Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sword of Truth Series: Chainfire

Chainfire: Chainfire Trilogy, Part 1 (Sword of Truth, Book 9)The Sword of Truth series continues with Terry Goodkind's ninth installment: Chainfire.

Chainfire is an epic struggle between the hero, Richard Rahl, and his friends. His greatest adversaries in this novel are those friends closest to him. He believes strongly in one thing and is focused to see it through, and yet he meets resistance from all those around him.
The time line serves to allow Jagang's army to complete critical strategic movements which will position them for the 'final battle'.
Another civilization is encountered briefly, yet plays a critical piece to the puzzle being worked out by the Seeker of Truth. 

It finally dawned on me while reading this novel and listening to another author's book the differences in introductory writing styles. Specifically, how an author is carrying forward recurring characters throughout a series. One style simply assumes the reader has participated in the previous installments and is already intimate with the characters. In this case, the next novel in the series simply continues the story with only minimal reference to the background story or recent events. This is akin to reading one really long novel that just happened to be broken up in separate physical books.

The other style assumes new readers are discovering the series mid stream, or sufficient time has passed to allow readers to forget important qualities and characteristics of the main characters. In this case, the author will use the beginning phase of the book re-introduce the main characters and to re-establish their defining characteristics.

The Sword of Truth series continues from one book to the next without gaps in the time line. Most begin on the following day, however, Goodkind devotes the first half of his book with the second style mentioned above. I believe this is why I was so frustrated with Soul of the Fire. I found it maddening to read about chickens and spend over 100 pages doing nothing with the story before the group finally started moving again. My perception of the story was that it was dragging on endlessly and further fueled my frustration when I neared the end and the climax was wrapped up in a matter of only a few short chapters.

Sword of Truth, Boxed Set III, Books 7-9: The Pillars of Creation, Naked Empire, ChainfireWhile it is true that Chainfire follows the same pattern, I felt much more comfortable with the pace of the story at the introduction. The group was traveling, rather quickly in an attempt to save Richard's life, and the development of the new plot line served to more naturally re-introduce the characters.

It makes me wonder, now, understanding this, if my attitude towards Soul of the Fire, might have changed had I recognized this before I picked up. Probably not, the chickens were really getting on my nerves.
What is your opinion? Do you appreciate an author who takes the time to re-introduce his characters every book? Or are you just impatient for the story to move along?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sword of Truth Series: Wizard's Rules

Wizard's First Rule (The Sword of Truth)The Wizard's Rules that are learned, one by one, in each book were originally in my quotable quotes posts for each book. But then I found that Wikipedia had already done a much more elegant job of phrasing them and referencing them. This post, now has simply become a compilation then of the Rules sections from the individual book's wiki pages. Additionally, it is worth noting that each of the Rule's form a large basis for the foundation of the plot for each novel. Each specific Rule is an underlying theme throughout its book.

From the first book we learn the Wizard’s First Rule – People will believe anything they want or are afraid might be true.

Wizard's First Rule (Sword of Truth, Book 1)People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.
—Chapter 36, p.397, U.S. hardcover edition

Stone of Tears (Sword of Truth, Book 2)
Stone of Tears teaches us the Wizard’s Second Rule – Law of unintended consequences.

The greatest harm can result from the best intentions.
It is explained in the book as follows: "It sounds a paradox, but kindness and good intentions can be an insidious path to destruction. Sometimes doing what seems right is wrong, and can cause harm. The only counter to it is knowledge, wisdom, forethought, and understanding the First Rule. Even then, that is not always enough. [...] Violation can cause anything from discomfort, to disaster, to death."
—Chapter 63, p. 634, U.S. hardcover edition

Blood of the Fold (Sword of Truth, Book 3)
Blood of the Fold teaches us the Wizard’s Third Rule – Passion rules reason.

 Passion rules reason.
It is explained in the novel as follows: "Letting your emotions control your reason may cause trouble for yourself and those around you."
—Chapter 43, p. 360, U.S. hardcover edition

Temple of the Winds (Sword of Truth, Book 4)Temple of the Winds teaches us the Wizard's Fourth Rule: Forgiveness Heals.

There is magic in sincere forgiveness, the magic to heal. In forgiveness you grant, but more so, in forgiveness you receive.
It is explained in the novel as follows: "Forgiving and being forgiven are powerful elements of healing for the soul. Forgiving others grants by the giving of forgiveness but more so one receives self healing by the necessity of letting go of bitterness through forgiveness of others."
—Chapter 41, p. 318, U.S. hardcover edition

Soul of the Fire (Sword of Truth, Book 5)Soul of the Fire teaches us the Wizard's Fifth Rule: Actions Speak Louder than Words.

Mind what people do, not only what they say, for deeds will betray a lie.
It is explained in the novel as follows: "People will lie to deceive you from what they truly mean to do. Watching the actions they take will prove their true intentions."
—Chapter 28, p. 205, U.S. hardcover edition

Faith of the Fallen teaches us the Wizard's Sixth Rule:    The only sovereign you can allow to rule you is reason.

Faith of the Fallen (Sword of Truth, Book 6) (Mass Market Paperback)It is explained in the novel as follows: "The Sixth Rule is the hub upon which all rules turn. It is not only the most important rule, but the simplest. Nonetheless, it is the one most often ignored and violated, and by far the most despised. It must be wielded in spite of the ceaseless, howling protests of the wicked. Misery, iniquity, and utter destruction lurk in the shadows outside its full light, where half-truths snare the faithful disciples, the deeply feeling believers, the selfless followers. Faith and feelings are the warm marrow of evil. Unlike reason, faith and feelings provide no boundary to limit any delusion, any whim. They are a virulent poison, giving the numbing illusion of moral sanction to every depravity ever hatched. Faith and feelings are the darkness to reason’s light. Reason is the very substance of truth itself. The glory that is life is wholly embraced through reason, through this rule. In rejecting it, in rejecting reason, one embraces death."
    —Chapter 41, p. 319, U.S. hardcover edition

The Pillars of Creation teaches us the Wizard's Seventh Rule: Life is the future, not the past.

The Pillars of Creation (Sword of Truth, Book 7)It is explained in the novel as follows: "The past can teach us, through experience, how to accomplish things in the future, comfort us with cherished memories, and provide the foundation of what has already been accomplished. But only the future holds life. To live in the past is to embrace what is dead. To live life to its fullest, each day must be created anew. As rational, thinking beings we must use our intellect, not a blind devotion to what has come before, to make rational choices."
 —Chapter 60, p. 549, U.S. hardcover edition

Naked Empire teaches us the Wizard's Eighth Rule: Deserve victory. 
Naked Empire (Sword Of Truth)
(Translated from "Talga Vassternich" in High D'Haran)
It is explained in the novel as follows: "Be justified in your convictions. Be completely committed. Earn what you want and need rather than waiting for others to give you what you desire."
  —Chapter 61, p.626, U.S. hardcover edition

Chainfire teaches us the Wizard's Ninth Rule: A contradiction cannot exist in reality. Not in part, nor in whole.

Chainfire: Chainfire Trilogy, Part 1 (Sword of Truth, Book 9)It is explained in the novel as follows: "To believe in a contradiction is to abdicate your belief in the existence of the world around you and the nature of the things in it, to instead embrace any random impulse that strikes your fancy - to imagine something is real simply because you wish it were. A thing is what it is, it is itself. There can be no contradictions. In reality, contradictions cannot exist. To believe in them you must abandon the most important thing you possess: your rational mind. The wager for such a bargain is your life. In such an exchange, you always lose what you have at stake."
—Chapter 48, p. 489, U.S. hardcover edition

Phantom teaches us the Wizard's Tenth Rule:
I have not read this yet. I'll update this post when I do.

Confessor teaches us the Wizard's Eleventh Rule:
I have not read this yet. I'll update this post when I do.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Quotable Quotes: Chainfire

These are the quotable quotes that I found while reading Chainfire.

I found it fitting to read words of a revolutionary during the month of July when we celebrate the Independence of the United States of America! (Page 169 - Hardcover)
Chainfire: Chainfire Trilogy, Part 1 (Sword of Truth, Book 9)"You've all bravely taken the first step and thrown off your shackles... But this is not about a single battle won. This is about the future of how you will live your lives from now on - how your children and your grandchildren will live their lives. You've fought bravely. Many have already lost their lives pursuing our common goal and many more yet will. But victory over evil is possible and within your power. You won a battle for something profound: your own lives to live as you see fit. But don't now fail to see that the war for that ideal is a long way from being finished.
"You have won your right to live free today. Now you must have the fire to fight to live free always. "
"Freedom is never easy to keep and can easily be lost. All it takes is willful indifference."
"I am simply a man who has come to understand the need to stand without compromise against tyranny.

Nicci is speaking to Richard and proves herself to be a true friend because 'she convinced him to keep fighting even when she did not believe in what he was fighting for.'  (Page 507 - Hardcover)
"Because you were doing what you though you must do and as much as you would hope we would agree with you, in the end it didn't matter what we thought. Your conviction was what you had to act upon. you didn't quail at the decision, you acted. You did what you felt you had to do. You were making the decisions based on what you believed, for reasons only you can truly know, and that it was the right thing to do."
She continues in her supporting but reprimanding tone.
Sword of Truth, Boxed Set III, Books 7-9: The Pillars of Creation, Naked Empire, Chainfire"Sometimes the people who love us the most have the highest expectations for us, and sometimes those expectations are idealized....You have no responsibility to live up to anyone else's expectations. You have only to live up to your own expectations."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hubble Telescope 20 Years of Awesome

Hubble: A Journey Through Space and TimeThere is still one gem that glimmers despite all the controversy surrounding NASA and how they have lost their touch and all they do is spend gobs of money on programs destined to be canceled: The Hubble Telescope. The greatest telescope ever imagined was set free from the Space Shuttle Discovery on April 25, 1990. I was just a kid in elementary school at the time. I grew up with Hubble and all its glory. I watched as the blurry images were corrected and was inspired by the awesome images it was sending back home from far away parts of the galaxy. Space is awesome and NASA was the discoverer of that final frontier.  

It is no wonder that I fell in love with space and went on to become a rocket scientist. Just look at the possibilities that lay before us if we just put our minds to a project and open our eyes to the wonders above.

Visit NASA Goddard’s Hubble resource Web site. This site features an extensive list of Hubble links, including the new Carina Nebula image. Remember, Hubble images are in the public domain and free to use. Your taxes already paid for them - so go out and enjoy them.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How to Display HTML Code in a Blog Post

Sometimes when you are creating a page, you want to include the code that you used to be able to share with others.
For example, if you wanted to know what the specific HTML tags are to create headings and paragraphs, I couldn't just type them in because the program would interpret them as code and process them as such.
So, how to display HTML code as text? or How do I quote HTML code on my blog?
This comes in to play when you want to give someone a blogger award like the one below.

And, now I want to share that code with you.
But in order to do so, I must change some parts of the code to a different piece of code. If you want coding elements to appear as text, you must provide the code equivalent of the characters.

<img src="" border="0" />

To make the above code appear as text and not be immediately interpreted as another command to display the above picture I had to make some changes to the code. When a browser happens upon the bracket symbol it knows to begin code interpretation. The way around that is to feed the browser the code that displays instead the symbol as text. This is done by replacing the symbol with its code equivalent.

Replace "<" with "&lt;" (without the quotes, and yes, that is a lowercase "L")
Replace ">" with "&gt;" (again, without the quotes.)

Additionally, I found via this forum, that it is good coding practice to enclose the code you want to appear as text with the <code> tags. This way, if your page is ever translated, some browsers will just skip over the section and not waste time trying to translate a section not intended nor needed.

Here is a great resource page for any web programming language.

A final note, the <p> and </p> tags just create a paragraph break. If you don't want the extra paragraph break you can omit them. If you wanted a line break, use a "b" instead of the "p".


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