Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tales of The Beedle Bard By J.K. Rowling

This latest effort by the author of the Harry Potter series is a tiny book of children’s stories written by and for Wizards and their children.

A collection of five delightful fairy tales of magic and magicians translated by Hermione Granger with comments by Albus Percival Wolfric Brian Dumbledorf . There are also foot notes by J. K. Rowling that serve to explain some of the Wizarding terms and actions to Muggle readers.

Dumbledorf’s comments serve to shed light on the long time relationship between Muggles and Wizards, their tentative truce and how the Wizard world will sometimes help the Muggles in spite of how badly they have been treated over the years. He has comments for each story.

A Lion Among Men By Gregory Maguire

This is the third book of Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked Series”. A delightful adventure in Maguire’s land of Oz where we, originally, met Elphaba Thorp the Wicked Witch of the West. This is the story of the cowardly lion who was protected by Elphaba when he was just a cub “hardly more than a kitten….I had thought to call it Prrr but it shivers mor often than it Purrs so I call it Brrr instead”. Brrr went into the world of Gillikin in the great forest where he wisely decided that it is better to run away than fight forest the creatures. He made his way to Oz where The Emperor (who succeeded the Sacrecrow) was making a mess of things. It is time for a change and there are rumors that the “Ozma” of OZ who was kidnapped as a child and presumed dead may still be alive and may claim the throne. Brrr has some knowledge relating to this.
I found the story fun and interesting; I have read all of the “Oz” stories including Frank Baum’s book about the return of “The Ozma” so I found it intriguing how well Gregory Maguire manages to fit all these characters into kind of dark and very imaginative but familiar world he has created.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Harry, A History By Melissa Anelli

Ms Anelli is the webmaster of the Leaky Cauldren, a popular Harry Potter internet site. Starting with a forward J.K. Rowling, we follow the Harry Potter phenomenon as fans, book sellers, Potter clubs, the author and publishers react to the intriguing series. Quite interesting.

The Secret of The Great Pyramid Rier & Houden

Houdin, aFrench architect , became obsessed with the question of how the great pyramid of Giza was built. He created, over a period of five years, hundreds of computer models which proved to him, at least, that the pyramid was built by using a mile long ramp that was constructed around the inside of the monument. He took the idea to Bob Brier who is a world famous Egyptologist and, together, traveled to Egypt to prove the theory. There is a lot of history about old kings, Egyptian culture and diagrams and pictures of Khufu’s pyramid as well as the several other pyramids located in Saqqara. Great footnotes and an interesting a possible solution to the question.

The Laughter of Kings By Elizabeth Peters

A “Vicky Bliss” mystery. Some one has stolen one of Egypt’s most prized artifacts. Vicky and her some time super thief boyfriend have been asked by one of the curators of the museum to help locate and return the treasure before the loss is made public. Vicky’s lover is suspect due to his reputation, the curator stands to loose his job and others that Vicky brings into the investigation have something to gain or loose. It is kind of a fun adventure with humorous characters and a lively chase. I found it entertaining and humorous when the grand lady herself, Amelia P. Emerson ,made a short appearance . Fortunately Ms Peters, in the forward of the novel discussed the problem of “the current now” and how authors do not attempt to explain anachronisms – Amelia Peabody would be about 146 years old.

As a post script, I sent a note to Elizabeth Peters and she corrected me; "it was not Amanda it was me or as Peabody would say it was I" Anyways, it was a good read.

The Legend of Bagger Vance Steven Pressfield

A mesmerizing story about a golf match between two legendary golfers, Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen and a local hero of Savannah. An exciting, stroke by stroke, drama of 72 holes on a championship golf course; The tale is told by a local Doctor who was just a young boy when the match occurred but he assisted the mysterious Bagger Vance, friend and teacher of the local hero, Rannulph Junah who chose to caddy for Junah. The story tells of inner conflict, deep self examination, fear and hope. Hope for success in the golf match and hope for mankind and how he should live with his fellow man and always the question “who and what is Bagger Vance?”

Jubal Sackett By Louis L'Amour

This is one of the early tales in the “Sackett’ series. Jubal is one of Barnaby’s sons who was born in America. Jubal is a hunter and a wanderer, a lover of nature and the great country to the West of Tennessee where the story starts. We are in the early 1700’s, Jubal, alone as usual, is on his way to the ‘Great River” (Mississippi) and beyond. He will meet Indians he knows about, Choctaw, Pawnee, Creek, and Kikapoo and new tribes, Komantsi and Apache and a strange group called Natchee who call themselves “People of the Sun” and are presently lead by a mysterious, and beautiful, woman who is searching for new lands for her people. Jubal will find himself torn between his desire to move on and explore further West and his commitment to help his new Indian friends survive the hardships of settling a new land and fighting Spanish enemies and hostile Indians. For the first time in his life he has a close friend and he is interested in a woman.
This is a great story and L’Amour packs it with daring deeds, tense battles the history of the times and his own love and admiration of the people that settled our land.