on the run from the bloodthirsty Orcs on their tale. What follows is a fraught 100 minute long escape from this continued enemy and several new foes, including giant spiders, kick-ass elves and fishy townspeople. It is a relentless race to a seemingly unreachable mountain that never stops throwing menace into the equation.
Jackson’s decision to turn the simple quest into something more exciting with this additional chase still drags down the plot but, once again, allows for some exciting action sequences. As unnecessary as this threat may be, it does allow for Desolation of Smaug’s most outstanding scene: a high-speed, head-spinning river barrel escape. The camera places the audience in the raging waters as Orcs descend upon the unprepared party. It’s the kind of sequence that wouldn’t look out of place in the Lego video game of the film and is as exciting, humorous and well choreographed as we’ve come to expect from Jackson’s Middle Earth.
Undoubtedly though, the biggest moment comes once we are already about 1 hour and 50 minutes into the film in an annoying attempt to keep the audience on tenterhooks. Bilbo takes his first shaky steps into Erebor and shrinks in the middle of a huge pile of gold and jewels. Although, you can’t help but realise that there is one thing missing: we came here looking for a dragon and we’ve been waiting for nearly 5 hours so it needed to be spectacular. Smaug is a revelation of CGI: helped immensely by Benedict Cumberbatch’s spot-on voice and motion-capture performance. Thanks to the same process that brought Gollum to life in a disgusting and creepy manner, we see the Sherlock star’s menacing grin in the face of the monstrous creature. It’s mesmerising. You will most certainly watch on in wonder as he emerges from a pile of coins and slinks around his lonely mountain kingdom with a bellyful of fire ready to be unleashed at any moment.
The face-off scene is no less disappointing and very nearly lives-up to the Hobbit’s previous memorable tête-à-tête with the wretched Gollum. The encounter has everything it needed: humour, tension and genuine threat. After attempting to steal back Thorin’s prized Arkenstone, Bilbo the thief is discovered by the deadly dragon and must appeal to his vanity to save his life. It is a scene that relies on words and cunning and is something that stands out in this otherwise hectic film. However, this reserved but brilliant exchange must inevitably give way to another over-the-top action sequence in which Bilbo and his friends come up with the most complicated escape plan in the history. It is once again a joy to watch but I can’t help wishing things had been a little subtler in terms of moving the plot forwards.
Of course whatever you might think of the narrative on show, Peter Jackson and his team have created another masterpiece. The land of Middle Earth continues to be imagined with mind-blowing detail and care. Thankfully, this instalment offers Jackson and co. the chance to create as yet unseen landscapes instead of just reintroducing the audience to Bag End and Rivendell and it makes all the difference. With the hazy forest of Mirkwood, Thranduil’s woodland kingdom and the vast, glassy lake on which Esgaroth lies, there is a never-ending ocular feast for the audience. Even the already seen Dol Guldur gets a sinister make-over in this second instalment as Jackson highlights the growing darkness that is slowly and silently taking over Middle Earth.
Dol Guldur is the setting for another stand-out sequence and it is one that both delighted and left me in a bit of a quandary. Whilst memorable in its own right, the big moment when Gandalf has his first face-to-face with the illusive Necromancer is also the moment when I really began to agree with the critics who believed Jackson was dragging this out a bit. There is a lot of impressive action and visuals but Sauron still looks a bit too much like the smoke monster from Lost to be really terrifying. Plus, we already know who he is and how the story ends so the dramatic tension of this reveal is weakened.  For the first time I found myself wondering if Jackson had gone too far making this new film an out and out prequel to his incredibly popular trilogy.
Even the comic and joyful tone of the original story is lost thanks to the increasingly sinister tone that is overtaking everything. The Desolation of Smaug is a truly dark film. I lost count of the number of times someone was decapitated or tortured. Now as a stand-alone Peter Jackson film this isn’t a bad thing: after all nobody quite manages to blend dark forces with comic moments and emotional touches in the way that PJ does. However, as an adaptation of The Hobbit it is starting to wear a little thin. Admittedly, Tolkien thought about rewriting his lovely children’s tale to give it a tone more in keeping with the later trilogy but he continually changed his mind. The Lord of the Rings is shrouded under the dark cloud of Sauron whilst The Hobbit is a much lighter and comic tale because that threat doesn’t exist yet. There are some brief glimpses of comedy within the narrative where Martin Freeman gets the chance to show us the kind of character Bilbo could have been. He was born to play younger Bilbo but he simply isn’t being given enough to do. His comic, dramatic and emotional potential is lost in favour of the Dwarf’s greedy quest. Aside from the Smaug face off and a few brief moments with the ring, Bilbo is fast becoming a bit part in his own life story.
Lack of character development is still a problem within the Dwarf party as a whole. Aside from Thorin, there are only a handful that have been properly introduced and only Kili (the pretty one) who is given any real material to work with. This is fine until the party splits in two with Thorin, Bilbo et al. going one way and Killi, Filli, Balfor and the other one staying in Laketown. I have no major issue with this split but, keeping most of your recognisable Dwarfs away from the Misty Mountain did give the impression that the great party that had set out from Bag End had suddenly shrunk down to two Dwarves and a Hobbit. Something that is most disconcerting when loads of them kept popping up in Erebor.
However, there are some more glimmers of hope within the new cast members. Most notably being the elves of Mirkwood. Many die-hard Tolkien fans may object to the return of Orlando Bloom’s Legolas (and I admit I was in two minds about it) but there can be no denying that this is one elf who is too fucking awesome to ignore. He brings some much needed action and general kick-assery to this sequel. Plus, he has
a new companion in the feminine form of Tauriel: a Peter Jackson original character who adds a much needed strong female presence to the proceedings as well as a strange flirtation with Kili. Again, I’m not sure how I feel about this dwarf-elf-elf love-triangle but it wasn’t laid on as thickly as I initially feared. I’ll have to wait and see how it proceeds next time before I decide whether it holds a significant place in the narrative or is simply a chance to allude to the Arwen/Aaragorn/Eowyn romance of the previous films.

The two brightest stars to come out of The Desolation of Smaug (after Dragon breath himself) are Legolas’s father Thranduil (Lee Pace) and Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans). Thranduil is not your typical Elven king. Everything he says is dripping with potential threat and he constantly looks ready to chop your head off if you say the wrong thing. Lee Pace plays the role perfectly and any time that Thranduil is on screen (not nearly enough if you ask me) he commands your attention. I can’t wait for him to participate in the Battle of the Five Armies. He’ll kick goblin butt. As could Bard who, despite a fairly low-key introduction for him and his foreboding prophecies, will have a great part to play next time around. Luke Evans plays the hero in waiting with all the grim-face Welshness we could have hoped. His inevitable return is certainly something to look forward to.
So to conclude this unstructured and befuddled review I will say this: what Peter Jackson has given us with The Desolation of Smaug is a bloody good prequel to LOTR but a fairly annoying adaptation of The Hobbit. It is a great action adventure with some amazingly memorable sequences and settings. However, it is undeniably bloated and heavy-handed. This film deals with only a handful of chapters and the stretch is beginning to show. Just how many times can the group be captured before escaping in order to get captured again? In some ways it is better than the first (which I still really like) but in others it is disappointing. Sadly, there are a lot of people out there who vehemently disagree with Jackson’s approach with these films and will heap criticism onto a much-loved and talented filmmaker because his vision differs with theirs. I can’t place myself in this camp because, whatever else you think, this has all the trappings of a good Peter Jackson film. My suggestion is take a step back from the book that may or may not have shaped your childhood and just go with it… then go home and reread the book that may or may not have shaped your childhood. 
The Hobbit (2012)

The Hobbit (2012)

(I found it hard to try and maintain an objective view whilst writing this as I openly admit to falling in love with this film (is that possible? Hell if people in Japan can marry video game characters I can love a film) from the opening sequence. Apologies for any gushing praise that may infiltrate this piece… although not really because, as we all know, “love means never having to say you’re sorry”.)

I made a conscious decision to avoid reading any reviews for Peter Jackson’s latest Tolkien adaptation until I had seen it. I finally got the chance to see it today. I left the cinema this afternoon feeling all warm and happy inside and so could finally indulge my passion for criticism. Needless to say, my fuzzy feelings quickly disappeared and I found myself despairing at my fellow man. There’s so much hatred for this film out there that I’m starting to believe a load of film writers were actually shown a fake, shit version starring the cast of Hollyoakswearing rubber facemasks. To those criticising the decision to make three films out of the book and declaring it “not very Tolkien” I only have one answer: Tolkien was one of the most sedate writers I can think of and it’s the very reason that I love him. It took me several attempts before I actually managed to get through the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy but by the time I did I adored his lush descriptive passages and constant distractions from the plot. It sort of felt like listening to an elderly relative recount a tale from their past and having to make your way through a multitude of tangents before you reach the climax. If you ask me, Tolkien would have been a fan of this three movies thing and, you know what, had he made them he’d probably have dragged it out even longer.

I haven’t read The Hobbit for a good few years (thanks to spending the last few being forced to read a wide variety of pretentious shit before I was allowed to graduate) but I, like many of you out there, am aware that it begins with the immortal words “in a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit”. Peter Jackson made the decision to start in a different way and include some interesting context to the plight of the dwarves that will form such a crucial part of the story (taken from a book published posthumously). This is one of the many things that have outraged a great number of filmy people. How dare Jackson try and give his audience more information relating to the next 9 hours of plot?! The much loved line is included in the film eventually, which I feel is the most important thing, and I have to say that the sequence documenting the fall of the dwarf kingdom of Erebor was a magnificent CGI spectacle.
The action then moves to more familiar territory showing us a brief glimpse of Bag End before the birthday party that kicked off the events of Fellowship. I actually quite liked the scenes with Frodo. I admit it didn’t really need to be there but creating that direct link between the old and the new rounded things off nicely. It’s a useful point for stupid people who may get confused by the similarities between the two sets of films. We kick into action once Bilbo starts to document the adventure that shaped his life: the moment his uncomplicated life is upset after the wizard Gandalf the Grey turns up on his doorstep offering adventure and glory. There was never any doubt that Ian McKellen would be anything other than brilliant when he donned Gandalf’s hat and cloak once more. For his part, McKellen clearly loves the chance to revisit his old friend and explore some his relationship with several familiar characters. He stands out, not just in size, but, thanks to his fun yet stately presence and his knowing smiles and thoughtful facial expressions, manages to capture your attention even in the most dramatic of moments.
Gandalf fills Bilbo’s life and his small home with a ragtag group of Dwarves lead by the gruff warrior Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). The greatest thing about the dwarves is the superb and spot-on casting. Each one of them is played to perfection. Armitage, in particular, is amazing in the role of the emotionally damaged and desperate for revenge dwarf king. I came out of this film without any doubt that Thorin Oakenshield is not only the sexiest of the dwarves but probably also the coolest. As the party boasts a total of 13 of these great warriors it means that many of them fail to get enough of an introduction. The only ones that are given the chance to stand out from the crowd are Ken Stott as the world-weary but loyal Balin; James Nesbitt, looking cooler (and more like Genghis Khan) than he ever has, as the lovable Bofour; and Fili and Kili played by Dean O’Gorman and the beautiful Aidan Turner.

Another popular criticism is that the scenes of the dwarves descending on Bag End go on for too long but, again, I didn’t feel that the film was dragging at this point. I thoroughly enjoyed the initial interactions between Bilbo and the joyful group of bearded men. The scenes where he frets over his crockery as the rabble show off the kind of skills that could easily see them given their own circus act were immensely enjoyable and I was a little disappointed that we got to the nitty-gritty quite so quickly. In an ideal world Fili and Kili would have continued to play keepy-uppy with Bilbo’s plates for at least an hour before anyone could even mention Smaug.

But move on the story does and the party quickly set off on their journey. A journey that places us deep into well-known and unfamiliar parts of Middle Earth so we can once again be treated to the stunning New Zealand landscapes. To be honest, this film was great simply because we were back in that world. Watching a small group of heroes make their way through rocks and caves and over mountains is undeniably compelling thanks to the skill of the people involved. Peter Jackson and his team certainly know how to use what they are given and create an enthrallingly beautiful film. I could have wept at the sight of Rivendell alone.
And we see a variety of familiar faces on our journey with Elrond, Galadriel, Saruman and Gollum all returning for another go. They all fit back into their characters with ease (especially Cate Blanchett who is always elegant and captivating when she is bathed in light as the Lady of Lorien) and it’s nice to see a happier Elrond and an only slightly suspect Saruman. Of course, the stand-out of our old chums is Gollum. Andy Serkis only gets better when it comes to motion-capture and his sadly short scene with Bilbo is undoubtedly the greatest sequence in the entire 170 minutes running time. The Riddles in the Dark encounter is a joy to watch as Serkis owns the role of the disgusting but desolate creature. He has become such a master of mo-cap that nowadays I can’t really take him seriously if I watch him in a film and can recognise his face. There is nothing better than to see him crawl and creep around the screen; it is a thrilling and joyous thing to behold and I wish he could have stayed longer.
This scene is followed by a moment of even greater intensity when an invisible Bilbo stands over Gollum with his sword (a new and shiny Sting) ready to strike. Jackson focuses on the face of each creature and it is here we realise this is not the Martin Freeman we are used to. This is Martin Freeman, showing us an even greater skill and a deep understanding of this key figure. I went into this film worrying that he wouldn’t be able to carry the whole thing or pull of such a great character. Boy did he prove me wrong. Freeman is the perfect person to bring the younger Bilbo to life: he breezes through Middle Earth effortlessly on a wave of understated charm as if he were born for the role. Bilbo is one of this series’ most interesting characters. He is an everyman (neither a hero nor a warrior) who finds an inner strength and quick-wittedness that he never knew he had. Freeman doesn’t make the mistake of making light of the situation and Bilbo takes to his adventure with utter conviction. In one of the most powerful scenes of the film he finally accepts his role after he realises the reason he must endure such hardships: the hobbit who dreams of returning to his home must first help these lost dwarves reclaim theirs. Anybody not close to tears at this concept is a heartless pig. Freeman’s hobbit is the heart of the film and I can’t imagine an audience not welcoming him into their own.
Now I’ve already discussed this film at great length and I could go on – talking about High Frame Rates, Orcs, slightly disappointing CGI (in relation to both Azog and the Great Goblin) and Radagast the Brown and his racing rabbits. I am also intensely aware that I shouldn’t so I won’t. I’ll just offer a vague summing up of events. I’m not foolish enough to suggest that The Hobbit is the greatest film of all time but it does not deserve the reception it has received. It is a triumph of casting, filmmaking and stunning visuals. There are nods to the LOTR that every die-hard fan will enjoy and enough links to Tolkien’s own style to keep it feeling true to his writing. The dramatic battle sequences may not quite live up to those seen in The Two Towers and Return of the King but there are some pretty good moments of exciting action to keep us entertained. Who will forget the daring escape from the goblin hoard and the showdown with the three trolls? Lest we forget, we are dealing with a different time. We aren’t yet in dark, depressing Middle Earth but the sunnier and happier days before the rise of Sauron the Deceiver. We do not have a fixed figure of evil hanging over the the action. There are foes along the way but, without a major dark force to go up against, there is little need for great armies facing off against each other.
Getting to the bare bones of the matter, this film is fun and full of energy and purpose. Despite being just short of three hours long I never found my mind wandering. In fact there was never a moment’s peace where I could collect my thoughts enough to let it wander. I think the criticism of the length of this film says a hell of a lot more about the shorter attention span of modern audiences than it does about Jackon’s desperation to drag out the plot to make more money. (I’m not naive enough to think that wasn’t a major factor though.) Yes the adaptation has grown beyond its original source but so what? It’s not as though it’s overly complicated and there is never the sense that anything has suffered in order to make room for the extra material. Jackson added what he thought would make for a more complete experience for his audience. And if you want any more proof that it doesn’t really matter, take another look at this significant quotation from our very own Gandalf the Grey: “All good stories deserve embellishment”.