The more I read of currently popular fantasy, the more dismayed I am that there tends to be such a huge focus on weaponry and fighting and the protagonists being (or becoming) martial arts geniuses. I stick with some of these books anyway if, such as in The Hunger Games, they're written really well and the plot and characters are compelling. But I've got to admit that violence and weaponry and action scenes are really not my favorite things. They're never the parts I re-read for pleasure (that would be the love declarations, or some particularly amusing exchanges or incidents, or passages of beautiful writing describing something magical). I don't particularly like writing fighting-and-weapons scenes either, though sometimes I find I have to, given the way I've set things up. So now I'm pondering how to set up a fantasy book so I can spend as little time as possible in violent weapon-related scenes and still create a really good read.
I think this is actually what appeals to me about the Harry Potter world, and also stories like Howl's Moving Castle: we get a lot of time to hang out in the magic world and enjoy it, and when there's fighting, it's almost solely with spells and with using one's brain. When Hermione actually uses her fist to hit Draco, it's all the more startling and satisfying that way. Except I want to write for grown-ups more than for kids. So, yeah. Pondering this, and I see from forum discussions like this that others have pondered it too.
Oh, Gene Wilder... 2016 has been a cruel year for celebrities and the reaper. Jeez.
Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles are two of the first movies I ever remember seeing, on the VHS machine my mom and dad rented from the newfangled video store in the early '80s. We got our own copies ASAP and watched them over and over. To this day I can pretty much still recite them. Safe to say Gene Wilder (along with Mel Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, and the rest of the team) were integral at shaping my bizarre sense of humor. Thank you for that, folks; a thousand times thank you.
Or at least, my parody series WAS complete until they released that eighth book yesterday. I'm ignoring that detail for now.
Now I get to bring my attention back to my own novels, which have been a tad neglected during this process, but which I'll be happy to dive into again.
Hope you're having a lovely summer!
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, condensed
CHAPTER ONE: LET’S START WITH A LITTLE WHINGING
HARRY: The Dursleys are mean and my wizard friends aren’t telling me the Voldemort news and I’m grumpy. I mean, yes, that’s my usual mood for most of the series, but I’m REALLY FEELING IT this book, you guys.
You get this impression not only in Harry Potter, but in Game of Thrones and other fandoms. We see, or at least hear of, armies and other groups made up of thousands or millions of people, and we know we're dealing with a world fairly vast and large, yet all the widely-strewn characters keep bumping into each other within it. And when you do need an army of millions, they aren't there and you end up with seven or eight familiar faces doing the heroic defending. (GoT does have people hiring entire armies, I know. But at the same time, they also frequently have people traveling hundreds of miles and randomly encountering someone they know. And you occasionally get the weird impression that some entire kingdoms have, like, fifty or sixty people living there.)
TV Tropes does have the "It's a Small World After All" trope and the "Contrived Coincidence" trope, which both overlap what I'm describing, but are not quite the same thing. Thoughts? Anyone else have the Not Enough People For This World impression in other material?
From the article: "...fans are writing and ask all these questions, 'I'm bullied in school... I'm afraid to come out'. They say to me, 'Could Luke be gay?' I'd say it is meant to be interpreted by the viewer... If you think Luke is gay, of course he is."
Bless you, Mark Hamill. Not only are you a compassionate human being, but one who understands that what the story means to the reader/viewer is as genuine as what it means to the story's creator(s).
Edited to expand:
I shared this on my Facebook author page as well, and someone commented, "Umm, except that is not what Mark Hamill said in the article. Thinking something is true doesn't make it true."
My answer, and further thoughts:
The headline does make it sound more definitive than it's meant to be, but I directly quoted almost everything he actually said in the article. They also include a tweet from him, in which he says, "Luke is whatever the audience wants him to be, so you can decide for yourself."
Since Luke's a fictional character whose sexuality isn't directly addressed in canon, there isn't really a "true" or "false" on the question. And mainly what I'm commending is Hamill giving hope and validation to kids whose families are failing on that job.
I think it's fine and good for the writer to say publicly, "To me, the character is this, that, and the other," in addition to whatever is already established in canon. But I think it's better still for them to add, "But if you have head-canon in which he or she is something else, and you love this idea, then that's fine too, because that makes the story meaningful in a new way."
Obviously no one wants their story to be the inspiration for a murder or anything--e.g., John Lennon's murderer being obsessed with Catcher in the Rye. I wouldn't go so far as to say, "If you think this book is saying, 'Go out and kill people,' then that's valid!" I'm talking, obviously, about head-canon that doesn't hurt anyone else even if it's fancifully different from established canon. (And in any case, I rather suspect that even if Catcher in the Rye hadn't existed, Chapman would have still had serious issues and simply named some other justification for them.)
Steve and I have finally started watching The Lord of the Rings with the kids. I have only been waiting to do this with them since before they were born.
They haven't seen or read any of Tolkien, so they went into this without any background knowledge (other than a general feel of how fantasy stories work from other series and films, which does help), but they've followed it pretty well actually. Given their untrained status, though, we're starting with the theatrical releases. Extended editions are a bit much to spring on someone the first time through.
During Fellowship, they were totally not taken in by the fall of Gandalf. One was all, "He'll use his magic to come back," and the other was like, "Totally." Then our younger kid perkily said he'd like to be the Balrog next Halloween.
Last night we finished The Two Towers, and they agree that the Ents trashing Isengard is one of the most satisfying things to watch ever. It then occurred to us to wonder: what would happen if Treebeard took the One Ring? My first flippant thought was, "Moss and lichen on EVERYTHING," but actually (of course) it turns out there is a long and interesting fan discussion about this already.
Also, I managed not to break into song at "They're taking the hobbits to Isengard!", but it took effort.
Bonus material: our younger son doing his Gollum impression.
I'm someone who's rarely ever been cool (in my own eyes), so I've often pondered the elusive quality of "cool." Most of us would agree we couldn't define it exactly, but we know it when we see it. And I've always felt Bowie embodied it more than just about anyone on the planet. (Or should I say the galaxy?)
He also embodied creativity, which is one of the most important values in human life, certainly in my life. Being cool was really just a side product of how intensely, personally creative he was. And I think the reason Bowie came across as so cool and charming, even at his stylistically weirdest, was because he put creativity first. I get the impression he was always trying new stuff out merely because he wanted to, and he didn't particularly care if anyone else liked it or not.
He managed to be elegant as a duke and bad-ass as a rock star at the same time. He is one of the only people who could have ever made that Labyrinth costume look sexy. He is an LGBTQ hero. I was fascinated with his bicolored eyes and sculpted hair on my older sisters' vinyl record covers. His gorgeous voice and his songs are part of my childhood, and when I hear them on the radio I usually still linger on the station and turn up the volume. The "Changes" greatest hits album was one of the first CDs I ever bought, when I finally got my own CD player (and then later I bought more of his proper albums). He always seemed a bit like he was a fae creature or an alien--his crazy experimental fashions and his fascination with space travel may have reinforced that impression--and therefore it doesn't seem possible that he could have died. But he was a human after all, and can teach us all something about how to be creative mortals.
I'm pretty sure beings in other parts of the galaxy are listening to him right now. Earthlings will love and remember you always, Bowie!
My list goes to 12:
1. Quitting Facebook, or at least spending waaaaay less time on it
2. Finishing a trilogy!
3. Starting a new novel that is not going to be a trilogy and is way simpler and smaller in scope but still paranormal and romantic and quirky in my usual ways
4. Getting into the habit of daily meditation - I like the app Calm to help guide the practice, but there are lots and lots of others that do similar things and look good too
5. Stepping up my exercising. In addition to making sure I take walks on an almost-daily basis, I've started doing some high-intensity-ish exercises a few times a week. (Try this one if you dare. Calling it "beginner" may be a stretch! But it'll give you a workout for sure, and I'm getting better at it with practice.)
6. Also tai chi. I've been doing various YouTube sessions of that on occasion, and find it really does make my joints all feel happier.
7. Recognizing anxiety for what it is; i.e., my imagination working overtime; and redirecting that imagination into creativity, such as writing stories, or thinking up ways to improve my surroundings
8. Probiotics for all in the household. Or at least, definitely for me, in the form of things like kombucha, yogurt, kefir, and fermented pickles, and for my kids in the form of chewable probiotics when they won't eat those other things, which is usually. It has correlated to a notable decrease in number of viruses and other infections we've caught. I won't claim it has caused the decrease, but it has at least correlated, and I wouldn't be surprised if there's a cause and effect here.
9. Earlier bedtimes for kids, better enforced. More sleep for me too. The meditation and similar breathing exercises help relax insomnia's grip on me. And more sleep surely helps our health too.
10. Being a lot gentler in how I think of myself, and getting a lot better at not giving a damn what other people think of me. Self-care feels real good, and ends up making me more patient with everyone else, so hey, win-win.
11. Leasing my soul, for a time anyway, to the Merlin (BBC) fandom, and in particular the Merthur ship. Yay, slash daydreams and fanfics! I've missed your siren song.
(It's pretty much canon, anyway.)
Also, maybe I just haven't dug deep enough yet, but so far the Merlin fandom is one of the sweetest-natured I've ever encountered. Everyone has been wonderfully nice.
12. Trying doing things in new ways, or doing new things. I'm starting small, no bungee jumping yet, but practicing flexibility in daily life is like yoga for the brain.
So my resolutions for 2016 are pretty much to keep all of those up, and do even better at them. Happy New Year, everyone!
Our geekiest pumpkins from Halloween: Minecraft swords, Avatar Aang (with somewhat messed-up eyebrows)...
...and a cat, and Toothless the dragon.
And I was Titania, Queen of the Faeries. Complete with battery-powered lights and safety pins, just as Shakespeare wrote.
Much rain and chocolate was had, so that was all good. How was your Samhain?
1. TV: Why yes, I AM watching Once Upon A Time and it IS easing me off my Merlin melancholy, thank you for wondering. So far I'm only nine episodes into season 1, but I am already enamored of Emma's hair and her slightly-more-badass-Lorelai-Gilmore attitude. And I'm really liking looking at Jamie Dornan--oh. Well, I was enjoying looking at him. From the sympathetic glimpse into hitherto-slimy Rumpelstiltskin's past, I'm sensing this is one of those cool shows where everyone is deeper than they look at first, and some villains may become more heroic than we expected, and that's good, because I've always liked Robert Carlyle. Regina, though--I am still fully in "she's horrible" territory. (And I really don't like that mauve shade of lipstick they keep slathering on her. < /catty>) But I look forward to letting that opinion be changed too. (Not sure you'll convince me on the lipstick, though.)
2. Writing: I'm done with the ARC-level (advance reading copy) edits for Immortal's Spring. Whew! Back to newer projects I can go. Writing a series, like giving birth, was the kind of uber-complicated marathon that I'm in no hurry to do again. But, also like giving birth, at the same time it's something I'm immensely proud of having accomplished. Also, how beautiful is our cover art?
We had a solitary mysterious woman on the covers of Persephone's Orchard and Underworld's Daughter, but moved to a couple for the final book of the trilogy, because reunions and reconciliations and balance are the kind of themes you present at the end of a trilogy. But also because this photo was so gosh-darn lovely and we had to have it. (Photographer: the fabulously talented Felicia Simion.)
3. Reading: I just started Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and totally love it so far. Introvert girl at college who'd rather stay in her room writing fanfiction (slash, no less) than go to parties: ha, yes, okay, that is totally me. (I mean, I'm not at college anymore, but it does sound a lot like me in my freshman year. Except I had no internet following at that time. Because I had no internet. Because it was 1992.)
How about you guys? Viewing/reading recommendations?
I was lately remarking to various people in comments that, by the end of Merlin, Arthur and Merlin "out-Frodo-and-Sam Frodo and Sam." But maybe it's a tie, to be fair. Now my mind won't rest until I've delineated all the items on the bromance checklist that both pairs seem to be using as their guidebook. Let's go!
Master and servant situation: check!
Save each other's lives a whole bunch of times (bonus points if you get soaked): check!
Also make verbal promises about continuing to save each other's lives: check!
Wear armor together even if that isn't usually your thing: check!
Play with ropes together: check!
Occasionally fall under evil magic influence and try to kill your bro: check!
Carry each other in case of unconsciousness: check!
Come around to seeing servant's mighty worth even if you took him for granted at first: check!
Hold your bro tenderly at the end and make us all cry: check!
Tearfully see him off on a boat headed for magical lands: check!
Yeah. I guess it's a tie.
I will go down with these ships. Bromances. Things.
Btw, despite the lyrics, I have in fact started watching Once Upon a Time and I do actually like it so far and will keep watching, in hopes that it will ease me off this angst.
It's been seven hours and fifteen days
Since "The Diamond of the Day"
I read fic every night and weep all day
Since "The Diamond of the Day"
Now that it's done I can watch whatever I want
Fill my queue with whatever I choose
I can binge on shows that all my friends are on
But nothing, I said nothing can take away these blues
'Cause nothing compares, nothing compares to you
It's been so lonely without my knights
No more fun in Camelot
Nothing can stop these fangirl tears from flowing
Tell me, Arthur, how is Avalon?
Nothing compares, nothing compares to you
I can Google everything Colin Morgan's done
But it'd only remind me of you
I went onto Facebook and guess what they told me
Guess what they told me
They said girl you better try Once Upon A Time or Robin Hood
But that's no good
'Cause nothing compares, nothing compares to you
All the laughter over donkey ears
From the old days
All died with that final show
I know that hiding magic, Merlin, was sometimes hard
But we're willing to let all the plot holes slide
Nothing compares, nothing compares to you
Emotional exhaustion and late-blooming fangirling!
What a frustrating show. In a charming way. It became quite addictive, despite the problems, such as the ridiculous silly plots, and the big magic reveal coming waaay too late, as everyone says (come on, Merlin, you know you could have sat Arthur down and talked him onto your side; you even could have used MAGIC for it; it would hardly be the most underhanded thing you've ever done). And most frustrating of all, we didn't really get our prophecied great future where Arthur was the best king anyone ever saw and magic was no longer outlawed and Merlin got to be court sorcerer. I get that Arthur will rise again, so that's still in the future, I suppose, and from the modern-day last ten seconds of the series are we honestly to understand it still hasn't happened by the 21st century, and Merlin is STILL waiting? Gah. Between that and Rory on Doctor Who, I have to conclude the BBC has a fetish for making devoted friends wait millennia for each other.
Like Buffy, this series went through an erratic range of moods. I mean, seasons 1 to 4 were mostly all:
Genuine angst and sorrow happened here and there, but still, fluff was the order of the day. Good thing they had their fun while they could, because then season 5 was largely like:
It pretty much became Les Misérables. The series finale is not unlike the barricade scene meshed with the Grey Havens. Pain! But that's in keeping with the tragic nature of (most of) the Arthur legends, and in fact as a tragedy it turned out to be very well crafted. The rifts ran too deep to fix easily; the villains frequently were human enough that I felt sorry for them (Mordred! and of course the fabulous Anthony Stewart Head as Uther). I see why Merlin fans everywhere are saying, even three years after the series ended, that they'll never be over it.
At least half the reason it's so heartbreaking, though, is Colin Morgan alone, who throws tremendous talent into his role. He's one of those wonderful actors who, like Sarah Michelle Gellar on Buffy, doesn't care if they're being handed a somewhat formulaic script and are going to have cheesy special effects painted onto them. They're going to live this part and treat this like it's the Royal damn Shakespeare Company, and they'll win you over forever. Actually, all the Merlin actors turn in lovely and often amazing performances--as another example that comes to mind, Bradley James and Angel Coulby seriously impressed me with their powerful Arthur/Gwen showdown over Lancelot. But Colin is the standout of the series. Which is why he won all the awards and stuff, I suppose.
And what of the shipping, you ask? The Merthur? Slash, yes/no?
Well, yes. By the end of season 5, if you have any slash neurons at all, it's kind of impossible not to ship Merthur. Unlike some ensemble-cast shows that spread the stories around more among the characters, in this one probably 75% of screen time involved either Arthur or Merlin, and frequently both. They spent an awful lot of time in each other's company. Plus, in practically every episode, Merlin performs an "I'd die for him" courtly-love gesture or declaration without any irony, and sometimes Arthur even does it back. I fully believed in their other and more canonical relationships--Arthur/Gwen made me squee, Gwen/Lancelot was done with surprising good taste and romance, that one single episode of Merlin/Freya-the-doomed-magic-girl was beautiful. But even the cast and creators say without missing a beat that the "bromance" was the most important relationship of the series.
"Even the dragon ships it," as the fans say. (Prophetic!Dragon is always telling Merlin that Arthur and Merlin are two halves of the same whole and are each other's destiny and similar shippable statements.)
So yeah. Count me among the heartbrokenly thrilled Merthur people. Devastated it's over, but thank goodness there's those earlier seasons to rewatch, and also there's fanfiction! In fact there's so much fanfiction I could be reading it the rest of my life and never run out of material, if I chose, so that's...good?
Postscript: I'd also like to thank Eoin Macken (Sir Gwaine) for his cheeky attitude and gorgeous hair.
Also if someone could send me every dress Morgana ever wore, tailored to fit me, that'd be super. Thanks.
Unlike with many pages, this time it's a great idea to read the comments too. They are full of the Giles love.
Started reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to the kids last night. They seem to like it. Differences from the movie I'm noting now (which I once knew but had forgotten):
There's a "Wonderful" in the title.
They're silver shoes, not ruby slippers.
No long lead-in with Dorothy running away and thinking of a place over the rainbow. It's more like, "Once upon a time, CYCLONE." Which works fine, actually. (Also, it isn't a "twister" or a "tornado;" it's apparently a "cyclone.")
The good witch they meet in Munchkinland isn't named and isn't Glinda; she's just the good Witch of the North. Unlike Glinda, she is a small, wrinkled, white-haired old woman.
Yes, I'm sure there are webpages detailing all the differences. It's fun to use my own brain, though. Once in a while.
And it's been long noted by Oz fans, but L. Frank Baum's books, and this film accordingly, pass the Bechdel Test, and not just barely, but soaring over the requirements. Heck, women, good and evil, pretty much rule the land of Oz. Well, the Wizard rules too, but he's a humbug. Now that I look up Baum on Wikipedia, having realized I know almost nothing about him or his life, I learn his wife was from a family of women's suffrage activists, so indeed, he was well up in the progressive stuff.
On the music side, I never noticed before that they use Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" in the score for a short time, during the fight in the Witch's castle. Cool.
The 5-year-old: I want to be the Wicked Witch of the West for Halloween.
Steve: Cool. Maybe your brother can be your Winged Monkey.
Me: And I can finally realize my childhood dream and be Dorothy. Dad can be Toto.
Steve: Or the Scarecrow.
Me: Ooh! Yes! We can have a Dorothy/Scarecrow thing going on.
Steve covers his face.
Me: I've traumatized Daddy.
Steve: I'm broken.
Kids, meanwhile, are doing a rather excellent job cackling like Margaret Hamilton.
We finished reading The Marvelous Land of Oz (book 2) to the kids last night, and ha! I had forgotten that the boy Tip turns out to be, unbeknownst to himself, the princess Ozma under a magical disguise, and he gets changed back into his true feminine form and takes the throne. Yes. Ozma is a trans woman. Kind of.
Considering that chapter came with this Glinda/Ozma illustration as the header, we can at least safely say Baum is a treasure trove for LGBTQ/progressive-thinking type fans, even if he didn't anticipate all the ways in which he might be interpreted:
(I mean, sure, this is likely a "magical kiss of life" kind of thing, but the kiss wasn't actually in the text, so, up to interpretation...)
"Rowling says that she should have put Hermione and Harry together in the Harry Potter series instead of Hermione and Ron.
“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment,” she says. “That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”
“I know, I’m sorry,” she continued, “I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.”
I wouldn't say Harry/Hermione are the ideal couple, but they did have rather more chemistry and a better personality match than either Harry/Ginny or Hermione/Ron, so...fine with me! Going to be fun to watch fandom go completely insane for a little while.
In any case: What a book means to the reader is what it means to the reader, and nothing can change that. And she's not revising and reissuing the books, so it's not Lucas levels of messing with stuff. I find it interesting to hear what the author thinks of the series with her hindsight, but we can all go right on shipping whoever we like--Hermione/Snape, Luna/Harry, anything at all. Tolkien never admitted Frodo and Sam were in love, but I'll always know it's so.
Elrond: Hi everyone. Welcome to the secret meeting about secret dark things. Glóin, start us off?
Glóin: So a guy from "Lord Sauron" came by the Dwarf towns and was all, "Nice civilization you got here. Real shame if anything happened to it." And he wanted us to join Sauron and tell him about the Shire and hobbits and a ring. But we didn't.
Elrond: Good. Here's some background, then!
(Two hours later, after he has read The Silmarillion aloud to the assembled company...)
Elrond: To sum up, it was ugly last time Sauron was in a fighting mood. Trust me. I was there.
Frodo: You were THERE? How ancient are you?
Elrond: A little tact, Frodo, kthx.
Boromir: My turn! It might interest you guys to know that over in Minas Tirith, we're always fighting Mordor and keeping the world safe for epic sung poems and beer. So, YOU'RE WELCOME, everybody.
Aragorn: Well, I'VE been guarding everywhere OTHER than Minas Tirith, plus I've got the sword that was broken. See? I'm Isildur's heir. Ha. It's okay, you can thank me later.
Boromir: Yeah, I'm sure you've been real useful, hitchhiking around with your guitar and your weed, but Gondor's getting along fine without you.
Bilbo: Don't you disrespect! Whew, I'm hungry, is it lunchtime yet?
Elrond: Your turn to talk about the Ring, Bilbo.
Bilbo: Woohoo! Lunch can wait!
(Two hours later, after he has read The Hobbit aloud to the assembled company, with "actual unedited riddles" scene added...)
Elrond: Okay thank you. Enough. Gandalf, now you.
Gandalf: Twenty long years did I spend upon my doctoral thesis, What Is Going On With That Ring Bilbo Found, but finally my research proved that it was indeed the One Ring forged by Sauron to rule them all. So THEN, I tracked down Gollum, and found out he'd been tortured and told the enemy all about the Shire. So I handed him over to Aragorn.
Aragorn: But he was stinky so I dumped him in Elf prison. He's totally locked up for good.
Legolas: Oh. Um. Yeah, about that. Funny story. He uh...kinda escaped.
Glóin: What?? Way to go, hairspray-brain.
Legolas: We didn't mean to! It was Gollum's tree-climbing day and there were Orcs and stop blaming me!
Gandalf: Okay so ANYWAY, you guys are interrupting me, THEN I went to Saruman the White for counsel, only he was all, "I'm Saruman the Rainbow-Colored now!," and I was like, "White looked better," and he locked me up but an eagle rescued me and I got the awesomest horse from Rohan; his name's Shadowfax; seriously, he's so fast; and I tried to find Frodo but he had already left the Shire, so THEN, I went to Bree and found out where Frodo was. Btw, did you guys know Barliman Butterbur is fat?
Aragorn: LOL, OMG, so fat.
Elrond: Okay then. The Ring. Ideas?
Erestor: Give it to Tom Bombadil?
Gandalf: Interesting, but no.
Glorfindel: Throw it into the sea?
Gandalf: It wouldn't stay there.
Boromir: USE IT TO RULE THEM ALL, duh.
Gandalf: It's EVIL; were you listening? Big "no" on that idea.
Elrond: So we're down to "throw it into Mount Doom." Who wants to?
Gandalf: *snort*. No.
Frodo: Sigh. Fine. Me.
Elrond: Good! I was going to make you do it anyway.
Sam: Me too me too me too!
Elrond: SECRET meeting, Samwise, I said SECRET. Yes, fine, you too.
We discovered many a fine moment previous to that, of course. For example, I must make mention of "The Ember Island Players" episode. HAH!! It's like the condensed parody version of the whole series till now. Love. Fake-Zuko's rippling Revlon hair might've been my favorite, though Chinese-dragon Appa was cool. Also appreciated the remark, "Your Zuko costume's pretty good, but your scar's on the wrong side."
As for coolest moment, the episode with Zuko and Aang meeting the dragons was way up there. Gorgeous.
And most heart-wrenching, going back a bit, was Appa being lost for a while. It's gentle compared to the heart-wrenching moments of LOTR or Buffy, but still, so sad, as anyone who's ever had a pet can attest. However, everything turns out okay, and that's a major piece of what I love about this series. It doesn't put your emotions *too* deeply through any wringers, nor destroy any part of your soul.
Also, the kids loved it--it began affecting them at fundamental levels. The 7-year-old now happily has jasmine tea with me at breakfast. (He says, "Mmm, jasmine tea" in an Uncle Iroh voice.) And in the bath, of course, they waterbend at each other. "Look out, it's Prince Zuko!" *SPLASH*
By far the most compelling character arc is, of course, Zuko's. I have so many warm fuzzies for his relationship with Uncle Iroh alone, but his awkward bonding with the rest of the cast was a total delight too.
(Oh yeah, on the best-of list, possibly the funniest bit of dialogue all series:
Sokka: My first girlfriend turned into the moon.
Zuko: That's rough, buddy.)
...But anyway, Zuko's arc, like Spike's on Buffy & Angel, or even Snape's in Harry Potter (kind of), is interesting because it's the most dramatic change; the most redemptive. But none of those guys are the technical heroes of the stories. Aang, Buffy, and Harry Potter all start out as pretty good people, and despite some dark moments, they never go *too* dark, and therefore their arc is only from "younger and more innocent to older and braver," without the dramatic change that the aforementioned former enemies go through.
So this makes me wonder: can a hero ever be quite as interesting as those secondary characters who go from villain to ally over the course of the epic? Just throwing that out there as something to think about.
I've also caught up now to all available episodes of Downton Abbey and Sherlock, so we can talk spoilers for those if you want. Carson, more tea, please.