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Princess of Wands by John Ringo

What I liked about this book, other than the heroine who can truly kick butt, is that John Ringo gets Christianity right in a few unusual ways. Barbara understands that she fights her own demons and her faith is how she does that, how she keeps them in check. She believes that she *needs* forgiveness, though she has never in her life done anything anyone else would consider evil or wrong. She knows the blackness in her own heart.

And I don't think it's too much of a spoiler for the plot, but what this means is that when the demon gives her visions of truly evil things that are at least slightly based in her own desires, she isn't destroyed by them. The evil inside of us, after all, is what forgiveness is for.

Ever since I was a kid I noticed that people seemed to think that it was *easy* not to do that bad things, that it was *easy* to have self-control. That the good kids were good because they didn't have to face what the bad kids had to face. But who knows temptation? The person who gives in to it or the person who rides it out until the end?

Oh, certainly a developed habit of self-control makes things easier, but it doesn't make things go away either and one doesn't *get* a developed habit of self-control other than by exercising it.

_Princess of Wands_ is made up of three novellas. The first is very good. The second is fun but would probably be a lot more fun if the obvious guest appearances weren't so distracting. Perhaps if I had no clue at all who the people *might* be I wouldn't have been trying to figure it out. And since I had no clue who they really *were* supposed to be, it was excessively distracting. The third short novella was excellent.


Ymarsakar said…
Ever since I was a kid I noticed that people seemed to think that it was *easy* not to do that bad things, that it was *easy* to have self-control. That the good kids were good because they didn't have to face what the bad kids had to face. But who knows temptation? The person who gives in to it or the person who rides it out until the end?

That always bothered me when I was growing up. People always seemed to make excuses for the difference in their performance and mine as being because I had something innately that they did not. Intelligence, smartness, Asianess, etc. It is a sort of like a reverse prejudice really. Instead of people looking at blacks and expecting badness, they look at Asians like me and expect high performance or intelligence.

The idea that basic performance could result from inherent birthright or inherent traits that could not be acquired anyway else, annoyed me to no end. Probably because I could never figure out why it was wrong or how it could be wrong.

A friend of mine in high school once told me, with a rather amusingly cute look of ire on her face, about how frustrated she was that she would have to try as hard as she simply to get Bs, while the class genius can slack off five ways to sunday and still get the same grade as her. In math, science, etc. I wasn't the class genius of course; my IQ was lower by about 30 points. Or whatever it is that separates people that can remember things just by reading it once. I despised that guy precisely because he was the exact model of what people kept talking about around me and to me.

Anyways, I never didn't know what to tell her. Innate advantages sure seemed very strong and unbeatable back then to me, regardless of my wishes that said it should be otherwise. It was otherwise however, I just didn't learn about it until I studied. When you study the history of people trying to kill and eviscerate each other, you start to pick up that "innate potential" doesn't always cut the mustard.

I think what I would have told her now that I know what I know, is this.

"People grow up primarily because of the challenges they face. A person that faces no challenge and does the same things over and over again, will never grow or change or improve. Thus, a person that works hard to beat challenges or to learn, is someone pushing their limits and trying to maximize the use of their potential. A person that not only doesn't have to try hard but doesn't want to try hard, yet succedes nevertheless simply means that he was never been challenged. He is not using his maximum potential; not even close. Life, however, is full of surprises and full of people weaker and stronger than you. A person will always meet a challenge that will test them to their limits, one way or another. And when that moment comes, the only thing you will have at the ready are your life experiences, your confidence in yourself."

I have seen many examples of inferior military forces fighting against unbeatable odds. There is something noble about not giving up against such. Inevitably, the side that has less firepower must be more crafty simply in order to survive. For no matter how smart, rich, or talented you are, a blade through the throat is a blade through the throat.

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