Book Review - Burial Rites

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a very well written book read by an extremely good narrator. The dialect and accent on the spoken passages in Icelandic seemed spot on in the audio-book and really brought the reader into this world.

This book is heavy and dark. The premise is depressing at best, and the entire mood is heightened by place, in the grey, cold reaches of Iceland. As a reader, you have an idea of where this book is going to end right when you come into it, but it is the journey through the final months of the main character's life that really drive this book home.

The characters were very well written, with the young priest being the exception. His place in the book was largely not necessary and I never felt he was critical to the story or the development of Agnes through her final days.

I would not consider this to be a light read, and in fact, was a difficult one to get through when the weather was so pleasant out in the spring and early summer. This is the type of book you read on a rainy October Sunday in front of a fire with hot tea and some cookies. You are going to need those tea and cookies because they are the only thing that are going to make you feel good while you read this. Agnes is almost the stereotype of a tragic character. Almost everything that could have possibly gone wrong in her life has, and there is a deep sense of depression painted around her. The reader receives only the briefest moment of melancholy relief when her story finally ends.

In some ways I am at a loss for how to wrap up this review. This book is written beautifully. The writing is almost poetic at times and the attention to detail with the use of the Icelandic language was masterfully done. That detailed use of language though is also what makes the book as deep and as heavy as it is. This isn't the type of book for everyone, but it has all the markings to become a "classic" that is still recognized decades from now.

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Sometimes it all goes to shit....and the DM just smiles

Last week we had what was arguably a great or a terrible D&D session, depending upon where you were sitting around the table. Our adventurers found their airship crashed and in disrepair in the middle of grasslands, just west of the city of Longsaddle. 

Having successfully defeating attacking pirates, our group discovered, while going through the wreckage of that airship (also crashed), twelve slaves who were chained in the lower hold, forced to power the airship with their labor. 

Our group decided to free the slaves, but they now had to deal with the additional mouths to feed and bodies to take care of. Weak from their tireless labor and malnourishment, the slaves were all but helpless. Our adventurers had also lost three of their eight crew members during their crash and their ship would take four days to repair it. 

That evening we had a new player joid our group to play and I slipped them in as one of the freed slaves. Our evening seemed to start off to a good start, until I decided to roll for a random encounter. In front of me was a d100 table that had a large number of random encounters that varied depending upon the terrain in which our party found itself. Most of the time when I roll from this table, the encounter is innocuous. Sometimes some bandits, sometimes a weather event, more often than not, nothing at all. This evening though I rolled a 66. Looking through my table and checking the  terrain for grasslands I found that the encounter was 1d4 frost giants. 

"Ohh," I thought to myself. "This should be interesting". I rolled the 1d4 and up comes a 3. Three frost giants then emerge from the edge of the woods. Seeing the two ships crash in the night and the explosion of the fire elemental, their interest is piqued.

My party freaks out!!! 

At first they think that the frost giants might not be threatening. After all, they worked with a frost giant called Harshnag only a few months earlier. Well, our party's assumption cost them dearly. When the giant's arrived, seeing the disrepair of the ship and the condition of our party, they ordered the adventurers to turn over all of their weapons, armor and valuables, which included three precious relics . This was all promptly thrown into a giant bag of holding. Our giants then turned and marched back into the forest, leaving our party with nothing, and 17 mouths to feed. 

One party member, who is rather reckless, decided to charge into the woods after the giants to track them. He promptly failed his wilderness saving throw and got lost. The rest of our group spent the remaining three days repairing their ship and limped back to the city of Yartar.

Beaten and with their heads down they found that two of the slaves whom they rescued were nobles and upon returning them our party was paid handsomely, which allowed them to at least re-equipment themselves a bit. Things once again turned sour however. Our party was invited to stay in one of the noble's house as a thank you. Our new companion however got into a fight with another party member in the guest house, blew out a window and had the party promptly thrown out of the house.   

Our other member (barbarian) who ran into the woods did thankfully have ten days of rations on him. He was able to stumbled to the city of Triboar and now needs to either work or find some way to get himself to Yartar. And that is where we left our party that evening. 

I came away rather amused with myself, quite pleased with how defeated the party was. My players? Well, they walked away rather upset, perhaps arguing to me that I shouldn't have gone with what the dice rolled from the random encounter table. The best part is that several members were not in attendance last Friday and they are going to show up this week and find that they have lost everything in the matter of a week, 

We'll just see how everything plays out. 


Music Listening: ALAC/Vinyl - Cigarettes After Sex - Cigarettes After Sex

https://cigarettesaftersex.bandcamp.com

Keeping in the theme of music, my latest jam comes from a random album from Amazon Music. Cigarettes After Sex is a sort of downtempo, ambient rock group? Yeah, I think so. I like to think that this is the perfect sound for a rainy day. It just so happened to be a rainy March afternoon in the office when I put this on and the mood could not have been more perfect. 


The album's opening song "K", immediately brings you into an almost dreamlike state. Is it possible to have a feeling of "happy" depression, because that is what I get when listening to this album. The guitar sounds share a lot in common with "Tycho", but where Tycho is pure pop bliss, Sex After Cigarettes is the immediate counter point. 

The album does get a bit "same" sounding throughout, but that melancholy vibe does satisfy.