Troll Bridge (2019)- Experiencing Discworld at World Con

‘HIT ME YOU BASTARD!’

Welcome back to the Disc! This is my first time discussing a movie on my blog and it seems fitting for me to literally bring you to the actual Discworld.

As many of you may know, I attended Worldcon in Dublin this year, had the best time and honestly I’ve been waiting to finally write this post. One of my main highlights of the entire week was the premiere of ‘Troll Bridge’, a film directed by Daniel Knight and Snowgum films that adapts the Discworld short story of the same name into a short film. I’m sorry what? How did I not know about this already? I fucking ran to the screening. I swear.

‘Troll Bridge'(based on the short story of the same name) follows Discworld hero, Cohen the Barbarian. He is now 87 and he is angry. Angry he hasn’t died in battle yet. Angry that he can’t pee like he used to. Angry that his horse can talk. Now as a final act of bravery as his father advised him when he was young, he’s heading to a bridge and he’s gonna kill it’s Troll.

Honestly, I was on the edge of crying watching this. Everything about this is wonderful and crafted so perfectly. The make up, the acting, the special effects. The trolls, oh my god the trolls! It’s honestly a flawless adaptation. The casting of Don Bridges as Cohen is wonderful, I never could put a voice to Cohen while reading ‘The Light Fantastic’ but now I can hear Bridges’ voice screaming in my head ‘HIT ME YOU BASTARD!’

‘Troll Bridge’ is an example of why book adaptations of beloved series need to be placed in the right hands. It not only comes down to production and acting but the rewriting of the story and putting it to a visual medium can’t be done right unless those making it give an honest shit about the material. Daniel Knight cares about this story very deeply. It’s very easy to see that this entire work is one big passion project. Snowgum films have spent over 9 years trying to make this the most ambitious short film ever made and they have indeed succeeded.

The film is currently travelling a festival circuit, screenings and any other information can be found here, including info about the delicious pre order (I may have pledged) for the Blu Ray. Please check them out, also please read Discworld books so more of these lovely films can be made. Terry Pratchett would be proud.

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August Wrap Up

So… where did August go? Seriously does anyone know? August was a busy month for me. I had World Con, laryngitis and a job change all within 2 weeks! World Con didn’t slow my reading surprisingly but I didn’t read as much as I thought it would with my time off. I read 9 books in total, 3 of which were on my Kindle. It was a very mixed reading month, ratings and titles including:

I’ve linked reviews where I have them on the blog. It was a very mixed reading month, with ratings as low as 1.5 stars and as high as 5 stars. Standouts were The Call, This is How You Lose the Time War and Mort. Definitely disappointed in both The Cruel Prince and The Lost Sisters (which was infuriating). I read a good third of books on my Kindle for ease of travelling around Dublin and while I was sick. I also want to increase how much non fiction I read in September because I used to read so much more.

Thank you for checking in on my reading progress! I don’t do TBR’s since I am such a mood reader but I will always have books for the Discworld Project on my list and hopefully more comics, graphic novels and non fiction books next month. Talk soon guys!

Mort- Terry Pratchett Review

“If there’s one thing that really annoys a god, it’s not knowing something.”

Welcome back to my holiday on the Disc! This is my latest post in my Discworld Project. If you aren’t aware of this project you can click here . I recently got back on track with the publication continuity of the series and Mort is my most recent read. Now, its my favourite.

In this book we meet Mort (short for Mortimer), a young, awkward lad from the Ramtops. Mort is looking for work and when his father gains him an apprenticeship he is finally employed. Does it matter that his employer is Death himself? The actual Grim Reaper? Not at all, its quite a noble position. Prospects, uniform and a company horse. Soon enough Mort discovers there is more to Death than life, where to keep a Scythe when indoors and why working for Death can affect his love life.

I was really looking forward to reading this and I was not disappointed. This is the shining star of the Discworld series so far and I enjoyed it even more than the last one I read. This is the beginning of the Death novels, a character we have already been introduced to in the previous books but we do get his perspective in this.

This is obviously set on the Disc and we do see previous locations such as Ankh Morpork and the Unseen University but a good chunk of the novel takes place within Deaths Domain. We get to see the realm through the eye of Mort, a human like (the majority at least) of us readers who is understandably scared yet fascinated. The descriptions of the rooms, particularly Death’s study, is wonderfully gothic and has traits one would assume from Death (skull and crossed scythe motifs along with black grass included). It also thrills me that Death puts his scythe in an umbrella stand when not in use.

Mort is a very entertaining character to read. Although his is young he very much knows his own mind and isn’t afraid to speak up, correcting people who call him ‘boy’ instead of using his name for example. Death is as intimidating to Mort as he is as a figure to us and most of the questions anyone would living would ask Death do get brought up by Mort frequently. Mort isn’t afraid to challenge Death and Death begins to allow himself to learn more about humanity. Their dynamic is one that is rewarding while also being entertaining. The humor is a strong motif as ever especially between characters but this one is definitely more emotional than previous books. I definitely had feels while reading this but then again, I am emotional with many books. Also big plus that Death loves cats.

The story flows so well, switching mostly between Mort and Death’s perspectives as they both travel around the Disc and learn more about life. Mort mostly about taking it away and Death just basically having some to himself. The climax of the narrative is very satisfying while also doing a brilliant job of pulling all the different smaller strands of plot together. This is where I really love Pratchett outside of characters and dialogue. There is never any room to be bored and every single novel wraps up really well without all having similar plot beats to the last book in the series.

This is another ideal starting point for those who want to start their own journey to the Disc. Death is my new favourite character. He loves cats, trying different drinks and loves a good curry. His library is filled with stories that write themselves and if its one trope I never get tired of is the Death learns to be human trope. Please try this if you have never read Terry Pratchett, you won’t be disappointed.

★★★★★/5 

This is How You Lose the Time War- Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone Review

‘ If the planet lasted long enough, the vines that sprout from the corpse’ mouths would grow berries.’

So just a quick note to begin, my heart. It is in pieces. I bought this after seeing it being discussed on Tor.com and intended on reading it in Dublin but I only got round to it last weekend. And for such a short work I have to say it is very powerful.

The world is dying. Among the dead is the two warring factions of the Agency and Garden. On a future battle field an agent of the Agency finds a letter saying ‘Burn before reading.’ What begins as an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents begins to develop into an unlikely friendship that slowly evolves into something that threatens both sides of the war. But could this change both past future? Could a potential love between two enemies save time itself? Wars have to be won, both are willing to die for it, but what about each other?

I have found recently that novellas and other shorter works of both science fiction and fantasy have been better at conveying a larger plot than longer, more epic publications within the genre. This one is no different and proves that a short work doesn’t have to be heavily edited and that a larger plot can definitely function within a tighter narrative. The war we see between both sides and that both our characters, Red and Blue respectively, is not only taking place in the future but also in the past. Agents are sent across ‘threads’ of time to braid and unbraid these strands of time. Both sides seek to gain the upper hand on the other by undoing and changing different actions both take throughout the threads of history, and I really liked that. It is definitely a world we recognise and live in, or at least was with elements from the past definitely being part of human history so it isn’t heavy on world building.

This is a character driven story and we meet very few characters besides Red and Blue and we really don’t need to. This is about them and is driven by their letters to and from each other. The letters begin as a taunt from Blue towards Red and watching them get to know each other was so wonderful. Both characters are discussed using she/her pronouns so this is a queer love story. The names that both the characters call each other at the start of each letter (Red, in tooth, in claw, Blue-da-ba-dee etc) really entertained me and these aren’t your paper envelope letters either. Blue and Red need to hide their letters from both sides and letters are found in lava formations, seeds to be cracked on the receivers tongue and in a birds wing to name a few.

The format of the text really helps keep a steady, busy plot that kept me constantly engaged. The few times I put the book down I was worried for both Red and Blue and kept wondering what was happening. Each chapter changes between both points of view and each chapter has and ends with a letter from one to the other. The imagery and the language are stunning aswell. The whole plot carries one big feeling of paranoia for these two but also keeps the romance the grows slowly between the 2 so private it feels like the reader is almost a voyeur within their world.

Without spoiling the ending, we get to avoid the usual harmful issues that are commonly in queer love stories while also getting a sense that this is a very natural and tender experience for both the characters and the reader. If this isn’t up for the Hugo’s next year I may cause a riot. Now if you don’t mind, I need to go fill the hole in my heart this book left.

Dublin 2019: An Irish World Con, scolding Eoin Colfer and a blogging sheep

I hope I caught your attention with my witty title. I didn’t really scold Eoin Colfer, it was technically 13 year old me from the past. For years I have known in various scenarios that the World Science Fiction convention was coming to Dublin. I was aware of the bid but forget to check the status of it until at Octocon 2018 (the national Irish science fiction convention) I realised we had got it. Membership was bought, off we went. I also didn’t realise I would end up cosplaying Crowley from Good Omens yet.

The wait seemed long, the journey was longer but finally it was here. How do I even begin to describe Dublin 2019? Can we begin with my dreams coming true? I grew up on the Artemis Fowl books, I planned on marrying Artemis Fowl and I wrote Artemis Fowl fanfiction. So meeting Eoin Colfer was my main and first concern. See attached image of my battered copy of said Artemis Fowl, signed and with an apology. All jokes aside, Eoin Colfer is a wonderful, witty man who deserves your attention.

Besides Eoin Colfer, I met Joe Hill. The. Joe. Hill. He happened to be passing and I (very awkwardly) approached him and he came over to us and spoke to everyone. I met him again the next day at his signing which was awesome. The majority of my interactions with all the authors were very positive and it was great because this is what I went for. It really helps when you do meet your heroes and they are cool people.

There were many wonderful panels as always with these kind of conventions. Some of my favourites included a panel including Colfer, Holly Black and Fonda Lee discussing the writing of villains in YA. Another that was food for my soul was a panel totally focused on Tamora Pierce and the world of Tortall. I was so happy just geeking out about Pierce for an hour with longer term fans. A huge standout for me was the premiere of ‘Troll Bridge’ made by Snowgum films based on Terry Pratchett’s short story of the same name. The fact I saw the premiere of a fan funded Discworld film at my first World Con felt like a sign of fate. Let’s talk about publishers and ARCS.

Holy hell, I not only got invited to a party organised by Orbit Books (thank you again Orbit for having us!) but I got to go with my dear friend Sara over at Not Another Book Blogger . Sara is a friend I have made over time attending different conventions and just both having the same tastes. She has also helped me so much with this blog so many times. I honestly couldn’t have enjoyed this week the way I did without her. Thank you Sara for being both my con family but my fellow book buddy, my confidant and just my support for all this scary con stuff. You’re the best and none of this would have been the same without you. ♥

But yes, publisher party! It was so fun to meet authors on a one to one basis and just be chill. Well, I had no chill. I asked Fonda Lee how satisfying it was to punch people (she does martial arts I swear) and R.J Barker about his wonderful wedding ring (its pretty okay. I’m a big magpie). Also I ate many cakes, and met many bloggers face to face! Imagine, meeting each other offline! Then, somehow I got my first ARC. Someone (Harper Voyager) saw my mad head and said yes we can trust her. I am completely shook and keep eyeing it on my shelf. ‘The Girl and the Stars’ by Mark Lawrence comes out in April 2020.

The best experience of all of this was the people. Conventions are what have allowed me, a once loner with very big insecurities and few friends to someone who can finally feel like I am comfortable being in my own skin. That feeling of ‘my tribe’ is something I have happily found here. I’m free to love books, finally write my own blog and just feel like I belong to something. This was the best five days I could have asked for.

Thank you to all the staff at the CCD, Dublin 2019, the volunteers who helped do the hard work of running each day, the committee who have been running this behind the scenes for years, all the authors, artists and vendors who made their way to this event and the list will go on. But most of all, thank you to books, to reading and to my con family for making this the best holiday I could have asked for.

Please see photos below of me sniffing (YES SNIFFING) an ARC of Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff, photos with amazing authors, an angel who sauntered vaguely downard on to a throne of Irish bloodshed and a blogging sheep. I told you there was a sheep.

The Call- Peadar O’Guilin Review

‘Never has a generation of Irish children been so aware of its own folklore, especially as it pertains to the enemy.’

One thing that I’m so proud of being Irish is both our mythology and our wealth of talented writers. I grew up reading Irish myths, legends, poetry, horror and most importantly, YA written by Irish writers. This is a book I wish I had when I was 15.

The Call is set in a dystopic Ireland that is cut off from the rest of Britain and Europe. The Sidhe (pronounced SHEED-THA) now rule Ireland and take teenagers ritually via an act known as ‘the call’. Our protagonist, Nessa, is training in a survival college and is determined to survive the call. But can Nessa last 3 minutes of the call? Or in such a dangerous future Ireland can she last until she is ‘called’?

I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH HOLY FUCK. Sorry, did I say this out loud? This book has everything I love about Irish fiction and it has so many good things going for it. The presentation of Sidhe as horrifying and vengeful beings, the feeling of the setting actually being Ireland and the fantastic characters and representation kept me so engaged with everything in the story.

Starting with the world building what O’Guilin writes has the very distinct feel and taste of Ireland. The fact that it’s a near future Ireland overrun with malicious Sidhe and still feels like an Ireland I myself live in is the mark of a writer who really knows their setting. The majority of the novel is set in Boyle Survival College, located in Roscommon but there are mentions of other places like Mallow in Cork. This is a grim, brutal setting that leaves no room for forgiveness and doesn’t hold your hand. The Sidhe are beautiful as they are ruthless.

In terms of characters, we have a fantastic cast led by Nessa. Nessa is disabled as a result of complications from Polio she contracted as a child. This is something that is constantly referenced about Nessa and affects a lot of attitudes toward her and her chance for survival for when she is called. She is a strong in both body and will with an instinct to fight back and win against the enemy. She never once lets herself forget she is training for battle and judges every situation against the possibility of the call and her chance of making it. Other standout characters are Megan, Nessa’s main ally, and a couple of the teachers are also very well written such as Ms Breen and Nabil. All of which have fantastic character arcs I refuse to spoil here.

I really think that the plot was constructed very well. I never once felt like there was a calm moment or even that we were going to get a break, anytime I did allow myself a mild moment to relax I was very abruptly woken back up by a character being ‘called’ or something very violent happening. It’s fast paced and does not care about your feelings. There are moments that edge on body horror, showing the Sidhe for what they truly are vs the new image of fae being glamorous royalty only looking to mess up your day. They are the ruthless enemy, taking advantage of the time difference of our world and theirs (3 minutes in ours is an entire day in their world) to torture those they catch and even those who do survive don’t come back the same is how I’ll put it.

It’s such a relief novels like this exist to not only teach others about the real brutality behind Irish myths and legends but also to remind the younger generations of their own culture. I grew up before technology where stories of the Banshee and fairy roads were genuinely scary. The Sidhe were menacing and lived in the back of my mind. Now at least this is accessible through the likes of Peadar O’Guillin even better through the lens of YA fiction.

I highly recommend this to people who want to learn more about Irish culture, anyone who like I grew up on this stuff. Just a mild warning for younger readers with the incidents of body horror, violence and gore.

★★★★★/5

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents- Terry Pratchett

“To be a leader you have to learn to shout! But after you’ve learned to shout, you have to learn not to!”

Welcome back to the Disc! My apologies for the lack of posts. I had World Con last week, went back to work and now I’m out sick for five days with no voice. This is my next book in the Discworld Project. I am still intending to read the series in publication order but this one was a bit too special to delay and is one of the few YA novels within the world .

Here we meet the Amazing Maurice. Maurice is a cat who has gained sentience and employs a group of fellow sentient rats. Along with the cat and the rats we have Keith, an orphan who plays the flute. Maurice, the rats and Keith go from town to town running the same scheme: rats arrive, boy plays flute, boy and cat chase away rats, boy collects money from grateful villagers. Then comes their arrival in the village of Bad Blintz. Something is wrong, and now Maurice’s scheme needs to become a plan. A plan for survival.

This was a joy to read and a nice change to the Discworld continuity that I am currently following. This was the first of the Discworld books to be written for younger readers and I was concerned that it may water down the usual strength of the other books but thankfully I was proven wrong. This is a remarkable story and is just as enjoyable being read by an adult. (Yes. Sadly I count as an adult)

The world building isn’t something that we need to discuss but as always, it’s nice to see another new part of the Disc. Bad Blintz reads like an old English village that has yet to discover the world outside it’s confines. Although it is a very typical fantasy trope/location, Pratchett still makes it work as a point of satire.

The characters are the true standout of this book. Maurice, a ginger street cat, is our main POV but we do move between Keith, some of the rats and an unnamed narrator we come to discover later on. Maurice is definitely my favourite, filled with all the sassiness of any cat but despite his crookster persona he has genuine moments of caring and nature throughout the story. One of my favourite aspects of the rats is how they have named themselves (Dangerous Beans, Nourishing and Sardines to name a few) and how they are adjusting to their new found conciousness. It makes for some brilliant dialogue, which is one of Pratchett’s true talents. We also meet the village girl of Malicia. Malicia loves fairy tales, wears black and never shuts up. I think I may have been Malicia at a younger age.

The plot flows very freely aswell, making for a quick and fluid story. At the stage of this novel being published there were 27 in the Discworld so I feel that compared to some of the other ones I have read so far that you can see how Pratchett has developed. Not only Pratchett but the whole of the Discworld series at this point of publication, had developed to a fantasy favourite with a dedicated fanbase.

This is a good fun read that is easy to get through and is a perfect stepping stone (as a lot of the novels are) on to the Discworld but even if you just want to read this as a standalone work you can. However, I have a new found phobia over this book, and a comment from Pratchett in the acknowledgements. That’s all I can say.

★★★★/5