Sometimes the forest guards mysteries, and sometimes the mysteries guard the forest. Or maybe they’re just hungry! In the case of the eloko (plural biloko), both could be true. An eloko is a powerful little mystery said to haunt the Congo rainforest. I’ve wanted to cover biloko since reading A Song Below Water, which gives the eloko several delightfully modern face. Yet when I started digging, I found that, a bit like Norwegian trolls, biloko wear more than one face in legends too. Clear details about those faces proved frustratingly difficult to sort out in English-language sources. As a result, my image of the eloko is a bit fractured. However, I hope I’ve found enough to give you something to chew on regarding this enigmatic being. Continue reading “Quarterly Bestiary: Eloko: Beware the Bell (or the Stick)”
All right, here’s round 2! In my first take on reviewing the Dinotopia mini-series (DMS), I focused in on a few close-ups. Now I’d like to frame my discussion with some lessons that I took from James Gurney’s books and the related novels. Because those lessons are why my anger at DMS has lasted so long. Dinotopia was among the first books I practiced reading, and some of its maxims still guide my actions today. Gurney created a richly detailed world laced with creative hope. DMS bulldozed through that vision to pave a simple road, and not a particularly good one at that. If the filmmakers didn’t want to be true to that world, they should have called this “Carl and David in Dinosaurland” instead of pretending it was Dinotopia! Continue reading “Lessons from Dinotopia…Unless It’s the Mini-Series: Review Take 2”
I’m finally ready to trash—er, review—the Dinotopia mini-series. For this review, I’m going to try a slightly different format. I won’t be sorting things into spoiler and non-spoiler because as far as I’m concerned, that show is totally rotten and I am NOT recommending it. I do apologize for including some spoilers from the books by James Gurney and the related novel series, but they were necessary for context. Now, I have a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t watch the mini-series (let’s call it DMS for short), but since I know rants get old fast when they’re too long, I’ll take two approaches to this topic. I’ll start with some quick-fire coverage of a few topics that drew my ire or amusement. Next post will use some of the lessons I took from the Dinotopia books to frame my disgruntlement at DMS. Now, let’s get down to it.
Welcome back! Ready for more swords? In Part 1, I listed blades that, like the Soul-Devouring Sword in Ice Fantasy, were possessed and/or cursed. These swords were animated or driven by forces that initially existed outside of their steel or bronze. Now I’d like to cover swords in a slightly different category: Living blades. Unlike cursed swords, these weapons have a little bit more ambiguity because they have their own intelligence and therefore their own agenda. Just like with people, whether you get along with a living sword is a matter of personal compatibility rather than because the sword itself is good versus evil. So here are another five blade displaying a different kind of spirit! Again, I will include at least one update of the exact sword in modern media along with one echo, a similar media sword possibly inspired by the myth. Continue reading “Spirited Swords, Part 2: Five Living Blades”
Greetings on this morning after Guǐ Jie /the Ghost Festival! Contemplating the roaming spirits of this thin time led me to thinking of the Soul-Devouring Sword (噬神劍) from Ice Fantasy. The energy-eating sword spirits possessing it give the sword great power but in their hunger they may strike even when the sword’s wielder would rather show mercy. Searching for a mythological model for the Soul-Devouring Sword turned up several interesting possibilities that I could only cover briefly. It seemed a shame to just leave those blades in my unposted notes, so I’d like to expand on them now. I’ll pair each one with at least one update, where the exact sword reappears in modern media, and at least one echo, original fictional weapons that bear some resemblance to the mythical. In keeping with tone of the Ghost Festival, I’ll start with possessed and cursed blades. Continue reading “Spirited Swords, Part 1: Five Possessed and Cursed Blades”
The word “fairy” can refer to many different types of mythical beings. Both the teeny winged fairies still popularly pictured and the wilder human-sized fae of YA and adult fantasy novels often reflect a patchwork of source material. Since it would take many posts to adequately cover all those sources, I’m going to focus on the aos sí of Ireland today. A fair amount of modern fairy lore hearkens back to these Good Neighbors, who, like most neighbors, were never really good or bad. They were simply their own people, with their own motivations and standards. Continue reading “Quarterly Bestiary: Aos Si: The Complicated Neighbors”
Well, I’ve survived my brush with the 2021 heat dome so far. It certainly wasn’t fun. I’m never a big fan of hot temperatures, and I’m among the people who don’t have air conditioning in my house. Yet I’m well aware that what I experienced was only a brush. Many people are still suffering from the extreme temperatures, and summer is far from over. How are conditions at your current location? How are you coping with things? Continue reading “July 2021 Updates”
Welcome to Part 2 of my dive into mythology in the Grishaverse! In Part 1, I looked into some origins for Grisha in general, Morozova’s amplifiers, and some connections to Russian Firebird tales. This time I’ll be focusing more on specific characters rather than overall themes. I am drawing mainly from Bardugo’s novels rather than the Netflix show, with topics from the Shadow and Bone trilogy to the King of Scars duology. I’ve tried to keep the references general outside of the Spoiler Zone, though. Once again, please note that these posts reflect my own connections between myth and literature as a reader, and that they are not meant to cover every possible mythical reference from the Grishaverse. Continue reading “Shadows of Legend: Sifting Bones of Myth from the Grishaverse, Part 2”
Welcome to Red Thread Reblog, a feature that pairs a post about media inspired by mythology with a post about the mythology shown in the media.
I’ve mentioned A Song Below Water before, but I’ll bring it up again because I really believe this is an important book. Set in a slightly alternate Portland, Oregon, Bethany C. Morrow’s story follows two sisters, Tavia and Effie. Effie is still discovering the magic in her heritage, but Tavia knows from the beginning she is a siren, one of two acknowledged magical human minorities in this world. Unlike the popular elokos who appear across races, sirens are always Black women. And their powers are feared, so Tavia has long hidden her identity. The social justice element is key in this book, something Cristi Smith-Jones tackles with grace in her review on Emerald City Bookworm. I highly recommend Cristi’s site and her reviews, which are detailed and thoughtful, often celebrating OwnVoices works in a variety of genres. She highlights the beauty in A Song Below Water as well as its call for change, and it was through her blog that I first learned of the newly released sequel, A Chorus Rises!
Bethany C. Morrow’s 2020 YA novel A Song Below Water is a timely and necessary story that takes places fantasy elements in a contemporary setting in a refreshing way. It’s an incredible tale about social justice, self-discovery, sisterhood, and the power in finding one’s voice. I bought the Kindle edition of A Song Below Water […]A Song Below Water, by Bethany C. Morrow —
Considering the popularity of Netflix’s new Shadow and Bone series, I thought it might be interesting to talk about the Grishaverse. For those not familiar with the term, the Grishaverse is a fantasy world where some people—Grisha—are born with the ability to manipulate parts of the physical world, including air, iron, shadows, and light. Leigh Bardugo’s world includes several nations, but the stories mostly center around Ravka, inspired by historical and mythical Russia. Today, I’d like to examine the mythical side of things, the tales that might have shaped the Grishaverse. Some topics will touch on some pretty big spoilers, but I’ll make sure to keep those at the end under a “Spoiler Zone” label for those who wish to avoid them. Continue reading “Shadows of Legend: Sifting Bones of Myth from the Grishaverse, Part 1”