Friday, January 09, 2015

Book 1 of 2015 -- The Princess Bride

(post back dated to when the book was actually finished)

High on my list of favourite movies is The Princess Bride--even though it is a movie I never saw in the theater, the first time I saw it was after it was released on VHS (I had friends in 1987 who went to it several Tuesday nights in a row though).  As in there was a time when I could say whole sections of dialogue as I was watching it (haven't watched it frequently enough for many years to do that as well).  Strangely none of the other 5 people with whom I live consider that something to boast about....

And so when my daughter saw this book in the store just before Christmas she was insistent that this was the perfect Christmas present for dad.  And was so excited she could hardly resist telling me what it was over the next week.

IT is always interesting to compare a novel to the movie.  Often I find I prefer whichever medium I first met the story.  If there is an exception it will be to prefer the novel, and generally because it first existed as a novel -- novelizations of movie scripts don't come off so well in my opinion.

The parts of this novel that are the actual telling of the story are very good.  This literary device of the abridgement of the "historic" story originally written by S. Morgenstern just feels odd.  But as always the beauty of a novel is that your brain can fill in the picture.  The difference here is that the parts you get to picture are the parts that are not in the movie--otherwise (especially when it is one of your favourite movies) the only images in your head are the ones from the movie.

I would never have bought this book for myself.  But I have thought about it more than once when seeing it in a bookstore over the last 27 years.  I enjoyed the read.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Books 15 and 16 of 2014 Volumes 3 & 4 of the Canadian Civil War Series

OK I actually finished these a while ago (like a month and 2 weeks) but so be it.

I read the first two book in this series last Spring (and posted about them here).   Since then I have been checking periodically if the next one is ready--and both showed up as free e-books fairly close to each other.

In Volume 3 our narrator/protagonist decides that to continue his work he needs to "go west young man" and explore why the French never crossed the Rockies.  His fiance is going to do a government make friends tour of the South and so he heads out to the Dakota territory in the depths of winter.

In this world Wresch has created the Great Plains are still sparsely populated.  And the Sioux Nation still controls much of the Dakota province.  So we have descriptions of long stretches of flat empty space marked by bitter cold and deep snow.  I would hazard a guess and say that the winter weather described would fit very well in the Northwest Territories.

HOwever the plot point here is that while in De Smet Dr. Murphy gets involved in an invasion (for lack of a better word by (rather incompetent) malcontents who appear to be somehow linked, even if only through the American funder we met in Volume 2, to the Louisiana folk threatening to secede.  THis time there are gunfights and multiple deaths.  And in the end the former president comes West and formalizes a Peace Treaty with the Sioux--which includes some mutual sharing of mistakes made centuries previously that still cause friction between the peoples.

Then we move to Volume 4.  Things are heating up.

First there is a mutiny at a military base in Arkansas.  But we don't really hear much about that.  Then there is a killing at a lacrosse game between a Northern team and a Southern team.  Then there are attacks on the main characters.  So our narrator and his fiance decide to get outta town.  To a major port on the Mississippi.

While they are there there is a major flood.  And dealing with the flood is really the major part of this book.  There is relatively little about the growing tensions (though there is an appearance by the Louisiana separatist group) and more about how to keep the country functioning when the Mississippi cuts it in half.

From the teaser at the end it looks like Volume 5 (which is going to be the last) will take us back to that mutinous base in Arkansas.  And maybe finally to the Civil War of the title???  I mean the first sentence of Volume 1 was about the Canadian Civil Wat.  A couple years and 4 books later we still have only some hints of tensions and stressors in the country....

What I miss now is that we have less and less of the history.  I mean the narrator is a historian weaving the story of current events in with his work on Canadian history (I do note that he started the project to embarrass the leading family of the French/Canadians but we do not hear much about that anymore--he has become a fan of the family).  Mind you he is still a bit of a bigot when it comes to his opinions about French efficiency and industry.  But the story is intriguing still.  And I do look forward to Volume 5.