Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angle of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:8-11

Monday, July 18, 2016

Mirroring Characters in The Black Cauldron

Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles make good use of theme, and one of the ways Alexander expresses his theme is with mirroring characters.  In The Black Cauldron (my favorite in the series) Taran has two mirror characters: Adaon and Ellidyr.  (Fair warning; if you haven't read the book and don't want any spoilers, you may not want to read this post.)

Adaon, son of the chief bard of Prydain, is everything Taran wants to be; kind, wise, brave and honorable, all without seeming to struggle for it.  Actually, he is a lot like what Taran eventually becomes by the end of The High King

Taran soon realized there was little Adaon had not seen and done.  He had sailed far beyond the Isle of Mona, even to the northern sea; he had worked at the potter's wheel, cast nets with the fisherfolk, woven cloth at the looms of the cottagers; and, like Taran, labored over the glowing forge.

Pottery and weaving are two of the skills Taran learns in Taran Wanderer, and he sails to Mona in The Castle of Llyr.   At this point in The Black Cauldron, Taran lacks Adaon's experience.  Most of all, Taran lacks Adaon's understanding that true honor does not depend on having your deeds recognized.  

Ellydyr, on the other hand, is an echo of where Taran is at the start of The Black Cauldron.  Ellidyr is near Taran's age, and even more proud and impulsive.  He, like Taran, is desperately seeking recognition -and confusing public recognition with honor.  Ellidyr, the youngest son of an impoverished noble, is obsessed with rank (as is Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper, so named because at least that way he'll have a title even if it's only one Coll invented for him.)  Unlike Taran, Ellidyr is so consumed by his desire for `honor' that he is willing to act unscrupulously to get the public notice he thinks he deserves.  He is a warning of what Taran could become if he continues to think of honor as dependent on how others view him, rather than dependent on his own actions.

With the characters of Adaon and Ellidyr, Lloyd Alexander is able to clearly illustrate the choice Taran is making about the man he wants to become.  He shows us where each of those paths lead.  I don't think its a coincidence that both Adaon and Ellidyr die over the course of the story, or that Ellidyr sees what he has become before the end.  Alexander shows where the roads go completely, including their end.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Not Always The Center of Attention

There is this idea going around that one's viewpoint character has to be the most important person in the story.  

While the main character should be important (otherwise why are they the main character?)  The idea that they must be the most important person can, I think, keep a writer from seeing all the story possibilities.

Take Tolkien, for example.  He makes a point that his characters are just a small part in a larger history, but instead of detracting, the shift in focus makes his stories surprising and unpredictable.

When I first read `The Hobbit' I was shocked when a random side character slays the dragon.  "That's not how stories are supposed to go," I grumbled.  "If he's not going to do the heroic stuff, why is Bilbo the main character, huh, Tolkien?  Answer me that!"  Tolkien spent the next few chapters after his false climax showing exactly why Bilbo Baggens is a hero.  He gave us an internal struggle that was far more unforgettable than another monster biting the dust.  

One of the things that makes Tolkien so great is that his characters don't have to be the center of attention.  They carry an endearing sense of humility that I think a number of modern novels lack.  The characters struggle and often even fail.  Just like us. 

Main characters who do the hero stuff are not a bad thing, but sometimes the best moments aren't the obvious ones.  Sometimes to find those less obvious moments, the hero has to stand in the shade instead of the limelight.   

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Donovan and Chicory in the Kitchen

Well, I'm back.  
It has been some time since I posted a drawing (or anything besides my Easter post last week).  I'm rather proud of the amount of detail in this one -especially the checker-topped stool, and the stamp wall hanging.  I'm not sure if anyone can tell that the counter-tops are meant to be Dominoes.  My grandmother had a set of black dominoes with white spots that I grew up playing with, and those are the basis for the counters.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Happy Easter

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written: "For your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors though Him who loves us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-39