Thursday, July 26, 2007

More Potter Post Epilogue

More: here's a section of text I cut and paste from an article describing an interview with Rowling and a few fans. A PR stunt, really, but one that gives us a bit more information.

We know that Harry marries Ginny and has three kids, essentially, as Rowling explains, creating the family and the peace and calm he never had as a child.

As for his occupation, Harry, along with Ron, is working at the Auror Department at the Ministry of Magic. After all these years, Harry is now the department head.

“Harry and Ron utterly revolutionized the Auror Department,” Rowling said. “They are now the experts. It doesn’t matter how old they are or what else they’ve done.”

Meanwhile, Hermione, Ron’s wife, is “pretty high up” in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, despite laughing at the idea of becoming a lawyer in “Deathly Hallows.”

“I would imagine that her brainpower and her knowledge of how the Dark Arts operate would really give her a sound grounding,” Rowling said.

Harry, Ron and Hermione don’t join the same Ministry of Magic they had been at odds with for years; they revolutionize it and the ministry evolves into a “really good place to be.”

“They made a new world,” Rowling said.

The wizarding naturalist
Luna Lovegood, the eccentric Ravenclaw who was fascinated with Crumple-Horned Snorkacks and Umgubular Slashkilters, continues to march to the beat of her own drum.

“I think that Luna is now traveling the world looking for various mad creatures,” Rowling said. “She’s a naturalist, whatever the wizarding equivalent of that is.”

Luna comes to see the truth about her father, eventually acknowledging there are some creatures that don’t exist.

“But I do think that she’s so open-minded and just an incredible person that she probably would be uncovering things that no one’s ever seen before,” Rowling said.

Luna and Neville Longbottom?
It’s possible Luna has also found love with another member of the D.A.

When she was first asked about the possibility of Luna hooking up with Neville Longbottom several years ago, Rowling’s response was “Definitely not.” But as time passed and she watched her characters mature, Rowling started to “feel a bit of a pull” between the unlikely pair.

Ultimately, Rowling left the question of their relationship open at the end of the book because doing otherwise “felt too neat.”

Mr. and Mrs. Longbottom: “The damage is done.”

There is no chance, however, that Neville’s parents, who were tortured into madness by Bellatrix Lestrange, ever left St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies.

“I know people really wanted some hope for that, and I can quite see why because, in a way, what happens to Neville’s parents is even worse than what happened to Harry’s parents,” Rowling said. “The damage that is done, in some cases with very dark magic, is done permanently.”

Rowling said Neville finds happiness in his grandmother’s acceptance of him as a gifted wizard and as the new herbology professor at Hogwarts.

The fate of Hogwarts
Nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts, the school for witchcraft and wizardry is led by an entirely new headmaster (“McGonagall was really getting on a bit”) as well as a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. That position is now as safe as the other teaching posts at Hogwarts, since Voldemort’s death broke the jinx that kept a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor from remaining for more than a year.

While Rowling didn’t clarify whether Harry, Ron and Hermione ever return to school to finish their seventh year, she did say she could see Harry popping up every now and again to give the “odd talk” on Defense Against the Dark Arts.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (with SPOILERS)

This post will contain spoilers, so if you don't want to know what's going to happen in the book, don't read it!

OK, that out of the way...

I quite liked the book. It was pretty grim compared to the earlier ones; much less humor and lots of death and other nasty fates. Lots of moral ambiguity (Harry uses the Cruciatus curse without thinking twice, for example, and even Dumbledore's shining reputation is called into question.) It was a fitting finale to all the investment we readers have in the series. HOWEVER, of course I have a few minor complaints.

1. The epilogue was really pretty bad. Not only that, it skipped over a ton of stuff that we really ought to have seen. Seeing the Harry/Ginny romantic subplot was resolved, but not seeing the resolution because it takes place off camera is quite a blow. Not finding out anything about what the main characters do after school (other than get married and have kids) was disappointing.

2. J. K. Rowling seems to have mentioned many times in the past that she wanted to end the book in such a way that no obvious follow-ups, sequels or licensed stories would be obvious. However, the way she ended so thoroughly closed the door on further adventures for Harry that it felt really forced and the "4th wall" fell to pieces as I could see her manipulating things to cut off any such talk. Blegh.

3. Not nearly enough Ginny. She's been getting more important as a character the last few books and almost dropped off the planet in this one, other than a few scenes near the beginning and a token cameo at the end.

Monsternomicon II (2)

Well, I've successfully finished the book. Did so a few days ago, even. The last few pages... skorne specific character classes and stuff... were a little harder to get through than the monsters themselves, but still interesting.

I promised a fuller review, but on second thought, I don't know that I have much to add beyond what I've already said. I love this books; it's as good as the first one; what more can I really say about it, anyway?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


So, I've finally sorted out the last few kinks with some mp3s I ordered from eMusic a while ago, and I've more or less completed my Cosmicity collection. I don't literally have everything; I'm missing two or three CD singles, and I don't have either of the Syn EPs.

But I've got:

  • The Vision (2001 rerelease with bonus tracks)
  • The Moment (2001 rerelease with bonus tracks)
  • Isabella (original 1997 release, but I have the "Visionary" CD Single as well)
  • Renaissance (along with the "Self Involved" and "Too Far Gone" CD Singles)
  • The Binary Language of Love (but not Resynthesized)
  • Pure (along with the "Defeat" CD Single only---missing the other two)
  • Escape Pod For Two (and the Reserve Fuel remix disk)

Anyway, I think Cosmicity is really cool, and I've been a fan for at least ten years. Of course, "Cosmicity" has now been abandoned and Mark Nicholas (the artist who used that name) is now doing other stuff under his real name. It's been fun to see his progression. Looking at my collection, I'm not missing very much (and what I am missing is just remixes and a handful of b-sides anyway.)

I'm not sure what I think of his career as a whole. In some ways, The Vision is one of his best, most consistent works, with much of the remaining body of work dabbling in some experimental song structure and whatnot, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. Nearly every album has at least a few "hits" but most of them also have a few that don't click with me much at all.

I do have to say, though, that Escape Pod For Two really ends the career of the Cosmicity stage name on a high note. That is freakin' metal.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Monsternomicon II

I've only had the Monsternomicon 2 for less than 24 hours, but it has been thoroughly kicking my butt the entire time. I've even dropped my Harry Potter re-read to concentrate on this, which means I won't get my re-read done before the last Harry Potter book comes out this weekend. Serious business!

So this post isn't going to be a review per se, since I haven't read much more than about a third of the book yet; more like a stream of consciousness first impressions. And my first impressions are that the book exceeds its predecessor, which is something I never expected a monster book to do.

I had a few minimum expectations; things that if weren't done I would be extremely disappointed. Namely, that the Monsternomicon 2 had better detail the troops from Warmachine and the critters from Hordes that weren't in the first Monsternomicon. True; many of the "troops" from Warmachine are better represented in d20 with just giving a few class levels and some specific equipment to NPCs, and the warjacks themselves have their own sourcebook in Liber Mechanika. However, Warmachine had quite a few undead that were unstatted in d20, and Hordes has four factions, of which only the trolls (and to a lesser extent the Circle) were well-represented in the first Monsternomicon. So this new book delivers on my minimum expectations: there's a fairly large section on the Everblight specific dragonspawn, including all creatures for which there currently is a miniature, the last couple of trolls are detailed, there's a large section on new thralls, including bloat thralls, bile thralls, necrotechs and the centaur-like mechaniko-undead cavalry. The machine wraith gets written up as well. In addition to this, a handful of critters from the Witchfire Trilogy manages to make an appearance; stuff that I had completely forgotten about such as the devil rats, the big skorne warbeasts, or the giants who managed to somehow contribute a skeleton that appears in the modules.

The skorne are given pride of place in this book; not only are all their troop types detailed (and more) the last 10-15% or so of the book is literally a mini-sourcebook on their empire and the surrounding area, and all throughout the entire book there's information on them. This could almost be considered a skorne sourcebook that happens to cover a lot of other stuff as well.

Psion makes an interesting point about the first Monsternomicon whenever these "what's yer favorite sourcebook" discussions pop up and it inevitably gets mentioned (often by me.) He says that his problem with it is that it often reinvents the wheel. Iron Kingdoms gives us trolls that are similar yet not identical to D&D trolls. It gives us gobbers in place of goblins. Ogruns in place of ogres. Thralls in place of a host of other non-sentient undead. Etc. This isn't an untrue statement; but I don't see that as a detriment, because the flavor of the IK variety is usually much more intriguing than the standard D&D flavor that it would replace. In other words, I don't think that it makes the sourcebook any less useful for the fact that it reinvents the wheel as long as it does so sufficiently well that you want the reinvented version.

This applies well to me; as much as I dearly love the Iron Kingdoms, honestly I doubt I'd ever run more than isolated one-shots there when I can homebrew, which is half (or more) the fun of running a game in the first place. But I love to steal stuff from other settings as much as possible. And the Iron Kingdoms gives me tons of stuff to steel.

Going back to Psion's point, the skorne struck me as essentially the IK reinvented hobgoblins. A harsh, disciplined, non-human militaristic society: perfect match. However, the skorne are so much more interesting than anything D&D has ever done with hobgoblins. Even Eberrron's Darguun feels cliched, pedestrian and boring compared to the Skorne Empire. So for me, I can see grabbing the entire Skorne empire, having skorne be the name of the culture and society instead of the race, have the "skorne" actually be hobgoblins, and sticking the whole thing into a large, harsh desert area of any D&D setting and having instant antagonists: a powerful expansionist empire coming into contact for the first time with the more "traditional" kingdoms around it, in a campaign that eventually is defined by this war. Voila! Instant campaign based on the skorne.

And like I said, other than changing the skorne to hobgoblins (and they practically already are anyway--just bald, lumpy-headed ones with a slightly different statline) to make it feel more "traditional" D&D, this book could easily become the basis for an entire campaign.
I haven't yet read all the way through the Skorne empire write-up, but it looks reasonably focused and detailed; at least as much so as say Cryx was in the setting book (another great antagonist nation that could fairly easily be tossed into any campaign. I love Cryx!)

Anyway; another post to follow in a few days when I've managed to read the entire thing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I've been reading a bunch of stuff on the old Proto-Indo-Europeans. Again. I read stuff about that a lot, actually, but I'm going through another phase of it. Why do I care? What is so compelling to me about a pre-historic people who lived in the Ukrainian steppes possibly as early as 6000-6,500 years ago?

I think the reason I find the Proto-Indo-Europeans so intriguing is that they are the earliest representation of my "ancestry" that we can identify with any confidence. True; I don't know how much the Proto-Indo-Europeans are my actual genetic ancestors (R1a1 haplotype is very rare in Westernmost Europe and the British Isles, where most of my more proximate ancestry comes from) but they are---at least---clearly my cultural ancestors.

Maybe it's true what they say about the Americans---we're always in search of some deep roots we can look back to. And if nothing else, the Proto-Indo-Europeans give us roots about as deep as you can go.