books this time - two of which are terribly delayed.
( The Penultimate Peril - book the twelth of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Under a cut for a good friend of mine who hasn't read it yet. )
The excellence of this book is made up of two parts: one, the philosophy Ayn Rand is presenting. This covers all the details about government and business and personal ethics and morals. It's amazing, really, how thorough it is, how her philosophy covers every aspect of a person's life. Extremely persuasive, with almost perfect realism.
The second part of the excellence is the characters and smaller plot. That's one of the things about the book that is so truly amazing - she's so good at both government, business, and philosphy, and also people. That's what makes it brilliant.
I grew to love Dagny, I did. I love Francisco second-best, and Eddie Willers, and Hank Rearden, and then Dagnar Ranneskjold (hey, I actually remembered how to spell that without looking it up).
...Which brings me to SHIPPING. Of course. Forget the deep philosophical meaning - it's time for shipping.
Francisco was my favorite of the men, it's true, and I liked Dagny/Francisco - but I think my favorite is Dagny/Hank. Because, I suppose, they got the most screen time, and they both did so much for each other. But I felt for Francisco, I really did. It really wasn't fair that he didn't get her in the end.
I did not like Dagny/John Galt - and it's amazing, really, how the character in whom Ayn Rand embodies all her principles, is the worst developed. I never liked John Galt, from the first introduction - I guess he was too perfect. And I was quite furious at Dagny for leaving both Francisco and Hank in favor of John.
My favorite passage was the extensive coverage of the circumstances and all the people, before the great Taggart Tunnel disaster. It was brilliant – how for each character who played a part, there was a snippet of their history and how they were affected by the directives, what brought them to allow this to happen.
I found Lillian Rearden interesting, too – in the beginning, before she became an evil bitch, I quite liked her – related to her, in fact. Her "bright tone of amusement" - her amused, mocking manner.
I also grew very attached to Cheryl, in the scene of her wedding night, and the last night, in which she is finally cultured, and so very mature and dignified.
The scene in which Dagny cried was powerful - all through the book, since the first awful directive which broke Ellis Wyatt, I expected her to cry.
The vast majority of the book was not at all hard to read - and I did read it all, except for the last fifty pages of John Galt's massive speech. Yeah. I just couldn't stand it. At that point I had read nine hundred-plus pages of Ayn Rand's philosophy, and no, I'm not retarded, so I I understood what she's promoting - and I was dying to know the outcome of this gigantic monologue. I read the first eight pages or so, checked to see how long it was, and skipped to the last five pages or so to skim. I read Francisco's fifteen-page monologue about money, though.
And now for quotes. Some of these, you have to understand the background of whatever's going on at the moment, but I found them utterly profound.
"Miss Taggart," asked Rearden, "why didn't you mention that I'm going to ride in that engine, too?"
She looked at him across the room, and for a moment they were alone, holding each other's glance.
"Yes, of course, Mr. Rearden," she answered.
"I am sorry, gentlemen," said Rearden, "that I will be obliged to save your goddamn necks along with mine."
They were cut into the polish of the wood, still showing the force of the pencil's pressure in the hands that had made them, each in his own violent writing: "You'll get over it - Ellis Wyatt" "It will be all right by the morning - Ken Danagger" "It's worth it - Roger Marsh."
I liked the torture scene and the rescue, simply because I enjoy scenes like that in which friends show care and emotion.
While Francisco and Rearden were helping Galt to dress, Danneskjold proceeded calmly, systematically, with no visible emotion, to demolish the torture machine into splinters.
The ending, however...eh. The ending of such a huge book ought to be striking, and this wasn't. Not to me, anyway. Particularly because I was wondering WTF happened to Eddie - they sent someone out to get him, right? Right? I love Eddie....
I was rather disappointed - well, I suppose that due to the format of the book, there wasn't much opportunity for especial insight. Otherwise, it was a decent book, very developed in Dracula's various powers and limitations. Was pleased with the character of Van Helsing as well. I enjoyed Mina being...sucked...and forced to drink his blood in return.
The ending was rather rushed, unfortunately - it felt hurried.