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David Brain "Scurra" (London, UK)

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The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within
The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within
by Stephen Fry
Edition: Hardcover

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can this man do everything?, 22 Nov. 2005
Anyone who's watched QI knows that Stephen Fry is alarmingly well-informed about a ludicrously wide range of subjects. Not content with being a talented writer-performer, in this book he reveals another string to his bow in what should surely become one of the standard text-books for teaching poetry, both for writing and for appreciation.
He has the knack of a good teacher of not making you feel stupid or patronised; even when he labours a point he brings in endless new examples. And it's gloriously funny too - even the technical glossary at the end has jokes hidden within.
Even if you never thought you wanted to learn about poetry, you should do yourself a favour and try this book. You won't regret it.

Earth, Air, Fire And Custard
Earth, Air, Fire And Custard
by Tom Holt
Edition: Hardcover

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy end to a fine trilogy, 6 Feb. 2005
People who have been following the career of Paul Carpenter ("The Portable Door" and "In Your Dreams") will think they have some idea of what is going on in this, the third book of the sequence. The hints dropped in the first two books (especially the whole "living sword" business that is over-emphasized at the end of In Your Dreams) tend to suggest that this will be more of the same. To some extent it is: yet more rogue partners at JW Wells, insight into Goblin society, new twists on the magic ideas and the usual insane inanity (or is that inane insanity?) that Holt specialises in.
And then the stakes suddenly pick up. Everything you thought you knew turns out to be almost, but not completely, wrong. Some brilliant retro-continuity makes you look at incidents in the first two books in a different way. Even the relationship between Paul and Sophie, which had been the thread of "normality" that ran through the books, is picked up, twisted around to breaking point and generally messed around with to a delightfully masochistic extent.
But... for me it was all a bit too much. The "hero" motif that Holt has explored before becomes a too convenient get-out, and by the end the plot has got so complicated that he even abandons any explanations to avoid a JK Rowling-like hundred page exposition (although I confess that the whole "not you again!" death sequences are very funny even at the end.)
Not the best of the three, but certainly a worthy conclusion to a fine sequence that is a step up from his previous work.
I don't know if Holt plans to revisit Paul in the future (I almost hope not) but for the moment this will do fine.

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