Archive for December, 2010

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 18

[openbook booknumber=”1421525364″][rating:5/5]

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “auto-mail” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother’s bodies… the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

Automail engineer Wintry is captured and held hostage to force Edward to do her captor’s bidding. Hawkeye discovers the disturbing truth about President Bradley’s son. Out heroes have fortuitous and not-so-fortuitous reunions with old friends and enemies. And multiple intrigues and double-crosses ensue as some people plot to save the world while others scheme to destroy it.

The very first thing I noticed when picking up my copy of Volume 18 is how differently Ed is drawn on the cover. He is growing up! I also noticed throughout the volume that several of the characters are being drawn just a bit older than they were before. Many of their actions also belie their age with Winry and her enduring sunny view on things bringing up the rear, though even she grows quite a bit throughout the events that unfold in this volume.

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The Elves

I thought I would open this week by talking about my newest venture into social media, I am now on Tumblr! Why does this matter for people that like my Fairy Tale Friday posts? It’s a fairy tale, myth and legend tumblr, Myths We Live By. I have been taking bite sized chunks from my past musings on fairy tales from this blog and posting it over there along with all new information I’ve always been meaning to add. I also reblog a fair bit of fairy tale art, music, videos and quotes so if you are a fan of fairy tales you should check it out. I try and post things on a different fairy tale every day.

This week’s Fairy Tale Friday is The Elves, a series of three short stories from the brothers Grimm that all feature elves in the plot.

The Elves and the Shoemaker

In The Elves and the Shoemaker by the brothers Grimm we have a short fairy tale, often retold, about a poor struggling shoemaker and his wife and their attempts to make ends meet. They work hard and are virtuous and Christian (in Grimm tales the brothers often rush to add this when supernatural pagan events occur, but he’s a Christian so it’s alright!) but they find themselves without enough money to pay their bills or even buy leather for shoes. They only have enough money left to make one single pair of shoes.

The shoemaker cuts out what he thinks are his last pair of shoes and then goes to bed. In the morning when he and his wife wakes up they discover that the shoes have been assembled and are absolutely perfect. There is not a stitch out of place and they were done up to be a very beautiful pair of shoes. Someone comes along and loves them so much that they pay twice the asking price for them. With the money the shoemaker buys enough leather for two pairs of shoes and cuts them out and lays them on the table before going to bed. In the morning two beautiful pairs of shoes are sitting on the table and the look gorgeous. They are also bought up at more than the asking price and so the shoemaker buys enough leather for four pairs and so on.

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[openbook booknumber=”0545111765″][rating:4/5]

Once upon a time, there was a girl who wanted to be pretty…

Aza’s singing is the fairest in all the land, and the most unusual. She can “throw” her voice so it seems to come from anywhere. But singing is only one of th two qualities prized in the Kingdom of Ayortha. Aza doesn’t possess the other: beauty. Not even close. She’s hidden in the shadows in her parents’ inn, but when she becomes lady-in-waiting to the new queen, she has to step into the light – especially when the queen demands a dangerous favor. A magic mirror, a charming prince, a jealous queen, palace intrigue, and an injured king twine into a maze that Aza must penetrate to save herself and her beloved kingdom.

In this, very loose, re-telling of the fairy tale Snow White Gail Carson Levine spins a tale set in the world of Ella Enchanted about a young girl with an amazing voice, and unamazing looks. Ava was abandoned at an inn when she was just a baby. The innkeeper took her and raised her as his own and she grew into an amazing singer but had to put up with people’s stares, slurs and abuse concerning her appearance which was not inline with what the kingdom thought of as beauty. She is often described as being ugly but when a more frank description is given their main complaints are that she is large, both tall and broad, and that her coloring is odd, having pale skin, dark hair and red lips.

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Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 17

[openbook booknumber=”142152161x”][rating:5/5]

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “auto-mail” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother’s bodies… the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

A homunculus manages to breach impenetrable Fort Briggs, and the Elric brothers discover a terrible alchemical secret that pervades every corner of the world as they know it! Meanwhile, Major Kimblee and a ruthless General Raven make Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong an offer she can’t refuse…

Whose side is she on, really? And how far is she willing to go?

So many pieces of the puzzle fall into place with volume 17. We finally get some explanation on how the alchemy in Xing works and we even find out some history on how the alchemy in Amestris works. Several groups of people also finally figure out what Maes Hughes died for way back in volume 4. The time when all of the homunculis’ scheming finally comes to fruition is close and things are more dire than anyone could have thought.

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The Snowman

In The Snowman a snow man is built in a garden at the height of the winter season. He revels in the cold and in the snow, ice, and wind. He distrusts the sun because he has a feeling that it is not his friend. He knows next to nothing because he was literally born yesterday. He is kept company by a dog who explains how the world works to him. Why he can’t move, who the sun and moon are and about the family that lives nearby and about the house.

In hearing about all of this he hears about and beholds the warm stove in the housekeeper’s room. The dog was with the stove once, slept underneath it to keep warm, but he has since been ejected for biting a boy that kicked his bone from his mouth and now sleeps out in the cold with the snow man. The snowman admires the curves of the stove, and the heat that it contains, he admires the flames that lick out of the mouth and he wants so badly to be with the stove even as he knows deep down doing so would harm him. The dog warns him away but he can’t help pining for the company of the stove. When the window is iced over and she is blocked from view (for the snow man is convinced it is a she) he can find no enjoyment in the snow, the ice, or the wind anymore.

Winter starts to leave and he starts to slowly melt. The snow man is resigned to this fate. When he is gone all that is left is the pole he was built around. The pole that was attached to the shovel used to clean out the snow man’s beloved stove, in other translations it is a poker used for the fire.

Just like in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Butterfly, his fairy tale The Snowman has homoerotic undertones that cannot be denied. The snow man remains alone and unmoving as he regards and tries to discover the world around him. With the help of the dog he discovers what lovers are and what that means and then meets a past object of the dog’s affection, the warm stove. The stove is described as female and the snow man longs for it, desires it, but finds himself stuck and unable to move or do anything about it. The dog also informs him that doing anything about it will only harm him in the end. His obsession robs him of the happiness he once found in other things, but ultimately he pines and desires for naught as nothing can ever come of that which he loves.

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