Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Reading I've done over the holidays.

I read quite a few books over the holidays so I've elected to offer a brief collection of my thoughts on each book.

John Stewart's "America" - Stewart is of Daily Show fame and admittedly that occasionally tilts a bit far to the left. However, for the most part he is a rather entertaining comedian. His books is a satirical look at the American system of governance with forays into the history of democracy, America and a "travel guide" of the world as it were. Occasionally the humor is a bit forced and crass, however, there are a number of comedic gems within the book which provoked fits of laughter. Some of the titles to chapters are even amusing such as "1,000 years of history casually glossed over in 5 pages". This book is light hearted witty and definately worth reading.

Bernard Cornwall 's Grail Triology - Harlequin, Vegabond and Heritic. Yes, I got all three of these books for Christmas. I'm an unappologetic Cornwall booster. He simply has a gift for story telling which combines itself with meticulous historical research to proffer some of the most thriller historical fiction out there. The Grail Triology seems to be the midway point between his Arthur Triology and the Sharpe Series. In the Grail triology Thomas of Hookton is the central character who is something of a likeable rogue, and a longbowman. Yes, it tempting to see the character as Sharpe gone medieval but their are substantial differences Thomas is definately a not quite as rough around the edges as Sharpe and can speak Latin and French to boot. The plot focuses on a chase after the grail through France and England. Cornwall has his magical touch with describing battles which is in full flower. However, I rather figured out where he was going with the plot mid-way through the second book. Here's a hint remember the scene from Indian Jones and the Quest for the Holy Grail where the old knight says "He chose poorly", once you think of that the rest of the plot can essentially be mailed in.

Dan Brown's The Devinci Code - This seems to have been a continuation of my holiday's "Grailmania". Brown offers a rather thrilling page turner. The story is full of mystery and suspense and I would have read it in a single sitting save for the unfortunate need to sleep before an early morning class. Brown offers a rather unusual interpretation of the legend of the Holy Grail and he would likely offend some readers with some of the premises of his novel given that they offer a less than flattering interpretation of early Christianity and its inception. The novel is ripe with excellent historical research and conspiracy theory, which makes it quite an intreguing read.

Robert Jordan's Further Chronicles of Conan - Let it never be said Robert Jordan isn't a good capitalist. No one loves to pull out old material and republish it to cash in on his more recent celebrity than Robert Jordan, in recycling he's outdown only perhaps by the magic of the "Disney Vault." Now, this isn't a criticism of Jordan's writing I count him as one of my favourite authors. I've read his historical fiction which he republished the Fallon Blood, Fallon Price and Fallon Legacy and they were all splendid novels. The Wheel of Time novels however, are Jordan's claim to fame and his masterpiece. In the three Conan novels that Jordan has published as a compilation he's offering up a cold beer in comparison to the fine wine of the Wheel of Time. It lacks the detail, depth and subtlities but on the whole it remains completely entertaining and satisfying.

I've always had something of a soft spot for reading Conan novels, after all their is something appealing about living vicariously through a blood thirsty savage with a strong arm, a lusty eye, ambition, pride and his own code of honour. The three novels take us through the different stages of the Conan novels thief, pirate and mercenary which is a rather colourful resume to say the least. The second novel is the rather loose basis for the movie Conan the Destroyer - and how many fictious characters can say they launched the a political career. (I can still hear Arnold muttering "Crom..give me vengence or the hell with you", and Arnold I'd love to hear that in a political campaign...no I'm serious!)

Back to the mundane world of law text books...huzzah...


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