Henry VI Part Two

I finished this last month but haven’t written for some reason. Anyways, I found this story to be quite depressing. It is full of nobles resorting to violence to take over and it is a kill or be killed story with little to redeem itself. I found my response to be a warm feeling towards pacifism and peaceful thinking.

The majority of the characters are despicable with the main exception of the king; who ironically is widely despised as weak. In a world where the strong survive and the weak suffer, it is interesting to see how this idea is flipped in regards to a king who should be the strongest man in the country. I’m already started on part III and will follow up in March when I finish it.

I did not have a favorite passage like I did in part one. In that one, there was an amazing scene with Talbot and his son John. A similar scene and dialogue were not repeated in quality in part two unfortunately. My favorite scene was when Iden stumbles upon Cade who is trespassing in his garden. They fight, Iden wins, and then when he realizes who it is he is killing he says:

Die, damned wretch, the curse of her that bare thee:
And as I thrust thy body in with my sword,
So wish I I might thrust thy soul to hell.

Good stuff. A nice insult at the death of an adversary. It would be admirable if it weren’t marred by the fact that it is one human slaying another. A true gem covered in blood. The same holds true for all of Henry VI part two.

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Henry VI Part One

I quickly finished the first of Shakespeare’s plays and it was very positive. I didn’t do any prep for reading Shakespeare other than to look up a chronology in which they were written. I’m very happy with the approach so far.

Initial impressions were that texts notes to explain archaic idioms and word meanings were helpful. I also found that about half of them were unnecessary for me, which was nice to know about my reading skills with older works. I was also surprised that Joan of Arc was a character in this play. And not just a character but as the story focuses on the English side of war, she was the primary antagonist, even more so than the French nobility.

The story of this play had a climax around a father and son conflict which was one of the only parts with rhyming verse. Essentially the father is a general and about to die because their army is surrounded. He tries to send his son away to escape and live, but basically the son refuses on grounds of the family name. It was really powerful and my favorite part of the play. Also, I initially wondered if Joan of Arc would play a part in the second or third plays, but she ends up being captured and executed in this one.

I’ve started Henry VI Part Two already and it looks like most of these plays will be very quick reads. I also like the division into acts and scenes which helps me pick up and read them as I have short bouts of time to do so. My next two plays after this one will be Richard III, and The Comedy of Errors.

Foundation and Earth

I have finally reached the chronological ending of Isaac Asimov’s three main series which began last summer with I, Robot. To be honest these final three books were quite entertaining. I was really apprehensive about finishing the series as there are no further books after this. I got a lot of closure, however, as the final book brings everything back to the Robot series and ties up many loose threads.

There still remains two prequel books to read. I’m still processing the story and am going to delay a bit before finishing the last two books maybe. Thinking back, the main character from these last two novels is my favorite of all of Asimov’s books that I’ve read so far. He’s decisive but unsure of why that is the case. And this drives him on a quest to figure out why he is the way he is. It just felt good, which isn’t always normal in sci-fi, and made the narrative feel more real. In fact, the technology gets pushed to the extremes of believability but the story carried it through.

So, I’ll finish the prequels soon enough and take a break from Asimov. I am currently reading Shakespeare’s first play, Henry VI, and it is fascinating and a nice change of pace. More soon!

Reflection on Foundation’s Edge

So the fourth book in Isaac Asimov’s series was just as good as the third. I am enjoying how he tied it into his previous series about Robots. I’m actually starting to wonder what it will be like to go back and reread the first two books.

The characters and twists are interesting and basically the lore of the series continues to expand. I also like how the various factions are constantly second guessing everything and the central gimmick (predicting the future with math) is used fully throughout.

I have already moved on to book five, which is the last chronologically. I have begun reading Shakespeare already but am doing so slowly so that I can finish the Foundation series first.

Reflections on Second Foundation

A few days ago I finished the original Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov. The first two books were pretty good and Sinai was caught off guard by the excellent finish in the third book. It was easily my favorite of the three, mainly for how well it tied back to the prior works and also for the new additions brought up in it.

I find myself wrestling with where to fit Asimov into my ranking of favorite authors. I don’t think he is in the top ten, but he is not someone whose writing I dislike. This makes sense, I suppose, or I would not have read him for this long. This also reminds me, that after I finish the Foundation books, I also have one or two books of collections of Asimov I could look into.

Compared with the two preceding collections of books I agree with what I read before starting them all; that the Foundation books are his best works. I also enjoyed the Robot books but not nearly as much. In fact, I didn’t write this post until now because I was caught up immediately into the fourth book, Foundations Edge, and will be finishing it soon. A testament to the quality of this series.