Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bloodline review: War of the World - by Megan Herriot

The problem with gazing too frequently into the past is that one day we may turn around to find the future has run out on us. – Bloodline: Murmurs of Earth (Bloodline book 1).

There is something very eerie and desolate about a landscape that is stark, white and silent. Anyone who has watched ‘Fargo’, ‘The Grey’ and the first episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ (I wouldn’t bother watching anymore, unless you want to get ‘Lost’ in the never ending nowhere) will attest to this. The uneasy pricking of ears as a twig snaps, and the feeling of being watched, or hunted by an unseen enemy. Or what if you found yourself the last person in the world? All alone, with an overwhelming feeling of ‘This shit just got real’.

This is exactly the world in which ‘Bloodline’ is set. Scotland, 200 years from now, the next Ice Age. This is a potential world in which we (or more likely our progeny) may find ourselves if we continue to treat the earth with disdain, looting not only landscape but also whole races and populations, like children in a candy store.

But back to the story. We jump straight in with the rescue of Dagmar, a beguiling German beauty
(every story must have one), from bloodthirsty wolves. She has braved the stark, ice-covered landscape to seek refuge in the stronghold of Donnan, and to pledge allegiance to Christopher Ulysses, the hero of the story. Cue romantic angle.

The bulk of the story is told through the dry-witted, acerbic voice of Richard the Scrivener. He is the historian at Donnan, but he is also a flawed antihero. He recognizes these things in himself and agonizes over choices he has made and has to make. Self-preservation seems to be at the heart of his desperate actions, and I found myself empathizing…a little.

Whereas Richard is flawed, double-crossing, lying and lazy, Ulysses, the main protagonist, is the embodiment of the superhero in this story. Physically superior, brave, a natural leader and teacher. There is a further contrast with Ogilvie Skye, who we find out is Ulysses’ half-brother. Ulysses is all things good about mankind but Richard displays our weaknesses and feeblemindedness. Skye, on the other hand, is all things evil and depraved, as illustrated in his treatment of his half-sister, Skara Brae.

After an action-packed beginning in Book 1, the story slows down considerably as the next 24-36 hours span… 24-36 hours. One by one we meet the multi-cultural members of the little population at Donnan, in order for the story to start picking up pace from Book 2. The story roller-coasters its way through skirmishes and siege-type altercations, as well as the desperate waiting game that inevitably comes with seeing who is going to make the next move. The ultimate game of chess. Things culminate in a horrific and futile end battle, the inevitable slaughter of the strongest and the bravest recounted with detached minimalist reporting, as is the nature of mass killing in a senseless war.

Other memorable characters include: strong, radiant Columbia, every man in Donnan’s wet dream. Artemis, who speaks no English, and is a skilled archer. And then there’s Trillian, who in any other setting would be a brilliant motivational speaker. It is this attribute that he harnesses to inspire the modest numbers of soldiers to take on the masses of degenerate mutant followers of Ogilvie Skye, as well as bring a bit of ‘magic’ to proceedings:

Columbia: ‘Survival is not enough. You need a great technology to stay in power. We need magic – or something that resembles it – to ward off our enemies!’

Wolves are a constant menacing presence throughout this narrative, as if the characters don’t already have enough to worry about. The story opens with them, and they remain to the bitter end, feeding off the human spoils of war. This introduces another theme, as alluded to by Skye in his penultimate confrontation with Ulysses:

Skye: ‘…I think nature has had enough of both of us.’ Ulysses: ‘I think you’re right.’ ‘It’s obvious isn’t it?’ ‘What?’ ‘God hates us.’ ‘God doesn’t hate us. But God could be disappointed in us.’ ‘Well I am disappointed in God.’ ‘That’s why men must redeem this world. We are like children, but to be lost is to be alive.’ ‘Well, it looks like our time on this planet is done.’

In typical fatalistic human fashion, we have been instrumental in destroying the world. But in this story, we join the characters at the point of nature reclaiming the Earth. A new Ice Age is upon them, and the wolves are proving far more adept at survival.

I found the writing beautifully descriptive. A lot of the dialogue between characters is deeply philosophical. So much so that I find myself rereading sections to better understand them and think about the powerful insights discussed pertaining to our place in the world.

This is a story of two brothers. It’s a story of love and hate; good and evil; to war or not to war when
it seems there is no other option, despite almost certain devastating consequences. It’s a story about the end of the world. It’s a story about humankind: what would we do if potentially facing the end of our existence? If we had failed to save ourselves? Looking back over our history: would we be proud of our human legacy? What is our purpose? This becomes part of the central theme of the story. Is our human story a story worth telling? Is it a story worth preserving? And more importantly, do we have what it takes to breathe new life into the dregs of a dwindling human race? As Ulysses says to his rival:

‘A man cannot impart life to himself, he must get it from his fellow man. You must get it from me, or I from you.’ ‘I take what I want , when I want it.’ ‘And yet you have nothing to give.’

Monday, February 9, 2015

2 X 5 Star Reviews of AUDACITY

 By Amazon Customer Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase 

Wow, after spending almost two days reading the page turning Audacity I am now exhausted. I knew very little about this case before starting to read the book. I would like to congratulate Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson on, I M O, their best writing so far. They wrote about one of the most gruesome killings I have ever heard of. ...Jodi is mentally sick. Thinking of her handstand while being interrogated should have been red lights for the investigating officer. I have no idea how she managed to stab him once, but doing it over and over and slitting his throat is unthinkable... Nick and Lisa, this is one writing I could not scan-read as I suffered from FOMO, so I read every single word. Well done 10/10 ;-) 

 5 of 6 people found the following review helpful 
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read--In depth look at the Murder of Travis Victor Alexander and his murderer Jodi Ann Arias February 5, 2015 
By Amazon Customer Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase 

Very in depth look at the convicted murderer Jodi Arias and also the victim Travis Alexander. Takes a hard look at both personalities and allows the reader to interact with this creepy tale of love, lust, manipulation, cheating, lying and MURDER! Does not leave the reader wondering about any details as they are available with a click. Full text messages available, pictures, interviews etc. Sprinkled throughout are thoughtful song and movie quotes. Also pieces of Jodi's journal inserted so you can see the connection. Some of the writers personal thoughts, feelings. beliefs and opinions about why/how religion played a part in the murder and actions of both murderer and victim. Excellent recreation of the murder, giving the reader the opportunity to envision what it may have been like...their thoughts, the pain, the aftermath etc Allows the reader to imagine the horror for the victim and the diabolical thoughts of the murderer. Important to read with an open mind with special attn to the last chapter as it pulls the book together so we too may look within ourselves and see the similarities. The importance of living an authentic, honest audacious life!! A great read that thoroughly visits the lives of both victim and murderer. 

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