Monday, 11 March 2013

Book Review : Mistborn The Final Empire

I have got to say this out loud (figuratively speaking of course). I am LOVING 'Mistborn : The Final Empire'. It has been a long time since I was genuinely excited about a book and I haven't even finished. I'm so glad this is not a stand alone book but a trilogy, a complete one at that. I don't have to wait for the books to come out. I can't believe I came to this book so late. But we have a saying in India - 'Der aye, Durust Aye'. It means - 'I might be late to the party but I'm here to enjoy the party now' :)
A lot of people ask me why I read so much. And a few of my friends look at me askance when I tell them I only read fiction. They think it is too childish and doesn't have any relevance to reality. In my opinion this is the wrong mind-set. And through this book Brandon Sanderson has proved that fiction - fantasy is not childish & that it can be intelligent and make you think. Really think.

Some people might just reject this book by reading the jacket cover or by hearing it's from the fantasy genre. They are doing themselves a disservice. If anyone reads this blog, I'd advise them to pick this book up. This book isn't just about a bunch of people using magic. Its a lot more.

The magic system in this book is great. Sanderson's done a great job with it. It seems simple enough at first glance. The Mistings or Mistborns "burn" metals, that they drink down, to attain powers like soothing or rioting other peoples emotions or to achieve superhuman strength or senses. But as you delve deeper into the magic system it gets more intricate. Not everyone can do this. This system is called Allomancy. There are 8 metals that they can use. Only the Mistborns can use all the metals. The Mistings can only use one metal. And Mistborns are always people with noble blood in them.

The magic system is not all there is to this book. Brandon Sanderson didn't stop at creating a magic system. He also created a social structure. There is the Lord Ruler, the Master of all things. Lord Ruler is said to be immortal, a "sliver of infinity'. He is said to have defeated some evil called the "Deepness". And after that he ascended and attained immortality. He favors the noblemen who supported him before ascension and their descendants. He has also enslaved a whole group of people called Skaa. So this story has political intrigue too.

There is also a thieving crew. This story has a grand heist!! This particular crew is made up of Mistings and 2 Mistborns. And what do you expect the Job these guys are pulling is? They are trying to start up a rebellion amongst the downtrodden Skaa people, to overthrow the tyrannical Lord Ruler.

So there's magic, political intrigue and a thieving crew. What more encouragement does a person need to read this book?

The story is not the only thing done well. If it were then it would not be as good. The characters are well written. Not just the protagonists (Vin & Kelsier) but the supporting characters too(the thieving crew). Sanderson lets the characters grow slowly, but not so slowly that we lose interest. He has paced the story well. We learn something new about the characters almost every page.

Sanderson knows how to keep you on edge. I want to know a lot more about Vin & Kelsier. What is the Deepness? Why is the sun red and why does ash fall from the sky? And why does the mist descend on the final Empire every night?

This is how a book should be. I haven't even finished reading it and I'm already looking forward to the next installment in the series. There will be another entry in my blog once I finish the book so that I can write about Vin, Kelsier and the rest of the crew.

Monday, 4 March 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard

I have been an ardent fan of Die Hard since I was young. I have watched all of the previous 4 movies. My favorite was always the Die Hard 1. And it still is. The 5th installment to the Die Hard Franchise is not a great movie. It is something that newbies to Die Hard might not really like the movie and might find better fare elsewhere.

A friend of mine, who isn't really a huge fan of action movies like Die Hard, had gone to watch the movie first. I asked her how she liked the movie. She knows me really well and said "you'd probably like it, but they destroyed too many cars in the movie." I thought she might be exaggerating, but she was not. It looks like close to a 100 cars or more were destroyed during the making of just the opening chase scene. It started out with 3 cars being blown to smithereens and then different cars were either mowed down or pushed over bridges and in one scene Bruce Willis drives his car on the top of multiple cars. It was kind of cool.

I have to admit Die hard 4.0 was better than A Good Day to Die Hard. The chemistry between Bruce Willis and Justin Long was great. I really liked their repartee. The chemistry between Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney was mostly non-existent. I just could not feel anything for the relationship. I wanted John and his daughter to reconcile int eh previous movie but in this movie I was not at all invested in their relationship. The dialogues were funny but not as funny as they were in the previous movies.

So this is a movie that can be enjoyed by fans of the series but it might not be a movie for the general populace. I'd give the movie a 2/5.

Book Rant: The Parasol Protectorate Series

I haven't really finished the Parasol Protectorate series completely. I have read 4 out of 5 books in the series and am halfway through the 5th. I had not heard of this series at all. I was trying to search for good Steampunk novels and came across this series. The first Steampunk novel i read was Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. So i was expecting something gloomy and serious from Soulless. Then I realized this series was called the Parasol Protectorate. This series was very funny. It  was completely different from what i was expecting. In a good way.


What I am loving the most in the series is that the female protagonist has been very consistent. She comes off as a tough and opinionated woman. Except for how quickly she accepted her husband in the 3rd installment Changeless. The books have woven a very good world. It's funny to me how Alexia is a part of the supernatural world but is oblivious to most of its machinations. This always lands her in trouble. And what novel based in England in the 1800's is complete without a butler like Floote? He is one of my favorite characters in the series. The others being Biffy and Professor Lyall and of course Ivy Tunstell who isn't the airhead she seems to be.

I am fascinated with this alternate reality where the supernatural have been integrated in to polite society. But not all over the world. Only in England. The Italians abhor them, the Americans are scared of them. The way Queen Victoria is portrayed reminds me of how Cleopatra is portrayed in the Asterix series. In that case it was Cleopatra's nose and here Queen Victoria's Height. The relationship between Lord Maccon and Alexia was not portrayed as well as it could be. The relationship between her and almost every other character was written better.

I am looking forward to knowing about Alexia's father in the final installment of the series and to see how the author ties up most of the story lines in the series. This series has had its highs and lows but all in all this is a fun read. I would give it a 3.8 or 4 out of 5.