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Monday, March 31, 2008

Me2 - M. Christian

Talk about an identity crisis.

M. Christian (or is it?) puts a whole new spin to the genre of mind-bending thrillers with Me2, a twisted and psychological tale of individuality and the lack of it. Though my description doesn't sound that scary or interesting, I can't do justice to Christian's pulse-pounding skill of turning one man's relatively simple life around with the numerological Genetic Mirror Theory, which says that every human has a genetic twin. (Those who haven't heard of it can check any message board or website for TV show Lost for more info.)

Christian is very unique in his delivery, carving a Starbucks-employed, California-destined, gay "Boy of Summer" into a paranoid, mentally-intuitive, questionably-sane wanderer trying to find his true self (not matter how contradictory those adjectives are). His character's pursuit for his copycat takes him many a party and gathering, one during which he unintentionally gets a little friendly with a darkness-veiled guest.

Christian's visual descriptions (when provided) are vivid and entrancing, gathered in a somewhat confusing order to throw off the reader and any concluding thoughts they may have about this so-called twin and his gradual reign over Christian's character. It's cryptic, enthralling, horrific, fascinating, and never truly reveals its secrets - a great story, indeed.

Friday, March 21, 2008

My Grandfather's Son by Clarence Thomas

My Grandfather's Son
By Clarence Thomas

This memoir by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is the long awaited story of the life of a most remarkable man. The story of Clarence Thomas is the story of the American dream fulfilled - a young man who barely spoke English rises to one of the most important people in the nation.

His trajectory to importance began with his life lived with his Grandfather, who taught his strict work ethic and value system to Clarence and his brother. Life was not easy, but the stories that Justice Thomas shares speak of family and love and value.

This is an emotional and spiritual journey. Justice Thomas allows us a vision of a life well lived and the trials that go along with it. It also presents a very different view of the confirmation hearings than have ever been heard before.

Best of all, it is written like a magnificent novel - each page alive with the stories of people you would be honored to know.

This is a must read book!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Road of the Patriarch" by R.A. Salvatore

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast (July 10, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0786942770
ISBN-13: 978-0786942770

R.A. Salvatore concludes his serie „The Sellswords” in „Road of the Patriarch”. And I think that even though the outcome is good it could have been better.
Jarlaxle and Artemis Entreri continue their adventures in Bloodstone Lands that began in the previous novel of the serie, „Promise of the Witch-King”. After their contribution in the elimination of Witch-King’s remnants they found themselves in the grace of the king Garteh Dragonsbane. But their actions lead them to a very different position and situation. And in the end is all about the inner feelings and thoughts.
Overall I liked the novel, but I think is a little under the expectations I had after reading „Promise of the Witch-King”. The pace had slowed a little, but I think is because „Servant of the Shard” and „Promise of the Witch-King” has a lot more action and „Road of the Patriarch” considers more the inner feelings of the characters and the consequences of their actions. So all together is not such a bad thing.
I thought that the first part of the book was a excuse for the final part. After I had finished reading the novel I was more impressed by the end rather than the beginning. And I think of the beginning not as a follow of the previous novel, but as a introduction for the outcome of this one. And at a personal level I didn’t liked the Heroes of Bloodstone. I found them to good to be true, without flaws in their actions. And Riordan Parnell annoyed me with his interventions.
I prefered to start with what I think that are the weaker points of the novel, because I love the work of R.A. Salvatore and the things that I liked in „Road of the Patriarch” are many more than those I didn’t like.
As usual in the author’s works, the fighting scenes are great, imposing a sense of fluidity and speed. And even if some of the scenes go to a predictable point I couldn’t wait for the outcome because that was unpredictable. For example the scene when Olwen encounters Artemis Entreri.
I loved the amusing scenes, like that of the orc courier, and I loved that the author kept the humour of some dialogues. I liked Jarlaxle as character, I liked the turmoil of Artemis Entreri and I liked that R.A. Salvatore developed this characters, going in their past and introducing their history. And this is available also for the new character, Athrogate. And I loved that the author reintroduces the thoughts and feelings of Drizzt Do’Urden in beginning of each part of the novel. Those moments I enjoyed the most in the novels featuring the renegade drow elf.
In conclusion I have to say that I liked the novel, even though a little less than the previous two of the serie. I liked the end of „Road of the Patriarch” and I will recommend this read if only that is the sole good thing. But is not the only one so I give this novel 7,5 points out of 10.
Dark Wolf

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin

Mass Market Paperback: 864 pages
Publisher: Spectra (August 4, 1997)
ISBN-10: 0553573403
ISBN-13: 978-0553573404

The world of the literature would be far more poorer without George R.R. Martin. The author who was nominated and won the Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker and World Fantasy awards creates a novel „A Game of Thrones”, the first volume in „A Song of Ice and Fire”, that made me say only one thing: WOW.
„A Game of Thrones” describes a fantasy world, named the Seven Kingdoms, that resembles medieval Europe and the events that unfold in the novel are very much the same with those from that part of history. The novel has three storylines, not one like many others.
In the first storyline, Robert Baratheon, the king of Westeros after he claimed the crown in battle, visits his old friend, Eddard Stark in Winterfell. Robert asks his friend to become The King’s Hand, second in charge of the kingdom, after the mysterious death of the former Hand. So the Stark family, one of the most powerful in the land, is split up. After the return of the king in the capital city, named King’s Landing, starts a teribile fight for the throne that involves the Starks and Lannisters, the queen beeing a decender of the Lannisters.
The second storyline follows the events that occur at the northern border of the land, here lies the Wall, a construction that protects the country from the invasion of the mysterious creatures known as The Others. The story is centered on Jon Snow, bastard son of Eddard Stark, who is recruited in the Night’s Watch, the men who maintain and guard the Wall.
The third storyline is set on a continent east of Westeros where we find the Free Cities. Here had refuged Daeneys and Viserys Targaryen, the last known relatives of the previous king and they seek an army to help them retake the country and revenge the death of the king.
The author mixes brilliantly the three storylines so I was never in difficulty when I followed them. The intrigue is complex, surprising, following political conflicts, the struggle for power, betrayals and love stories, and the twists of the situations do the reading more pleasant. And even though the novel has many characters this fact doesn’t prevent me in savoring the read, because George R.R. Martin describes them very well, so well that you get attached to the characters. But here I have to warn you, because the author keeps the realism of life in his novel, the characters that we love can die as fast as those we don’t find very attractive.
I was thrilled about the fact that the author tells the story through different characters, so we benefit of different points of view about the same events, and this contributes to the atmosphere of the novel. And even though George R.R. Martin doesn’t create a entirely new world, in the true sense of fantasy, he comes with many new elements like The Others or the cycle of seasons, the winter can last a lifetime. At the end of my reading the author left me wishing more, with joy and sadness, and also with questions about the upcoming books in the serie. And if those are equal to „A Game of Thrones” I will be very happy.
The novel has some weak points, but this are very few and honestly I don’t want to recall them, so I will give the novel 10 points out of 10.
Dark Wolf

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"Promise of the Witch-King" by R.A. Salvatore

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast (September 12, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0786940735
ISBN-13: 978-0786940738

I fell in love with fantasy literature since I had started reading. In fantasy one of my favourite character is Drizzt Do’Urden, created by R.A. Salvatore. Through Drizzt Do’Urden I met Jarlaxle, a mercenary drow elf, and Artemis Entreri, an assassin, the arch-enemy of Drizzt, the main characters of „Promise of the Witch-King”.
In „Promise of the Witch-King”, the second novel of „The Sellswords” trilogy, Jarlaxle and Artemis arrive in Bloodstone Lands following their adventures in Calimport. Here they are hired by two dragon sisters, Ilnezhara and Tazmikella, to find some relics that belonged to the Witch-King Zhengyi. So, the two of them become part of a group of adventurers that goes in the town of Palishchuk to investigate a castle that appeared after such a relic is found and used. Inside the castle, and I will say this without spoiling your read, they will come across some very interesting moments.
The novel is basically a „dungeon crawl”, not my favourite type of story, because I think it’s predictable and limited. But R.A. Salvatore does an amazing job in „Promise of the Witch-King” and manages to keep me interested all the way to the finish. He creates an intrigue and some twists and turns that extends the limits of this dungeon crawl.
Even from the opening part of the novel, when Jarlaxle and Artemis Entreri explore a tower of a lich, the pace is quick, full of action and details, and it gets better in the next chapters. The fighting scenes are great, very well described, keeping the high standard as well as the others of this kind of the author. I enjoyed this scenes very much, like I enjoyed the humour of some dialogues, amusing and entertaining, like I enjoyed the funny sequences of the Kneebreakers, a band of halflings or the way Athrogate, a dwarf, talks using rhymes. I enjoyed Jarlaxle, a character that begins to develop and is not tipical in fantasy literature.
In this novel R.A. Salvatore introduces new characters, but I think they are a little underdeveloped. Also I wondered how and why Jarlaxle and Artemis Entreri found themselves in Bloodstone Lands, following the events in the first novel of the trilogy, „Servant of the Shard”. But this are minor issues considering the bigger picture, they can be easily overcome in the next novel. Adding that the author teases us with a small part of Jarlaxle’s past and that the cold and calculated assassin Artemis Entreri has an inner conflict and developes more human feelings I certainly will read with interest the third book of the trilogy, „Road of the Patriarch”.
„Promise of the Witch-King” offered me a very engaging and entertaining reading, and this novel confirms that R.A. Salvatore is one of the best fantasy writers (also I loved the cover art of Todd Lockwood). I highly recommend the novel to all fantasy lovers, but if you haven’t read the first novel, „Servant of the Shard”, it is better to start with that one, because it will help you get used to the two main characters and their actions. I give this novel 8 points out of 10.
Dark Wolf