Spring TV Watch List: Vikings

Vikings

Vikings
This was one of those shows I came into late through social media. Between people tweeting their love and pretty tumblr pictures it was hard to ignore for long. Pretty? That was unquestionable. Good though? The History Channel was putting it on so I was worried it was going to be some kind of history-ish half drama half teachy. Nope. It is an all out drama. Thank god.

What I like about Vikings is that it is an explorers narrative but also is a look at Viking culture. What it does that doesn’t always translate on tv well is depict a living religion from history in a way that it makes sense for the characters and the community. I think the only other show I’ve seen do similar is HBOs Rome. The scope of the show is both micro and macro in that it revolves around one family, but the context is within the framework of Viking expansion and growing influence as explorers. It also does a great job at showing early egalitarianism in Viking culture that shows the early seeds of a superior egalitarian society in the region today. Shield maidens FTW!

Side note: Everyone is starting to copy the braided hairstyles shown on Vikings. Newsflash: Current Vikings are still wearing that style. It never went away.

Next up…Orphan Black

Tuesday Trio

I tried this out a couple weeks ago. Here we go again! I always like getting recs for books or movies especially if there are little threads like ‘hey, you’d like this because this character reminds me of such in such’ or ‘this feels like a progenitor to that.’ Here’s this week’s Tuesday Trio!

In this trio we have a lot of connections. First off all three involve deteriorated, moldy old cities of similar advancement the second two with canal like cultures, and all with very distinct upper and lower classes. They also have protege situations where characters have to learn to exist in the opposite lifestyles than they were accustomed. Street rat in the upper class. Upper class person forced to sort out life on the street. Weeks’ series could almost be read as a side story to Cherryh’s. The universes are so similar. In Pratchett’s Discworld series, there is a character named Carrot who is so very much like Logan in The Way of Shadows. If you like any one of these books I’m sure you’d like the other two. Check them out!

Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett (Amazon/B&N)
One moment, Sir Sam Vimes is in his old patrolman form, chasing a sweet-talking psychopath across the rooftops of Ankh-Morpork. The next, he’s lying naked in the street, having been sent back thirty years courtesy of a group of time-manipulating monks who won’t leave well enough alone. This Discworld is a darker place that Vimes remembers too well, three decades before his title, fortune, beloved wife, and impending first child. Worse still, the murderer he’s pursuing has been transported back also. Worst of all, it’s the eve of a fabled street rebellion that needlessly destroyed more than a few good (and not so good) men. Sam Vimes knows his duty, and by changing history he might just save some worthwhile necks—though it could cost him his own personal future. Plus there’s a chance to steer a novice watchman straight and teach him a valuable thing or three about policing, an impressionable young copper named Sam Vimes. (via Amazon)

The Way of Shadows, by Brent Weeks (Amazon/B&N)
For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city’s most accomplished artist. For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint. But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death. (via Amazon)

Angel with the Sword, by C.J. Cherryh (Amazon/B&N)
In Merovingen, a watery canal-laced city, much like Earth’s Venice, society is segregated along class lines between the lower and upper cities. Against her better judgment, Altair Jones, 17, rescues an unconscious man from a canal near her poleboat. She is fascinated by Mondragon’s good looks and elegant ways and begins to fall in love with him. Even though she knows there is no future for a water rat like herself with such a man, she decides to watch over him and rescue him from his enemies; enemies who turn out to be the most powerful people in the upper city. (via Amazon)

Tuesday Trio (published on Thursday…whatever)

I’m trying something new here so hang on tight. I always like getting recs for books or movies especially if there are little threads like ‘hey, you’d like this because this character reminds me of such in such’ or ‘this feels like a progenitor to that.’

So if you like Susana Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell it feels like the grandchild of George MacDonald’s Lilith and a cousin to G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday. If you like Lilith you should check out Jonathan Strange. The connection then to Thursday is a bit more tenuous, but both involve men of a pre-1910 time period thrust into confusing, new reality. Both are very foundational in philosophical speculation and MacDonald a direct influence on Chesterton.

The Man Who Was Thursday, G.K. Chesterton (Amazon/B&N)
Set in a phantasmagoric London where policemen are poets and anarchists camouflage themselves as, well, anarchists, his 1907 novel offers up one highly colored enigma after another. If that weren’t enough, the author also throws in an elephant chase and a hot-air-balloon pursuit in which the pursuers suffer from “the persistent refusal of the balloon to follow the roads, and the still more persistent refusal of the cabmen to follow the balloon. via Amazon | more at wikipedia

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke (Amazon/B&N)
At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England’s history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England–until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight. Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell’s student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear. via Amazonmore at wikipedia

Lilith, George MacDonald (Amazon/B&N)
Mr. Vane, the protagonist of Lilith, owns a library that seems to be haunted by the former librarian, who looks much like a raven from the brief glimpses he catches of the wraith. After finally encountering the supposed ghost, the mysterious Mr. Raven, Vane learns that Raven had known his father; indeed, Vane’s father had visited the strange parallel universe from which Raven comes and goes and now resides therein. Vane follows Raven into the world through a mirror. Inside the world, Vane learns of a house of beds where the dreamers sleep until the end of the world in death: a good death, in which life is found. Vane’s grandfather refused to sleep there and is, instead, forced to do battle with skeletons in a haunted wood. After a treacherous journey through a valley , Mr. Vane meets the Little Ones, children who never grow up, remaining pure children or becoming selfish and getting bigger and dumber, turning into “bags” or bad giants. After conversing with Lona, the eldest of the children, Mr. Vane decides to help them, and sets off to gather more information, although the Raven has warned Mr. Vane that he needs to sleep along with the dreamers before he can really help them… via wikipedia | more at wikipedia