All posts by Fenna

IRJE: June 1 (Hunted)

In Hunted, book six of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, the Morrgian, Irish goddess of war and the chooser of the slain, attempts to change herself– to love instead of lust, and be amiable instead of intimidating. She soon realizes that godhood offers not only boons, but also restrictions. One of them being that she cannot make herself anything but what her worshipers believe her to be. She is incapable of loving. To gain freedom in the only way she can, she orchestrates her own death, letting herself be killed while she is protecting he whom she wants to love. The aforementioned “he,” Atticus, reflects on the loss:

She’d made life more poignant for the Irish. The terror she inspired gave peace its serenity; the pain she caused gave health its lustre; her failure to love made me grateful for my ability to do so, and I realized, far too late, that though I never did or could have loved her as she might have wished, I should have loved her more. (p. 301)

It’s an interesting thing to appreciate that which is bad. I’ve heard people wish for a life free from sorrow and pain many times, and always found it perplexing. It is comparison which makes something stronger. Without chaos, peace cannot exist, and vise versa. If we have no comparison, what is simply is. I have never been blind, and so feel no excitement for the ability to see. Likewise, had I never experienced disorder and confusion, I would never be grateful for silence and calm. It is very difficult for us to feel thankful for that which we’ve never experienced an absence of, or to feel regretful for not having that which we don’t know exists. All of this is to say that one should appreciate more rather than less. It is a wonderful thing to live a life which offers such a diversity of feelings and experiences, which ties back in to the Morrigan’s dilemma– the inability to feel an emotion which you know exists must be an awful thing. That doesn’t only apply to love though: sadness, anger, anticipation, disappointment, joy, contentment– each plays an important role in the play of our lives, and without any one of them, we would be incomplete. A person should never resent themselves for their emotions, and should always be grateful for their ability to feel so much.

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PW: May 21 (World History)

The Chaos Age and the Severance Pact

Long ago, during what is called the Chaos Age, the Inner Planes were unseparated, with everything from fey and humanoids to aberrations and monstrosities co-inhabiting one vast realm. Life for the mortals was a whirlwind of constant pandemonium and fear, and great clashes between the dominant races resulted in entire mountain ranges and forests being reduced to rubble. In the Outer Planes, the deities grew ever-more angry with each-other, all blaming one another for creating the destructive monsters that were tearing the Inner Planes to shreds. Three factions arose among them— Alsul’s Starbringers, Mlek’s Dusksingers, and Vikor’s Nightwatchers. After warring broke out on the divine level, Alsul, Mlek, and Vikor quickly realized that without armistice the Outer Planes would be torn to pieces, just as the Inner Planes were being. The three met in what is now called the Preservation Conference, and came to an agreement: the Inner Planes would be separated into three parts— Leriel, the Feywild, and Shadowfell. Each faction would receive one to rule over, and in it would reside the races whom their members had created. The Nightwatchers were given Shadowfell, with its horrifying monstrosities and empty black sky. The Dusksingers were given the Feywild, a twilight realm of beauty and rampant magic inhabited by playful fey. Lastly, the Starbringers were given Leriel, the most similar to the original land, which would be inhabited by a vast diversity of humanoid, beastly, and monstrous creatures. This was called the Severance Pact.

The Mellow and the Ingression

Thus, the Inner Planes were divided in three, and relative peace was restored to both mortals and the divine. For hundreds of thousands of years, in what is now called the Mellow, the deities contented themselves by watching their realms grow into empires, intervening when they pleased to shape their domains as they desired. The many races were given time to build expansive and diverse cultures and creations, exploring themselves and the new planes they had been given. Eventually, as the races developed more and more, the Ingression began. Some inhabitants of the Inner Planes started to discover ways of travelling between the realms. As the planes were stacked one atop another, with Leriel in the middle surrounded by the Feywild above and Shadowfell below, few portals connected the plane of twilight to that of shadow. In Leriel, however, rumours of fearsome aberrations and mischievous fae pervaded the land. Some even claimed to have visited other realms, but these were mostly dismissed as madmen. In the Outer Planes, as the deities realized their perfect secluded realms were once again intertwining, unease festered and began growing into a reestablishing of old grudges and hatreds. Each pantheon blamed another for opening the portals. Tension peaked when Yzarrelon, a particularly monstrous shadow dragon, burst through a portal into Leriel, ravaging dozens of towns before a group of Starbringer celestials descended from the Court of the Stars to slay the beast. Direct interference, especially physically setting foot on the Inner Planes, was, though not technically forbade, heavily disapproved of. The Nightwatchers were indignant of the celestials’ behaviour, especially since their incursion had resulted in the death of a Shaden. The Starbringers were angry with the Nightwatchers for not intervening themselves, and believed they were accountable for the death of the many Leriellans. The Dusksingers feared their twilight realm would be invaded as well, and were wary of both other pantheons. Heated discussions between members of the pantheons quickly devolved into skirmishes. At first, the deities made half-hearted attempts to stop the brawls, but soon they too ceded to their rapidly-growing loathing of each other. The Outer Planes broke out into war.

The Coalescence War

The Coalescence War, also called Chaos’ Echo and the Divine War, lasted three centuries, and resulted in both the Inner and Outer Planes being left in ruin. During the war, celestials often descended to the Inner Planes to encourage citizens of their realm to attack those of the others, and some even occasionally fought alongside their mortal subjects. An unwarranted outcome of this was the mixing of celestial blood into mortal bloodlines. These half-breeds were known as the plane-touched. Divine power raged on the Inner Planes nearly as much as on the Outer.

Only when Varius Tal-Kesek, the plane-touched descendant of a particularly powerful celestial, nearly killed Iyre, the Goddess of spite and storms, were the deities shocked back into reality. Finally, the rage of the deities subsided to fear as they realized the catastrophic damage they were doing, both to the power-balance and physical landscape of the Planes. The regal courts and majestic cities of the Outer Planes were reduced to rubble, with thousands of celestials laying dead inside. Each of the Inner Planes was affected in a different way by the outbreak of divine magic and warring. Leriel was torn apart, with barely a half-mile of land left inhabitable, and technological advancement reverted to a barbaric state. The Feywild was overrun with wildly lush and thick magical underbrush and forests, and its inhabitants were driven feral and mad. Shadowfell, previously gloomy, was wiped clear of any trace of light, and the blackness of the surroundings seeped deep into its residents’ souls.

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IRJE: May 15 (Tricked)

In Tricked, book four of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, Siodhachan (or Atticus) O Suileabhain must train his new apprentice, Granuaile, to become a druid in order to preserve druidic magic. However, the journey from apprenticeship to full druidhood is a long one, requiring twelve years of martial and scholarly training before one can use even the barest hints of magic. One of the scholarly necessities is that of learning numerous languages. When discussing various aspects of druidic power, Atticus tells Granuaile one of the reasons she needs to learn so many languages.

One of the reasons I require you to learn so many languages is that you can use each of them as a different head-space; they’re going to provide you with a frame-work in which to multitask and they’ll also help you avoid mistakes. You’ll want to use Old Irish for you magic and English for everyday use, so that you’re firmly separating your bindings from your regular speech. Then you’re going to want to pick a language to use for elementals that’s different from  either. (p. 37).

Languages are a fascinating thing which are often mistaken for only ways of communicating. They are not. Much more dominantly, they are ways of thinking. Our vocabulary and sentence structures influence the way we think about and interpret the world, and though it is likely exaggeration in the spirit of fantasy to say one can operate in multiple languages at once, I do think that the sentiment of each language being a different head-space is at least in some ways true. I am not bilingual. I know a passable amount of French, but other than that I can only speak English (although my father is fluent in French and my mother in Swedish– I cannot fathom why they didn’t teach me those languages as a child). Still, I have had a great interest in lingual studies for quite a while. Overwhelmingly, I’ve found it impossible to contradict that language shapes thought. A sentence structure is a hierarchical list of all important information: where we place each bit of information determines its value in our minds. Vocabulary is also significant. For instance, in some First Nations languages, the term for plants translates to “those who take care of us.” Having this be the literal meaning of a word unquestionably would shape one’s disposition towards what that thing is, which is showcased in the difference between Indigenous values and those of the broader Western community. This is one of the reasons I so wish to learn more languages throughout my life– a new language unlocks not just words, but new ideas, new ways of living and being.

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PW: May 7 (The Ballad of Inquisitorb)

From mortal man to divine god,

His journey was one long.

He fought for freedom’s followers,

Against those wroth and wrong.

 

For countless days he stayed enslaved

And waited for his time.

He met while there an elven wretch,

Sullied with sin and grime,

 

And side by side they dueled with fate,

Their swords and bows in hand.

The bloody clash was scarcely won,

That, you must understand–

 

He worked and fought for what he had,

His land, his fame, his gold.

Not once was e’er he granted ease,

Not by the gods of old.

 

For they, you see, resented he,

Who sought to take their throne.

Thus mighty sir Inquisitorb

Was forced to hie alone.

 

From Fort Joy all to Lucian’s tomb,

He practiced, trained, prepared.

Bearing his stalwart dwarven blade,

He never poorly fared.

 

Inquisitorb’s Inquisisword

Through men and beasts did cleave.

With every grand and deadly strike,

A tale its blade did weave.

 

His foes always their ends did greet,

Thus was it Braccus fell.

Out from the hand of our new God

Was cast the gallant spell:

 

A tentacle lashed forth from he,

and struck it Braccus true.

Out of the mouth of our hero,

A “Brac no mag!” quick flew.

 

To Lord Inquisitorb’s great shock,

Concurrent with his words,

Another voice did cry out twin:

A “Brac no mag!” to gird.

 

Thus Braccus was encircled by

A call from every side,

As down he went, he screamed with rage,

Then promptly coughed and died.

 

So goes the tale of our lord’s rise,

From slave to mighty god.

For bravery we worship he

Who blazed the path we trod.

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Passion in Literature: May 3 (John Anderson, My Jo)

“John Anderson, My Jo,” by Robert Burns, acknowledges some regular tropes of love poetry during the sixteen to eighteen hundreds, buts takes a different approach to them, and conveys a unique idea in comparison to other works of that time. For instance, the familiar notion of beauty fading with time is present in the lines “Your locks were like the raven, / Your bonie brow went brent; / But not your brow is beld, John, / Your locks are like the snow.” (1. 3-6). However, instead of using this as an argument for why action should be taken during youth, it is a contently-made observation about how long the speaker has had the pleasure of being in a relationship with John Anderson. This is demonstrated by the following line, “But blessings on your frosty pow” (1. 7).

The second stanza adds to the idea of a long and fulfilling relationship between the speaker and her beloved, John. This opposes many other “love” poems, which are really more about short romances which have the primary purpose of sexual interaction than truly loving relationships. In love poetry, metaphors are commonly made to describe life– sometimes the passage of the sun through the sky, or the changing of the seasons. Similarly, the metaphor of ascending and descending a hill is used to describe life in “John Anderson, My Jo.” This can be seen in the second stanza: “We clamb the hill togither; . . . Now we maun totter down, John.” (2. 2, 2. 5).

All together, the content of the poem presents love as a mellow and happy lifetime spent together, which is much different from other love poems. One may, after reading this poems and a few others on our handout, consider which version of love truly is love. In my opinion, all versions described in the poems are forms of love– it is simply the fault of the English language for packing so much diverse meaning into one word. Another obvious difference in the poem is that the speaker is a woman (even though the poem is written by a man), so I could see someone taking this to represent the woman’s version of love, and other love poems, the man’s. I don’t believe this though.

I suspect the rhythm is supposed to be a series of couplets, the first line of each being seven syllables, and the second being six. Especially in the second stanza, syllable count deviates. I would propose that an explanation for this would be the difference in pronunciation between our current English dialect, and Burns’ old Scottish one. For instance, the line “We’ve had wi’ane anither” (2. 4) I would count as seven syllables, pronouncing “wi’ane” as “wih” and “ane,” but my supposition is that it would actually be pronounced closer to a single syllable “wane.”

The rhyme scheme is for the most part a simple ABAB, but the lines five and seven of each stanza do not rhyme with each other (“John” with “pow” and “John” with “foot”).  Each line five does, however, rhyme with lines one and three. I am unsure whether the rhyme scheme is ABAB ACDC, or if these “one-three-five” rhymes are just coincidence.

The overall regular rhythm and rhymes combined with the consistent repetitions (specifically, of “John” and the phrase “John Anderson my jo”) give the poem a melodic quality. In my head, I read it as a song. Occasional occurrences of alliteration add to this entrancing effect, pulling the reader out of the meanings of words and instead into their sounds. One example of this is the line “Your bonie brow was brent” (1. 4).

This melodic quality fits with the content of the poem, which tells the story of a couple beginning their journey “up the hill” together, and ambling back down when their life comes to a end. Unlike other poems we have read, which are filled with fiery emotions such as hatred, resent, and lust, “John Anderson, My Jo” shows a much more peaceful side of love. The contentment of the poem is matched by the steady, song-like form.

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IRJE: May 1 (Hounded)

In Hounded, book one of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, Siodhachan O Suileabhain is warned of doom’s approach by the Morrigan, goddess of war, fate, and death. Siodhachan, or more commonly Atticus, has long been hunted by Aenghus Og, the god of love. The Morrigan warns Atticus that Aenghus once again plans to make an attempt on his life, which makes Atticus contemplate his relationship with the Celtic god of love.

If love and hate were two sides of the same coin, Aenghus spent an awful lot of time on the hate side for a god of love– especially where I was concerned. (p. 23).

Gods being portrayed as full and complicated people, instead of solely representations of one emotion or attribute, always catches my interest. Mostly reading fantasy novels, deities often make appearances in my books. Nothing, to me, makes the concept of godliness less appealing than the lack of motivations or complications. I am just beginning to reread this series, which I loved in my youth, and am remembering all the reasons I love it. Likely first and foremost among these reasons is the depth of each character. Never do I question “Would this character actually do this?” or think “This is only happening to advance the plot, and doesn’t have any justifications as per the natures of the characters.”  Often times authors get away with losing that depth when it comes to gods, which are, in most pantheons, representations of specific domains. This quickly becomes boring, and removes any intrigue about motivations. I enjoy that in Hounded the god of love experiences the full range of emotions, rather than just love. Love closely ties together with hatred, so much so that it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say they are two of the most bonded emotions. If a god of love never hates, and a god of hatred never loves, an infinity of possibilities are lost to the narrative. The idea of a god who resembles a regular person in all ways except their power is much more interesting.

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PW: Apr. 21 (Arlynne– Region Overview[pt. 2])

. . .

Lere, located in Northern Arlynne, is a dark, mist-enveloped land that serves as a centre for the highest of noble politicking and lowest of bastardy thieving. The Leren court is renowned for its lavish masquerade balls and sprawling illegal underground. A tradition among many nobles it to send their newly matured children on an expedition to the Leren court, giving them a chance to prove themselves. If the noble fledgling has the cunning to avoid being taken for ransom by the Illicits (the colloquial term for members of the Leren underground) and the etiquette to successfully maneuver through a Leren masquerade without causing great disgrace to their family, they are permitted to return home and claim a title. The thick fog that crawls across each city street and forest trail in Lere gives the entire region an air of depression.

Cylik is a mountainous region with little political presence, yet enormous resource significance. This contradiction can only be attributed to the nature of those who inhabit the peaks. More specifically, the nature of dwarves. With an absence of any interest whatsoever in courtly politics, the Cylikians devote themselves purely to the mastery of their work. They take pride in their craftsmanship and clan loyalty. Visitors to Cylik are always welcome, provided they bring with them ale to share, coin to spend, and a jovial attitude. Many halflings choose to reside alongside the dwarves in the mountain settlements of Cylik, making a traveler as likely to be greeted by tiny hands and cheery smiles as sturdy dwarven clansmen, though the region is still recognized as a dwarf-owned territory.

Temur’rin is the capital of Arlynne, located directly at its centre. The sprawling city is made up of five tiers, the innermost being the Mydel court, surrounded by the aristocratic residential and commercial district, then the commoner’s residential and commercial district (including the merchant square), the shanties (a heap of tiny shacks stacked one atop another, painted in sewage and poverty), and lastly, on the outskirts, the farms. Temur’rin is one of the largest and most densely populated cities, and few Arlysh citizens live their entire lives without visiting it at least once.  There are barely any services or goods that you can’t find there.

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IRJE: April 15 (The Hero of Ages)

In the Hero of Ages, book three of the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, the world of Scadrial is ruled over by two opposing gods, Ruin, the god of change, and Preservation, the god of stability. For aeons, they were at an impasse, with neither one able to achieve their full goal. Thus, Scadrial was too left in between, with each being possessing equal amounts of chaos and stability inside of them.

Preservation’s desire to create sentient life was what eventually broke the stalemate. In order to give mankind awareness and independent thought, Preservation knew that he would have to give up a part of himself–his own soul–to dwell within mankind. This would leave him just a tiny bit weaker than his opposite, Ruin. . . Preservation got mankind, the only creations that had more Preservation than Ruin rather than a balance. Independent life that could think and feel. (pp. 483-484).

In this passage, it is stated that humans have a part of Preservation inside of them, making them the only being on Scadrial to not be completely balanced between chaos and stability. It is implied that two of the things that make mankind a creation of Preservation are their abilities to think and feel. I find both of these ideas–that humans are beings more of perpetuation than change and that a reason for this is the ability to think and feel–questionable at best.

Firstly, quite obviously every creature has the ability to feel. I considered that perhaps there are not animals on Scadrial, as they are rarely ever mentioned and the conditions of the world would theoretically make it quite hard for many of them to survive. However, wolfhounds and other such creatures are referred to in the novel, if sparingly. In any case, it is unquestionable that feeling is not unique to the human race.

More importantly though, feeling and thinking, in my mind, are in no way attributes of stagnation and stability. Emotion combined with the ability to process and ponder is one of the most chaotic things in this world. In some ways, beings that lack consciousness are in a perpetual state of meditation. The average life of a person is a tornado of disorder and complication compared to the life of an animal. Many of the people who represent calmness to us are those that actively try to put everything out of their minds: monks. Naturally, humans are beings of what Ruin represents– chaos. In Mistborn, Ruin’s goal is to eventually destroy the world. I dare say if Ruin had seen Earth’s example of what humans can do to a planet, he would have been a thousand times more eager to bring them into Scadrial than Preservation was.

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PW: Apr. 7 (Arlynne– Region Overview[pt. 1])

Ranging from vast empty deserts to mountainous peaks, Arlynne is a continent known for diversity in not only terrain, but also inhabitants. Visitors of any race can find kinsmen in Arlynne, whether they be one-off individuals living in the richly populated trading hubs, or entire clans of relatives inhabiting traditional territories.

The Mydel monarchy presides over the High-Lords and High-Ladies who rule different Arlysh regions. Some of the most well known regions in Arlynne are the Ascer Flats, the Faerwyven Woods, Lere, Cylik, and most importantly, the capital, Temur’rin.

*What follows is an account of regions as they are perceived in mass, not necessarily as they are in reality. 

The Ascer flats are an expansive desert wasteland on the southern-most border of Arlynne. The Vaeden sea lays just beyond them, though few venture far enough into the desert to reach it. If solely the perpetual blaze of the sun doesn’t sufficiently deter would-be travelers, the frequent sandstorms and lack of any reason whatsoever to visit the flats provide more than abundant disincentive. Only one settlement can be found in the barren expanse: a village inhabited by the Asceri. The Asceri are a bedouin people who devote their lives to the study of the mind. They generally fall outside of the usual hierarchical workings, and are left alone by the monarchy. Not much further is known to the general public, as few ever voyage into or out of their village.

The Faerwyven Woods are a forested region roughly in the centre of Western Arlynne. Inhabited in majority by elves, the forest is said to be unusually close to the Feywild. Countless stories have been told of fey creatures emerging from the foliage to play tricks on, assist, or terrorize travelers in Faerwyven. Most of the settlements in the woods are elven hunting villages. The aspects most notable in the region are the Silvenrre River and the Castle of Dawn. The Silvenrre River is a wide waterway which gleams during the night with a silver light often compared to that of the moon, acting as a beacon of hope for lost adventurers. The Castle of Dawn is a small yet exceptionally imperious and elegant fortress which houses the High-Lord and High-Lady of the Faerwyven Woods.

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PW: Mar. 21 (Yagen- The Yaughrrinn Peaks [Brief History])

A history written for my newest DnD character, and thus also, for a change, written in the first person. It is also heavily biased, and not an accurate portrayal of Enlyan history.


Long ago, the dwarven society in the Yaughrrinn peaks thrived upon the earnings of metal working. Located in the mountains just without the borders of a major Enlyan trading hub, we made more than a tidy profit off of selling plate mail and iron swords to unversed eager adventurers. This, though, was only the very base of our work. What we truly prided ourselves on, what we cared for and loved, were the metallic artworks we created. Each blade, helm, and breastplate we crafted shone with the vibrancy of our hearty dwarven forge. The metal works that came down from the Yaughrrinn peaks were more than tools– they were entire histories inscribed into steel. We embodied the ideal dwarven society, and our kinsmen looked up to us as much as dwarven kinsmen can.

I was born far after this time though. Good things never last long. Enlyera’s worldly king renounced the throne, leaving a brash elven nobleman to succeed him. The elves have always thought themselves superior to us– to everyone. They believe their fey blood gives them the right to act as if they are gods. They aren’t though. No, they aren’t anything damned near to gods. The elf boy, Reluin, forced us into our mountains, imprisoning those who ventured down into the cities to trade.  We lost dozens of our clan to the tyrant, and never will we forget it. Even ensuing the end of his reign, our people were too afraid to face the outside world. Too long had we been locked away for even our dwarven resilience to preserve our pride and determination. For a society that values the bonds of kinship so highly, the losses we suffered became a wound in us that may never heal.

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IRJE: Apr. 1 (The Hero of Ages)

In the Hero of Ages, book three of the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, there are two gods which rule over Scadrial, the world in which the series takes place. The first god, Preservation, seeks to create stability and eliminate chaos and change. Her counterpart, Ruin, strives for the opposite: complete destruction and disorder. For millennia, the two were locked in stalemate, with neither able to achieve their extreme goals.

On one hand, each knew that only by working together could they create. On the other hand, both knew that they would never have complete satisfaction in what they created. Preservation would not be able to keep things perfect and unchanging, and Ruin would not be able to destroy completely. (pp. 472-473).

In the series, especially in book three, Ruin acts as the primary antagonist. Considering this, it might be easy to mistake Ruin for a god of evil. This, however, isn’t true, and that’s something I find very interesting. Despite being a cause of great distress for the world of Scadrial and the heroes in it, Ruin cannot be fully destroyed– he does not represent evil, but rather change. Without him, Preservation would just as easily destroy the world as it was. The only difference is that where Ruin would dissolve Scadrial into a state of chaos, Preservation would keep it captive in a state of everlasting perpetuity. Truly, neither extreme is a good option– the world needs a balance of change and stability. The Hero of Ages takes place at a time in which Ruin has gained more power than Preservation, and thus he is who the heroes must fight against, and as mutual enemies of Ruin, they naturally become allied with Preservation. It is important to recognize, though, that the circumstances have made one god into an ally and the other into an enemy. The roles could easily be reversed, with the heroes of Scadrial fighting to not be caught in a world where no change can be inflicted. Though it is still more interesting to have villains with more complexity than seeking an absolute, the concept of chaos and stability being the absolutes rather than evil and good is still at least somewhat more compelling.

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IRJE: Mar. 15 (The Hero of Ages)

In the Hero of Ages, book three of the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, the protagonists must fight the god of chaos and destruction, Ruin, to keep their world, Scadrial, from being completely annihilated. Ruin’s counterpart, Preservation, is the god of stability and perpetuity.

Ruin was not always the antagonist of the series though. In the first two books, Mistborn and the Well of Ascension, the heroes fight to overthrow the Lord Ruler, an oppressive leader who, centuries ago, took the power at the Well of Ascension. This action gave him godlike abilities, and ensured that Ruin would stay locked away until the power returned to the Well, as Ruin was trapped there, and could only be released if the power was as well.

The Lord Ruler created many new species with his abilities when he first gained them. One of these species was the kandra, who bound themselves by contracts, and took pride in never breaking those contracts.

“What do you think we are?” TenSoon asked. “Humans, with their rebellions and upheavals? We are kandra. We are of Preservation. We follow order.” (p. 178).

Throughout the entire first two books, the Lord Ruler is thought to be a being of pure evil. He was an oppressive dictator who mercilessly slaughtered millions. After the primary protagonist, Vin, slays the Lord Ruler, the power returns to the Well of Ascension, and she, unbeknownst to the fact that giving up the power will free Ruin, releases the power there.

In the fight to stop Ruin from destroying the world, the heroes discover more and more about the past, which the Lord Ruler had kept hidden from his people. They discover that the Lord Ruler worked, just as they are now working, to stop Ruin. He even created many species, such as the kandra, that were of Preservation, Ruin’s opposite. Though power inevitably corrupted him, and he was never the most noble of people, the Lord Ruler prepared for centuries for the day Ruin would return, and had he been left alive, he would’ve saved Scadrial a second time. I find it very interesting that by assassinating someone who they viewed to be a no-good oppressive leader, the heroes of the story also unleashed an even greater evil.

Usually in books antagonists are either complete evil, or working for a cause they believe to be good. The Lord Ruler was a mix of both of these types of villains. He did not want the world to be destroyed as Ruin did, and tried his hardest to stop the god of chaos. However, he was also at heart a selfish and cruel man, encouraging the rape and murder of millions of skaa, the lower class people, and killing off an entire race simply because he was afraid of anyone getting powerful enough to contest him.

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Passion in Literature: March 13 (Sentimentality in Love Poetry)

Must love poems in some way exhibit the attributes of sentimentality. The vast majority of poems on this list were meant to rise in the reader some sort of simple emotion, whether it be sorrow, desire, or even lust. I believe one of the most sentimental poems to be When We Two Parted, a piece by George Gordon, Lord Byron that evokes sadness and sympathy.

According to Mr. MacKnight, in the handout “Melodrama and Sentimentality,” sentimentality is the “indulgence of easy emotions,” and often includes “vague, flowery, and ‘poetic'” diction and imagery and rhythms that are “very regular.” When We Two Parted demonstrates both of these qualities.

The writer uses “poetic” imagery that creates vague and disconnected illustrations of sorrowful scenes in the reader’s mind. For instance, the lines “They name thee before me, / A knell to mine ear;” (ll. 17-18) brings to the head the image of ringing funeral bells, and the lines “When we two parted / In silence and tears,” (ll. 1-2) evokes the all too iconic image of a tearful breakup. Diction in the poem is similarly flowery and emotion-provoking, with nearly each line furthering the depressing tone. The writer chooses words carefully to ensure that each has the most negative connotation possible. For example, the line “A knell to mine ear;” (l. 17) could easily have “bell” substituted for “knell,” but the word “knell” was chosen instead, because it brings with it the mood of a funeral.

The rhymes of the poem are very regular, and almost song-like. A consistent ABAB CDCD rhyme scheme is followed throughout each of the four stanzas. The passionate sorrow of the poem is expressed in the irregular rhythm, with the length, stressing of syllables, and patterns all differing in each stanza. This combination of song-like rhymes and irregular rhythm creates a perfect “poetic” depression in the poem.

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PW: Mar. 7 (Tyrienne- the Ascer Flats)

Tyrienne sat on a clay-tiled rooftop, watching the merchants below slowly conclude their incessant declarations of superiority over other vendors. With the midday hours closing in, the bustling market streets had all but emptied. No one was inclined to find themselves caught in the blistering heat of noon. Well, that was, no one except Tyrienne. There was something wonderful to her about wandering through marketplaces and thoroughfares that had just hours ago been packed near to bursting with vibrant sounds and colours, and finding them as deserted as the barren wastelands that lay beyond the city.

Finally the last of the merchants left the square, heading to taverns or homesteads to wait out the brutal Ascer sun. Tyrienne couldn’t help herself from smiling as she dropped from the roof onto a small balcony below, then jumped off, landing on the stone streets of the seemingly abandoned city. She closed her eyes as she began to walk, imagining the heat that beat down from above melting her into the ground. Even with her eyes shut, she knew exactly where she was. When growing up in a city located directly in the centre of an expansive desert, with nothing but sand within a week’s ride in every direction, one got to know their hometown quite well. After all, there was nowhere else to get to know. She could wander around the entire city blindfolded without once getting lost. In fact, she often did. Meager blind beggars tended to get more sympathy, and so also money, than able-bodied ones.

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Passion in Literature: Mar. 6 (Personal Response to Romeo and Juliet)

In our current day, the mass perception of Romeo and Juliet is one that paints the two nobles as icons of perfect “true love.” Though the play may not have begun the mentality that to die for one’s partner is the ultimate expression of love, it certainly emulated this ideology (or, at least, is now regarded as emulating this ideology). Thus, with the growth in popularity of Romeo and Juliet also came the mass spreading of the “I would die for you” concept. In my eyes, the play much better suites the role of a cautionary tale than a poetic romance. Hence, throughout reading and watching the tragedy, I became more and more concerned that somehow these two figures, that to me are the quintessence of idiotic impulsiveness, turned into those that we now aspire to be in our relationships.

During the whole of the play, we see Romeo and Juliet interact less than ten times, and not once do they discuss anything of genuine importance. They quite literally know nothing about each others beliefs or views of the world, besides the fact that they love one another, which they proclaim all too often in the stead of anything that actually matters. Their love can only be based off of solely physical attraction, as neither one displays to the other any personality trait besides “in love.” Yet, still, they both choose to commit suicide when they see the other dead, as if it is better to die than to live without a person who they’ve known for only four days and haven’t learned anything about besides how attractive they look.

It is very worrisome to me that we would strive to mimic the “love” that Romeo and Juliet have, as I see their “love” as more of a shallow fancy. The excitement of that that is new was not given enough time to diminish before radical events occurred, and I believe that, combined with teenage impulse, is the reason Romeo and Juliet committed suicide for each other, not any kind of “true love.” I think that the message that people should’ve taken away from Romeo and Juliet is the best course of action is not always the most immediate one. Consistently throughout the play we see impulse driving people to do make the wrong choice without properly considering options first. For example, the second Juliet comes to tell Friar Lawrence of her marriage dilemma, he decisively puts into action a not at all though out plan, which, inevitably, ends in disaster.

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IRJE: Mar. 1 (The Catcher in the Rye)

In the Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield goes to spend the night at the house of his previous English teacher, Mr. Antolini. Holden, despite his exhaustion, stays up to have a small discussion with Mr. Antolini out of politeness. Mr. Antolini shares his concern for Holden’s future with him, and in doing so quotes the words of Wilhelm Stekel.

“Here’s what he said: ‘The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.'” (pp. 107-108)

When reading this, I was reminded of one of the concepts brought up in Romeo and Juliet, the other text I am currently reading. In Romeo and Juliet, the two lovers take their own lives for one another– or, in other words, die “nobly” for the cause of love. I, however, believe that this act was much more of an immature impulsion brought about by the excitement of young infatuation. Thus, when I read this quotation, I immediately thought of it in the context of Shakespeare’s play. To the extent of my memory, this was the first time in the Catcher in the Rye that something said actually sparked any kind of new and interesting consideration in me. However, as it was a quotation taken from somewhere else, not too much credit can be given to the book itself. Stekel summarized my thoughts on Romeo and Juliet in a very succinct and appropriate way, and thus gave me a clearer understanding of the underlying idea behind how I felt about the actions of Romeo and Juliet. I appreciated this, and am now at least able to say that the Catcher in the Rye gave me some, if rather indirect, new insight into life.

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PW: Feb. 21 (An Unreasonable Hatred)

I desperately wish I had the creativity to complete this writing in an adequate manner. However, that is not the case. Reading the mundane “novel” that is the Catcher in the Rye has crushed all of my spirit, even more thoroughly than a succubus crushes the resistance of hapless men. I am an empty vessel, hollowed by monotony. Whereas most books fill my mind with new considerations and vibrant emotions, this book takes a different approach– that is, extracting any interest I could possibly feel, and shoving in its place colourless and repetitive recounts of a fictional boy living out his boring life. I would honestly rather own a Moira-only Overwatch account than pick up the Catcher in the Rye ever again. I have never felt so discouraged from reading as I do now. It is an honest worry of mine that the traumatic events of the past few weeks may cause me to develop book-related PTSD. If it is that a god exists in this world, they must be a truly remorseless deity. Were cupid to instead strike hatred into hearts, I would not hesitate to blame him for mine and the Catcher in the Rye‘s relationship, as no mortal power could possibly bring forth such unadulterated emotion as I feel now.

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IRJE: Feb. 15 (The Catcher in the Rye)

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is one of the most boring books I have ever read. Not a single sentence in the books sparks any kind of interest in me. The entire thing is just Holden, the main character, recounting events in the most dull way possible– and not even interesting or important events, such as many non-fiction books would, but, instead, simply three extremely monotonous days of his life. An example of this is the four pages spent describing a movie Holden watches.

It was about this English guy, Alec something, that was in the war and loses his memory in the hospital and all. He comes out of the hospital carrying a cane and limping all over the place, all over London, not knowing who the hell he is (p. 153).

I would be hard pressed to think of something I care less about than what film Holden watched. To me, this seems to have absolutely no relevance to the story, and does not forward it at all. Then again, could this book really be said to have a “story”? It is more similar to a diary than anything else. I would be happy to read the diary of someone who participates in interesting and thought-provoking events, such as, for example, Anne Frank. However, I am not even in the slightest interested in reading about Holden watching a film. I cannot adequately express the tedium I experience each time I pick up this novel. I have never read a book so slowly.

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PW: Feb. 7 (Tain- Vaeden Storms)

The patter of light rain had given way to a roaring storm. Even the foliage seemed to shy away from the onslaught of water and wind– the plants pressing themselves against the ground, and the trees bending down to shelter their less sturdy co-inhabitants.

Tain, his tent having long since been stolen by the violent winds, huddled in a small depression behind a burly oak. His soaked clothing was far from warm enough to keep his body from its convulsive shivering. He had decided that to let himself fall asleep may be to never wake up again. He had heard the cautionary tales of ill-prepared travelers meeting their fates due to hypothermia.

The unusually low temperatures and frequent tempests of Vaed deterred all the cowardly and wise, leaving the region to be overrun with brave fools. Tain, he had realized, was undoubtedly one of them. An intrepid journey into vicious unclaimed lands had seemed to him the perfect path to heroic fame. However, after six days spent trudging through unpredictable and often treacherous terrain, that notion had become exceptionally more idiotic in his mind.

To keep himself awake, Tain mumbled, near incoherently, to the trees. He told them of his hometown– of his family’s farm and his brother’s tavern; of the pretty smith’s daughter whom he had recently befriended. He told them of the valiant journeys carried out by the heroes of his childhood. He told them of the latest fashions in the court, of the best available farming equipment, of how to play Tak. He told them of everything and anything he could.

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IRJE: Feb. 1 (The Catcher in the Rye)

In The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, the narrator speaks very informally, in a stream-of-conscience type of way. This causes the text to sound almost like the narrator, Holden, is speaking to you, instead of writing. This is exemplified in every part of the text, one example though is when Holden is telling a story about his past.

We were going to take our lunches and all, and our BB guns– we were kids and all, and we thought we could shoot something with our BB guns (p. 110).

Writing wise, Salinger accomplishes something very impressive by giving Holden such a realistic voice. However, I simply dislike reading this book because of it. In my opinion, the repetitiveness is inelegant and annoying. I enjoy reading books that have new, interesting vocabulary for me to learn. I like it when the sentences are descriptive and immersive, almost in a fantastical way. Even more important though, I just cannot stand it when a phrase, or in some cases even when word, is repeated multiple times within a few sentences. To me, it gives the impression of unpolished, sloppy writing. I am completely unable to become immersed in this book– or, for that matter, even mildly interested. It makes me almost angry when I read sentences such as the ones above, which are so coarse. I completely understand that this stream-of-conscience writing is a very purposeful thing, and I’m sure endearing and immersive to many people. I know this book is well-loved, and I have no problem with that. This is just never a book I would choose to read on my own. In part, I read so that I can better learn how to write, and from this book, I am not at all learning a style of writing that I would ever use.

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PW: Jan. 21 (Renn- Tusken Arrival)

Renn’s bitter attitude upon arriving in Tusken was only worsened by the drunken crowds that met him. Of course, by some of the worst luck ever bestowed upon him, the end of his long journey had coincided exactly with the rowdiest night of Seundrin, a three day festival held each year during Sovvead. Renn had always suspected the event’s only real purpose was getting the villagers drunk. Really drunk. Conveniently, too drunk to notice that the nobility were spending all of the town’s money on throwing, and heating, the series of extremely lavish balls that always occurred during Sovvead. While the workers of Tusken laboured harder than ever during the snowy season, the poor conditions discouraged the wealthy from doing much besides sitting in too-comfortable lounge chairs, gossiping or playing cards. This, of course, eventually bored them. Thus, without fail, by the second month of Sovvead, ball season had begun.

Almost as soon as Renn stepped through the gates, a strong compulsion to immediately and rapidly leave consumed him. He knew he had already put off his return for too long though. He had spent an entire half month in Myrwille, pursuing an Elvish girl, whom he had promptly lost interest in after finally winning over. However, his relationship with her had not been a complete loss– it had given him the opportunity to tag along with her brother when he ran away to join a caravan of travelling performers. In the month that followed, he had become quite adept at playing the cittern, and had almost forgotten that he was supposed to have been back in Tusken for two months already.

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IRJE: Jan. 15 (The Catcher in the Rye)

In The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield is a teenage boy living at Pencey Preparatory School. He and another boy there, Mal, decide to go to the movies on the weekend, as neither have anything else to do.

I ask Mal if he minded if Ackley came along with us. The reason I asked was because Ackley never did anything on Saturday night, except stay in his room and squeeze his pimples or something. (p. 41).

Shortly before this, Holden spends quite a long time explaining all the reasons why he is not at all fond of Ackley. He says that Ackley is unkempt, gross, inconsiderate, and rude. I don’t understand why, then, he would ask Ackley, whom he dislikes so much, to the movies. The reason he states in the citation above makes it seem like he invites Ackley because he feels bad for him. I, however, cannot ever imagine being so annoyed by somebody, and still being willing to invite them anywhere with me. So far throughout the book, I have found this numerous times– I rarely understand why Holden does, thinks, or says the things he does.

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PW: Jan. 7 (Third)

Eyes brimming with stars create blockades to reality, and so, incapable of seeing inwards, they are left blinded. Perpetual uncertainty, the unwanted mist between earth and sky, is lonely residual. Grey seeping through thin skin; lungs overdosing on smoky perplexity. If to be is to think, they are ready to end being.

It worsens. A lack of concord leaves them heaving despite an abundance of air. Consideration is a retched poison– desperately devoured yet repeatedly resented. Again and again they wonder and ask, yet salvation is sly and evasive. Hoping to be hurt further, for perhaps enough will be a cure for consciousness.

Crawling mist envelopes and reveals. The oppressing is the stable. The middling suppresses solely certainty. Momentary solace is a cruel counterpart, granting only the punishment of comparison.

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IRJE: Jan. 1 (The Well of Ascension)

In The Well of Ascension, book two of the Mistborn Trilogy, by Brandon Sanderson, Vin, the primary protagonist of the novel, is trying to discover which of her friends was replaced with an impostor. She suspects Dockson, as she thinks his behaviour has been unusual. Both her and Dockson are Skaa, the extremely-discriminated-against lower class used as slaves by the noblemen before the Skaa rebellion. While Vin has spent her life retaliating via relatively harmless thievery, Dockson has spent his helping his friend Kelsier plan and carry out much more ambitious and impactful scams, which often involve the murder of several noblemen.

Dockson’s hatred for noblemen runs deep, and so he is not very friendly towards Elend, the man Vin loves, and also one of the highest ranking nobles. Vin questions why Dockson dislikes him so much. When she states that even Kelsier accepted Elend, saving his life during a hectic skirmish, Dockson has a difficult time believing her, as Kelsier had an even stronger dislike for noblemen than he did. He suggests that perhaps Kelsier didn’t realize Elend was noble-blooded when he saved him.

Vin shook her head. “He knew who Elend was, and knew that I loved him. In the end, Kelsier was willing to admit that a good man was worth protecting, no matter who his parents were.”

“I find that hard to accept, Vin.”

“Why?”

Dockson met her eyes. “Because if I accept that Elend bears no guilt for what his people did to mine, then I must admit to being a monster for the things that I did to them.” (p. 389)

During this scene, Dockson reveals that, even though he may know that not all noblemen are evil, he thinks he needs to maintain the black and white mindset to prevent himself from being overcome with guilt for his actions.

This whole series is about the struggle between the Skaa and the upper class, and one of the most interesting things to me is to think about how each one views the other. In my opinion, most problems in the Final Empire arise because both sides see each other as just groups, instead of individuals. The noblemen generalize all Skaa into one category: slaves who are unintelligent and inferior. The Skaa do the exact same thing, holding the belief that noblemen are cruel and unjust. In reality, of course, the two races inherently have no real significant biological difference. This is demonstrated by the numerous times Skaa impersonate  noblemen, or vice versa, throughout the book. In addition, the claims about the cruelty of noblemen and the unintelligence of Skaa are of equally little merit. It may be true that many noblemen are cruel, but there are just as many Skaa that are cruel. Likewise, many of the noblemen are far more dull-witted than the Skaa.

I believe the subject of societal expectations and contentions is interesting. It seems to me to often be the case that there is no inherent reasoning behind many of them. We tend to view things in extremes– for instance, when we think about the differences between men and women. We would say that men have broader shoulders, shorter hair, more body hair and facial hair, are taller and more muscular, etc. However, there are plenty of men that lack broad shoulders, have long hair, don’t naturally grow facial hair, or are shorter. Likewise, there are plenty of women with many of those “masculine” traits. Almost everything is on a scale. It is pointless to arbitrarily try to categorize every person as if they are one-dimensional. Life is diverse, and our need to divide and label everything in ultimately useless and, furthermore, harmful.

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