Saturday, 23 February 2013

New Spring: A Book Review

All right, people. So, I read some great books and this is one of the two I listed in a previous blog-post. To the uninitiated, this is a prequel novel to the epic-recently concluded-14 book, Wheel of Time series, which has spanned two decades and a little over an author.

I managed to get hands on the prequel only after reading 13 of the main series book and hence, my observations would obviously be coloured by what I already knew about the series. Nevertheless, I will try to give an unbiased viewpoint.

As you see, the cover shows four characters and most of the story is told from the viewpoints of two of them- al'Lan Mandragoran - an uncrowned king of a fallen kingdom (shades of Aragorn but trust me far cooler) and Moiraine Damodred (a channeller of some power trying to reach the upper echelons of the female wizard faction of the world known as Aes Sedai). Both of them appear in the first novel and play important parts in the last novel, so they are pretty much main characters (although with the sheer number of characters, defining major, secondary, tertiary and minor characters in Jordan's world is next to impossible).

The novel traces the beginnings of the journeys of the two to what they become during the course of the series and although, New Spring is nowhere near as enticing or mindbogglingly heavy as the rest of the novels, it does its job of laying the groundwork pretty well.

I would not however suggest reading the prequel before reading atleast 3 or 4 of the main novels, because of the assumption of familiarity that is required to fully understand the concepts and nuances of the prequel. So, unless you want to have questions like- "Who in the burning blight are Aes Sedai and what in the bloody name of light are Ajahs?", I wouldn't suggest picking this book up as your introductory point in the series, for another reason. The series begins on  a light note and grows more adult and this prequel is written more in the adult tone, so it might be an awkward bump to read the first novel after this.

That being said, the novel weaves in the characters and the plot nicely with the upcoming events of the first book, which is about 20 years away and the epic meeting between Lan and Moiraine, with both ending up drenched, which is always referred to in the novels, is simply that- epic. Some scenes are best left to imagination and I always thought this one was too, but it is a testament to Robert Jordan's writing skill and pedigree that he matches and surpasses expectations with this scene.

This was a soft breezy read and the search for the infant Dragon Reborn started from this very novel. A job well done.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Monthly Drudgery

Yes, yes, I know it's supposed to be a weekly thing, but hear me out. Not only have I been busy on the personal and professional front, I have managed to read a few books (of which reviews shall soon be up), but I have also discovered something, so freaking amazing, it has changed the way I write and has nearly tripled my writing speed efficiency. Hold on to your horses; I will get to it eventually.

Being a lawyer sucks because of the insane work pressure you're subject to and being immersed in a world of new inventions (I am a patent lawyer), only helps a bit. But this month, my personal life took precedence for once and I was able to attend a very close school friend's wedding. Yay! for him, but my parents took it as a sign to start pestering me for marriage as well. I am freaking too young for that. In fact, the other personal milestone was turning 26 recently (thanks for all the fish....and wishes), so you can understand my considerable horror at being woken up to a call from my parents wishing me a birthday and saying, now you're old enough, get married.

Anyways, away from all the mad hullabaloo of life, I managed to steal away precious moments of 'me' time during which I obviously picked up books to read. In fact, I lugged around a novel to read during the boring parts of the travel and was picked on for reading a 'dictionary' by friends. The nerve! Irrespective, I totalled a not-so-impressive tally of four novels during this period, all of which have been a pleasure to read.

Which brings me to the most important section of the post. The magic tool for writing:
No, no, not a wand. I wouldn't be that cliched. It's a DRAGON!

No, not the fire-breathing kinds. It's actually a speech-recognition software called Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 by Nuance.

Another speech-recog software? What's so great about that?

I hear your scoffs! This one is MILES ahead of anything else on the market.

"You talk, and it types. Use your voice to create and edit documents or emails, launch applications, open files, control your mouse, and more. Quickly and easily capture your thoughts and ideas." That's what it says on the site.

And capture your thoughts and ideas it does. It trains to recognise your accent, speech style and even pauses to identify punctuation. It even delves through your entire word-files to understand what style you write in. So, basically it's a dream come true for an author. Just say the words aloud, when you have an idea and poof! they are on paper.

Hah! But I don't carry a laptop or a tablet around me all the time and ideas hit me anywhere and everywhere.

But you do carry around your mobile- Just record a voice memo and come back and feed it to Dragon and you'll have everything written down again.

And this is all besides the normal voice control features it gives you. My mornings go something like this, nowadays.

"Wake up." To the mic configured to Dragon.
"Open Word."
"Fabius lashed out. His brother was dead and he'd played the leading role in it."
"Open Firefox. Go to Search synonyms for lash."

There you have it. The world of computers meshed with your ideas all at the beck and call of your voice.

So, go ahead! Buy it now. Yes, it's slightly expensive but the trial is free and the older versions are reasonably cheaper with not too much feature loss.

Still not convinced? This entire blog post was written with Dragon.

Signing off,