Thursday, October 2nd, 2008


Author : George R.R. Martin

I am a huge fan of fantasy novels. My all time favorite is the classic Lord of the Rings trilogy, along with the Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien.

A Song of Fire and Ice series,however, comes as a close second.  Finally, something in the genre that is different and so very refreshing.

What struck me most is its sense of realism.  Mr. Martin makes us taste, see, and feel a world that could have been real.

Descriptions are graphic.  I could almost smell the rotten corpses, and also taste a luscious banquet.  Characters speak the way they would, perhaps, if they existed.  If crude language is called for, Mr. Martin pens it as it should be.  For the guys  out there, there’s plenty of action, blood and gore.  Of course, some magic as well; but, magic hardly figures in anyone’s victories.  It’s still pure guts, smarts, and power that determine the tide.

The books’ strength, however, lies in the characters.  The series does not have fantasy’s usual static good and evil personas.  As in real life,  each has several facets in his personality and these make each character so interesting and multi-dimensional.  No one is really virtuous and no one is wholly evil.  We can identify with all or at least sympathize with all his characters.

How does he accomplish this?  Wonderfully, Mr. Martin devotes each chapter to a selected character.  He makes us get to know the person — how he thinks, what he likes,  why he feels a certain way, his logic and perception of the world, why he does what he does, etc.  No one is cut and dried.  This way, he develops his story and the voyeur in you,  that you just have to have more of it.

Hence, his four thick novels aren’t enough.  I suspect the story may not be even halfway done; but, that’s why George Martin fans are impatiently waiting for the 5th book of the series, promised in 2007  and not yet delivered. GRRRR!!!! We want the 5th!  We want the 5th!

Books in the Series : A Game of Thrones,  A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows

October 4, 2008 Update: Ooooh!  Dance With Dragons, the 5th book is out!  It is not available in my location yet, though. Rats!

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Author : Douglas Carlton Abrams

Release Date (Paperback) : May 1, 2007

I picked up this book with the intent to read something light, funny, and a little bit naughty. The book hasn’t failed me on these three accounts; in fact, it has delivered a lot more.

The fabled Don Juan writes of his life as a galanteador (courtier) with the natural arrogance of someone who firmly believes he is God’s gift to women. But instead of being offended, I was intrigued and amazed by his ideas and perspectives on the female gender and ultimately on lust and love.

Don Juan is not your average rake. He is a rake, but one that genuinely loves women. He loves everything about them—their scent, their curves, their intellect, their eyelashes—everything! So by virtue of women’s innate beauty, he, Don Juan, takes it as his duty and life’s purpose to give the “ultimate pleasure” which they so deserve. (I wish men would think like this scrumptious guy).

His adventures, though, force him to question what the nature of passsion is. Can it be tied to love or is it a separate drive that has nothing to do with love? Is it possible to actually love and be true to one woman forever? Don Juan’s realizations to these age-old questions are tackled with lots of wit, humor, and surprisingly intelligent philosophy.

I certainly got more than what I paid for.  I got what I wanted : levity, sex, fun…plus artful writing and a good dose of food for thought, which I never thought I’d get from what I deemed as one of those “chick-lit” books. In fact, this particular passage was a little over my head:

“The greatest misstep in the dance of courtship is to believe it is our charm or beauty that is ultimately in question in this ancient fertility rite. Seduction and passion are simply Life longing for Life. It has little to do with our fears and faults. When we discover this Divine Secret, we realise that we are far less than we ever feared and far more than we ever imagined. Life uses us for its own satisfaction, and when we surrender to its will, we become a part of every kiss, whether or not it is made with our lips, and of every caress, and whether or not it is made with our fingertips.”

I only understood half of it. (I guess in crude terms it means: Go with the flow. ?) But hey, Mr Abrams does write prettily. Don’t worry, this is the only esoteric passage to me.

My Mark : Outstanding

Kudos to the author for a wonderful first novel.