Jan 30, 2018

Where Eagles Dare–Book Review

For me some of the books authored by Clive Cussler, Jack Higgins, Ken Follett and Dan Brown as and when the novel reaches the end I feel why not add another 50 or 100 pages to the story. This I felt when I finished reading Where Eagles Dare.
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I came to know about this novel when joined good reads, then I got the DVD watched it before reading the book. This year in the book exhibition I bought Alistair MacLean's suspense thriller  "Where Eagles Dare"

Mission:
A team of 6 British special forces headed by Major John Smith and one American Lieutenant Morris Schaffer were airdropped behind enemy lines to rescue an US Army General George Carnaby having secret with him about D-day plan, he who had crash landed and is in the custody of Germans in an impregnable fortress, an inaccessible eyrie set between mountain and sky, Schloss Adler.
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Hohenwerfen Castle it is been named as Schloss Adler in the movie  & book Where Eagles Dare.

Though the mission looks to be simple but the team also has double agents and on the way to Schloss Adler two members die mysteriously. There are many twists in the story, is Major Smith is really from British force or is he a German and double agent named Major Johann Schmidt? Is the crash landing of the American General is a drama? What so special about the General George Carnaby? and more questions arise when we dwell into the story.

The humorous exchange of Smith and Schaffer all along the adventure (it made me laugh most of the time), the breathtaking action over the cable car, the superb plan of Smith to enter Schloss Adler, his psychological approach towards his adversaries are so beautiful to read. The book is below 300 pages and I feel one time reading is not enough. The only drawback is that the first 30 pages drags on and when the seven member team lands on Weisspitze the story picks up speed and it becomes a page turner.

My rating Five Stars.
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Jan 23, 2018

Superman III–Book Review

I have read this comic book dozen times. First time it was in 1990 and I was a school boy, borrowed this book from the library and used a tracing paper to get the action images of Superman.

My artwork for this book


This book is the official adaption of Superman III movie. Gus Gorman is an unemployed guy living in Metropolis. He becomes a computer programmer and was hired in Webcoe Industries. Clark Kent goes to his school reunion in Smallville, one the way he happens to see a fire accident. Superman uses his super breath to freeze the Comooga lake and drops the giant ice over the industry there by dousing the flames. Clark meets his old sweet heart Lana Lang, a mother who is now divorced and she facing hard time. One day while they were enjoying the picnic, Clark's super hearing picks up the moaning of Ricky's dog. Clark changes to Superman and saves Ricky and his dog from the wheat thrasher. Later Clark asks her to come to Metropolis so he can find a job for her. She accepts the offer.


Panels from christopherreeve.co.uk

Same time Gus uses his programming skill to steal money which is untraceable by the company. But his lavish spending gets noted by Webcoe Chairman Mr.Ross Webster, instead of giving punishment Mr.Webster asks Gorman to press the right buttons for his needs. Gus concedes to his wish. First he uses the Vulcan weather satellite to create flood in Colombia. As Webster is tasting his first victory, Gus rushes to tell him that Superman had intervened and saved Colombia and every coffee bean.

In rage Mr.Webster commands to create an artificial kryptonite to kill Superman so he can easily succeed in creating oil shortage. In a ceremony in Smallville, Gus impersonating as military officer presents the kryptonite. Nothing happens to Superman but the effect is felt later as Superman straightens the Pisa tower.


Panels from christopherreeve.co.uk

Gus asks his boss to help him in making a Super Computer and he gets it. Lana Lang and her son Ricky comes to Metropolis as the whole world is in oil crisis. There Ricky sees Superman and his pathetic condition. Ricky's appeal makes a change in Superman's attitude. A superb plot evolves which trait will take over Superman, good or evil, as Superman meets his alter ego Clark Kent they fight against each other and the good one prevails.

Superman now knows who is behind the crisis as he flies to Webster's home to put an end. But the party has escaped and they have given a challenging message. What happens when Superman meets the Super Computer? What happened to Gus Gorman the computer genius and his boss Ross Webster are all given in the remaining panels of the book.



Panels from christopherreeve.co.uk (panel showing the fight between Superman and Clark Kent)

The artwork is by my favourite artist Curt Swan and Sal Amendola, I had a feeling that Curt Swan work is limited to some panels. Apart from the other characteristics, the book gave a nostalgic feeling, making me remember the joy of school days. This book is a must for Superman fans and also Christopher Reeve fans.

Jan 21, 2018

Treasure–Book Review

Plot 1:
391 AD  Julius Venator, a Roman plans to save the treasures of Library of Alexandria before it has to be destroyed by the order of the king. He takes a group of soldiers and roman slaves with a fleet of ships and buries the treasure. Before getting back to the ship the natives kills all the slaves, his legion and all his ships lost but one ship Serapis escapes.

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Left is my book and the right is from a website

Plot 2:
Lily Sharp, a professor of anthropology at Colorado and her team discovers a Roman coin in Greenland. At the same time a plane carrying Hala Kamil the Secretary General of United Nations, been hijacked and crash lands near the discovery site.

Plot 3:
Would be dictator of Mexico, Topiltzin wants to change Mexico into old Aztec empire, the US President sends a secret envoy but he kills him and sends back the envoys heart and skin as his answer.

Plot 4:
Egypt is in turmoil, a fanatic Akhmad Yazid aspires to become the President of that country by revolting and assassinating. A  greatest assassin, feared and respected by the CIA and the KGB and one of his  hitman Suleiman Aziz Ammar, he uses him for his growth in politics.

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From the pages of the book


The book starts with a historical prologue July 15th 391 AD in which Julius Venator, a Roman, along with a group of soldiers and slaves, sail in a fleet of ships ferrying the treasures from the Library of Alexandria trying to save it from Emperor Theodosius I , who had ordered to destroy the works of great minds. Venator a learned man, finds a secret place where he can bury the treasure. After the treasures are safe in the underground cavern his team the Roman soldiers, and slaves are all slaughtered by the natives. While one small ship Serapis manages to get away, they never reach land and the secret of the treasure is lost.


As we turn the pages plot 2 takes place and Dirk Pitt is trying to locate the sunken Russian submarine, and then helps the two damsels in distress, first he saves Lily Sharp and then Hala Kamil. Dirk and team continue in discovering a tablet from Serapis, the one from Julius Venator fleet. The tablet reveals the treasure and the place. As they further research, Hala Kamil is again saved by Pitt (a superb plot two Mercedes Benz 300 SDL chasing a 1930 L-29 Cord Town Car driven by Pitt)

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Inspired from the novel my artwork of two Benz car chasing Pitt’s 1930 L-29 Cord Town Car

Not every time Pitt is there to save Hala, under Akhmad Yazid his favourite mercenary Suleiman Aziz Ammar hatches a fool proof plan and kidnaps Hala Kamil and delegates. A secret meeting takes place in Lady Flamborough in Punta del Este, as Ammar takes over the ship carrying on board the UN Secretary General, President of Mexico DeLorenzo, Egyptian President Hassan and Pitt's father Senator George Pitt. Ammar uses all his tricks to outwit Pitt, did he outwit our Hero? Did Pitt saved the VIP hostages? did NUMA find the secret burial place of Julius Venator? What is the connection between Topiltzin and Akhmad Yazid? all these are revealed in the final chapters of the book.

A super fast express ride from start to finish by the author Clive Cussler the Grand Master of Adventure.


Some famous lines from the novel.


(1) Is there no hope for survival asked Ismad. None, said Ammar firmly. Absolutely none.

Dirk Pitt relaxed and slouched in a swivel chair... (when reading this line, I got goosebumps as the atrocities committed by Yazid and Ammar reaches a climax, is there nobody to check them, the answer Dirk Pitt)


(2) Giordino was Pitts insurance policy against Murphy's Law.


(3) (When Hala Kamil questions Pitt out of shock when he tries to save her from the crashed plane)

Who are you and what do you want? She demanded in a husky voice with a slight trace of an accent. A dumb question was the first thought that crossed Pitts mind, but he quickly wrote off the woman's testy challenge to shock. He smiled his best Boy Scot trust worthy smile.

My name is Dirk Pitt. I'm part of a rescue team from the United States ship Polar Explorer.

Can you prove it?

Sorry I left my driver's license at home.


(4) Dinner? asked Pitt innocently, funny thing. Knight continued, Just before Doc Gale surgically repaired the flight attendant torn knee ligaments, she mentioned a dinner date with you too.


Pitt had a pure as the driven snow expression on his face. I guess they must be hungry.

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(5) Lily, climb in the rear and keep your head down. I don't want you hurt. What about me? Giordino asked in resigned indignation. Don't I rate a little concern? Give me one good reason why I should sit up there exposed with you?

To protect your trust chauffeur from harm, evil and unsavory felons.
Definitely not a good reason.

Pitt tried another tack. Of course there's that fifty bucks. I borrowed from you in Panama and never paid back.

Plus interest.

Plus interest, Pitt replied.


(6) Pardon me, Sir Pitt asked politely. Can you play "Fly me to the Moon"  (after crashing landing in an Inn, Pitt asking the piano player to play that beautiful love song)


(7) He has a capacity for appearing in the right place when you least expect him.


(8) know one man who will never give up. She looked at him questioningly. Who? My son Dirk. (George Pitt speaking to Hala Kamil when they are in the Lady Flamborough)


(9) If they come after us, asked Findley, do we throw rocks? My life is guided by the Boy Scout motto, replied Pitt.

He held up a semiautomatic shotgun for Findley "You said you hunted some, Clayton. Here's an early Christmas present. A twelve-gauge Benelli Super Ninety.


(10) Welcome to Sam's Roman Circus. Then he noticed Pitts face, cane and limp. "Fall off your motorcycle? " Pitt laughed. "The short end of a saloon brawl.


(11) Topiltzin ignored the remark. "You can begin with your name, your title and function in the American bureaucracy.

"My name is Dirk Pitt. My title is Mister Pitt. My function is United States tax payer and you can go straight to hell.

Jan 13, 2018

Code Name Barracuda

Code Name Barracuda first English edition was released in 1967 January. In Tamil Nadu Barracuda and his accomplice Frollo is known as CID Lawrence and David. The adventure of Lawrence and David was a super hit in our Country. Aged 35+ will remember the adventure stories titled Flight 731 (Payment in Death), Manjal Poo Marmam (The Evil Ones) the mega hit stories mesmerized most of us.

code_name_barracuda

The story starts in Guild Hall, London as Scotland Yard conducts a farewell party to their Chief Of Crime Department, who is been assigned to work in UN Spy Force, our Heroes Barracuda and Frollo were also present. The doubting Thomas Frollo was very keen in watching the Chief as he suspects that the agents from WAM (War Against Mankind) might try to assassinate him. A bearer stabs the Chief from behind and runs off from the Guild Hall, as Barracuda and Frollo chases him. Before they grab him the bearer dies suddenly. The autopsy reveals that the person died of Brain haemorrhage.

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(Click the above images to enlarge)

Barracuda is asked to safe guard another officer from FBI, Edgar Glendale who is also assigned to work in UN forces. They travel with him in BOAC Cunard flight to New York. On the way as expected the duo stops the assassination attempt by an air hostess and she also dies instantly. The mystery thickens and the x rays of victim shows a device planted inside the brain. Help from the technical people, the mystery was solved that the transmitter has two triggers one to give command to kill and another triggers the transmitter to explode and kill the assassin.

 panel_3  panel_4

(Click the above images to enlarge)

To capture the agents of WAM a foul proof plan was made. Did they find out how WAM make innocents to become assassins? Did they find out the secret lab of WAM? all these are answered in the remaining pages of the book.


A superb suspense action story, good plot line and beautiful art work.

Jan 7, 2018

Ancient India, 2000 B.C. - 800 A.D.

In my college days though my major is Botany, I always hang around the history section in the library. Whenever I take huge bound history books my librarian will question me why you are borrowing these books, is this going to help in your botany studies, I simply say it is one of my interest. Sometimes he will not allow me to take history books. One such book is this green bounded Ancient India 2000 B.C. to 800 A.D., authored by Romesh Chunder Dutt, C.I.E., I.C.S, Barrister at Law, Fellow of the University of Calcutta, Member of the Asiatic Society in Ancient India and the book was published in the year 1904 five years before his death. And also the book was published before the discovery of Indus Valley Civilization.

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The author R.C.Dutt

One of the Chennai book club members gave the link for this book. The first chapter itself was not satisfying as the author has mentioned that the dark skinned aborigines are barbaric in nature and they lacked civilization, come on, do the Dravidians are uncivilized in 2000 B.C. We were a greatly civilized, peaceful people with rich culture and loved our language we can give lot of examples from the poems of Tamil Sangam Age.


Apart from his biased writing he has given much importance to Northern India from 2000 BC to 800 AD. After the decline of Vardhana rule that is Siladitya II (Harsha Vardhana) he mentions that India went into dark ages for 200 years until the rise of Rajputs. So here also he did not touched the rise of Chola, Pandya, Pallava rule and their architecture. The book should be titled as Ancient Northern India, 2000 BC - 800 AD, instead of Ancient India, 2000 BC to 800 AD.


I like to quote some of the lines from the book.


1. Hindu women in these ancient times had their legitimate influence on society. Child marriage which is now practiced in India, was unknown then, and the stories of the epics which we have narrated will show that royal princesses were married after they had attained womanhood. The marriage of widows which is now prohibited among Hindus was allowed in ancient times, and the rites which a widow had to perform before she entered into the married state again are distinctly laid down. Marriage among blood relations to the third or fourth generation was prohibited.

2. The history of the Hindus begins with their settlement in the Punjab and their conquest of that province from the dark skinned aborigines. This war of conquest and colonization went of for centuries.

3. Epoch III Rationalistic Age Hindu Expansion over India B.C. 1000 – 320


In the Vedic age the Hindu Aryans conquered the aborigines of the Punjab and settled on the banks of the Indus and its tributaries. In the Epic Age they founded powerful kingdoms in the Gangetic Valley as far down as Behar.

Jan 5, 2018

The Human Beast

Another Indrajal comics that I read. This time, Phantom saves a baby gorilla and names him as Buster. Phantom tries his best to send back Buster to his tribe. Unfortunately he cannot find them.

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My artwork for the comic

On his long trip to high mountain Phantom leaves baby gorilla to Wambesi tribe. The king orders Tola to look after Buster. But Tola torments Buster and once he sets fire to the cage, Buster is badly burned and scared. Buster escapes and collapses in the jungle. Unable to find the gorilla the King lies to Phantom that Buster had died by a mysterious illness.

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Buster pokes fainted Phantom as Devil and Hero looks on.

Baby gorilla at last finds his tribe but they rejects him, Buster becomes lonely tortured by humans and rejected by his own kind. Years rolls on, Buster becomes adult gorilla and he destroys many villages. His legend grows and the tribe people name him as the old baldy. As they cannot control Buster they ask the help of Phantom.

How did Phantom tames Buster? what happens to Buster in the end is all beautifully given in the book.

The panels by Sy Barry and story is by legendary Lee Falk an enjoyable read.

The Mysterious Bank Robbery

There are many stories related with the Jungle Patrol. And this comic book “The Mysterious Bank Robbery” is one such. In the year 1664, the 6th Phantom who subdued pirates such as Redbeard asks their help to form an organization to fight piracy, they willingly consent to Phantom’s plan and Redbeard becomes the first Colonel of the Jungle Patrol. Later the Phantom becomes the mysterious Unknown Commander of Jungle patrol.

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In this comic book one jungle patrol recruit private Brown did not believes that there is an unknown Commander and enters the Commander’s room with his friend to see who the real commander is.


But Phantom who use to visit the office from a condemned well writes the orders to punish the two privates. Brown visits a bar and he was drugged by underworld thugs. They uses his Jungle Patrol uniform and steals money from the bank. After their work they leave the false mustache inside uniform.

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The news of Bank robbery reaches the Colonel of Jungle Patrol and he orders all the recruits to tell their whereabouts. Brown tells him that he did not know what happened and he shows the false mustache. The Bank Manager identifies Brown with mustache as one of the robbers.

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One of the Old Jungle saying “When the Phantom is rough – he is very rough”

Phantom visits the jail and comes to know that Brown is telling the truth. How did Phantom manage to find the real robbers, upheld the justice and the prestige of Jungle Patrol remains the other half of the story.

Nobody will complain the story of Lee Falk. I enjoyed reading the book.