The Bourne Identity

Splinter of the Mind's Eye - Alan Dean Foster

I vividly recall going along to a Christmas Day gathering at one of my aunt's in 1978. All of the children ended up in one of the bedrooms whilst the adults drank rum, vodka, gin and made merry. Not sure how or why, but this book just happened to be in the bedroom and I picked it up and started reading. Star Wars had been released just the year before and having seen the film numerous (OK, 11) times, it was still at the forefront of my mind. 

The story was 'self-contained' and was focussed on Luke and Leia who after crash landing on a swampy planet called Mimban and getting separated from each other, are forced to find each other and then try to find some way of getting off of the planet again. I think during that long night, I managed to read my way through a third of the story and was forced years later to track it down and re-read it.

As anyone, who's read the story can tell you, there are certain aspects that were superceded by the later films, Empire and Jedi, but it was 'of it's time' and for me started a lifelong obsession with Alan Dean Foster.

www.alandeanfoster.com

The Bourne Identity - Robert Ludlum

I hunted this book down after seeing the film that was made of the Ostermann Weekend. At the time, there was 'some' talk of making a movie of 'The Bourne Identity' so having liked the Ostermann Weekend film, I thought I'd get a little bit ahead of the curve by reading the book before the film was made. The Matt Damon film takes the book mainly as 'inspiration', I would say. It truly is an excellent movie and would have made it onto my list of favourite films had I not already burst the ceiling on my 'Ten' favourites. The film managed to re-set the bar in terms of action movies that had already been elevated by films such as 'Die Hard' and 'True Lies', but departs from the book in many, many ways.

One of the most significant, I would suggest, is the main female character 'Marie St Jacques' who was rechristened 'Marie Helene Kreutz' and ably played by Franke Potente in the movie, in the series of books, she is highly capable and intelligent woman who works for the Canadian government as an economist and is a more than able assistant to Jason Bourne throughout his many adventures. She doesn't die in the series of books, but the Marie Kreutz character is killed off at the beginning of the second Bourne movie, which I thought was a great shame.

I stopped reading the Bourne novels after 'The Bourne Supremacy' which unfortunately was Ludlum's last Bourne novel.

www.robert-ludlum.com

Daggerspell - Katherine Kerr

The original quadrilogy that first introduced us to the character of Nevyn an immortal Wizard. The four books also included Darkspell, Dawnspell (or The Bristling Wood as it was called in the US) and Dragonspell (or the Dragon Revenant as it was called in the US). I found the concept of this story absolutely fascinating. A group of individuals bound to each other over numerous lifetimes. In one life you could married to somebody, but when you die and are reborn you marry somebody else and the person who you were married to in the past life, re-enters your life as 'an unrequieted love' perhaps. The purpose of each life lived, was to put right a wrong done in the previous life, or achieve some goal that left you unfulfilled. The series eventually grew to encompass fifteen books in total, broken into four 'Acts', all centred around a small group of individuals who come in and out of each others reincarnated lives at various points over the hundreds of years that the stories span in total.

www.deverry.com

Silverthorn - Raymond E. Feist

All of my favourite stories tend to be ones which stretch to more than one volume. I think it's pretty telling when an author continually returns to the same set of characters and extends their stories by continually throwing them into new adventures that push them farther than they thought they could go. It shows that the author loves the characters that he or she has created and to some extent that those characters have taken on a life of their own.

Raymond E Feist's Magician series, is an excellent example of just that. Of the initial trilogy: Magician, Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon, Silverthorn is by far the best of the three in my opinion (there definitely is something about second volumes isn't there - Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, Winter Soldier, The Two Towers, T2, The Dark Knight. It's easier to list the films than it is the books). After the initial world-builiding done in Magician, Feist gets fully into his stride with this second novel. It's the shortest of the original trilogy at only 400 pages and I was gripped from the first page. I read the entire book in one sitting! The sequence that has stuck in my mind even thirty years after reading it, is the scene where Arutha, Jimmy and their band are trapped and forced to fight their way through a horde of undead zombie-fied soldiers.

Truly excellent.

www.crydee.com

Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind

I lived and worked in London for the majority of my earlier years and was on the way home from work on the Underground one summer's afternoon and was reading a book (I don't recall which one exactly, but think it was one of the Magician series by Raymond Feist). Anyway, a guy who was sitting a few seats down, got up to leave and said to me in passing: "you should read 'Wizard's First Rule'," and got off the train. Now in and of itself, for a random stranger to speak to some other random stranger on the London tube (other than to say 'excuse me' or 'can I get by please!!' is rare. Needless to say, I did indeed pick the book up at a bookshop shortly after and have never looked back. 

Like Magician and Silverthorn, this is the first in another multi-novel epic story (at last count sixteen books following the lives and adventures of it's main characters: Richard, Kahlan, Zedd, Nicci et al — Seventeen, if you count the novella 'Debt of Bones'). Make no mistake, the Sword of Truth series is truly epic in scale and scope and Terry Goodkind's world-building is second to none. The philosophy behind how magic works in his world is excellent, with lots of different perspectives from the various characters who adhere to the dfferent disciplines that all exist within the world contemporaneously. The traditional wizards and witches in this world for instance, have all grown up learning from books and the past experience of other wizards and witches. Richard (the main protagonist) has come to the world of magic almost by mistake — although it is part of his heritage — and contradictorily his take on how it all works, is based on pure instinct and logic (or common sense, as he would term it). That alone, sets up some interesting interactions between the main characters.

This series of books is tough reading in some places, in this first novel, Richard the main protagonist is captured and tortured for what seems like a hundred pages or more (it's probably less than that, but it's pretty grim reading in some places), but stick with it and you will be rewarded. Over the many years of reading this series, I have genuinely grown to love the characters and that's in no small part to Goodkind's skill at storytelling. The predicaments they find themselves in and how they ultimately triumph, all allude to the depth of plotting and world-buiding that is at play here. Everything, however innocuous links to something else.

There are many, many critics of Goodkind and the Sword of Truth series. Most cite the fact that his stories tend to fold into them a lot of 'objectivist' theory. Goodkind has been greatly influenced by the works of Ayn Rand for instance. They also talk about the sado-masochistic elements of his stories (which I've already mentioned). All I can say is, the series has been a thoroughly entertaining read from start to finish — so far — and I'll continue to read the adventures of Richard and Kahlan for as long as Goodkind is prepared to write them.

I won't even bother to go into detail about the utterly abysmal 'Legend of the Seeker' TV series that Sam Raimi produced some ten years ago now. I was surprised it lasted even two seasons. Not sure why Terry Goodkind allowed it to be made, but the stories deserved much better. Considering what's now been done with the Game of Thrones series of books, somebody should have another stab (no pun intended!) at adapting this.

I could go on forever about this series and as you'll see, another in the series is also part of my top ten.

Thank you random tube train guy. I'm forever in your debt!

www.terrygoodkind.com

My Top 10 Books

  • Splinter of the Mind's Eye

    Splinter of the Mind's Eye

    I vividly recall going along to a Christmas Day gathering at one of my aunt's in 1978. All of the

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My Top 10 Films

  • His Girl Friday

    His Girl Friday

    OK. I have to 'fess up here to being a huge Cary Grant fan. I think all of the adjectives

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Contact Me

Quote of the Day

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