The Hippoi Athanatoi, the immortal horses, are the fabulous steeds of the gods and heroes of Greek myth.
Collected entries from Hippoi Athanatoi: Updates, Literally: Reflections, Literally: Reviews, Naturally: Boxertales, Naturally: Horsetales, Personally: Observations, Virtually: Logs, Virtually: MU*sings and Virtually: Otherworldly.
After yesterday’s ... trials, I was feeling decidedly jittery before today’s lesson, and before the horses had been handed out I was very tense and apprehensive. Fortunately, I did get Murphy today, and that immediately settled my nerves. I knew he’d be bomb-proof even if the other horses decided to act up today as well.
Bit overdue, but I am officially knackered after a very long day. You see, I had the brilliant idea of booking two riding lessons the same day, one at 13.30 and one at 18.00, and deciding that I could just as well stay at the stable between the two. Hah. Never again. At least not in fricking December, with a bitingly cold wind chilling me to the bone, and at least not when I have two more lessons (tomorrow and Friday) to go this week.
Among our Christmas presents this year was a copy of Shaman’s Crossing, the first book in Robin Hobb’s new trilogy, Soldier Son. This book marks a departure from the world made familiar by the Farseer and Liveship Trader books, and introduces a brand-new setting which by fantasy standards is relatively "modern", with guns, canons and a strictly traditionalist nation on a path to development and expansion.
The main character (who, like Fitz from the Farseer books, tells the story from a first-person point of view) is Nevare Burvelle, second son of one of the king’s "battle lords"; men raised to nobility for their deeds. As a second son, he is destined to become a soldier, and initially he rarely questions the rigid Gernian belief that one should never question the place in life allotted to oneself by the good god. But slowly doubts start to creep up on him, and he finds himself forced to accept that the simple, straight-forward rules that governed his life as a young boy cannot—and perhaps should not—always be followed.
Shaman’s Crossing starts out a little slow, but I soon found it quite impossible to put down the book (I started it on the eve of the 24th, and finished just a little while ago). Nevare may not be as interesting a character as Fitz as he is, at least initially, a far less troubled young man, but the story he tells soon had me firmly hooked. I wanted to know more about Gernian society, the cavalla Academy and, not the least, the strange, dappled Specks who seem to be seeking a way to repel the Gernian expansion that has already claimed the lifestyle of the once fierce and free plainspeoples. And now that I have finished, I am hoping the next one will be out soon.
Kalle Anka has been watched, tons of delicious food (pickled herring, salmon, ham, meatballs, sausages, ribs, cheeses, etc, etc, etc) has been consumed, a fair amount of candy (chocolate, marzipan, ginger candies, etc) has been gobbled up and there’s still dessert, presents, another round of eating and lots of snacking on candy to go.
For now, however, we’ll settle down for a bit to watch The Fellowship of the Ring as "The Lord of the Rings" movies have become something of a new Christmas tradition for us. God jul (Merry Christmas - yes, we celebrate on the 24th) from Sweden!
No Murphy again today, as I had hoped I would get, but finally getting a chance to ride Sammy again was almost as good. Sammy, or Plain Sam as he’s properly named (his sire, btw, is Diamond Lad, who was a pretty well-known Irish stallion), is another of our Irish gentlemen (and, in contrast to Murphy, he’s actually a real gentleman), and currently the oldest horse in the stable at eighteen. He’s been at the riding school for eleven years and he’s an old favourite of mine, so I am always glad when I get a chance to ride him, as he is usually used for the lower groups these days. Partly because he’s so well-behaved, and partly because he only takes lighter riders due to some old injuries.
Version 1.4 of ExpressionEngine, the excellent content management system we use to handle all the dynamic data on the site, was released today. As some of you may have noticed, we experienced some small problems while upgrading our site, but that has all been fixed now, and we hope to soon be able to take advantage of some of the new features offered in 1.4 to enhance the site further.
By the way, pMachine now offers a free version of ExpressionEngine, called ExpressionEngine Core, and we can really recommend this to anyone looking for a great blogging system. Its more powerful and more flexible than anything else we’ve tried.
I always find it frustrating when I am unable to effectively recommend great books to others because of them being out of print. Such as, for example, Judith Tarr’s brilliant Alamut and The Dagger and the Cross. These prequels to The Hound and the Falcon have been pretty impossible to get a hold off for years, but now Tarr is selling copies of older books of hers via her livejournal. Including hardcovers of the aforementioned titles, which I cannot say enough good stuff about. Oh, and they’ve both got gorgeous covers by Tom Canty.
Over the last few days, I have been more than a little depressed, and today was particularly bad. If I hadn’t had the riding to look forward to, I might just have stayed in bed. Fortunately, I didn’t, and when I got the the stables I was thoroughly cheered up by being told that I’d get to ride Murphy. It couldn’t have happened on a better day, and I did not let his attempts to have my nose off with his teeth deter me even one bit. Especially not since a girl who was new to our group (she usually rides the last class of the day, and was probably only making up for a missed class) commented that she thinks we look so good together whenever she’s seen me ride him.
After finishing what I hope is the almost-final version of my paper, I was (as always after concentrating on some work for a long while) feeling very tired today, but I still dragged myself to the stable. Jumping was on the menu, and I was kind of expecting to get Murphy. But, no. Instead, I ended up getting Gamir, which admittedly isn’t such a bad deal. He’s probably the most well-schooled horse in the stable, and a pretty darn fabulous jumper. There’s just one small problem with him: he hates, and I do mean hates, being saddled.
Its that time of the year again, and we thought we’d compile a little (or not so little, actually) list of reading (and watching) recommendations for the holidays. We’ve included both some recent releases and some older favourites, and we think that most of them are great additions both to your own wish list and to your shopping list.
Today it was, unfortunately, time for a theory lesson. I haven’t been feeling great the last days, so I could have used 45 minutes of horse therapy, but at least I got to be in the stable and say hello to Murphy. Oh, and I did get some good news: there was a cancellation for the jumping lesson during Christmas, so I’m in. That means four lessons in one week between Christmas and New Year, and likely a very sore Linda.
Enter the name of a musician or band, or the title of a song, and Pandora will present full-audio tracks of music which is similar not only in terms of tempo and rhythm, but things like syncopation, antiphony, synth or electronica influences, and more. It’s completely free (although a paid subscription version is available) and extremely interesting—if you find a new piece of music you like, you can purchase the song via iTunes or even get the whole album.
Fantasy Flight Games, publishers of the A Game of Thrones CCG and boardgame, have put together a very impressive collection of art and artists in this first and hopefully not last visual companion to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Much of the art comes from the CCG, but they have also reprinted art from other sources, such as Meisha Merlin’s & Subterranean Press’s limited editions of the first three books and the cover art for the regular editions, as well as commissioned quite a few original pieces. The list of artists include names such as John Howe, Charles Vess, John
Once again, I have ended up neglecting my posting duties. Possibly it wasn’t such a good idea to split things off into so many different blogs, since I have managed to keep up with some of the more ‘specialized’ ones while failing completely to write down much in the way of general ramblings. Of course, those sections are far more interesting than me just talking about myself. Still, since I am feeling like doing just that today, here’s an earful (or eyeful, rather).
Two surprises today. One was not so pleasant; our regular instructor was off again. The other was all the more pleasant—I got to ride Murphy! I couldn’t contain a little squeal of happiness when he was assigned to me, which had everyone else laughing. I’m like a 10-year-old when it comes to Murphy, and in the stables I just never think about ‘appearances’. Its the only time I am comfortable not having my hair and clothes in order, and I talk to and cuddle with the horses like a little pony-mad girl. ;)
As I managed to clear out some of my work earlier than expected, I decided to reward myself with a bit of reading from the rather large to-read pile that has accumulated of late. The book I picked up was Song of Unmaking by Caitlinn Brennan (a pseudonym for Judith Tarr ). This is the second in her series from Luna (Harlequin’s semi-new fantasy imprint), following on from last year’s The Mountain’s Call.
I was quite tired today (on account of some indecently late nights in front of the computer these last two weeks), but since I knew we’d have our regular instructor back, I wasn’t too reluctant to drag myself to the stable. Even though it threatened to get pretty cold as well. Once there, I did my usual round of saying a brief hello to my favourites (Murphy, of course, although he had just had his feed and didn’t want to let me in, and Malupin, Fleur, Sammy, Gamir and a few of the ponies a swell). Its always a little sad these days to say hello to Sammy, because he’s 18 now and you never know when he’ll be gone. So far, though, he’s doing great, although he’s almost never in our group anymore since he’s such a great horse for the lower groups. Same, alas, goes for Murphy. Seems I am not likely to get him for anything but jumping lessons, but fortunately I did manage to get signed up for yet another extra lesson over Christmas, so I do hope he stays healthy this year. He’s had an extraordinary ability to get injured around Christmas. ;P
This is actually rather old news, because someone (cough) forgot to keep herself up-to-date via Louise Cooper’s website on the author’s efforts to get her older books back into print. And now, it seems, she has succeeded.
Via Whedonesque, we learn from the man himself that he’s going to be writing a brand new Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic for Dark Horse which will be canonical and set post-Buffy and Angel. And there’s more news beyond that.
I’ve had a few pretty rough days trying to balance (and not succeeding very well) work with the task of setting up the new forum, so I was really looking forward to today’s riding lesson as a good way to relax. But of course I got unlucky, and ended up having one of the worst lessons so far this semester.
Malupin, that is. Which I expected, since it was a regular dressage lesson today (well, yesterday by now, its past midnight here), but that doesn’t mean I was still hoping for Murphy. Especially since it turned out our regular instructor was off today, and that always makes me a bit more nervous than usual. Fortunately the weather is still mostly just wet, and not very cold, so at least I didn’t have to worry about Malupin being extrasensitive as they sometimes get when its chilly outside.
Although the most important book that I have read of late obviously is A Feast for Crows (I leave the reviewing of that one to Elio, except to say that it is a very good book but also a very different book from the previous ones), I have also managed to take time out from my work to read the second half of Jacqueline Carey’s The Sundering;
Today was the second of the pair of jumping lessons, and as I had hoped (and expected) I was put on Murphy once again. He, on the other hand, was less thrilled with this, as the class before ours had been delayed. This meant that he hadn’t had a chance to finish his evening hay yet, which resulted in him greeting me with his ears pinned back (in case I was thinking of stealing his hay).
Via Steven Brust’s LiveJournal we learn many interesting things—such as that the man is silver (according to one test), that Vlad is presently wandering around in search of a plot, and that Brust is presently working on a media tie-in novel for Joss Whedon’s excellent Firefly.
First, an important piece of information to remember about this book is that it does not contain a number of the major point of view characters from earlier novels: Jon Snow, Daenaerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, and Davos Seaworth; these characters will feature in the next novel, A Dance with Dragons. Readers opening this book with the hopes of reading about these characters directly will be disappointed, but there’s no real reason to be disappointed as this novel is a success.
Focusing as it does on events south of the Neck (particularly King’s Landing and the Riverlands) and some
The last week has been quite chilly (but I’ll take that over our usual October rains any day), so made sure to wear my thick stable jacket. I did, however, forget to switch from my jodhpurs to my boots and a pair of thicker socks. Still, not too bad, and with a jumping lesson to look forward to, freezing a little didn’t bother me so much. Especially not once I was assigned to Murphy.
A Feast for Crows, that is.
Elio’s got first reader rights, though, since I go riding in an hour and have work to do when I get back home. He has just had to promise not to exclaim "Oh My God!" (or gasp, squeal, squeak or whimper) while I am in his presence; I am nervous enough about the fates of the characters I like without having him make it worse. Although I love the setting, love the backstory and love much of the writing, I keep wishing that GRRM was a bit more like Guy Gavriel Kay when it comes to killing off characters: that is, deaths should be heroic, significant and poignant.
Even so, I am really looking forward to my turn with the book, and I know I will squeal excitedly about numerous revelations. Oh, and guess who’s in the acknowledgements? Whee!
Hippoi Athanatoi is divided into four sections, covering various of our hobbies.