Well, I'm finally done this one! It took a little longer than normal. Being sick doesn't help either. I rarely get sick but when I do ,its bad.
I thoroughly enjoyed Ken Follett's epics, Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. Though they are ridiculously long, the pages flew, so I was eager to read and review Follett's latest epic, Fall of Giants which promises to be the first in The Century Trilogy.
The thing is 1000 pages long and 4 inches thick, but when you've got an expert storyteller weaving an enthralling tale, you never want it to end anyway. I became so engrossed that I couldn't fall as sleep after a few chapters as per my usual routine. What is it that makes Follett so consistently readable? In Fall of Giants it's because the book is so well researched ( the period is early 20th century especially WWI) with information on coal mining, trade unions, women's suffrage, protocols and manners of the minor royalty, politics, government, revolution and war. The story flows from this rich period but the riveting characters are at the forefront. Even the largely unsympathetic characters, such as the Earl, are made at least understandable because Follett thoughtfully portrays their motivations. There are few if any completely good or evil characters here, as it should be. (Though Follett seems none too fond of Russians and priests - be they Catholic, Anglican or Orthodox!)
In the past, I have criticized authors that I believe would benefit from more editing (e.g., Steven King, John Irving) so why don't I find Follett's book to be too long? Because there are no slow spots, no political point pushing, and no self-indulgent purple prose. As I mentioned, this book is part of a trilogy, but it is very much a stand alone novel which makes it all the more satisfying to read. Gotta give Ken a thumbs up on this one. Maybe it will be a TV series like Pillars some day!
A lot of the books in my library are quite old. A good friend of mine in London England gave me this one years ago and despite this, we are still friends. I've recently re-read it because, since my trip to Germany, I've descovered a taste for Deutsch Kultur. This is by Friedrich Nietzsche, published in German between 1883 and 1885 and was the masterpiece of his career. It received little attention during his lifetime but its influence since his death has been considerable, in the arts as well as philosophy. Written in the form of a prose narrative, Thus Spake Zarathustra offers the philosophy of its author through the voice of Zarathustra (based on the Persian prophet Zoroaster) who, after years of meditation, has come down from a mountain to offer his wisdom to the world. It is this work in which Nietzsche made his famous (and much misconstrued) statement that "God is dead" and in which he presented some of the most influential and well-known (and likewise misunderstood) ideas of his philosophy, including those of the Ubermensch ("overman" or "superman") and the "will to power." Though this is essentially a work of philosophy, it is also a masterpiece of literature. The book is a combination of prose and poetry, and is a little hard to grasp at times but its well worth the effort. Anyway its an essential read for anyone who has a love for philosophy, and there is no down thumbing Nietzsche...so enjoy!
This has been gathering dust on my shelf for some time now, but I finally got around to reading this thing and I must say, its not a bad read. Of course, Brown is not the first to use the secret brotherhood of the Freemasons as a focal point for an adventure story. Its hard not to compare The Lost Symbol to National Treasure. So the idea is a little tired but still, there is plenty of Mason folklore to go around, and The Lost Symbol does a fine job of creating another mystery in the U.S. capital.
So what did I not like about this book? First, Brown does not create anything new -- no new character development, no big surprises in plot trajectory. Furthermore, his signature twists are not nearly as tantalizing as in his previous books. There are several points when it seems as if Brown is trying to make his book more intelligent or profound than it actually is. Langdon's rants about religion and truth, when not directly tied to the mystery, are tedious and even a little preachy. In fact, the last 50 pages of the book try a little too hard to be enlightening. But whatever...the guy already has two block buster hits...give him a break.
I do have to say that reading Langdon with Tom Hanks in mind does change the over all feeling of the whole thing. I read the other two before the movie came out. Tom Hanks makes everything better. Also there are a few interesting facts presented throughout the book and Brown is still great at description. You do feel like you are right there.
Over all, I think its still worth checking out as long as you're not hoping for another hit like the Da Vinci Code. Besides If you're planning a trip to Washington D.C. in the next year, this would be a fun read to accompany your tour. Thumbs up on this one too. Enjoy.
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So I know my website hasn't officially launched as yet, but I figured I'd do a quick review on one of my favourite picks from my library.
What greater story is there than the story of evolution? This latest addition to the Dawkins collection is his summary of the overwhelming amount of scientific evidence supporting evolution. Palaeontology, embryology, anatomy, genetics, artificial breeding and geography are all grist to his evolutionary mill. Dawkins demonstrates once again his consummate skill as a teacher, making the vast subject that is evolution available to everyone. His analogies actually do cast light on the things he wants to explain. (Creationists seem to find this extraordinarily difficult). Those who have already climbed Mount Improbable with him or contemplated the blind watchmaker will not be disappointed, as he ties things in nicely with his previous works.
Whether it be the obviously impractical detour taken by the laryngeal nerve in mammals, the convergence between the wings of bats and extinct pterodactyls, the discovery of a whole gallery of human ape fossil "links", the deciphering of the human genome or the development of the human embryo – the topics are all laid out with that combination of clarity and verve that is Dawkins's hallmark, and pursued to his customary conclusion: "There is no architects's plan, no architect."
I cant recoment this one enough! I hope you enjoy it, and appreciate any feed back!