Treason--Orson Scott Card

This is one of OSC's early books. While some may say that it is not to the level of his Enders Game series, I disagree. Orson Scott Card tells the story of Lanik Mueller, a "radical regenerative" who is exiled from his clan of geneticists on a planet called Treason, the home of radical academics that were exiled from the Earth. In this book, while following Lanik Mueller we see a cross section of human life, but far in the future and on a different planet. For example, Lanik's clan started with the founder, Mueller, who was an exiled geneticist. Over the years they developed the means to regenerate any body part, making them almost immortal. Another clan conquers time and is able to move more quickly or slowly in time. OSC masterfully brings all of these together while looking at the nature of our world and how people treat the planet and each other. I recommend this book as a good introduction to OSC's later masterpieces.


The Leopard (Italian: Il Gattopardo) by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

Don Fabrizio, Prince of Salina, is the principal character of this great book. He is an aristocrat in transition. Don Fabrizio's life spanned the time of princes and kings to rise of democracy. While the book shows the opulence of the lives of Don Fabrizio, it also shows his acceptance of the new world that was developing after the Garibaldi revolution and uniting of the city-states of Italy.

The Leopard is slow at times but more than makes up for these sections in the beauty of language and portrait of Sicilian society that is drawn. From what I have read, it is truly a poetic masterpiece in the original Italian. For example, the following is an English description of Don Fabrizio:

". . . in his blood also fermented other German strains particularly disturbing to a Sicilian aristocrat in the year 1860, however attractive his fair skin and hair amid all that olive and black: an authoritarian temperament, a certain rigidity in morals and a propensity for abstract ideas; these in the relaxing atmosphere of Palermo society, had changed respectively into capricious arrogance, recurring moral scruples, and contempt for his own relatives and friends, all of whom seemed to him mere driftwood in the languid meandering stream of Sicilian pragmatism .  .. Between the pride and intellectuality of his mother and the sensuality and irresponsibility of his father, poor Prince Fabrizio lived in perpetual discontent under his Jovelike frown, watching the ruin of his own class and his own inheritance without ever making, still less wanting to make any move toward saving it."

Not knowing Italian, I can just guess that this passage is far more melodius and beautiful in the original language.

I now look forward to the movie which I will discuss in my Movie section.


Dances With Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire (Book 5) by George R. R. Martin

What can I say? GRRM has given us the fifth installment of seven intended books in the series. As we have seen in the past, GRRM does not try to follow all of his cast of thousands. In this book we follow Tyrion (the feared dwarf), Daenerys (the dragon queen), her three dragons, Jon Snow (the bastard on the Wall), Stannis (one of the kings), Cersei (a queen in jail), and Quentyn. However, GRRM did not tell us much about Jaime (What is he doing and what is he going to do?), Briennie (Is she dead or alive?), Arya (When will her training finish and when will she emerge as a principal character?), and Bran (When will he emerge now that he has his "green" powers?).

It is a long complex book that one can easily lose track of the larger themes of the book. It is not a book for those who wants a quick easy read with a happy ending because it has a complicated plot in which the characters are pictured in exacting detail. It is not a warm and fuzzy book where everything turns out great in the end, but we have already seen this in his previous books of the series. I believe that this book cannot be judged alone. It can only be judged at the end of the series. It is like seeing the third half hour of a two and half hour movie!

I do like that all of GRRM's characters are flawed and often misguided. I am sure this will put off many readers, but this is true of his characters and ourselves. I also like that good does not always triumph over evil. Dances With Dragons shows that we cannot have light without dark. This and his other books also shows us that we and his characters do not "live in the best of all possible worlds!"




Day Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

This is Book 2 of Lukyanenko's four-book series on good versus evil, light versus dark. In this book you follow the dark side, the light watch. I enjoyed this book as much as the first and look forward to the remaining two in the series. I will not be back to this series for awhile because I am working through an entire list of audiobooks, including George R. R. Martin's Dances With Dragons which is 39 hours!


Night Watch  by Sergei Lukyanenko

After reading Anne Rice's Interview With a Vampire I had little desire to read vampire books and ones that dealt with similar creatures like shape shifters, and magicians. However the reviews were too good for Lukyanenko's Night Watch. Not only is this an excellent, well written book, I look forward to the rest of the series. I plan on downloading Day Watch later today. I highly recommend this book which is really three novellas following the low-level magician Anton.