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since 11/10/2010


Paladin of Souls - Lois McMaster Bujold 13/12/2010

God touched?

Paladin of Souls - Lois McMaster Bujold This fantasy novel is interesting in its own way. It is the story about the god touched, Dowager Royina of a fictional land struggling to live the life she wants with the freedom she craves. However, hanging over her is the weight of a past wrong she has not forgiven herself for. Surrounding her too is the notion, held by her family, friends and subjects, that she is mad and very likely to harm herself or embarrass the family. To prevent such an occurrence she is locked up in her own castle. However, a chance encounter with a pilgrimage has her plotting her freedom by way of a religious expedition to shrines dotted about the country, in order to pray to the gods she distrusts for a grandson. The journey she embarks upon on her mission from the gods, sets her travelling down an unexpected path towards sorcery, death and destruction, for both herself and those around her. The book goes into the Dowager Royina’s feelings and emotions. It describes her thoughts and feelings about the gods and how she distrusts them. However, by the end of the book she learns something more about them. She learns how they use people to do the tasks they themselves cannot do. The novel talks indirectly about perception and freewill - its strengths and weaknesses; how the gods’ rewards, if accepted, are both good and bad depending on how they are perceived. Although it is in no way a religious book, in a sense it strikes a parallel with how faithful believers sometimes forget that their god ...

Bourne Identity - Robert Ludlum 06/12/2010

The Man Without a Past

Bourne Identity - Robert Ludlum This first book starts off a sequence of events that result in an original trilogy about a man suffering from acute amnesia after his survival from multiple bullet wounds and a near drowning in the Mediterranean for unknown reasons. All he remembers of his life, aside from images sparked off by the scenes around him, are the months since he was shot. As is a trademark of Robert Ludlum, he starts off the book in violence with the shooting of the mysterious man. The man who believes himself to be called Jason Bourne. Ludlum then continues by describing the man’s recovery, frustration and agony while healing from the physical wounds and the ever present suffering of the mental ones as Jason crosses Europe searching for the ever illusive answers.Bourne often finds himself despairing at the life he seems to have led, but the friends he makes in his search believe in him, even when he himself does not. The making of this thriller comes with Jason Bourne being chased by people and persons unknown but whose sole purpose is his demise. Bourne’s only clue to his identity comes in the way of a bank account number hidden on his person and a set of skills that no ordinary person should have. The characters are developed over time. Their fragments slowly pieced together as Jason slowly recovers his memory. The persona of Bourne himself is extremely well written as it literally starts off with just an outline and slowly gets filled in, though always with big holes in it so as to reflect ...

Iron Man (DVD) 11/11/2010

The Iron Hero

Iron Man (DVD) Marvel Comics have many superheroes coming from all walks of life with different personal characters and abilities. Tony Stark is the technological genius. He was already putting engines together at age 4 and had graduated from MIT at the age of 17. In the film he fabricated a miniature arc-reactor in a cave from bits of scrap while in captivity. Top engineers couldn’t even come close in the lab. A genius. Either that or it was the stress of the moment! However he is also very rich and being rich he tends to be quite arrogant and expects to get exactly what he wants. He is captured by terrorists while in the Middle East. Amongst them he learns that the weapons he creates to protect American citizens are also being sold to their enemies too. He is outraged and after returning home he decides to change his company’s policy. However, he soon gets lost in the design of his latest invention – Iron Man, the first prototype of which had helped him escape from the terrorists. However, in so doing he leaves his company in the hands of his old friend whose interests are only in power and making money for himself. The filming of this blockbuster, for it cannot be called otherwise, is dynamic. It’s got a certain energy that keeps you entertained and never bored. It is not an edge of the seat thriller, except in the most intense action sequences, but it does keep you with your mouth open at the sheer colour of technology on display. The soundtracktoo is great, the ACDC songs fitting ...

The Last Airbender (DVD) 31/10/2010

The Last Airbender

The Last Airbender (DVD) This film is based on the children’s TV series ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’. Aang, the avatar is the world’s spiritual voice, able to speak to the spirits of the world and with their help guide the world through a peaceful existence. The world in this case is made up of four nations representing the four elements: fire, water, earth and air. Certain people from each nation, called ‘benders’ are able to control their native element. The avatar was the only one capable of controlling all four elements. However Aang, as a child, when told of his destiny could not handle the pressure and responsibility and so fled his home only to get stuck in a block of ice and disappear from the world. He was freed a 100 years later, still a child, to find that the Fire Nation had assumed control over the world as the supreme element and had forbidden the bending of all other elements. As the avatar was meant to come from among the airbenders, the Fire Nation had killed every single airbender, thus making Aang the last of the airbenders. Once awoken by Kitara, a child waterbender new to her skill and her brother Sokka, they all set about travelling northwards to reach the Northern Water Tribe to learn water bending and put a stop to the Fire Nation’s tyranny. However, Aang is troubled by his grief and guilt for his people’s demise and is being chased by Fire Nation royals and its military might. I have to say I was not too impressed with the acting and the narration of the story, finding ...

Going Postal - Terry Pratchett 29/10/2010

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

Going Postal - Terry Pratchett It is the ingenious story about the fraud and con-man Moist von Lipwig who is given a second chance, the choice between reviving the Ankh-Morpork postal service or dancing the Gallows’ Jig. The choice isn’t hard and after a bit he can easily slip away, right? Wrong for his parole officer has fiery eyes and does not eat, drink or sleep. In fact it doesn’t stop working for anything, except its day off. He is known as Mr Pump and he is made of clay. Forced to stick to the post office, Moist quickly starts putting on a show to which the people of Ankh-Morpork are rapidly becoming attracted to as moths to the flame and the post office is soon getting letters to post to the Gods. However, it is not as easy as things appear and the Grand Trunk, the clacks company, led by its chairman Mr Gilt, does not want the postal service to continue because it is taking away some of its revenue. Assassins are sent and competitions laid out but in the end it all boils down to a mastery of words. Pratchett describes human nature. He writes about people’s ability to experience “man’s greatest treasure” – hope – and the ability to fill in missing details so as to see only what they want to see. Naturally of course, it is this talent that the main character as a conman uses to the best of his ability to get inside people’s heads and create the illusion of something, at least for a time. Pratchett goes into language; he cannot avoid it with the main theme being letters and the post office! And with ...

The Five Greatest Warriors - Matthew Reilly 24/10/2010

The Five Greatest Warriors by Matthew Reilly

The Five Greatest Warriors - Matthew Reilly The long awaited continuation of the Six Sacred Stones finally came out in 2009. It is the third instalment to the Jack West Junior series and is in my opinion the best of them all. It has all the qualities of a blockbuster film turned novel. It is filled with fast paced movement through stunning landscapes, fiery mazes and bullet lined storms. It has of course the customary twists and betrayals that are both shocking and unexpected and have in some cases been set up in the previous book. Reilly uses old characters from the previous books as the villains but has also created new ones to up the ante and make things different and more interesting. These new villains are particularly intriguing because they are far from ordinary and have committed acts that are in truth horrifying and somehow far worse than the usual evil, villainous acts. Reilly writes simply but well and it is easy to follow the plot, especially since it has numerous images and diagrams that show you exactly what is going on and what he is talking about. The story is centred around historical facts that have been bent and shaped to form the foundation of this fanciful novel. He uses, among others, the famous historical characters of Bonaparte and Moses as the five greatest warriors which are pivotal to helping Jack complete his quest to rebuild the mysterious ancient machine and save the world. I previously mentioned the use of historical facts but really and truly they are the old theories, combined with ...

To the Hilt - Dick Francis 24/10/2010

To the Hilt - Dick Francis

To the Hilt - Dick Francis This is the story about a painter, Alexander Kinloch, who is pulled out of his highland retreat to care for his family and their problems as they arise when his stepfather suffers a heart attack as a consequence to millions of pounds being stolen from his business by the people he trusted. Things are made even more personal for Alexander when he is accused of stealing and trying to worm his way into an inheritance that isn’t his and to top it all, he is beaten up and burnt to reveal ‘its’ whereabouts. Dick Francis writes in the first person in a down to earth manner that allowed me on a personal level to relate with the protagonist. The characters and their descriptions are well written and comic relief is provided, mainly through the actions of “Chris Young and Utterly outrageous”. Chris is the private investigator and bodyguard hired by the painter to help find the muggers and the person who engaged them. The novel is, in a good way, slow paced as it reveals information and events in its own time, but it never fails to hold your interest and it can quickly speed up according to the metaphorical heart rate of Alexander Kinloch. Friendships are made and are clearly placed on the opposite sides of the wall from their enemies and rivals from the very beginning. However, the violence and antagonism that ensues at the finishing line is shocking in its extreme and help comes from the most unlikely of places and people. The book engages you on numerous levels as the narrator ...

I Shall Wear Midnight - Terry Pratchett 13/10/2010

I Shall Wear Midnight

I Shall Wear Midnight - Terry Pratchett ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’ is the fourth instalment to the story and life, of the adolescent witch Tiffany Aching and the Nac Mac Feegle, the Wee Free Men who were kicked out of fairyland for fighting and drunkenness. Tiffany is spending all her time running around the Chalk bandaging the wounded and cutting old ladies toe nails. In fact pretty much spending all her time carrying outvery unwitch-like activities. However they are important to society and are keeping Tiffany from having a good night’s sleep. But worse is yet to come. An ancient entity of evil and spite that is not a ghost but was once a man has awoken. It is looking for Tiffany andawakening the old stories of evil old witches, causing the ordinary folk to hate and distrust them and start the rough music against the witches and anyone looking like a hag. With her people starting to act against her, Tiffany must stand her ground and save the livelihood of all witches alone for if she were to ask for help, how could she expect to be respected as a proper witch? This fantastic book is a well written story of Discworldfor young readers. However like most of Pratchett’snovels it is made up of layers and while being a light read, easy to understand and with many a hilarious moment, it is a perfectly serious book. As Pratchett himself said in the author’s note at the back of the book, his “job is to make things up, and the best way to make things up is to make them out of real things”.Therefore you always find that you ...

The Six Sacred Stones - Matthew Reilly 13/10/2010

The Six Sacred Stones by Matthew Reilly

The Six Sacred Stones - Matthew Reilly This is the second instalment to the Jack West Jr series and carries on a couple of years after the end of the first book, the ‘Seven Ancient Wonders’. It is a continuation from this first novel and it is recommended that for a better understanding you should first read book one, though it is not absolutely necessary. Carrying on in the tradition started in the first book, this one starts off with a death that while being in no way too graphic, a bit of imagination will expand on what is written and let the blood fly. Action ensues and Matthew Reilly puts the reader on a non-stop roller-coaster ride to the very end, where still riding the roller-coaster you are metaphorically thrown off a cliff. In keeping with the first part, the story is a cocktail of Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider and a touch of James Bond with their adventure sequences and gadgetry. In fact the book is best described as a blockbuster film. The plot is similar to the first in that once again Jack West and his team are racing against the clock and the rest of the world to find the six sacred stones, to place them at ancient sites and save the planet. Using only ancient (fictional) riddles they travel across the world from Egypt to England, through labyrinths awash with booby-traps while battling friends and enemies at every turn. Again Reilly’s literary style will not get him any prizes since it does not as such exist. There is no reflection or contemplation but is made up almost entirely of fantastical ...

Seven Ancient Wonders - Matthew Reilly 13/10/2010

The Seven Ancient Wonders by Matthew Reilly

Seven Ancient Wonders - Matthew Reilly In this first of three instalments, Matthew Reilly spins out an intriguing story that is full of non-stop action from the first page with lots of chases and daring endeavourers. The story is a mix of Indiana Jones and Lara Croft with many traps, ancient myths and artefacts of mysterious power. However, there is also a touch of the modern Bond genre with its many gadgets and weaponry that only the main characters seem to have. The story verges on sheer fantastical fiction but is in part based on some truth and briefly goes into some of the political, religious and military conflicts of the modern world. The book starts off with the heroes diving straight into a dangerous search for the pieces of the golden capstone of the Great Pyramid of Giza that hasn’t been seen since the time of Alexander the Great. The search takes them to the Seven Ancient Wonders, through mazes infested with the traditional lava spewing and boulder crushing booby-traps. The military might of the superpowers of Europe and America are hot on the heels of the heroes as each group races the other to get all seven pieces of the capstone. It is a race against time for unlike tomb raider, the objective is not treasure but to use the capstone built by the Ancient Egyptians for the sole purpose of saving the world from a gigantic sunspot threatening to end the world. However there is another reason. Legend has it that when the capstone is used it will grant the wielder peace or world domination. In truth the ...
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