Books Reviews



Brian Lumley: Necroscope (Necroscope Trilogy, Volume 1)

 Posted by TG Mondalf (@)   Fiction (Historic, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Vampires)
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Feb 10 2004
cover
Author: Brian Lumley
Title: Necroscope (Necroscope Trilogy, Volume 1)
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Tor Books
Rated: *****

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Brian Lumley begins the Necroscope trilogy with introducing us to the two main units called E-Branches of the Russian and British militaries. The E’ in E-Branch stands for ESP as these organizations are studying various forms of Extra Sensory Powers to be used by the military as spy’ methods. The Necroscope is Harry Koegh, a typical guy with one main exception, he can commune with the dead and even learn skills from them. The story line follows a few different characters and begins with a narration being told by an entity which seems to be ghostlike to a man who is beginning to take charge of the British E-Branch. In the Russian E-Branch they have a man who can learn the secrets of the dead by ripping’ it from their corpse by force. This man is a necromancer by all accounts named Dragosani. Dragosani also has associations with a vampiric character whom he encountered in his youth. This vampire is very old but also very unique by all accounts of vampires. It seems to be parasitic in nature and is a creature which is more alien than anything. This introduction to the series gets the reader involved in the various plots of the ESP organizations and studies as well as the sub-plots of the characters involved. It is an original combination of conspiracies, vampires, and the supernatural. An interesting thing to me personally was the use of the Möbius Strip in the storyline. The Möbius Strip is a remarkable yet simple structure of a flat loop folded upon itself to create and endless path. This unique geometric shape is named after August Ferdinand Möbius, a nineteenth century German mathematician and astronomer, who was a pioneer in the field of topology. There are many amazing applications for this geometric shape in modern science and the author uses it to explain how to fold space and time. Such unique thinking is typical of Lumley. The author has some really great ideas that leave the reader to intensely curious that further reading is a must.

R.A. Salvatore: Attack of the Clones (Star Wars Episode II)

 Posted by TG Mondalf (@)   Fiction (Historic, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Vampires)
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Feb 10 2004
cover
Author: R.A. Salvatore
Title: Attack of the Clones (Star Wars Episode II)
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Del Ray
Rated: *****

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This book is of course based on the original story and film script by George Lucas. However it is written by R.A. Salvatore known primarily for his works involving Drizzt Do'Urden, a drow, in the Icewind Dale and The Dark Elf trilogies written for AD&D's Forgotten Realms. In this episode Anakin Skywalker remains under the tutelage of Obi Wan as they are summoned to become the body guards for Senator Padmé Amidala from Episode I who has recently had an assassination attempt on her life. The main psychological aspects involved in the story revolve around Anakin and Padme as they become young lovers. The unfortunate senario is that as Jedi Anakin is forbidden attachments such as these. One of the main differences in character as portrayed in writing as opposed to that portrayed in film of Anakin is that he is actually no more rebellious that Luke Skywalker, his son in episodes 4-6. In the film he was made to have a sinister aspect to his character, as we all know he eventually becomes known as the ominous Darth Vader, but this is not the case in the written form. He remains a hero with strong character and morals but who is oftentimes rebellious in that he thinks he can do things better than his teacher or other 'adult' characters in the story. In short, a typical teenager. Another main difference in the written form is that there is more depth to the realm and characters such as the library keeper which Obi Wan must see to gain information on the records of the 'lost planet'. It is mentioned that though she is a venerable old woman many people mistake her for being weak when in truth she is a powerful Jedi not to be fooled with, much like we later see with Yoda. In the story there is also a bit more depth involving the relationship between Jango and Boba Fett. Boba is the clone 'son' of Jango and probably the one thing in his world he actually cares about. There are scenes not in the film in which Jango is training Boba to learn warrior and trade skills of the bounty hunter. Other insight and missing scenes involve the relationship of Anakin's mother and family and how she is kidnapped by the Sandmen. Oddly it is Anakin's love for his mother that causes him such extreme hatred of her killers as he uses the force and Jedi skills to slaughter the entire encampment of them, men, women, and children. Sheer blind hatred because of the love of his mother. Nothing dark and evil - just simple revenge. Something any one of us would feel if our loved ones were taken from us. The story unfolds in which the Republic is failing under the rule of Palpatine (later known as The Emperor and very possibly Darth Sidious as well). The attack on Senator Amidala just before a crucial vote thrusts the Republic even closer to the edge of disaster. Masters Yoda and Mace Windu sense enormous unease. The dark side is growing, clouding the Jedi’s perception of the events. This culminates in an iminent attack by Count Dooku and the Trade Federation against the Republic. In their defense, and Obi Wans investigation, they discover an army of clones supposedly made for them by a Jedi who foresaw this event and is now long dead. These trooper clones are all made from Jango Fett and trained for combat. They come in and defend the Republic and create an interesting situation where for the first time we see troopers on the side of good. Another interesting aspect of this battle is the many Jedi armed with lightsabers fighting mech battledroids. I've never read any of the other Star Wars novels but I found that it was very interesting even though it did follow the movie script almost exactly. There is just enough extras and insight to give you a much better overall perspective of both the general situation of The Force, politics and individual personalities of the characters that simply is not possible in film.

Brenda Gates Smith: Secrets of the Ancient Goddess

 Posted by TG Mondalf (@)   Fiction (Historic, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Vampires)
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Feb 10 2004
cover
Author: Brenda Gates Smith
Title: Secrets of the Ancient Goddess
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Signet Book
Rated: *****

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As historical fiction, like many in the genre, this book I am sure has and will face severe criticism by those who feel it should be historically accurate since it is based on history at all. However, as fiction it is not required to follow history exact. Thus when certain aspects of the story such as general clothing and appearances may seem a bit romaticized those readers will become elitist and act as though the 'polish' is not warranted. However, I think any good storyteller will always polish over a story to keep the reader interested rather than repulsed especially when you are dealing with a history when in all accurate accounts the people were often very dirty and unkempt. With that aside I found this novel read like a very good fantasy novel with an exchange of magic for ancient cultic ritualism. The story takes place in pre-historic Turkey where cultures were still very tribal and ancient gods were worshipped. The main setting takes us to three main cultures in which two are goddess cults and the third is an ancient sun god cult. Brenda Gates does seem to have actually put some study into the history she writes about and current research highly suggests that matriarchal cultures did exist and were prevalent in ancient times. The story begins about a woman, Yana, who bears a child with a mild deformity and is thus exiled from her homeland in which she never truly felt a sense of belonging. Plaqued by the deceit and disrespect of others her story takes us through her personal life trials and tribulation until she eventually finds a place she can call home. Once she meets with those of a second tribe the story also leads us to follow a second character whom is abducted and forced to live a much harsher life to eventually come home. Basically this book is about descents into 'darkness', life trials, and returning. However, there is much interplay among gods and goddesses especially with the account of the second woman, Henne. I will not give away too much of the story as I think it would ruin it for anyone who wants to read this novel but I will say that what I thought would probably be a 'soft' fiction with undeveloped characters and weak storylines has pleasantly surprised me with the excellent story plots, intertwining of character relationships, and even some excellent representations of Goddess Spirituality perspectives. This book is very much about the 'little deaths' that we experience that make us stronger. While there is much that will obviously appeal to women due to the matriarchal perspectives and women's issues focus, I think this is also an excellent adventure novel that men will love and appreciate as well. There is even just enough spiritual insight in this book that you will want your kids to read it especially if you are raising them pagan. Brenda has done an excellent job with this debut release and I look forward to reading more of her works in the future.
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