(4) The Shadow Rising was a strong continuation of the series. I really liked the focus on Perrin and home; it made for an excellent counterpoint. Similarly, Rand's story and interaction with the Aiel was handled well. The Thom, Julian, Elayne and Nynaeve story line was a little less interesting, in part because of the focus on conflict between the girls. It's also more clearly a "B" plot... important, but not as important.
In the end, this book was a nice recovery from the non-Rand focus of The Dragon Reborn.
(5) The Fires of Heaven was also a solid book. Elayne and Nynaeve continued to be a misstep, and the "join the circus" seemed like a writer's fancy instead of fitting the characters, but the interaction with Brigitte and Moghedien made this storyline feel more central.
Mat earned his role in this book; he's interesting and has lots of issues to play with--as well as some solid development.
Perrin's absence was felt more in retrospect than as reading. Rand's continuing development was well handled--as was Morraine's alteration. The "first ending" at the wagons was dramatic and very well done. The "second ending", was rushed and blurred; the battle was handled pretty well, and balefire's risks (and benefits) came clear.
The big misstep seems to be the tucking in of the final few pages. Really, that's how Asmodean is going to end? Just a rough paragraph or two? The "chosen" disappeared awfully quickly this time.
(6) Lord of Chaos I'm a few chapters into the book. The initial 70 pages of prologue felt long, but the action advanced nicely with Bashere fitting in and Rand's amnesty shaking things up.
TJ Hour 1044: Interventions -- About America intervening abroad. No surprises, but a useful corrective to our meddling impulse.
TJ Hour 1045: Leith -- About the intersection between free speech and accepting speech we hate. Specifically about Hate Speech and its boundaries, and Leith, ND, and white supremacists.
Dice Tower 327 & 328 continued strong.
Fear the Boot 317 was good; I didn't realize that the short shows were due to resting a throat. That's too bad... I enjoy the short run time.
TAL #509: It Says So Right Here -- Interesting tales about identities, documentation and who we are. The first story, about identity theft, stuck with me.
Ask me Another 1310304: How Punk Is This? -- Pretty cool; I hadn't heard of the guest, but will look for some of his music now.
Republic, Lost by Lawrence Lessig. I think this would interest Bryan; it points out the fundamental corruption of our system. The capture of legislators by special interests is more interesting and more subtle than "here's a sack of cash"-- the dance of influence, the importance of indirectly signaling, and the prominence of lobbyists and connectors were all important notes that altered my thinking. The particular thought that legislator is one step on a career path: aide -> legislator -> lobbyist, was revealing... as was the note that our "underpaying" legislators (versus what else they can do with their degree and experience) probably plays into their desire to tap extra income. After all, it's expensive to keep two households.
I agree that the solutions are somewhat far-fetched, but necessary. I hate the idea of trying to square that circle. Probably the best point made is the systemic slow deviation towards prioritizing what the people they talk to and interact with care about most--more "dividing the pie" taking their time and effort. The corruption of tax extenders was a great specific example of the overall thesis.
The Great Wheel of Time (re)Read:
After a few disappointing books dispirited me, I decided not to read the Wheel of Time until the series was complete. I've heard very good things about Sanderson's wrap up of Jordan's series, and I do want to see how it all ends. Reading a book in the middle, years after the previous book's publication, left me cold--too much of my time was spent trying to remember who had done what and where they were when I left off. So this will be a full series reread and read.
The Eye of the World: This is a great book, introducing a vibrant world. For the first half of the book, the voice is Rand's alone. It's Rand who introduces us to the world, exposes the relations between the characters, and whose voice is charming.
In the middle of the book, we get a few new points of view when the characters are separated. These new POV chapters are true complements to Rand's adventure-- with interesting character development for the others. I think we top out at 4 points of view (Rand, Perrin, Nynaeve... and Egwene?), and the story moves. It feels like a breathless race at the very end--stumbling a bit as the final, built up "battle" was disposed of so quickly.
The Great Hunt: Another strong book, far more evenly distributed in viewpoint character chapters. The men and women spend the book doing entirely separate things. Visiting locations for the first time is rewarding; Tar Valon feels sculpted and beautiful--and very in contrast with its contents.
The number of view point characters increases substantially--even including Moraine for a chapter. I like the characters' continued development; Rand's struggle feels real and difficult, Perrin's beating himself up feels authentic, Egwene's development and voice becomes strong--even more so post leashing. Politics is tricky to write; both Cairhien and tower politics are (appropriately) difficult to understand from traveling teenagers' points of view.
The book ends strongly, with everyone reunited and a victory... though lots of doubts about that victory, and consequences clearly telegraphed.
The Dragon Reborn: In memory this was one of the stronger books; now that I've reread it, it's much less good. Rand gets almost no POV time and his actions are both distant and difficult to understand. Perrin is the star of this book, and Mat comes into his own--Mat really becomes interesting, doubling down on "rascally", and showing tremendous competence with his quarterstaff out of nowhere.
The girls don't get much time in the tower; it's pretty jarring to see how quickly they cycle through and set off on another adventure. (There's no real classroom time on screen, and few interactions with the other novices and accepted--it's broad brush strokes, and well done, but feels way too slight given the tower's centrality to their lives.)
The book structure feels overly deliberate by the end. The last quarter of the book draws everyone together--geographically--they only overlap and interact with each other in the final chapters. (Those chapters involve frequent POV changes, which really picks up the pace.) In this read through, this book first tickles my "wait, why are they doing that?" characterization problems button.
The Dice Tower 325: Returned to the show after a long break, and really enjoyed it. They talked about three games that I think our gamers would appreciate--at least one of which I wouldn't mind trying.
TAL 506: Secret Identity -- An interesting look at masks and roles. Diana sounds amazing but scary, as a vigilante should. It makes you think about what goes on when society, law, and order have broken down.a
Wait Wait and Ask Me Another were both good--as was getting to listen to it with Jennifer.
Roll for News: Enjoyable; I love the 5 minute interview podcast format. I've been going through old episodes, as it's been a while since new ones were released.
Several issues of the Nation magazine: Several good articles that retain significance, and lots of articles about events that have passed. On to the articles about the government shutdown and debt ceiling.
Elizabeth Moon: Oath of Betrayal It turns out that this wasn't a trilogy; the world and its struggles will continue on for another book or three. The themes of change and reconciliation are still strong; the book ends on a big reveal, bringing the hidden foe into the open.
The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaimen. A good book; I can see why it won a Newberry Medal and the Hugo. I read it front to back, broken only by silly things like work. It was a quick read, quite engaging--and, much like Jennifer, I suspect there will be more to savor on a reread.
What, more listening?
TJ 1041 Madam I Blush: A good in character interview following last week's, about Jefferson's relations with the women in his life. The only problem was that it was too short.
TJ 1042 Hamiltonian or Jeffersonian: A discussion of what our nation currently practices and preaches. The move away from self sufficiency on isolated farms really moves us away from Jeffersonian ideals...
TJ 1043 Home Schooling: A good discussion of the tensions between individual liberty, a family's right to raise their children as they choose, and the evolution of the public school system.
Ask me another: 223: Foodie: The Other 'F' Word -- A fun show as always.
224: Planet money as the special guest.
TAL 504: How I got into college -- Interesting, but dominated by one long story instead of the many viewpoints I expected (and would have appreciated.)
TAL 505: About acetaminophen, and the dangerous toxicity level... double the label dose is enough to cause kidney failure and risk worse. Good discussion of company policies, the FDA and its label requirements, etc.
Roll for News 2-8: Magpie Games and Indie +. I like the 5 minute format.
Ken and Robin talk at FanExpo Canada(57): A good live show for them; not very heavy on the local questions.
Elizabeth Moon: Oath of Fealty, Kings of the North, and Oath of Betrayal
-- An interesting trilogy, a sequel to the Paks books. The multiple points of view do a great job of revealing more about the universe and adding depth. It's interesting how much slower events progress with the multiple POVs... Pak's first book covered more time and big changes than the first two and a half books [so far] of this trilogy.
Despite that, I'm not complaining. It's a good set of books, with a good cast of characters. It's interesting to see "from the inside" characters that Paks interacted with--and their views of her.
Spero Lucas: The Cut by George P. Pelecanos. A straight up modern day mystery, kind of. The main character is troubled, somewhat troubling, and very interesting. Another interesting view of "sliding between" type characters. Very well written and enjoyable. Good DC area atmosphere too--with a strong place feel.
RoleplayDNA 23 -- Phil talks about Odyssey with Roleplay DNA.
RoleplayDNA 24 -- Planning the first adventure; while good, I think the episode would have benefitted from a larger team that could have unpacked the unconscious assumptions they were making.
RoleplayDNA-U 1 -- Good start, interesting interview
RoleplayDNA-U 2 -- Very inside baseball, more about running a game company, still somewhat interesting
Roll for News 2-10: Listened to it because it was about Silverine games. I like the format--very short, good interview. I've downloaded a few more for the next week or two.
Ken and Robin 51 - 54. Congratulations on over a year of podcasting! Continued solid episodes.
Ask me Another 9/5 -- Peter Segel was the guest. Fun as always.
This American Life 175 -- All about what happens when babysitting. Some good tales, somewhat familiar, though not to the extremes shown.
This American Life 388 -- A visit to a rest stop. Talking with the workers, travelers. A nice slice of life.
TJ 1034 -- Intellectual Property w/ Brad Crisler; an interesting discussion. It's interesting how Jefferson's passion for free exchange of ideas cut against patent protection.
TJ 1035 -- Regrets w/ Brad Crisler, excellent episode, really quite revealing.
TJ 1036 -- Wine; a pleasant conversation with a lot of interesting detail about
TJ 1037 -- Government Farms and Food; an easily anticipated attempt to get Jefferson's hostility to "big government" to rail against SNAP.
TJ 1038 & 39 -- Delving into Lewis, discussing the common components of suicides and how they apply to Lewis.
TJ 1040 -- The women Jefferson loved; an interesting discussion of how Jefferson related to the women of his life; his wife, daughters, Sally Hemming, etc.
The biggest change to my listening comes from importing a wide swath of CDs over to my memory stick. There are lots of singers I haven't really listened to in years... there's been a fun process of rediscovery.
Beyond that, I've been enjoying the Rain Wilds Chronicles that Dad lent me. The first book was a slow start--probably because it appears to mirror and build on events from other related books (like Liveship Traders) that built in an interest that the author didn't replicate as well from scratch. Still, by 1/3rd of the way into the first book, I had my "party", all come together and exploring. The second book was good, though I did catch myself noticing how the big setback thoroughly derailed progress. While it felt logical, it also drew out the third quarter of the book. All in all, it's been a fun read; earlier tonight I finished the second book. The third beckons... tomorrow, if I have sense.
I'm in the process of downloading Shogun 2 from Steam's summer sale. This sale is made for connections faster than my hotel room connection can handle; currently 23%. Maybe I'll hit 30% by morning.
Ken and Robin talk about stuff 41-44: The last two featured a very interesting look into Ken's most recent project. It's interesting to see what strange history he had to work with, and where he created. Let's see where the series goes...
Roleplay DNA 22: A good episode, but too much "local interest only" stuff to slog through to get at it. For me, I'd be better served if they started with their topic, then devolved into banter, Colorado news, and what's going on in their groups lately. As the reverse, I keep wishing for a fast forward...
Ask me Another 216: Fun, uncomplicated. I don't ask more of it.
This American Life 498: Doing foolish things. The first story worked out so well... a fascinating look at stolid bravery.
Thomas Jefferson Hour 1029 and 1030: Bright episodes about science, learning, the enlightenment, and education. Solid, interesting episodes that play to Jefferson's unique strengths.