I was recently reading the latest book in The Vampire Chronicles, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis. After the many ups and all-too-frequent downs of the series, reading the new installments comes out of the same schadenfreude-y curiosity that presumably leads other people to watch the Kardashians: namely, wanting to know what on earth these disaster (non)humans are up to now.
One of the major worldbuilding developments in the most recent books has been, as one might guess from the title, the ascension of Lestat into a sort of mutually-agreed-upon rulership of the vampire community. Even Lestat has acquired some self-awareness, over the years; he knows that he is not going to have the attention span to attend to every issue of the community, and so he forms a court of vampiric elders from across the world. While this has the immediate benefit for the reader of putting all the major players of the series in one place to stand around and be beautiful at each other, it also lends a seriousness to Lestat’s rule. His princeship is not symbolic, and for the first time the vampire community is less an arbitrary group of metahumans connected only by the fluke of their condition and more of an organized nation. And that, of course, means there needs to be rules.
In an increasingly plugged in and hyper-vigilant world where the existence of vampires is a very poorly guarded secret, it’s more important than ever that vampires maintain a low profile. As part of this (and as part of the mentality that vampires are not inherently evil despite their predatory nature) they are expected to behave in reasonably moral ways.
Except for that whole “don’t turn children” rule. (via wikipedia)
Don’t kill; only take enough blood to sate your hunger. Don’t drink from innocents; only take blood from those who are clearly bad people (you know, like, sex traffickers, murderers, people who don’t use their turn signal). Don’t broadcast your existence to humans—a “do as I say, not as I do” rule given Lestat’s history—as this endangers the entire vampire community. However, despite the rather checkered history of how all these people actually became vampires, there don’t seem to be any rules forthcoming about who gets to be a vampire.
Pictured: most likely me when someone tries to explain this. (via PopKey)
One of the biggest mysteries of this season in my eyes is “how in the world have the Harry Potter films become a Christmas/holiday tradition?” Sorcerer’s Stone came out in November back in 2001, but the timeframe doesn’t instantly make a film a Christmas classic. Sure enough, though, every December I can turn the channel to ABC Family (or whatever it’s called now) and find each and every Harry Potter film nestled snugly in between other classics such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Polar Express. While this mystery may never be solved in my eyes, it got me thinking about a certain facet of the Harry Potter series that, in all its exploration of magic, seems to be woefully underutilized—a fellow holiday tradition, food.
Fans of course remember the grand banquets during the sorting ceremonies and have fond memories of the pumpkin pasties and the chocolate frogs available on the Hogwarts Express, but all things considered, wizard food remains strangely mundane compared to Muggle food. Stranger still is how it seems that, in general, the more realistic the story, the more magical its food seems to be. Yet in a way this makes sense; these seemingly at odds representations of the magic of food serve to reinforce what the characters are looking for in their respective stories.
James Cameron’s Avatar disappoints me as a movie. Without a doubt, it’s a beautiful film that a lot of time and effort went into, but despite all that, the story falls flat in so many other areas. In terms of worldbuilding, the movie’s biggest crime is that none of the characters seem to realize that they’ve discovered the key to eternal life.
While J.K. Rowling may have done a good job portraying both Muggle and wizarding England, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them does not do such a great job at portraying the American magical and No-Maj world. There are so many inconsistencies with the reality of American history that even though I enjoyed the movie, it made things fall kind of flat and seem very confusing.
Magic is awesome, except when it just makes everything worse. It happens rarely, but sometimes magic as a whole is a net evil thing in a story. In order to bring, well, order, back to the world in question, magic has to go. Although it’s sad for both the characters losing their magic and the audience by proxy, by casting fantastical power as something that’s fun or useful but ultimately damaging, these stories can teach us something worthwhile about the importance of self-sacrifice.
Outside Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events, I would say that Daughters of the Moon was most definitely one of my favorite series as a child. Lady Geek Girl introduced me to it back in middle school, and once I started the first one, I didn’t look back. I blew through every book that had been released in a matter of days. It had everything I wanted—multiple female protagonists from different backgrounds, a narrative steeped in Greek mythology and magic, and there were a large number of books to keep me interested. So of course I loved it. And one of the things that I enjoyed most about the story was the price that came from having magical abilities and what growing older meant for the characters. However, the writing itself fell flat more than once, and that detracted from what was potentially a really great message.
Welcome back to the blog! I hope you all had a great Halloween and, if you’re American, that you’re somehow surviving the last dregs of this election season. To take my mind off the endless barrage of inescapable political ads on TV, I found a nice Halloween book to read. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova is a fascinating coming-of-age story that’s based off of many different Latin American traditions, mythologies, and religions. The author is Ecuadorian-American, and to create the world of Labyrinth Lost, she mixed aspects of Mexican traditions like Day of the Dead, general Latin American traditions like the quinceañera, various aspects of religions like Catholicism and Santería, and her own Ecuadorian legends. Labyrinth Lost is filled with gods called the Deos, cantos rather than spells, and magic-users called brujas or brujos after the Spanish word for witch. However, what I found most interesting about the story was the idea that family and familial love was not only important but integral to the performance of magic.