Servant of the Secret Fire

Random thoughts on books and life in the reality-based community

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Location: New York, United States

The name I've chosen comes from "Lord of the Rings," when Gandalf faces down the Balrog in the Mines of Moria. My Hebrew name is Esther (which is related to the word for "hidden" or "secret") Serafina (which means "burning"). This seems appropriate because although I don't usually put myself forward, I do care very passionately about a lot of things. Maybe through these blogs I can share some of these passions, as well as less weighty ideas and opinions, with others.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Let's try again...


I’d really like to keep this going and to talk about different things, but haven’t been able to get back into the swing of it. New “format” – at least for the moment –  none. I was looking at a book at Borders last night that was a sort of reader’s journal - the author spent a year or so taking notes on what she was reading, what she thought of it. I think I’ll try that for now, with some other things thrown in.

Here are the last two books that I’ve bought: The Assault on Reason by Al Gore and The Great Snape Debate by assorted authors, among them Orson Scott Card. I haven’t actually started the Gore book but did read the first essay supporting Snape’s being a bad guy. They actually made a pretty good case, but I’ll continue to root for his being on the right side in the end.

Books that I’ve finished in the past few days and may review in the future, with brief blurbs:

1) Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir - a historical novel about Lady Jane Grey. Surprisingly enjoyable. Of course, while her rather opinionated non-fiction has annoyed me in the past I’ve never denied that she is a good writer. She occasionally slipped into “lecture mode” a couple of times at the beginning (maybe an occupational hazard for someone who normally writes non-fiction), but appeared to recover. The technique of using multiple narrators worked out well for me but may be confusing for people who aren’t familiar with the historical characters. Rating: 4-1/2 stars

2) Lure of the Sinister: The Unnatural History of Satanism by Gareth J. Medway - Essentially argues that serious “Satanism” as it’s generally been portrayed by the Church and more recently by fundamentalist Christians, never existed, but then of course, the author is (gasp!) a pagan, so why should we believe him? (snark) Contains an excellent rundown of the “ritual abuse” scare of the 80s and 90s. Rating: 4 stars

3) The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien (ed. Christopher Tolkien) - Not The Lord of the Rings, but then nothing is. An enjoyable and suitably high epic tragedy from the earlier days (some 6,000 years before LOTR) of Middle-Earth.

At the moment I’m working on Jane and the Barque of Frailty by Stephanie Barron, the ninth Jane Austen mystery.

Happy Memorial Day - drive safely, have a good time but don’t forget what it’s about, and that American troops are in harm’s way.

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