12 Days of Christmas Book Tag

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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

birthday, books, George RR Martin, Harry Potter, J K Rowling, lord of the rings, Roald Dahl, Tolkien, Top 10

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

books, couples, George RR Martin, Harry Potter, J K Rowling, lord of the rings, love, much ado about nothing, romance, Shakespeare, Tolkien

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

books, George RR Martin, Harry Potter, list, LOTR, marriage, romance, Tolkien

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)

Benedict Cumberbatch, CGI, dragon, fantasy, Luke Evans, meh, Middle Earth, Peter Jackson, review, Tolkien
600x600bb_10__08100.1578192190Watching 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 have 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.

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

books, fantasy, George RR Martin, meh, review, Tolkien

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)

Benedict Cumberbatch, CGI, dragon, fantasy, Martin Freeman, Middle Earth, motion capture, Orlando Bloom, Peter Jackson, review, Tolkien

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.

The Hobbit (2012)

Andy Serkis, fantasy, Martin Freeman, Middle Earth, motion capture, Peter Jackson, Tolkien
241899id8_TheHobbit_Intl_BILBO_27x40_KEYART.indd(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”.)