Tuesday, 9 October 2007

At Risk by Patricia Cornwell

Why would anyone name a project “At Risk” if not to risk the project itself? Monique Lamont, DA, who is running for the Governor, calls back Win Garano, an investogator, who is undergoing a training at the National Forensic Academy. She wants him to use the new cutting edge DNA technology to solve a 20-year old case that would boost her image for the Governorial run. As events unfold we know that the project and the people invloved are at risk. I think that is the only justfication for naming a project like that. Narration is in third person present tense, which in many places is irksome. Probably the stroy was written in present tense to give a sense of immediacy. But I think it failed, at least for me. It is a small book and could definitely read in hours. But it took me three days to finish. As I take books to read in bed, within moments of reading it, I was in deep sleep (Usually I finish at least half the book). And next time I pick it, I had to read from the beginining and should say I read the first few pages a few times to grasp what is happening. I have read a few Patricia Cornwell books and I would say none were so bad. I quite like the Scarpetta stories and picked the book expecting her. Yes, I have lots of pateince and I rarely ever leave a book unfinished even if it is very boring.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Though I finished reading the book on July 23rd itself, I had been thinking about wondering about lot of issues. I wouldn’t tell them here.

I have not read the first two Potter books. But I have seen the movies and read all the others. My favourite so far is Prisoner of Azkaban and Sirius Black is my favourite character.
Now about Deathly Hallows. There has been a lot of expectations about this book. This being the last book in the series, is a book of conclusions and tying up all the loose ends. This is also the final climax between Potter and Voldermot. While some are not really surpises and there are a few surprises. I am not going to tell about them.

Intial reaction after finishing the book was dissatisfaction. It was followed by confusion. And finally when I told the story to one of my friends who had not read any of the books but seen all the movies, I understood the story better. I do wonder why certain things were not spelt clearly so the story would be more enjoyable. There are bits in the story where it sounds boring. Like when Harry, Hermoine and Ron are in hiding. They keep changing places. So how long will they keep changing their hiding place and why does nothing happens. It is almost testing the patience. Some parts keep reminding of Lord of the Rings. Especially when Ron and Harry take turns to wear the locket and the locket seems to make them nasty and illtempered. There are lots and lots of questions. Like as it is shown in previous books that there is a connection between Harry and Voldermort and if you remember Voldermort uses this connection to implant ideas in Harry’s mind in an earlier book, why does he not do anything about it in this book.

What I like about this book is that unlike some books where the full glory goes to the main character, here other characters also play a major role in the story. Snape is a real surprise. Who would actually imagine that he was doing what he was doing? I could even say, I fell in love with Snape. I have moved my allegiance from Black to Snape. I would also think that Snape is much better than Black in many ways.

I have more to say. I will some other time. Yes. I loved the book.

Monk’s Hood By Ellis Peter

Monk’s Hood set in the 1100’s in an abbey in the outskirts of London features Brother Cadfael, Abbey’s Herbologist as the Hero. I am not sure if I have read the first book, this is the third chronicle and the name Cadfael looked familiar so I picked it from the library. After reading Name of the Rose, I am fascinated by the murders and crime in abbey’s etc so I picked it up.

Monk’s Hood is a prominent herb in Brother Cadfael’s oil for the treatment of aches. As obvious it is a poison that could kill any person who has ingested within hours. There is a small problem with the Abbey and the Abbot had to leave to London to meet the King and Prior Robert, who is ambitious, is left in charge of the Abbey. There is a guest at the abbey an old man who has left his inheritance to the abbey in exchange for food and shelter for life for him and his wife for life. As story unfolds we learn that the old man to spite his stepson has disinherited him and left the inheritance for the abbey. The old man is poisoned and killed. Who killed him? There is the wayward stepson, the sad wife, the sour servant who is mad that he is made a slave when he was born a free man, and there is the son born of illegal marriage who seems to gain nothing by the murder. Who is the killer? The son seems the immediate suspect. Cadfael wants to solve the murder not just because his medicine was used to kill instead of bringing relief, but also because he was affianced to the lady in his younger days before he went on to the crusades and took his vows. Cadfael feels that if he stayed on and married the lady, the son could be his and more he wants to prove the boy innocent. Will Cadfael proof the son is innocent? Will he catch the killer? That is the story. Not much of a surprise, you can easily guess the killer.

Cover Her Face by PD James

Cover Her Face is PDJ's first novel. Did not realise that until when I started writting the blog. I would say very good start for a first novel. This is the third PD's novel I have read. Sally Jupp, a young maid working with Maxie's, an artistocratic family in the economic downslide is strangled to death. It is a typical Whodunit. Everybody hates the victim, everbody has a motive and opportunity. So, who killed her? One thing I noticed is that the novel is full of despicable characters. Probably James did not want us to sympathize with anybody. The Selfish Doctor, dreaming Nurse, spiteful sister and sarcastic boyfriend. James does not even allow us to have sympathy for the victim. While Adam Dalegish, the detective, does say that a young woman is murdered and it was important for him to find the murderer than sympathize with the living. It did seem that the woman deserved to die.

Prelude to Foundation by Issac Assimov

I have just finished reading Prelude to Foundation by Issac Assimov. Though it is the Prelude it was written after the completion of the Foundation Series as an effort to unify all his books into a series.

Did I read this book before? Well, I don’t know. The name Hari Seldon sounded familiar. I have read two foundation books namely Second Foundation and Foundation’s Edge. Does Hari Seldon come in them? Though the name sounded familiar, the story did not. Nor did “psychohistory”. So what is Psychohistory?

The story starts in the 12020 GE (Galactic Era), when the Galactic Empire consists of thousands of inhabited worlds. A young Mathematician Hari Seldon from Helicon Sector (its part of the Galactic Empire) proposes the idea of predicting the future with the help of mathematics–psychohistory. Though he knows that this can be theoretically done he feels its practically impossible because to predict the future one needs to know all of the past of the thousands of worlds- which would be highly complex.

Though Emperor Cleon I sits on the imperial throne of the Galactic Empire in Trantor, its known too well its Demerzel, his chief of staff who actually rules. The Empire is degenerating and is in need of a Prophet and psychohistory. In short they need Hari, either to be with them developing psychohistory thus predicting their good for them or Hari should die so he wouldn’t help their enemies. (Of course the all powerful empire has enemies, the Mayor of Wye sector). Hari becomes a fugitive running from Empire to protect his freedom and also to realize his goal of making psychohistory a reality. Hummin a journalist helps Hari escape.

As a fugitive, Hari is placed in Streeling University under the care of Dors Venabili, ( a beautiful and resourceful lady) a historian. As the Empires hands reaches the unreachable University ( The Empire does not want to interfere with the University and its students because “Knowledge is power”) Hari flees to another place of refuge with Dors. They take refuge in Mycogen Sector (Name sounds familiar, it means Yeast Producer). Mycogens are proud because of their past and they are producers of best food etc. But they treat their women very badly, almost subhuman. Hari and Dors have to flee from there to reach Dahl Sector, which is a poor area with slums. This sector produces energy for the Planet. Why do these parts remind me of Time Machine? In Time Machine, Wells predicts that if the inequalities between different classes of societies is not solved human beings would develop into two different species. One the highly sophisticated happy unintelligent upper class and the other the savage and brutal animal like worker class. Of course this would happen some thousands of years later. Galactic Empire does happen 20000 years from present. Anyway Hari and Dors have to leave Dahl Sector too. They are taken to there final destination by a benefactor.

Though their destination was not a surprise to me, I did wonder why it was a surprise to Hari. But that is because there are other big surprises that this one becomes too small. Maybe Assimov is giving concession to us poor people “Ok guess this one”. Want to know what these surprises are? You will have to read “Prelude to Foundation".

Yes, finally Hari thinks with some help he could actually develop psychohistory and Dors becomes his life long companion.