Sunday, October 26, 2008

School Book: King Richard II

King Richard II was an extremely strange and hard to follow play. In my opinion, it is not one of Shakespeare's best. Richard II is one of Shakespeare's historical plays, following the last few years of King Richard II's life. (I believe it leads into King Henry IV parts 1 and 2).
Unlike Edward II by Christopher Marlowe, Richard II didn't seem to flow as well. There were many instances where things happened that didn't really seem to make sense (maybe this is in part due to the historical facts around Richard II - I don't really know his history).
There was one spot in particular that I found especially confusing: Act IV. Act IV is where Bolingbroke gets Richard's crown. Well, the beginning of the act has so many people come out of nowhere and challenge one another, it's extremely difficult to follow. The fact that they're calling one another liars the whole time didn't help either. Again, this may come more from historical fact, but again, I do not know the history of Richard II.
Characters coming out of nowhere made this play really tough to follow. I had to flipback to the List of Roles all the time in an attempt to figure out who everyone was. Other than the few main characters, there seemed to be a lot of minor ones who would randomly show up for a scene, then disappear (again, look back at Act IV when everyone is challenging one another).
Maybe reading it through a second time will help straighten things out. But as of this moment, I can say I was not impressed with this play. Definitely not one of my favourites.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Library Break: Batman: Vampire

Batman: Vampire is something special. I noticed that right away when I first picked it up at work. Batman: Vampire starts out as the tale of Batman vs. Dracula. Dracula has come to Gotham City, and only the Dark Knight can stand in his way. But at the end of this first tale, Dracula manages to change the Dark Knight into a vampire himself.
The second tale has Batman struggling to uphold his moral code: no killing. But how long can he hold out when the blood of the living calls to him? At the same time, the Joker has taken control of the last nest of Dracula's children, and has urged them to grander targets, taking out all of Gotham's mob families. This tale ends with the unthinkable: Batman succumbs, killing the Joker and drinking his tainted blood.
Finally, readers are left with the third story: Batman has been staked for an unknown period of time, and now crime has run rampant. In a desperate plea for help, Alfred removes the stake, unleashing the terrible monster that Batman has become. Who now can save Gotham from the fallen Knight?
Batman: Vampire is a terrifying tale, showing that even the Dark Knight can be corrupted, can become one of the monsters that he strives to protect Gotham from. An alternate history to the Batman timeline, this is one book that all fans of the Dark Knight should read.

Library Break: The Rope Trick

I read a couple of Lloyd Alexander books from the library (The Fortunetellers and The House Gobbaleen. I really enjoyed The Fortunetellers; The House Gobbaleen was just alright) because I was looking for a book to compare to The Black Cauldron for a paper. I think I've found that book in The Rope Trick. The Rope Trick tells the story of Lidi, a magician who is trying to discover how to do the world's rarest trick: the rope trick. On her journey of discovery, she encounters the Added Attraction Daniella, a girl who can tell the future, and the fugitive Julian. Together with her canvasmaster Jericho, they journey through the land of Campania, meet a troupe of dancing pigs, and must save Daniella from kidnappers.
The Rope Trick is a fun read. It is a journey of discovery for Lidi, where she learns that everything she needs is within her. I think it will also be a good book to compare to the Black Caulfron because it is similar in many ways, and yet different. The Rope Trick is low fantasy, while The Black Cauldron is high. But both are quest stories, with quirky and strong willed characters. Both are definitely worth reading!

Library Break: Batman: Knightfall pt. 3

I read this last week and forgot to write about it here. Part 3: Knightsend ends the Batman: Knightfall saga. This is the story of how Bruce Wayne reclaims his place as Gotham's Dark Knight.

After a long and slow recovery, Bruce Wayne is almost ready to resume his place. But he knows he has lost his edge, and he is afraid he will not be able to reclaim it. To that end, he asks Lady Shiva to train him.

As Bruce Wayne is struggling to survive Shiva's training, Jean Paul Valley is spiraling further and further into madness.

Knightsend is the explosive conclusion to the Knightfall trilogy. I didn't think it was nearly as good as Broken Bat (because I doubt that anything will be able to compare to that), but it is definitely worth the read!

Friday, October 17, 2008

School Book: The Black Cauldron

I started reading The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander two nights ago. It is one of the books we're studying in Contemporary Children's Literature, so it is am extremely easy read. And I absolutely loved it! The Black Cauldron is a high fantasy, similar in some respects to the Lord of the Rings; there is a band of unlikely heroes who end up saving the world. But unlike the Lord of the Rings, The Black Cauldron can stand on its own.
The story mainly follows Taran and his friends as they search for the evil Black Cauldron. They must fight their way through the evil hunters of Arawn, survive the three sorcerresses, and all the time they have to be careful of whom to trust. Adventure and excitement at every turn of the page, this is an unforgettable adventure for everyone!
However, I do wish I had read the Book of Three, the first book in the Prydain series, before this one. The Black Cauldron alluded to events that had already happened, and talked about characters near the beginning as if they were people you knew. But once I got past the first couple of chapters, I found that this stopped and then the story was able to stand on its own.
All in all, I found The Black Cauldron to be an enjoyable read. It is simple, but highly entertaining. I think it is something that everyone, young and old, should get their hands on at least once in their lifetime!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

School Book: Hamlet

Well, this is the third time I've had to read Shakespeare's Hamlet. And although I would have preferred my professor choosing something else, I have to admit I really like this play. The first time I read it, back in grade 12, I didn't really care for it. But when I reread it for class last year, I thought it was great. The plot is well written, the characters are all distinct, and it is fun (even for a tragedy).

I did notice a bit of a difference between this edition (The Arden Edition) and the one I read last year (The W.W. Norton Edition). Specifically, my favourite soliloquy seemed different ("To be, or not to be..."). But all in all, I enjoyed rereading this. It is a wonderful tale, and definitely worth rereading time and time again!

School Book: The Spanish Tragedy

I don't know why I'm even bothering to comment on this one; it's been about a week since I read it, and I absolutely hated it! It was painful to even get through it! The Spanish Tragedy was written by Thomas Kyd. It seemed similar to Hamlet at first, but not nearly as good. The characters were boring and similar to one another. The beginning of the play was incredibly dull, having to do with a battle and whatnot. And the first couple of murders didn't really have a good reason to happen. I will say though that the ending was kind of funny. It was a play within a play, and although my copy was translated, the original is supposed to be happening with every character speaking a different language!

Overall, this was not my favourite play by a long shot.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

School Book: Edward II

Earlier this week I readthe play Edward II by Christopher Marlowe. I have to say I really enjoyed it! This was the first work that I've ever read by Marlowe, and it was extremely well written. The characters were well defined, the verse style was easy to understand, and the plot was interesting. I also didn't find the characters' names too confusing, so that was another big plus. Edward II is a historical play, and it is based off of the life of Edward II of England. See here for the wiki page). It was a very enjoyable read (although the ending is a bit gruesome when you stop and think about it!)