The Bloodline of the Holy Grail

If you believe that Dan Brown came up with the theories found in The Da Vinci Code, then you are sadly mistaken. More than two decades ago, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail made controversial speculations pertaining to a Messianic lineage. Having been granted access to European Sovereign and Nobel archives, and to chivalric and church repositories, Laurence Gardner's The Bloodline of the Holy Grail begins where the previous book ended.

Based on his research, Gardner gives us a detailed account of the supposedly authentic line of succession of the Blood Royal (from the sons of Jesus and his brother James). The author also shines some light on the ruthless attempts by various religious authorities to suppress the truth.

This book should appeal to anyone who has enjoyed Brown's controversial novel. But The Bloodline of the Holy Grail is more thesis than novel, thus it doesn't always read that easily. There are over 140 pages of notes and references, genealogical charts, bibliography, etc.

This book goes back in time, tracing the origins of the bloodline. Following in Jesus' footsteps, Gardner studies the Messiah, the Apostles, the crucifixion, and what occurred next. The author then elaborates on Paul's mythological view of Jesus. Understandably, Mary Magdalene plays an important role in this book, and so does Joseph of Arimathea. The rise of the Roman Church is studies as well.

We then follow the bloodline through the Pendragons, the legend of King Arthur, the Crusader Knights, the persecution of the Templars, the Kingdom of the Scots, the Age of Chivalry, the Inquisition, etc. All in all, a fascinating book to read.

If you have an open mind, this thought-provoking book is an interesting read. If you are a die-hard Christian, don't bother picking this one up. . .

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 25th)

In hardcover:

With a reported 89, 000 copies sold in the first 4 days following its release, Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams debuts at number 1. Which is not surprising, since this newest The Wheel of Time volume is the fourth one to debut at number 1 on the NYT list.

Diana Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes drops 3 spots, ending its third week on the list at number 6.

Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys is down 6 positions, finishing the week at number 19. This marks the book's fourth week on the prestigious list.

Terry Brooks hangs in there, with High Druid of Shannara: Straken dropping 2 spots to finish the week at number 25. This marks the 6th week the novel has been on the NYT list.

Terry Pratchett's Thud! continues to go down, dropping 6 positions to end its fifth week on the list at number 31.


I've been a fan of L. E. Modesitt, jr. for well over a decade. The Saga of Recluce remains one of my favorite series, and I also enjoyed the author's The Spellsong Cycle for its originality. Hence, I was eager to discover his latest series, The Corean Chronicles. I was hoping that this new trilogy would be accessible enough to allow new readers to discover the writer who is, in my humble opinion at least, fantasy's best-kept secret. Hopefully the secret's out!;-)

The premise of the story is nothing new: Millennia in the past, a magical disaster caused the downfall of a great civilization, thus ending a golden age. Corus is now a world of contending countries. Much has been forgotten about magic and the past, although remnants remain. And a number of elusive mystical creatures still exist, though most are considered legends. Pretty simple, you say? But Mr. Modesitt never leaves anything simple. His books comprise what I would call "intelligent" fantasy. Superb characterizations, worldbuilding of the first order, and a human touch that is second only to Robin Hobb's (who is without peers in this aspect) are hallmarks of a majority of his novels.

At the heart of Legacies lies Alucius, who is another one of Modesitt's strong three-dimensional characters. Another hero who's no hero -- just someone doing the best he can to stay alive and regain his freedom. The author always manages to pull this off, even after all these years. The supporting cast offers a number of interesting men and women. But this is Alucius' tale.

The pace is a bit slow, however. Especially at the beginning, as we watch the young protagonist grow up. There is a lot of military action, so fans of battle scenes should be satisfied. Even if the rhythm is slow, never is it sluggish. We gradually learn more about the world and its societies through Alucius' eyes, which keeps us turning those pages. That and a few glimpses of the ertswhile Duarchy which fell during the Cataclysm.

The narrative flows very well, and the dialogues are perfect. Honestly, I expected no less from this talented writer.

I truly liked the setting. Like R. Scott Bakker and Robin Hobb, Modesitt elected to forgo the habitual medieval European environment, thus creating something fresh. Magic plays a very minor role in a world that is close to industrialization. Firearms are the weapon of choice used by all.

The storylines are interesting, although Legacies seems to offer just a brief glimpse of what this series is meant to become. There is a lot more to Alucius than meets the eye; that is more than a little obvious. And it does appear that Modesitt has a lot more in store for the rest of the series.

The various societies found throughout the continent are certainly at odds on many levels. It will be more than a little interesting to see how it all plays out. I am always amazed by how Modesitt can create such a solid backdrop (as he did with the Recluce volumes) while maintaining the individual storylines and show how much they can affect the world around them. Those storylines always have a high level of credibility, because the characters actually pay a price for everything they achieve.

The pace could well be a factor for some readers not accustomed to the author's style. Otherwise, Legacies is a solid introduction to what could be a very good series. I remember saying the same about The Magic of Recluce. . .:-)

Fantasy fans looking for something different should add this one to their "books to read" pile.

The final verdict: 7,5/10

Here are your winners!

Well, it's now official!

The winner of Robin Hobb's Shaman's Crossing is Candy U.

And the winner of Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys is Ned Light.

Congratulations to you both, my friends!:-)

Stay tuned for more!

Contest Winners

I just wished to inform everyone that the two contest winners have been notified. In order to claim their prize, they have one week to respond with their contact information. Otherwise, runner-ups will get their hands on a copy of Hobb's Shaman's Crossing and Gaiman's Anansi Boys.

As soon as I hear from them, I will announce the names of both winners. Their contact info will be forwarded to HarperCollins, and the publisher will ship the books directly to them.

As I've already mentioned on a number of message boards, I attempting to interest publishers in doing more contests. I'm currently working on the details of another contest in collaboration with Penguin Books Canada, with the prize being a couple of copies of Bakker's The Thousandfold Thought.

So stay tuned for more! And thanks to all who participated!;-)

The new issue of Gryphonwood

Just forgot to mention that the new issue of this independent magazine is now available online at So if anyone is interested in reading fantasy short stories, etc, that's the place to visit.:-) By the way, they are always looking for new talent and contributors. . .

The Other Fantasy message board

Hi guys!:-)

Just wanted to invite everyone to join us at the OF Board on Yes, it is probably the biggest Robert Jordan website on the net, but the Other Fantasy message board discusses everything that is not Jordan (My review of Knife of Dreams was cut!). Interestingly enough, most people there don't even like the author. It takes a minute to register, and then you're in!

You'll find a lively community of well-read guys and gals, all with a very broad range of topics. So what are you waiting for!?! Give it a shot. You probably won't be disappointed. Just based on the recommendations I got from those guys in the last few months, well it makes it more than worth my while.:-)

There is only one requirement: You have to love fantasy/scifi, whatever the form!;-)

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 18th)

In hardcover:

Diana Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes drops two spots to finish it's second week on the NYT list at number 3.

Neil Gaiman's excellent Anansi Boys is down 5 positions, ending the week at number 13. The novel has been on the bestseller list for 3 weeks.

Terry Brooks' High Druid of Shannara: Straken continues to drop, down 7 spots to finish its fifth week on the NYT list at number 23.

Terry Pratchett's Thud! is down 6 positions, ending the week at number 25. This marks the book's fourth week on the list.

In paperback:

Troy Denning's Star Wars: The Unseen Queen drops 6 spots to finish its second week on the bestseller list at number 28.

Knife of Dreams

Let me begin by saying that I'm a fan of The Wheel of Time. And I've been one since 1991. So I certainly have a bias when it comes to Robert Jordan's series. I will agree that the last few volumes are not as great as the initial six volumes, those which established The Wheel of Time as the most popular fantasy series in the world (other than Harry Potter, of course). In recent years, many readers started to doubt that Jordan could pull this off. And a multitude of haters began to appear on message boards, mud-slinging Jordan and his work at every opportunity. Be that as it may, for my money WoT is still the best fantasy series on the market.

Although a big fan, I will be the first to admit that the pace of the last three volumes doesn't compare with the others. But having finished Knife of Dreams, it is now apparent that Jordan had to set many pieces on the board before he could make his move. In any event, my opinion is that The Path of Daggers is the only novel that left things to be desired. It is now evident that A Crown of Swords, The Path of Daggers, Winter's Heart and Crossroads of Twilight were transition books tying up the storylines of first six volumes with that of the last two volumes.

Readers will be glad to learn that the pace of Knife of Dreams takes an abrupt turn for the better. A sense of urgency permeates every plotline. Tarmon Gai'don is coming soon. There is no longer any doubt about it. Those who were blaming Jordan for stagnating storylines will see that things are rapidly going downhill now.

Without the shadow of a doubt, Knife of Dreams is the best WoT novel since Lord of Chaos. Several main and secondary plotlines converge toward the Last Battle. We witness the resolution of a number of them, some that have begun in The Eye of the World. One in particular (which has been hinted at in the very first book) truly blew my mind. Jordan is really moving forward now, and series is gaining momentum with every chapter. Those who have been keeping tabs of Min's viewings, Egwene's dreams, and the Prophecies of the Dragon will realize that many of them are being fulfilled in this book.

I don't wish to include "true" spoilers in this book review, but everything I say here could be perceived as one. So don't read the following if you are afraid that you might discover anything you shouldn't before you've read the book. So what plotlines are converging toward Tarmon Gai'don, you ask? Here are a number of them:

The Children of the Light seemed to lack direction since Pedron Niall's murder. Having sworn fealty to the Seanchan invaders, many Whitecloaks are not happy about that. And many are willing to forget both law and custom, if only someone will lead them to ride for the Light in the Last Battle.

Rodel Ituralde sets events in motion that will, or so he hopes, bring the Seanchan armies after him and into the deadly trap he has set for them.

Terrible tidings from Seanchan threaten to shake the Empire to its very core. Suroth, who is still searching for the Daughter of the Nine Moons, is presented with an unexpected opportunity which could have grave repercussions on both side of the Aryth Ocean. All she needs is to kill someone. . .

The Red Ajah secretly plans to deal with the Asha'man, unbeknownst to the Amyrlin Seat. But will the M'Hael let them set foot in the Black Tower?

The Black Ajah continues to foment discord to break the White Tower from within. But more and more Black sisters are found and forced to swear new oaths on the Oath Rod.

Perrin plans to rescue Faile and the others from the Shaido Aiel. And in the town of Malden, he will set in motion a bold plan that requires an agreement with the damned Seanchan to succeed. Perrin has not played such an important role in a book since The Fires of Heaven.

Betrayed at the end of the last book, Egwene is returned to the White Tower, but not the way she expected. She soon discovers that dissension threatens to break the Aes Sedai apart. Elaida doesn't have the full support of the Ajah. Shielded and drugged, Egwene nevertheless forbids any rescue attempt by the rebels massed before Tar Valon.

With their Amyrlin Seat captured, there are troubles among the rebels, as Lelaine and Romanda fight for leadership. One sister will return to Tar Valon with the hope to make the White Tower whole again. But she is not received the way she expected she would be.

At a Forsaken meeting, Moridin reveals that a Chosen thought dead appears to have resurfaced. The Nae'Blis orders them not to kill the Dragon Reborn. But Mat and Perrin must die. It becomes obvious that both have very important roles to play in the struggle to come.

There is discord among the Shaido. Sevanna continues to speak for the dead clan chief Couladin. But if a new clan chief returns from Rhuidean, her leadership of the clan will come to an end.

Mat continues to court Tuon. But he soon realizes that the High Lady is no easy catch. He finally understands what Aludra is planning. He also learns that the Seanchan version of the Prophecies of the Dragon proclaims that finding the one who blew the Horn of Valere is as important as finding the Dragon Reborn. The damane foretelling pertaining to Tuon is finally revealed.

Thom reveals the content of Moiraine's letter to Mat, thus revealing a secret that we have been waiting for for years.

Pregnant with Rand's children, Elayne can no longer channel the One Power as she used to. Still, she must attempt to secure the Lion Throne and bring order back to the city of Caemlyn. No easy feat, especially since that there are powerful enemies she is not even aware of. Meanwhile, Kinswomen continue to be murdered.

Aviendha discovers that she possesses a new Talent. But she is separated from Elayne when Rand sends the Wise Ones and the Aiel to Arad Doman.

Rand barely escapes death at the hands of his enemies. After a battle with one of the Forsaken, he realizes that the presence of Logain, Cadsuane, Nyanaeve and Alivia doesn't guarantee that he will reach the Last Battle alive. Lews Therin continues his fall into madness, seemingly bringing Rand down with him. Revelations are made pertaining to what he learned from the Aelfinn.

Loial must address the Great Stump, for he is the bearer of secrets he must keep even from the Dragon Reborn. But he promises to be at Rand's side at Tarmon Gai'don.

Major developments between Nynaeve and Lan. Very satisfying indeed!

Troubling news reach the Atha'an Miere, but the Coramoor has need of them. Logain warns them that the Last Battle is approaching.

The rebel Aes Sedai receive an unexpected offer from the Dragon Reborn, an offer they can't refuse. As the identity of the murderer in the camp is finally revealed, Halima and Delana disappear.

We finally discover where the original sisters of the Black Ajah, those who left the White Tower in The Dragon Reborn, are located and what they are doing.

And this is just a glimpse of what Knife of Dreams has to offer. It's the most satisfying WoT novel in years. With enough revelations, action, battle scenes, resolution, etc, to make any reader happy. If this book doesn't reconcile the doubters with The Wheel of Time, nothing will. As for the haters, well. . .;-)

The final verdict: 10/10

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 11th)

In hardcover:

Technically not fantasy but close enough, Diana Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes debuts at number 1.

Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys is down 7 spots, ending the week at number 8. This is the book's second week on the NYT list.

Terry Brooks' High Druid of Shannara: Straken continues to drop, down 2 spots from last week, finishing at number 16. This marks the novel's fourth week on the list.

Terry Pratchett's Thud! drops 4 positions, ending at number 19. This book has been on the NYT list for 3 weeks.

In paperback:

Troy Denning's Star Wars: The Unseen Queen debuts at number 22.

Win a free copy of Neil Gaiman's ANANSI BOYS

Hi there!

In collaboration with HarperCollins, I'm organizing a little contest in which the lucky winner will receive a free copy of Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys from the publisher. All you have to do to register is to leave your name and email address in the comment section. One name will be randomly drawn, and the winner will be contacted so that he or she may forward me their mailing address. And a few days later, the book will be delivered to your doorstep!;-)

Yes, it's that easy!!! Many thanks again to HarperCollins for accepting to do this!

Good luck to all the participants!

Win a free copy of Robin Hobb's SHAMAN'S CROSSING

Hi there!

In collaboration with HarperCollins, I'm organizing a little contest in which the lucky winner will receive a free copy of Robin Hobb's Shaman's Crossing from the publisher. All you have to do to register is to leave your name and email address in the comment section. One name will be randomly drawn, and the winner will be contacted so that he or she may forward me their mailing address. And a few days later, the book will be delivered to your doorstep!;-)

Yes, it's that easy!!! Many thanks again to HarperCollins for accepting to do this!

Good luck to all the participants!

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 4th)

In hardcover:

Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys makes an incredibly impressive debut, holding the number 1 position of the NYT list.

Terry Pratchett's Thud! is down 11 positions, finishing the week at number 15. The book has been on the list for 2 weeks.

Terry Brooks' High Druid of Shannara: Straken is down 3 spots, ending the week at number 14. This latest Shannara novel has been on the bestseller list for 3 weeks.

In paperback:

Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is up 5 spots, finishing the week at number 23. This marks the novel's third week on the NYT list.


Since there is an ever-growing number of people who visit these parts, and since no one wants to waste time perusing every post I've written thus far, here is a little index of what's been happening since the beginning of the year.:-)


- The Book of Words trilogy (J. V. Jones): Book review (My very first. . . And worst!)
- Children of Amarid (David B. Coe): Book review
- The Outlanders (David B. Coe): Book review
- La Crème de la Crème (part 1): A list of my all-time favourites
- Eagle-Sage (David B. Coe): Book review


- Fall from Grace: David Eddings article
- Shadowmarch (Tad Williams): Book review
- Things that make you go hmmm. . .: Terry Goodkind article
- La Crème de la Crème (part 2): A list of my all-time favourites
- Ship of Magic (Robin Hobb): Book review
- Close but no cigar: A list of runner-ups that almost made it to my all-time favourites' list
- Mad Ship (Robin Hobb): Book review
- Around the World: Budget traveling article
- Ship of Destiny (Robin Hobb): Book review


- Top 5 Ongoing Fantasy Series: Poll results
- The Runes of the Earth (Stephen R. Donaldson): Book review
- Europe's Low-Cost Airlines: Budget traveling article
- Favourite Fantasy Authors of All Time: Poll results
- Tad Williams Interview: Interview
- The Silences of Home (Caitlin Sweet): Book review
- Best Fantasy Series of All Time: Poll results
- Hostels around Europe: Budget traveling article
- Quicksilver (Neal Stephenson): Book review


- L. E. Modesitt, jr. Interview: Interview
- So you want to be a book reviewer?: Article
- Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (Matthew Stover): Book review
- Favourite Fantasy/Scifi Characters of All Time: Poll results
- The Confusion (Neal Stephenson): Book review
- Amazon's synopsis for Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams: Synopsis
- The System of the World (Neal Stephenson): Book review
- Darth Vader's Blog


- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith: Soundtrack review
- The Darkness that Comes Before (R. Scott Bakker): Book review
- Check them out!: Websites of interest
- Best Fantasy Artists: Poll results
- Best Fantasy/Scifi Stand-Alone Novels: Poll results
- The Warrior-Prophet (R. Scott Bakker): Book review
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith: Movie review
- Fool's Errand (Robin Hobb): Book review
- The Contiki Experience: Budget traveling article
- Golden Fool (Robin Hobb): Book review
- R. Scott Bakker Interview: Link


- Fool's Fate (Robin Hobb): Book review
- The Great Ladies of Fantasy: Poll results
- It's Only Temporary (Eric Shapiro): Book review
- In the King's Service (Katherine Kurtz): Book review
- Tad Williams Interview: Link
- The Curse of Chalion (Lois McMaster Bujold): Book review
- Paladin of Souls (Lois McMaster Bujold): Book review


- Robin Hobb Interview: Interview
- The Years of Rice and Salt (Kim Stanley Robinson): Book review
- Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman): Book review


- The Golden Compass (Philip Pullman): Book review
- The Subtle Knife (Philip Pullman): Book review
- The Amber Spyglass (Philip Pullman): Book review
- Dune: The Butlerian Jihad (Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson): Book review


- Dune: The Machine Crusade (Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson): Book review
- Dune: The Battle of Corrin (Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson): Book review
- Robin Hobb Interviews: Link
- Raymond E. Feist Interview: Link
- Shaman's Crossing (Robin Hobb): Book review


- One Palestine, Complete (Tom Segev): Book review
- Anansi Boys (Neil Gaiman): Book review

Anansi Boys

This is the story of what happens to someone when his father (who just so happens to be the trickster spider-god Anansi) doesn't have the decency to die appropriately. When Fat Charlie's father drops dead on a karaoke stage in Florida, holding on to the ample bosom of a tourist from Michigan, he will in effect ruin Fat Charlie's life.

And if that wasn't enough -- and God knows that it is more than enough for poor Charles -- Fat Charlie is also reunited with the mysterious twin brother he never knew he had, who will find several ways to mess things up and inadvertently make Fat Charlie's life miserable.

Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys is quite a treat to read. The pace is just perfect, with relatively short chapters that beg you to read just another one before your bedtime.

What gives this novel all its flavour is Gaiman's witty sense of humour. Pretty similar in style to that of Neal Stephenson, but with a story that is much more accessible. Indeed, anyone could read Anansi Boys and enjoy the ride. For me, Gaiman's sarcastic and ironic humour made me laugh out loud a number of times.

There is an endearing cast of characters, all of them more colorful than the other. The dialogues are great. Nothing is overdone. Everything speeds the story along, keeping you turning those pages.

As appear to be the case with each of Gaiman's novels, the imagery is arresting. If this author ever teamed up with Tim Burton to make a movie, it would probably be incredible!

The only shortcoming of this novel is that you reach the ending too rapidly. I wish it could have been longer. But the pace would like have suffered from that. . .

All in all, a truly wonderful read. Anansi Boys could well be the most fun you'll have reading this year! Definitely a book to buy!

The final verdict: 9/10

One Palestine, Complete

Although I'm a relatively big political guy, this weblog was never meant to be political. Hence, I never thought that I would one day review a political book at some point. But this one pertains to a reality we see on the evening news basically every day. Which was, in the end, what compelled me to share this book with you.

The book in question is Tom Segev's One Palestine, Complete. In a nutshell, it's a history of the Arabs and the Jews under the British Mandate (1917-1948). I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever asked the question, "How did it all begin?"

At the beginning, Palestine was a rather remote region of the Ottoman Empire. Following World War I, the British took control of the country. Both Arabs and Jews wished for independence, and both sides assumed that they would gain it under British sponsorship. And yet, just before the conquest of the country, His Magesty's Government announced, in the infamous Belfour Declaration, that it viewed with favour the aspiration of the Zionist Jews to establish a "national home" for the Jewish people in Palestine.

The book tracks the rise of both national movements and their inexorable advance toward inevitable confrontation. It contains a wealth of information and is really insightful.

Drawing on a vast number of archival material, private letters and personal diaries, the pace of the novel is at times very sluggish. It could have been a good hundred pages shorter.

Regardless of your political position in regard to this conflict, I believe that it makes for interesting reading. Definitely not for everyone, but a good book all the same.