Posted in Loved It, Mystery

The Thirteenth Tale

Ok! I know I usually don’t read novels post- 1900 but I did pick this one up. The reviews of the book touted it as a modern day Gothic horror novel in the style of Jane Eyre. I was intrigued. Especially since the book has stayed on the bestseller list for quite some time. As a matter of fact it came back as a bestseller for the Christmas holiday. This review is going to be short because I don’t want to give away any of the plot.

warning: this book is not for the faint of heart

Vida Winter has been hailed as the greatest English author. However no one knows her story. There are at least fourteen stories of her childhood. None of them are the truth. As Winter as aged she has decided to reveal her true story to Margaret Lea, a historian. To prepare, Lea reads her father’s copy of the Thirteen Tales. Only she discovers that there are only Twelve Tales. No one knows what happened to the last tale…

“To look at me now, you would think my birth must have been something special wouldn’t you? Accompanied by strange portents and attended by witches and fairy godmothers. But no. Not a bit of it. In fact, when I was born I was no more than a subplot.”

We are introduced to the Angelfield family. Mathilde died giving birth to Isabelle. At first George Angelfield lost himself in his grief; however, he eventually took charge of his daughter. There seems to be a streak of madness in the family. George Angelfield allowed his household to be run by the whims of his two-year old. His son Charlie, who was nine years Isabelle’s senior, can only be described as a psychopath. The story focuses on the relationship between Charlie and Isabelle. When Charlie is 14 and Isabelle is 5, Charlie runs out of victims to torture so he decides to use his sister. Instead of getting his typical thrill out of hurting people, he’s shocked to find that Isabelle enjoys the torture. One can see that this story is going to become really interesting.

Years pass. Isabelle meets Roland March. Charlie is forced to find substitutes for his unbrotherly obsession with Isabelle out on the lower class women around Angelfield. Isabelle eventually marries Roland. However, she comes back months later as a widow with a pair of twins named Adeline and Emmaline. The housekeeper Missus does the math, clearly Isabelle was carrying more than a bouquet down the aisle. Isabelle ignores her children to spend her days with Charlie.

The story shifts to the twins- Adeline and Emmaline. In true Gothic fashion, a governess is hired for the twins. The governess and the local doctor decide to experiment with “twinness.” Of course it all blows up when it is discovered that the governess and doctor have a tendre for one another. But not before the governess notices something is different about Adeline. Wonder of wonders the governess thinks she has seen a ghost.

After the governess leave, things around Angelfield goes wrong. Charlie disappears. Adeline takes control. John the Dig is killed. Ambrose is sent away because of his improper relationship with Emmaline. A baby is born. Angelfield is burned. Emmaline’s beautiful face is damaged by the fire. Adeline bears an oddly shaped burn in the center of her right hand.

I did like the book. There are a lot of clue scattered throughout the book. I picked up on the clues, but I didn’t understand what it all meant. The point of view was the biggest clue. I liked it- a lot. This one is definitely a page turner. I can’t analyze the book any further or I’ll give the secret a way. But I have already given one giant clue. But I will leave you with this:

“All children mythologize their birth, It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Heart, mind and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won’t be the truth; it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story.”

Posted in Classic

The Knight’s Tale

So the Canterbury Tales were not what I thought. I had been under the impression that I had read the whole work. I didn’t. Our school edited the racier tales out of our literature. The work is largely bawdy which is why it has been rated Q- for not quite what I expected. Since there is no over arching theme, I had decided to analyze each story separately.

This story begins with a group of 20 going to Canterbury to visit the shrine to Sir Thomas Becket who was the martyred archbishop of Canterbury. In order to pass the time, each of the party was to tell two tales- one on the way and the other on the return.

The Knight’s Tale

A duke of Athens named Theseus went out and conquered the world so to speak. He had a wife named Hyppolyta and a sister-in-law named Emily. In one of his conquests, he takes as prisoners of war, Palamon and Arcita, princes of Thebes. Both men were held without ransom in a tower. During their imprisonment, both men saw the fair Emily, and were painfully smitten with love- Palaman first then Arcita. An argument ensued between the two as to who loved Emily first. The strife between the two lasted for some time. Meanwhile, Arcita was set free by Theseus. Theseus had a friend named Duke Perotheus who had known Arcita for many years and pled his case. Arcita was exiled from Theseus’ country never to see fair Emily again.

Arcita made it back to Thebes, but was so lovesick that he altered his appearance to the point that he was unrecognizable. One night he had a dream in which Mercury visited him and told him to return to Athens. As he was unrecognizable, he returned to Athens and took a job as the chamberlain to Emily under the name Philostrate. Through hard work, he was brought to the attention of Theseus who made him a Squire. During this time Palamon, with the help of a friend, escaped from prison. The two men eventually met in the woods in Athens during the May “rites.” The old argument as to who loved Emily ensued once more. They decided to try the matter by mortal combat the next morning. Of course, Theseus, Hyppolyta and Emily would ride upon both men as they were fighting.
Palamon revealed to Theseus who they both were and why they fought. Theseus decided that both must die. However, he changed his mind once the ladies of the court began to cry at the injustice of punishing the men who fought for love. Theseus decided to make both princes swear never to make war on Athens and let them go free. In order to decide who would get Emily, both men were to come back in fifty weeks with a hundred knights a piece and participate in a tournament. The best man would win Emily.

The day of the tournament arrived. Palamon prayed to Venus. Emily prayed to Diana to give peace to both men that way she could remain unmarried. However, Diana appeared to her and told her that she would have to marry one of the men. Arcita meanwhile prayed for Mars for victory. Arcita was victorious. As he rode forward to claim his prize, Pluto spooked the horse which pitched Arcita onto his head. No medicine could cure Arcita from his hurt. Sensing death, Arcita urged Emily to consider Palamon if she were ever to wed. Then he died. Both Emily and Palamon were inconsolable. Theseus buried Arcita with pomp and splendor.

Years went by but still Palamon and Emily mourned. The Athenians met in counsels to determine how to keep the Thebans from warring against Athens. So Theseus called for Palamon and Emily. Theseus gave a long discourse at the end of which Palamon and Emily married and lived happily ever after.

This particular tale is rated

The story was all right. This tale is typical of knightly entertainment. This story is a perfect example of courtly love. There is the pure virgin Emily. Then there is the whole battle between the men and the expenditure of valor to determine the best man. This story is definitely one of the more tame stories in the book. The next tale- The Miller’s Tale- starts a downward trend. Though I will admit the stories become a little more entertaining.

One criticism. Why on earth were Palamon and Arcita praying to Grecian gods. Unless my grasp of geography is fading fast, I thought Thebes was a city in Egypt. (Please correct me if I’m wrong). Shouldn’t they have been praying to Ra, Anubis, or the like? My respect for Chaucer went down a notch.

Posted in Liked It, Science Fiction, Star Wars

Darth Bane: Rule of Two

The book begins with a young man named Darovit, a Force Sensitive on Ruusan, who survived Lord Kaan’s thought bomb. As it turns out he is Zannah’s cousin. He was brought to Ruusan as a Jedi, but eventually turned to the Sith. However, he fled the Sith instead of joining them in the cave to detonate the thought bomb.
Meanwhile Zannah, following Bane, goes to the cave to determine whether any Sith are left. Darovit stumbles across the two. Darovit senses the evil in Bane and draws his lightsaber to defend his cousin. Zannah saves her cousin’s life by detonating a force bomb that destroys Darovit’s hand. The Master and Apprentice leave the boy in the cave. Bane scavenges some of the Sith encampment and finds records from one of the Sith Masters locating the tomb of Darth Naga Sadow on Dxun. Bane is determined to acquire as much Sith knowledge as possible. Unsure of what he will find on the planet, Bane tells Zannah she must find her own way to the planet Onderon.

Bane locates the Sadow’s tomb. As he attempted to retrieve Sadow’s Holocron, creatures called orbalisks dropped from the ceiling of the tomb and attached themselves to his body. Once he accessed the Holocron, he discovered that the orbalisks would feed on his body, and grow to cover him from head to toe. Although the creatures would subject him to a lot of pain, they would also increase his strength in the Force not to mention provide him with impenitrable armor. Zannah proves her ingenuity and meets Bane on Onderon. Together they begin taking steps to bring down the Jedi once and for all.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Valorum and the Senate have signed a bill ending the Sith War. As part of the new legislation, the Jedi would become an arm of the Judiciary. Their army was to be disbanded.

Bane has created a system of spies, mercenaries, and informants with the immense wealth the Sith Brotherhood had at its disposal. Bane’s plan is to lure the Jedi into a false sense of peace by eliminating threats that may bring War to the Republic. Here we see the Sith operating by shadow, using underlings for most of the dirty work.
During this time, Zannah has grown from a little girl into a beautiful woman. She still has not embraced the Dark Side completely as she is still experiences attachment for people. We discover that just like the Jedi, each Sith has individual gifts in the Force. Bane believed that Zannah had the potential for Sith Sorcerey which meant using arcane energies to twist and warp the world around her. The first mission we see her undertake is to manipulate Separatist factions into assassinating former Chancellor Valorum while Bane attempts to create his own Holocron. Bane had tried to create several Holocrons but was unsuccessful each time. We also see at this point that the orbalisk have a negative effect on Bane. While they increase his strength in the Force, it also deadens his ability to see nuances. It also causes him to lose control and become an animal when enraged. Zannah suggests that he find a way to remove the orbalisks. She plants the seeds in his mind that the orbalisks are preventing him from successfully creating a Holocron.

The assassination fails of course. In the aftermath, she is taken to the Separatish leaders and discovers another Force Sensitive, Hetton, who has a wealth of Sith data including the location of a Holocron by Belia Darzu, a Sith Alchemist skilled at creating technobeasts as well as Holocrons. In addition to extensive Sith knowledge, Hetton also has a group of Shadow Assassins. Zannah lures Hetton and the Shadow Assassins back to her Master who destroys all. Lost in the beserker rage, Bane nearly kills Zannah before he realizes that she has not come to betray him but rather help him. Bane realizes that the orbalisks are compromising him and he must find a way to remove them.

While Bane goes to Tython to find Belia Darzu’s tomb, Zannah goes to Coruscant to infiltrate the Jedi to discover a way to remove the orbalisks without killing Bane. (The orbalisks release poison into their hosts body when they die). Bane does find the tomb, fights off the decimated technobeasts, and successfully retrieves the Holocron. In it he finally discovers what he has been doing wrong with the Holocron- the orbalisks aren’t the problem.

We also discover that Tython, a world in the Deep Core, is the birthplace of the Jedi Order. The priests and philosophers of the world had the ability to access on energy they called Ashla which represented the all compassion and mercy in the universe. They were opposed by those that accessed their energy from Boga, which was raw passion and uncontrolled emotion. A war ensued and those who served Ashla won. The first Jedi knights were descendants of the survivors. The lightsaber was an initiation rite. Some of the Knights migrated to share their knowledge with the rest of the galaxy

Meanwhile Zannah discovers the information that she needs but unfortunately runs across her cousin Darovit, who has come to warn the Jedi that the Sith survived Ruusan. In the time since Zannah has left Ruusan, Darovit has become a healer to those remaining on the planet. Zannah flees the temple with Darovit, who she has determined has the ability to successfully remove the orbalisk from Bane. Unfortunately, Zannah doesn’t realize that the Jedi has discovered her presence and has followed her to Tython. Zannah and Bane destroy the five Jedi. However, Bane is mortally wounded. As a dying act, one of the Jedi Masters creates a force shield around Bane to prevent Bane from using Sith lightening against another Jedi. The electricity killed several orbalisks and essentially cooked Bane inside his orbalisk armor. Zannah and Davorit take Bane to the healer Caleb on Ambria who is the only person capable of saving Bane.

Zannah discovers that she cannot force Caleb to save Bane. He will only save Bane if she turns him over to the Jedi. At first Zannah goes along with this and summons the Jedi. Meanwhile, Caleb and Davorit successfully remove the orbalisk from Bane’s body. Before the Jedi arrive, Zannah realizes that she does not know enough to take over as the Master of the Sith and will not kill her Master. She uses her Sith abilities to make the Jedi believe that the Sith have been destroyed.

When Bane regains consciousness, she tells him that she will only kill him once she has learned all she can.

Posted in Liked It, Science Fiction, Star Wars

Darth Bane: Path of Destruction

All right everyone it’s time to explore some science fiction!!!! So we turn to Star Wars. Back in Phantom Menace, the Sith return to the light of day. Yoda says, “Two there are. A Master and Apprentice.” But why did there have to be only two. The Paths of Destruction explores the beginning of the modern day Sith…

The story begins during the last Jedi/Sith war. We meet Dessel on the world of Apatros. He is a cortosis miner. Cortosis was one of the hardest substances in the galaxy. It absorbed lasers and stopped even lightsabers. As a result the Republic was lining all of their ships and trooper armor with the material. The miner’s life was a difficult one. His mother died in childbirth. His father Hurst, a drunk, blamed his son for his wife’s death and regularly beats his son in drunken rage referring to him as the “Bane” of his existence. Eventually Hurst dies from heart failure due to drinking. The company for which Dessel works exploits the workers. There is no housing or commodity on the planet that ORO does not own. They charge exorbitant prices for everything ensuring that the miners must always work for them to pay off their debts. It is slavery in all but name.

Due to his line of work Dessel is a large powerfully built man that no one dares cross. However the story begins with an old friend of Dessel’s father beating him up. This is the first glimmering we see of Dessel’s force ability. Des bites the thumb off the man and ends up suspended for several days. In order to make up for the lost salary, Des goes to the cantina and gambles. The Force is with Des, and he wins the biggest pot of Sabbac in the history of the planet. Unfortunately, he earns the ire of a young Republic ensign who loses to him. After the cantina closes, Des is attacked by this ensign and his cohorts. He fights them off but kills the ensign with his own vibroblade. Des is forced to escape the planet. He cannot flee to the Republic obliviously. So he flees to the Sith as a soldier.

The next we see Des, he is a lieutenant. He is a skilled commander and inspires loyalty amongst those he leads. Unfortunately for him, he and his troops are sent on a suicide mission by one of the Sith Lords. Rather than follow orders, Des chooses the route that will ensure his men survive while completing the objectives of the mission. His is imprisoned for a short period of time, but the Sith Lord Kopecz recognizes his Force potential and sends him to Korriban, the training facility for the most talented Sith apprentices.
Korriban is a world seeped in the Dark Side and filled with treachery. The Sith value cunning and betrayal over loyalty. As part of becoming a Sith Des chooses to be called “Bane.” Bane is different than most students. Rather than learn exclusively at the feet of the Sith Masters, he supplements his learned with ancient Sith texts. Bane rises in the estimation of his peers and teachers only to lose it. In his first defining Combat Challenge, Bane uses the Dark Side to kill his opponent. This process scares him when he realizes that he had used the Dark Side to cause his father to have “heart failure.” For a time, he loses the ability to use the Force, as a result he loses his next challenge and all standing. For a time he is an outcast at the facility; and all Masters have been told not to waste their time teaching him.
However, a young former Jedi, named Githany, arrives at Korriban and teaches him what she has learned as well as how to regain the Force as a means to her own end of getting rid of a powerful student, Sirak. But treachery is the way of the Sith, and this doesn’t go as she expects.

The War is taking its toll on the Sith. They are losing ground mainly due to the leadership of the Jedi General Hoth. Here we see how different the Jedi of old were different from the Jedi of Anakin Skywalkers Age. First, Jedi Masters were allowed to have two Padawan learners. Second, the Sith were more like the Jedi in that they tried to conquer the galaxy by open brute force as opposed to subversion like Palpatine. Also the Jedi were alot more ruthless. As the war progressed, the Jedi were recruiting and sending half-trained children into battle.
At a certain point, Sith Lord Kaan (the leader of the Sith) realized he would have to empty all Sith training facilities in order to defeat the Jedi. Korriban was the last facility to be sent into battle. However, Bane defied all the Sith Masters and did not go to Ruusan. Rather he went to the “Unknown World” in order to find the true meaning of being a Sith. Here he found an ancient Holocron made by Darth Revan. After learning all he could from the holocron, Bane realized that the Sith needed to be purged. In order to ensure that Sith would survive rather than being destroyed from within he instituted the Rule of Two.

Two there should be; no more, no less. One to embody the power, the other to crave it.

Armed with this, he set out to find his apprentice and destroy the rest of the Brotherhood of Darkness.
Bane eventually reached Ruusan after narrowly surviving an assassination attempt orchestrated by Sith Lord Kaan. Once there he orchestrates events to drive Kaan over edge of sanity. As a last resort to destroy the Jedi Kaan convinced the remaining Sith to detonate one of the most dangerous Force weapons- the thought bomb. It destroyed all the remaining Sith and 100 Jedi including General Hoth. The one down side to the weapon is that it entrapped the souls of all Force uses in a stasis.
Once all the Sith were dead, Bane prepared to leave the planet, but not before meeting who was to become his new apprentice, Zannah, a nine year old Jedi Padawan. He knew that it would take decades, even centuries to bring down the Jedi. But ultimately, he knew the Sith would be victorious.

This story is only the beginning. Later this month, the next Darth Bane novel comes out. It’s called Darth Bane: The Rule of Two.