June 6, 2019
When I tried to think of the best description for how I felt at the end, all I could think was "thought provoking" which isn't very original, but is an apt observation. I find myself thinking about what it was about Alex that made him so good and so conflicted and, sometimes, so efficient at being vicious. Besides being a haunted human, he is a haunting character who is still stuck in my head. He may not leave willingly.
I am not a Budhhist and have never practiced Budhhist meditation, but I found the techniques in the book fitting for the character. The corporate intrigue and corruption that started in Book I intensifies in Book II. The murderous characters and ingenious plot are sure to keep readers interested throughout. I found it to be a compelling story, and the twists and turns at the end were exciting and, for the most part, led to a satisfying end to the tale.
From the Slums to the Falklands war
June 2, 2019
Alex is raised in very poor conditions and overcomes it all with intelligence and grace, even humility. He is very empathetic toward his fellow humans, in fact. Not my idea of what makes a psychopathic serial killer. However, the title doesn't say, "The Making of a Psychopathic Serial Killer" now does it? The first scene, in which Alex is 10-years-old, he witnesses older boys cause the deaths of two innocent bystanders. He was acting as a lookout as they committed a robbery. His reaction was that of any genuinely decent person when he was horrified. He made the decision not to notify the authorities or get help, which was plain self-preservation and would have been useless anyway. He was definitely hanging out with the wrong crowd for which he suffers some consequences.
Alex's ability to adapt to his environment and to get along with people in different walks of life, indicate his intelligence as much as how well he does in school and military training. However, he can't completely overcome his upbringing when dealing with his marriage. He doesn't beat his wife, as was common in his neighborhood, but he selfishly neglects his family as he betters himself. I think some of his behavior can be justified by the untimely bursting of his condom resulting in a forced marriage and an unwanted "bairn" when he was very young. If they'd had better birth control, if an abortion had been possible, if he hadn't gotten married so young.....everyone experiences these forks in the road where things take an unexpected turn that shapes their futures for better or worse.
Interwoven with Alex's perspective are the memories of his wife as she lies on her deathbed. She's hooked up to life support after suffering a stroke. This gives the reader more empathy for what she went through and more insight into Alex from another point of view. I don't know if I quite believe that doctors would conclude she's "brain dead" with all that activity going on inside her head, but it's a scary scenario and a creative vehicle for the story. Would you want to be unplugged? I still say, yes!
The rampant corruption in the business world as well as politics is well laid out and reads like a true story, although the author assures us it is all fictional. This book doesn't allow a fictional possibility for what is happening in real life -- a corrupt businessman taking over leadership of a major country, thereby melding political turpitude with business corruption. Real life is even more horrifying than fiction these days!
I am old enough to remember when Margaret Thatcher took Britain to war in the Falklands. Reading this book provides deeper insight (especially for an American) into the why and whatfor of those events. At the conclusion of book 1 there is a section of historical facts and definitions that lend more depth to the events of that era.
I have learned that my preconceived notions of what to expect from this author are generally surpassed by each of his yarns. I highly recommend this book as I look forward to finding out where the second book will take Alex.
Whatever ideas you generate to write novels about, there is always someone out there doing it.
From the Times, (UK) May 24th letters column.
One Judy Breese wrote in response to an article the day before in which Sir Mathew Paris revealed his desire to 'release' his bonsai tree. Judy Breese related how her father gave her a bonsai oak. On his death 20 years ago, she planted it and it is now 50 feet tall.
Revolution- Aaron Aalborg- The reason this book is dangerous is because it is so complete. Using real history, mixed with quite possible events during the
60s and moving into our near future, a revolution unfolds. But don't call it that because people don't like violence. I kept humming "You say you want a revolution. Well, you know, we all want to change the world." But the characters in this book, unlike The
Beatles, don't shy away from destruction to attain their goal which is to change the world for the better.
It boils down to those wealthy few (elitists) who have everything and more, those would-be royal families who think they deserve "more than", who believe they are "better than" who continue to amass because they can. Sociopaths and psychopaths who rise to the top because they are ruthless. These are the kinds of men and women who will do anything to keep what they have and obtain more - more wealth, more power, more everything. They don't care that others have nothing and are barely surviving. They know that they deserve what they have and those other people do not.
How do you rid the world of such elitism and greed that seemingly knows no bounds? The level of thought that went into documenting a plan to do just that in a well written work of fiction is impressive. The ending surprised me. I've read enough Aaron Aalborg's books that I thought I knew where this was going and had an idea how it would end. I was wrong.
If this makes you curious, you should read the book. If you like historic novels, you'd find this enjoyable. I normally do not, but I loved this one because it is an exciting thriller from beginning to end. The historical events are what make it frighteningly realistic.
If I was in a book club this is the kind of book I'd enjoy reading and discussing with others. Book clubs are usually filled with Oprah's recommendations and she probably wouldn't read this one, although she should. There are even questions provided at the end for a book club discussion.
I (a person who is not Oprah) highly recommend this book for an exciting, thought provoking diversion from our current ridiculous affairs. As a bonus, it also provides a satisfying conclusion to where it could be leading us. Each chapter begins with a quote, so I'll end this review with one of my favorites: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." John F. Kennedy
Latest 5 star review on Amazon
Blood Axe- the saga of a 21st century viking, by Chris J Clarke
5.0 out of 5 stars- Full of surprises
May 3, 2019
This saga started out surprising me. Yes, it's what the cover says it's about: Viking re-enactments (like American Civil War re-enactments) that go way beyond their original intent. The first surprise was that the original Blood-Axe Vikings were normal, successful, retired Englishmen who were bored merely playing golf while their wives went shopping or to yoga classes.
The reason the whole successful enterprise gets out of hand also surprised me. There were twists and turns throughout that kept me amused, entertained and horrified (in a fun way).
Describing the book without giving away the plot twists is impossible, so just think Terry Pratchett's Silver Horde meets Midsomer Murders in the Twilight Zone. I thoroughly endorse this to anyone looking for a bloody good time.
I've learned to trust that this author will deliver a lively tale that makes me laugh while serving up some truly outrageous, yet frightningly believable, scenarios.