A Clearing in the Forest Review

Princess Adriana is about to leave the Kingdom of Ayrden on the Journey of her sixteenth year

If she is to ever to ascend the throne, Adriana must go-alone and unarmed-into the unknown. She’s been trained and gifted for the Journey, just like all the royals who preceded her-even the ones who never returned.

Adriana leaves Ayrden on Sultan, the black stallion gifted to her by her brother just the day at her birthday celebration. With bravery in her heart and hopes for a quick return, she soon encounters three paths: one of grass, one of gold, and one of gemstones. She chooses the pragmatic path of grass. Although it seems safe, and the landscape familiar, she quickly finds that she will have to overcome nearly  impossible challenges. Ultimately, an unexpected friendship changes not only Adriana, but the very kingdom that she someday hopes to rule. The question is, will the friendship turn into everlasting love?

Reading this fantasy book is an easy book to read. It was a nice read even though the journey could have been filled with even more challenges. The description of the plot made me hope the journey was more difficult than what I discovered. But as a matter of fact, the ending makes it appear as if this could easily become a series. So the ending left you off with a bit of a cliffhanger in a way.

                                                      Proclamation of Ayrden 

Be it known to all-

The Sovereigns of Ayrden

Shall not be deemed worthy to rule

By birthright alone.

Each royal descendant of Ayrden

Shall embark upon a Journey

During that descendant’s sixteenth year

Or forever give up any claim in the Throne.

Each descendant shall Journey forth

Alone and unarmed,

Carrying one day’s provision Only.

Upon a Sovereign’s death,

The Thorne shall pass to the eldest descendant

Who from his or her Journey hath returned.

If there be not such a one,

The deceased Sovereign’s eldest sibling.

Requisite Journey complete,

Shall assume the Throne.

This is an edict in perpetuity decreed by the

First King of Ayrden

Adriana, the main character, was given the gifts of fidelity, kindness, and courage to have with her when she left for her journey. She actually ended up heading on each of the different paths. On the first path, she came across her uncle, Kelak and he tied her up so she had to figure out how to escape. This took place in the land of Chehalem.

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The next path she took is the path of gold and she came across Corrigan and it took her a while until she realized he was a slave trader and had to leave before Corrigan noticed she was gone. The path where this situation took place was in the land of Shahar.

The last path, the path of gemstones, did not many challenges, but the land of Beryillos had a problem with the dragon, Zimley. So each of the different lands had something challenging Adriana had to face. I thought it was cool how while Zimley was still waiting to attack, they managed to stay protected by having their kingdom be an underground kingdom. One of the clothes that I loved that they wore were called chimangas.

Of all the different characters, my favorite character is Adriana. She shows a lot of courage on her journey especially when she was in Chehalem because she faced the most challenges there. On her journey she stayed strong even if she was going into the unknown. In the land of Beryillos, I loved the characters of Elissa and Theo and they were some of the few people on Adriana’s journey that were nice to her was well and even Redbud from Chehalem. But I just really loved Theo and Elissa. In Beryillos, Theo and Elissa were the ones she spent the most time with and she realized that over time she was falling in love with Theo.

I cannot believe I read two books over the summer already. First Oliver Twist and that was the hardest book I read over the summer due to it being classic. Next, A Clearing in the Forest was read and was the easiest book so far and it was a fantasy. The next book I will read, which I will start today, it called The Hundred Story Home and that is a nonfiction book.

 

Is There More than A Love Triangle In Wicked?

It is very obvious in Wicked that a love triangle is in it, which is very ironic and complicated, but is there more in Wicked than just a love triangle? This musical focuses so much on Elphaba, Fiyero, and Glinda.

Possible Spoilers:

You first know there is romance in Wicked during Dancing Through Life. Boq asks Glinda to the school dance. We learn that Boq actually loves Glinda, but Glinda asks Boq to take Nessa to the dance since Glinda wants to ask Fiyero. So right now Boq loves Glinda and Glinda supposedly is starting to love Fiyero. But at the dance things get even more challenging. We now learn that Nessa loves Boq. So now Nessa loves Boq, Boq loves Glinda, and Glinda loves Fiyero. So right now we have a bit of a love quadrangle.

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Elphaba starts getting involved in the picture starting with the lion cub incident. In class, a professor is starting to do an experiment on a scared lion cub and out of anger, Elphaba casts a spell on the class and it doesn’t affect Fiyero. The two run off to free the lion cub. In this scene, Elphaba realizes she loves Fiyero for the first time. It would be easy at this point to see the musical is only home to a love triangle. Elphaba feels like she isn’t good enough for Fiyero because she is green and she knows that her best friend loves him. There are hints in the lion cub scene and after “I’m Not That Girl” that maybe Fiyero has a crush on Elphaba, but not realizing it.

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Things get even more complicated in act II. During “Thank Goodness”, Fiyero hears rumors about Elphaba and in this moment, he realizes that he loves Elphaba. So he ends up breaking up with Glinda and searches for Elphaba. Now the unrequited love has shifted from Elphaba to Glinda, which really challenges things.

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The whole love situation in Wicked is way more than a love triangle. Even though it is more than a love triangle, a love triangle still exists. That is due to both Glinda and Elphaba being in love with Fiyero. So the whole situation is that Nessa loves Boq, Boq loves Glinda, and Glinda and Elphaba love Fiyero. So four characters in Wicked go through unrequited love, but isn’t well noticed by Boq or Nessa. The unrequited love seems mainly focused on Elphaba in act I and she is able to move on from Fiyero and later Fiyero and Elphaba end up a couple. Elphaba’s story revolves around friendship and not unrequited love.

This whole love pentagon thing in Wicked only adds to the complexity. The only unrequited love song is “I’m Not That Girl”, which why it is easy to overlook the love pentagon and only see a love triangle. That song is sung twice: The first being the full song and sung by Elphaba and the second time it is sung by Glinda and as a reprise. Due to Nessa and Boq only being secondary characters, you might not understand their importance to the story and you might easily overlook them. After all, the story is truly about the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda.

So do you feel like Wicked’s romance is more than love triangle?

 

Letter to Cosette, Marius, and Eponine

Dear Cosette, Marius, and Eponine,

You three are part of one of my favorite sub-plots in Les Mis. Your youthful love triangle bring wonderful texture and emotion to the story. Many fans have called this love triangle silly, but in my opinion it most certainly is not.

Marius, I cannot believe I am telling you this, but many people have actually called you a jerk for the most absurd of reasons. They only say that because you were oblivious to Eponine’s love of you. Well, I honestly don’t believe that at all. You are such a sweet, kind, and compassionate person. You actually never appeared to be a jerk to Eponine and people have called you a jerk since you always rely on Eponine to help you end up with Cosette. Well, one reason why you never knew Eponine loved you is that she never told you. By the way, I am so glad you were kind and nice to Eponine. She deserves it because of how dark and empty her life is. You were very aware of how sad and miserable her life was.

Cosette, I love what you represent in the story. You are the light and hope in this tragic tale. You started out with a horrible life due to being abused by the Thenardiers when you were younger. But it slowly improved over time thanks to being rescued by Jean Valjean, your adopted father. By the way, your mother, Fantine, loved you very much and Valjean fulfilled his promise to Fantine by raising you as his own. I believe you and Marius make a wonderful couple despite what I have heard others say. People seem to forget your importance to Les Mis. I know you are one of the lesser developed characters, but you are still a wonderful character.

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Eponine, you are such a special person. I know your life started out well with you appearing to be loved by her parents. But when you and Cosette got older, the tables got turned and you ended up being abused by your parents. They even raised you to be a criminal. I cannot believe you hardly had any good things happen in your life. You were never around good people in your life. Your life became even worse than ever before. You did find some source of light through Marius, the only person who ever showed you kindness. That is why you love him and despite your love for him becoming unrequited, it is wonderful you would do anything for Marius. I know this sounds crazy, but for plot purposes, it is fascinating to me that your life and Cosette’s life literally swapped places. I honestly wish your life was better and that you had a better family life.

Through all three of you, the emotions are very conflicting as a matter of fact. Marius, when you and Cosette first bump into each other, I cannot help but feel for all three of you. The same pattern happens towards the end of “A Heart Full of Love” when that duet becomes a trio. So the love triangle is developed nicely. It is important to the plot of Les Mis because love is one of the key themes in Les Mis. It shows love in several forms, which is why it is fitting Les Mis is home to this youthful love triangle.

The Importance of Negative Musical Emotions With Joy

Since yesterday, I tried to explain what negative emotions would be without joy, I decided to talk about the complete opposite today. I feel like it is loaded trying to describe why all negative emotions have joy involved.

Joy is a huge reason why I love feeling the negative emotions in a musical. I feel like there are different sides of joy in a musicals. There is your excitement, love, and joy when experiencing a musical and there are the actual moments of joy found within a musical. When I fall in love with a musical song, I tend to fall in love with the emotions themselves and I have joy when I feel sad or heartbreaking songs or bittersweet songs if I love the song itself.

There isn’t a single musical out there with just negative emotions. That just wouldn’t work in the world of musicals. Whether it was South Pacific, Wicked, Man of La Mancha, Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story, Rent, and Les Mis, they all still deal with positive emotions even if they all have to put up with negative emotions. Some of those musicals are happy musicals themselves, some get caught up in the middle, and some are sad themselves.

Look at Les Mis for instance. The negative emotions are constantly being thrown at you. It feels like you all you feel are negative emotions. But if you look closely you can see the positive emotions being aimed at you. Besides, the first emotion you feel tends to happen before the action begins. In Les Mis, the first emotion I feel is excitement. The negative emotions tend to start in the opening scene and there is joy there and that joy is due to me loving the musical. When the bishop scene enters, you feel compassion, hope, and forgiveness.

Possible Spoilers:

Les Mis even has joy and compassion shown at death scenes and the joy would be impossible to spot if you don’t know the characters. One important thing to note about most of the Les Mis deaths is that most of the characters don’t die alone. Valjean is by Fantine’s side when she dies, Eponine is in the arms of Marius when she dies, the students, Gavroche, and Enjolras are around each other when they die, and Valjean dies alongside Cosette and Marius.

But where is the compassion and joy found at these deaths. Well, if you don’t understand Fantine’s love for her daughter and how desperate she is, you may not find the joy in her death. Valjean shows compassion by being with her as she dies. He promises to Fantine  that he will raise her daughter, Cosette, as his own. The fact that Valjean promises to Fantine that he will raise Cosette is why this death happens to be memorable.

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Look at the second death. Once again, joy and compassion is shown at that death. The second death happens on the barricades. Eponine has gotten shot and Marius finds her and holds her in his arms while she dies. You wouldn’t notice the joy in this scene if you don’t understand how much Eponine loves Marius and if you don’t pick up on how dark and miserable and lonely and empty her life is. She is in the arms of the man she loves at her death so she has joy there since she is with Marius. The compassion shown at this scene is that Marius decides to stay with Eponine even though he is quite upset and comforts her and stays brave for her up until her death. This death scene is memorable due to the fact that Eponine is dying in Marius’ arms and that “A Little Fall of Rain” is such a memorable and touching song.

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See what I mean. Even Les Mis, the saddest musical I ever seen, shows that even that musical has room for positive emotions. The trick with sad musicals is they can be hard to love. It can be hard to know whether or not you love their plot.

But with Les Mis, the musical just doesn’t work without the positive emotions. The positive emotions show up through deaths and that does sound surprising. I never would have imagined a musical song could be a death song or that they can be memorable. The positive emotions are just not just limited to the deaths, but also related to some of the actions of the other characters.

Look at songs such as “This Nearly Was Mine”, “Memory”, and “I’m Not That Girl”.  Every single one of them are heartbreaking songs, but I love them. Another bittersweet song is “For Good”, which is the most emotional song from Wicked.  “I’m Not That Girl” began as a sad song and eventually became heartbreaking thanks to “On My Own” and “Memory was a song that I had forgotten the emotion to and realized it was heartbreaking through “I Dreamed a Dream”.

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I love the negative emotions in the world of musicals. I love them the most when they are quite strong and quite truthful as well. The negative emotions don’t grow quite as quickly as the positive emotions. The negative emotions are covered with vulnerability, fragility, innocence at times, insight and truth, and on top of that, there is yourself. You become a character in the musical yourself and you learn to love the negative emotions. The one thing I don’t like about the negative emotions is that I don’t like that the character or characters have to feel the negative emotions or that they have to go through what they are going through

Joy in negative emotions means in a lot of ways means that you have a strong emotional connection to the material. Joy in negative emotions shows acceptance and understanding and a feeling of sympathy and empathy.  It shows you care and it shows that you want to go on the character’s journey. Sometimes you have to search deeper for the negative emotions. They grow at a very steady rate and never grow quickly. Sad and heartbreak are core emotions in the world of musicals and between those two, heartbreak is the newest one. I said that because heartbreak was unknown to me growing up.

Most musicals I have seen are happy musicals and I associate musicals with them all the time. I first discovered sad when I was in middle school, but now in college, I love the negative emotions even more thanks to falling in love with Les Mis and Rent.

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Being a true musical fan means learning how to have joy feeling the negative emotions. You want them to add to a musical experience and not take away from a musical experience. You want to provide you a positive experience and not the other way around. An amazing amount of musicals expresses the negative emotions in at least one song.

How do you view joy in negative emotions?

Letter to Fiyero

Dear Fiyero,

You are one of my favorite characters in Wicked. I honestly have no idea why I love you as a character. I don’t know if it is song-related, costume-related or is something about you that really stands out. I feel like it partially has something to do with the love triangle. You are the one that makes the love triangle really confusing. You start out by going out with Glinda and then you eventually break up with her and start a relationship with Elphaba. That unrequited love shift is so confusing, but I don’t even know if you were aware that you are part of a love triangle in the first place. I feel like in act I, you had a crush on Elphaba, but didn’t even realize it at the time. It can be so frustrating  loving a character without knowing the exact reason. I hope I eventually find the reason why I love you as a character.

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Yes, this letter sounds crazy. I enjoy writing letters to characters on this blog. But I decided to go with a character that I don’t even know how to analyze that well and someone I don’t know why I love them.

Importance of Christ in Our Lives

Happy Easter!

Well, today is Easter and I thought it would be fitting to have an Easter-related post. Well, Easter is all about Christ’s resurrection and we need Christ in our lives. He helps gets through dark times of our lives. He helps us thrive through hardship and for He helps me thrive in college. He teaches us the importance of compassion, love, and forgiveness. We need Him in our lives. Life isn’t easy and He helps us survive even when things are rough. Christ did a lot for us and died to save us from our sins. Without Christ, I don’t know where I would be right now. His love for us is incredible and without Him, the world would be even darker and a scarier place to live.

 

Musical Character Connection vs Entire Musical Connection

This does sound bizarre, but I do believe there is a difference between an emotional connection to a musical character and an emotional connection to the entire musical. That sounds really bizarre because you would think both mean the same thing, but in reality they really don’t. But sometimes your emotional connection a character is the same thing to an emotional connection to the entire musical .

Wicked is a musical I have an emotional connection to Elphaba and love Fiyero and Glinda as well. My emotional connection to Elphaba does connect to my emotional connection to the entire show. I don’t have emotional connections to Nessa, Boq, Madmae Morrible, and the Wizard. But I do have an emotional connection to the entire show thanks to my personal relationship with Elphaba and the friendship found between Elphaba and Glinda and the love triangle between Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero.

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Even my emotional connection in Newsies is the same thing as my emotional connection to the entire musical. I actually have two emotional connections in this show. I have an emotional connection in the intimate relationship found between the friendship between Jack and Crutchie. I even have an emotional connection to all of the Newsies. The story is about the Newsies after all, which is why my emotional connection to the Newsies is the same as my emotional connection to the entire show.

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Even in Beauty and the Beast, I only have emotional connections to Beast and Belle and characters like Lumiere and Cogsworth and Chip and Mrs. Potts. But I don’t have an emotional connection to Gaston. It is more important for me to be emotionally connected to Belle instead of Gaston. Having an emotional connection to Belle and Beast is important because the plot centers around them.

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But can you have an emotional connection to a character, but have zero emotional connection to the actual plot? Yes, that is very possible. I love Anna from King and I, but I am not fully emotionally connected to the entire plot and the show isn’t even meaningful to me. Even in Little Shop of Horrors, I only love Seymour and Audrey, but just don’t have an emotional connection to the plot.

The emotional connections are highly important. Usually the songs are what forms the emotional connection. I feel like you need an emotional connection to both the characters and the plot. True, there some characters I don’t have an emotional connection to in certain musicals. I don’t have an emotional connection to Madame Morrible, the Wizard or like any antagonist or villain, but a few expectations. Honestly, your emotional connection might also have to do with the portrayal of characters.

I don’t have an emotional connection to Javert exactly, but the last time I saw Les Mis live, I found some emotional connection to that character. I honestly have no emotional connection to the Thenardiers either. Despite that, I have an emotional connection to the entire show. I don’t relate to the characters that well in Les Mis, but I do have an emotional connection to Jean Valjean’s story, Fantine’s story, the love triangle found between Eponine, Cosette, and Marius and have an emotional connection to Enjolras, Gavroche and the students. You can’t have an emotional connection to a plot if you don’t have an emotional connection to characters.

The emotional connections are why every scene in a musical has joy in them even in heartbreaking or bittersweet moments. The songs form an emotional connection very easily. I feel like it is important to be emotionally connected to the protagonist’s story and if there are subplots, it is important to be emotionally connected to some of them because they help support the main plot. Having joy in every emotion is connected to the experience and connects to an emotional conation to the plot and characters and the fact that if you care enough about the characters and their journeys, you accept the emotions that you are feeling.

An amazing amount of musicals have some heartbreaking or sad moments. I understand that sad was a main emotion starting in middle school. I wasn’t 100% blind to the negative in those days, but I was 100% blind to heartbreak.

I know this sounds crazy. But there really is a difference between an emotional connection to characters and emotional connection to plot. However they are very interconnected and depend on each other.