segunda-feira, 22 de dezembro de 2008

Para ler antes do fim do ano...

O nome Robert Jordan surgiu pela primeira vez numa conversa com o meu primo Pedro Gil Rosmaninho, que não só fez referência à principal (e monumental) obra deste autor, uma série de 12 livros chamada The Wheel of Time como me deu um autêntico curso sobre a matéria, convencendo-me a adquirir (em Inglês) o primeiro livro e a ler algo que, para alguém que leu, releu, viu, reviu, e voltou a ler e ver tudo quanto diz respeito ao Senhor dos Aneis, me parecia não só indicado, como extremamente interessante...

Mais tarde seria outro amigo, este dos Salesianos de Manique, o grande Sérgio Branco, a recomendar-me os livros, numa sugestão que não esqueci e que tenciono cumprir, pois quero ver se leio pelo menos o primeiro livro, The Eye of the World, antes do dia 31.

Para evitar explicar de forma incorrecta a premissa desta serie de 12 livros tomei a liberdade de transcrever para aqui, do Wikipédia em inglês, um resumo que me parece apropriado. Assim sendo...

At the dawn of time, a deity known as the Creator forged the universe and the Wheel of Time, which spins the lives of men and women as its threads. The Wheel has seven spokes, each representing an age, and it is rotated by the One Power, which flows from the True Source. The One Power is divided into male and female halves, saidin and saidar, which work in opposition and in unison to drive the Wheel. Those humans who can use this power are known as channelers; the principal organization of such channelers in the books is called the Aes Sedai or 'Servants of All' in the Old Tongue.

The Creator imprisoned its antithesis, Shai'tan, at the moment of creation, sealing him away from the Wheel. However, in a time called the Age of Legends, an Aes Sedai experiment inadvertently breached the Dark One's prison, allowing his influence to seep back into the world. He rallied the powerful, the corrupt and the ambitious to his cause and these servants began an effort to free the Dark One fully from his prison, so he might remake time and reality in his own image. In response to this threat, the Wheel spun out the Dragon, a channeler of immense power, to be a champion for the Light. In the Age of Legends the Dragon was a man named Lews Therin Telamon, who eventually rose to command the Aes Sedai and their allies in the struggle against the Dark One's forces. After a grueling ten-year war, three generations after the Dark One's prison was breached, Telamon led his forces to victory in a daring assault on the site of the earthly link to the Dark One's prison, and was able to seal it off. However, at this moment of victory the Dark One tainted saidin, driving male channelers of the One Power insane. The male channelers devastated the world with the One Power, unleashing earthquakes and tidal waves that reshaped the world. Their leader, Lews Therin in his madness killed his friends, his family, and finally himself. Eventually, the last male channeler was killed or cut off from the One Power, leaving the human race all but destroyed and only women able to wield the One Power safely. The Aes Sedai reconstituted and guided humanity out of this dark time. Mankind now lived under the shadow of a prophecy that the Dark One would break free from his prison and the Dragon would be reborn to face him once more, raining destruction upon the world in the process of saving it from the Dark One.

Over the next three and a half thousand years, the human race returns to a level of technology roughly comparable to that of the Medieval era (although cultural institutions and traditions seem closer to the 19th Century), with the difference that women enjoy full equality with men in most societies, and are superior in some. This is put down to the power and influence of the female-only Aes Sedai spilling over into everyday life. Several major wars have ravaged the main continent since the defeat of the Dark One, such as the Trolloc Wars, when the surviving servants of the Dark One tried to destroy civilization once more but were defeated by an alliance of nations led by the Aes Sedai; and the War of the Hundred Years, a devastating civil war that followed the fall of a continent-spanning empire ruled by the High King, Artur Hawkwing. These wars have prevented the human race from regaining the power and high technology of the Age of Legends, and also left humanity divided. Even the prestige of the Aes Sedai has fallen, with their shrinking numbers and the emergence of organizations such as the Children of the Light, a militant order who hold that all who dabble with the One Power are servants of the Shadow. The nations of the modern era are able to unite against the warrior-clans of the Aiel, who cross into the western kingdoms on a mission of vengeance after they suffered a grievous insult, but are too divided to work effectively together in other areas.

Quem nunca viu o filme O Padrinho está a perder aquele que para mim é um dos 10 melhores filmes alguma vez feitos, uma enorme obra prima, que se baseia num livro de Mario Puzo, um autor italiano que (re)definiu o vocabulário como o conhecemos em relação ao crime organizado e, em especial, à Mafia. Sem mais explicações, fica aqui apenas o registo de intenções, visto que pouco existe a adiantar a um título que por si já diz (quase) tudo...

Abordando outro livro inserido numa mítica serie de livros, quase todos da autoria de Frank Herbert, Dune é um livro que a maioria das pessoas ainda não leu, quer seja por terem apenas visto o filme de David Linch, que eu apreciei, ou por não conhecerem a vasta quantidade de livros que foram escritos sobre o tema.

Em todo o caso, Dune é apenas um de vários livros, sete, que compõem a serie original, que entretanto já foi "reforçada" por duas prequelas, escritas sobre a forma de triologia, e que é acompanhada por outras sete curtas histórias (short stories), escritas ainda pelo principal autor da saga, Frank Herbert (as prequelas e o sétimo livro da serie original foram escritos por Brian Herbert, filho, e por Kevin J. Anderson, tendo por base as indicações e apontamentos que o escritor deixou).

Tendo motivado um filme, várias mini-séries, jogos de computador e um sem-número de livros acessórios, o complexo universo político, social e religioso que Herbert criou promete oferecer muitas horas de leitura aos interessados e merece um bom estudo prévio (aqui) para evitar confusões. Aqui, tal como fiz com o primeiro livro deste post, vou deixar uma curta sinopse, em inglês, desta obra...

Some 20,000 years in the future, the human race has scattered throughout the universe, populating countless planetary systems ruled by aristocratic royal houses who themselves answer to the universal ruler, the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV. The CHOAM corporation is the major underpinning of the Imperial economy, with shares and directorships determining each House's income and financial leverage. Key is the control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the valuable spice melange, which gives those who ingest it extended life and prescient awareness. Melange is crucial as it enables space travel, which the Spacing Guild monopolizes. Navigators use the spice melange to safely plot a course for the Guild's heighliner ships via prescience using "foldspace" technology, which allows instantaneous travel to anywhere in the universe.

The spice is also crucial to the powerful matriarchal order called the Bene Gesserit, whose sole priority is to preserve and advance the human race. The secretive Bene Gesserit, often referred to as "witches," possess mental and physical powers developed through conditioning called prana-bindu training.

A Bene Gesserit acolyte becomes a full Reverend Mother by undergoing a deadly ritual known as the spice agony, in which she ingests a lethal dose of an awareness spectrum narcotic and must render it harmless internally. Surviving the ordeal unlocks her Other Memory, the ego and memories of all her female ancestors. A Reverend Mother is warned to avoid the place in her consciousness that is occupied by the genetic memory of her male ancestors, referred to as "the place we cannot look." In light of this, the Bene Gesserit have a secret, millennia-old breeding program, the goal of which is to produce a male equivalent of a Bene Gesserit whom they call the Kwisatz Haderach. This individual would not only be able to survive the spice agony and access masculine Other Memory, but is also expected to possess "organic mental powers (that can) bridge space and time."[10] The Bene Gesserit intend their Kwisatz Haderach to give them the ability to control the affairs of mankind more effectively.

The planet Arrakis itself is completely covered in a desert ecosystem, hostile to most organic life. It is also sparsely settled by a human population of native Fremen tribes. Tribal leaders are selected by defeating the former leader in combat. The Fremen also have complex rituals and systems focusing on the value and conservation of water on their arid planet. They conserve the water distilled from their dead, consider spitting an honorable greeting, and value tears as the greatest gift one can give to the dead. Their culture also revolves around the spice melange, which is created as part of the life cycle of the giant sandworms who dominate the deserts. Bene Gesserit missionary efforts have implanted a belief in a male Messiah who will one day come and transform Arrakis to a more hospitable world.

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