The works of J.R.R. Tolkien

The works of J.R.R. Tolkien
A long time ago when i first got interested in books, my dad gave me his copy of the hobbit to read, I never even finished it. As a teen i was insulted by the writing style, this is a kids book i said to him and that was that. Our family played alot of board games and every so often my dad would bring out his Lord of the Rings game and naturally i got quite interested as the board was the map of middle earth.  The game was Riddle of the Ring if your interested http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2157/riddle-ring
I bought myself a copy of Lord of the Rings back in ’99 and was quickly drawn into the world of middle earth and as such i have read it every year since
The movies came out and i found myself fielding questions from friends about plots and events. Occasionally something would stump me so i began to delve into more works. And bought every single book my Tolkien or his son. (i have 31 at the moment)
So now every year i read the entire epic of Middle Earth. I start with the Sillmarillion, then hit up the Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings and finish up with Unfinished Tales
Tolkien’s works have really set the standard for fantasy novels for me, i wont touch any unless it has a similar sense of depth and history. To this day the only other fantasy works i have read is a Song of Ice and Fire.
Even with the vast array of works i still find myself with unanswered questions and a desire for more.  Sadly this cant be, Tolkien died along time ago and his son has extensively gone through all his fathers notes to find as many stories as possible.  Alot has been published posthumously
The saga of middle earth would have to be my favorite book(s) and yet each time i read it i still discover more. Just this time it clicked as i was reading some of the genealogies in the appendices that Galadriel is Elrond’s mother in law.
Anytime i meet someone who hasn’t read it, i slowly coerce them to get it but it is a lot to take on, so i work it back wards from how i read them. I get them to read Lord of the Rings, in it it mentions a lot about the hobbit. So after Lord of the Rings they get curious so then i give them the Hobbit which explains a few things for them but then if still curious i give them the Sillmarillion ,it is probably the hardest of his works to swallow because it is  a collection of stories about the forming if the world. Coming of elves and men and of the first dark lord  (Saurons boss Morgoth) if only somehow Peter Jackson could make a Sillmarillion movie, armies of dragons and Balrogs oh what a sight. The Unfinished Tales is more like a giant appendices, it contains some expanded stories mentioned in the Silmarillion but it also has some good parts like, More information about the 5 wizards and the start of the abandoned sequel to Lord of the Rings.
Needless to say Tolkien has a shelf all to his own and i will continue to read these stories year after year until my eyesight fails me.

Ascendance – John Birmingham

Ascendance – John Birmingham

Since i found out the author wrote these books at the same time, it stands to reason i should read them at the same time. The story flows from one book directly into the next. i was initially worried that this book would wrap up the series and that would be the end. which would be a shame as i have really enjoyed this story. As funny as it seems i really like the main character Dave, Don’t get me wrong he is a womanizing lowlife who should treat his wife better.but i think its something about how he isn’t the perfect hero, he is just an ordinary man with ordinary problems and suddenly becoming a superhero doesn’t wash them away

Dave screws up big time and allows a high level Government agent to get captured, The Hunn (they are pretty much orcs) then use his knowledge to launch an attack on civilian populations around the world. In New York Dave finds another like him a Russian spy who’s magical weapon is a samurai sword. As the Hunn’s tactics get smarter Dave begins to understand their goal. Realizing his family is in trouble he heads off to save them with his superhero friend in tow

The battle that follows as he tries to save his family has quite a surprising conclusion and it really leaves the door open for more Dave Hooper books well at least i hope so!

Resistance – John Birmingham

Resistance – John Birmingham

Just couldn’t put down the previous book in this series, so i thought there was no point mucking around and dived right into the next one. The story picks up pretty much right after the previous one with Dave still coming to terms with his new superhero status. Monsters and orcs are nothing compared to his next foe….. a divorce lawyer. With the world under attack with multiple sites of Orc attacking cities, his wife still finds time to get a divorce lawyer. i guess thats a priority for some people. but before Dave can deal with that situation he is called upon to help break a siege

The orcs are camped outside of Omaha but aren’t attacking they wish to negotiate? Military commanders just want to decimate the group of orcs just sitting out in the open, but their leaders are curious as to what the orcs want. On a separate note these military commanders aren’t as gung-ho as i thought they would be. they seem quite rational. and on a separate even more puzzling note it is mentioned that China asked the US to nuke a city under attack by Orcs. Doesn’t china have nukes? why would they get the US to do it. No surprise the US is happy to abligde

Everything is complicated further when Dragons start popping up. well not really dragons they have some other name but essentially a dragon. they even take down the Vice presidents plane. Its another great read with lots of humour no thanks to Dave’s new lawyer who not only deals with the divorce issue, but smashes out movie deals and and arranges dinner with brad pit to discuss the role.

Going to jump straight into the next one for sure

The Great Zoo of China – Matthew Reilly

The Great Zoo of China – Matthew Reilly

Jurassic Park but with Dragons, that’s all i needed to know to wanna grab this book. i have never read anything by this author before but after this one I think I will be seeking out some of his other work. Also helps we have the same name and live in the same city.

What really resonated with me strongly about this book and in turn increased its appeal to me was that the impression you get when reading it is that he really did his research on this. He had a thorough and detailed explanation as to how dragons are real, where there place on the fossil record is(technically a dinosaur but closely related to crocodiles) and how they survived so long. He even linked this story with all the mythology and stories of dragons of old. This detail was what really sold me and made me think just maybe this could be true. I think the key to a strong story is that you have to believe what your reading and really feel for the characters.

The icing on the cake was it being set in china, totally believable that the Chinese would go over the top and bank roll something this audacious. It would never happen in the US. Politics and media would get wind and kill it before it started. China is such a powerhouse now, they are on the right track to overtake the US in terms of superpower status. Another aspect that sold the story and probably the most critical was the female lead. Sometimes you get a story where the lead just does things you don’t in reality think would occur. Reading the interview in the back of the book it mentions that this was the first female lead the author has had in his books. I am of the firm belief that the story dictates who the lead is and not society. Authors shouldn’t write a story with a female lead just to keep people happy as it just feels put on and you can tell they put it in there to keep people happy. But this story wouldn’t of worked with a male. They would of been pig headed and macho and would of got themselves killed doing something stupid. The female lead however took a different approach than one would assume she was level headed and analytical. This behavior made the story just that much better.

Truth be told anyone who has seen or read Jurassic Park knows exactly what is going to happen in this book, and as i turn each page i find myself thinking is it now? Eventually to my glee all hell breaks loose and we are led on a wild ride as we follow our heroes as they try and escape the park.

After reading this I really feel I need to look out for some more Aussie writers. I mean lets be honest our film industry doesnt have the money like hollywood, hence our movies arent the big block busters with special effects but books now thats a level playing field its just words on a page the only limit is their imagination