All sorts of bookish adventures!

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This is a weekly series here at Adventures in Borkdom. It chronicles adventures I have that are directly inspired by the books I read.

As many of you know, a major portion of this summer’s reading has been centered on Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I read these books along with SJ and the gang in participation of Putting the Blog in Balrog readalong. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and PtBiB concluded this last Friday with our final drinkalong to Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King. I was sad to say goodbye to this project, but at least I got in one last huzzah–an adventure inspired by “The Battle of Pelennor Fields” from Tolkien’s The Return of the King.

TThe Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Ringshe third part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic adventure THE LORD OF THE RINGS

The armies of the Dark Lord are massing as his evil shadow spreads even wider. Men, Dwarves, Elves and Ents unite forces to do battle against the Dark. Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam struggle further into Mordor in their heroic quest to destroy the One Ring.

The devastating conclusion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic tale, begun in the The Fellowship of the Rings and The Two Towers.

On Sunday afternoon, I took to San Diego’s Morley Field to witness a different kind of field battle –Live Action Role Players (LARPers) taking part in the Battle of Morley Field!

Admittedly, I didn’t just go to Morley Field to relive my favorite scenes from The Return of the King. I have heard about the Morley Field LARPers all year from my friends and husband and have been dying to watch. I just needed a reason.

LARPers at Comic-Con

The Knights of Terre Neuve at Comic-Con

I have been a little obsessed with LARPing ever since I first saw the battling knights on the mezzanine terrace at Comic-Con five years ago. There is nothing better than taking a much needed snack break outside of the convention center, resting one’s tired feet, to the sounds of battle. Sword hitting shield. It’s awesome.

Darkon LARPing documentary

Then, I came across the wonderful documentary Darkon, which profiles a group of LARPers who participate in the massive LARPing game Darkon. If you haven’t seen this documentary, I highly recommend it. Finally, I have been anticipating the release of the movie Knights of Badassdom, which stars Ryan Kwanten (Jason Stackhouse of True Blood), Summer Glau (of Firefly) and ….wait for it….PETER DINKLAGE (Tyrion, duh) as LARPers who have to fight demonic forces. Actually, check out the trailer (I just re-watched it). THERE ARE A TON OF AWESOME FOLKS IN THIS MOVIE! WHEN IS IT COMING OUT? I WANT MY DINKLAGE!!!(I think it was supposed to come out last year, but still hasn’t!). Here’s the trailer I saw at Comic-Con ’11:

Ok, back on task. As you can see, this Inspired Adventure was a win-win for me. So, I set off to Morley Field around 2 pm on Sunday, excited to get a LARPing fix.

As soon as I first took my seat under a shady tree, I started picking up on the rules of the game and the characters involved. Apparently, there were two teams: Team Carl and Team Pokey (?), comprised of a rag tag bunch of players in full gear and players in street clothes. All bore either a two-handed foam weapon or a one-handed weapon with a shield. Also, all were men. Once the game started, the dudes would attack, balls to the wall, scrapping against each other with their foam weapons. Ahhh the sounds of battle:

“Are you dead?”

“I died a while ago.”

Across the field: “Is Elias dead?”

“I said, I died a while ago!”

Apparently, when one fighter receives a mortal wound (presumably a hit to the head, back, or chest), they drop to a knee, count slowly to five, and then it’s game on again. Extra lives, just like in Zelda!

LARPing

“Hit harder!” Exile is on the right…

One fighter stood out, a cocky dude with a two-handed weapon, called “Exile”. He was barefoot, wearing some sort of drapey, homemade pants, and he clearly loved to battle and enjoyed an audience. In fighting with the newbs (the guys in street clothes), he would command, in obvious irritation, “Hit harder!”. There was never any question when he was out of the fight, because he would yell out “Exile’s dead!”. Thus, why I knew his name.

I think Exile was the Boromir of the crew.

After this somewhat disorganized melee, the group took a short water break, and then the real battle began.

All of the fighters took to the field and then split into two groups: the experienced and the inexperienced. It was now time for real battle! I imagined the Pelennor Fields…

LARPing

The Southrons

versus

LARPThe Northmen

Great was the clash of their meeting…

But, the white fury of the Northmen burned the hotter, and more skilled was their knighthood with long spears and bitter. Fewer were they but they clove through the Southrons like a fire-bolt in the forest.

And behold! There were two Eowyns amongst the ranks of Northern men:

“But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn. I am, Eomund’s daughter.”

And now the fighting waxed furious on the fields of the Pelennor; and the din of arms rose upon high, with the crying of men and the neighing of horses.

And in that hour the great Battle of the field of Gondor was over; and not one living foe was left within the circuit of the Rammas. All were slain save those who fled to die, or to drown in the red foam of the River.

And now, it was the fighters’ water break, and I decided to depart (I felt a little shy watching them and taking pictures. Plus, I was almost hit by a thrown spear). So, I returned to the car. As I walked, I thought about how much fun those LARPers were having…and how much exercise they were getting. It seems to me that LARPing is a way better form of recreation than hitting the gym! I think these guys are onto something…

Once I got to the car, I got one more LoTR fantasy: my own personal Legolas:

Jesse practicing his archery.

Sigh.

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As I stated yesterday, July was full of reading! And I’m pretty proud to say (although, it really shines a light on the fact that I didn’t do much else) that the following books were all read last week. Whoo! I love it when I get on a reading roll! Of course, I think I put on a few pounds last week too…sitting around and reading isn’t exactly great for the figure. But, here’s what I read last week.

JRR Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey CarpenterJ.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter

This was an excellent authorized biography of the man who created hobbits! It questioned how Tolkien, such an Everyman, could write the greatest, most imaginative books of fantasy. The book related his early years (orphaned at a young age), school years, and professional years. It also included snippets of letters that shed some light on what it really was like for Tolkien to write those books while balancing a full life. No sordid detatils about Tolkien could be found in the book (if there really were any sordid details to his life story), but it was full of opportunities to make connections between his life experiences and the events and characters of his famous novels. A few of these included:

-Tolkien was bitten by a tarantula as a little child. Could perhaps relate to why spiders play such a menacing and terrifying role in his books.

-Tolkien was often caught stealing mushrooms from a local farmer who would then chase him off. This is particularly similar to Farmer Maggot’s role in Frodo’s young life.

-Tolkien had to make use of carrier pigeons during WWI, similar to the many birds used in his books for message-relaying.

These and many more interesting connections can be made through the reading of Carpenter’s book, which I highly recommend.

Behemoth by Scott WesterfeldBehemoth by Scott Westerfeld

This is the follow-up novel to Westerfeld’s Leviathan, which I reviewed yesterday. I began by listening to the audiobook, which was read by the wonderful Alan Cumming, and finished with the hardcover version. This steampunk novel continues the story in Istanbul (not Constantinople), where Deren/Dylan (the female protagonist who is disguised as a boy) learns more about Clanker machines. It should be noted that in Leviathan, Alek learns about the Darwinist “beasties”. In Istanbul, Deren and Alek help a radical group in overthrowing the Sultan, while hiding from and sometimes battling the German occupiers.

This book was really fun because it felt like an Indiana Jones movie, full of intrigue, exotic locations, and spicy characters. I almost think that I liked this book better than the first in the series. I should also mention that the book is full of fabulous illustrations which really help the machines, beasts, and locations come to life. I definitely recommend this book and series.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil GaimanGood Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

Laugh-out-loud-funny book! I love British humor, and this is full of it in a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy sort of way. It really makes me want to pick up some more Pratchett, as I know that his Discworld series combines humor and fantasy as well.

Certain parts of the book were really funny and enjoyable for me:

-all of the scenes revolving around “Them,” a group of kids who is led by the child Anti-Christ, were really great as they really captured the joys of childhood.

-The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are characters in the novel, and they all ride motorcycles. At one point, they meet up at a biker hangout where some human bikers decide to join up with them, the real Hell’s Angels. As they ride together, the tagalong bikers decide that they need new names to fit in with their new posse (Death, War, Pestilence/Pollution, and Famine). They came up with names like “Treading in Dogshit”, “Things Not Working Properly Even When You’ve Given Them a Good Thumping”, “Embarassing Personal Problems”, and “Grievous Bodily Harm”. Really silly stuff that I love!

I also came to realize why Supernatural is such an awesome show, and why I love it. It is directly inspired by this book and other Gaiman works! Supernatural even includes Crowley, the demon who is a main character in this novel. Gaga for Supernatural, it was easy for me to fall in love with this book.

Crowley Supernatural Gaiman

Crowley on Supernatural

Y: The Last ManY: The Last Man–Vol. 1-3 by Brian K. Vaughan

This is a really good idea for a dystopian graphic novel. One day, all of the men simply die, for unknown reasons, except one. The very goofy Yorick, a 20-something guy, who has to hide his male identity throughout the series so that the women won’t tear him apart. He keeps with him a male monkey, which is also an anomaly, being the only male animal alive. During these first three volumes, a group of women, modeling themselves after the mythological Amazons, hunt him down to rid the world of the last man. So, Yorick sets out on a journey with two other women to find answers on why he is still alive when all of the other men are dead. It’s all very engaging and interesting.

However, I do have to point out that the behavior of women in this series is slightly troubling. While I am very good with suspension of disbelief and I enjoy irony, it bugs me how badly behaved the women are in this world. It’s hard to explain, but I don’t think that I’m the only one who was bothered by it. It’s a little over the top.

But, I did enjoy it, and I will keep reading the series. I recommend it for fans of dystopia and graphic novels.

Hatchet by Gary PaulsenHatchet by Gary Paulsen

I read this for the first time when I was eight or nine, and I have to say that Hatchet is much better than I remembered. I couldn’t put it down after I started it, and I read it in a span of two hours. So good!

If you haven’t read it, you’ve just got to. I enjoyed how the marooned Brian had to learn how to use his senses to survive, and how he had to trouble-shoot fire-building, shelter-making, hunting with a bow and arrow, and trapping fish. He started out with only the clothes on his back, and a hatchet that his mom had given him as a gift (it strapped onto his belt). After almost two months on his own in the wild, Brian is completely self-sufficient. While in the woods, he has to deal with the dangers of bears, wolves, moose, mosquitos, and a skunk (which blinded him for a few hours). This was an amazing story, and I hope to share this book with my students this year. READ IT!

The Two Towers The Lord of the Rings by JRR TolkienThe Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

Much like Hatchet, this was a re-read that was much better than I remembered. Yet, while the first half of the book was much more enjoyable for me on this second go-round, I still prefer the second half, which chronicles the further journey of the Ring with Frodo, Sam, and Gollum. Such a creepy segment of the book! And so much character development!

However, Treebeard is my favorite character in this book, and second only to Tom Bombadil in the entire series.

In case you can’t tell, I highly recommend this book and series if you haven’t read it. A true classic!

So, this concludes my July reading. Now, I’m going to sign off here, pick up my copy of The Return of the King, and get ready for tonight’s drinkalong to Peter Jackson’s film version of The Two Towers. I’m ready to be snarky with the rest of the PtBiB crew. Happy Friday!


Recently, I was looking at my shelves on Goodreads and was surprised by the sheer amount of fantasy novels I have read or want to read. I have never really noticed what a huge fan of the genre I am, and I guess I have been for a really long time. Here are my favorites books and serials in the genre, most of which are pretty much everyone’s favorites.

the hobbit

1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

3. The Kingkiller Chronicle series (written so far: The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear) by Patrick Rothfuss

A Game of Thrones Song of Ice and Fire George R.R. Martin

4. A Song of Ice and Fire series (five written, two more to go. Hopefully, they’ll be published before the end of this decade!) by George R.R. Martin

The Gunslinger audiobook by stephen king

5. The Dark Tower series by Stephen King

6. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

7. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

8. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

9. The Talisman and Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub

10. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

What Is Glaringly Absent from This List:

Here are some books I am most definitely planning on reading, as I believe they are essential for any fan of the fantasy genre.

1. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

2. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

3. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

4. The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

5. Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

6. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

7. The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula. K Le Guin