The Revolution Eats Its Own

Norman Mailer has been posthumously cancelled:

Norman Mailer’s long-time publisher has recently informed the Mailer family that it has canceled plans to publish a collection of his political writings to mark the centennial of his birth in 2023, confirms the film producer Michael Mailer, the author’s oldest son. The back-door apologies at Random House include as the proximate cause — you hardly have to look hard in Mailer’s work to find offenses against contemporary doctrine and respectability — a junior staffer’s objection to the title of Mailer’s 1957 essay, “The White Negro”, a psycho-sexual-druggie precursor and model for much of the psycho-sexual-druggie literature that became popular in the 1960s.

Mailer’s work will not be any great loss; he is part of the Boomer-era literary decline that saw the elevation of mediocre writers like Bellow, Kerouac, Roth, and Mailer himself at the expense of people who could a) actually write and b) had something to say about the human condition that didn’t revolve around narcissism and sex with mediocre women. But his cancellation is not without significance, as it demonstrates that evil will always cast even its most celebrated servants aside as soon as they cease to be useful.

DISCUSS ON SG


Honest Liberal, Successful Gamma

I have long believed that Garrison Keillor was one of the greatest writers of the Boomer generation, both in terms of style and substance. One of the reasons for my belief is that as a native-born Minnesotan raised in a deeply Christian family, he is too honest and accurate an observer to fail to report even that which directly contradicts his personal preferences, which, as a Scots-Scandinavian hybrid, are unfailingly progressive and liberal. And Keillor himself is refreshingly aware of the contradictions that complete him.

I am all in favor of diversity and inclusivity in theory, but when the pilot comes on the horn and welcomes us from the cockpit, I want to feel that he or she is a Republican. I want to hear authority in the voice, a growliness that comes from having shouted orders at people. I do not want my pilot to come on singing “Off we go into the wild blue yonder” and if he does, I’m off the plane. If it’s a woman pilot, I want her to be crisp and chill, not warm and caring. If she mentions turbulent conditions ahead, I don’t want to hear concern in her voice. I do not want her to thank us for flying — that’s for the flight attendants. I prefer my pilot to be a Republican with military service, preferably at the rank of captain or higher, preferably as an aviator, not in the Quartermaster Corps. I’m a Democrat and I’d be leery of a progressive Democrat pilot whose concern about air pollution might make him reluctant to use full power on takeoff. I don’t want anyone like me up front. No deep thinkers. A high-flier, please.

You might ask, not unreasonably, how a man raised in a good Christian home, with a strong inclination toward honesty and a deep familiarity with Scripture, could fall so completely into error. Part of the answer is his genetics; the Scandinavians are the innocent lambs of the world, psychologically shaped by their need for mutual cooperation to survive in the icy North, as evidenced by his grandmother’s belief in the native superiority of the coloreds, a belief of the sort that can only be formed in perfect ignorance of the subject.

Grandma whistles under her breath, a tuneless music. She cuts me a slice of warm yeasty bread and pours me a cup of Salada tea. Her fingers are knotted at the knuckles. She is a woman of firm beliefs. If you leave your windows open at night, you won’t get sick. Chew your food thirty times before you swallow. There’s no need for herbs if the ingredients are good. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. And once I heard her say, “The colored are better looking, more intelligent, more talented, harder working, more honest, and more loving toward their families than Caucasians.” I was impressed. Her grandfather had been a federal administrator in the South after the Civil War, during Reconstruction, and she got her ideas about people of color from him.

That Time of Year: A Minnesota Life, Garrison Keillor

You could still hear Minnesotans say things like that in the early 1980s. I rather doubt they are so inclined to do so any more, now that they have actual experience living in the vicinity of those hypothetical paragons of intelligence, honesty, and hard work. Now they blame LBJ and the Federal government for ruining them with welfare. They’re still entirely ignorant of the history of Africa and its various peoples, but they are a little less clueless about color now.

The other reason is that he was doomed by nurture as well as nature to gamma status that no amount of height, money, or worldly success could ever balance. His 2018 firing by Minnesota Public Radio for purported “sexually inappropriate incidents” is only remarkable in how long it took for his SSH rank to catch up to him; it was all but inevitable from the start.

  • I took an eye test and had to get glasses, and after that I stayed clear of organized sports and stuck to the disorganized; instead of the respect of my peers, I sought the approval of teachers and aunts.
  • I didn’t shine in high school. I was a B-minus student, thanks to my perfect pitch on multiple choice tests. The correct answer tended to be C. If you went with C, you could probably get a B and B was good enough. And I found a path in life there. I shied away from competition—speech contests, sports, honor roll—I didn’t care if I were 3.0 or 3.6—I wanted to be unique and so turned to writing.
  • I became Garrison. Eventually it wound up on my driver’s license and tax return— my girlfriend Mary married me as Garrison. In my heart, however, I still am Gary: Garrison feels like a fake mustache.
  • I started out playing with ambiguity, a fine way to disguise ignorance. “To be great is to be misunderstood,” said Emerson, so, in search of greatness, I wrote poems that couldn’t be understood because they made no sense.
  • I trace my heterosexuality to the offer of a seat on the bus at the age of thirteen. Boys defended territory. Girls were civilized and shared.

And yet, it is through the ruthless exploitation and chronicling of Gary’s weaknesses, failures, and secret shames that Garrison Keillor became a legitimate and substantial success as a writer. He even, after several failed attempts, managed to establish a lasting marriage with an attractive woman. And there is a lesson in that for the gamma, which is that relentless honesty and systematic perseverance can provide even the deepest double-dyed gamma a means of surmounting his natural patterns of behavior.

DISCUSS ON SG


It’s not exactly plagiarism

But it’s hardly indicative of one a brilliant creative mind either. When I read The Sandman in preparation for writing comics, I occasionally had the strange feeling that I’d read it before, and not simply because Gaiman was mining a lot of stories and characters with which I was familiar from ancient mythology. I’ve been on a Tanith Lee kick of late, and it suddenly occurred to me why the Endless, and Delirium in particular, were so familiar:

Delirium: The youngest of the Endless, Delirium appears as a young girl whose form changes the most frequently of any of the Endless, based on the random fluctuations of her temperament. She has wild multicolored hair and eccentric, mismatched clothes. Her only permanent physical characteristic is that one of her eyes is emerald green (usually the right side) and the other pale blue with silver flecks (usually the left side), but even those sometimes switch between left and right. Her sigil is an abstract, shapeless blob of colors. Her speech is portrayed in standard graphic novel block-caps, characterized by wavy, unpredictable orientation and a multi-colored gradient background. She was once known as Delight, but some traumatic event (of which even Destiny does not know the particulars) caused her to change into her current role. Her sigil as Delight was a flower.

Note that The Sandman ran for 75 issues from January 1989 to March 1996.

The main character of The Sandman is Dream, also known as Morpheus and other names, who is one of the seven Endless. The other Endless are Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair, Delirium (formerly Delight), and Destruction (also known as ‘The Prodigal’). The series is famous for Gaiman’s trademark use of anthropomorphic personification of various metaphysical entities, while also blending mythology and history in its horror setting within the DC Universe.

Now consider this passage from Delirium’s Master, the third of Tanith Lee’s Flat Earth series, which was published in 1981. I’ve actually quoted from it here before; it’s the novel that contains her excellent tale of how the Snake became the Cat and thereby fooled Man.

There were then five Lords of Darkness. Uhlume, Lord Death, was one, whose citadel stood at the Earth’s core, but who came and went in the world at random. Another was Wickedness, in the person of the Prince of Demons, Azhrarn the Beautiful, whose city of Druhim Vanashta lay also underground, and who came and went in the world only by night, since demonkind abjured the sun (wisely, for it could burn them to smoke or cinders). The earth was flat, and marvelous, and had room then for such beings. But it is not remembered where a certain third Lord of Darkness made his abode, nor perhaps had he much space for private life, for he must be always everywhere.

His name was Chuz, Prince Chuz, and he was this way. To come on him from his right side, he was a handsome man in the splendor of his youth. His hair was a blond mane couthly combed to silk, his eye, being lowered, had long gilded lashes, his lip was chiseled, his tanned skin burnished. On his hand he wore a glove of fine white leather, and on his foot a shoe of the same, and on his tall and slender body the belted robe was rich and purple-dark. “Beauteous noble young man,” said those that came to his right side. But those who approached him from the left side, shrank and hesitated to speak at all. From the left side, Chuz was a male hag on whom age had scratched his boldest signatures, still peculiarly handsome it was true, but gaunt and terrible, a snarling lip, a hollowed cheek, if anything more foul because he was fair. The skin of this man was corpse gray, and the matted hair the shade of drying blood, and his scaly eyelid, being lowered, had lashes of the same color. The left hand lay naked on the damson robe, which this side was tattered and stained, and the left foot poked naked from under it. When Chuz took a step, you saw the sole of that gray-white foot was black, and when he lifted that gray-white hand, the palm was black, and the nails were long and hooked, and red as if painted from a woman’s lacquer-pot. Then again, if Chuz raised his eyes on either side, you saw the balls of them were black, the irises red, the pupils tarnished, like old brass. And if Chuz laughed, which now and then he did, his teeth were made of bronze.

Worst of all, was to come on Chuz from the front and see both aspects of him at once, still worse if then he raised his eyes and opened his mouth. (Though it is believed that all men, at one time or another, had glimpsed Chuz from behind.) And who was Chuz? His other name was Madness.

It’s not plagiarism, but it does tend to lend credence to my opinion that Gaiman is overrated as a writer. He certainly doesn’t compare to the late Ms Lee.


The scholar of Middle Earth

Christopher Tolkien, the great champion of his father’s literary estate, has died at 95:

It is with great sadness that we can confirm that Tolkien’s son and literary executor Christopher Tolkien has died aged 95.

Christopher was born in Leeds, United Kingdom, on 21 November 1924. After a childhood in Oxford, he joined the RAF during the Second World War and was stationed to South Africa. After the war, he finished his studies and became a lecturer in Old and Middle English as well as Old Icelandic at the University of Oxford. After his father’s death in 1973, he became the literary executor of the Tolkien Estate and went on to edit and publish his father’s unpublished material starting with The Silmarillion in 1977 and ending with The Fall of Gondolin in 2018.

Upon hearing the news, Tolkien Society Chair, Shaun Gunner, said:

All of us in the Tolkien Society will share in the sadness at the news of Christopher Tolkien’s death, and we send our condolences to Baillie, Simon, Adam, Rachel and the whole Tolkien family at this difficult time. Christopher’s commitment to his father’s works have seen dozens of publications released, and his own work as an academic in Oxford demonstrates his ability and skill as a scholar. Millions of people around the world will be forever grateful to Christopher for bringing us The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin, The History of Middle-earth series and many others. We have lost a titan and he will be sorely missed.

Tolkien scholar Dr Dimitra Fimi reflected on Christopher’s academic contribution:

Tolkien studies would never be what it is today without Christopher Tolkien’s contribution. From editing The Silmarillion to the mammoth task of giving us the History of Middle-earth series, he revealed his father’s grand vision of a rich and complex mythology. He gave us a window into Tolkien’s creative process, and he provided scholarly commentary that enriched our understanding of Middle-earth. He was Middle-earth’s cartographer and first scholar.

The Tolkien Society sends its deepest condolences to the Tolkien family.

Christopher Tolkien was the very model of the ideal literary executor. He not only protected his father’s legacy, but substantially added to it through his editing and publishing of the source material that were the foundation for his father’s landmark books. He was a good and faithful servant to his father and Middle Earth fandom, and both Christians and Tolkien fans can rejoice at the thought of the proud approbation with which his father will have welcomed him to his reward.

Very few sons of great men are worthy of them; as the son of a very successful man myself, I can testify to the soul-crushing burden paternal success tends to impose upon a young man, especially a young man of ambition. But through his embrace of a difficult role to which he was literally born, Christopher Tolkien undoubtedly proved himself worthy of his great father.

The Grey Havens

The next book

So, here’s a question. It’s not a poll, because who knows what I’ll actually do, but I am interested in knowing what book the readers here would prefer to see published next by me in 2020:

  1. A Sea of Skulls extended edition
  2. The first SSH book, Alpha.
  3. Insert your pet project, which will almost certainly be ignored, here.
  4. Surprise me.

I take no offense at anyone who doubts that (1) will ever happen, because RR etc. I’m just curious to know what people actually think they want. And please keep in mind that what you think is more or less popular is not necessarily so. For example, SJWAL outsold ATOB 3:2 in 2019, while both outsold the much more recently published Jordanetics.

None of this has anything to do with Castalia Deluxe or any of our other projects. It’s just about how I spend my limited writing time. And sometimes Calliope simply doesn’t permit one to proceed in the direction one intends.


At blog’s end

A 13-year blogger who is retiring his blog explains a few things to the trolls and critics. I think everyone who has run a blog for even a few months understands exactly where he is coming from:

Contribute or Shut the Heck Up
If you nitpick the mistakes of others but are unwilling to show your own work, even crappy phone photos, you are nothing. You can say you’re a professional woodworker who builds high-end pieces for clients with 40+ years of experience. But if you don’t have a website, blog or even an Instagram account, you’re just a pimply 30-year-old man-child living in your momma’s basement – until proven otherwise. Show your work – a lot – or shut up.

No One Asked for Your Advice
If you begin any comment with “You should…” you’re a blowhard. If your comment is longer than my blog entry, get your own blog. If you haven’t tried the operation/joint shown in the blog entry, your opinion is just noise.

And Stop Mansplaining
I have to add a special section on this bad habit. When a woman posts something, don’t tell her how to do it better. Don’t tell her she’s doing it wrong. Don’t offer advice or tips from your special Y-chromosome perspective. There’s a reason you don’t have many close friends who are women, and this is it.

Reading is Not Knowledge
About 23 percent of the stuff written about woodworking is untested, untrue or just misleading. So there’s a 1-in-4 chance that if you repeat something you have read but have not tried, then you are the problem. Even if you begin your sentence with “I read that….” you are not helping anything except your ego.

Look it Up
Don’t ask for information that you can find via Google. Want to know where to buy a Tite-Mark? Try typing “buy Tite-Mark” into your browser. I recommend trying at least 20 searches before leaving a question on a blog.

I Know You’re in Pain
Woodworking commenters aren’t good at masking their IP addresses. It’s easy to learn the identities of anonymous wanks with a little sleuthing. I tracked down a few of the most vile commenters on my blog and (with some additional reporting using public records) learned something interesting. Most of these people were suffering from some serious physical ailment. Many were taking painkillers and dealing with a level of pain that will make any human angry and bitter.

One thing he doesn’t mention is the idiot platform-hijackers whose comments are not welcome, but simply will not stay away because they are so desperate to try to make use of someone else’s platform rather than build their own.  I’m now utilizing a new tactic of deleting their comment but leaving it up for future reference, so that I will preserve a public record of their repeated cyberstalking for use in criminal complaints. It also has the useful feature of showing other commenters just how persistent the platform-hijackers are.

But despite the various irritants, I’ve never seriously thought about shutting down this blog, to be honest. The comments, yes, many times, but not the blog itself. That being said, it’s astonishing to me that after 15 years, the people at Blogger still have not provided a simple system for blocking specified names and text strings, and that none of the other comment systems really have either.


The poverty of sex

I note, with some satisfaction, that I am now Bucknell University’s Greatest Living Novelist. Not that they are likely to brag about that fact any time soon or ask me to speak at graduation. The thing is, for all his much-ballyhooed and oft-awarded literary talent, Philip Roth was a boring and trivial novelist because he could never get his damned hands out of his own pants.

Roth’s enduring subject matter was the American male’s carnality in the age of the Sexual Revolution, and he was honest and pitiless and unsentimental about it. In his 2001 novel “The Human Stain” he railed against the neo-Puritanism that he said resulted in the impeachment of Bill Clinton, but his own work offers a horrifyingly bleak view of Americans liberated from puritanical attitudes that would warm the heart of any present-day Cotton Mather.

He began with sexuality denied. The title story of “Goodbye Columbus” concerns a couple of New Jersey kids in their early 20s — young, attractive, full of life — and how their relationship cannot survive her mother’s discovery that they are having sex. Though Roth was not a writer whose work ever delivered a message, “Goodbye Columbus” certainly makes you think that the social stricture against premarital sex was something not protective but corrosive.

Ten years later, in “Portnoy’s Complaint,” the title character pleasures himself with a piece of liver during his adolescence and goes on to a series of ruinous relationships with inappropriate women that land him (maybe for eternity) on a psychoanalyst’s couch.

Roth lays Portnoy’s complaint firmly at the feet of his simultaneously emasculating and stimulating monster of a mother. Surely a more enlightened kind of mother was emerging in 1969, when the book was published, a new kind of mother who wouldn’t distort her son in this way.

But how did this all turn out for Roth’s characters, most of whom are versions of Roth himself? Not well. His novels from “Portnoy” onward feature variegated portraits of crippled men for whom there is no liberation. The world of freer sex isn’t freeing for any of them. And like Roth himself, none of his male characters (with one exception) ever finds any real happiness or contentment in marriage or as a parent.

The novelist Nathan Zuckerman is felled by mysterious back pain that makes it impossible for him to write. This metaphor for impotence becomes literal in later books. In 1995’s “American Pastoral,” Zuckerman has become literally impotent after prostate surgery and even seems slightly relieved to have been taken out of the game.

In “The Human Stain,” published six years later, a professor in his 70s takes Viagra in a desperate effort to perform with his illiterate cleaning-lady girlfriend, barely out of her 20s.

The late novels “Exit Ghost,” “The Dying Animal” and “The Humbling” offer an unsparing and despairing view of a man no longer able to perform — a problem made especially acute by the fact that the Roth stand-ins here are alone and solitary with little to distract them but their failing bodies.

Only once, in “American Pastoral,” did Roth find the imaginative power to conjure up a person unlike himself who embraces bourgeois life and bourgeois domesticity.

The arc of Roth’s literary career should be shown to sex-obsessed schoolboys in order to demonstrate to them that there is vastly more to life than getting laid. Sex is natural and sex is good, but for the love of all that is beautiful, good, and true, it’s very, very far from the only interesting thing in life.


It’s nearly started!

George R.R. Martin is seriously thinking about starting on his next book:

SANTA FE, NM—Stoking readers’ anticipation about the long-awaited Game Of Thrones sequel, best-selling author George R.R. Martin promised fans Thursday that his upcoming novel The Winds Of Winter was nearly started. “I wanted to let everyone know that I’m sitting at my desk with a nice cup of tea, I’ve got a Word document open, and I’m just about ready to go,” Martin wrote in a blog post on his website, assuring readers that as soon as he cleared off his desk and threw a load of laundry into the dryer, he could pretty much begin. “I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, but at this point, I’ve basically already brainstormed a couple of character names and written part of an outline for chapter one. After that, it shouldn’t take more than another three or four weeks until I’m ready to check a few emails, grab some groceries, and put the very earliest touches on the manuscript. Can’t wait!” At press time, the author had been forced to return to square one after realizing he needed a better title than The Winds Of Winter.

If you ever doubted success being a demotivator for a certain type of writer, you need look no further than Martin. Although Scalzi would appear to be giving him a pretty good run for his money. It must be incredibly frustrating to be a mainstream publisher having to deal with these guys.


The evil nature of fandom

Bruce Charlton explains why fandom is not beneficial for either the author or the creation:

I recently attended a talk, reading and book signing done by Sanderson; which was packed with hundreds of fans who turned-out and paid money to be there… and I say fans, because in the Q&A session every single one of the couple of dozen questions was related to the most trivial, ephemeral and superficial aspects of his work. There was not one single interesting, insightful, or challenging question asked by this mass of people; not the slightest indication that the novels were anything other than depictions of magic systems and ‘cool’ personalities.

Sanderson is an active Mormon, and all of his work is permeated with a serious consideration of religion and spirituality; both on the surface and as underlying structure. But it was clear that for Sanderson’s fandom this was of sub-zero interest – invisible and irrelevant.

The phenomenon of fandom is therefore at best trivial and fashion driven, there being more incommon between fans (regardless of what they are fans-of) than between fans and the subject of their fanaticism. Fandom is corrupting and destructive of whatever is good in the authors and works that get caught-up by it; and in its advanced form, fandom embodies subversion and inversion of whatever is specific and distinctive in its subject matter; the aim being to reinterpret and rewrite it in line with currently-dominant, top-down, manipulative social campaigns that ultimately emanate from (and are funded by) the global Establishment elites.

So the phenomenon of fandom is a product of evil purpose; and has a malign influence all-round.

My own experience with various fandoms does tend to support this negative view of it. This is why I prefer not to refer to the Ilk, the Dread Ilk, or the VFM as fans. They are certainly destructive, but not of me or my works, and they tend to be refining rather than corrupting.


A bureaucratic approach to literature

One of the central challenges George R. R. Martin always faced as a writer is that he approaches some significant philosophical questions with the mind of a bureaucrat. This Rolling Stone interview with Martin from 2014 is rather enlightening in that regard:

It’s a shockingly brutal story that you tell. The first major jolt comes when the knight Jaime Lannister pushes a child, Bran Stark, through a window because the child witnessed Jaime and Jaime’s sister, Cersei – the wife of Westeros’ King Robert – having sex. That moment grabs you by the throat. 

I’ve had a million people tell me that was the moment that hooked them, where they said, “Well, this is just not the same story I read a million times before.” Bran is the first viewpoint character. In the back of their heads, people are thinking Bran is the hero of the story. He’s young King Arthur. We’re going to follow this young boy – and then, boom: You don’t expect something like that to happen to him. So that was successful [laughs].

Both Jaime and Cersei are clearly despicable in those moments. Later, though, we see a more humane side of Jaime when he rescues a woman, who had been an enemy, from rape. All of a sudden we don’t know what to feel about Jaime. 

One of the things I wanted to explore with Jaime, and with so many of the characters, is the whole issue of redemption. When can we be redeemed? Is redemption even possible? I don’t have an answer. But when do we forgive people? You see it all around in our society, in constant debates. Should we forgive Michael Vick? I have friends who are dog-lovers who will never forgive Michael Vick. Michael Vick has served years in prison; he’s apologized. Has he apologized sufficiently? Woody Allen: Is Woody Allen someone that we should laud, or someone that we should despise? Or Roman Polanski, Paula Deen. Our society is full of people who have fallen in one way or another, and what do we do with these people? How many good acts make up for a bad act? If you’re a Nazi war criminal and then spend the next 40 years doing good deeds and feeding the hungry, does that make up for being a concentration-camp guard? I don’t know the answer, but these are questions worth thinking about. I want there to be a possibility of redemption for us, because we all do terrible things. We should be able to be forgiven. Because if there is no possibility of redemption, what’s the answer then? [Martin pauses for a moment.] You’ve read the books?

Yes. 

Who kills Joffrey? In the books – and I make no promises, because I have two more books to write, and I may have more surprises to reveal – the conclusion that the careful reader draws is that Joffrey was killed by the Queen of Thorns, using poison from Sansa’s hairnet, so that if anyone did think it was poison, then Sansa would be blamed for it. Sansa had certainly good reason for it.

The reason I bring this up is because that’s an interesting question of redemption. That’s more like killing Hitler. Does the Queen of Thorns need redemption? Did the Queen of Thorns kill Hitler, or did she murder a 13-year-old boy? Or both? She had good reasons to remove Joffrey. Is it a case where the end justifies the means? I don’t know.

The problem, of course, is how do you seek forgiveness without repentance? And how can you repent without an objective moral standard that clearly states: with this act you have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God?

Man cannot find redemption without God, which is why some crazy and godless men make maps of meaning filled with bizarre and imaginary creatures and warnings of nonexistent dragons, while others, less crazy, but still godless, write meandering rapefests addressing the hard questions of tax policy and population demographics.

A major concern in A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones is power. Almost everybody – except maybe Daenerys, across the waters with her dragons – wields power badly.

Ruling is hard. This was maybe my answer to Tolkien, whom, as much as I admire him, I do quibble with. Lord of the Rings had a very medieval philosophy: that if the king was a good man, the land would prosper. We look at real history and it’s not that simple. Tolkien can say that Aragorn became king and reigned for a hundred years, and he was wise and good. But Tolkien doesn’t ask the question: What was Aragorn’s tax policy? Did he maintain a standing army? What did he do in times of flood and famine? And what about all these orcs? By the end of the war, Sauron is gone but all of the orcs aren’t gone – they’re in the mountains. Did Aragorn pursue a policy of systematic genocide and kill them? Even the little baby orcs, in their little orc cradles?

In real life, real-life kings had real-life problems to deal with. Just being a good guy was not the answer. You had to make hard, hard decisions. Sometimes what seemed to be a good decision turned around and bit you in the ass; it was the law of unintended consequences. I’ve tried to get at some of these in my books. My people who are trying to rule don’t have an easy time of it. Just having good intentions doesn’t make you a wise king.

Some readers have been kind enough to say that my own AODAL falls in between ASOIAF and LOTR in terms of literary quality. But one could, not unreasonably, say that is true of our literary approaches as well.

And yes, I am working on the final edition of A Sea of Skulls. And yes, I expect it will be out, in around 900 pages of print, in time for Christmas. The 40-hour audiobook version of A Throne of Bones should also be available by then. I just finished re-reading it to refresh my memory preparatory to the final push on ASOS.