February 2, 2020

The Next Series

This year, my Tolkien book buying will likely come to an end. Of what's coming out that we know of at this point, I feel like I'm finally finished; and in a sense, ready to go goodbye because of that. Buying Tolkien books has been a part of my life since about 2002.

Now, it's time to look ahead.

The next (possibly 'last') series of books I'm interested in getting are Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels. Most famously, in 2003 Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany starred in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. It adapted portions of some of O'Brian's novels.

I have heard that the books are quite good, and reading up on them, I have become interested. I admit, this particular time period is quite unknown to me. However, the East Coast in me revels at the idea of reading these stories.

The books in the series are:

- Master and Commander: 9780006499152
- Post Captain: 9780006499169
- H.M.S. Surprise: 9780006499176
- The Mauritius Command: 9780006499183
- Desolation Island: 9780006499244
- The Fortune of War: 9780006499190
- The Surgeon's Mate: 9780006499213
- The Ionian Mission: 9780006499220
- Treason's Harbour: 9780006499237
- The Far Side of the World: 9780006499251
- The Reverse of the Medal: 9780006499268
- The Letter of the Marque: 9780006499275
- The Thirteen-Gun Salute: 9780006499282
- The Nutmeg of Consolation: 9780006499299
- Clarissa Oakes: 9780006499305
- The Wine-Dark Sea: 9780006499312
- The Commodore: 9780006499329
- The Yellow Admiral: 9780006499640
- The Hundred Days: 9780006512110
- Blue at the Mizzen: 9780006513780
- The Final Unfinished Journey of Jack Aubrey: 9780007358434

There is also a hardback boxed set, quite similar in presentation to The History of Middle-earth books that has all 12 of the books in 3 omnibus hardbacks. The ISBN for that set is 9780008189280.

I look forward to, one day, getting and reading these books, in either format. (HarperCollins, please keep these exact paperback editions in print...). It's also possible that these may be the final physical books I'll get, by that time. 

Information about the image used in this post:

"H.M.S. Agamemnon" by Geoff Hunt

Nelson’s first flagship leads the squadron, Mediterranean, 1796. Nelson flies his flag as a Commodore, commanding his first squadron. He had commanded the 64-gun battleship ‘Agamemnon’, the ship he referred to as his favorite, since 1793. Nelson was given a Commodore’s pennant in March 1796, making ‘Agamemnon’ his first flagship, just before he transferred to the 74-gun ‘Captain’ in June that year.

In April 1796, Nelson was operating in the Gulf of Genoa with the small squadron depicted in this beautiful print. ‘Agamemnon’ is shown leading ‘Meleager’ 32, ‘Blanche’ 32, ‘Diadem’ 64 and the now-famous 16-gun brig-sloop ‘Speedy’.

The powerful ships of war seem at peace in the tranquil sunset which is disturbed only by Agamemnon’s evening gunnery practice.

Agamemnon was one of seven ships built to the same design, drawn by the same naval architect who designed the famous Victory, Sir Thomas Slade. She was built at Bucklers Hard and launched on the 10th of April 1781. She was a third rate ship, having 64 guns.
She was at the centre of events fighting at the Battle of Saintes, the Battle of Copenhagen and of course, Trafalgar, the summit of her career. Later she served in the West Indies, participating in the Battle of Santo Domingo and then in South American waters, until she was wrecked in Maldonado Bay off the coast of Uruguay in 1809.

During Nelson’s command of the ship between 1793 and 1796 Nelson wrote “Without exception, one of the finest ships in the fleet with the character of sailing most remarkably well”. He also wrote “After 12 days in a storm in the Mediterranean in ‘gales and lumping seas… but in Agamemnon, we mind them not; she is the finest ship I ever sailed in, and were she a 74, nothing should induce me to leave her while the war lasts’.

Highland Park Whiskies I'd Love to Try

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Highland Park is my favourite whisky distillery. This could be because it was their 12 year old that got me into single malts. Of course, I like other distilleries, however I think it's the safe to say that I like Highland Park. Also, I love their 'viking theme.'

Recently, the third and final of their Viking Legends series has come out here in Canada: Valfather. The second one was Valknut, and the first was Valkyrie. They have done other series like that in the past: Dark and Light, and Fire and Ice.

I'm not sure what else they have planned on the horizon, however of what's out now, these are the following I'd like to try:


Highland Park 18 Year Old

18 year (Viking Pride)

Slow-burning, aromatic peat from Hobbister Moor; hand turned floor maltings, Sherry seasoned European oak casks, cool maturation in our temperate island climate and a long and unhurried harmonisation process. Like our founder, Magnus Eunson, we share our Viking ancestors’ commitment to skilled craftsmanship as well as their proud, independent spirit.


Highland Park Dragon Legend Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Dragon Legend

For our ancestors, dragons were both feared and revered, possessing mystical powers but representing the forces of evil. According to legend, the Viking warrior Sigurd killed the evil serpent dragon Fafnir in a battle of great bravery and cunning. Licking the dragon’s blood from his thumb, Sigurd was granted powerful gifts of prophecy and wisdom and became one of the greatest heroes of the ancient Nordic sagas. In DRAGON LEGEND we’ve created single malt as bold and unconventional as Sigurd himself. Our local peat from Hobbister Moor delivers an intense aromatic smokiness that’s melded with a spicy sweetness from long, slow maturation in
sherry seasoned oak casks.
"…the earth shook all about him, and he snorted forth venom on all the way before him as he went; but Sigurd neither trembled nor was afraid at the roaring of him."
The Volsunga Saga


Highland Park Twisted Tattoo 16 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

16 year (Twisted Tattoo)

Tattoos are a vital part of our cultural heritage today. They tell the world who we are, without saying a word. In collaboration with Danish tattoo artist and modern day Viking Soul, Colin Dale, we created the bold design for this whisky, which celebrates the tattoo as a mark of both standing apart and being part of a tribe – just like Highland Park. Colin’s intricate design is inspired by the free-flowing Nordic knotwork found on Viking wood carvings and reflects the Norse legend of the Midgard serpent, which grew so large it twisted round the Earth to grasp its tail in its mouth.


Highland Park Viking Tribe Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Viking Tribe

As an island-based distillery, our community, friends and family in Orkney are vitally important to us and, in VIKING TRIBE, we have created a single malt Scotch whisky that celebrates togetherness and shared experiences. This is a whisky worthy of our own tribe, created to be discovered and shared with like-minded people who value authenticity, fine craftsmanship and a good story waiting to be told, just as we do at Highland Park.

The symbol on the VIKING TRIBE bottle is an interpretation of the knotwork style of 13th century Viking art found in the Urnes Stavkirk in Norway. It means ‘together as one’. This is the legacy we proudly bring to our whisky making and share with our Highland Park tribe today.

VIKING TRIBE is available exclusively on Amazon UK, providing a new way for single malt drinkers to discover, enjoy and share Highland Park.



Highland Park Spirit of the Bear Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Spirit of the Bear

Preparing for battle, Viking warriors believed they could harness the great bear’s mighty power and stamina by wrapping themselves in its skins. These fearless warriors became known as ‘berserkers’, their name derived from the old Norse words ‘ber’ – bear and ‘sekr ‘– skin.

Our island home on Orkney was under Viking rule for over 600 years and their myths and legends have become our own. Intensely smoky with a bold spiciness, SPIRIT OF THE BEAR is inspired by our Viking ancestors’ resilient nature and fierce independence – characteristics that sit at the heart of our whisky making today.

"… his men rushed forwards without armour… and were strong as bears… but neither fire nor iron told upon themselves. These were called Berserker."
The Ynglinga Saga, Chapter 6, Of Odin’s Accomplishments


Highland Park Loyalty Of The Wolf 14 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

14 year (Loyalty of the Wolf)

Both wolf and Viking share the strong instinct to protect and defend family and territory, responding boldly and courageously when faced with threat or danger. Our island home on Orkney was under Viking rule for over 600 years and we are proud of the characteristics we share with our ancestors.

With 14 YEAR OLD LOYALTY OF THE WOLF we celebrate determination, co-operation and courage in a single malt whisky that is both sweet and complex, displaying a fine balance of contrasts, just like the Vikings – and the wolves – themselves.
"Where wolf’s ears are, wolf’s teeth are near."
Volsunga Saga, Chapter 19

Highland Park 16 Year Old Wings of the Eagle Single Malt Scotch Whisky

16 year (Wings of the Eagle)

Here, on Orkney, those earthly winds sweep across our island home too, reaching speeds of over 100 miles per hour in winter. No trees survive such onslaught so our moorland peat is woodless, but rich in fragrant heather, producing the characteristic aromatic smokiness of our whisky.

16 YEAR OLD WINGS OF THE EAGLE celebrates our wild island climate. Its spicy and elegant character reveals a sophisticated combination of flavours, layered as intricately as the feathers of an eagle’s wing.
"There is much to be told. An eagle sits at the top of the ash, and it has the knowledge of many things."
Gylfaginning, The Prose Edda, Chapter 16

Highland Park Voyage of the Raven Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Voyage of the Raven

For our Viking ancestors, the raven was a powerful symbol of victory in battle, success on a voyage and loyalty to the god, Odin.

Intelligent and resourceful, ravens were the trusted guides of those those early voyagers as they left Northern shores in search of new horizons, flying far out across the sea until they found land. Highly prized for their navigation skills, ravens became symbols of good fortune on many a longship sail.

Matured in a high proportion of first-fill sherry seasoned oak casks, VOYAGE OF THE RAVEN delivers mouth-watering flavours of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, black cherries and marzipan, overlaid with our distinctive aromatic smokiness.
The ravens sit on his shoulders and say into his ear all the tidings which they see or hear; they are called thus: Huginn and Muninn. He sends them at daybreak to fly about all the world… Therefore men call him Raven-God.
Gylfaggining, The Prose Edda, Snorri Sturluson, English translation

Highland Park Svein Single Malt Scotch Whisky


Predominantly matured in Sherry seasoned American oak casks, SVEIN delivers powerful notes of crème brûlée, wrapped in a gentle peat smoke.

The Warrior Series is a collection of single malts created exclusively for Duty Free to showcase the very best of Highland Park. Each expression both introduces a key figure from Orkney’s Viking history and demonstrates how the flavours of Highland Park are influenced by cask type.


January 30, 2020

New Editions of "New Spring" Coming

TOR, the US publisher of The Wheel of Time series, will be publishing the prequel novel, New Spring, which originate din the form of a short story.

Both editions will be paperback, and details follow.

New Spring: The Novel by Robert Jordan

First up (and most importantly for collectors) will be the trade paperback edition (same dimensions as a hardback, but paperback instead) which will match the other trade paperback editions, as well as the paperback of The Wheel of Time Companion. It's set to be published on August 18. The ISBN, which is a direct link to this edition, is 9781250774361.

New Spring: The Novel by Robert Jordan

Secondly, New Spring will be coming out in the design style and format of the new mass-market (smaller) paperbacks. Since that these began being published in the fall of 2019, and all the titles aren't yet out, New Spring isn't "missing" in the same that it was in the trade series, which concluded in the fall of 2015.

The publication date for this edition is being published June 30, and the ISBN for it is


While it's not necessary to read New Spring (or start the series with that, as opposed to the first Wheel of Time book, The Eye of the World), it does offer a bit of back story. Not as much gained from say The Silmarillion or The Hobbit in relation to The Lord of the Rings; more like something from the Appendices or Unfinished Tales; to explain what I mean using Tolkien as a way of explaining my point. Robert Jordan was planning on writing two more prequels, though that was to be after he had completed the main Wheel of Time books - which, sadly, didn't happen. Based on the product description, reading the book New Spring then watching Amazon's Wheel of Time series would have a similar effect as reading The Hobbit then watching The Fellowship of the Ring.

"The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

For three days battle has raged in the snow around the great city of Tar Valon. In the city, a Foretelling of the future is uttered. On the slopes of Dragonmount, the immense mountain that looms over the city, is born an infant prophesied to change the world. That child must be found before the forces of the Shadow have an opportunity to kill him.

Moiraine Damodred, a young Accepted soon to be raised to Aes Sedai, and Lan Mandragoran, a soldier fighting in the battle, are set on paths that will bind their lives together. But those paths are filled with complications and dangers, for Moiraine, of the Royal House of Cairhien, whose king has just died, and Lan, considered the uncrowned king of a nation long dead, find their lives threatened by the plots of those seeking power.

New Spring begins Moiraine and Lan's quest to find the Dragon Reborn that will lead to the events of The Eye of the World...and their fateful meeting with Rand al'Thor. New Spring is a perfect jumping-on point for fantasy readers wanting to know more about The Wheel of Time and the forthcoming TV show."

January 23, 2020

"Goblet of Fire" House Editions Published Today


Today the House editions of Goblet of Fire, the 4th Harry Potter novel, was published.

The House editions started off as a celebration of the 20th anniversary; however some of the later books may come sooner than that. For instance, the 20th anniversary for Order of the Phoenix will be 2023, Half-Blood Prince for 2025, and Deathly Hallows for 2027.

The house I got sorted into via Pottermore (read: canon, and not same random internet quiz) is Slytherin, so the Slytherin edition is pictured.

The hardbacks will be the house colours, and the paperbacks will be black; as has been established (this will make a sort of neat 'scarf like pattern' for anyone who gets all 7 House editions in the same format (hardback, paperback) and all the same house.

To find them, go to any UK bookseller (Amazon UK, Waterstones, Blackwell's...) and search for the name of the Harry Potter book, followed by the house you'd want.

I'll keep your posted when the others come out, as well.

January 20, 2020

Icelandic Sagas

Currently, I'm reading The Saga of the Volsungs, published by Penguin as part of their Legends From the Ancient North series (other titles include Beowulf, The Elder Edda, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Wanderer.

I am quite enjoying it so far, as well as some similar books I've read lately. However I've yet to read any of these sagas. There a few different versions from a few publishers. There are 49 Sagas total, so I'm going to look at which editions of the Sagas offer what.

Image result for sagas of icelanders

First up is Penguin's Sagas of Icelanders. (ISBN: 9780141000039)

This collection offers some of the Sagas and Tales, and is a great 'best of' in that sense, or greatest hits. This edition also 'matches' some of their other deluxe paperback editions, such as Robert Fagles' translations of The Iliad, The Odyssey and The Aeneid; as well as some other titles (like Anna Karenina). Please note that the pages are 'deckle edge', so they're supposed to look old or tattered on purpose.

Anyway, here are the Sagas and Tales included (I kinda wish there weren't any 'Tales' and more 'Sagas' though I've yet to read it so I may be speaking too early)


Egil's Saga
The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal
The Saga of the People of Laxardal
Bolli Bollason's Tale
The Saga of Hrafnkel Frey's Godi
The Saga of the Confederates
Gisli Sursson's Saga
The Saga of Gunnlaug Serptent-tongue
The Saga of Ref the Sly
The Vinland Sagas (which includes The Sagas of Greenalnders and Erik the Red's Saga)


The Tale of Thorstein Staff-struck
The Tale of Halldor Snorrason II
The Tale of Sarcastic Halli
The Tale of Thorstein Shiver
The Tale of Audun from the West Fjords
The Tale of the Story-wise Icelander

Also by Penguin are separate saga books featuring the same, and more, content. The Sagas of Icelanders is, as I said, a greatest hits, best-of, or taster. Another, slightly more (but not totally) method of getting the Saga books by Penguin is individually.

There also exists the Icelandic Saga Collection, which consists of 8 books in that "series." They are:

Njal's Saga
Egil's Saga
Sagas of Warrior-Poets
Gisli Sursson's Saga and the Saga of the People of Eyri
The Saga of Grettir the Strong
The Saga of the People of Laxardal and Bolli Bollason's Tale
The Vinland Sagas
Comic Sagas from Iceland
It would take a while to list the content of each of those, however if you look them up on Amazon, you should be able to see the table of contents via the 'look inside' feature. Worst case I'm sure Penguin's product page/description can also have info.

Next up, and more luxurious, is The Folio Society's editions. They've got some of the sagas (again, not complete, yet more than Penguin) in two volumes, which are, as of now, out of print. These are called The Icelandic Sagas, and the contents are:


Auðun's Tale
Grænlendinga Saga
Eirík's Saga
The Tale of Thorstein Stangarhögg (Staff-Struck)
Egil's Saga
Hrafnkel's Saga
Eyrbyggja Saga
Vopnfirðinga Saga
Bandamanna Saga
Gunnlaug's Saga
The Tale of Thiðrandi and Thórhall
Njál's Saga

Ivarr's tale
Gisli's saga
Olkofri's tale
Laxdæla saga
Gunnarr Þiðrandabani's tale
Fostbrœðra saga
Hreiðarr's tale
Vatnsdæla saga
Hænsa-Þorir's saga
Grettir's saga

Finally (and the most pricey!) we get to The Complete Sagas of Icelanders. It can be bought, and there is a ton of info here about the set: http://sagas.is/yfirlit.htm

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Here are the contents for the boxed set (I am unsure which sagas are in which volumes, so this is a complete, combined list for the set):
Eirik the Red's Saga
The Saga of the Greenlanders
Egil's Saga
Kormak's Saga
The Saga of Hallfred the Troublesome Poet
The Saga of Bjorn, Champion of the Hitardal People
The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue
The Tale of Arnor, the Poet of Earls
Einar Skulason's Tale
The Tale of Mani the Poet
The Tale of Ottar the Black
The Tale of Sarcastic Halli
Stuf's Tale
The Tale of Thorarin Short-Cloak
The Tale of Thorleif, the Earl's Poet
The Tale of Audun from the West Fjords
The Tale of Brand the Generous
Hreidar's Tale
The Tale of the Story-Wise Icelander
Ivar Ingimundarson's Tale
Thorarin Nefjolfsson's Tale
The Tale of Thorstein from the East Fjords
The Tale of Thorstein the Curious
The Tale of Thorstein Shiver
The Tale of Thorvard Crow's-Beak
Gisli Sursson's Saga
The Saga of Grettir the Strong
The Saga of Hord and the People of Holm
Bard's Saga
Killer-Glum's Saga
The Tale of Ogmund Bash
The Tale of Thorvald Tasaldi
The Saga of the Sworn Brothers
Thormod's Tale
The Tale of Thorarin the Overbearing
Viglund's Saga
The Tale of the Cairn-Dweller
The Tale of the Mountain-Dweller
Star-Oddi's Dream
The Tale of Thidrandi and Thorhall
The Tale of Thorhall Knapp
Njal's Saga
The Saga of Finnbogi the Mighty
The Saga of the People of Floi
The Saga of the People of Kjalarnes
Jokul Buason's Tale
Gold-Thorir's Saga
The Saga of Thord Menace
The Saga of Ref the Sly
The Saga of Gunnar, the Fool of Keldugnup
Gisl Illugason's Tale
The Tale of Gold-Asa's Thord
Hrafn Gudrunarson's Tale
Orm Storolfsson's Tale
Thorgrim Hallason's Tale
The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal
The Saga of the Slayings on the Heath
Valla-Ljot's Saga
The Saga of the People of Svarfadardal
The Saga of the People of Ljosavatn
The Saga of the People of Reykjadal and of Killer-Skuta
The Saga of Thorstein the White
The Saga of the People of Vopnafjord
The Tale of Thorstein Staff-Struck
The Tale of Thorstein Bull's Leg
The Saga of Droplaug's Sons
The Saga of the People of Fljotsdal
The Tale of Gunnar, the Slayer of Thidrandi
Brandkrossi's Tale
Thorstein Sidu-Hallsson's Saga
Thorstein Sidu-Hallsson's Tale
Thorstein Sidu-Hallsson's Dream
Egil Sidu-Hallsson's Tale
The Saga of the People of Laxardal
Bolli Bollason's Tale
The Saga of the People of Eyri
The Tale of Halldor Snorrason I
The Tale of Halldor Snorrason II
Olkofri's Saga
Hen-Thorir's Saga
The Saga of Hrafnkel Frey's Godi
The Saga of the Confederates
Odd Ofeigsson's Tale
The Saga of Havard of Isafjord
The Tale of Hromund the Lame
The Tale of Svadi and Arnor Crone's-Nose
The Tale of Thorvald the Far-Travelled
The Tale of Thorsein Tent-Pitcher
The Tale of the Greenlanders

Please do not the various editions of trying to figure out which sagas appear in which books intimidate you.

January 17, 2020

RIP Christopher Tolkien

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Yesterday, Christopher Tolkien has passed away, at age 95.

I wanted to write a post....but was not sure on what to say. Today, HarperCollins released a statement which I'll share, but before that, I wanted to say that Christopher Tolkien has a lived a long, fulfilled life. I'm grateful for his contributions to his father's writings, published material, and legacy.

Their statement follows:

HarperCollins is deeply saddened to have learnt of the passing of editor and author Christopher Tolkien, aged 95. Christopher was the third child and youngest son of J.R.R. Tolkien, who became his father’s literary executor in 1973 and during a remarkable period of 47 years edited or oversaw the publication of 24 editions of his father’s works, many of which were international bestsellers.

Christopher was an editor from the age of 5, catching inconsistencies in his father’s bedtime tales, and was promised tuppence by his father for every mistake he noticed in The Hobbit. As a young man he was typing up manuscripts and drawing maps of Middle-earth and around the time he was commissioned an officer in the RAF in 1945, his father was already calling him ‘my chief critic and collaborator’. Following Tolkien’s death in 1973 Christopher carried out his father’s wishes by completing The Silmarillion, the book that his father had worked on his entire life. The Silmarillion was an international bestseller, selling more than 1 million copies in the UK.

Appointed by his father as literary executor, Christopher Tolkien left Oxford in 1975, moving to France to edit Tolkien’s massive legendarium. Christopher found himself confronted with 70 boxes of unpublished work. Much of the archive concerned the history of Middle-earth, and the notes contained a broader picture of the world only hinted at in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien had intended to bring that picture to light, but he died before completing a final, coherent version. Christopher took it upon himself to edit that book, which was published in 1977 as The Silmarillion. He then turned to another project drawn from his father’s papers, then another – ultimately publishing poetry, academic works, fiction, and the monumental 12-volume History of Middle-earth. Within these books, tantalising fragments of The Fall of Gondolin emerged, but not the whole story. With the publication of The Fall of Gondolin, and more than 20 books before it, Christopher’s extraordinary stewardship of his father’s Middle-earth is ended. Like many of the meticulously researched and eloquently written books before it, it would become a number one bestseller, and will be a fitting memorial to a truly unique contribution to the world of literature and letters, and tribute to his father’s genius.

Charlie Redmayne, HarperCollins UK CEO, said: ‘Christopher was a devoted curator of his father’s work and the timeless and ongoing popularity of the world that J.R.R. Tolkien created is a fitting testimony to the decades he spent bringing Middle-earth to generations of readers. The most charming of men, and a true gentleman, it was an honour and privilege to know and work with him and our thoughts are with his family at this time.’

Speculation: If Game of Thrones Was 9 Seasons

I've often spoken on how the final two seasons of Game of Thrones were cramped - they tried to squeeze too much story into too few episodes, when HBO would have surely let them take their time.

In this post, I propose how I would have liked to seen the ending of the show.

Of course, anyone unhappy with how the story itself unfolded, well, I'm not re-writing anything - just restructuring the final seasons.

In my scenario, Season 9, the final season, would be happening this year.

So, let's start.

Game of Thrones Movie Poster

Season 7: The Army of the Dead and The Night King

Season 7 should have been a full 10 episodes, with each episode having a 60 min+ runtime. The pace and story of my season 7 would be adjusted. Reflecting back on the real Season 8, it's clear that the Army of the Dead and the Night King aren't the antagonists - after they'yre dealt with, it would be Cersie, and then Dany.

While it would be tricky to break down my story episode by episode, with a re-structured story, and at 10 episodes, the final 3 episodes would be the first 3 episodes of our real Season 8 - with only Winterfell content for those full three episodes.

Game of Thrones Movie Poster

Season 8: The Last War

My Season 8 (again, 10 episodes, each being 60+ minutes) would begin with episode of the real Season 8, and include the non-Winterfell material from its first 3 episodes. The main focus of the season would be what leads up to what happens at King's Landing: the survivors of The Battle of Winterfell (and their allies) vs Cersei and her forces. The season would end at about the same spot that episode 5 of the real season 8 ended at.

Game of Thrones Movie Poster

Season 9, final season,: The Queen of Ashes + Rebellion

The final episode of Game of Thrones had enough content for a whole season! ...OK, maybe not 10 full episodes (maybe my Season 7 should have had 10 episodes, while 8 and 9 would have 7 and 6? Or maybe split my season 8 into two (like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, etc) with each half being 7 60+ minute episodes) but the subjects and story elements it tackled definitely warranted multiple episodes. This could also allow time to have a possible rebellion and war against Dany - the result of which would determine who would rule The Seven Kingdoms, break the cycle, and be our last war of the series. 

Season 9 would start at the same place the final episode would. It's Season finale (and my final episode) would be from that episode, at the point where Jon is released from prison. It would also have Bran becoming King (and his council being appointed), Jon would then go to the Night's Watch, Arya sailing away, and the final scene of the whole show.

And that's it.

The outcomes still would have been the same, though the pace would have been slowed down; which would have made characters' actions make sense - most notably, in regards to Dany. 

I think in my scenario, a lot more people would have been satisfied with the show after Season 6. The real Season 7 and Season 8 that we got were told at breakneck speed. While I enjoyed the plot and directions the story took, the show definitely deserved a better post-Season 6 structuring. 

January 15, 2020

The Wheel of Time 30th Anniversary

30 years ago today marks the publication of the first book in the massive 14-book Wheel of Time series, The Eye of the World.

The series is very Tolkien-esque, but not being a ‘copy + paste’ The Lord of the Rings clone. The series does have its flaws (it should have only been 6-10 books, for starters) but it helped establish the fantasy genre (until A Song of Ice and Fire re-defined it) and was incredibly beneficial to the American publisher, TOR. I also like to think if it as the first great fantasy series, post The Lord of the Rings. Even though The Lord of the Rings is not a series, but you get my point.

It also has a literary successor, by way of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight. Sanderson is relevant here, as he connected the dots Jordan left before he passed - Jordan was unable to finish the series himself.....but it has *an* ending. Think of him as Christopher Tolkien to J.R.R. Tolkien, in this regard. I suggest looking into that series once you finish The Wheel of Time. No, it's not a sequel series, nor related in any way, though to me it's the next, best, logical step after The Wheel of Time.  

I first heard of, and got into the books, around the time that Crossroads of Twilight was published in paperback. At that time, I didn't have the funds I do now, there were quite a few books in the series, and at that time, hardback editions of the earlier books were no longer in print. Or if they were, they were sold out then. Not liking having mixed formats of books within a series (alternating between paperback and hardback) I went for paperback all the way through. The ones I had to wait to get (though I wasn't caught up with reading) was Knife of Dreams - A Memory of Light

I got introduced to them by way of a very close friend of my family, who also likes fantasy. I believe that The Wheel of Time was her favourite series. Or, among her favourite.

There hasn't been that many editions of the books over the years; however for the 30th anniversary, I wanted to showcase a particular edition. One that I wish had existed when I initially got the books. They are the trade paperback editions offered by TOR. They are about as large as a hardback, and easier to open than those tight, cramped, $10 editions. The larger format offers the text in a nice, readable font, as well as maps that aren't as small or squashed as the cheaper, smaller, paperbacks. The artwork itself is...let's say, more modern than the original editions. The only thing is, I'd wish they chose a different cover image for The Eye of the World in this format. The image itself is fine, though doesn't depict what the book, or series, is about.  

Here are the books, in order, and the ISBN's for the editions I recommend:

The Eye of the World:

The Great Hunt:

The Dragon Reborn:

The Shadow Rising:

The Fires of Heaven:

Lord of Chaos:

A Crown of Swords:

The Path of Daggers:

Winter's Heart:

Crossroads of Twilight:

Knife of Dreams:

The Gathering Storm:

Towers of Midnight:

A Memory of Light:


The Stormlight books also exist in the same format, by the way. Here are their ISBN's:

The Way of Kings:

Words of Radiance:


January 10, 2020

Speculation: A Song of Ice and Fire in More Frequent, Smaller Books

A Song of Ice and Fire book collection box set cover.jpg

On this blog, I've sometimes stated that due to the wait times for George R.R. Martin's Ice and Fire books, I may prefer more, smaller books that come out more often; as opposed to fewer, larger books that come out less often.

On the basis of the UK paperback editions - where A Storm of Swords and A Dance With Dragons got divided into two smaller books each (a good move, as the font size and paper quality don't suffer because of that) - I'm going to examine what the publishing history would be like, if this division had initially occurred.

Before I proceed, a few things:

a) This on the assumption that the series will end at 7 books total
b) This is on the assumption that Books 6 and 7, once published in paperback in the UK, will also be two books each.

Ok, let's get to it:

Book 1 - A Game of Thrones (1996)

This title would be exactly as it really is, and still published in 1996.

Book 2 - A Clash of Kings (1999)

Again, same as with Book 1.

Book 3 - Steel and Snow (Part I of Book 3, A Storm of Swords) (2000)

Martin would, in this situation, publish the first part of Book 3 (using the same breaking point as the UK paperback) in 2000.

Book 4 - Blood and Gold (Part II of Book 3, A Storm of Swords) (2001)

Since that Book 2 came out in 1999 and Book 3 came out in 2000 - in "reality" - we can assume that Martin completed A Storm of Swords pretty much 'on time.'

The next instalment (again, reflecting the UK paperback break point) would follow in 2001, as there would be no delays.

Book 5 - A Feast For Crows (2005)

In this scenario, there would be a 4 year gap, rather than a 5 year one, in publication history. A Feast For Crows would still come along at the same time it "really" did.

Book 6 - Dreams and Dust (Part I of Book 5, A Dance With Dragons) (2008)

This is where the publication history of things would really change: In 2011, Martin published A Dance With Dragons, which was about the same size as A Storm of Swords. In my 'what if' scenario, since the first half (again using the break-off point that the UK paperback, Dreams and Dust did) we would get the next instalment sooner, as it's only half the size of what is known as A Dance With Dragons. Also, 2008 was the initial intended publication date for the book; so with it being half the size, in my scenario the 2008 date is obtainable with half of the book.

Book 7 - After the Feast (Part II of Book 5, A Dance With Dragons) (2011)

Follows the break point that the UK edition followed. In this scenario, with the first half being published a few years prior, the remainder of what is known as A Dance With Dragons would be published in 2011 - which was when Book 5 actually came out.

Book 8 - Part I of Book 6, The Winds of Winter (2014)

This is where it gets a bit trickier, as this book and the next aren't published yet.

Initially, the earliest that some were hoping that the book could come out was in 2014. I'm guessing that didn't happen due to the size and complexity of the book. But, if the first part were finished, 2014 would be a realistic publication date for what would be the first part of The Winds of Winter.

Book 9 - Part II of Book 6, The Winds of Winter (2019)

In my scenario, Fire & Blood is also taken into account. In my timeline, Martin still would have that book published as when it actually appeared. But, because of that, and possible writing delays (timeline issues, editing, knowing who to make a POV character, or whatever else Martin usually encounters while working on Ice and Fire) The second part of The Winds of Winter would come along slightly later no matter what. He was, after all, confident that The Winds of Winter would come out in 2019. Throughout the writing of the book, he never gave any indication of when  to expect it - the earliest of those dates was 2017, and the latest was 2019. My timeline allows for more time allotted to writing the second part, as well as getting Fire & Blood published.

Book 10 - Part I of Book 7, A Dream of Spring (2024)

Game of Thrones (the HBO series) is at this point over, and The Winds of Winter has been completed! Unsure of what Martin is up to in real life at this point beyond possibly consulting on the next HBO Thrones series, House of the Dragon (which is based on Fire & Blood), time has been allotted in my timeline for him to enjoy a bit of leisure, as well as any other projects he may be working on. Since that this is the final book, he should have a pretty good idea on how to connect things from The Winds of Winter into the final instalment.

On the assumption that Books 6 & 7 will be divided into two parts for the UK paperback publication, it's reasonable - in my timeline - that he would have the first half of A Dream of Spring published in 2024.

Book 11- Part II of Book 7, A Dream of Spring (2026)

Only a small amount of time here, as I believe at this point in my timeline, Martin knows the ending, and knows how to get there. He'll have the endgame in sight as motivation - he wants to finish the series as much we do. Also he'd take the time and effort it took to complete The Winds of Winter as a lesson, and work full steam ahead on the finale. 

So that's how I see the Ice and Fire books unfolding, if there more, smaller, books in the series. If The Winds of Winter comes out this year, then I honestly believe that we'll get the final book in 2026 - which is when I expect him to finish the series, even if the books were smaller, and came out more often.

What do you think - if there more, smaller, books that came out more often; as opposed to fewer, larger books that come out less often; would the fans still be salty about his writing habits? I honestly think "no."

January 2, 2020

What I'm Looking Forward to in 2020

Well, here we are already - another New Year! Nay, New Decade!

This post will run through things that I am interested in getting, based on my areas of interest.


- A Secret Vice in paperback. This could be my final Tolkien book, by the time it comes out
- Quidditch Through the Ages illustrated edition. This was announced by Bloomsbury, and should be out in Oct.
- The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin. I know I've been saying this since 2013/2014; however based on George's remarks throughout 2019, the book really should be in the final stages by now. At this point, I think I'd prefer multiple smaller books, rather than fewer larger ones.
- a Kobo Forma + Sleepcover. I prefer Kobo over Kindle (not because 'I hate Amazon!' or anything of the sort) because the epub file format, as opposed to mobi, seems to have fewer issues than Amazon's mobi. Look at a book review on Amazon - I bet there's bound to be at least one review commenting how the Kindle version isn't properly formatted. That, and you can upload .PDF onto Kobo. I have a Kobo Mini from 2012, and I think it's time to upgrade - sometime soon. It was a great value at $50 CDN (part of a Black Friday special) though I admit it wasn't my first choice. 

I'm fairly certain that's it for books to get....I'm also curious if any 'new' Tolkien books will get unearthed this year, as well as who the artist will be (and the theme) for the 2021 calendar.


- There isn't anything coming out in 2020 that I know of at this stage that I'm looking forward to getting. While it came out in 2019, I've yet to obtain Highland Park's third and final Viking Legends release: Valfather. That aside, I'm looking forward to anything else by them (Twisted Tattoo 16, or their 18 maybe...?), Kilchoman, Ardbeg, Auchentoshan, and I'm curious about Penderyn.


Again, nothing specific though I'm looking forward to seeing what certain breweries I like will put out.


No titles coming out in 2020 that I know of, that I'm interested in at this point. However, there are some that are already out that I look forward to getting: Delicate Sound of Thunder by Pink Floyd, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. That set, unlike the complete recordings, is not limited edition. And the fact I bought all 3 myself, well, for finance reasons, I'd like to get it as a gift. Or, if I get gifted enough money to cover (most) of the price.


The following films I'm interested in seeing cinemas. I have subscriptions to Netflix, Crave, and Disney+, so I'd like tog et my money's worth out of those.

- Mulan (this is how you do a live-action remake!)
- Ghostbusters: Afterlife (the first trailer for this looks very promising. From the trailer, they seem to have it some vibes from Star Wars: Episode VII. I also quite like that Harold Ramis' character factors into the plot in a big way. Terrific way to honour him and pay tribute)
- Tenet (Christopher Nolan. IMAX. 'nuff said)
- Dune (I'm looking forward to reading at least the first book ahead of the film's release. It should be stunning in IMAX, and I have faith in the director)
- Raya and the Last Dragon (it sounds promising. Based on my impressions on the first trailer, I may wait until it arrives on Disney+)


- The Mandolorian Season 2
- The Clone Wars: Season 7- Westworld Season 3
- The Dragon Prince Season 4 (and maybe Season 5? Depends on release dates)
- Vikings Season 6 [Part B] (what's currently airing on History is the first Part of season 6. Expect it to take a break of (hopefully only) a few months, and end the entire show at some point this year)
- Outlander Season 5 (To make my views 'count', I'll most likely wait for it to arrive on Netflix)

There are other shows that I watch, and look forward to, but in due time. There may be one or that I may be forgetting.

So I think that's pretty much it! I think I've covered all my interests. I'm currently reading The Elder Edda (and will continue to read the rest of Penguin's Legends From the Ancient North 'series'), and afterwards will be The Sagas of Icelanders, and, depending on the calendar (where I'm at in reading), either Dune or The History of Middle-earth. I also plan to read my mythology books. In terms of re-read, I plan to, at some point, re-read Harry Potter 1-7, as well as A Song of Ice and Fire, including Book 6 in the re-read.