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Archive for February, 2011

Book 3: The Man Who Would be King, Rudyard Kipling

This will be a much shorter review than the last one, mainly because it’s a much shorter book.

Book 3 of my challenge was originally going to be another Star Trek book but I’ve decided to leave that till a little later and do some other books first. This one is the first I’ve read of the free, public domain books I’ve downloaded for my Kindle.

The Man Who Would Be King was originally published by Kipling as the title story in a collection with shorter stories but this version stands alone.

The plot is quite simple but brilliant fun. It is told in the first person from the point of view of a British journalist on station in India at the height of the British Empire. In the film version the journalist is portrayed as Kipling himself but his identity is never revealed in the book. The journalist encounters two adventurers, Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnehan, on a train and they later visit him in his office in Lahore. They inform the journalist that they intend to journey to the least explored areas of the subcontinent. There they will find a backwards tribe and, with knowledge of weaponry and military strategy learnt in the army, help the tribe defeat their enemies and impress the tribe into making them into Kings. Needless to say their quest doesn’t quite go as planned.

The story is a fantastic little adventure and I found myself really wanting it to be longer and flesh out the details. To this end I’d really recommend the film, starring Sir Michael Caine & Sir Sean Connery as Peachy & Dravot and Christopher Plummer as Kipling. The film really uses its extended storytelling abilities to bring to life and embellish Kipling’s story, filling in the many gaps in time the story skips over.

Maybe that review wasn’t too much shorter than last time after all!

Great story but too short, I wanted more! 7/10

50 Book Challenge so far:
Books: 3/50
Pages: 1219/15000

Next up: Biggles and the Deep Blue Sea, Captain W.E. Johns

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Book 2: The Teeth of the Tiger, Tom Clancy

I recently finished the third book of my 50 book challenge for and started a fourth so I thought it was time for an update.

As I’d said previously, my first book was the first part of the Deep Space Nine relaunch series, Mission Gamma which consists of four books so I’ll review the series as a whole when I’ve read all of them. That brings us to book 2.

The Teeth of the Tiger by Tom Clancy was, until very recently, the latest book in Clancy’s ongoing Ryanverse series of novels relating the life of John Patrick ‘Jack’ Ryan. Ryan was a reluctant CIA officer who eventually ended up as President, and I’ve loved all the books up to now. TotT however focuses on his son (Jack Jr.) beginning his own intelligence career at a black ops operation known as The Campus.

The whole Jack Ryan Jr. concept was my first clue that this novel would be a departure from the norm. I read this on kindle but I looked at the book in the shop when it came out and I was struck by how much shorter it was than his normal books. They bound it up in a large book to make it look good on the shelf with the others, but the type size and margins are both much larger than average so I’d say it’s about half the length of your average Ryanverse book.

So I mentioned just above that Jack Jr. was working for a new black ops organisation called The Campus and that’s the next problem with this book. The Campus is a private enterprise with a remit to defend the people of the United States through whatever methods necessary. Set up on a direct line between the NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland and CIA at Langley, Virginia so that it can intercept all signal communications between the two it has an investment bank as a front that uses intercepted intelligence to make money via investments to fund it’s operations. There are so many plot holes in the description of this place that its totally unbelievable that such a place could ever exist. It’s also totally out of character for Jack Ryan Sr. to have signed off on the place in the first place and he certainly wouldn’t of handed them a pile of signed blank presidential pardons so they’d be safe in the event they were ever rumbled. It’d be too easy for them to get into the wrong hands and an organisation like the campus would easily get out of control.

In all, The Teeth of the Tiger is a passable thriller, but it pales in comparison to the rest of the Ryanverse so I was pretty disappointed.

4/10

Book 3 review will follow shortly.

50 book challenge progress:
Books: 2/50
Pages: 1144/15000