This book, based on original manuscripts along with notes and other bits and pieces left by J.R.R. Tolkien, has been brought together into a coherant...moreThis book, based on original manuscripts along with notes and other bits and pieces left by J.R.R. Tolkien, has been brought together into a coherant form by his son, Christopher Tolkien who has done so much good work to bring to light the other writings of Middle-Earth that were as important to Tolkien as his seminal works, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
This book sets out one of the longer so called "Lays of Beleriand", stories from that place in the west of Middle-Earth that was later flooded during the great upheavals at the end of the 1st Age. It is a tragic story about the doomed life of the Children of Hurin, primarily his eldest son, Turin who gradually alienates himself from all those who try and show him kindness.
His life takes many twists and turns and the story charts his meetings with Elves, great and wise, with Dwarves seeking only to hide from the troubles of Middle-Earth, and with the great houses of Men. It also details the free peoples dealings with Morgoth, the chief enemy of Middle-Earth of whom Sauron was but a captain, and the increasing tension and strife that he was unleashing at that time.
The book is very well put together with the story coming together as a coherant whole and perhaps suffering only from a lack of embellishment in places (not a complaint that can normally be levelled at Tolkien). However, it is a grim story, containing much grief, anger and torment, showing the destruction of many of the Elven people, and the slow passage of Middle-Earth into a first darkness.
Definitely recommended for anyone who has read and enjoyed The Silmarillion, or one who wants a more concise story set before the Lord of the Rings.
My copy has beautiful illustrations by Allan Lee which really set the tone of the story.(less)
I bought this book purely because it was offer of the week on Waterstones.com and the customer reviews of it sounded intriguing. I’m definitely going...moreI bought this book purely because it was offer of the week on Waterstones.com and the customer reviews of it sounded intriguing. I’m definitely going to try such tactics again in the future as The End of Mr Y turned out to be better than even those reviews suggested.
A bold and imaginative concept brings together elements of theoretical physics with the thinking of late 19th and early 20th century philosophers, in particular Derrida and Heidegger. I think the very point of the book is to make these works accessible to the general reader, someone with no grounding in philosophy (in the same way that Jostein Gaarder brought the history of western philosophy to the general audience through the eyes of Sophie) or particle physics. Author Scarlet Thomas, lecturer at the University of Kent also takes the opportunity to explore her own philosophy, tackling big ideas of conscious, God, beginnings and worlds beyond ours.
As a book it is a taught thriller which leads the reader on a fascinating journey of enlightenment through the eyes of anti-heroine Ariel Manto, a PhD student and follower of free association. Her self-destructive tendencies which clash with her intelligence make for an engaging central character. Most importantly her arts background generally makes her articulation of important scientific ideas understandable, encapsulating them in thought experiments, story and metaphor.
It is this last one that is the most important, for Ariel discovers a world made of metaphor, a world of thought. It is this central idea that Thomas explores whilst sending sinister American agents and mice-gods to hinder or help Ariel on her quest. I like the classical elements of history she introduces, as well as the Victoriana. These certainly make a welcome change from the fashionable oriental elements that have pervaded recent science-fiction (such as the Matrix films).
The book exudes cool; pop culture references abound but it is set amongst the steel-grey skies of an English winter in a small University town. I think it is this remarkable closeness and familiarity, and the fact that the world of the mind is so personal, which make this such a successful book for me.
This is by no means a perfect book (the dénouement is let down by a tacked on epilogue), but it certainly makes you think, has moments of great passion and great pain. More importantly it gives you the tools to access a world of much more abstract thought and might even encourage you to read a bit more about theoretical physics (try Brian Greene or Michio Kaku) or philosophy (Sophie’s World etc).(less)
A compelling first-hand account of the tragedy that unfolded on the upper slopes of Mt. Everest on the 10/11th May 1996. Told by Jon Krakauer, a climb...moreA compelling first-hand account of the tragedy that unfolded on the upper slopes of Mt. Everest on the 10/11th May 1996. Told by Jon Krakauer, a climber and journalist who had joined a New Zealand-led commercial expedition to report on the increasing commercialisation of Everest, it follows the whole series of events, introducing us to key players (both experienced guides, Sherpas and the clients who paid to be helped to the top) and attempts to put into some semblance of order what happened when a storm descended on 19 climbers in the "death zone" and how so many lost their lives.
It is a gripping book which always seems to raise more questions than it answers. Krakauer, who summited early in the day and was able to make it back to Camp IV despite getting caught in the beginning of the storm, then spent much of the night and next day immobile in his tent. He has therefore pieced together what happened through talking with others who survived.
It does a great job of showing the all-consuming desire people have to climb Everest and is a lesson in making decisions under extreme circumstances that can ultimately have tragic consequences. The effects of extreme altitude, both psychological and physiological, are seen in uncompromising detail and certainly don't glamourise the climb.
The book doesn't require any knowledge of technical climbing, but does show the super-human effort required even to get to the point of making the summit, something that the commercial aspects can never detract from.
Ultimately this is a well-written book that doesn't lend sensation to the tragedy, but shows the draw of the mountain, and what happens when things go wrong.
An expansive, fantastical read, which like many of Murakami's books, immediately draws you into a bizarre story, in this case the parallel worlds of 1...moreAn expansive, fantastical read, which like many of Murakami's books, immediately draws you into a bizarre story, in this case the parallel worlds of 15 year-old runaway Kafka Tamura and Mr Nakata, a man who can't read but can talk with cats.
The book, through alternating chapters, shows how closely the worlds of dream and reality, memory and history, metaphor and actuality, are intertwined and the devastating consequences of what can happen when these opposites are bridged.
Leading you from the quiet suburbs of Tokyo to the rural idyl of Shikoku island this is a thoroughly engrossing read, revolving around an intriguing, metaphysical idea of how memory and reality relate. Throughout the course of the book the characters are drawn onwards by this concept.
Laced through with Murakami's usual pop culture references, it also has a lot of humour, tragedy and intense sexuality. Thanks to it I have been encouraged to read more about Greek Tragedy and the philosophy of Hegel.
Perhaps more deeply mystical then the other books of his I have read (Norweigen Wood, Wind-Up Bird Chronicles) this was an excellent Murakami book that is both very much of the 21st century, and a time in the deep forgotten past. Challenging, it will leave you at times scratching your head as much as poor old Mr Nakata.(less)