Spooky: The Amber Spyglass, p. 264

Steeling herself to just get it over with, she knows the ending already, wherefore all these wimpy hesitations?

So, the Land of the Dead or the Not-Quite-Dead.

Since reading that section, self keeps looking over her shoulder, like maybe she’ll catch a glimpse of a shadow (What good would that do, self? Honestly)

Lyra and Will enter a creepy house, where an old woman lies on a mattress, and a hand comes creeping out behind her, and that is the woman’s “death.”

Aaargh!!@@##

Lyra and Will have to catch a ferry to the Land of the Really Dead. But in order to do so, they have to meet their own individual deaths (!!!!)

Philip Pullman is such a wizard with the personifications!

  • “You must call up your own deaths. I have heard of people like you, who keep their deaths at bay. You don’t like them, our of courtesy they stay out of sight. But they’re not far off. Whenever your turn is ahead, your deaths dodge behind you. Whenever you look, they hide. They can hide in a teacup. Or a dewdrop. Or in a breath of wind.”

One thing about this section, Will Parry almost completely disappears from the narrative (except for Lyra being super-aware that he is listening intently to her tale-spinning). Shouldn’t sensible Will be saying, “No, Lyra, it’s too big a risk — ”

Since she’s heard that Vol. 2 of The Book of Dust is Lyra at 20, and Will Parry apparently (sorry for onomatopeia, whatever) is not IN IT, does that mean some harm has befallen him?

Next chapter begins with Mary Malone, and let me tell you, dear blog readers, that of all the sections of The Amber Spyglass, the ones with Mary are the least interesting, at least they are in self’s humble opinion. She reads them simply because she’s read on Twitter that Mary becomes the instigator of Lyra’s temptation. Maybe, though, these Mary scenes are responsible for the fact that yesterday, self hied herself off to the San Francisco Zoo, and looked at every animal under the sun (except, come to think of it, elephants).

She saw prairie dogs and cassowarys, giraffes and lions, black bears and grizzly bears, lemurs and rhino, hippopotamus (underwater) and parrots, owls and penguins, flamingos and red frogs, cockroaches and spiders (including tarantula), but NO ELEPHANTS or PINE MARTENS.

As she wandered from area to area, she kept thinking: Could this animal be my daemon? Am I a black-necked swan or a peacock? A parrot or an anteater? A gorilla or a python?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

The Odyssey: Book 10, The Winds and the Witch

One of the smallest stories follows. After the horror of the Cyclops and the magic spells of Circe, this counts as a very wee segue (but, by a strange coincidence, she’s at the point in The Amber Spyglass when Lyra and Will head for the Land of the Dead):

The youngest one — Elpenor was his name —
not very brave in war, not very smart,
was lying high up in the home of Circe,
apart from his companions, seeking coolness
since he was drunk. He heard the noise and bustle,
the movements of his friends, and jumped up quickly,
forgetting to climb down the lofty ladder.
He fell down crashing headlong from the roof,
and broke his neck, right at the spine. His spirit
went down to Hades.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Lyra Silvertongue: The Amber Spyglass, p. 262

Lyra tells how Will Parry had

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His Dark Materials, vol. 3: The Amber Spyglass, p. 261

fallen overboard as a baby from the side of his father’s ship and been washed up on a desolate shore, where a female wolf had suckled him and kept him alive.

The people ate up this nonsense with placid credulity and even the deaths crowded close to listen, perching on the bench or lying on the floor close by, gazing at her with their mild and courteous faces as she spun out the tale of her life with Will in the forest.

Sly Lyra knew Will was listening with rapt attention and it only spurred her on to greater heights of invention. Because this was the best part of her. And she was offering it to her truest companion and best friend.

Please please please please let there be a Will Parry in The Book of Dust trilogy. Just one teensy mention.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Also Still Reading: The Amber Spyglass, By Inches

pp. 263 – 264:

“I’ll tell you all about it,” said Lyra.

As she said that, as she took charge, part of her felt a little stream of pleasure rising upward in her breast like the bubbles in champagne.

Dying.

TREASURE ISLAND, Chapter XII: “Council of War”

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This past week has been a great, angst-y week. Not only did self definitively decide that she couldn’t bear to read further than p. 253 of The Amber Spyglass — it would break her — but she saw Avengers: Infinity War, and — she just can’t seem to escape the bloody angst. Because the movie — just ask anyone who’s seen it — has angst to the nth power.

As soon as she got home, she resumed reading Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson. (For such a slim novel, it is taking FOREVER for her to read through, maybe because she keeps having to blog about pirate tropes, practically every page)

Today’s reading had mild angst. For one thing, a mutiny has just been discovered by the captain of the Hispaniola, a rather decent man named Mr. Smollett (The name alone does not encourage confidence regarding his eventual fate).

So, what are we to do? asks someone of the captain (He means: what are we to do about the mutiny?)

“First point,” began Mr. Smollett. “We must go on, because we can’t turn back.”

The captain and his mates then begin to try and figure out which members of the crew are loyal and can be counted on. They consider a crewman named ‘Hands.’ (Self loves the names in this novel. First there was Barbecue, the ship’s cook. Now there is a seaman named ‘Hands.’)

“Hands was one of mine,” says the squire.

“I did think I could have trusted Hands,” added the captain.

“And to think that they’re all Englishmen!” broke out the squire.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Onward With the Reading List: TREASURE ISLAND

Big, fat tears are rolling down self’s cheeks right now. Damn you, Philip Pullman, why?

Why?

Why?

Treasure Island, save self!

Luckily, self was able to see through her fog of tears and read all the way through to p. 7 of Chapter 1 (The Old Sea-Dog at the Admiral Benbow). And on that page she reads about ‘the dead man’s chest’ and a ‘one-legged seafaring man.”

Self almost wants to laugh: the dead man’s chest? A one-legged seafaring man? Could you be any less clichéd, R. L. Stevenson?

Then she realizes these are pirate tropes. (Look at the title of the chapter, for heaven’s sake!)

And they probably weren’t around YET when Robert Louis Stevenson used them. Because he started them. DUH!

This edition of Treasure Island (a book self has never read, because come on, even to read it would have been such a cliché! She’s only trying it now because no one cares anymore, what self reads!) has the following information about Robert Louis Stevenson:

  • Born, 8 Howard Place, Edinburgh, 13 November 1850
  • Died, Vallima, Samoa, 3 December 1894
  • Treasure Island was first published in 1883.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Amber Spyglass (Pause for Now)

NO SPOILERS FOR THE AMBER SPYLGASS, PROMISE!

p. 248, just halfway. But self was immersed in a wonderful piece of Amber Spyglass fan fiction (and there are very few of those. At least, when compared to Hunger Games. There are six times as many Hunger Games fan fics than there are Amber Spyglass fan fics — of any ship.) Anyhoo, self was enjoying the fan fic hugely until she landed on a chapter where the writer quotes the end of The Amber Spyglass. And — self knows the end already because Twitter is an undisciplined space. But she didn’t expect it to go down like that. It was so awful. Seeing as how she found the ending of The Subtle Knife excruciating, she knew she wasn’t strong enough for the end of The Amber Spyglass. Exhibit A: She put off reading the last 50 pages of The Hunger Games for two years, until the movies started coming out, because she was so sure Peeta would die. But then a niece looked self straight in the eyes and said, “Peeta makes it.”

Oh. He DOES?

Screech!

Self returned home, read the last 50 pages of The Hunger Games, went to the local bookstore, bought Catching Fire and Mockingjay, and binge-read.

So, alas, farewell for now, His Dark Materials, and on to . . .  Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, which has zero angst.

The edition self checked out of the Redwood City Library has a neat little intro — Stevenson’s essay, “My First Book.” She’s actually been dipping into it off and on, the past few days. Here’s an excerpt:

I am told there are people who do not care for maps, and find it hard to believe. The names, the shapes of the woodlands, the courses of the roads and rivers, the prehistoric footsteps of man, still distinctly traceable up hill and down dale, the mills and the ruins, the ponds and the ferries, perhaps the Standing Stone or the Druidic Circle on the heath; here is an inexhaustible fund of interest for any man with eyes to see or twopence worth of imagination to understand with!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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