Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blue Moon Rising by Simon R. Green

Blue Moon Rising is an awesome, fun book.

Blue Moon Rising (Darkwood)

The story begins with Rupert, the book's amazingly endearing hero, out on a quest to kill a dragon at the end of the darkwood. His noble steed is a unicorn. Hes out to be a hero. Until this point, most readers will think, 'Wow. Stupid cliche fantasy plot #901123'.' And then the world explodes. You get to know that the unicorn is an awesome guy with a biting sense of humor and without a smidge of respect for his owner. (In fact, the Rupert-Unicorn equation is quite similar to the Loiosh-Vlad relationship in Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos books, which are also some of my favourite fantasy books ever.) And the book goes on to kill another list of fantasy cliches. The dragon hoards butterflies instead of gold, the second son is sent on the quest to save the kingdom from financial trouble, and the finally rescued princess couldn't be more of a mess. And the fabulous fix-it-all magic swords: well, lets just put it this way, even the worst human in this book wouldn't hold on to them. If you're sick and tired of the regular fantasy mush that novelists seem to serve up - well, pick up Blue Moon Rising right now.

The good parts of this book don't require a lot of explanation. The plot is interesting and complex, the characters are really well-fleshed out (except for the main villians, the 'demons', and even among them the Demon Prince is someone I'd really like to read more about), the suspense is quite hard to guess, and honestly the inter-personal relations of the characters, especially with respect to the choices they all have to make under pressure in this book are beyond description. One has to read this book to accept the enormity of the decisions that these characters make. The kind of books and authors who manage to make this work are really rare, and this book definitely works.

Final thoughts: A fun, and yet at the same time really deep book on how heroes are sometimes made from the most unlikely situations. Definitely a must-read for anyone who has read a lot of fantasy (and its cliches) and almost anyone with a sense of humor.

Other thoughts: Unfortunately, I didn't have internet for nearly a week. In the meantime I've finished reading Julia Quinn's Brighter than the Sun, finished about a quarter of A Thousand Splendid Suns, and acquired some more books to read this diwali. Look forward for a lot of reviews.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New York: A Novel by Edward Rutherford

New York, by Edward Rutherford, was a phenomenally interesting book.

New York: The Novel

I guess one of the things that makes it so is that the basic premise of the story is so interesting. This book is a novel telling the story of New York, right from its conception to the 9/11 attacks that shook the city, and New York itself is such a fascinating topic that this book could not have been dull. However, the way the author handles the topic is superb. Rather than giving you a dry historical narrative, the author tells this story in the form of a novel by picking one major family, the Masters, and telling you the fortune of not only their family but also the various diverse families whose lives intertwine with those of the Masters. And the end result is definitely a masterpiece.

New York is a city full of many different cultures with their own complex histories, and I think the author tries and succeeds in showing a fairly human glimpse of many of the major cultures. One gets a feel of the big city and the people who make it what it is in this novel. And by showing you the points of view of many small people in the big web, and showing you how, knowingly or unknowingly, their lives meet, the author makes a narrative which is both interesting and enjoyable to read it. Certain objects, like the wampum belt (the inclusion of which made the book so much better) bind the entire narrative together (which I think works well in a novel of this scale, size and scope) and somehow the author manages to remain coherent even when many different storylines overlap.

All in all the book is really well-written. The characters are sometimes confusing (there are many people from the same family) but because the author writes each character so distinctly it isn't very hard to keep them straight in your head. And as each generation faces a new set of problems (and a new set of supporting characters) you are able to get a comprehensive view of a beautiful city - and its dirty underbelly.

Final thoughts: Beautifully written, well researched and extremely interesting. Definitely a must-read.

Other thoughts: As I suspected, all the books are ending now. I just finished Blue Moon Rising, too. Review tomorrow.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Prodigal Daughter by Jeffrey Archer

The Prodigal Daughter is my favourite Archer book.

The Prodigal Daughter

It is odd that of all the books I'm reading right now (I'm currently reading 4 at once, which explains the lack of book reviews here - and which also means I'm probably going to finish them all together and have a lot of reviews by the end of the month) the one I finished first was the one I'd already read. (I read it an awfully long time ago, though. It struck me while re-reading the book that there is a scene in the book where Florentyna, the main character, doesn't know what a virgin is - and when I read the book for the first time, I didn't really know what it meant either.) Anyway, I recently borrowed this book from the school library and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it even after so many years.

The Prodigal Daughter may be described as a sequel to Archer's wildly famous Kane and Abel, and is essentially the story of Florentyna Rosnovski - the daughter of Baron Abel Rosnovski of the original novel. Florentyna is an amazing character. She's intelligent, witty and kind - except when she rolls her fingers into a fist, which is when you have to watch out. And as it happens, she falls in love with one Richard Kane (son of William Kane in the original book) who just happens to be the son of her father's worst enemy. This book details everything that happens in her life - from her formative years to her years in college, to finally her affair with Richard and the subsequent drama that follows, and finally ends with her campaign to be the first female president of the united states of america.

The book, like every other Archer book, is extremely well-written. There is not a single dull moment, the dialogues are memorable, and the writing is very clean and masterful. The cast of characters is large (since this details the past and future of two families) but since each character is so unique (though not often very uniquely named) that is quite easy to keep them straight. Archer does not fall into the trap of having children with the exact characteristics of either parents and practically the same life, and therefore the book has a touch of realism that is really very useful. All in all, this book is masterfully plotted, the story is very interesting, and despite the large scale of the events the book is so delightfully human (and here the role of Florentyna as a character cannot be denied) that one cannot help but feel like the book is very human.

Final Thoughts: Excellently plotted, well-written, and with some of the most wonderful characters ever written - a book that no one should miss, though I recommend reading Archer's Kane and Abel first.

Other thoughts: Sorry for the long delay guys. But I'm almost through with New York, half-way through The Color of Magic, and also simultaneously reading some other books, so you can expect a lot of reviews in the near future. Until then, happy reading. :)

You Might Also Like

Related Posts with Thumbnails