Reynwood’s Reviews: Tales of the Otori

Series: Tales of the Otori Trilogy

Titles: Across the Nightingale Floor, Grass for His Pillow, Brilliance of the Moon

Author: Lian Hearn

My rating:    


In his black-walled fortress at Inuyama, the murderous warlord, Iida Sadamu, surveys his famous nightingale floor. Constructed with exquisite skill, it sings at the tread of each human foot. No assassin can cross it unheard. Brought up in a remote mountain village among the Hidden, a reclusive and spiritual people, Takeo has learned only the ways of peace. Why, then, does he possess the deadly skills that make him so valuable to the sinister Tribe? These supernatural powers will lead him to his violent destiny within the walls of Inuyama – and to an impossible love for a girl who can never be his… Set amid the savage blood feuds of medieval Japan, ‘Tales of the Otori’ is an epic saga of revenge and treachery, honour and loyalty, magic and unconquerable love.


My thoughts:

Okay . . . Well, to begin with, overall I can’t say this was an entirely bad story. The characters were fairly solid and presentation vivid. Thinking on it, my biggest issues are abstract concepts. The culture of the Three Countries and its people are closely related to feudal Japan, and simply put: I just don’t like it. The lack of respect the people have for women (which is historically accurate for a lot of ancient (and not so ancient) cultures) and the inflexible adherence to a faulty code of nobility over commoner just rub me the wrong way. If you’re born poor, you’re somehow less of a human than if you’re born into an higher class. Justice and honor, as they really are, is skewed in favor of the higher class, vengeance is given far too much value, and bloodshed too little consequence.

On one side, it’s interesting, how these different beliefs influence the personalities and behavior of the people, and on the other side it’s remarkably frustrating. I felt for Kaede’s plight while in the clutches of Lord Fijiwara, particularly. I wanted to strangle that fink, and no two ways about it. The term ‘gentleman’ doesn’t exist here, no picturesque knights to be found ─ but that’s not really the aim of this game. Life isn’t always a pretty fantasy, and I dare say this trilogy fits into that category.

Takeo’s story throughout the trilogy is very much like a rollercoaster, getting pulled into so many conflicting directions. He was raised among the Hidden (a people who believe in the taboo secret god), taught that all men were created equal, that everyone met the same judgment after death, and that killing was wrong ─ vastly contrary concepts to the current system. He father was an assassin, a master of poisons, who renounced his clan for a life of peace, but the Kikuta of the Tribe wanted Takeo to join their clan again and use his inherent skills for death, teaching him violence and ruthlessness.  These, along with his loyalty to his uncle and adoptive father Shigeru Otori, are the driving forces of the story. He is already set on taking the Otori lands back from his corrupt uncles, and then he receives a prophecy stating him as the one who will bring peace to the entire land, coast to coast, under his rule.

But jealousies, vendettas, and the power hungry are all determined to prevent that from happening. The path he walks is hard, unforgiving, and bloody, testing his faith and his fortitude. He falters and makes mistakes (like a real person), he gets some things wrong (also like a real person), but he nevertheless presses forward through the bleak and desperate times to accomplish what he believes to be right. He’s kind, but not wishy-washy, harsh at times, but not brutal or barbaric, and despite the fact that he associates with outcasts (pretty much the most vile thing around) people still flock to him for the promise his fight brings of freedom from oppression.

His genuine love and devotion to Kaede is also refreshing in its divergence from the cultural status quo, where a wife was generally for producing heirs and political alliances, and every other woman was for pleasure. The consideration he gave for her and the power and trust they shared was unprecedented, his fury at her ill treatment, his lengths to rescue her, and his unfaded love for her despite her scars is heartwarming.

But Takeo isn’t the only one who goes on a journey. Many, particularly from the Tribe, are confronted with the corrupt, cruel, and rigid ways of their clans, finding them no longer tolerable. The rule of ‘absolute obedience’ is tested in the face of wavering loyalties and bitter treachery. The Kikuta, the head family, are losing their humanity and becoming monsters, seeking Takeo’s death because he would not become one of them. Those of the Tribe who’ve come to love and respect Takeo, influenced by him and Kaede, begin to think that the ancient ways of their people are no longer acceptable.

Though being a single drop in a pool, his influence brings those around him to ripple with his movement, which spreads wide, instigating a lot of change in the Three Countries.

The ending of the story was well done, I was pleased with the tied up ends and happy reunions, along with the hint of more to come. The tale is ended but the story goes on. Those are the best kinds of endings, in my opinion. There is a sequel to this trilogy, as well as a prequel, but I’ll hold off reading them, because despite all good notes, the story didn’t engage me. I was never hungering to read more, never completely taken in. I had to force myself to read it, and I want to go back to that all-consuming kind of reading that made me fall in love with books in the first place.


Currently reading:

A Green and Ancient Light

A Green and Ancient Light, by Frederic S. Durbin. So far I’m really enjoying this one! It’s fun, magical, and easy to read.

Reynwood’s Reviews: Rowan of Rin

Hello! Spring’s finally arrived, people! We’re on our second lawn mowing, prepping gardens, and venturing forth on bike rides (almost got lost the other day . . .) With so much to do, it’s a wonder we have time for everything. But then, all we can do is one thing at a time and just keep plugging along, right? Like Dori says: “Just keep swimming . . . just keep swimming . . .”

But don’t forget to stop and smell the roses, or you’ll find that they’ve faded and you missed them altogether, and that would be sad.

I know that in my last review I said I would be reading volume two of the Tales of the Otori: Grass for His Pillow. Well, I did. I’m glad I did, because I liked this one better than the first ─ enough to encourage me to keep on (I’m currently working through volume three, Brilliance of the Moon). The story develops more and so do the characters. Takeo finally gets some insight and direction about who he is and what he wants, with a dash of foretelling thrown in ─ which was a good call. I suppose I’m in for the long haul with this one, so I’ll be back with an overall review when I’m finished.

As for this week, I’m sharing some thoughts about another book/series on my shelf ─ the shelf of Ultimate All-Time Favorites. Seriously people, this story is so good. You know those books where you can just keep rereading them without ever getting bored? (They do exist) This is one of them.

Title: Rowan of Rin

Series: Rowan of Rin

Author: Emily Rodda

My rating: 5 of 5


Bravest heart will carry on when sleep is death, and hope is gone.

Rowan doesn’t believe he has a brave heart. But when the river that supports his village of Rin runs dry, he must join a dangerous journey to its source in the forbidden Mountain. To save Rin, Rowan and his companions must conquer not only the Mountain’s many tricks, but also the fierce dragon that lives at its peak.


My Thoughts:

I can’t remember when I discovered these Rowan of Rin books, but it was ages ago, and I am so very glad I did, because they’re all beautiful. Yes, they’re directed toward a younger audience, and perhaps a bit more ‘simplistic’ than the longer storylines and convoluted plots of other novels, but there is a beauty in that simplicity. This series is one of my all-time favorites, and I picked this first book up after finishing a longer novel while waiting for the next to come in at the library. It only took me a couple hours, but once again I was transported back to that wonderful place called Rin and the characters I’d come to love.

In this first book we’re introduced to young Rowan, our hero throughout all five books in the series. He’s the ‘small and timid’ type of protagonist, unaccepted by the bigger and stronger people around him and struggling with finding his place and worth. The story provides a test of courage for Rowan that will prove to everyone ─ including himself ─ that even skinny rabbits can have brave hearts, too.

I have to say, it was a good time for me to read this, in light of the challenges I’m facing with writing this next book of mine. My own protagonist is struggling with many of the same issues as Rowan, so reading this has actually offered some insight and redirection about how to handle the problems facing my own characters. It’s amazing, how things work together like that.

So, not only is this test of courage a worthy tale, and Rowan a sympathetic a likeable guy, but there are other aspects that I loved about this story, such as the implied history, giving depth to the world we’re in but not going into lengthy and unnecessary expositions. There’s also the wise woman, Sheba (who for ages I kept getting confused with Shelob of Lord of the Rings . . . both are pretty creepy). She’s an enigma even to the villagers, with somewhat strange, uncanny powers of foresight and prophecy. The quests that Rowan undergoes always are accompanied by lyrical oracles instigated by her, providing warning and direction as he and his companions move forward along their way.

These books are an inspiration for my own writing and a reminder of why I love the fantasy genre so much. I highly suggest you give this story a try; it’s a quick read but wholesome in heart and cleverness, a definite ‘job well done’.

Reynwood’s Reviews: Across the Nightingale Floor

Across the Nightingale Floor (Tales of the Otori, Book 1)Title: Across the Nightingale Floor

Series: Tales of the Otori, Book One

Author: Lian Hearn

My rating: 2 of 5


In the black-walled fortress at Inuyama, the warlord Iida Sadamu surveys his famous nightingale floor. Constructed with exquisite skill, it sings at the tread of each human foot. No assassin can cross it unheard.

The youth Takeo has been brought up in a remote mountain village among the Hidden, a reclusive and spiritual people who have taught him only the ways of peace. But unbeknownst to hi him, his father was a celebrated assassin and a member of the Tribe, an ancient network of families with extraordinary, preternatural sills. When Takeo’s village is pillaged, he is rescued and adopted by the mysterious Lord Otori Shigeru. Under the tutelage of Shigeru, he learns that he, too, possesses the skills of the Tribe, and with this knowledge he embarks on a journey that will lead him across the nightingale floor and to his destiny within the walls of Inuyama.

Overcome the intensity of his love and conflicted by split loyalties and his own divided nature, Takeo realized that he must make his own way on this journey of revenge and treachery. honor and loyalty, betrayal and love.


My thoughts:

I have to say that I feel a little bad giving so few stars, as I can empathize with how hard the author worked to bring this story to everyone, but if you asked me how I liked it I could only tell you that ‘it was okay’, and at least on Goodreads, that’s what the two stars mean. However, don’t let my opinion shy you away if you think it sounds like something you’d like ─ you never know.

Anywho, this all began with a library booksale, where I found the second volume of this series. I’ve not come across many novels immersed in Japanese history, so I was excited to try it. As it turned out, though, this is not an actual historical fiction, which I’ll admit did bum me out a little. It’s heavily influenced by Japanese history, culture, custom, climate, and everything else, but in a fictional setting.

I loved the names, and Hearn does paint vivid pictures with her prose. The story, one of political intrigue, spite and revenge, secrets and differing loyalties, is actually a bit of a tragedy, which I think fits into the style of a lot of old legends and fairytales. Even though the two main characters in the story were given and vastly supported in the opportunity to have an ‘happily ever after’, extenuating circumstances did not allow for it. Sorry for the spoilers, no Cinderella ending here. At least in this volume, we’ll have to see about the series as a whole.

That part I didn’t mind too much (I’m one of those rather fond of romantic tragedies, remember Sergil and Lyla?). I suppose most of my trouble stems from the characters. None of them are especially moral, in the gallant knightly way we like to think of heroes being, these days. Shigeru wasn’t so bad, and he was truly the martyr in all of this. Lord Iida is a slippery snake of a villain in all the cruel and vile villainous ways of villains. His part was done pretty well, if you ask me.

So I suppose it’s actually Takeo that I had problems with. He’s our young protagonist, and as the summary states, he is a very conflicted and divided young man. For being raised in the ways of peace, he’s patroned brothels before the book even begins ─ so I have to say I can’t respect him a whole lot from that. He also succumbs to the desire for revenge fairly quickly, and it’s one of his driving forces throughout the story. Not keen on violence and murder, he yet hungers to learn the skills of his assassin heritage, imagines how to kill certain people, and seems okay with mercy killing. His desire for Kaede felt, to me, more sensual than anything else (but there’s very little such content and only brief, and in brief detail, which I can appreciate if it had to be in there at all).

What good I will say about our embroiled youth is that he is very good at what he does, even to surprising his teacher and fellow Tribe members. He is also unshakably loyal to Shigeru, his adoptive father, and is torn by the events manipulating everyone to such sorrow and trouble. I still can’t really figure out where he stands as a person.

In the end, I can’t say this has been one of my favorite stories, but did enjoy the novelty of it, and I am interested enough to see where the characters go from here to read book two.


Up Next:

Grass for His Pillow (Tales of the Otori, Book 2)

Grass for His Pillow, Tales of the Otori Book 2

Reynwood’s Reviews: The Eagle of the Ninth

Title: The Eagle of the Ninth

Author: Rosemary Sutfliff

My rating: 4 of 5


The Ninth Legion marched into the mists of Northern Britain―and they were never seen again. Four thousand men disappeared and their eagle standard was lost. It’s a mystery that’s never been solved, until now . . .

Marcus has to find out what happened to his father, who led the legion. So he sets out into the unknown, on a quest so dangerous that nobody expects him to return.


My Thoughts:

For some reason it feels like I’ve been having trouble picking really, truly good reads of late (The Children of Húrin aside), and now I have found one. I learned of The Eagle of the Ninth through another author who gave a list of some of her favorites and inspirations for the books that she wrote, so I thought ‘Why not?’.

Why not, indeed. And then, why not sooner?

This is a good story about a young man whose goals in life and dreams of the future change drastically due to unfortunate and unforeseen events. Who he thought he was and what he thought he wanted turn out to be shades of a former life he can no longer return to.

The story follows Marcus Aquila, a young Roman soldier, as he goes from his first Cohort Command in Britain to a lame veteran within a short period of time, his dreams dashed and his prospects rather depressing. Things change, though, when he hears rumors of the lost Eagle of the Ninth Legion ─ his father’s Legion ─ who some twelve years before marched out into the mists of the North and never returned. With the aid of his British-native friend Esca the two young men venture forth into hostile territory to find and retrieve the Eagle. The journey takes them long and far from Marcus’s home, and along the way he discovers the truth of what happened to the lost Legion, as well as his father.

Ere all is ended, friends become enemies, strangers become allies, and the struggles of the heart and body are tested to their limit. For what? Honor. Redemption. And good hunting. Filled with bravery, mettle, and the bonds of true camaraderie, this is one of those stories that sparks ye grand olde heroism, wit, a wile.

I loved the characters (primarily Marcus, Esca, and Uncle Aquila). Marcus had to build a new outlook and dream for his future from the ashes of his former life. His kindness, fairness, and compassion earn him the affections and loyalty of those around him ─ but he’s also a fair bit wily, and when he and Esca go into a ruse together you had best watch out. Those two are the definition of brothers not of blood, but of bond. Coming from two widely contrary worlds, they have yet found kinship. They’re the Legolas and Gimli of the historical Roman Britain world. Jonathan and David. Duncan and Niun. For that I will give this story a five.

When it comes to Sutcliff’s writing, I can easily see why she has been such an inspiration, and indeed I, too have found some in her work. It’s beautiful. The way she depicts the landscapes is vivid, and how she describes light is just wonderful. From candleflame and lanterns to mountain sunsets and evening watchtowers, it’s all just gorgeous.

If you’re a connoisseur of imagery, read this book. Of personal journeys, read this book. Of historical fiction, read this book. Of good, old fashioned daring-do, read this book. If you love reading, READ THIS BOOK. It’s a good book, a good story, and if I haven’t been too obvious already (heh, heh), I really enjoyed it.


WHAT’S NEXT:

I am now trying to be a bit more intentional about my reading, as well as making a more concerted effort to keep reading (because believe it or not, it gets hard to keep up with reading books when you’re writing them). That’s partially why I post these reviews here, to keep me accountable. Reading is the lifeblood of a writer, a huge source of fuel for the forge, and to neglect it is like a student neglecting their studies, a gardener abandoning his garden, a smith forgetting to feed his fire.

So!Now, along with the review I post every month, I’m going to Plan Ahead what I intend to read next and share that, too. Feel free to poke me now and again over the month to see how I’m doing.

In light of that, for this next month I intend to be reading Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn, the first in a quartet called Tales of the Otori. I’m pretty excited about it!

And how about you? What are you reading of late?

Reynwood’s Reviews: The Children of Húrin

Title: The Children of Húrin

Author: J. R. R. Tolkein, edited by Christopher Tolkein

My Rating: 5 of 5


The Children of Húrin is the first complete book by J.R.R.Tolkien since the 1977 publication of The Silmarillion. Six thousand years before the One Ring is destroyed, Middle-earth lies under the shadow of the Dark Lord Morgoth. The greatest warriors among elves and men have perished, and all is in darkness and despair. But a deadly new leader rises, Túrin, son of Húrin, and with his grim band of outlaws begins to turn the tide in the war for Middle-earth — awaiting the day he confronts his destiny and the deadly curse laid upon him.


My Thoughts:

Oh, boy. I think that’s an accurate place to start. If you love a good tragedy, this is the book for you.

The Children of Húrin is a part of the History of Middle-Earth, taking place long, long, long before the events of The Lord of the Rings as part of the world’s lore. This tale chronicles the life of Túrin son of Húrin, the one man who had dared to defy and scorn  the Dark Lord Morgoth. (Familiar with the ‘Balrog of Morgoth’ from the trilogy? Yeah. It’s that Morgoth. The guy so bad that Sauron was his lackey back in those days).

Morgoth’s hatred for Húrin extended to his children, Túrin and Niënor, in a curse of doom, which was to follow them until the end of their days. Túrin suffered hardship and woe over and over again, dogged by the shadow cast upon him by the Enemy. His life was overshadowed by a dark doom since childhood, when his father was taken captive by Morgoth, his country forfeit to the Dark Lord and his minions, and himself sent away from kith and kin alone to escape thralldom. Yet even so he was determined to overcome the evil curse and master his own destiny. The strength of his will and his honor endeared him to many people, but even so he never stayed long in any one place ere something bad would happen that drove him away. Often enough it was his own temper that got the better of him, prompting him to do less-than-noble deeds, but he and Niënor both were deceived and manipulated by the evil dragon Glaurung, too; lied to and spited in an ever descending spiral of malice.

This tale marks Túrin’s efforts to master his destiny, but in so doing ends up succumbing to it; the epitome of ‘you can’t escape fate’. In that regard I say this is very much a tragedy, that despite his efforts, his desires, and his mighty deeds, Túrin yet fell, hated and grief stricken ─ but not altogether friendless and unmourned.

This is a sad story, but a good one; definitely worth reading. The world that Tolkein creates is vast, filled with beauty and sorrow alike, for what was and is now lost. The characters are vivid and diverse in personality, the narrative is easy to read, and the heart of the story is compelling. I am reminded of what makes Tolkein and his stories so great, and I am grateful to his son for his efforts in bringing to us what his father could not.

Reynwood’s Reviews: The War of Souls Trilogy

28509Title: The War of Souls Trilogy

Authors: Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

My rating: 3 out of 5


The people of Krynn have known war in past ages. Some are still alive who remember the triumph of good at the conclusion of the War of the Lance. Still more remember the devastation of the Chaos War, which ended the Fourth Age of the world.

But now a new war is about to begin, more terrible than any have known. This war is one for the very heart and soul of the world itself.

The War of Souls.


My Thoughts:

Wow. I had to take a moment and a deep breath after this one. This trilogy took me (I’m a little embarrassed to admit) several months to finish. Each volume is so big it could break a foot if you dropped it. This is a very intricate story with many threads woven to make a fine mesh tapestry.

I have been interested in the universe of DragonLance for a long time, and my very first venture into the world of Krynn was the Suncatcher Trilogy by Jeff Sampson (which I’m thinking of reading again, because Sindri). I fell in love with the race of kender, which are kind of like hobbits, but not really.

Then I brought this War of Souls Trilogy into my collection and decided to give it a whirl. My first impression after diving into the first volume was that I would have benefitted exponentially from reading its predecessor series first, as there are many people, places, and events mentioned and alluded to that bear some significance. Albeit the authors did a fair job adding enough detail to give a novice (such as I am) some understanding to keep me from being totally lost, but in the future I would advise starting at the very beginning, because that’s a very good place to start. I jumped into an ocean with this DragonLance stuff, because while there are numerous (and I mean numerous) series and trilogies encompassing individual stories, they’re all strung up along the timeline of this world of Krynn, which opens with Dragons of Autumn Twilight, first in the Chronicles Trilogy by Weis and Hickman.

So, before you dive into the War of Souls, be smarter than yours truly and start in the beginning instead of somewhere in the middle.

Now, that said, I have to admit I have some mixed feelings about this story. Overall in the grand scheme of things I enjoyed it, but it was the ending that sold it to me. I love me a good ending (I’m not saying anything more about that, because a spoiled ending is the worst). I had some trouble getting there, though, because it took so very long. We follow a bucket load of people scattered across the continent dealing with the myriad of happenings, and to be honest, I really only cared about Tasselhoff’s happenings (poor, poor, loveable Tas. I’d read Dragons of Autumn Twilight just for him). I favored Gerard’s bits, too, but those two were my only real favorites.

The overarching theme of this One God seriously creeped me out in the beginning, when I couldn’t decide if it was a good or bad thing. The details were so conflicting (which is good storytelling, leaving the reader in the same shoes as the characters as they try to figure out what to think of it). I’m going to spoil that for you and say that it is most certainly a bad thing. There wouldn’t be much of a story if it had turned out to be a good one.

Such is life.

Anywho, the diversity of the characters and their varying personalities gives a wide perspective of what’s going on, what it means to the world as a whole, and how it affects/will affect the individuals in it. One thing is for certain, not a single person will be the same. Trials can stretch and grow or shatter and destroy. Tas learned about fear and true bravery, Odila found her way through the mire of a troubled heart, Gilthas fought through the pain and responsibility of kingship to lead an exiled people. Mina succumbed to darkness.

Mina is a curiosity for me. Duly mysterious in the beginning, we learned very little about her throughout the story. Outside of her unswerving faith in her One God, she has almost no personality. Her initial impression is one of a capable leader and miracle worker filled with kindness and compassion for everyone, including her enemies, so long as they recognize the One God whom she serves. Then come to find out towards the end that this ‘innocent’ youth isn’t as kindhearted as we’ve been led to believe. I know that stress and pain can alter a person, but I would think that such a compassionate person would hesitate a little more before doing what she did, might waver a little in the face of the dark truth. But maybe it was all a farce to begin with. An act. Devotion to her god turned this inquisitive girl into a devout pawn and then a bitter and vengeful creature. It would be interesting to see what happens with this new bane in the followup series, The Dark Disciple.

Story aside, I thought the narrative had good points and not so good points. It was wonderfully descriptive, painting vivid pictures, but there were times when I thought this exposition or that one wasn’t entirely necessary for the development of the plot. I also found a boatload of typos, but it’s not like that ruined the experience for me. The pace was moderate for the most part, kind of slow at times (which is one of the reasons it took me so long to finish, I rarely felt the insufferable need to read more at the soonest opportunity). But it got better in the last three or four hundred pages, keeping me up too late.

All in all I’d say it was a good addition to the DragonLance world, certainly enough to convince me to go back and read from the first.

Thoughts on a Christmas Classic

Well, with it being December and Christmas and all, I thought I’d share with you one of the universe’s all-time classics (at least since 1843: A Christmas Carol. This story has become so popular that you might be hard pressed to find a person who hasn’t heard of it. Ever wonder how we got the term ‘Don’t be such a Scrooge’ and how ‘humbug’ became so popular?

You guessed it.

A Christmas Carol, by our dear Charles Dickens.

This story is small in size and big on impact, recounting the tale of a miserable old miser by the name of Ebenezer Scrooge, who cannot see the joys of Christmas and will not open his heart to the world and people around him. Then he receives a visit from the ghost of his long-dead business partner, Jacob Marley, who warns him of the woes awaiting him after death and gives him a heads up about his opportunity for hope in the future.

Thus begins Scrooge’s journey, his heart shattered as old and painful memories are resurrected, the lives of good and suffering people outside of his melancholy existence are made known to him, and the mysteries and miseries of a dark future are revealed if his ways do not change.

This is a powerful story that teaches us to overcome ourselves, to see the joys in life beyond the hardships and troubles and disappointments, and to share that joy and compassion and impish good cheer with the people around us. There’s more to life than money (gain/success) — this is but one lesson Scrooge learns. Money doesn’t bring happiness, otherwise there would have been no need for the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet To Come to visit.

Money doesn’t bring happiness. Happiness and joy come from a far less material source, and once Scrooge realizes this he is reborn as an all-new person. This just goes to show that you’re never too old and never too far gone to change and turn a new leaf, try again. The journey may not (and usually will not) be easy or pleasant, but nothing worthwhile is every easy. True and lasting change comes from the depths of the heart where all the gunk we keep hidden there has dried up and stuck to the walls ─ it requires some serious scouring to clean it ─ but is it not worth it in the end?

Scrooge relived some very painful moments from his past, saw the struggling of good people in his present life, and knew the fear of a bleak future were he to remain on his path of destruction. When dawn came his eyes were opened and he received a second chance.

And by George he took it! The hope he now has makes him positively giddy. He now finds joy and happiness in giving to and serving others, not hoarding for himself. He finds love, and that it was always there waiting for him. The Spirit of Christmas has awakened in his soul, and nothing remains as it was

But Scrooge isn’t the only character in this story. We have his nephew, whose joy in life is untainted by his uncle’s grouchy attitude. His love and faith in Scrooge is admirable. Then there’s Bob Cratchet and his family, poor and content to be so, for they have each other. Despite his less than stellar treatment, Bob Cratchet remains grateful to Scrooge for the job he holds and the provision it provides for his family. These men go to show that, no matter how wretched we might be, no matter how many others despise or couldn’t care less about us, there is always someone who wishes us well.

This is a story about hope, which is an absolutely perfect theme for Christmas, the holiday we celebrate hope coming into the world through Jesus Christ.

May you all find hope and joy this Christmas!