Help Spread The Word!

If you like our book review site, please recommend it to others. If you would like to join our reviewing community send me an email under the Ron Simpson profile. Thanks.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Price Listed: $17.99 on
May be more depending on the store

Pages: 759

I got my hands on this book July 21st and read it all the way through as most Harry Potter fans have done. I was not disappointed. In this book Harry becomes 'of age', which, in the Wizarding World, is 17 instead of 18 in our 'Muggle' (non-magic) world. At this age all protection and charms given to him from his dying mother warding off the greatest wizard of all time, Lord Voldemort, is ended. And this leaves Harry an open target for Voldemort. So all kinds of bad guys are out to get him, and throughout this book, Harry must escape being captured by them.

The last book explains that there was a prophesy made, that Harry must be the one to kill or be killed by Voldemort. It ended with Harry making plans to destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes. A Horcrux is an object that someone can put a part of their soul into, making it difficult to kill that person. Harry starts this book out on the quest to destroy the Horcruxes, of which Voldemort had several. Then and only then can he be killed.

We find in this book that one of the Horcrux is a key to the Deathly Hallows. According to Wizard legend, if 3 objects are found that was previously given by Death to 3 wizard brothers, the owner will be the master of Death. Harry is torn in this story between locating all 3, and destroying the Horcruxes.

Harry Potter fans will not be disappointed. The action in this book is frequent between escaping the bad guys and battling Voldemort. Beware, like books 5 and 6, the good guys and the bad are going to have casualties. I think all will be satisfied with the ending, and it definitely won't be what you expect. Since this book is less than two days old, I will not give out the ending here. If you are a Harry Potter fan, and you have read the other books, buy it, you will like it. If you have not read the previous books, you unfortunately will probably not be able to follow the story.

Conquerors' Legacy by Timothy Zahn

We come to the conclusion of the Conqueror trilogy with only a couple of characters with a complete understanding why wars with the Zhirrzh have taken place. This book, unlike the first two, alternate points of view between the Human and Zhirrzh perspectives.

There are a several different story lines going by this time, a few with the Zhirrzh and a couple with the Humans. For the Zhirrzh, war preparations are being prompted by a warring faction and the Overclan Prime is only wanting to go to war if it's needed. They are also fighting social upheaval related to the Elders and their dependence on the fsss organ. The Humans are struggling identifying which races are their allies. One warring race may turn out to be an ally while a seeming ally that are experts at double-talk are attempting to get on the side of the Zhirrzh.

The key to the upcoming conflict is whether or not those few that understand that it's radar used by the Humans and the Commonwealth is a deadly weapon against the Zhirrzh. But will that knowledge make it to the key characters in time to save lives and avoid more conflict?

The suspense of Conquerors' Legacy seems to be overdrawn out in relation to the first two books. It's almost as if the story lines are dragging a bit to resolution. It's been around 10 years since I last read this trilogy. I remembered several details from the first two books, but I don't remember much from the Legacy. But overall, it's a good cap to the story. The main characters have to make some hard decisions, choosing between family/friends and the larger picture of interstellar racial war.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Conquerors' Heritage by Timothy Zahn

Conquerors' Heritage is the second book in the Conquerors trilogy by science fiction writer, Timothy Zahn. The point of view of this book is of the Zhirrzh, the aliens that attacked and killed virtually all of the battle group commanded by Pheylan Cavanagh in the first book.

Heritage brings in the political world of the Zhirrzh, a humanoid race that is unique in that prior to adolescence, an organ, called the fsss, is taken from the back of their neck and safely stored. This organ is the loosely anchor point of the Zhirrzh's soul, in that once their mortal body ceases to function (death), they become an Elder, a ghostly figure that is mainly used by the mortal Zhirrzh for communication over distances, small and vast, and also for spying. If an Elder's fsss cutting were to be destroyed, then the Elder would cease to exist.

The politics of the Zhirrzh people is made up of clans spread over the eighteen worlds to where they have spread. One clanless group, called the Overclan, is the seat of power. The Zhirrzh protagonist, Thrr-gilag, is summarily stripped of his job as alien specialist, due to the escape of the Human prisoner, Pheylan Cavanagh and his bond-engagement with a woman with a rival clan is stricken. But, Thrr-gilag is also attempting to, illegally, help his brother, Thrr-mezaz, commander of the Zhirrzh forces at Dorcas, a hotspot beachhead claimed by both Zhirrzh and Humans, to gain a tactical advantage by providing him with a fsss cutting for and Elder to spy on the Humans.

The question begins to seep out...Who is the Conqueror?? The Zhirrzh (from the Human point of view in book one) or the Humans (from the Zhirrzh point of view)? Both say that the other attacked first. One Elder finds out at the end of Heritage.

Heritage continues immediately where Pride left off, although this book has more of a political plot with a few skirmishes. It's not slower or harder to read, just a different color, especially since it's from an alien point of view. I think Zahn does a great job in creating an alien world of tradition and slow change contrasting with the character of Thrr-gilad, who is an educated but free mind. He's not so sure that his society is telling the truth.

A review of Conquerors' Legacy will be forthcoming.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Conquerors' Pride by Timothy Zahn

Conquerors' Pride is the first book in a trilogy by Timothy Zahn dealing with human/alien first contact. It takes place a few hundred years in the future and Earth has already come in contact with several other "neighborhood" civilizations. It is at this point when Pheylan Cavanagh, commander of a battle group, encounters a new and unknown spaceship. His attempts at contacting this new race ends in disaster. His entire group is wiped out and he is the sole survivor...He has been captured as a prisoner of war.

Pheylan's father, Lord Stewart Cavanagh is a former politician and leads an illegal band of friends and associates to try to find his clues to his son's location as they have not found his remains in the wreckage.

Meanwhile, Pheylan undergoes interrogation from the alien species, calling themselves Zhirrzh. His main interrogator, Thrr-gilag, is a patient expert on alien contact and is in charge of extracting information from Pheylan to gain and advantage over the humans in the coming war. The thing that they cannot agree on is which side fired first. Thrr-gilag accuses the humans of using an Elderdeath weapon on the Zhirrzh ships and Pheylan says that the Zhirrzh they only tried to communicate with them and the honeycomb-shaped ship fired their deadly lasers and wiped out the the human force.

This is a very entertaining space opera with quick chapters, smart characters and interesting alien features. I'd read this series several years back and in a lull in my reading material, decided to pick it up again. I'm glad I did. It's an excellent sci-fi story.

Black Wind by Clive and Dirk Cussler

Clive Cussler has always been one of favorite reads since a good friend recommended him (Thanks Mabel!). His stories focus on marine and underwater subjects and his characters are bigger than life. Dirk Pitt is his long-time hero, a tall, tanned, green-eyed stud that is quite adept at saving the day and the world. His sidekick, Al Giordino, is shorter, very muscular and a most trustworthy friend. Recently, in Cussler's book series, Pitt has discovered that he has two children, Dirk and Summer. They have joined Dirk, Al and his NUMA friends in these grand adventures.

In Black Wind, the gang discover that someone is attempting to bring a deadly, tweaked version of smallpox back from extinction in order to cause major political and economical change in the Far East and into the United States.

As in all of Cussler books, Black Wind is a fast-paced, hard hitting action adventure mixing the civilian NUMA gang, militaries and mercenaries moving to a climactic end. Pitt, Giordino and family are witty in the face of death, brave against tall odds and clever in tight situations.

Cussler, in most of his books, employs somewhat of a formula with his adventures. His intro usually takes place well in the past. The story starts with a rescue by Dirk Pitt and ends with Pitt and Giordino doing the impossible. The author usually puts himself into the book as a cameo of sorts. Even though I knew it was coming, it still surprised me. Some like this cameo, some don't. I think it's rather funny. Cussler (and Dirk Pitt) is also the owner of many classic automobiles. He will usually include one of this collection in his books, usually in a car chase. This is good fun.

Even though the author sticks to a formula for most of his novels, I still enjoy reading them as they are very informative of marine and diving subjects and deal with a global tragedy that can be prevented.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

I read this classic epic every couple of years. In that way I emulate Christopher Lee (who plays Saruman in the movies) who has said that he reads it once a year. Also, I got the illustrated editions for my birthday a couple of years ago.

Alan Lee, the illustrator, does a masterful job of capturing key and whimsical moments of Middle Earth adventures. Lee also had a big role in the artwork in the movies.

My favorite character is Sam. Solid, stable Samwise Gamgee. Sam does not change throughout the adventures of LOTR. He is always faithful to Frodo. He does not ever trust Gollum. He calls Aragorn, Strider, even though he becomes the king. He reveres the elves. He never gives up assisting Frodo in the quest. He's so down to earth to the point of being gullible. And he gets the girl in the end! Sam makes me cry at times.

The Lord of the Rings isn't all quests and battles. There's plenty of comedy too. One way to create mirth is to put two different races together and make them work. The good natured competition between Legolas the Elf and Gimli the Dwarf is a good example. At the battle of Helm's Deep, these two keep a running of tally of orcs that they slay in battle. Another example is Gimli and Eomer arguing the fairness of Galadriel. Then there's the constant childish banter between Merry and Pippin.

Since the last time I read the series, I'd read some "light reading" in The Silmarillion. So this time around, the story was deeper and more meaningful. Tolkien's Middle Earth is an enormously rich mixture of cultures, landscapes, histories and characters. It is the standard to which all fantasies are compared.