Hallo aus Deutschland: War is Ugly

With Memorial Day just past, I’ve been thinking of all the marks of war I’ve seen here in Germany.

My life has seemed relatively untouched by war. In living memory, the Seattle area has not been attacked by anyone. But here in Germany, and especially in Dresden, I’ve been able to get a glimpse of the effects of war.

Good things can come from war. For instance, people can become free from an oppressive leader. But there is always a cost. Every person and place involved is at least partially destroyed, and perhaps never rebuilt.

After the American firebombings at the end of WWII, the Frauenkirche in Dresden was flattened. In these photos you can see the rebuilt Frauenkirche. The light-colored stones are the new ones. The dark-colored stones are the old ones that were still useable after being identified in the rubble. Not a lot of those.

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The Zwinger was also (entirely?) rebuilt. Here you can see what I think is an old recovered balustrade column next to a few new ones.

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After all the years of reconstruction, which is still going on in smaller ways, Dresden is beautiful again. The Frauenkirche and the Zwinger are amazing to see if you ever get the chance.

Germany remembers.

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On a lighter note, Happy Yarning!

I’m knitting away at a soft, green baby blanket whenever I get the chance. I’ll have to put up some pictures of it soon.

Book Report: Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

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First, a caveat: you may have guessed from previous posts mentioning Inheritance that epic fantasy isn’t my thing. My preferred method of escape is what I term “fluffy fantasy.” This tends to be middle-grade, shorter, more episodic books (as opposed to lengthy, involved books aimed at adults and sometimes teens, with plot points carrying over long distances between books in the series.)

However, I’m glad I finished out the series. Paolini has always been a hero to me, because I’ve had authorly aspirations since I was ten, and he provided hope that kids can get published.

What I liked about Inheritance:

This was a fitting epic finish to an epic series. Paolini didn’t balk at dealing with all the ramifications of a continent-wide, multi-racial conflict. He depicted the effects of a drawn-out campaign in detail and allowed painful things to happen to his main characters.

As always, Paolini is a good descriptive writer. The settings were well-fleshed out with sensory details. In addition, the dialogue felt natural, with each character using his or her own distinctive voice. I especially enjoyed the camaraderie and banter between Eragon and Saphira. The bond between them felt strong and real.

Inheritance satisfied many of my expectations as to how the series would end, and surprised me a few times as well.

What I disliked about Inheritance:

I felt that the narrative should have begun later, leaving out one or two of the battles that make up the first half. The second half had much more character development intermingled with the battles, and the characters are what I cared about.

(Pet peeve alert) I counted no less than four times Paolini had a character come up with a Crazy Plan That Just Might Work and explain it to other characters without letting the reader know what the plan was. I got tired of sitting there while characters said, “There’s no way that’ll work!” or, “You’re nuts, but I’ll stand by you,” without even knowing what they were discussing.

<SPOILER>While the climax was fitting and the denouement tied up numerous loose ends quite nicely, I felt the very ending was a cop-out. I really didn’t buy that there was nowhere on the whole continent he could raise the dragons. What does he think he’s going to find across the sea? More people who won’t want dragons in their backyard, that’s what.</SPOILER>

I recommend this series for teens and lovers of epic fantasy. Those who fall under both categories will love it.

P.S. Anyone else catch Paolini’s allusions to Princess Bride and Doctor Who? They totally threw me out of the story, but they were entertaining. (pg. 665, 814)

Happy Yarning!