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Winter's Heart (The Wheel of Time, Book 9)
Winter's Heart (The Wheel of Time, Book 9)
by Robert Jordan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.23
628 used & new from $0.01

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If only I wasn't hopelessly addicted . . ., November 9, 2000
Winter's Heart is a definite improvement over the last few books, none of which had anything happen until the very end. Jordan does a good job of restoring the pace which he had in the first five, and the story moves along at a good clip (by Jordan's standards anyway). Some crucial plotlines are resolved, but as usual, more are added. Jordan once again leaves out one of the major characters. In the last book it was Mat, in Winter's Heart, Egwene is hardly to be seen. There is one chapter in which she meets Elayne in Tel'aran'rhiod, but this is set just before she opens the gateway to besiege Tar Valon, which was at the end of TPOD. There is nary a mention of her siege in Winter's Heart. Sigh. Still, this book has its moments. The ending is terrific, and nearly makes up for everything. Rand travels considerably over the course of this book and sticks it to the forces of evil, Elayne rules in Caemlyn, and Mat wanders through Seanchan Ebou Dar, trying to walk the tightrope of Tylin and the Daughter of the Nine Moons. Perrin sets out to find Sevanna's sept and rescue Faile, but as you probably expected, not much happens there. Formerly important characters like the Wise Ones and the Aiel chieftains are nonentities again. Still, the very last sentence in the book, which mentions something about the time of illusions ending does promise excitement in the future. All in all, a solid entry in the series, and worthwhile read. Of course, this could be my addiction talking . . .


Stalin: And the Shaping of the Soviet Union
Stalin: And the Shaping of the Soviet Union
by Alex De Jonge
Edition: Hardcover
66 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice'n'readable, November 7, 2000
Although this book is fairly large at somewhere around a thousand pages, it's awesome. De Jonge is a superior biographer who manages to avoid getting bogged down in Stalinist politics and subcommitees. De Jonge narrates the rise of the dictator and his subsequent maneuverings very well, keeping you interested with little effort, despite the fact he's describing bleak people against a bleak background. Stalin is a fascinating, evil personage worthy of remembrance and De Jonge does his life justice. A masterpiece of modern biographical work.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2008 2:09 PM PST


Early Mesopotamia: Society and Economy at the Dawn of History
Early Mesopotamia: Society and Economy at the Dawn of History
by J. N. Postgate
Edition: Paperback
Price: $47.11
72 used & new from $8.33

17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but dry., November 7, 2000
This is a true scholarly work, exhaustively researched and written by a pre-eminent authority in the field, making it unfortunately very dull. Postgate is unquestionably a master, with a vast knowledge of his field. He leaves no stone unturned, and explores all the critical issues in Mesopotamian archaeology, complete with numerous citations from cuneiform texts. However, being a true academic, his writing is very dry and sometimes awkward, making it difficult to stay awake when reading. Postgate provides detailed information and insightful commentaries on all aspects of Mesopotamian life, making this a worthwhile read. One can't help but wonder however, if the Mesopotamians weren't somewhat more exciting than Postgate's writing makes them.


Ancient Iraq: Third Edition (Penguin History)
Ancient Iraq: Third Edition (Penguin History)
by Georges Roux
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.99
132 used & new from $0.32

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A true gem, November 7, 2000
Roux is the rarest of scholars and academes, he is one who can write. Ancient Iraq is extremely erudite and written clearly and lucidly. Reading it and getting involved in the text is not difficult. Ancient Iraq covers the full spectrum of Iraqi ancient history and prehistory, from the Paleolithic through the Neolithic, the Sumerian civilization, and on to the Assyrian and Persian empires. Despite the wide scope of this book, Roux manages to keep the narrative tightly contained and compact, avoiding digressions and wandering. Highly readable, this book deserves to be owned by anyone with an interest in the region. It is poorly illustrated, but this is a relatively minor flaw. This is a true classic of archaeological literature.


A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3)
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3)
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.74
117 used & new from $6.38

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing and worthwhile sequel, November 4, 2000
At last, the long awaited third book is here, and what a book it is! Martin continues the series in admirable form; each book is better thn the one before, and at nearly a thousand pages, this one is guranteed to temporarily sate you appetite. Martin is at the top of his form as usual, with deft character portrayals, witty dialogue, and an addictive world which mixes gritty realism and high fantasty. Martin is in fact an artist, painting exquisitely in so many shades of grey. There is much betrayal, death, and violence as old characters are swept up in the tides of and destroyed, while a host of new and equally fascinating ones are introduced. Martin skillfully povides an answer to the question, why do bad things happen to good people? It's because they do stupid things, just like in real life! Martin is never afraid to punish his characters, no matter how kindhearted, wise, and noble they are. Meanwhile his evil characters are made all the more believeable and frightening by the very banality of their acts, rather than being paintd garishly as world-devouring, slavering fiends. Without question the best fantasy book of the year.


The Lions of Al-Rassan
The Lions of Al-Rassan
by Guy Gavriel Kay
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
59 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars another Kay masterpiece, September 5, 2000
Possibly the best of Kay's work, in my own mind, it even outranks Tigana, which was nearly as amazing. While the historical foundations of Al-Rassan are interesting enough, it is the characters which truly shine. Kay effortlessly creates believeable, sympathetic characters like no other fantasty writer I have come across. Kay's writing is, as always, elegant in its simplicity, and his spare descriptions easily conjure up the scene. The handling of the emotions -always a sticky topic in fantasy - is deftly done here and the dialogue - magnificent! Despite the emphasis on emotion and spiritual matters, Kay never forgets that he's writing fantasy and keeps the story moving at a good clip. An added bonus is the ending, which is very cleverly handled and is guaranteed to shock you. Kay's best novel ever and a nice change from all that formulaic garbage (here I'm thinking of Dragonlance) which pollutes the market on a regular basis.


The Albigensian Crusade
The Albigensian Crusade
by Jonathan Sumption
Edition: Paperback
38 used & new from $9.20

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting narrative of an interesting war., September 5, 2000
The Albigensian Crusade was, as the reviewer before me mentioned, a confusing series of events. It mostly consisted of the northern crusaders and southern dissidents exchanging castles and towns during about twenty years of campaigning seasons, sitting tight during the winter, and playing mind games with that fount of wisdom and mercy, the medieval church. Sumption is exceptionally erudite in describing all this, and bringing in a semblance of order. His writing is sometimes clunky and awkward, but he gets the job done. A good book, and a worthwhile read for anyone interested in history and warfare.


Introduction to Physical Anthropology
Introduction to Physical Anthropology
by Harry Nelson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $75.00
114 used & new from $0.01

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Acceptable (Yawn), August 31, 2000
An acceptable intro text for physical anthropology. It's overall scope is wide, and it covers the relevant topic, but it's just so . . . dull. It takes a rare person to fall in love with physical anthroplogy after getting through this book. Jurmain et al are in fine anthropological literary form, which means half-asleep and probably on a fiber-reduced diet. This book is so stilted and formulaic that getting through each chapter is a herculean labour. It's also fairly childish in its format, with irritating extra " Try This!" questions at the end of each chapter; the sort you doubtless remember from high school and junior high textbooks and the ones which no one - not even the teacher's pet- ever did. The price is also ridiculously high considering its a non-specialist text for beginners. Come on guys, gimme a break, the right-wing government where I live already believes students are made of money.


Faith of the Fallen (Sword of Truth, Book 6)
Faith of the Fallen (Sword of Truth, Book 6)
by Terry Goodkind
Edition: Hardcover
393 used & new from $0.01

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addiction temporarily sated; now for book seven, August 28, 2000
In the latest installment in the epic Sword of Truth saga, Terry Goodkind delivers a taut, exciting novel that is a more than worthy addition to the series. The first part of the book is a bit slow and is mostly a pastoral interlude in which Richard, Kahlan, and Cara frolic in the mountains of Westland while Kahlan heals. Goodkind does however spice things up by providing some interesting insights into the mind, motives, and past of Nicci. The story picks up when Nicci forces Richard to travel with her to the heart of the Old World. Goodkind takes this opportunity to flesh out the Imperial Order, which turns out to be a greyish, plodding Stalinist entity. Goodkind is at the top of his form as he portrays a defiant Richard rising above his grim circumstances not through magic but simply through sheer force of character. Richard brings light into the stale darkness of the Imperial Order simply by being himself. While all this is going on, Kahlan - in full Warrior Goddess mode- leads the D'Haran Empire against the invading Order. This makes for some of the best chapters in the novel, full of pulse-pounding action, daring strategems, desperate couragen and- dare I say it- shocking betrayal. Goodkind does an excellent job skteching the daily life of an outnumbered army determined to hold fast come hell or high water. There are a few minor flaws in the novel. The writing is sometimes awkward and unwieldy in places, as it has been throughout the series, but this is a small problem, and easily forgivable :) All in all, this is a superior novel, with well-defined plotlines, and genuine characters you can't help but feel for. Faith of the Fallen fully deserves best-seller status, and I cannot recommend it enough. The best in the series since Blood of the Fold, and one of the best fantasy novels I have come across in some time.


Patterns in Prehistory: Humankind's First Three Million Years
Patterns in Prehistory: Humankind's First Three Million Years
by Robert J. Wenke
Edition: Paperback
82 used & new from $0.01

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great., August 17, 2000
This is a suitable textbook for an introductory class on world prehistory. Comrehensive in scope, it goesd from australopithecus to the pre-contact in the New World. Wenke's writing is simple and straightforward, so even generalists with no archaeological background will be able to follow easily. The writing is even occasionally enlivened with Wenke's oft-present sardonic wit, although this falls flat a lot of the time. However, the sheer timespan covered by this text prevents it from going into any interesting detail, leaving the surface barely scratched. While easy to read, it's of less use, the further up one goes in the field of archaeology. It's also rather difficult to take notes from, and contains pages of daunting, unbroken texts. Some neat charts to break up the flow would help students. Perhaps because I have gone beyond this level now, I'm an arky snob, but I was less than impressed with this book.


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