تازه شد داغِ لاله‌های طَری

چشم­هام را که باز کردم با خودم گفتم خیلی خب، دیگر هیچ­گاه اوضاع از این بدتر نخواهد شد. تمام مصیبت­ها، تمام فجایع، تمام آن­چه برای یک آدم معمولی کافیست تا نسبت به هر اتفاق هولناک مشابهی کرخت و بی­ تفاوت شود را به چشم دیده ­ای و با گوش­هات شنیده ­ای. دیگر هیچ­کس مرثیه­ ای نخواهد سرود. دیگر صدای هیچ مویه­ ای به گوش نخواهد رسید. همه با هم می­ خوابیم توی یه گور، زیر نور آفتاب دراز می­ کشیم و با تمام توان به آن تابش کورکننده چشم خواهیم دوخت، آن­قدر که چشم از چشم­خانه بیرون بیفتد. همگی تسلیم آن هُرم عظیم خواهیم شد و با آخرین پوشک­ها و نواربهداشتی­های باقیمانده، قطره ­های عرق را از صورت­هایمان پاک خواهیم کرد. برای کسی که «آن هیچ بزرگ» را چونان تعویذی بر بازویش بسته، چه اهمیتی دارد اگر زیباترین و اندوهناک­ترین اشعار جهان را از بر کند؟ اگر حتا سرخ­ترین گل را بر مزارها قرار دهد؟ دستت را اگر ده بار هم روی صفحه­ ی مانیتور بکشی، باز حتا لکه ­ای خون به انگشتانت نخواهد ماسید. دست تو همچنان بوی صابون می­دهد و حتی اگر کف دست­ها را بگذاری روی گوشت سوخته و رد طناب روی پوست، همه چیز کماکان همان کیفیت سابق را خواهد داشت. از صبح، این­ها را به خودم گفته ­ام ولی تشویش و اضطراب دست از سرم برنداشته. مثل آن روز که توی کوپه ­ی قطار خوابم برد و شب که چشم­هام را باز کردم دیدم هیچکس جز من توی کوپه نیست و تنها خط ممتدِ نورِ زرد کم ­رمقی از پشت شیشه پیداست که به سبب سرعت حرکت قطار حتی امکان درست دیدنش هم دست نمی­داد. وقت­هایی که این­طور ضعیف و ترسو می ­شوم حالم از خودم به هم می­ خورد. آن­قدر زندگی کرخت و بی­حاصلی اختیار کرده ­ام که حتی تعریف کردنش دل آدم را به هم می­ زند. زندگی کارمند مستعفی­ای که هیچوقت نمی­ دانست به کجا تعلق دارد. برای همین نصف عمرش توی جاده و به باز و بسته کردن چمدان گذشت. کارمند مستعفی هر روز حوالی ظهر که از خواب بیدار می­ شد، درحالی­که توی ظرف­های نشسته دنبال چاقویی می­ گشت تا آن را بشورد و پنیر را روی نان بمالد، به خودش وعده می­ داد که امروز همان روزیست که باید یکی از کارهای ناتمام و نیمه ­تمام زندگی­ اش را سامان بدهد اما در انتهای روز، پس از آن­که خاکستر سیگاری که روی مبل ریخته بود را به دقت فوت کرد، از حجم اینترنتی که مصرف کرده متعجب می ­شود، یک قسمت دیگر از فصل دوم سریال کم ­ارزشی را تنها به خاطر علامت سوالی که کارگردان در انتهای فصل قبلی گداشته بود می ­بیند و درحالیکه بی­هدف برنامه ­های توی گوشی ­اش را باز و بسته می­کند به خواب می­ رود. همیشه آرزویم این بوده که بتوانم به تنهایی خو کنم. که به هر رو «بدون آن تنهایی عظیم، آفرینش هیچ اثر چشمگیری ممکن نیست». این را پیکاسو گفته ولی من که یک کارمند مستعفی بیش نیستم هم می ­توانم لزوم دست­یافتن به چنین خلوتی را دریابم. اینکه بتوانی از آن نیرویی بهره­ مند شوی که تو را از میان هزارتوهای وهم و بیهودگی به سلامت بگذراند و به آن چشم ­انداز رفیعی برساند که بر فرازش می ­توانی تن را به سکوت بسپاری و با تک­ تک سلول­ هات، با هر یک از اعضای جسمانیت، ادراک کنی و بپنداری که همه چیز در انتظار توست تا دستت را به سویش دراز کنی و کلمه ­ای برای نامیدنش بیابی. آرمان از «تنهایی تثبیت­ شده» نوشته بود که برای هر نفر در سن خاصی اتفاق می ­افتد. کمتر از یک ماه پیش، یک سال بزرگتر شدم اما دیگر حتی توانایی تنها غذا خوردن را هم ندارم. همیشه باید آدمی یا تصویری از آدمی را به یاری بطلبم تا کمک کند مغزم فرمان لازم را به قوای هاضم ه­ام بفرستد. هنوز باید بندبازی کنم روی طناب روابط و میان زمین و هوا معلق بمانم و تا ابد دلشوره­ ی این را داشته باشم که دلیل اجتناب وزریدن فلانی چیست یا آن دیگری از چه بابت رفتار سرد و وهن­ آمیزی در پیش گرفته و سهم من این وسط چیست؟ کاش می­توانستم دست به کار چشمگیری بزنم تا بهم قوت قلب بدهد و مجابم کند آن­چه اکنون به آن نیاز دارم تنهاییست و نه چیز دیگر. که مثل روزهای معلمیم می توانم بار دیگر مفید باشم. حالا برای یک نفر هم که شده
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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.

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