Saturday, December 15

"The Warlord Chronicles" by Bernard Cornwell

Arthur...a King, a legend or just a Man? Though he might not existed at all he does it on people’s minds and on the pen’s of writers, as a decent man, a fighter for peace and union, doing the right thing for the great Britain, a nation built from many kingdoms. “The Warlord Chronicles” is not a history book, it’s just a novel with some loose ends, which might overlap with some facts from ancient books. It tells the story of a young Man, a young Arthur bound to an oath to the High King Uther Pendragon, his own father, to protect his kingdom till his grandson Mordred comes of age to rule. Arthur goes through the books, growing, overpowering and fighting, all for his vision of Britain, fighting quarrels , the Saxon’s invasions, the Christians, the Pagans, all intertwined in a plot that is addictive to the reader. The story is told by Derfel Cadarn, one of his spearmen, who tells not only Arthur’s tale but his own on a first person basis, with very psychological density. Fate is inexorable for all and it’s important to realize how countries were made, how vicious some decisions were, so many battles and bloodsheds…though in the end it’s a story of rulers, it’s a story of men and how their lust, corruption and desire can ruin a man’s dream…the dream of peace. In history we’re just pawns in the game, and it’s striking how the future is built like a chess game, how a move can be so crucial and so deadly. But in the end it’s in the power of oaths, in the allegiance of man and their courage that we hold on as we smile at the end of last page, when we go back to reality after such an adventure.

Sunday, December 9

“The Golden Compass” by Chris Weitz

From the director of “About a boy” comes the first of the Trilogy “His Dark Materials” written by Philip Pullman, a british writer. Released in 1995 “Northern Lights” is the beginning of an uncommon story about a little girl Lyra who lives in a world not like our own, where people have daemons, part of their souls taken form as animals that cannot be separated from their humans. In a world where some animals do speak and north kingdoms are ruled by polar bears, the rulers of this world had form the Magisterium, ruling for the greater good, telling people what to do and trying to avoid the effects of the dust, the true taboo of the story. It is sad that this dust creates instability between parallel universes but only Lord Asriel (Lyra’s uncle) as an explorer stood against the Magisterium as one of the Scholars, pursuing his ideas. But little Lyra had a major role as it was giving to her an alethiometer, a device who only tells the truth. Lyra becomes an expert in reading through the device and so she used it to find her friends who were kidnapped by the Gobblers, but soon she realized that more people wanted that device namely the Magisterium incarnated by Mrs Coulter, the wolf dressed as a sheep. To not be a spoiler I’ll not go further, but the theological and ideological sense of this novel is strong and one hardly can’t make the association when it’s read or seen. The trilogy continues with “The Subtle Knife “(1997) and “The Amber Spyglass” (2000), and so we expect to see it on screen as this fantasy adaptation comes more often after our dearest “Lord of the Rings”. In the film we have Daniel Craig as Asriel, Nicole Kidman as Mrs. Coulter, Eva Green as the queen of the witches, Ian McKellen as the voice of Iorek Byrnison, Ian McShane (Deadwood) as the voice of Ragnar and little Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra. It’s a nice film to see on the holidays that come, to see that children do play their roles equally as the grow ones, to see Kidman dashingly evil and to never forget that we must question ourselves no matter what is told to us…to never accept dogmas.