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Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Force Heretic II Refugee
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Force Heretic II Refugee
von Sean Williams
Preis: EUR 11,92

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Almost There, 9. Mai 2003
Sean Williams and Shane Dix bring fans closer to the finale of the, "New Jedi Order" series with, "Force Heretic II Refugee". This story will close this fall and the publishers are already looking toward a new grouping of books that readers get a glimpse of at this books close. "Star Wars Shatterpoint", featuring Mace Windu, is going to be the first of the, "Clone War Novels".
"Force Heretic II", is a busy work with many storylines continuing the battle for supremacy with the YuuzhanVong while at the same time taking readers back 25 years to the planet that was the setting for, "The Truce At Bakura". Bakura originally took place just 4 years after, "Star Wars A New Hope". In addition to all of the familiar species that are part of this series the authors have brought back the Ssi-ruu and their imperium as well as the P'w'eck and the science of entechment.
Entechment is the process of building a hybrid, a machine that combines the soul of a living creature, it is a bridge between the world of the Vong, which is completely organic, and the world of the traditional Stars Wars beings, which utilize machines built by organic life forms as well as the continually evolving concept of The Force. This book also continues the search for an entire planet that is believed to be sentient that is also able to transit the galaxy at light speed, the mythical planet Zonama Sekot.
This book has a measure of conflict but it also appears to be bringing in to focus the final solution to this conflict. The decision not to use a biological weapon that would have destroyed the Vong and all their creations has forced a much more difficult path to victory for what was once The New Republic. The decision not to fight as the Vong do, to not commit a form of Genocide has possibly made survival impossible.
Zonama Sekot greatly transforms the planets it comes in touch with; in at least one instance leaving a symbiotic life form in its wake where two existed prior to its visit. Tahiri continues to fight the second consciousness within her that was implanted by the Vong, entechment has changed but is still not trusted, and some species are not what they appear as they only appear when masqued.
If there is a continuous thread throughout this tale it is that nothing is as it may appear, and that beliefs made need to be amended. This idea is consistent with Jacen who has been questioning the meaning of The Force, which once appeared so easily divided between light and dark. The book does not even hint at how this series may end, but just as the New Republic did not entirely eliminate The Empire, The Vong may not be utterly destroyed either. Like Vergere who lived amongst the Vong, and the shamed ones who now view the "Jedaii" very differently, the end to this series may end in some grand compromise.
Not the strongest of books but one that will be welcomed by Star Wars fans.

The Da Vinci Code: A Novel
The Da Vinci Code: A Novel
von Dan Brown
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 25,82

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Open the Box�Then, 21. März 2003
Like dolls that nest inside one another Dan Brown's newest book, "The Da'Vinci Code", is, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, as Sir Winston Spencer Churchill once wrote. And Like Sir Winston there is a Knight in this book as well, Sir Leigh Teebing. Sir Leigh and our protagonists are faced with constant puzzles, one of the most fascinating of which is the cryptex, or more sinister, nesting cryptexes invented by none other than Da'Vinci himself.
This book is a thriller, mystery and even a healthy measure of counter-factual history, how might the World have been different if only a certain what if had occurred? The variables examined are done with skill, a very clever pen, and most importantly with respect for the subject matter. Religion is as volatile an issue as there is; to successfully use it in a work of fiction is a tribute to the author as a writer and individual.
The brilliance of this tale is that you don't know, that as you open the first doll, that a variety of smaller ones wait within. Dan Brown sets a box in front of you. Open the box and you may find another cube or perhaps a pyramid, and inside that a sphere. And every layer you work your way through requires a different method from our protagonists to move forward. Open an object correctly and the quest continues, puzzle out your solution in a flawed manner....and who knows?
The author also firmly plants the book in reality with a real organization he mentions at the book's start and that you can visit on the web. The nature of the group lends credence to extremes in points of view, makes what could be fantastic possible.
The great news is that when you have finished the book the fun has only begun. The author has placed a quest for readers on the web, and I have spent a few hours puzzling through it and can state without condition it is wonderful fun.
This is the fourth book from this author and I feel it is his best. His previous work, "Angels and Demons", was number one with me, and now perhaps is 1A. This book is a fantastic ride, and will get you hooked on this man's work if you are not already one of his readers.

The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing Number
The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing Number
von Mario Livio
  Gebundene Ausgabe

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Remarkable Catalyst for Thought, 17. März 2003
Author Mario Livio has added another wonderful book that bridges the gap between writings meant for the academic and for the layperson. "The Golden Ratio", was not quite as accessible as some other books that I have read, but it is certainly worth the extra effort even if many of the proofs found at the book's end remain a mystery.
The book spent a great deal of time disproving the myths of application that have been attributed to the remarkable relationships of the number PHI. Like the more familiar PI it is a decimal that has yet to be proven to ever repeat itself, and it demonstrates its presence both widely and in fascinating manners. Whether or not Mozart used the number or Leonardo Da'Vinci did, or even if a building long considered to be predicated upon the number truly is or is not, does not detract from the wonders of this numbers appearance.
The writer will take you through the commonality in the structure of a Nautilus shell, the arrangement of leaves around the stem of a plant, and even how by tossing a coin can prove truth or fraud in the accounting practices of business. He shares an example of having two groups, one tosses a coin 200 times and records each result. The second group does nothing with the coin, they just manufacture the results. The two groups can be detected, they why is a wonderful find.
Certain shapes whether they are the outline of a room or the dimensions of a painting will generally be found the most pleasing by the majority of people. And lest you think these rules are confined to the shell on the beach or an image on your wall, they extend to those galaxies of which we are a part, why planets move in the orbits they do, and what would happen if the slightest changes were made.
As I said, this particular work requires more effort than others I have read and commented upon recently, and the enjoyment or aversion you have to math will play a role in how much pleasure this read will bring. However, even if the formulas leave you cold, the spirals upon rectangles that form, "The Eye Of God", are guaranteed to fascinate.

The Young Wan
The Young Wan
von Brendan O'Carroll
  Gebundene Ausgabe

5.0 von 5 Sternen A Perfect Fourth, 16. März 2003
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Young Wan (Gebundene Ausgabe)
"The Young Wan", is the 4th book published by Brendan O'Carroll that chronicles the life, friends and family of Agnes Brown, although it is now the first when placed in chronological order. The original three books formed a remarkable trilogy that could easily have stood on its own. The author took a risk by expanding the series to 4 but it was a gamble well chosen and readers are brilliantly rewarded. The remarkable woman who we met in the original series now has her story told and even that of her mother and a small bit of her grandparents. The result is a complete picture of a remarkable woman and the family she raised.
The book for me was he darkest of the four but that did not prevent it from at times causing the most pleasurable discomfort from laughter after it brought tears from the words of a devoted son, and sorrow from the brutality, stupidity and pure meanness that only humans practice. If you think you have read of all the cruelty a parent can inflict on a child read Agnes's story. If you think there is a finite depth that a parent can sink to in abuse of their own, read this story, for Dante never created a level so low. That these parents I refer to would seek shelter in an Apartheid state after committing what can only be termed mass murder, is an appropriate locale for those who judged their own child so cruelly.
This book and the four part series it is a portion of is some of the best reading I have ever done, no time I have spent with a book has been more satisfactorily used. The brutal parts of this tale should in no sense put you off from this book and the three that follow, for the series is about the triumph of the human will no matter what it faced, no matter how familiar the face may have been that inflicted such pain. It is a story of a woman that literally handed her dream to a sibling, a woman who never thought of quitting much less did.
This is a remarkable collection by a gifted man who loved his mother enough to tell her story.

The Map That Changed the World
The Map That Changed the World
von Simon Winchester

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Divided Earth�s Layers and Beliefs, 15. März 2003
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Map That Changed the World (Taschenbuch)
When William Smith was born and even well in to his journey of discovery, the age of the Earth was well documented. A person had only to turn to a Bible to find the exact year, day and hour that "time began". That date today would fall within the area of Creationism, a topic that is still held to be true by many who do not believe the Bible is open to interpretation, and believe that the Theory of Evolution is little more than a fiction. If your beliefs fall in to the former group this book will be of no interest to you, and lest you think Creationists are an insignificant group, the author quotes one study that shows up to 100 million people in The USA are inclined to the Bible's explanation of the Earth's beginnings as opposed to those of science.
"The Map That Changed The World", is a great addition to books on a variety of scientific disciplines that bring a subject to a wide range of readers and not just those devoted to the topic. The author Simon Winchester describes this book as a hors d'oeuvre in comparison to the work of Professor Torrens who is writing what Mr. Winchester believes will be the definitive book on William Smith and his life's work. Far from using Professor's Torrens' work, the Professor was an active participant and advisor for Mr. Winchester in producing this much smaller volume for those of us that are not students of geology.
William Smith paved the way for men like Darwin and Wallace who would build upon what Smith had created, and then greatly expand the concept that there have been great changes to living creatures over nearly unimaginable periods of time, and that by knowing where a fossil could and would be found could begin to create a History of our planet that was exponentially older than believed at the time.
While this book is firmly on the side of evolution the author does explain the theories that accounted for fossils and their apparently random location throughout the Earth's crust. There locale was compared to the stars, if God could randomly place stars wherever He chose why could He not also place these remnants of long dead animals where He chose as well? For those who take the Bible literally such an explanation is not a great leap. This was a time of "Phlogiston, Ether", a time when it was held by many that mountains were as organic as trees and grew upward and outward just as their branched counterparts.
This book did slow down a bit when the author retraced some of William's Smith's travels. The writer is clearly enamored of William Smith and geology for his writing, at times, appears to cross the line from descriptive to a celebratory type of prose.
William Smith had a wild ride of a life, and the end is comparable to what Hollywood would have conjured to make the audience feel good. It may not read as well and be accepted in a book as it would in a theater, but this is a fine piece of writing on a man that most know little or nothing about. And for bringing William Smith to us we can thank Simon Winchester.

Child of My Heart
Child of My Heart
von Alice McDermott
  Gebundene Ausgabe

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4.0 von 5 Sternen A Great Deal in a Brief Book, 14. März 2003
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Child of My Heart (Gebundene Ausgabe)
This book is the first from Alice McDermott since, "Charming Billy", won the National Book Award in 1998. A book with that type of success is certain to create very high expectations for the next work, and while, "Child Of My Heart", is very good I think it is unfair to compare it to the writer's previous work. Few authors turn out books that routinely are considered the best by those who decide awards.
The book is a narrative as shared by a woman of her memories of a summer when she was 15. I think this is an important point, for some seem to find this 15 years old girl as lacking credibility. These are memories and they are subject to all the forms of error that define what memory is. There is no doubt the narrator is precocious by any measure, she has an almost Mary Poppins like effect on the children she cares for, and by her account the animals she watches as well. She is an only child, she is clearly very bright, and if she was as mature as her stunning good looks, the memories seemed to me to be credible. Certain of the remembered thoughts may be enhanced or edited, but I do not believe they are made from whole cloth.
She is far from perfect and the one error she does make has consequences. Whether her taking action with her little cousin would have made a difference is unlikely, but the author keeps that to herself. Our narrator may know what she is dealing with and chooses to make the most of the summer as she can, not fighting the inevitable. For this is a confident young woman as becomes apparent in how she portrays MaCduff in her school play, defying her teachers, Nuns, to do as she feels appropriate.
She also has been put in the strange situation of being an only child situated to live amongst those who might help her become more than her parents are. She lives on a portion of Long Island that is not fashionable but gives her access to the people and the homes they occupy to network, and be exposed to them, whether she pursues it or not.
My main criticism is that there is too much in too short a book. Extremely complex relationships are touched on as opposed to explored. This may have been intentional as memories are never as complete as the real time event, but again that is a detail only the author knows. I very much enjoy the manner by which Alice McDermott writes, and for me that is always a great part of any book. All of the issues and situations may not have been completed for the reader, but that hardly makes the book unique. The book is definitely a worthwhile read from a talented author.

Deception Point
Deception Point
von Dan Brown
  Gebundene Ausgabe

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Great Fun and Clever Premise, 11. März 2003
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Deception Point (Gebundene Ausgabe)
"Deception Point", would have rated as my second choice out of the novels that Dan Brown has written if I had not already read his newest, "The Da'Vinci Code". And this is hardly a negative comment as his books continue to get better, and if I were to read, "Angels And Demons", once again the best I might do is pick a tie for my favorite. But his newest is the most recently read so Angels will get the number two spot.
If you have not read this man's work you will enjoy him if you enjoy the work of Mr. Cussler. His characters are not recurring as in Mr. Cussler's work, but they share the pace and a bit of the fantastic that both authors often are known for. Dale Brown is also a fan of Dan Brown, and he too is known for his ability to have readers flipping pages as quickly as they can be read. This author has also come to be endorsed by others such as Nelson DeMille, so if you enjoy these other writers and have not tried Dan Brown, you have a great find waiting for you.
The author begins by explaining that every piece of hardware/technology used in this tale exists, and by doing so places himself in the company of others who use reality as the basis for a fantastic tale. There is plenty of existing technology that is a marvel; it does not always need to be invented to entertain.
You may remember a few years ago that NASA suggested some rock from Mars demonstrated the fossilized remains of bacteria. The author has taken a version of this idea and placed it several hundred feet under the ice above the Artic Circle, added an embattled President, and has let the fun begin. What he does particularly well in this book is to mislead the reader. He supplies all manner of undesirable people or persons so consumed with themselves after soaking in the unreality of Washington D.C. for so long, he offers plenty of people to suspect. Our nation's capital offers plenty of smarmy individuals, creating new and interesting villains and possible villains is to be commended.
Dan Brown's first book was a good read and his books have continued to improve. My favorite was easily Angels and Demons, but I think his new book will be my favorite. "Deception Point" is also worth every bit of your time if you enjoy a great yarn.

The Coffee Trader: A Novel
The Coffee Trader: A Novel
von David Liss
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 23,69

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Deception Begins On the Cover, 10. März 2003
"View Down A Corridor", is a famous painting that resided in a home in London, and also is on the cover of this new novel by David Liss. I came across the same image in another book of non-fiction I just read. It was owned by Thomas Povey and is one of many tromp-l'oeil paintings that he owned by the Dutch artist Samuel van Hoogstraten. These paintings were extremely complex, for the knowledge that was required to create the fantastic illusions the artist sought were many and varied. This particular piece was hidden behind a door that when opened, appeared to open on an extended hall, when in fact it was simply a brilliant optical illusion created by the artist.
David Liss also chose to reverse the image on the cover of his new book, "The Coffee Trader". I don't know if this was simply done to have the primary animal figures face toward the center of the book, or whether he intended to magnify the idea of deception which runs throughout his newest work.
In his first book stocks were the method that leads many to take wild risks and chance ruin. In 17th Century Amsterdam it is a new commodity coffee that takes center stage and plays the object that brings forward from many it touches the worst of their human nature. In both books the author never allows for his characters to have unqualified victories, the nature of the business they are in either by definition does not allow this, or the participants rationalize that this is the case. Even when a person may not be a party to deception they are often tainted by just participating and being just as badly hurt as the worst manipulators.
This book is a novel but it also approaches near to Historical Fiction as the list of referenced works at the end will attest. The author does a tremendous job of recreating the unusual social structure that was 17th Century Amsterdam, not only for the Jews and their feelings of being guests on a tenuous welcome, but also for the Catholics who were tolerated as well. For some readers he may spend too much time on the social structure of these populations within populations, but I enjoyed it as the book became more than just a novel, but also a lesson in History.
The first book by Mr. Liss won him the Edgar Award for best debut novel. "The Coffee Trader", has proven that, "A Conspiracy Of Paper", was no fluke, and I would wager here, just as I did when I reviewed his original book, than when the time comes for awards to be handed out, the work of Mr. Liss will once again be amongst the chosen few. I initially was not going to go with 5 stars for the book's end left me a bit less than satisfied. However that is how Mr. Liss seems to feel those who participate in his book as characters should feel. By keeping a measure of reality with his books and not having an explosive ending, good or bad, he maintains realism, and in the end I like that a great deal.

Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
von Ross King
  Gebundene Ausgabe

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Mr. King Stays on Point, 6. März 2003
I enjoy reading biographies and Mr. King is one of the better writers when documenting those periods of European History he chooses. He wrote a wonderful book about Brunelleschi, and now offers readers and even more ambitious work on Michelangelo and Pope Julius II. Many writers seem to often stray, and are too sweeping and inclusive of other persons and events that also took place during the time they are documenting. Mr. King gives enough information to keep his subjects and their pursuits in context without diluting the premise of his books.
The painting of the Sistine Chapel may seem like too well worn a subject for another book but the author dispels so many misconceptions about the events that were involved in this creation that his clarifications are worth the read on their own. The book also includes magnificent color plates and numerous black and white drawings that make the book all the more interesting. But the images add to the book, they do not act as a crutch for an author lacking information.
Did Michelangelo paint while lying on his back, the book answers that question by sharing a letter and diagram of Michelangelo that he penned himself sharing the manner by which he worked? Were the frescoed ceiling and vaults designed and painted by Michelangelo on his own, how long did the work really take, and how close did the work come to be handed over to another artist before its completion?
The author also demonstrates the influence and politics that were a daily part of working for The Vatican and this particular Pope. Mr. King will share the discovery and rapid rise of the artist Raphael who was painting at The Vatican simultaneously with Michelangelo. Bramante who was to initiate the rebuilding of St. Peter's Cathedral was also always present, in the shadows or in front, scheming or openly attempting to influence who would gain specific commissions for the Pope. And there is also the famous/infamous Savonarola who held great influence with the artist who painted the 12,000sf ceiling at a time when approving of the doomed holy man could mean death to those who shared his thoughts.
I have no way of knowing which person or architectural marvel Mr. King will turn to next. He explores several fascinating people in this work that would fill several additional books. I only hope that he continues to produce these eminently readable and enjoyable studies of History and her participants.

Almost There
Almost There
von Nuala O'Faolain
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 23,88

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Beautiful and Brutal, 6. März 2003
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Almost There (Gebundene Ausgabe)
This is the first book I have read by author Nuala O'Faolain, but it far from the first autobiographical piece I've read. The latter part of my opening comment allows me to state without reservation that I have never read a more brutally and painfully candid work. Using the word beautiful may seem contradictory but it is her unstinting honesty about everyone, herself most of all, that makes this such a remarkable memoir. I don't think I would have gotten through the book if she had only been candid about everyone except herself. Her willingness to place herself, fears, regrets and anger out on view for the world to read is nothing short of remarkable.
This book covers about 6 years from her first memoir which apparently had the same sort of candor although she did offer it to people who were included prior to its publication. How much she may have changed is not entirely clear, but judging by what was included here I doubt she changed very much.
The book is also a philosophical exercise by a woman who has seen the majority of her life and is brutally honest about what she is and is not willing to do with the balance of the 16 and three-quarter years the actuarial tables allot to her. Initially the most startling part of the book was toward the end when she spoke of the 8 year old daughter of her partner. At first I was put off, and then my reaction changed completely. If there has ever been a case of the truth hurts, and the truth will set you free, in a manner of speaking, this lady has written it.
I don't know how many males will read this book but they should. Much of what she discusses is not bounded by gender, and when there are gender specific issues there are plenty of issues that males can plug in. This is not an easy book to read but when I finally finished I found myself hoping for all the best for Ms. O'Faolain and anyone else who has experienced the pain she has. If we all could view our lives with such honesty, my guess is the level of pain in most lives would be greatly diminished.
Ms. Nuala O'Faolain, I wish you all the best!

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