bookspluslife

September 12, 2015

Book: The Hedge Knight by George RR Martin

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 3:16 pm

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** Republished now as The Knights of the Seven Kingdoms **

Can our George RR Martin write a small book? Can he bring himself to stop in the 200 to 300 page range? In this book he proves that he can!

We have reviewed all the Game of Thrones books earlier. They are all, of course, much larger books.

This story also is tied to the same world, and so would be a double treat for fans of the Game of Throne kingdoms.

This is an excellent book. Despite its shortness of length, it has all the familiar thrill of the narration and tension as in the larger series and is a treat to read.

The story in this book happens a hundred or so years before the Game of Thrones events.

Dunk, a hedge knight (who is a mercenary or knight for hire) buries an old man, who was a mentor and a father to him. Dunk is just fifteen at that time. He stays in an inn. Then goes to a tournament for knights.

Egg, the boy who he met at the stable, forces himself as his squire. Dunk does not want a squire, much less a seemingly bumbling idiot like Egg, but cannot forcefully say ‘No’ so he decides to go along.

Dunk goes to the tourney to register – which is what he had set out to do in the first place –  and buys armor with the sale of the horse that the older knight who died had left him. He bumbles into the King’s Hand himself, Aegon Targaryen, who admits him into the competition.

The first day, Dunk watches the tourney with famous knights clashing: the Lannisters, the Targaryens, the Tyrells, the Baratheons are all there. Yes, ancestors of the characters we have grown to know and love in the longer series.

Egg is visiting a puppet show and one  of the Targaryen princes tortures the puppet girl. Dunk goes to the rescue and for attacking a Prince, he gets jailed. They want a combat where Seven Knights on Dunk’s side fight seven knights on the Targaryen side. Seven knights for Dunk? He seems doomed.

He seems to collect knights with Egg’s help and everyone is rooting for Dunk, who remembers the vow of every knight to protect the weak. Even a Targaryen prince joins his side! Not any prince but the Hand of the King himself, all out of the principle that what he did is right. Dunk is speechless in amazement.

The combat, which is the climax of the book, is exhilarating, every bit as good as the Game of Thrones series.  I am not going to give away the story as there are several twists at the end, and saying anything here more would spoil it for the readers.

The end is fantastic and makes you wish the book was longer. I definitely would recommend this for anyone interested in a fantasy tale, not just fans of The Game of Thrones.

8/10

–  – Krishna

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Movie: The Gift (2015)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 1:53 pm

imageThis movie got a high rating in the critical sites like Rotten Tomatoes. Is the movie interesting? Yes. Do I consider it as highly as the critics seem to rate it? No. Read on to find out why.

I will not deny that the story has some interesting twists – no doubt. The story is about Simon Cullum (Jason Bateman of the Arrested Development fame) and his young wife Robyn. They move back to California where Simon grew up from Chicago where they lived. We know that they want to get away from Chicago due to a recent miscarriage of Robyn (played by Rebecca Hall).

Almost at the beginning, when Simon and Robyn are buying furniture for the new home they have chosen, they run into Gordon Mosley, also known as Gordo and Simon invites him to his house. (Gordo is played by Joel Edgerton who has also directed the movie). When they find a gift of wine at their doorstep, they call and invite him to dinner. At the dinner, some comments made by Gordo make them uncomfortable.

The movie escalates from there. We also learn unexpected facts. We learn that the idyllic couple are not what they seem at first glance. Robyn had a prescription drugs problem. We learn that he is career hungry, wanting to get ahead at whatever cost to the competition. We learn that Gordo was a victim of serious bullying by Simon when at school.

Before all that, there is an interesting scene where Gordo invites Simon and Robyn for dinner and more weird things happen and Simon tells Gordo not to visit him ever again. They find that when they return to their house, their koi fish (which was an unwanted gift from Gordo) are all dead and their dog Mr Bojangles (yeah, you heard right; that is the name they have given to their dog) is missing.

The movie title refers to the fact that Gordo mainly communicates with the couple through gifts left in front of their first door – both good and bad.

The ending is surprisingly nice.

You are probably thinking: Then what is the problem with the nice ending? It is this: It may be a fairly well made movie but it is a pure story of a weird visitor traumatizing a family. How many times has it been done? The problem with this movie is that the twist at the near end of the film (about what seems to have happened when Robyn had lost consciousness before her second pregnancy) feels contrived, and even otherwise, the formula is as old as the medium of film itself.

Nice movie? Yes. Rave worthy? No.

Let us say a more sedate 5/ 10

–  – Krishna

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