Kurt Angle’s autobiography is a quick, enjoyable read about how the youngest child of a working class family rose to become an Olympic champion then become one of the biggest names in professional wrestling of the last two decades. Angle opens up in detail about his family life while growing up and how it influenced him as he pursued his athletic dreams, the honesty in this section of the book really makes one realize how determined Angle became to be the best in the world. The amateur wrestling descriptions throughout the first half of the book, especially in the detailing of individual matches, was THE highlight of the book for me as I learned about the sport. The final half of the book details the first 18 months of Angle’s WWF/E career and his growing pains, both good and bad, in the ring. The insights Angle gives in this section not only opens up the business to long-time “smart” fans about the inner workings of the business, but also how an accomplished athlete like Angle critiqued himself throughout the process. The only negative was that Angle repeated somethings a few times in the book and considering the short length of the book, it really stood out. Besides that negative this was an enjoyable read and a recommended read.
In Winter’s Heart, the ninth installment of Robert Jordan’s epic series, the author learned the lesson from his previous entry (The Path of Daggers) by having one of the myriad of character arcs from the beginning of the book develop over it’s course so as to reach a conclusion at the end of the book. This dominating character arc was the series’ primary protagonist, Rand al’Thor aka The Dragon Reborn, who’s dual goal was to kill those who had attempted to take his life at the end of the previous volume and to cleanse the male half of The Power from the Dark One’s taint. The other strong point of Winter’s Heart is the return of Mat after being missed in the previous book, like what happened to Perrin in The Fires of Heaven. Elayne and Perrin’s arcs continue as well, though they are tertiary in the grand scheme of this book especially as Perrin’s is partial seen through the eyes of his wife, Faile.
Jordan’s return to having a dominating story arc that gives the book a beginning, middle, and end is big improvement over The Path of Daggers. However, of all the story arcs given space in this volume only Rand and Mat’s seem to have traction throughout. Elayne’s arc is broken up into several portions through the book while Perrin is gone after the first third of the book. It seems that in correcting the problem Jordan had in The Path of Daggers, he messed up the transitions from story arc to story arc that were a plus from The Path of Daggers.
Whatever the flaws, the last 34 pages of Winter’s Heart can make up from some of them. The last chapter, With the Choedan Kal, is one of the best (but not the best) that I’ve read in the series so far and by far the best since Book 5, The Fires of Heaven. Overall if I could give Winter’s Heart a 3 1/2 stars I would, however unlike The Path of Daggers in which I rounded down to a 3, but for the ninth installment I’m giving a 4.
Originally I skimmed through this book almost a decade ago in preparation for my Senior History Oral Exam and only focused on the overall theme questions listed in my study guide at the time. However this past week while actually reading Chronicles of the Crusades and found thanks to the excellent translation, a easy read and very informative on its subject matters. Of the two chroniclers, I found Jean de Joinville the easier to read because of his style of writing. Most likely the spread and evolution of romantic literature influenced Joinville’s style of being more down-to-earth and slightly easier to read when compared to Geoffrey of Villehardouin, who was more matter-of-fact and somewhat “stiff.” However, just because Geoffrey’s style is a little “stiffer” doesn’t mean it’s not easy to read nor informative about the establish and early years of the Latin Empire of Constantinople. If you’re interested about first-hand accounts of the Crusades, specifically the 4th and 7th, this is the book for you.