“Through me you go into a city of weeping; through me you go into eternal pain; through me you go amongst the lost people”
― Dante Alighieri, The Inferno
Inferno is the first part of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy and portrays nine circles of Hell. The narrator, together with Roman poet Virgil, explores them as the journey contemplates on recognition and rejection of sin.
In the fifth circle, Phlegyas (king of the Lapiths in Greek mythology) ferries Dante and Virgil across the swampy waters of the river Styx. It is where the wrathful and are punished and are condemned to fight each other on the surface of the damned river. Their punishment reflects their sin.
The fifth circle has been brilliantly captured by the Flanders-born mannerist artist Stradanus and it is one of his most well know works. Stradanus’ works include other paintings that were also inspired from Inferno.
Download Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
I loved all Batman movies directed by Nolan. May be I still love them. But to me, they are no longer the best representative of the essential Batman spirit.
Batman, created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, first appeared in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939). There are countless standalone issues and series featuring Batman. The notable ones include The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight and Batman: Hush.
The most famous, however, would probably be the Knightfall saga. In this epic story, Bane breaks Batman’s back. It’s perhaps the most shocking incident after Superman’s death.
“I am Bane and I could kill you.”
“But death would only end your agony and silence your shame.”
“Instead I will simply break you.”
“Broken and Done.”
The story, complete in 3 volumes and more than 1800 pages long, feels a lot more epic than Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises or any other films directed by him. Of course, you can’t fit 1800 pages in 3 hours. But for this very reason, the Knightfall series has more depth and is more enjoyable.
Bane devises a strategy to set loose all of Arkham Asylum. He provides weapons to the criminals and utter chaos follows. Batman fights them as he always does, but it weakens him and Bane just waits for the right opportunity to strike. He breaks Batman but what happens then?
The knightfall saga includes three books:
Volume 1 – Knightfall
Volume 2 – Knightquest
Volume 3 – Knightsend
If you like Batman comics, go for it. If you don’t, still go it. You cannot possibly be disappointed
Download free ebook / comics: Batman: Knightfall
Genre: Crime/Hardboiled/Detective Fiction
Did you think Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest was the most shocking piece of crime fiction you ever read? Try Jonathan Latimer’s Solomon’s Vineyard. Horrific animalistic motives, gruesome events, creepy characters and unapologetic sex will smoke Hammett to ashes.
A noir tale. A classic example of hardboiled detective novel.
A private dick comes to town to rescue a wealthy heiress and avenge the death of his partner. He stumbles upon a cult group whose leader, long dead, seems to rule from his grave. Our dick fights a bloody war with a mob boss and crosses path with a femme fatale.
Latimer, quite clearly, is a no-nonsense writer. He gets down to business right away without wasting time. Graphic violence, ethnic slurs, moral ambivalence, booze and guns combine together to form something outrageously offensive. And for this very reason, the story becomes diabolically entertaining. Not for the faint-hearted.
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy
Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
Alright, here is my new bookshelf. The store calls it Aberdeen Bookcase. This one is somewhat modern. My other bookcases are quite traditional library like things.
I have three more shelves and all squeezed in a single room due to space crunch. For good or for worse, they cannot accommodate any more stuff. That’s when books started piling up on the floor.
The homeless books piled on the floor now finally have a shelter. Still leaves me with a bit of space in the shelf and a lot of space on the floor to pile more books
How do you like it? Would love to see some pictures of personal libraries of fellow bibliophiles.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Who on earth expected a well researched historical take on imperial Rome from Edger Rice Burroughs? Told from the point of view of one of Caligula’s slaves (Brittanicus), this is one of Burroughs’ more mature works. Sadly, it’s long out of print; you’re lucky if you can manage a copy. Note that I Am a Barbarian is one of the only two historical novels written by the author; the other being The Outlaw of Tor.
Brittanicus is brought by Caligula’s parents to be a companion to their son. The slave watches Caligula grow up from a spoiled brat to an insane ruler. The ruler both trusts and fears Brittanicus. The story describes the adventures of Brittanicus and yes, there is a romantic angle too. Dejah thoris is substituted by the slave girl Attica.
Action packed, poignant and humorous at times, I am a Barbarian is one of the finest novels Burroughs has ever written. Surprisingly, even his trademark flat characterization is replaced here by well defined and fairly intricate individuals. Burroughs’ writing style is imaginative and crisp.
This is an epic novel of historical adventure and altogether a darn good package. You don’t have to be an ERB fan to enjoy I Am a Barbarian.
Ace Edition (1974). Cover Art by Boris Vallejo.
Historical fiction of Robert E. Howard
Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace
Merry Christmas and a very happy new year in advance.
During this time of the year, we have a local book fair hosted in my part of the city. This is a kind of warm up to the International Kolkata Book Fair (world’s largest non-trade book fair). Bought myself a few bookish presents
Okay, here’s the lot:
Great Cases of Interpol by Reader’s Digest Association
A top notch collection of real life cases with photos and illustrations. “Not to be read in a single sitting” as my favorite editorial duo Mr Wagner and Mr Wise often suggests for anthologies. Too generous a ration of crime may defeat its intended purpose.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Okay, I admit I haven’t read it. It has become a bedtime partner since yesterday and seems like a modern Dickensian work. Bought it for what would be about $2.00 in US currency. Can’t stop congratulating myself. The deal itself was worth the delay. Dash it, it wasn’t.
Reader’s Digest Illustrated Story of World War II
Being a history buff, I am rather happy that I bought this one. Definitely not for scholars and provides just an overview of WW II, but makes an interesting presentation with lots of rare pictures.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad
Any bookish party is incomplete without vintage, fragile penguins. So here they are. Haven’t read them, but they are already my favorites.
So what do you think of the lot? What have you bought this Christmas?
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Brood of the Witch Queen is one of the creepiest and scariest books of Sax Rohmer — the creator of the fiendish Fu Manchu and Sumuru. Originally serialized in a British Magazine, this intriguing Egyptian tale of ancient curse and black magic takes you from London to Cairo involving a great adventure.
Set in London in the early 1900s, this is a tale of ancient sorcery with vampires and crawly bugs. Dr. Richard and Robert Cairn fights against diabolical powers and a dark figure called Anthony Ferarra. And the odds turn terrible when Ferarra’s ancient ancestor — a Polish/Jewish witch that placed a curse on her husband’s family — casts her evil shadow.
Rohmer’s novel reflects his passion for dramatic prose and abrupt ending. Also, the characterization seems a bit wooden. Nonetheless, Brood of the Witch Queen holds a lot of value in terms of pulp entertainment. This fast moving novel is full of adventure and creepy scenes. The plot, though predictable, will not disappoint you. Though the book is about a century old, it does not seem much dated.
Not a perfect story, pretty much over the top, but Brood of the Witch Queen is pure escapist fun.
Jewel of the Seven Stars by Bram Stoker
The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley
Brood of the Witch Queen by Sax Rohmer ebook Download