Thursday, January 25, 2007

48. The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud

ISBN: 0786836547 - Hyperion/Miramax, 2006

The second book of the Bartimaeus Trilogy follows the adventures of ambitous, young magician John Mandrake (born Nathaniel) and his djinni, Bartimaeus. Mandrake now works for the Ministry of the Interior and is charged with investigating the "Resistance" movement. A Golem is running amok in the centre of London. (Golem: In Jewish folklore, an image that comes to life. From the Middle Ages stories were told of wise men who could bring clay effigies to life by means of magic charms or sacred words. Golems began as perfect servants, whose only fault lay in fulfilling their master's commands too literally or mechanically. Later golems were imagined as protectors of the Jews in times of persecution, but also had a frightening aspect. Source: ) When the Resistance raid Gladstone's tomb, they unleash an insane foliot trapped inside the former Prime Minister's skeleton and further destruction ensues.

Friday, January 12, 2007

47. The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

ISBN: 0 7868 5255 0 - Hyperion/Miramax 2004
Nathaniel is a young magician's apprentice, taking his first lessons in the arts of magic. But when a devious hotshot wizard named Simon Lovelace ruthlessly humiliates Nathaniel in front of everyone he knows, Nathaniel decides to kick up his education a few notches and show Lovelace who's boss. With revenge on his mind, he masters one of the toughest spells of all: summoning the all-powerful djinni, Bartimaeus. But summoning Bartimaeus and controlling him are two different things entirely, and when Nathaniel sends the djinni out to steal the powerful Amulet of Samarkand, Nathaniel finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of magical espionage, murder, blackmail, and revolt.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

46. A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Penguin, 1932
Set in 26th Century London, Huxley's novel was written more as social commentary than science fiction. In this dystopian world, test-tube or rather bottled babies, promiscuity and mood altering drugs are the norm. Henry Ford becomes a messianic figure - his name is even used as a curse word as in, "Oh, Ford!" and the calendar based on his life span. The first part of the novel centres on Bernard Marx, a non-conformist whose physical appearance, ideas and behaviour make him an outcast. The true protagonist John the Savage, however, is not introduced until the second part of the novel when Marx visits the pueblo of Malpais in the New Mexican Savage Reservation and brings John and his ailing mother back to London.

45. Isobel Gunn by Audrey Thomas

ISBN 0864923317 - Penguin, 1999 (Audio Book)

In the summer of 1806, a young Orkney woman disguised herself as a man and signed on with the Hudson's Bay Company. For a year and a half she hid her identity and her deception was revealed only when she was giving birth to a baby boy. In less than an hour, she turned from John Fubbister into Isobel Gunn. Very little is known about the real woman. Audrey Thomas has taken the threads of Isobel Gunn's story and turned them into a compelling novel about an unusual woman, her short life, and the effect she had on those around her.

Narrated by Duncan Fraser.