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Manny Rayner's book reviews

I love reviewing books - have been doing it at Goodreads, but considering moving here.

Currently reading

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution
Richard Dawkins
R in Action
Robert Kabacoff
Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies
Douglas R. Hofstadter
McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture
Harold McGee
Epistemic Dimensions of Personhood
Simon Evnine
Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning (Information Science and Statistics)
Christopher M. Bishop
Relativity, Thermodynamics and Cosmology
Richard C. Tolman
The Cambridge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition
Julia Herschensohn, Martha Young-Scholten
Riddler's Gift, The: First Tale of the Lifesong - Greg Hamerton That night, Tabitha had a strange dream. She was on a long, winding road high in the Zunskar Mountains when she came to a little tavern. The inn-keeper welcomed her and gave her good meat and drink, which she was grateful of, for she had travelled far. When she had eaten and drunk her fill, he asked her if she was Tabitha Serannon, the singer.

"I am," she replied shyly. She had still not become used to her new fame.

"Then there is someone here that I think you will want to meet," said the inn-keeper. And he introduced her to another of the guests, a little man with a long beard and lively, piercing eyes. He reminded her in a way of Twardy Zarost, the Riddler. There was something alien about him, as though he came from another world. The man said his name quickly, but it was noisy and Tabitha failed to catch it, only that it began with a T.

"I am also a singer and story-teller," said the man. "As two members of the same profession, our host says we will have much to talk about. Pray sing to me of your world."

Tabitha had drunk a glass of the Dwarrow-wine, which she rarely did in real life, but in her dream this made her merry, and she wished to show the stranger what a fine singer she was. She stood up without further ado, and she sang of Eyri, of the white Dovecote and its Lightgifters, and of the Amberlake with Stormhaven sitting in its midst. And she sang of terrible things, of Ravenscroft and its Master, and of the mad Shadowcaster who dared to summon the Morgloth. But somehow none of the song came out the way she saw it in her mind, Light and Dark mixed in a beautiful pattern, and she was disappointed in herself.

Then the stranger took the floor and began to sing of a place she had never heard of, called Middle Earth, and of a quest to destroy a Ring of Power, that was both like and unlike Tabitha's Ring. And she listened spellbound as he sang of Lórien and its Elves, of the Lonely Mountain and its Dwarves, of Orthanc and Minas Tirith and the Nazgûl and their Dark Lord Sauron and his ultimate downfall at the hands of Frodo and Gandalf. Every name shone like a jewel, and soon as she heard it she saw the thing it named before her. She gasped in wonder.

When the stranger had finished, she turned to him with shining eyes.

"You must have some very powerful spell," she said, "to create the names in your story. Please tell me what it is called, and help me to learn it too."

The stranger bowed low to her. "It is the simplest and the hardest spell in the world," he said. "And its name is Etymology."