Mythology of the Inuit

Sidling closer to the glow of the seal blubber lamp, families in the Arctic regions would pass the long hours of cold darkness by telling stories. These stories, which have been preserved through retelling over the ages and, when that fails, anthropologists

The Mythology of the Inuit serves as a nice primer for readers wishing to learn more about the stories different tribes of Inuit and Aleutian people told, and how those stories reflect their culture.  The author Evelyn Wolfson  prefaces the myths with information on Inuit and Aleut life during the period of the preserved stories. This introduction helps ground the myths which follow. For the anthology, Wolfson compiled  six myths, each from a different region or tribe.

In one story, a clever man protected by his parents’ ermine amulet outsmarts witches and beasts to return home to his family. In another,  a man’s arrogance leads to his death by the hands of a well-meaning giant. A third story follows the fate of a lazy village whose members rely on a single hunter.  Wolfson does not focus solely on parables however;, she  also tells the tale of one of the most important deities, Sedna, who became a “maleficent” goddess after her cowardly father sacrificed her to a spirit. Each story often has magical qualities and a strong moral meant to guide

Taken together these myths reveal the importance of cooperation, diligence and resilience in an unforgiving land.  Following each myth is some comprehension questions and an expert analysis from one of three anthropologists who lived in the region. Some one better versed in Inuit culture and the work of these anthropologists might be better suited than me to comment on the accuracy of the analysis, but I usually found them helpful and interesting. Perhaps my only complaint is I wish it was a bit longer, especially the conclusions, which interwove anthropological analyses,  at the end of each story.

 

 

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The Raven Boys

Blue knew three things for certain: she amplified psychic power, she was fated kiss her true love and he would die, and the Raven boys were bastards.Unlike her family members, Blue had no traditional psychic power. She could not see the future or look into someone’s past by touching them or talk to ghosts. For sixteen years she has avoided the fate her family predicted for her by following the rules and avoiding the wealthy, arrogant Raven boys, but when Blue sees a spirit named Gansey and a Raven boy by the same name shows up at her family’s home a few days later, Blue is pulled into an mystical adventure.

Gansey has spent nearly half his life looking for a mythical king. He’s followed ley lines, or lines of magical energy, all around the world and ended up in Henrietta, Virginia. When Blue learns of this during his call to her family, and when she meets Gansey’s cute friend Adam, she decides to join the raven boys in their search. Breaking the rules for the first time, Blue joins the group. She learns that not all Raven boys are as odious as she once felt, but everything else she knew solidifies itself into a fait accompli. Some bigger energy is pushing Blue into this story, and as she and the boys learn more about the dangers surrounding the sleeping king, they wonder how they should wake him, or if they should at all.

The Raven Boys has an intriguing opening, but  the book suffers some from the first book syndrome. Much of the books feels more like a set up than a story. So many characters are introduced that some feel more archetype than person. The details which, when done well,  humanize character felt constructed.One can only hope they will be fleshed out and realized  further beyond nail polish colors, a love triangle,  snooty or absent fathers, and rich-boy rebellions in the coming books. Stiefvater laid the groundwork for this, along with many other mysteries to solve, so let us hope she is able to do so successfully.

This story is slow boiling,  with some nice twists leading us to a more promising end. I will be picking up the second book, hoping the story will be a bit more urgent and the characters’ more realized.