Savage Garden

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Martin insisted that “Lost in Babylon” was a must-read. I agreed, hesitantly.

After a semester of studying Modernist Literature, I wondered if I turned into a snob. Did I forgot to enjoy reading? I must admit that Peter Lerangis was a genius, as I never thought that within the depths of the Euphrates, one could travel back to the past. This doesn’t mean that anyone could pass through a time portal and had the chance to see Babylon in all its glory. Only descendants of the (lost) continent of Atlantis would be lucky, which would be Ally Black, Cass Williams, Marco Ramsay and Jack McKinley. This what “The Seven Wonders” series was all about.

“The Hanging Gardens rose on the other side of the Euphrates. They were more like an explosion of greenery than a stately ziggurat. If colour were sound, the flowers would be screaming in the sun. They thrust through every columned window, draped the shoulders of every statue, obliterating the fine carvings on the walls. Their vines in the breeze like the hands of bullet dancers, and water rushed through marble gullies like distant applause.”

I wasn’t disappointed when Ally, Cass, Marco, and Jack finally set foot in the gardens, guarded by animals like the Viszeet, which kill their prey with their spit. There were also black birds, with skin like bronze. These, and other fierce creatures unheard in Greek mythology (or Roman, for that matter), were brought to Babylon by Kranag, garden keeper who was once an inhabitant of Atlantis. He didn’t imitate Noah, but used some powers that these four teenagers were searching for. (In the first book, the Colossus of Rhodes hid the power to fly. In the Hangings Gardens, it was the ability to be invisible.)

Lerangis’s second novel answered some questions in “The Colossus Rises”, which made me quite frustrated. One was many have survived the deluge that doomed Atlantis, one of whom was Daria. Jack seemed to be infatuated with her, or it was just me. Second was the names of the antagonists that our young protagonists were pitted against. (The ending was rather unexpected, but I should have guessed.) There was a degree of predictability, which seemed to be a thing in Young-adult fiction. In fact, a few chapters described a pyramid in Egypt, which wasn’t discovered. Yet. Then and there, I believed that the pyramids of Giza would be the setting for the next adventure. Martin had trepidation. I tried to suppress a smirk, as Lerangis wouldn’t read “The Kane Chronicles” first. It would be coincidental if there would be similarities.

I wanted to shake that feeling of boredom, which I felt in some chapters. I didn’t want to look too far ahead, as Rick Riordan’s next series would be a modern update on Norse mythology. This would be more exciting. This doesn’t mean that the remaining books in “The Seven Wonders” would offer less. Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. Statue of Zeus at Olympia. Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. Lighthouse of Alexandria. I was certain that Lerangis would think of something about these places, which might piqued my curiosity.

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The Colossus Rises

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Peter Lerangis didn’t ring a bell, until Martin raved about “The Heroes of Olympus”.

Rick Riordan’s novels didn’t touch on the mythical continent of Atlantis, as well as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, my course-mate pointed out. This was where Peter Lerangis came in, he added. Or so he thought. I would like to give the New York-born author a benefit of a doubt, but Martin’s insistence that Lerangis might have read Riordan’s books prior to his writing of his own series might be true at all.

I read “The Colossus Rises” during Reading Week, in between my break from the reading list. Lerangis’s premise was intriguing, about Atlantis not being lost at all. The power that made it a great civilisation was preserved, hidden in seven different places. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The first book brought three teenagers to the Dodecanese, where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood. It was believed that an earthquake didn’t destroy it. I almost forgot that these three teenagers, three lads and a gal, were descendants of the people of Atlantis. Martin believed that the similarity between these youngsters and the teenagers of Camp Half-Blood was no coincidence, but I haven’t read Riordan’s novels.

“The Colossus Rises” didn’t excite me much, but this was the first of the series. I was really looking forward to the next book, “Lost in Babylon”, as I was curious about Lerangis’s imagination, on how he would depict Babylon.

12 Angry Men

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“It’s always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth. I don’t really know what the truth is. I don’t suppose anybody will ever really know. Nine of us now seem to feel that the defendant is innocent, but we’re just gambling on probabilities – we may be wrong. We may be trying to let a guilty man go free, I don’t know. Nobody really can. But we have a reasonable doubt, and that’s something that’s very valuable in our system. No jury can declare a man guilty unless it’s sure.”

– Juror #8

Sidney Lumet’s “12 Angry Men” was part of the watch list, under American Cinema. I don’t know what to expect, unfamiliar with black-and-white flicks. I viewed it, not thinking that I have to write a paper about it, afterwards. I was pleased, not because it was a great picture.

The first thirty minutes would reveal twelve jurors, from twelve different backgrounds. They must decide if the young lad was guilty of stabbing his father. It should be a unanimous decision, but one juror was perceptive. He thought otherwise. What happened next was a case of character study, of how an individual’s upbringing and beliefs would influence his opinion on the young fellow. I was referring to a person’s prejudice(s), which one member would show. The other members’ reaction was priceless, probably the defining moment in the movie.

The moral lesson of the flick was to give the individual, charged, some reasonable doubt – and proved innocent (or guilty). Easier said than done, but I believed that this wasn’t the movie’s appeal. It was about one perceptive fellow, who kind of played the game of divide and conquer. After all, he was the only one who believed in the lad’s innocence. One hour and a half later, he convinced most of them. One was forced to, sort of, but for personal reasons. For one hour and a half, I got to know the jurors, personally. A few weren’t likable, but I wasn’t watching the film to judge them. After all, I could see myself as flawed as any member of the jury, not sure if the lad was guilty. But a decision had to be made, and reasonable doubt must be established.

I don’t know how my course-mates found it, if they fancied talkies. But I would recommend it.

Hey, how’s it going?

Manteresting. This is how I describe myself – in one word.

I don’t have any particular interests. I’m an avid sportsman, keeping myself up to date with the latest in the UEFA, FIS, and ATP. I like the outdoors for many reasons: photography, sightseeing, and having fun with my course-mates. I haven’t been to the continent, but this is I want to do next term. I’m particularly drawn to old castles, its romantic aspect that I can write about. I can’t get enough of it in this part, which is why I set my sights on Germany and France.

In a way, I can be adventurous. I can also be eclectic. But I don’t see myself participating in a No Trousers Day. I’m into heavy reading, now and then, which is the reason why I study Literature. There are instances that I can be intense, so procrastination won’t be a problem. I’m not pulling a leg, as my house-mates can attest on this.

I want a blog of my own, where I can share my ideas and experience with my mates – and anyone else. Anything I like, anything I fancy. This is an introduction, so the next post will be more interesting. Maybe tennis.