#485 Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Wyrm King by Holly Black and Tony Diterlizzi

Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Wyrm King by Holly Black and Tony DiterlizziBeyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Wyrm King by Holly Black and Tony Diterlizzi

As it turns out, getting rid of all those giants wasn’t such a great idea. It turns out they wake up to do something important. There are sink holes opening all over Florida. The air inside of them smells like methane and little black wriggly things are in the sinkholes.

When Jared, Simon, Mallory, Nick, Jules, and Laurie find this out, they all get together. Cindi can’t come along because she’s grounded forever apparently. They know they have to lure the giants out of the water, but aren’t really sure what to do until they go to Jack’s house. There they find some Nixie’s in a kiddie pool. They take the nixies along and tell them they have to sing in order for the kids to take them back to a stream. The nixies do sing and the giants are lured out.

It turns out all those black wormy things turn into Hydras when they get their tails stuck together, but Sandspur just loves the way they taste. He starts eating them up, but also accidentally eats Nick. Jack’s son shows up to help fight the wyrms as well. The giants go from hole the hold eating the wyrms. Meanwhile, Nick and Laurie’s parents must decide if they want to stay a family.

What I liked

I didn’t know that Hydras had any particular origin myth, but if they do, I don’t think this is how hydras are born. I could be wrong, but it has been a while since I’ve studied any Greek mythology. I don’t really like this; I just think it’s whimsical that Hydras could be balls of snakes, or whatever, stuck together.

What I didn’t like

This story sounds gross. I don’t really like the idea of great balls of wriggly things joining up. I will say this though, the rat king thing mentioned in the story is true. It really happens. There are occasions in which rats get their tails tangled together and none of them can get loose. I know it sounds really gross and weird, but sometimes real life is stranger than any fiction. I didn’t know this type of thing existed until I read an article about creepy things that are real. So, if you have a bunch of rats, don’t let all their tails get tangled up.

Overall

These stories sound like they could be Jim Henson Muppet movies. Remember some of the gross and weird-looking Jim Henson creatures from the 1980s? Yeah, this book could be that.


#484 Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: A Giant Problem by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: A Giant Problem by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizziBeyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: A Giant Problem by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

It turns out there are just giants everywhere in Florida, everywhere. Nick and Laurie last were able to defeat a giant in the previous installment, but it turns out there are a lot more. Jack Noseeum shows up at the door and asks for them one evening. They manage to make it away. The giants are waking up for something, but Jack doesn’t know what, but soon his family wants him to live with them because he’s too old. The kids are on their own for a while.

More and more giants start to appear. The children know they must think of a plan. They end up involving Jules and his girlfriend Cindi after their house is destroyed by a giant. They find out that giants like to listen to mermaids singing. The children bargain with the mermaids for them to sing, but they don’t sing for very long. Luckily, one of them recorded the singing and they are able to draw the giants out into the ocean, where they will not die, but kind of hang out.

In the end the Vargas kids are homeless and the giants are defeated.

What I liked

Holly and Tony do a great job of researching folklore. There is a lot of this I’ve heard before, as far as the folklore, and Holly and Tony are on spot. Some of it is a little odd, but there are multiple stories about each folklore. I like the idea of being able to lure giants away and into the ocean with a recording. Still though, why would giants pick Florida of all places? It seems like there would be better places to be a giant, like the Rocky Mountains for example, where a giant could hide. A giant cannot hide very well on flat land.

What I didn’t like

Yep this series is still set in Florida. Did Holly and Tony move? The first books were set in Maine and now these books are set in Florida. Giants can’t hide in Florida. It all seems very impractical. Also, those mermaids were jerks.

Overall

Bring me a special fish.


#483 Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Nixie’s Song by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

Beyond the Spiderwick: The Nixie's Song by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizziBeyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Nixie’s Song by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

Time has passed and the field guide has been published using Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi as a front. The only reason Nick knows any of this is because his brand-new step-sister is into all of it. She has a copy of the guide. She stole his room. She likes fairies and unicorns and stuff. The first thing she does upon moving into Nick’s house is to go outside and look for fairies. They don’t find anything, but Nick does find a four-leaf clover. It’s the first he’s ever found.

When he gets home he looks out the window into a storm and sees something strange. He tells Laurie, his sister, that it’s one of her things. It turns out the four-leaf clover gives the person holding it the sight. Laurie is finally able to see for herself after all her time invested into the world of fairies. They help the thing into the lake; it turns out it’s a Nixie.

The next day they promise the Nixie they will find her sisters. They both receive the sight from the Nixie after she dunks their heads in the lake she’s swimming in. They go off in the direction that the Nixie said her sisters were in. All they find is a very charred mess and a large creature. That large creature is a giant, which eats specific types of salamanders in order to breathe fire. The two escape, but decide they need better help.

They go to a book signing of the guide where they meet a clueless Holly and Tony, but someone who isn’t clueless is there. It’s Jared Grace. Jared agrees to help them with the giant. With the help of Simon he finds out that Arthur corresponded with someone in Florida about giants. The three go to this place in order to find out what they can find out. They find out that they can tie a giant’s head to his leg to disable him. The children manage to do this, but soon after a giant hunter shows up. He says they did pretty well.

Florida will not be overridden with giants after all.

What I liked

Giants in Florida! Ha! Florida is not a place that is my cup of tea. Maybe Holly and Tony like it, but I’m not overly fond of the state. I do think it’s funny that giants might be there though. It puts a little whimsy in a place that doesn’t really have whimsy. Oh, sure, Disneyworld is there, but if you took Disneyworld, SeaWorld, Universal, and Busch Gardens out of Florida and there isn’t much left that is whimsical. Florida is a place made whimsical by what people have put there, not necessarily by what was already there(flat land and mosquitoes).

What I didn’t like

I’m not particularly fond of Florida and as such I really don’t get a feel for books set in Florida. I mean those books are alright, but it’s more difficult to connect with the setting of a story if you don’t find the setting at least a little interesting.

Overall

What will happen next?

The Crystal Ball

The Crystal BallThe Crystal Ball

I see, I see, well, I see something. It’s just a smudge. Hold on. *wipes smudge away* Well, what do you know, I can see the other side of the room, but it looks weird because I’m looking through a crystal ball.

Once upon a time there was an enchantress who had three sons. She did not trust her sons because she thought that they would try to take her powers. She turned the oldest into an eagle. The second one was turned into a whale. The third one feared the same fate as the other two brothers and ran away before he could be turned into anything.

During his travels he heard of a princess who had likewise been enchanted. Twenty-three men had tried to free her, but she was in the Castle of the Golden Sun. He did not know how to get there, but he kept traveling. He came upon two giants in the forest fighting over a cap. They said that they were both equal in strength so no fight could be won between them. The cap was a magical cap that enabled its wearer to wish himself or herself anywhere a thought could take them. The man told the giants to give himself a cap and he would wish himself somewhere near by and whosoever got to him first got the cap.

The man took the cap and thought of the princess. He then wished he could rescue the princess and thought of the Castle of the Golden Sun. He found himself there and wandered through all of the rooms until he came to one where he found an old woman. He asked her if she was the princess of the golden castle. The old woman said she was, but everyone must behold her in this form until the enchantment was broken.

She then told him how to break the enchantment. In a certain place there would be a bull fighting. If the man killed this bull, a bird would rise up from it. He must then kill the bird because the bird held within it a crystal ball which would break the enchantment. Getting the bird would be tricky because if it was attacked suddenly it would drop it’s egg, which contained the crystal ball as a yolk and when the egg hit the ground it would cause fire to everything around it. The fire would get so hot that it would melt the crystal ball and everyone would pretty much be screwed.

The man went and killed the bull after a long fight. Right away the bird rose up from the bull. The brother who was an eagle swooped in and caused the bird to drop its egg. The egg landed on the roof of a building beside the seashore and began to burn everything, but soon a huge wave came. The other brother was a whale had caused water to rush that way and put out the fire. The man was able to get the crystal ball and de-enchant the princess. Someone also told him he could use this same crystal ball to de-enchant his brothers, but the story doesn’t say whether he did or not.

The End

Observations

I don’t really place a lot of stock in the idea of crystal balls or crystal power. There might be something to it, but I have no evidence. For years people have looked upon crystals as if they pertained some magical powers. If you happened to find a ball of crystal that was clear in the middle what couldn’t it do?

I wonder what ever happened the mother of these three brothers. Maybe she died a lonely death. I can’t see the brothers being too friendly to her after she turned two of them into wild animals. I’m glad they were able to help each other out though.

Themes

Sure there isĀ  a princess; sure there is an enchantress; sure there is a magical castle; sure there are giants, but this story isn’t really about any of those things. This story is about the brothers. They grew up together. They’re siblings. Their lives led them to radically different paths. One was a man, one was a whale, and one was an eagle. That would make for some pretty awkward reunions between the group.

Here’s the thing about this…they still loved each other and they still helped each other out even though their lives were so different. That’s how your family is supposed to work. Let’s say you have three siblings. You’re the fairly normal one. One is gay and works for a circus. One claims to be asexual and is a Buddhist monk. The last is scared of her own shadow and plays World of Warcraft all the time. Does any of that mean you quit interacting with your siblings? Does the fact that one of your siblings is gay make them any less of a sibling? Does the fact that another sibling is a Buddhist make them any less of a sibling? Does the fact that the other one plays World of Warcraft and is a shut-in make her any less of a sibling? Does the fact that you’re somewhat normal make you any less of a sibling? The answer to these questions is, “NO.” You’re all still related. You’re all still roughly the same people you were before your discovered your separate lifestyles. It shouldn’t make one bit of difference between a set of siblings what their lifestyles are. You’re still family. All this shunning bullcrap is archaic.

The siblings in this story stuck together even when it seemed they didn’t belong in a world together. That’s good sibling behavior. That’s sibling love right there.

Overall

I don’t know, having a brother who was an eagle might come in pretty handy sometimes, like when you lose the Frisbee on the roof.


The Drummer

The DrummerThe Drummer

This story is really long, but it’s about a drummer. Sadly, I don’t really know any names of drummers. I’m more of a guitar and piano fan myself.

Once upon a time there was a drummer who went out into the woods by a lake. There he saw three white pieces of linen on the ground. He liked them so much that he took them home. At home that night a figure hovered over his bed. He asked it what it wanted. The figure said she was the daughter of a mighty king, but she was imprisoned by a witch and shut up on the glass mountain. She has to bathe in the lake everyday with her two sisters, but cannot return to her captivity without her shift and would be stuck in her current form. The drummer asked how he could help and she told him that he would have to ascend the glass mountain, but it was practically impossible because there were giants along the way.

The next day the drummer set out towards the glass mountain. He soon came to giant country. He started playing his drum rather loudly. You would think playing a drum in giant-infested country would not be a good idea, but the drummer had a plan. A giant soon came to see what the racket was especially since he had been woken out his sleep by the drumming. The giant asked the drummer why he was disturbing his beauty rest and the drummer told him he was showing his thousand followers(he’s on twitter) his mad drumming skills. The giant asked the drummer what he and his followers wanted in the forest and the drummer told him they were going to take over and vanquish all the giants.

At this the giant got a little scared. The drummer soon said that a deal could be made. If the giant helped him get to the glass mountain, he would call off his followers. The giant took the bargain. The giant raised the drummer up and put him on his shoulder. The drummer made a signal and told the giant it was to signal his men to go home. The giant walked on with the drummer for a while before switching him off to another giant who put the man in his buttonhole. Then he switched off with yet another giant who put the drummer on his hat brim. The drummer was able to walk back and forth and look all around while upon the hat brim.

Eventually they reached the glass mountain. The mountain was as tall as three mountains piled on top of one another. It was slippery and the drummer could never climb up it very far, but he soon came upon a pair of men who were arguing. They were arguing over a saddle. The drummer thought this was a bit silly because there wasn’t a horse to be seen. The drummer asked them why they were arguing over a horseless-sadde. The two men explained to him that it was a magical saddle(duh!) and that whosoever sat upon and wished himself in a place would soon find himself in that place. The drummer volunteered to settle the dispute. He told the two men that they should race. Whoever got to a post and back first, would ride the saddle next. They both got ready, they both got set, they both got on their marks, and then they both went, but when they went the drummer hopped on the saddle and wished himself to the top of the mountain.

On top of the mountain was a large fish pond, a little house, and then behind the house was a forest. There were no people around or no animals around. The drummer went right up and knocked on the door. An old woman answered and asked him what in the heck he wanted. The drummer asked for entrance, food, and a bed for the night. The woman said she could do this, but he had to work for the privilege.

The next day the old woman gave him a task. She handed him a thimble and told him to bail out the fish pond and said that he also had to organize all the fish in the pond by type and size. The drummer thought this was a little strange, but set about his task anyway. He bailed water out of the pond all morning with the thimble, but it was clear that he wasn’t getting anywhere. At noon a maiden came to bring him food. He lamented to her that the task was impossible. She told him to calm down and take a nap, when he woke up his work would be done.

The drummer fell asleep. The maiden turned a ring on her finger and said, “Rise, water. Fishes, come out..” The water rose into a mist and joined the other clouds of the sky. The fishes organized themselves on the shore. The drummer awoke surprised to see all of his work done, but there was one fish left. The maiden told him that the witch would ask about this one fish and that he should pick it up and throw it in her face saying, “This one shall be for you, old witch.” Well, the drummer did this and the witch didn’t seem too upset about it.

The next day he was given another task. He was told the cut down all the trees in the forest, split the wood, and pile it up. He was given a lead axe and mallet and wedges made of tin. When he tried to use them they would bend and warp out of shape. His task was yet again impossible, but he worked until noon. The maiden came once again with food and again the man lamented that he could not complete his task. The maiden told him to take a nap and she would take care of everything. The maiden turned her ring and all the trees fell down. The wood split itself and arranged itself in heaps. One branch was left alone. When the drummer woke up the work was all done, he was very surprised. The maiden told him there was one branch left. When the witch came to inspect the work he must pick up the branch and hit the witch with it saying, “This one is for you, old witch.” Well, this all happened and, again, the witch didn’t seem very upset about it. She just laughed at him and said tomorrow’s work would be harder still.

The next day the witch told him that he must put all of the wood in one pile and burn it to ashes. The drummer worked all morning, but try as he might, he couldn’t make a dent in the work. The maiden came at noon with food and told him to go to sleep. She turned her ring and everything was as it should be when the drummer woke up, but the maiden had more to say this time.

“Listen to me, when the witch comes, she will give you all kinds of orders; do whatever she asks you without fear, and then she will not be able to get the better of you, but if you are afraid, the fire will lay hold of you and consume you. At last when you have done everything, seize her with both your hands, and throw her into the midst of the fire.”

The witch did come and said she was cold so she was going to stand by the fire. She asked the drummer to do all sorts of things. The last task was to grab a certain log out of the fire. The witch added the words, “jump in,” to her last request. The drummer didn’t fear. He jumped right into the fire, but was not burned. He grabbed the log out. He put it down on the ground and it transformed into the beautiful maiden who had been bringing him food. The maiden told the drummer to watch out because the witch wasn’t dead yet. The drummer grabbed the witch and threw her into the fire.

The maiden then said that the drummer could marry her. They wouldn’t need any money because there was plenty inside of the house. They gathered up some riches and the drummer was going to take her back home on the saddle, but she said, “No thanks, I have my magical ring.” She wished them back home, but outside of his parents house she told him not to kiss his parents on the right cheek, otherwise he would forget her. She said she would wait for him.

He went home, but the time he had been away had really been three years and not just three days. His parents were relieved that he was alive. He kissed them, but he kissed them on the right cheek. He emptied his pockets and showed them all the riches he had. They built a big castle. In the meantime, the princess was still waiting. The drummer’s parents arranged a marriage for him.

The maiden had been waiting this whole time. She knew that he must have kissed his parents on the right cheek. She then heard around town that the drummer was to be married. She thought that she could win him back.

On the first day of the wedding ceremonies she used her magic ring to wish for a dress as bright as the sun. She wore it to the festivities and the bride-to-be saw it and wanted it. The princess said the bride could have it, but she must exchange a night by the door of the room in which her husband-to-be slept. The bride made the deal, but gave the drummer a sleeping potion before he went to sleep. The princess sat outside the door and lamented.

“Drummer, drummer, I pray you hear!

Have you forgotten you held me dear?

That on the glass-mountain we sat hour by hour?

That I rescued your life from the witch’s power?

Did you not plight your troth to me?

Drummer, drummer, hearken to me!”

But he didn’t hear because he was in a deep sleep.

On the second day of the wedding festivities, the princess wished herself a dress as silvery as the moon. The bride to be saw the dress and had to have it, so she once again made a bargain with the princess. The same thing happened all over again. Sleeping potion, lamentations, and no progress.

On the third day, the princess wished for a dress that glittered like the stars. The bride had to have the dress and made the familiar trade with the princess. As it turned out people had heard the woman bemoaning her fate outside of the drummer’s door the past couple of nights and began to talk. The drummer happened to hear some of this talk and poured his sleeping draught behind the bed. That night, the princess gave her same lamentations, but the drummer heard them.

He remembered her and scolded himself for being unfaithful. He wondered over how a kiss of joy in greeting his parents could have led to such unhappiness. He led the princess by the hand to his parents’ bedroom and told them that this was his real wife and that he couldn’t marry anyone else. Once they had heard the story, they said it was ok. They switched out brides at the wedding and the former bride was content with her new dresses.

The End

The DrummerObservations

This story is a combination of several story types in the Grimm’s anthology and I do mean several. This story is long. This is just the summary, imagine the whole thing.

When I read the part of the story about the drummer bluffing about henchmen I thought about the movie Get Smart. There is a part in the movie where the guy starts trying to bluff the evil guy saying he’s got trained snipers around the building, and when he isn’t believed he asks, “Would you believe Chuck Norris with a BB gun?”

This story is kind of violent. This princess asks this strange man, whom she just met and has never been formally introduced to, to hit an old woman in the face twice, and then to throw her into the fire. That seems kind of harsh. Maybe she was a witch, but honestly, I don’t really have any evidence that she’s a witch. Sure, she lives on top of a glass mountain, but maybe she’s just a little eccentric. The only person in the story really doing any witching is the princess. Even the new bride with her sleeping draught isn’t doing witching, she just slipped the drummer a medieval equivalent of Benadryl.

I know this story ends on a somewhat happy note, but it kind of seems that this princess is not the prize you would expect her to be.

What’s wrong with the princess? Well, let me give you a list.

  1. She can apparently astral project. For all you normal people out there, astral projection is something some people say they can do. This means their consciousness can leave their bodies and travel around.
  2. She apparently tears up her clothes as her nightgown was in three pieces by the shore of a lake where she was skinny-dipping with her “sisters” who are nowhere to be found.
  3. She tells a man she barely knows to walk through giant infested woods and climb up a glass mountain at great danger to him.
  4. She lets this guy work on these impossible tasks until lunchtime. He probably started at five in the morning, knowing she could have completed the tasks in the time it takes for him to take a nap.
  5. She tells a man she barely knows to fish slap an old woman in the face.
  6. Then she tells a man she barely knows to slap an old woman with a branch.
  7. She then tells the same man she barely knows the throw an old woman into the fire and burn her, while we have no evidence that this old woman is really that bad.
  8. She scoffs at the man’s magic saddle preferring her magic ring.
  9. She pretty much tells the guy that he’s going to marry her; he doesn’t really get a choice in the matter.
  10. She tells this man he can’t kiss his parents when he goes home after not seeing them for three years.
  11. She knew him three days, but breaks up his soon-to-be marriage, when the drummer had probably known the second woman longer than he had known the princess.
  12. She is manipulative. Think about it. She tells this man not to kiss his parents, but he does and he forgets her and finds a new woman, but then that relationship gets busted up by the princess. The prince thinks it’s such a wonderful thing that he found the princess again, but at the same time realizes that something good, kissing his parents when he came home, led to such a series of events. He feels bad about kissing his own parents and I don’t think he should. He shouldn’t feel guilty about that.

I think this princess is highly selfish. If she could do all this stuff with her magic ring why did she need a man to rescue her? Why did she need a man at all? She could have just wished for some “marital aids” and lived her life alone twisting her magic ring to get whatever she wanted. I really don’t think she really cared for this drummer at all.

The DrummerThemes

We have this scenario of impossible tasks again, three impossible tasks, surprise… not. This story has many similar elements from other Grimm’s stories. We have a man getting the best of a giant. We have an impossible location, the glass mountain. We have three impossible tasks. We have a princess in need of rescue. We have a witch who puts enchantments on people, supposedly. We have a woman who laments by her love’s door for three nights. We have three dresses in the three degrees of glory. We have a woman who is so vain that she would trade a night with her boyfriend to a random woman for a dress.

I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t like fashion that much. I’m not going to trade my husband for a nice dress, but I might consider it one day if he gets too annoying. Women don’t go around letting other women borrow their men. Oh you can have him on alternate Thursdays. Nobody does that.

Obviously if you’re willing to trade your man for a dress, you don’t care for your man very much. This all points to the idea of “true love” circulating around in these tales. The other woman would never trade the man for a dress, but the fake bride totally would. The true love would stay outside her love’s door for three nights detailing all the things they had been through. The new love would let the old love have three nights with her man. Part of what these stories is trying to say is that the false love is willing to let go of the man while the true love isn’t willing to let go no matter what.

The DrummerSure, you may call this true love, but some people would call this stalking. This princess is like the ex that never goes away. The man is about to get married for crying out loud, they’re celebrating the wedding festivities, but she shows up and steals the man back. Hasn’t she ever heard the phrase, “If you love something let it go”? Sometimes, if you really, really care for a person you have to be willing to let them go. Sometimes, you look at them and see they would be happier in another situation or with somebody else. It just comes to a point when it’s selfish on your part to continue that relationship. I think the adult thing for this woman to have done would have been to go away and find herself another man. It sounds kind of harsh, but this man had already built a new life. His had a castle. He was a respected man in the community. He provided for his parents. He had found a new wife and I can guarantee you that he knew her longer than three days before marrying her.

Say you do love someone…wouldn’t you want them to happy even if that meant not being with you? If you did have them and you could see it made them very unhappy would you feel ok with that? Sure, you satisfied your selfish need to have them around, but they’re over there languishing in depression because they’re not with the person they want to be with.

I don’t really feel like this drummer has the hots for the princess. Sure, she’s nice-looking, but we have already established that she’s straight up manipulative. She’s what some people would call a “psycho b****”. Really, I’m not trying to offend you, I’m just trying to offer the modern-day interpretation of a woman like the princess. I think the drummer went with it either because he knew he couldn’t win or because he was enchanted by the princess. Remember, we already pointed out the princess was the only one doing any actual witching in this story.

Overall

This could be on an episode of Maury.