Sunday, March 6, 2011

On Life Without Call, or, On Mistakes, or, I Miss You Guys

Left Coast, 3/2010

I have not been on call for almost a week now, and it has been amazing. I have been to four concerts in the last week with some awesome people. I have read most of an absolutely incredible novel. And I have rediscovered how much I miss my cycling team. Also, do you know how important chamois cream is when cycling? I knew this once; I know it again now. Unfortunately, I did not on Friday. The fifty-miler is not sitting so well.* While riding solo is still fun, I really miss my R4 buddies and our sweet, custom-chalked routes. Even the ones from Roshan and Jess out of Dateland. Oops.

Right Coast, 5/2010

*Pun so intended. Who doesn't use chamois cream? Seriously, how stupid can I be?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Book Review of the Time Period

The Heroes is the latest in a series of fantasy novels by English author Joe Abercrombie. Now, I realize this vile and juvenile genre has turned up the majority of noses in the literary world. This book probably would, too, but not because of the fantasy elements, which are nowhere near the most interesting part of the story. This dark novel, so gritty you can nearly feel a tooth cracking as you chew through it, is filled with a commentary on the abject waste of war and a discussion on what it is to be more than a man, to be a hero.

The author takes the reader through the story from at least a dozen different points of view, on both sides of the conflict. From the generals down to the newest recruits, he shows us what his vision of a world consumed by war is like, and apparently it's one with a lot of graves. And vomit. We get introduced to one character as he abandons his widowed mother in order to join the draft, then watch as he comes to terms with the insanity that battle brings. Finally, we see him take his earnings and rise up to the challenge of protecting his family by being a farmer, leaving the world of heroes behind.

The counter-point, a veteran who single-handedly turns the tide of two battles through his skill and force of will, has his epiphany as the love-of-his-life, and wife of another man, points out what he has accomplished, and who he has helped. "Nothing and no one." . . . "So you love war." She said. But that wasn't her most damning accusation. "I used to think you were a decent man. . . But [now] I see . . . you're a hero." (The Heroes, Just Deserts). We are left with the unmistakable impression that the world would be better of without such heroes, and with a few more men.

The series has been enjoyable, but the last three books have been particularly impressive.The Last Argument of Kings discussed loyalty, and then The Blade Itself approached revenge in a style that would have made Alexander Dumas quite proud.

However, this book is certainly not for everyone. Coarse language pervades, and it's frank description of the brutality of men, made all the more macabre when done face to face with sharp pieces of metal. Still, I found this book to be not only a fun and interesting read, but also a thought-provoking piece discussing far more than a wizard and some medieval soldiers.