T5W: Favourite Minor Characters

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Wednesday is here again, and with it time for another Top 5! Top Five Wednesday was created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and you can find the group with topics and participants here.

This week the topic is favourite minor characters! This topic was pretty much made for fanfic fanatics and so I’m super pleased to participate. Every character I’ve chosen is one whose potential I think extends beyond the canon they were placed in. I’ve either written fanfic about them or read it extensively.

#1 – Leah Clearwater (Twilight)

That’s right, the very first one is a Twilight character. I’m not even sorry. The only female werewolf of known existence in the series canon is a bitter and spiteful woman who would rather spit on everyone who gives her a side-eye than consider accepting help from a friend. I love her for it. She was intensely screwed over by fate and remains strong in the face of teenage boys thinking about what a bitch she is all the time. You go girl. Live your damn life.

#2 – Fleur Delacour (Harry Potter)

Fleur is a Tri-Wizard champion and eventually becomes wife to Bill Weasley. The magical prowess that she must have had as a champion is often overlooked in favour of her Veela heritage and the general dislike that the Weasley family have for her. She’s a powerful witch who knows her own mind, eschewing those who think her silly or vain. Ain’t nobody got time for that, especially someone who can turn into a fireball-wielding bird woman or destroy you in a non-verbal duel.

#3 – Genya Safin (The Grisha Trilogy)

Genya is a Tailor, hated by her peers and superiors and doomed to a rather tragic life. While her gift is unique and arguably powerful she is made a servant and a plaything to royals who know nothing of how to love or respect their subjects. Genya does the best she can with the choices she’s been given. Beautiful and ruthless, she hides a soft and vulnerable interior and holds a torch for a man more interested in science than romance. Her story is a tragedy and she was incredible throughout it all.

#4 – Angela the Herbalist (Inheritance Cycle)

Angela is a mysterious woman of indeterminate age. A fortune-teller, witch, and herbalist accompanied by a werecat companion, the reader doesn’t learn much of her background. She knows (and sometimes follows) the customs of many races, most notably the Urgals. Is she one of the greatly diminished Grey Folk? Uncertain, but she is far older than she appears and has no issues with poisoning a whole bunch of dudes before a battle breaks out to lower the casualties on her own side.

#5 – Tolkien’s Literary Ladies

I’d also like to give a shout-out to Tolkien’s literary ladies. Eowyn, a shieldmaiden who dreams of the glory of battle and learns the truth of war. Arwen, who loves where she will though it meant she would never sail to Valinor. Galadriel, ring-bearer and one of the greatest of the Noldor. Tolkien’s canon has played host to thousands of tales about these ladies and their peers, and I’m eternally grateful for that.

That’s it for today! What do you think of my choices? What would yours be? Let me know in the comments below!

Author Spotlight: dirgewithoutmusic

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I’m back today with another Author Spotlight! While I do enjoy giving individual story recommendations, some authors really deserve all of the recognition I can give them. Plus, if you enjoy one of their stories if gives you an automatic jumping off point to more high quality tales. Sometimes, you can even cruise through the stories they’ve bookmarked to find even more great stuff!

Today, the spotlight is on dirgewithoutmusic. Everything this author writes is gold. Seriously. I have cried reading some of their stuff before. The level of emotion they can put into a one-shot is impressive. They write a lot of interesting character studies, as well as speculative alternate universe stuff. They have a large body of work that spans fandoms both large and small, so you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy. They can be found on Archive of Our Own.

Here are some of my favourites of theirs.

we must unite inside her walls or we’ll crumble from within (arguably Canon, series of one-shots)

stories for the ladies of hogwarts, who cry, waver, giggle, trespass, and who deserve our respect all the same

Absolutely amazing character studies of the ladies of Hogwarts – all houses are represented.

boy with a scar (AU, series of one-shots)

A series of “what if” rewrites of Harry Potter, books 1-7. Cross-posted from tumblr. So far includes: What if Neville was the Chosen One, and James and Lily survived? What if Neville was the Chosen One, and James and Lily were tortured by the Lestranges? What if Neville and Harry were both killed as infants, and there was no Chosen One? What if Petunia refused to take him in, and so Harry was raised in Hogwarts? What if Petunia had raised Harry like a son? What if Harry was Sorted Slytherin? What if Harry was a squib? What if Harry was a girl? (cis) What if Harry was a girl? (trans) What if Ron was the Chosen One? What if Hermione was the Chosen One? What if Harry and Hermione met before Hogwarts? What if the Dursleys died, and Dudley was left on Lily and James’s doorstep?

That’s right. All those HP what-ifs you never thought you’d have answered. They exist and they’re great.

once a queen or king of narnia, always a king or queen (arguably Canon, series of one-shots)

All my Pevensie tumblr fic

A series that depicts what it was like for the Penvensies to rule Narnia and then leave it. Susan especially has several fics, but they are all represented and every single one will rip your heart out.

after the scouring (arguably Canon, one-shot)

Let’s talk about Sam crying over rabbit stew, because a brace of coneys had been a spot of luck, once; because even then, even when he still had his pots and his pans, when Frodo had not yet snarled at him and told him to go– Mr. Frodo had still been gone too far by then to ever come back again.

Rosie, who did not cry easy, chopped onions so he would not be the only one with wet cheeks to scrub off. She asked him about herbs and spices, about stirring and cooking times, about what loaf would go best with it all. Sam said, “Rosemary, tarragon.” Part of him still rang against the greening metal of a copper pot dropped down a chasm and left somewhere on the edges of Mordor, but she saw him breathe deep and reach for thyme.

(a story for Rosie Cotton)

Oh man, this story was so fantastic. I hope they write more Tolkien stuff because this was so satisfying.

I could honestly list everything dirgewithoutmusic has ever written as a favourite and not be lying. That’s how good they are. They’ve written stuff for Emelan, Star Wars, Avengers, Tolkien/Narnia crossovers, Ender’s Game, and so many more. I would find it extremely unlikely if you didn’t find something of theirs to love.

That’s it for this week, folks! Let me know if you check these out, and don’t forget to drop the author a comment as well!

Looking Forward: Big Titles

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There has been some cool book news recently, so I thought I would link it up in case you hadn’t heard of these yet. It’s certainly going to be an exciting year for readers, and it’s only just beginning! Here are some big titles I’m really anticipating.

On May 4th, Beren and Lúthien will be found at a bookstore near you. When I first heard about this, I assumed that it would be a complete narrative with new material from Tolkien’s notes. Understandably, I was pretty thrilled. While that isn’t quite what this book will contain, it’s close enough that I’ll pick up a copy anyway.

From the publisher:

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In this book Christopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told the story in his father’s own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost.

I’m currently reading The Silmarillion, so I may try a complete read of Middle-Earth titles before I tackle this new book.

Next!

If you haven’t heard about The Book of Dust – well, I’m about to fix that.

Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials was an absolute dream of a trilogy. Kid me read my copies until they were ragged, and as an adult I gained even more insight when I went back for a re-read. If you haven’t yet explored worlds with Lyra and Pantalaimon, I strongly urge you to pick up a copy of The Golden Compass and dive in. (But disregard the terrible film of the same title. Please.)

For those of you who read and enjoyed HDM – rejoice! On October 19th of this year, the first of The Book of Dust trilogy will be released.

From Pullman’s website:

So, second: is it a prequel? Is it a sequel? It’s neither. In fact, The Book of Dust is… an equel. It doesn’t stand before or after His Dark Materials, but beside it. It’s a different story, but there are settings that readers of His Dark Materials will recognise, and characters they’ve met before. Also, of course, there are some characters who are new to us, including an ordinary boy (a boy we have seen in an earlier part of Lyra’s story, if we were paying attention) who, with Lyra, is caught up in a terrifying adventure that takes him into a new world.

I will definitely be doing a His Dark Materials re-read later in the year to prepare for this release! It will be really cool to see an older Lyra, and learn more about Dust as well.

Are you looking forward to these new releases? Will you be pre-ordering, or biding your time for a library copy? What other 2017 releases are you waiting for? Let me know in the comments below!

FFF: Stories to Get You Started

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Hello folks! After last week’s introduction to fanfiction, I hope that you’ve had time to poke around some sites and found stuff that has interested you. If you were too busy, or too horrified when you stumbled upon a tale you couldn’t un-see, this week’s feature is for you. (Sorry for the late post!)

Behold, five different, vast, and enjoyable fandoms. For each, I’m linking two good stories that will hopefully pique your interest. One short, one long.

Please keep in mind that everyone likes different kinds of stories! There are stories that follow canon (fitting in with canonical events in the source work) and stories that are very AU (alternate universe, assuming something is very different than the canonical events). I tend to veer AU, but I’ll try to include good canonical stuff as well.

Harry Potter: One of the largest fandoms found for fanfiction, often sited as a ‘gateway’ fandom for those just getting into fanfiction.

Short: the family evans by dirgewithoutmusic (AU)

What if, when Petunia Dursley found a little boy on her front doorstep, she took him in? Not into the cupboard under the stairs, not into a twisted childhood of tarnished worth and neglect—what if she took him in?

Petunia was jealous, selfish and vicious. We will not pretend she wasn’t. She looked at that boy on her doorstep and thought about her Dudders, barely a month older than this boy. She looked at his eyes and her stomach turned over and over. (Severus Snape saved Harry’s life for his eyes. Let’s have Petunia save it despite them).

A fanfiction trope that I deeply enjoy, by one of my favourite fanfic authors.

Long: New Leaf to Turn by slavetothepen (canon-compliant)

Dudley Dursley lived a very normal life. But when an all too familiar letter makes an appearance on his son’s 11th birthday, Dudley must seek the guidance of a cousin he hasn’t seen in 19 years. Who else but Harry Potter?

Lily Evans was a witch – it may have passed over Petunia, but what of her grandchildren? A very enjoyable story.

Tolkien: Arguably the largest fandom around. Writers are often Tolkien junkies, coming up with cultures and customs that work well with the source material.

Short: Garden in Dol Goldur by esama (AU)

“If you wouldn’t mind it terribly, I would like to take a small detour south on our way through Mirkwood.”

A tale in which Gandalf and Bilbo make a slight detour, and hobbits prove to be marvelous gardeners.

Long: Sansûkh by determamfidd (Novel-length, AU)

The battle was over, and Thorin Oakenshield awoke, naked and shivering, in the Halls of his Ancestors.

The novelty of being dead fades quickly, and watching over his companions soon fills him with grief and guilt. Oddly, a faint flicker of hope arises in the form of his youngest kinsman, a Dwarf of Durin’s line with bright red hair.

This is a story in which Thorin watches Gimli during the War of the Ring, as does well, everyone really. It is complete and is incredibly well-written. Many people have created beautiful fan-art for this tale. One of my personal favourites.

Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU): With the rise of superhero universe has come the speculation of just what those heroes do when we’re not watching them.

Short: A Future Shining by icarus_chained (canon-compliant)

It took Tony a while to notice. To see the increasingly massive sections of memory space that someone had blocked off in JARVIS’ systems, the processing power being diverted to something that … that Tony couldn’t breach.

Tony, and JARVIS, and a conversation Tony never, ever thought he’d be having.

AI are pretty cool – and so is this story. Let us bow to our robot overlords.

Long: both have sharp teeth by cosmicocean (AU, but fits with canon)

“And there are stories about wolves and girls. Girls in red. All alone in the woods. About to get eaten up. Wolves and girls.”
-Black Widow, Nathan Edmondson

She is one of 28.

The story of the girl who would be Karen Page, through Russian winters and New York streets.

The one where Karen Page is also a Black Widow. Tragic and lovely.

Twilight: While the source material is divisively loved or hated, a great deal of its fanfic is absolutely brilliant in correcting issues with canon or creatively changing them to suit better stories.

Short: Do You Remember by LJ Summers (AU)

A winner in the Sort of Beautiful Challenge, this is a story about unconditional love and the value of memory. Jacob and Bella have been married for about forty years when the Cullens want to visit for what is possibly the last time.

A tragic and memorable tale about love, life, and all that comes with it.

Long: Neon Moon by NoSleep3 (Novel-Length, AU)

New Moon A/U. Abandoned by the Cullens, Bella emerges from depression with a wall around her heart and a chip on her shoulder. Closed off and immersed in her college studies, she finds her emotional outlet in a surprising source.

A story of a tougher Bella learning how to cope, and living her life.

Mass Effect: The extensive world building of these games are often expanded upon in remarkably cool ways, and character pairings are given more scrutiny.

Short: Followed Him Home by madamebadger (AU, but fits with canon)

In which Shepard was the greatest mom, because she gave Grunt a pony.

Only for “pony,” read “kakliosaur.” For “mom,” read “battlemaster.” And for “greatest,” read “Oh my god, who thought that was a good idea?”

But things worked out—as they do, as they will—in the end.

Heartfelt and fun, a short focus on the relationship between Grunt and female Shepard.

Long: Juxtaposed by Squiggly_Squid (Novel-Length, AU)

Garrus Vakarian never thought being stopped right before the end of his shift would to look into suspicious activity would change his life forever.

Jane Shepard thought it was just a normal day when facing a C-Sec officer come to convince her to leave her bench on the Presidium. Little did she know what would come.

How would their unexpected meeting years before the events of Eden Prime affect their futures?

A fleshed out female Shepard and Vakarian pre-Mass Effect. First part of several stories, a truly massive undertaking. Warning for explicit inter-species sex later in the story.


So, there you have it! Some stories to get you started if you’re familiar with these fandoms. If you look into them, please be sure to be kind and leave a review for the author! If you’d like, you can let me know what you think after you’ve read a fic.

Please feel free to request fandoms, tropes you’re curious about, or ask about anything else fanfiction related in the comments below. 

Are you a fanfic reader? Are there any ‘starter’ fics you’d like to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

Classic Remarks: Recommend A Tolkien Book

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Classic Remarks is a meme hosted over at Pages Unbound. Every Friday they ask a question about classic literature. Participants are asked to discuss the themes, canon formation, the ‘timelessness’ of literature, and modes of interpretation.

I decided to join in this week because the question is about Tolkien!

Which Tolkien book would you recommend to a reader after they’ve finished reading ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’?

I think this question isn’t as straightforward as simply recommending a book. First, you have to find out what the reader most enjoyed about the Tolkien they’ve already read. Did they love the accessibility of the Hobbit, in my opinion a very non-pretentious high fantasy? Or maybe they loved Tolkien’s creation of languages and cultures in LOTR and wish to learn more about Middle Earth? Maybe they just love high fantasy epics and are looking to slake their thirst with a story packed with interesting characters performing heroic deeds?

Luckily, there’s a recommendation for each of those questions!

For readers who loved the accessibility of The Hobbit I would recommend Tales from the Perilous Realm. The five stories within have the kind of whimsy that I loved in The Hobbit, and I think it’s a wonderfully fun read.

For readers looking to learn more about Middle Earth but still seeking a story, The Silmarillion is my recommendation. Here, the reader gets to explore some of the fascinating history of Middle Earth. I’ve seen a few reviews in which the writer stated they approached reading The Silmarillion as if it were The Bible or a historical text, and that is absolutely the way to view it. Extremely worth it if you’re interested in the subject, but undeniably a bit dry.

For those wanting to read an epic tale, I would recommend The Children of Hurin. A captivating book, it will certainly deliver a story worth reading. This is really not a happy book – it very much reads like a Greek tragedy. What can go wrong will do so in terrible ways, but for those that are willing to cry on public transit the payoff of a great story is all that’s needed.

There you have it, three Tolkien recommendations that I think encompass his tales of Middle Earth quite completely! Though he did of course write on other subject matter, and many more volumes of his work were published posthumously, I think that with these three novels the door is opened to those seeking more of Tolkien’s work.

If readers continue to seek out his work, I’ll be waiting here with even more recommendations.

What would you recommend?