Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Woman Who Would Be Pharaoh By William Kline

A well researched and very interesting piece of historical fiction about Ankhesenamun (the name means – “she lives through Amun”), the beautiful wife of Tutankhamun. She was one of the daughters of Pharaoh Akhenaton (Amenhotep IV) and his queen Nefertiti who eliminated all of the old Egyptian gods and replaced them with a single god Aten .

The Egyptians were not happy with this change and after Akenenaton’s death, they went back to worshiping their old gods. Tutankhamun and his wife supported this change.

The novel deals with the younger life of Ankhesenamun and Tutankhamun as they grew up together and the political power struggles that brought Tutankhamun to the throne for seven years until he was killed by power hungry relatives. His widow queen Ankhesenamun fearful of her life, enlisted the aid of a powerful Hittite king in an attempt to protect the throne against her scheming grandfather who would force her into marriage in order to become Pharaoh.

As a companion, one might want to read “Nefertiti” by Nick Drake and “Nerartari, The Heretic Queen” by Michelle Moran.

Frankenstein Book Three dead and alive Dean Knooze

Claudia, Rick and I have been waiting and looking for this final installment in Koontz’s fascinating series.

Victor Helios’ (Victor Frankenstein; over 200 years old) “New Race” creations are beginning to think for themselves and acting contrary to the way they were programmed when they were made. They are still cold blooded killers but they are killing out of control and some are beginning to mutate. At the same time, some of Victor’s “monsters” are questioning their programming. Victor’s wife, “Erica 5” is secretly reading books (forbidden by the creator) and becoming curious about her husband’s activities; she has discovered hidden rooms and has talked to mutants who have given her ideas that may cause Erica 5 to betray Helios.

The “New Race” was organized into specific classes; workers to do the menial tasks (maids, cleaners, those who ran the dump where they buried town people and Victor’s mistakes), replicates, those who were made to replace important people in the community; police chiefs, Mayors, priests, etc., and enforcers and guards who did the killing and dirty work for Victor. All were very strong and possessed great speed and agility. Victor Helios was building new “factories” to mass produce his creations that would eventually kill all humans.

This final book of the series deals more with several of Helio’s creations , particularly, the mutants and follows them as they go on killing sprees and react with others of their kind. Detectives, Carson and Michael continue to work with Victor Frankenstein’s original creation, Deucalion, to find a way to finally stop Helios and destroy the “new race”. There is some dark humor and some very exciting and tense action and one can feel a certain sympathy for the creatures, evil and misguided as they are.

There is an interesting twist and a prologue which may or may not make this the last we hear of the immortal Deucalion and his nemesis Victor Helios.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Frankenstein Book 2 City of Night Dean Koontz

Claudia and Rick have read both books of this reworking of the classic tale by Mary Shelly and “Jill Baby” is deep into the first book. There will be a third volume, there has to be because this one had no ending, it just fades away at what should be a very important stage of the story.

The time is 240 years since Victor Frankenstein who now calls himself Victor Helios created his first “monster”. The creature still lives and calls himself Deucalion (the son of Prometheus). Apparently, Deucalion has learned to control his rage through years of study at a monastery and he has learned that his creator has managed to keep himself alive for over 200 years and has created a special race of non humans to serve him. Deucalion has vowed to kill his maker. Victor Helios is one bad guy!! He has managed to make duplicates of major figures in the city of New Orleans this includes the Mayor, the Police Chief and many others in authority. These non humans are programmed for special duties; they are stronger and faster and eventually, Victor Helios will turn them loose to kill all humans. Frankenstein continues to perform bizarre experiments some of which turn out very badly; he destroys them and buries them in a special dump that is used for both human and non human bodies and is run by disgusting low class non human people who hate humans and savor the opportunity to perform evil deeds and mutilation on the human bodies that are sent to them.
There is a man and woman detective team who know about Frankenstein and are intent on destroying him with the help of Deucalion. The team is followed by an assassination couple who bring very dark humor and brutal conversation to their characters. Frequently, the dialogue in this novel is repugnant especially when it gets into descriptions of killing and burial rituals by the non humans.
Victor is mad; he is looking for perfection but he can not find it in the culture or makeup of the human race. He has made five wives, none of which are good enough for him. It is, not yet, clear how he expects things to be when he has killed off all humans because one of the prime motivations of his non humans is to kill humans and when humans are gone how will the monsters fare?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Italian By Ann Radcliff

Ann Radcliff was listed as one of the most talented writers of the “Gothic Romance” genre of the late 18th century
Her prose and magnificent descriptions of the cities, country sides, people and the customs of the times, particularly the harsh dominance of the church and the inquisition easily carries the reader to the places and actions of the story. “The Italian” was published in 1797; Radcliff was contemporary with Sir Walter Scott and Jane Austen

The plot is simple; a titled young man falls in love with a young lady of unknown family. His parents, wealthy and powerful, strongly object to the liaison but the boy is steadfast in his infatuation. The young lovers, Vivaldi and Ellena continue to meet in secret but they are spied upon by the Black Monk, Schedoni, Vivaldi’s mother’s confessor. The Marchesa is concerned that the family name and status will be ruined if Vivaldi marries Ellena and convinces herself and the compliant Schedoni that the laws of Naples could be interpreted that ruination of a family should be punishable by death. The Marchesa becomes obsessed with the idea and asks the Monk to do the deed.

Ellena is kidnapped and taken to a far off convent where she is threatened and given the choice of immediate marriage to some one of her class or “taking the veil” and becoming a nun. Her trials and adventures at this strange place are exciting and frightening.

Meanwhile, Vivaldi and a servant companion set out to rescue Ellena; more trial and tribulations occur and when Ellena is, finally, found and a plan to remove her from the convent is formulated, Schedoni and officers of the inquisition show up and transport the star crossed lovers to Rome where they await the Inquisitors and the torture chambers.

In spite of the almost impossible situations, and the non ending descriptions of the mountains, the streams and the roads and the towns, the characters’ histories have been so well defined that the suspense will carry a reader to the final page. It is up to the reader to decide who the story was really about.
Ann Radcliff wrote many novels; her best was supposed to be “The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) I want to read this.