Tales from the Gryphon/ archives/ 2007/

Tales from the Gryphon

Archives for 2007/12

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Thursday 31 January
2008
Link: Fear is the key

Posted early Thursday morning, January 31st, 2008

Fear is the key

This is an old favorite from Alistair Maclean, and I'm revisiting this after some 20 odd years since the last time I read it. This books is from a time period towards the end of his good phase, and is heavier on the action and lower on plot, and the amount of suspension of disbelief is correspondingly higher than his best, but this is still very good. Perhaps I don't like it just because it is so sad. Anyway, this is one of a set of Maclean novels I picked up recently, and some of the others are more of a guilty pleasure than this one.

Manoj

Thursday 31 January
2008
Link: The Messenger

Posted early Thursday morning, January 31st, 2008

The Messenger

Yet another of Silva's books on Allon. This is the first one in which Allon is active in the Office from the beginning, and one of the most complex plot lines for Silva. Allons relationships advance as well. A very enjoyable caper.

Manoj

Thursday 31 January
2008
Link: The Prince of Fire

Posted early Thursday morning, January 31st, 2008

The Prince of Fire

This novel brings Allon's past, and present, deeper into the lime light; and Silva's writing is beginning to take on the human touch that his earliest works lacked. He invites the reader to invest in the character far more now than he used, and I think that makes his work better. I like how he is also beginning to bring Leah back alive again, a little at a time. And how this plays with Chiara.

Manoj

Monday 24 December
2007
Link: A death in Vienna

Posted early Monday morning, December 24th, 2007

A death in Vienna

The final part of the Nazi escapees and the collaborators that helped them. This book takes aim at the Swiss banking system, flush with Jewish gold, and the ways in which war criminals were helped and ensconced into high finance society post-WW-II. Again, I think this trilogy leads back to the original book I read by Silva (the most recent, it turns out).

Silva's writing definitely seems to be maturing as he goes along, and the characters get to be more human with every book. This is a writer still coming into his own; and while the trade craft might not yet be up to Smiley's standards, it is not very far off.

Manoj

Monday 24 December
2007
Link: The Choice of the cat

Posted early Monday morning, December 24th, 2007

The Choice of the cat

The second in the Vampire Earth series by E. E. Knight, this book has our protagonist moving to the next step in the genetically augmented "hunter" clans of the human resistance. Well written, though the next stage of the character development would require the people to actually get into some relationships. Apart from that, the series is moving well along, with other team members being brought into the fold.

Manoj

Monday 24 December
2007
Link: The English assassin

Posted early Monday morning, December 24th, 2007

The English assassin

This is the first of a trilogy that Silva has written around the Nazi looting of the wealth of the Jews of Europe, specifically the art, in this book. This was an excellent read; I think Silva might have found his groove talking about the broader historical context of the Israeli intelligence service operations and the hunting of those responsible for the holocaust.

I certainly recommend this book.

Manoj

Monday 24 December
2007
Link: The confessor

Posted early Monday morning, December 24th, 2007

The confessor

In this, the second of his trilogy exploring the various ways in which Nazi war criminals tried to escape the consequences of their actions during the holocaust, Silva explores the inaction, or perhaps even the tacit cooperation, of the Catholic church, during the holocaust. I suppose this is likely to be controversial. It was a compelling read.

Manoj

Monday 24 December
2007
Link: The kill artist

Posted early Monday morning, December 24th, 2007

The kill artist

The first Gabriel Allon novel by Daniel Silva. It feels much better than the Michael Osborne series; I can begin to feel that Gabriel is human. Tariq feels a little too super human; but the book is fast paced, and better than the run of the mill fare, though only marginally so. The bad guy is still one of the jihadists like those that we met in The Secret Servant.

Manoj

Monday 24 December
2007
Link: The marching season

Posted early Monday morning, December 24th, 2007

The marching season

Yet another book by Daniel Silva, and I am even more disappointed. The pacing has fallen off; the characters are even more pasteboard; and the book is far less compelling than the Gabriel Allon book that drew me to Silva. This is a far, far cry from Smiley's circus.

Manoj

Monday 24 December
2007
Link: The way of the wolf

Posted early Monday morning, December 24th, 2007

The way of the wolf

This is a SCi-Fi series from E. E. Knight. It is not often that one comes across a brand new series in fantasy or science fiction; and more rarely still when it has the quality of this one (The Vampire Earth series). This is a post-apocolaptic novel, the apocalypse being a virus that killed most of the human population, unleashed by a gate-travelling extra-solar species to disrupt human resistance as they took over. Ostensibly about vampires, it provides an interesting back story to explain "master" vampires and their reaper thralls.

What was captivating about this book is the detailed and generally coherent world building, the swaths of land under outsider control, where there is law and order and culling of humans for food; and the rag tag resistance. The characters are fairly well developed (though the author shies away from romantic relationships of any kind).

Not since the Recluse novels have I felt this way about a new series.

Manoj

Saturday 15 December
2007
Link: Ankur

Posted early Saturday morning, December 15th, 2007

Ankur

This one of the very first "art" films from Indian cinema, and in some senses the very antithesis of a Bollywood movie. It explores things like caste, parent child relationships, and aspects of rural society in India, and much, much, more. And while doing so, it manages to tell a tail that draws you into it, and into caring for the characters. Pretty amazing.

Read all about Ankur), thanks to the wikipedia.

Manoj

Saturday 15 December
2007
Link: Flags of our fathers

Posted early Saturday morning, December 15th, 2007

Flags of our fathers

This was a good movie. Perhaps I'm guilty of heresy in saying this, but it was not a great movie. It did come as somewhat of a surprise to me that the movie was about the flag raising (a humdrum chore when it was done) photograph, not about Iwo Jima or ghe marine corps or uch about the war (apart from what lead to the flag raising -- mostly to provide a contrast to the the actual flag raising. The impression I took away from it, the thing that made the most impact on me, was the sheer desperation of the fund raising, trying to get a weary and cynical population to buy war bonds.

Clint Eastwood is to be commended on an unusual take on the sordid details of war -- there are no drum beats going in this movie.

Manoj


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