Friday, 27 January 2017

The Sum of All Men .. By David Farland

Before I share my review on this book, that is the first of the series of The Runelords, let me introduce you all to the world that David Farland has created in this novel. 

It is another fantasy set in an ancient landscape where people have the power to borrow or seize a number of endowments, like brawn, beauty, eyesight, metabolism, wisdom etc. from other people. The recipients of these attributes would have enhanced abilities of the endowments. However, the giver will have diminished power of that attribute.

The synopsis of the story goes like this....

Gaborn Orden, the next King of Mystarria is headed to the kingdom of Heredon to ask the lovely Princess Iome for her hand in marriage. Castle Sylvarresta, however, is under attack by the evil Raj Ahten, the Runelord of all Runelords. With thousands of endowments taken from other men and women, he is invincible and takes over Castle Sylvarresta without a single drop of blood being shed. Gaborn, who is endowed with the Gift of the Earth and deemed to be the future king, can see through this ruthless man. Gaborn is destined to defeat Raj Ahten and the secret to doing that lies in the power of earth that he possess himself.

The good thing about this book is that it has a totally different concept about "Endowments" that have never been heard or used in any other novels before and the mystical characters and creatures are well created and unique.

However, to tell you the truth, I was reading this book to get it over with as soon as possible, as I had no idea before I started reading this book that it would turn out to be a total Drag. Throughout the read, I had to encourage myself to go on because it is not in my habit to leave a book unread.

This book is very bad in my view and I think is because it was very poorly executed and the protagonists had weak characterization and dialogues.

I am not going to read the other parts of this book for sure.

Very Disappointing read!!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Empire of the Moghul .. # 6 .. Traitors in the Shadows .. By Alex Rutherford

Here comes the sixth and the final book review of the Empire of the Moghul series. It showcases the life and events of the time of the sixth Moghul Emperor, Aurangzeb and his continuous struggle to capture and rein Deccan, where he put a strong foothold, but unfortunately, couldn't hold it long enough, with Chattrapati Shivaji's constant attacks on his territories.

As per the book, Aurangzeb was a very ruthless ruler and a political and religious conservative and he chose not to follow his predecessors' liberal religious viewpoints. He largely suppressed other religions and also banned alcoholism, gambling, music etc. and also imposed Jizya on non-Muslims. 

Aurangzeb also led a very unsatisfactory life and karma bit him like anything. After imprisoning his father, Shah Jahan, and seizing the throne for himself, he not only lost the support and love of his family, he also became an unrelenting father to his sons, who opposed him on his views and instead supported Shivaji's son, Sambhaji and tried to overthrow him.

The various monuments that he tried to build were also not as fascinating as his predecessors' had been. For instance, the mausoleum that he built for his late wife, Dilras Banu was a poor imitation of Taj Mahal, but is still standing at Aurangabad, known as Bibi Ka Maqbara.

I found this book not as absorbing as other books of this series. Compared to Rutherford's previous novels, this felt very mediocre and a half-hearted attempt to conclude the series. Aurangzeb, the last talked about Moghul Emperor has been judged very critically in this book and his many achievements been shrouded in history.

From here, I too am concluding my reviews on this very interesting series, The Empire of the Moghul, reading which I gathered a tremendous amount of knowledge on Timur and Ghengiz Khan's descendants and took a ride back in history through all six elite generations of Moghuls from snowy mountains of Ferghana, Uzbekistan to the dusty plateaus of mighty Hindustan. It was one hell of a journey!

In case you missed my previous review on the books of this series, please check out the below links -

Among these, The Tainted Throne is my personal favorite!

Happy Reading!!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Book Thief ... By Markus Zusak

Markus Zusak is an Australian writer and wrote this book in 2005. This book was acclaimed as a significant success among readers across the world and my opinion is not any different.

It is, in fact, a phenomenal read and is going to absorb your attention thoroughly. The first thing I would like to tell you is that the story is based on the period of World War II and the second interesting thing about it is that the narration of the story is given by "Death", who describes the anticipation of the wartime during which death and destruction is all one could think about. The last thing I would like to mention is, it is the story of a ten-year-old orphaned German girl named Liesel Meminger, who is adopted by a poor family during that period.

Liesel is a bright child and develops a passion for reading that her step-father, Hans constantly teaches and encourages her to do. In the midst of her destructive surroundings, her foster parents hide a Jewish man in the basement of their house, whom Liesel befriends and shares her stories with. She develops a habit of stealing books not only from the Mayor's house but also those that the Nazis are trying to destroy. The story continues with the description of the horrors that the country faced during the Nazi regime and how it takes a toll on Liesel's life and dreams. 

I absolutely loved this poignant novel with a unique story and eloquent narration that gives you the pleasures of reading English Literature. But for those who do not like reading fiction novels, especially the ones that is not fast-paced and easy-going and does not have a happy ending, I would recommend the movie by the same name because I believe that this story is worth reading or watching no matter what.

I would like to bring an end to my review on this book by quoting the profound words used by Death in this book that really provoked a great hatred for war in me, was - "I am haunted by humans".

Trust me when I say - This book is going to hit you like a Tsunami!

The Book Thief is available here. Please click on the link to read the e-book.

Happy Reading!!!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

A Storm of Swords # 3.. Game of Thrones .. By George R.R. Martin

This book is third in the sequence of A Song of Ice and Fire series of Game of Thrones and for those of who have not yet started reading or watching this awesome series, I would say, are missing out on an extremely fantastic experience. Not to mention, when the tale has gotten even more interesting after the end of the last book Clash of the Kings.

Let me mention the major pointers of the plot and display few shots of the Game Of Thrones television series to add a spice of interest for you readers and highlight significant differences in the book and television versions of the plot. 

Please be aware that there is a SURPRISE factor for those who have watched the series and not read the books!!! 

  • The story continues in the same pattern and picks up after the Battle of Blackwater Bay where Stannis Baratheon gets thwarted by the timely arrival of Tywin Lannister's forces into King's Landing. Davos Seaworth (Hand of Stannis Baratheon), blames the red priestess Melisandre, for Stannis's defeat and is imprisoned for this accusation. 

  • In King's Landing, King Joffrey sets aside his betrothal to Sansa Stark in favor of Margaery Tyrell. Sansa, however, is forced to marry Tyrion Lannister (The Dwarf) to enable Lannister's control of the North. However, Tyrion shows a gentlemanly behavior and refuses to consummate the marriage against her will and treats her with respect, unlike Joffrey.

  • Robb Stark marries Jayne Westerling, invalidating the promise to be wed to a daughter of Frey House and his mother Catelyn Stark releases Jamie Lannister in exchange for her daughters which she believes is still in captivity in King's Landing. She entrusts this job to Brienne of Tarth house to escort Jamie safely to King's Landing and to bring back her daughters.
  • When Lord Tully (Catelyn Stark's father) dies, her brother Edmure becomes the Lord of Riverrun and Catelyn proposes a marriage between Edmure and Roslin Frey, to compensate the loss of Robb's marriage.  

**According to TV version Robb Stark married Telisa, a nurse, traveling among his army during the battle against Lannister forces.
  • Arya Stark and her friends are captured by the Bolten forces and sent to Harrenhell from where she manages to escape with the help of Jaqen H'ghar (An Assassin of the Faceless Men from Braavos), who gives her a coin that will give her a free ship passage from Westeros to Braavos if she utters the word "Valar Margulis" to a Bravosi. After escaping she meets the Brotherhood Without Banners led by a Red Priest, Thoros of Myr and also encounters Sandor Clegane, the Hound, who abandoned Joffrey during the battle of Blackwater Bay and kidnaps Arya for ransom at Riverrun.
**In the television version, Arya serves Tywin Lannister as his ward, but in the book she serves Roose Bolten.

  • Now this book illustrates in detail the horrific and infamous Red Wedding incident where Walder Frey and Roose Bolton betrays the Stark family and kills each one of them (except Edmure and Blackfish Tully) during the wedding dinner.

  • Beyond the Wall, the Nightwatchers are attacked by the Whitewalkers. However, Samwell Tarly manages to kill one of them using a dragonglass and escape with the help of one of the Craster's wives, Gilly with her new-born baby, assisted by a strange man. ** Who I think is Benjen Stark (Not revealed in the book yet), brother of Eddard Stark and is believed to be dead beyond the wall. 
  • Bran Stark, Hodor, Jojen and Meera Reed are guided north by Bran's dreams of a three-eyed raven and Sam helps them pass the wall and keeps Bran's survival secret even from his half-brother Jon Snow.

  • Jon Snow convinces the wildling leader that he is a deserter of the Night's Watch in order to gain knowledge of their plans and climbs the wall with them and also falls in love with a wildling girl, Ygritte. However, he abandons her when he gets caught in a treason and rides back to Castle Black. The wildlings assault the Castle and the Wall; but Jon takes commands of the defenses and repels several assaults, during which Ygritte is slain.

  • Across the narrow sea, Daenerys Targaryen arrives in Pentos and asks the masters of the Slaver's Bay to buy an army of Unsullied (warrior-eunuchs) in exchange for one of her strongest dragons. However, after the final payment, she orders the Unsullied to turn on their former masters and frees all the slaves of Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen. However, later she banishes her trusted advisor, Jorah Mormont for betraying her secrets and whereabouts to Varys, while she rules Meereen, where she is known as Misha (the Mother - Breaker of the Chains).
  • In King's Landing, Joffrey is poisoned on the day of his wedding. Tyrion and Sansa are accused by Cersie for the murder and Tyrion is imprisoned and placed on trial, while Sansa escapes with the help of Lord Baelish (Littlefinger) to the Eyrie (her aunt's place).
  • Tyrion Lannister demands a trial by combat and Prince Oberyn Martell, who volunteers to combat against Cersie's champion, Sir Gregor Clegane (known as the Mountain), is mercilessly killed by Clegane during the combat and Tyrion is condemned to death. However, he is freed by Jamie and Varys. 
  • Tyrion kills his father, Tywin Lannister in revenge before fleeing Westeros.

Before concluding I would like to mention a very interesting fact from the book, that is not shown in the tele-series and is sure to create a lot of excitement for the fans beyond all possibility - Catelyn Stark is still alive!!

It turns out that she was mutilated after her death and thrown in the river, where the Brotherhood Without Banners, resurrected her by the magic of Lord of the Light. 
How exciting is that! 
However, she is decayed and mute now, because her throat was slit open when she was killed and she has become this cold lady who oversees the killing of two of the Freys present at the Red Wedding. She is now known as "Lady Stoneheart".

At the end of this book, Arya escapes from the wounded and dying Hound's captivity and finally aboard the ship to sail across the Narrow sea to the free city of Braavos.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please let me know your own views on this series in the comment section of this blog or on my facebook page. Will bring the next book of this series review soon. 

Till then keep watching this BlogSpace for more.

Happy Reading!!!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Naked Face .. By Sidney Sheldon

Let me present the very first novel of one of my favorite suspense thriller authors.

The book was released way back in 1970 and was later adapted as a movie in 1984. It is an awe-inspiring book with breathtaking twists in the plot and a page-turner mystery for sure, however, the ending could have been better as the crafting of the conclusion kind of drifted away after the suspense was revealed.

The story starts with the murder of a psychoanalyst, Dr. Judd Stevens' homosexual patient, followed by another horrific death of his clinic receptionist, leading to the realization that someone is actually trying to kill him. Two police agents, McGreavy and Frank Angeli treat him as a prime suspect, partly due to McGreavy's old personal grudge against Steven, because of his testimony in one of his previous cases that the suspect is mentally ill to go to jail. 

McGreavy does not believe that someone is trying very hard to kill Stevens and to prove his innocence to McGreavy and to gain the truth that he himself is not suffering from paranoid schizophrenia (Patient having delusions that someone are plotting to kill them), Stevens hire a private detective, who suggests him to closely study all his mental patients. This analysis leads to a psychological nail-biting thriller.

The most interesting part of the story is how a psychoanalyst's life gets entangled with and is affected by one of his patients and how he figures out which one.

I don't want to give away the ending, so I would conclude here and would suggest you all go and grab this enthralling novel written by the master of mystery.

Happy Reading!!!