Monday, 3 December 2012

The Black Company by Glen Cook || Book Review

Some feel the Lady, newly risen from centuries in thrall, stands between humankind and evil. Some feel she is evil itself. The hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must, burying their doubts with their dead. Until the prophesy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more. There must be a way for the Black Company to find her... So begins one of the greatest fantasy epics of our age—Glen Cook's Chronicles of the Black Company.

I had heard alot about the Black Company, it kind of has the status of a classic in fantasy literature andd with good reason.
As I started out reading the book, the first thing I noted was the names of the characters which were very reminiscent of Joe Abercrombie's books, the use of personality adjectives and nouns like Silent, Goblin,Darling etc as names.
Starting out the book underwhelmed me with talk of vampires and were-panthers, but as I went deeper the real and more deeper issues of soldierly camaraderie and brotherhood started coming to the forefront. The prose is excellent, and is worth of the tag literature, the writing may have been better than a number of books being published nowadays, Cook's vocabulary is vast and he uses it to his advantage. There were quite a number of catchy lines.
The characterization is impeccable, each of the characters feels like a real person of flesh and blood, with his own fears and hopes.
The relationship between the two wizards One-eye and Goblin is one of the more interesting ones, with their constant bickering and show of animosity which isn't quite as deep rooted as the two would like to show.
The philosophy of evil as being a relative term and depending on where one stands is analysed.
There is much of military tactics and stratagems alongside a few assassinations. The magic is also a constant factor though it isn't the most interesting part of the book, because it takes its presence as granted and there is no explanation or root of its origin and nature.
The book was published a very long-time ago and so must be excused a few weaknesses.
Overall the book was a very worthwhile expenditure of time, totally engrossing and enjoyable.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Mark of Athena

Book Review by Elvenarya abd Obsidian Fury
Annabeth is terrified. Just when she's about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo's fantastical creation doesn't appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that's only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: 
Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close—the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth's biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he's now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Narrated by four different demigods, 
The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II
, if you dare....
Epicness unleashed... not without its share of awesomeness courtesy of my favourite characters in the world Rick Riordan has crafted.

Percy - just as cool as a son of Poseidon could get.
Nico - stays for a far lesser time than I would've liked, but I'm not complaining.
A new surprise entry into my Favourite list - Leo Valdez... I'll just say he's some hot stuff, not a bad boy yet but too good for himself. ;)

The rest... 

Hazel and Frank tie up somewhere in the middle tier of the Seven Demigod List...
Someone, unsurprisingly, has taken the official bottom list.

So Mark of Athena: full of expected and yet unexpected surprises, new gods... new maniacal, obsessive gods... or not. 

Overall, though I was really tempted to give it FIVE stars, I had to remind myself the reason as to why I can't, and it did the trick. Some fans are in for a boring surprise.
 This time, the Percy 1st-person POV, I sorely missed. 

I guess pretty much large part of this amazing book is quotable - more or less revolving around Leo Valdez - Hot stuff...
Oh, and these demigods have added, yet again, a ship/tank/Argo II/'colossal-worth of adventures and run-ins with enemies... and some friends. And where there aren't much enemies... they make 'em. =D

It's action-packed. 
It's thrilling.
It's a tornado-whirling, sea-crashing, fire-breathing, transforming ride.
With a crazy goat bent on singing Old Mc Donald 
(with weapons in place of animals. Naturally!)  things will never be the same after this trip's over.

The infectious humour and the sweet, sweet absurdity, a much-loved of this awesome teen writer's writes, left me rolling my eyes and grinning like Coach Hedge when he's allowed to fire 'em ballistae. 

And the narrations... Oh WOW! Of course, the narrations belonging to two of my Favourite characters only of course. Read to find out.
 The mini plots were amazing as always with the encounter with Echo and Narcissus and the fight in the hypogeum leaving me laughing and fearing for the heroes’ life simultaneously (the later not so much in the former's case).
Brilliant setting, snappy dialogues and the depth of emotion in the characters won my heart enough to make me ignore the few dragging flat parts in the book(something I never came across in the Percy Jackson Series). This series is definitely darker than its predecessor, the threat more real and the team's fears and challenges dogging their footsteps all the way. Its hard to see all have them making their way through unscathed. That, coupled 
with the cliff-hanger ending- makes me await The House of Hades with great anticipation.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Numbers#2(The Chaos)

Review and Character Synopsis by Maira Salman.
Adam sees “numbers” – when he looks in peoples’ eyes he can see their death-dates, just like his mum Jem used to. Adam has trouble dealing with his awful gift, and when he realizes that everyone around him has the same series of numbers, he becomes deeply afraid of what might happen in 2025. Desperate to find out what could be about to go wrong, Adam spends hours researching possibilities – war, nuclear accidents, killer viruses. He knows something big is coming, but what? And is there anything he can possibly do about it?

With its rich plot, suspense filled scenes and fast pace Numbers#2(The Chaos) astounded me. Rachel Ward's beautiful masterpiece was so engrossing that I had to finish it in one go. The main characters Adam, Sarah and Nelson were very well developed.

Adam was one of my favorite characters as he was willing to risk his life to protect innocent people. His ability to see peoples death dates made him realize there was going to be a massive massacre on New Year's Eve and he is desperate to save them. There are many hurdles and obstacles but he manages to overcome them albeit not without sacrifices.

Sarah has the ability to see how a certain person will die. She sees an alarming vision and remains fearful of its consequences the entire book. Although I did not like this character she was definitely brave as she left her house as a penniless vagrant to do something that had to be done.

Nelson was a true hero and also my favorite character. He is a computer geek and is consulted for help by Adam when he finds that there is going to be massive destruction soon. He takes practical steps and stands up to the police to order to save innocent people.

This book was very entertaining and interesting. However I had some issues with it.

Firstly the vocabulary and writing style had room for improvement and could have been much better. The book needed more descriptions to make it REALLY good as the setting was rather uni-dimensional and I would really have loved to read in more detail. In my opinion there were too few characters to make a prominent impression. Oh and there should be a more important role allotted for Nelson as his contributions and sacrifices were more than either Adam or Sarah.

But these are just a few misgivings I had about this book. Otherwise it is one of the best books I have ever read and I simply can't wait to devour the next books of this series. Rachel Ward has done a truly brilliant job with Numbers#2(The Chaos).

Monday, 26 November 2012

BlackVeil (green rider#4)

Review and character synopsis by Obsidian Fury.

The long-awaited sequel to Green Rider, First Rider's Call, and The High King's Tomb

Once a simple student, Karigan G'ladheon finds herself in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand when she becomes a legendary Green Rider-one of the magical messengers of the king. Forced by magic to accept a dangerous fate she would never have chosen, headstrong Karigan has become completely devoted to the king and her fellow Riders.

But now, an insurrection led by dark magicians threatens to break the boundaries of ancient, evil Blackveil Forest-releasing powerful dark magics that have been shut away for a millennium.
Ahhh. Frankly speaking, I honestly didn't really enjoy Blackveil as much as the 2nd, or the first for that matter.
All that really gripped me, that intrigued me, was usual, and then the elite Eletions, with their 'mystery and history', I made some favorites among them (ok it was only one). The most incredible and Green Rider-ish part was the journey... in Blackveil. Simply Superb. Well-wrought and well, well use of running pinpricks of fear down my spine (or maybe it was because I was devouring the book well after midnight.) 
Anyway, Weapons... O yea! One word for them... COOL! With their air of 'coolness' and the elegant yet deadly power they exude.
Well.. for now, that's all I can say... Go Karigan. Go Eletions! Go Weapons. Oh and Go Beryl! And the Riders... wow. How could I forget =P
Boo to the rest.

P.S: This book seriously changes the way i felt about the characters. 

Estora: Well, from the 2nd book I loathed her and book by book the feeling intensified until it was clear she's a SISSY NINNY! yuck.

Zachary: Well, I admired him for his 'people first' rule in his rule but well, in the end for some reason (I have no idea what) but when the second assassination attempt occured, I really hoped that he was done with it that time. Annihilated. Dead! My bad for such a far-fetched hope. AH!

Alton: In the previous book I really sympathized with, really pitied him for his sufferings and frustrations for the 'I gotta fix the Wall. It's my heritage' thing. But here... again for 'some' reason I officially now place him under the 'loser' category. Way to go Kirsten.

Another thing... Blackveil's the only interesting worth item in the book (and some other endeavors... all Karigan's again). Conclusively, Kirsten's ONLY credit is for some of her characters who're simply AWESOME! Like Arms Master Drent... yay! Oh! ANd the whole moonstone thing. I want a Moonstone!

That's all=D
A waste of 'time' perhaps like the paradoxes this story revolves around... 
Oh and the killer ending the author's been so lavish in providing DESCRIPTIONS about... the paiiinnn! I mean I Am not gonna waste four to who-knows-how-many years of my life waiting for the next book :(
From what I've heard of the Rider Series each book takes about 3-4 years? Seriously? In that case I consider myself VERY lucky for I got the 'honor' to gulp these within a year =P 

Not the Best of them to come. Albeit the snatches of humor and some of the mystery was extremely satisfying

Friday, 23 November 2012

Short Takes

"Inheritance" or "The Vault of Souls", the final book in the Inheritance cycle by Christopher Paolini has received rather mixed reviews. Undoubtedly Christopher Paolini has a knack for forcefully dragging a plot to its fullest extent but their also is a charm in his writing which keeps readers interested despite their will. A few questions  plagued me post reading and it seemed that the author had not given enough effort in satisfying the reader. It was very odd and intriguing the way Galbatorix and Shurikan were defeated without apparent effort or  how an  army consisting of urgals, kulls, dwarves, elves, were-cats and humans struggled to defeat an army of purely humans. These 850 pages would have been better portrayed in half this size as none of us wished to hear how Eragon spent a night healing a child with a cleft lip, an event to which an entire chapter was donated to, or how well-kept the king's jailer's nails were. Despite all my rants, the book was an enjoyable read, though  immensely slow paced.

The Devil You Know (Felix Castor 1) reviewed by Fantasist.
I found this book very disappointing. I have read a number of dresden file books and simply adore them. So it was a shock to find this(also urban fantasy)so drab.
For one the protagonist doesn't have anything to work with. He's supposed to be combating demons and all other sorts of nasties with a tin whistle- yeah that's right- how ummmmm lame.
If that weren't enough the book just kept dragging trying to build a mystery that in the end just doesn't make it worth you while to have kept reading.
The author has a very entertaining writing style that's what makes it even more sad, because the book could have been so much more had the author focused on a little more action and a little less conversation especially of the boring nature. 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Emperor of Nihon Ja

The adventure continues in the tenth instalment of the best-selling series 
When Horace travels to the exotic land of Nihon- Ja, it isn't long before he finds himself pulled into a battle that is not his - but one he knows in his heart he must wage. A kingdom teeters on the edge of chaos when the Nihon-Ja emperor, a defender of the common man, is forcibly overthrown, and only Horace, Will, and his Araluen companions can restore the emperor to the throne. Victory lies in the hands of an inexperienced group of fighters, and it's anybody's guess who will make the journey home to Araluen.

The Emperor of Nihon-Ja (Ranger's Apprentice, #10)

Why do John Flanagan's books keep getting awesome-er and awesome-er than the last?

Doesn't matter

Cause they're freaking AWESOME!! That's why!

The characters totally well-developed, the descriptions not too sketchy yet not too light, a Wolfwind *wink* of action and suspense, The Emperor of Nihon-Ja fulfilled all my expectations....

The banters. The banters. The banters. For those of whom who enjoy the quirky banters between the Araluens, be warned; They're back and fluttering and devouring-worthy indeed.
*Another smug smile - you'll have to devour this work first to get the meaning of that enigmatic sentence.
Starting on the real review.
This book is set in Nihon-Ja (think of olden times Japan . To study the different styles of sword mastery Horace visits the country but gets stuck in the country's politics as a Senshi(warrior)Clan rises against the king. Horace bound by love and sense of loyalty for the king decides to stay on and help the rightful Emperor and his handful of Senshi warriors reclaim the throne.
On the other hand Will, Halt, Alyss and Selethen (the Arridi Wakir from book 7) are told of Horace's disappearance by Princess Casandra who joins them disguised as her alter-ago Evanlyn. they hire a Skandian crew to travel to Nihon-Ja where they meet a supporter of the Emperor and trek up the mountains to where a tribe loyal to the king. they are strong in number but one problem--because of the social caste system these Kiori have never weld weapons and now the enemy stands at the gates of their hide-away.........
while not the best book of the whole series it was still pretty good as it had all the factors that made me enjoy this series. it had adventure , a good plot which was well executed , humor, the good-natured bickering between Halt, Horace and Will and above all an epic decisive battle.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Pick of the Week

One Man.
35 Years.
100,000 toothpicks.
An amazing kinetic structure of San Francisco.
One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco wood toothpicks sculpture San Francisco multiples

One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco wood toothpicks sculpture San Francisco multiples

One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco wood toothpicks sculpture San Francisco multiples

One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco wood toothpicks sculpture San Francisco multiples

One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco wood toothpicks sculpture San Francisco multiples

One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco wood toothpicks sculpture San Francisco multiples

One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco wood toothpicks sculpture San Francisco multiples
Fascinated? See how  pingpong balls travel through the whole of this amazing city at

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Short Takes

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne.
A book needs a plot, a climax and an ending.
This unfortunately had none of the above.
Unless you count 14 kids stuck in a store while the world outside is ravaged by "hail that was not the size of hail" and a gas cloud (that turned some people berserk, or have hallucinations or come out in boils) as a plot. The characters were very uni-dimensional and the only even slightly likeable character was Max, a kid whose age hasn't even been mentioned. Mediocre writing coupled with badly dealt emotional scenes was all there was to read. 
Actually come to think about it, 1 star.

The Year of Our War by Steph Swainston.
This book features some terrific prose. The writing is honed to a level rarely displayed in debut novels. Features a unique idea, and a very well developed protagonist. Miss Swainston offers some very interesting insights into the mentality of a junkie. Although there is an inherent flaw to her unique idea of having giant insects as the enemy; they aren't all that interesting and they can't have a point of view either.
I Liked this one considerably apart from the weird secondary world. I have a problem with weirdness when it stretches the limit of believe-ability, when my brain starts viewing fictional content in terms of toonish animation rather than the visually crisp dream-like experience, I rely on fantasy to deliver.
Don't get me wrong I love animation but things like three human heads on top of a rat's body or a creature with a hand in-place of a head that communicates through sign language may be delightful for some people but just doesn't work for me.(Not that any of these things actually appeared in the book, this is just an example of why I don't love Mieville-ish or new-weird aspects.)

Overall, though this is a very fine piece of fiction which I must admit in-spite of my reservations due to the secondary world weirdness. 

4 stars with reservations.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Alchemyst (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #1)

He holds the secret that can end the world.

The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life.

The records show that he died in 1418.

But his tomb is empty.

The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects—the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won't know what's happening until it's too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it.

Sometimes legends are true.

And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.

This book came as a pretty pleasant surprise since none of the reviews I had read had prepared me for the book. A mix of all mythology and legendary stories, Michael Scott makes you pick up the book by appealing to an alchemist. Yes the very one who can turn metal to gold and can brew the Elixir of Life. DO NOT try to think of him as from Paulo Coelho's master piece. Nicolas Flamel is of a more...magical? type.

 The protagonists, twins :Sophie and Josh , however do not fit the bill in any way. They just love each other a little too much, their parents seem to care about them a little too less and they are simply not engaging or enchanting characters.

Take Josh. he is impulsive , suspicious and has little control over his tongue. Sophie's thought process runs the same way as her brother but she hardly ever does any thing at all. Here ends the depth of characters, constantly their love for each other is mentioned and that they have learnt to depend on each other. Other than that there is a hardly any great show of faith in each other and they hardly display any emotions. Only Josh's emotions are shown and those too only revolve around anger, mistrust and later jealousy.

But here end all my misgivings about the book. the idea behind the book is pretty awesome as it must have been difficult combining so many myths, tales,legends and folk stories together. 

Dr. John Dee, the villain, is one of the most powerful, cunning and devious ones that I have come across in a long time. He is a different sort all together, convincing me that it will be hard to defeat him especially since he possess Excalibur and immense magical abilities without seemingly exhausting his aura at all.

Overall Analysis:
Despite all my misgivings, the idea behind the book is pretty awesome as it must have been difficult combining so many myths, tales,legends and folk stories together. Fast-paced and action packed, Michael Scott's masterpiece  grips the reader like never before.

Buy the book from: ||

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius—and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn't know what he's taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren't the fairies of bedtime stories—they're dangerous! Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl is a riveting, magical adventure.

I had come across "Artemis Fowl" many times before actually reading the book itself. After just flicking through the pages of the book a few times I simply deduced it was a waste of time and hardly deserved any attention. About two years later I was reminded of these books by my sister who is an avid fan of this series. Deciding to give it another chance I started reading it yet again though not with much enthusiasm. I found (not for the first time) that my judgement now is much different than it was some years ago.

Artemis Fowl is 12-year old criminal mastermind who has bamboozled even the cleverest of psychiatrists  He is wholly determined to restore his family fortunes which have been greatly depleted since his father(Artemis Fowl Senior) went missing. Nonetheless even Artemis doesn't know the consequences of his plan which can easily cause an inter-species war. However when he captures Captain Holly Short a member of the 'Fairy People' he finds out that he isn't the only one with brains............

Artemis Fowl is shown to be a intelligent boy who has no care for anyone else except himself. However as the story unwraps we find out that he does care a lot about his mother and even Butler. Although he is obsessed with making money he is shown to think that family came before it. Unlike most people he doesn't believe that his father is dead and he waits eagerly for the day his dad will return.

Butler is Artemis's man-servant and is an expert in all sort of fighting skills. Like all Butlers he was trained to be a body-guard for the Fowls since the age of 10. Although he is shown to be devoid of emotion he does care about Artemis and has learned not to show any surprise at Artemis's wild schemes. In Artemis's own words:
"Butler here, my ...ah...butler, has a Sig Saucer in his shoulder holster, two shrike-throwing knives in his boots, aderringer two-shot up his sleeve, garrotte wire in his watch, and three stun grenades concealed in various pockets. --Butler could kill you a hundred different ways without use of his armoury. Though I'm sure one would be quite sufficient."
Juliet is Butler's sister and a sort of maid for Artemis. Although she plays a minor part in the story she has a very engaging personality. Unlike Butler she is not used to Artemis's ways and usually does not believe what he says.

Angeline Fowl is Artemis's mother. After the disappearance of her husband she suffered a severe mental shock which caused her to start living in her own fantasy world. Artemis loves her a lot and is always hurt when she doesn't even recognise him.

Captain Holly Short is the fairy Artemis manages to kidnap. Forced by the law to obey his instructions (because she was in his house) she is restricted from leaving her room. However the LEP police officer cleverly manages to escape. She has a sarcastic but kind personality. She even helps Butler and Artemis's mom despite the fact that Artemis kidnapped her.

Julius Root is the head of the LEP Recon squad (the one which Holly belongs to). Often he is hard on Holly because she is the first female Recon officer and is a test case to see if more female faries can join. He cares a lot about Holly and goes through a lot of trouble to try to rescue her.

Foaly is a centaur in LEP Re-con who surpasses average intelligence. He enjoys antagonizing Root and is the only one who can get away with it. He has a secure position in Re-con because no one has more knowledge about technology then him. He is slightly paranoid and believes that human intelligence agencies are everywhere even in the Lower Elements. He wears a tin-foil hat to stop them from reading his mind but come on! a genius has a right to be slightly paranoid, doesn't he?

Mulch Diggums is a kleptomaniac dwarf who soon got tired of mining in his early life. He resolved to use his talents for another purpose namely digging and entering the human's land. Of course he had to give up his magic for this but he was ready for the consequences. His other 'talents' include dwarf gas and I am so grossed out about it that I'd rather not mention what it does. He was sent by the LEP to try and rescue Holly from Artemis's clutches.

This was a really great book, an awesome start to any series. Eoin Colfer has done a great job specially in developing the characters. Once you have started to read it you simply cannot stop reading it. The plot was great and even without it the story would still have been an enjoyable read. After the end of the book you still crave for more.Its lucky that there are sequels otherwise I would want to murder the author. Its a book you should read in one go because gaps between the book cause it to loosen its grasp on you.

Buy the book from: ||
Book Depository || Indiebound

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