Let’s Read Queen of the Tearling: Chapter One

Technically, this isn’t part of Chapter One, but the book begins with the traditional Left-Justified Fantasy Map. The Tearling, is to the farthest west and north possible, of course. Some other randomly-named kingdoms are to the south and east, the canonically evil cardinal directions! I wonder if swarthy people live there.

All right, on to the text.

The chapter begins with a quote from a Tearling history book, detailing a bit of our queenly heroine’s biography. I like this technique, although it does somewhat spoil the suspense about Kelsea’s lifespan. Oh, and our heroine is named Kelsea. Kelsea Raleigh Glynn. Things are not looking up. Continue reading →


Let’s Read Queen of the Tearling: Introduction

Finally, it’s happened! I’ve finally found a book that I want to share with everybody, chapter by chapter. Because I want you to suffer like I suffered, er, I mean I love you all so much. That’s right. Come, Internet friends and strangers, let’s read The Queen of the Tearling.

To set the stage: The Queen of the Tearling is a fantasy novel. It has all the elements of your traditional, YA-ish fantasy novel—a young heroine, a kingdom, a concrete enemy, etc. The Queen of the Tearling is also kind of a big deal. Of course, Queen of the Tearling is the first book of a trilogy, but in addition the movie rights have already been sold and Famous Harry Potter Actress Emma Watson will portray the titular queen. (The movie deal plays heavily into the marketing of the book.) The author, Erika Johansen, earned a seven-figure advance for the series despite publishing being in the worst of its seemingly eternal monetary death throes. Johansen has given many interviews about how her book is unique because of its plain heroine and lack of romance—this sort-of feminist angle, like the movie, is a conspicuous part of the book’s publicity. Johansen is also a graduate of the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, so she should know the basics, like how to construct a plot and how to construct a sentence.

I didn’t know most of this information when I picked up Queen of the Tearling. I was facing a long flight and wanted something engaging to pass the time. The parts of the book jacket that aren’t devoted to the movie deal promise “thrilling adventure and action, dark magic, mystery and romance.” So I expected certain elements: intrigue, swordplay, daring women, mysterious men, perhaps some spiffy magic and everything tied up with a kiss or maybe a really awesome fight. Or both at the same time! Something along the lines of The Privilege of the Sword or the fantasy version of a Vorkosigan novel. Even if it wasn’t up to those books’ standard—and not much is, frankly—I expected it to be at least competently told and not stupidly offensive.

You failed, Queen of the Tearling, oh, how you failed. Continue reading →

Will Watching the Lego Movie Turn Your Son Into an Idiot?

I recently watched The Lego Movie. I enjoyed The Lego Movie because it’s hard to actively hate a movie about Legos, because they’re a bunch of toys, but also I was like, damn, Lego Movie, first of all I just watched a whole movie that was an ad for motherfucking toys, and second of all, why are the Legos a tool for some dumbass to go on his Campbell’s Journey and seduce his infinitely superior lady companion with the power of being A Protagonist? I get that this movie is mainly an ad for older guys to buy their kids Legos, but damn, does it really have to end with the main female character being handed from her ex to her current boyfriend because that is her fate?* Continue reading →

Is George R.R. Martin Telling a Rape Joke, Because Come On

Hey, the new season of Game of Thrones is coming out! I like the Game of Thrones tv show, it’s like the books but some of the stupid taken out! And with pretty things to look at instead of endless poorly done descriptive prose! All hail the televisual format!

So let’s celebrate with a new chapter from the inferior source material! Guess what, Arya is almost all grown up and that means lots and lots of rape! Seriously, from stage rape to kid rape to prostitute rape, this one has all the rape scenarios. If you like your sex without consent or adults, this is one for you. Continue reading →

I Watch Downton Abbey to my Eternal Shame (spoilers ahead)

Do you like mudkips Downton Abbey? I watch it off and on, and was lucky enough to see the this series’ finale as broadcast in the UK, a whole six months or so before Americans who don’t understand torrenting will be able to see it. A whole glorious hour-and-a-half of drama! So I watched it, and–misery! Nothing happened! I spent time that I could have spent drinking and talking to actual people watching that! Is there any way to leave Downton Abbey, or is waiting for an interesting plot point like waiting for Godot? Continue reading →

House of Cards, the crap version

Linking to Dan Hemmens’s takedown of the American version of House of Cards. I’m a big fan of the original series and was disappointed in the American version, for many of the reasons that Hemmens lists.

I have to add one observation–Hemmens notes that Uruqhart’s affability seduces the audience (as opposed to Underwood’s snarling big-boy act–Spacey makes evil seem so stressful), but he misses the difference between Uruqhart and Underwood’s victims, which is just as important. Many of Uruqhart’s victims are one-dimensional Tory scum–there’s the ultra-moronic one, the Jewish wet, the closety one, and the loud one that has to buy his own furniture. All of these men are at least as sleazy as Uruqhart, if not as clever, and it’s enjoyable to watch Uruqhart make ’em jump. Continue reading →

the arya problem

In my last post, I went on and on about Sansa from Song of Ice and Fire. Now I have to turn to the other sister. People love the character of Arya. I know why—it’s the fantasy of being a stone-cold killer, with nothing that you have to care for but revenge. This would suck in real life, but in fantasy it’s an awesome story arc.

Arya’s storyline really kicks off when after her father’s death, she’s disguised as a boy and taken by one of her father’s allies on the journey to the Wall, the big old Alcatraz of the snowy North. It’s made very clear that Arya has to maintain her gender disguise, or otherwise Bad Things Will Happen. Since she succeeds, she’s protected. Continue reading →