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Archive for October, 2011

Mists of Avalon – A Mystical tale

October 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Mists of Avalon marks my initiation on the Arthurian Legends. King Arthur’s existence has not been proved; but a large body of work exists in relation to King Arthur and his companions.

Marion Bradley Zimmer took a different approach to retelling the story of Arthur – she approached it from the perspective of women around Arthur and managed to write an epic and complex story.  The book is written in rich detail and complexity of woman’s thoughts are laid bare – it does not have the simplicity that sometimes drives men’s actions but becomes an epic story of love, passion, conflicting loyalties and a fight to protect one’s own religious beliefs against someone else’s.

The people of Avalon believe in the Goddess and the priestess of Avalon works tirelessly to prevent the complete domination of Christianity with its belief in one god (Christ) and the subjugation of women. The main protaganist is Morgaine, Arthur’s sister and priestess of Avalon. She is up against Gwenhwyfer, Arthur’s wife who has unwavering faith in Christianity as preached by the priests. The story is about the politics behind this as both ladies try to influence Arthur to their needs. Within this overarching plot line, are deeply complex relationships of love that Gwenhyfer has for Lancelet, Arthur’s love for Lancelet and Morgaine’s relationships with various men.

It is a story as only a woman can tell. It does not have lot of action or battle scenes as one would expect from an Arthurian story; but it is a story so well told that you end up enjoying and savoring every page of this 800 page tome.

The author thru Morgaine puts up a lots of arguments against Christianity and its beliefs as were followed during the medieval times. The duplicity in Morgaine’s thinking however is that to prevent Christianity’s influence, she works politically and ruthlessly at times to increase Avalon’s influence on Britain’s throne. Spirituality is an intensely personal thing and sometimes these so-called well-meaning leaders of religious beliefs want to make it into a mass movement to have more people believe in their religion. Why cant they leave everyone alone and let each person delve within himself and live with answers that he hears.

Anyway, I am digressing here. If you havent read this book, go and grab a copy.

Rating: 4

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Categories: Uncategorized

The Ultimate Advice in Market Speculation

October 12, 2011 Leave a comment

If my children ever take to stock market speculation, there is only one book I would recommend they read – ‘Reminiscences of a Stock Operator’ by Edwin lefevre. There is one quote from this book I would like them to etch in their memory.

“The speculator’s chief enemies are always boring from within. It is inseperable from human nature to hope and to fear. In speculation when the market goes against you you hope that every day will be the last day – and you lose more money that you should had you not listened to hope – to the same ally that is so potent a success-bringer to empire builders and pioneers, big and little. And when the market goes your way you become fearful that the next day will take away your profit, and you get out – too soon. Fear keeps you from making as much money as you ought to. The successful trader has to fight these two deep-seated instincts. He has to reverse what you might call his natural impulses. Instead of hoping he must fear; instead of fearing he must hope. He must fear that his loss will develop into a much bigger loss, and hope that his profit may become a big profit. It is absolutely wrong to gamble in stock the way the average man does”.

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Burke Fan Club!

October 11, 2011 Leave a comment

I have mentioned before that James Lee Burke for me is the Hemingway of crime fiction and I maintain that. I need my monthly dose of Burke – picked up ‘Cadillac Jukebox’ from the Dave Robicheaux series.

I read his books not so much for the plot but his lyrical prose, hard-hitting dialogues and some of the most complex characters (Dave and Clete Purcel) in crime fiction. His plots tend to be very similar across books but they rarely affect you as one gets caught up in the pleasure of reading his prose.

If you have not read James Lee Burke, please do yourself a favour and start it – You will  not regret it. Authors like him what makes reading such an enjoyable and learing experience.

Rating: 5

The Fifth Woman

It has been a while since I read any crime fiction. Decided, it needs to be by an author I have not read before. Picked up ‘The Fifth Woman’ by Henning Mankell. This is part of the famous Kurt Wallender series.

This is a police procedural as Kurt and his team try to a series of gruesome murders. The investigation and the deduction is laid out in fair but of detail.

Without a doubt, it was a satisfying read. For me, that means the process of reading that book was enjoyable and there was no feeling of having wasted your time reading it. The thing that strikes you is Mankell’s style of writing. It is very pacy with short, stoccato sentences that keeps you going thru the long, ‘detail-oriented’ plot.

One grouse I have with this book is that oftentimes the author is driving Kurt’s deduction in the right direction and justifying it as Kurt’s instincts. That can make it jarring at times as it is difficult to make those deductions just based on pure evidence that has been presented in the book. I guess all crime fiction novelists have to take that liberty in their books – though it was openly evident in this one.

This did pique my interest enough to try other books in this series.

Ratings: 3.5

Categories: Crime Fiction

The Song of Fire and Ice

October 2, 2011 2 comments

The Song of Fire and Ice by George Martin is one of the most acclaimed fantasy series right on par with Lord of the Rings. Martin has published 5 books in this 7 book series.

I had read the first two novels a few years back and got drawn on to the third book (Storm of Swords) after watching Game of Thrones (First book of the series) series on HBO. I must say, this series is the best ‘plot-based’ fiction ever written. The scope is huge, the characters are complex and Martin is not averse to killing his central characters if the plot so demands.

These are books unlike anything else you would have read and are testimony to the genius that is George Martin. I finished Storm of Swords this weekend and am amazed at the way the plot has evolved. The imp, Tyrion Lannister is one of the greatest characters you will find in modern day fiction. Please take time to read this series.

This is definitely a ‘Series to read before you die’ category.

Rating:5

 

 

Categories: Fantasy