But though there were no formal parties, it is true that there were now two broadly opposing worldviews floating in the political ether waiting to be tapped as needed. As the crisis over the Lex Agraria revealed, it was no longer a specific issue that mattered so much as the urgent necessity to triumph over rivals. Reflecting on the recurrent civil wars of the Late Republic, Sallust said, “It is this spirit which has commonly ruined great nations, when one party desires to triumph over another by any and every means and to avenge itself on the vanquished with excessive cruelty.” Accepting defeat was no longer an option.

Excerpt From

The Storm Before the Storm

Mike Duncan

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin

I think I first read A Wizard of Earthsea when I was 9 or 10. I got bit by the fantasy bug bad when I was a kid, reading Tolkien and CS Lewis at a very young age. I was hungry for more books with wizards in them–even books by Bellairs, more horror than fantasy, but still had the whiff of magic about them.

To say I loved A Wizard of Earthsea might be overstating it, but it definitely smacked of what Lewis called the “numinous”. It seemed to glint and sparkle with a light unseen, hinting at hidden depths and deeper secrets. Much like the way Gandalph seemed foolish and wise at the same time, hinting at some holy power.

I don’t reread books much. Life’s short, you know? But my kids are about the age I was when I read it and it got me thinking about it. So I picked it up for them and then ended up reading it myself.

It holds up. I’d easily recommend it to an adult reader. There are subtleties to it that I know I missed as a child. But the friendship between Ged and Vetch still resonated powerfully with me, much as it did when I was a child when I longed for close friends like that. Now, as an adult, that I have those close and longstanding friendships, I can think fondly of my past self who got this thing so right. Ged is such a solitary creature, but he really comes alive from the light of his friend, like a sunflower turning its face to the sun.

I bounced off Tombs of Atuan pretty hard. It wasn’t the epic wizard tale I was looking for. Ged doesn’t even show up until halfway into the book! Took me a couple years and a couple tries before I finished it and the sheer obstinacy of youth. I’m looking forward to rereading it more than I did its prequel, though.

I once met Ursula LeGuin at Powell’s Books here in Portland. She read from a new book of short stories. I was enthralled. In the signing line, I stuttered and stammered over my enthusiasm and she said something short and wry and scowled at me in a not totally unfriendly way. It didn’t do anything to dampen my enthusiasm, and may actually have deepened it. I went on to read most of her other books. If you haven’t, I’d recommend doing so.

I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Generations by Flavia Biondi

A graphic novel where this young gay man crashes with his three aunts and grandmother because he’s afraid to go home. Refreshingly, not because he’s worried about coming out–his dad already knows–but because he lied about being in college. Really, it’s about the ways older generations hide things from the younger, sometimes without even meaning to. One of those comics even non-comics readers would probably enjoy.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

A very satisfying sequel/conclusion to Six Crows. There’s an interesting thing going on where commerce is literally the state religion. Would’ve liked to see a bit more of that. But, all in all, the protagonists are a delightful bunch of amoral monsters–to greater and lesser degrees–that are fun to read about, but you certainly wouldn’t want to know them personally. Extremely readable.

Eartha by Cathy Malkasian

A surreal, deeply strange story. I wasn’t so sure about how I felt about it at first, but was fully onboard with it by the midway point or so.

The art feels like a picture book, but the story is very much not for kids. Much of it feels like very pointed commentary about the state of things, particularly the compulsive need to check in on the news (guilty!).

It’s a beautiful book. I expect you’ll get something out of it.

Some Links (Screaming Binturong Edition)

(Silly, binturong’s don’t scream. They just silently judge you.) One thing I don’t like: screaming in the car, whether joyous or otherwise. A Wrinkle in Time was pretty good, although maybe a bit too intense for the younger set. Portland’s got some weird energy today.

If you want to keep tabs on all the weird Portland shenanigans going down. Some of them are pretty intense/sad. Others, just bizarre.

I really liked the King of Dragon Pass game. So much reading! This one looks good too.

Thought I’d look into this ProtonMail thing. Might be time to get off the Gmail bandwagon…

This book, Puckoon by Spike Milligan, is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Also, there’s something to offend everyone, pretty much. Brilliant. Found it through the Bowie Bookclub.

My Life as a Background Slytherin is a pretty delightful Harry Potter webcomic strip.