Friday, November 29, 2013

The Blinding Knife, The Lightbringer Series, Book 2, by Brent Weeks

01-19-14 UPDATE: Brent Weeks' publishers of The Broken Eye: The Light- bringer Series, Book 3, have announced a publication date of August 26, 2014 for the novel. I can hardly wait! This is such a great series, that waiting half a year seems like such a long time. So, meanwhile, pick a few good books and jump into them to help fill the time. If you check out my other blog posts, it may give you some ideas for your next read.
09-06-14 UPDATE: Brent Weeks' book, The Broken Eye is now out. I have reviewed the book and it is available to see on my blog. Simply click here to go straight to the review of The Broken Eye.

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks.
This title is available in Hard cover,
Paperback, and as an e-book
(Kindle Edition, from Amazon);
it is also available from as an audiobook.
Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     The Blinding Knife: The Lightbringer Series, Book 2, has just been awarded the David Gemmell Legend Award FOR BEST FANTASY NOVEL for 2013. The David Gemmell Legend Award  (DGLA) is a fan-voted award. This award has been active for five years: in 2009 it was awarded to Andzej Sapkowski for Blood of Elves; in 2010 it was awarded to Graham McNeill for Empire: The Legend of Sigmar; in 2011 to Brandon Sanderson for The Way of Kings; and in 2012 to Patrick Rothfuss for The Wise Man's Fear. The Blinding Knife is, indeed, in good company.
The David Gemmell Legend Award
for Fantasy

         Additional acclaim goes to Brent Weeks for The Blinding Knife, as a winner of the Reddit (fan-based-voting) for Best Novel, 2012. The Blinding Knife, also won The Book Spot Central, Seventh Annual Book Tournament for 2012, was a finalist for the 2013 Endeavor Awards, and was a nominee for the goodreads Choice 2012. 
Brent Weeks received the Reddit Fantasy Best of 2012
for Best Novel
: The Blinding Knife.
THE BLACK PRISM, Book 1 (a short recap):
The David Gemmell Legend Award
given to Brent Weeks, October 2013.
It looks as if Brent Weeks will have
a whole armory on his walls before
he is finished winning awards!
 At the end of The Black Prism, The Light-bringer Series, Book 1, the Prism, Gavin Guile, recognized that he had lost the city of Garriston and had gained thousands of refugees for whom he now had to care. Garriston was in the hands of a pagan army who now commanded the unassailable wall that Gavin Guile and his drafters had built to defend the city; to add insult to injury, General Corvan's daughter (Liv) had joined the enemy's side. And to make things even worse, Gavin had lost three-quarters of his personal Blackguard, and thousands of soldiers from his army. 

     Kip was coming into his drafting colors: he had drafted green, blue, and red--all at fifteen years old--he was now a polychrome. Kip had also just fulfilled his oath to his mother and had killed King Garadul. Corvan, speaking to Gavin Guile (about Kip), says, "He is your brother's son...lowered his voice...[and said] I knew you might need me to kill him someday...Gavin [thought he] would have to work twice as hard to keep the truth from [Kip]" [Kindle Location 11024]. Then, on the last page of the book, Gavin finds out he can no longer draft the color blue. That was the signal to him...he knew he was starting to die.
     The book opens with the defeated army, along with its 50,000 refugees fleeing Garriston, Tyrea. Kip is sent back to Chromaria to study to become a Blackguard--if he's good enough and passes all the tests. Gavin Guile and Karris Whiteoak head to Seer's Island to prepare a place for the 50,000 refugees who are following after, albeit, at a much slower pace. Gavin tries to hide the fact that he can no longer draft blue--this becomes an even bigger problem, for him and the world.
     Blue luxin is now unbalanced in the world, the magic is running wild, and the old gods are being reborn. Due to the unbalancing of luxin in the world, a "blue bane" forms out in the ocean. At the "bane's" center is an "Avatar," an old god, surrounded by an army of color wights. Since it is the job of the Lord Prism to maintain balance, he will have to destroy the "blue bane." The question is, "Can he do it, since he can no longer draft, blue?"

     Kip has his own problems. Kip must learn how to fit in with the other student candidates for the Blackguard--not an easy task when they all resent Kip for being the son of the Prism. He also has to fight off an assassin sent to throw him out the tower window, and then there is the bullet that misses him and kills another student.  His biggest enemy seems to be Gavin Guile's father, Andross Guile. Andross, on the edge of becoming a wight, forces Kip to play 9 Kings--every time Kip loses (and that IS everytime), Andross takes something precious away from Kip (Like his privileges in Practicum, "...the one place where Kip could learn to draft in any sort of organized way" (Kindle Location: 2290). Oh yes, one little thing...Andross Guile has been looking for a dagger that looks suspiciously like the one Kip has (the one he's been keeping hidden and secret).

Gavin Guile.
     By the the time we get to the climatic scene at around 89% of the book, we know that Gavin Guile is anything but a real hero. We know that he has switched places with his brother and imprisoned him, he has killed people to keep them from revealing his secret, sent his true friends to far corners of the earth, broke his relationship with Karris Whiteoak to keep his secrets, and more. He has even contemplated the possibility of eliminating Kip. Even the list he has created, a list of good acts to complete before his time is up as Lord Prism, goes unfulfilled. 

     A hugely important event occurs when Kip recognizes that Andross Guile is a red wight. At this moment in the story, events unfold that propel the story forward in a catastrophic twist for everyone. Everyone will be changed, no one will remain as they are. And, everyone has a choice to make.

     Can one choice, one decision, one act, change the power balance?...Can it pull Gavin down from his throne and elevate another?...Could Andross save or damn the empire? Could Kip finally become the man he wants to be, or continue to be the disappointment his mother (and himself) always thought him to be?

     Will this one decision redeem a man...or destroy him? 

The Broken Eye is being written by
Brent Weeks, even now. His last post
on his website indicated that the name
of the book would definitely be: The
Broken Eye
. Brent Weeks indicated that
the release date was still not set, as he
is still writing the book, BUT, it looks
as if the tentative release date will fall
sometime in the summer of 2014. All of
us fans of your work, cheer you on
Mr. Weeks!
     Whew!...So much is going on in this book, I am really stymied how Brent Weeks pulls it all off. By the time we reach the end of the book, Brent Weeks has so much action going, it takes your breath away...and...not just ordinary sword play, but twists and turns, and excitement galore! With the ending of the book, the world literally stopped for me. I found myself wanting, so badly, to continue reading. To continue finding out what happened to each of the characters. All to no avail. It was over.

     After having read this book, I can understand why it garnered the Legend Award for Best Fantasy Novel for 2013! It is AMAZING! It is AWESOME! Brent Week's book kept me on the edge of my seat. The only other books I could even begin to compare it to in AWESOMENESS are (1) Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson's, A Memory of Light; (2) Brandon Sanderson's, Way of Kings, and (3) Patrick Rothfuss's, The Wise Man's Fear. All of which have received acclaim and have been on best seller lists.

     Alright. Down to the bottom line. How do I rate this book? Well, a book this awesome gets nothing less than 5 stars out of 5!

Pages: 694
ISBN: 1841499072
Publisher: Orbit; 1 edition (September 11, 2012)
Sold by: Hachette Book Group
Language: English

  To all my readers, I hope you enjoyed reviewing Brent Week's book, The Blinding Knife with me this week. I want to give a shout out to Brent Weeks, first, for his wonderful book! Second, Mr. Weeks, we applaud your receiving the David Gemmell Legend Award FOR BEST FANTASY NOVEL for 2013. Well done. I, for one, look forward to The Broken Eye (hopefully) this coming summer of 2014.

Until next time...
White Rose.
...many happy pages of reading!

_____________________________________________ - The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks book cover image; -; - DGLA website (David Gemmell Legend Award); - Reddit Award; - The Blinding Knife; - The David Gemmell Legend Fantasy Award to Brent Weeks for his novel, The Blinding Knife, 2013; - Gavin Guile; - The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks (illustration of cover); - The Blinding Knife, The Lightbringer Series, Book 2; - 5 stars out of 5; - White rose.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Black Prism, The Lightbringer Series, Book 1, by Brent Weeks

The Black Prism, The Light-
bringer Series, 
Book 1, Paper-
back Edition.

Book Review by Sharon Powers.

    Welcome to this week's posting and review of The Black Prism. The Black Prism is Brent Weeks' first book in the new Lightbringer series.

 Brent Weeks is also the author of the poplar Night Angel Trilogy that includes (1) The Way of Shadows, (2) Shadow's Edge, (3) Beyond the Shadows; and the prequel: The Perfect Shadow (a novella). 

   A New World: Brent Weeks has created a new world,--far different than that in the Night Angel Trilogy--a world based on "Chromaturgy." Chromaturgy is a magic system based on colors and light. In this new world, a typical magic user can use a given color (as long as there is light) to draft, or create, seemingly out of thin air, objects made of "luxin."

Brent Weeks, author of
The Night Angel Trilogy,
and the new Lightbringer Series.
This magic use comes at a cost--it shortens the life of the magic user. For a magic user, or "drafter," over-use of drafting (or just drafting for many years), causes the "halo [to] be broken" (meaning that the white part of the eye has color encroaching into the whites). When the "halo has been broken," the drafter goes crazy and turns into what is called, a "color wight;"...sadly, at this point, nothing can be done for them, so traditionally, the drafter commits suicide before they let this happen to themselves. 

    The Lord Prism is the one person in every generation who can draft all colors. He needs to be able to draft all seven colors because in "[n]early every generation huge natural disasters wiped out thousands...[and the] Prisms prevented that. Gavin, the current Lord Prism, could feel what was out of balance long before there were any physical signs, and fix it by drafting the opposite color." [Loc. 471]

    In this new world, the Lord Prism, "ostensibly the emperor of the Seven Satrapies,...." [Loc.481] lives in the dual island nation of Chromaria, surrounded by "The Seven Satrapies." Each Satrapy is related to one of the seven colors and exists as semi-independent state, governed by a Satrap. 

"A little residue of whatever color they
drafted ended up in their eyes. Over the
course of their life, it would stain the 
entire iris red...or whatever their color
was." In color wights, its iris was shat-
tered like crockery smashed on the floor.
Little fragments glow even in the whites
of the eyes. Here is the iris of a "subred"
drafter with the iris stained entirely red.
[Kindle Ed. loc. 113.]

    As the book opens, we are introduced to Kip, in the dead of night, scavenging a long quiet battlefield for remnants of "luxin"-created weapons and armaments. Kip stumbles upon a lone and seemingly abandoned manacled prisoner. Releasing the prisoner, Kip discovers he is a color wight and Kip becomes afraid. The man looks oddly at Kips eyes, seeing that they're blue, and laughs. He questions Kip and tells him strange things. He asks him, "Would you believe me if I told you there's a prophecy about you?" The prisoner also tips off Kip by telling him that the soldiers would be coming to destroy Kip's village soon, because, as the prisoner says, the soldiers are looking for something valuable that belongs to the Satrap.  

    Kip returns to the village, already under attack. He watches his friends get killed and narrowly escapes death himself...only by--shockingly--for the first time in his life, drafting luxin. He drafts green luxin spears and kills the soldiers chasing him. He makes it to his secret cave and to his mother who tells him he's been a disappointment all his life. She makes him swear to kill King Garadul, hands him a beautiful box with a magnificent dagger inside and says, "Put it in his rotten heart," and dies.

    Next, we meet the Lord Prism, Gavin Guile; he wakes up in his palace bedroom as papers are pushed under his door. Upon examining them he finds a letter telling him: "I'm dying, Gavin. it's time you meet your son Kip.--Lina." Then he thinks, "Son? I don't have a--."

Chromaria, dual-islands, situated within the Cerulean Sea
and surrounded by the Seven Satrapies:
Atash, Blood Forest, Ruthbar, Paria, Abornea, Ilyta, and Tyrea.
   Although the relationship between the Lord Prism and Kip is important, Brent Weeks begins weaving other threads into the story making it more complex and intriguing as we read. King Garadul is at the fore of the story since he is raising an army to wage war. The Lord Prism also has another relationship from his past haunting him, one with Karris White Oak. Also, early on in the book we are introduced to a mysterious and hallucinogenic prisoner who keeps trying to escape his prison cell--who is he? Why is he in solitary confinement? Will he get out? 

    We begin to see the threads of espionage, familial discord, and the Black Guards attempt to serve the Lord Prism. We wonder where the overweight and naive Kip fits in this colorful and exciting story--and his newly acquired ability to draft. Weeks shows us the unhappiness of the country people trying to recover from the war that devastated the land. With all this going on, shockingly, the Lord Prism's most guarded and hidden secret is discovered by Karriss White Oak...the revelation of which could cause the Lord Prism to lose everything. Then...on the very last page of the book, The Lord Prism, Gavin Guile, learns something so shocking that his time to accomplish anything could run out. 

What I Think About This Book:
    Whew! How does Brent Weeks do it? Holy mackerel! The cast of magnificent and "colorful" characters in this book alone is worth the price of admission. Secrets abound. You can't help cheering...and turning page after page, after page, until...well, until the last page. You will be crying like a little girl wanting more, more, more. You will not be disappointed with this book.  Buy it. Read it.

Take the What Color is Your Magic Quiz

I went to Brent Weeks web site and took the Magic Quiz.

You can do it too--it only takes a few minutes.

My results: I'm a yellow magic drafter!

Take the quiz at Brent

    As I have been drafting this book review (no pun intended), I have been reading the sequel to The Black Prism. The sequel is entitled, The Blinding Knife, Book 2, of the Lightbringer Series. I can hardly wait to review this book for you, too. I'll get that one to you just as soon as I can. I want us all to be ready to read Book 3 when it comes out (probably sometime in summer of 2014)...the title will be: The Broken Eye. For more information, you can visit Brent Weeks website: .

My book rating for this book:
4.5 stars out of 5 stars:

Other vendors have recorded ratings for this book:
4.4 stars (360 Reviewers): Amazon
4.22 stars (1,140 Reviewers): Goodreads
4.10 stars (645 Reviewers): Audible

Book Information:
Pages: 679
Publisher: Orbit (August 25, 2010)
Kindle Ed.: X-Ray Enabled
Kindle Ed.: Lending not enabled

    I hope you have enjoyed this book review of Brent Weeks' The Black Prism. I hope you are reading something interesting...if you are, let me know how you are enjoying it.

Until next time...

...many happy pages of reading!


_________________________________________________ - The Black Prism; - Brent Weeks; - The Seven Satrapies Map; - The eye of a "subred" drafter; - The Broken Eye - 4.5 stars; - 4.4 stars, Amazon; - 4.22 stars, Goodreads; - Audible Reviews; - Book information; - White Rose.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan,
was named as Amazon's BEST BOOK OF THE
book is available from many book dealers in
the hardcover edition, paperback edition,
or as an audio download from
The Amazon Kindle Edition (e-book) costs $11.93,
hardcover: $17.99, paperback: $13.53, and audio,
Audible Edition (download) for $19.59 or 1 credit.
Other book vendors should have comparable
prices for Amy Tan's new book. 

Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     Amy Tan, well-known American author of bestselling novels such as The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, Saving Fish From Drowning, and The Bonesetter's Daughter, has a new novel to put into contention for success in joining her other wildly popular titles: The Valley of Amazement.  Amy Tan's new book was released on November 5, 2013; it has been chosen by Amazon as the their BEST BOOK OF THE MONTH FOR NOVEMBER 2013.

     Amy Tan, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, received her inspiration for her lauded, The Joy Luck Club, from her mother, Daisy's, life. Tan's mother's first marriage was an unhappy and abusive one. Her mother, Daisy, was forced to leave her children behind as she escaped the marriage. Then, in 1987, Amy and her mother, Daisy, traveled to China to meet the left-behind children, Amy's half-sisters. In her new novel, The Valley of Amazement, Amy Tan goes back to her cultural roots and writes about something she knows well, women in the Chinese culture and family that straddles two continents. Again, her inspiration is drawn from family...a photograph of Amy Tan's grandmother was found with her grandmother attired in courtesan clothing.
Amy Tan, in her CBS interview,
explains that a photograph of
her grandmother was found with
her grandmother in "courtesan"
clothing. See the YouTube video,
below, for more information.

      Raised as an American in Shanghai, Violet grew up hating her name because it sounded (in Shanghainese) like "Vyau-la," meaning, "something you wanted to get rid of." Violet's skin was fair, her hair brown, and eyes green. She was educated in the Western manner and her feet were not bound. Violet lived with her American mother, who owned and ran a courtesan house, Hidden Jade Path.

     The Valley of Amazement is primarily the story of three women. Violet, who takes center stage throughout most of the story, but also Violet's mother (Lulu Mimi) and Violet's daughter (Flora). As the story opens we are introduced to seven-year-old Violet being raised in the courtesan house, Hidden Jade Path. In an early turning point in the story, Violet's mother is tricked into thinking that (by now fourteen-year-old) Violet is on board the ship with her as she flees Shanghai; instead, Violet has been kidnapped and sold to a competing courtesan house as a virgin courtesan.
Lulu Mimi loved violets and named her
daughter, Violet. Violet planted the flowers
over the grave of her husband, Edward.
     Through trials and tribulations the women survive. By the time we reach the end of the book, we appreciate the work the women did to achieve a kind of reunion. No. None of the women are the same that they would have been had misfortune not entered their lives. As Golden Dove tells Violet's mother, Lulu Mimi, "The life we receive is not always what we choose" (p. 496).

 When Violet arrives at The House of Tranquility, "Magic Gourd," a courtesan formerly from Hidden Jade Path, who already knows and likes Violet, befriends Violet. Magic Gourd saves as many of Violet's personal possessions as she can from Violet's valise, before the madam has a chance to seize all of the possessions as her right to her newly purchased property...Violet and all she owns.

"The Bund" in Shanghai during the 1890s. The Bund
is one of the locations in the book, The Valley
of Amazement.
     One of the possessions Magic Gourd rescues is a landscape painting by the artist Lu Shiang entitled, The Valley of Amazement.  As Violet looks at the painting, she feels as if she were on "...the edge of a cliff, facing the scene below. The mountain ridges on each side were ragged, and their shadow silhouettes lay on the valley floor. The pendulous clouds were the shade of an old bruise....The painting gave [Violet] a queasy feeling. It was like an omen...[Violet] felt certain now that the painting meant you were walking into the valley, not leaving it. The rain was coming. It was dusk, turning dark, and you would no longer be able to find your way back" [p. 106].

A Chinese courtesan
playing the Qin
(a musical instrument).
     The painting appears at many different times in the story and to each who views it it has its own meaning. To Violet it is one of foreboding dark days ahead, to Violet's mother, Lulu Mimi, "[t]he whole of me was contained in that painting..." [p. 454] "what was in the painting of the green valley: It was love for myself" [p.500]. And, to Flora, the painter "...was a phony artist...'[i]t felt like all the truth [of the painting] got whitewashed with fake happiness...only it was not happy and it was worse than fake. It was dangerous" (p. 572). The painting is a talisman throughout the book as it binds together, as if by silken cords, the lives and the stories of the three women whose lives are revealed by it.

Memoirs of a Geisha
by Arthur Golden,
also a feature film
by the same name.

     It is inevitable that Amy Tan's book will be compared to Arthur Golden's, Memoirs of a Geisha. The similarities are basic: a young girl sold into sexual servitude as a courtesan, training in the arts to please customers, selling of the girl's virginity and her defloration, customers and patrons, changing of the courtesan's name, love and sorrow, the fall from wealth and success and, of course, the onset of hardship.

     Where it differs, it differs greatly. The most obvious difference is that Memoirs of a Geisha is set in Japan, whereas The Valley of Amazement is set, primarily, in China--different cultures. So, what most people think of when they compare the two stories are really the basic similarities of the two overarching plots.

     I think the differences are more important. Memoirs of a Geisha is the story one woman tells (like a "Memoir"); whereas, The Valley of Amazement is far more comprehensive in scope and is a story about the relationships of three women across many years and two countries. Moreover, parts of the book jump back in time providing the back story for Violet's mother when she lived at home with her parents (We learn she used to go by the name, Lucretia, and like Violet, she hated her name and, so, changed it--one of the themes in the book.).

A Chinese man in traditional clothing.
     The one thing that caused a jarring note to the story was the abruptness with which Amy Tan jumped the time into the past. The end of one chapter (chapter 11), Violet, with her companions, Pomelo and Magic Gourd, have fled the city of Moon Pond. Pomelo and Violet flee for their lives, running from their (shared) abusive "husband" with their friend, Magic Gourd. They have traumatically extracted their escape and stand on the top of the mountain looking down at the night lights of the city of Mountain View--they are excited to start their new life, and begin their descent from the mountain toward the city lights, below.

     Abruptly, the next chapter (chapter 12) begins: "I was sixteen when I saw what appeared to be a Chinese emperor standing in our doorway..." (p. 433). The jump is disorienting until you realize that the speaker is Lucia Minturn, Violet's mother at age sixteen, describing the man who will later become Violet's father, Lu Shing. At that time, Lu Shing was a Chinese student of American landscape painting--and the painter of The Valley of Amazement (painting) that appears throughout the book.

     Even with the one jarring note of the abrupt change in the character who is speaking, I actually liked the jump back in time; my sole criticism is that it is just a bit abrupt. Moving back in time in the story line is a great technique to hold back information and promote suspense. When they come, the delayed answers to the reader's Questions about Violet's mother helps us resolve our questions and understanding...even if we do not always approve of her mothering techniques. that you know about the abrupt change from chapter 11 to 12, it shouldn't put you off.

     Please know that this is not a romance book. Nonetheless, since this book deals with the life of courtesans, concubines, the selling of young women into sexual slavery, the selling of virgins' virginity and their defloration, be cautioned that those scenes may affect either young people or sensitive readers. Part of the story also deals with betrayal and hardship and physical abuse of women by husbands. I do, however, think this is a beautiful story of triumph of the spirit for women. I also cheer Violet for her personal growth and the strengthening of her character. All the featured women characters have wonderful attributes you'll admire . . . some attributes, however, you'll just shake your head at.

"Teddy once told me that it's natural that we feel alone, and that's because our hearts are different from others and we don't even know how. When we're in love, as if by magic, our different hearts come together perfectly toward the same desire. Eventually, the differences return, and then comes heartache and mending, and, in between, much loneliness and fear. If love remains despite the pain of those differences, it must be guarded as rare. That's what Teddy said and that's what we had" (Danner speaking to Lucia, Violet's mother, p. 499).
         Although this beautiful quote is about two men, Danner and and his beloved, Teddy, it also reflects the love of many of the women in the book. The relationships between mother and daughter and between friends are especially memorable.


My rating for this book is 4.5 stars out of 5.
Amy Tan.
Amy Tan received her bachelor and
master's degrees from San Jose State
University (SJSU) in English and
Linguistics. She went to the
University of Santa Cruz and
Berkeley to study linguistics. Amy
Tan married tax attorney, 

Louis DeMattei, in 1974. 

Pages: 613
ISBN: 0062107313
Publisher: Ecco (November 5, 2013)
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
Language: English
Kindle-Text-to-speech: Enabled
Kindle-X-Ray: Enabled
Kindle-Lending: Not Enabled

     Just in case you haven't figured it out, I really loved Amy Tan's new book. Don't just skim through the book, slow down, enjoy it, let it soak into you, saturating your very cells. You'll come away with an extraordinary and enjoyable experience.

     I hope you have enjoyed exploring this wonderful book with me this week. I encourage you to explore for yourself, The Valley of Amazement, by Amy Tan.

Until next time...
White Rose.
...many happy pages of reading!

_____________________________________ - The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan, book cover; - Violets; - The Bund, Shanghai, China; - Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Goldman; - Any Tan; - About the author; - Chinese man in traditional clothing; - YouTube interview with Amy Tan; - Amy Tan's grandmother in courtesan clothing; - 4.5 stars; - White Rose.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

1,500 Nazi-Looted Art Works Recovered and The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel

The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel
Hardcover edition; also available in
Kindle editionabridged audiobook 
CD and paperback edition.
Book Review by
Sharon Powers.

   I find this week's post about The Monuments Men tantalizing just from examining the cover. How can anyone not be intrigued by allied heroes, Nazi thieves, and best of all, a treasure hunt--the greatest one in history? The treasure hunt alone would have sucked me in. I for one, couldn't resist...and then, I saw the trailer for the movie with the same name as the book and literally ran for my Kindle to read the book.

THE BOOK: The book tells the the real life saga of a very little known group of men dubbed The Monuments Men. The Monuments Men were comprised of soldiers serving during World War II. The highly specialized group was needed because Hitler had just pulled off the "greatest theft in history:" by the end of the war some five million cultural and art objects had disappeared  [Kindle Loc. 96]. The Monuments Men didn't take prisoners, they just took back looted art.

  Unlikely heroes...average age? Try forty--the oldest Monuments Man was sixty-six (and a veteran of WW I) with only a few Monuments Men in their twenties. Most were men with expertise as " directors, curators, art scholars, and educators, artists, architects and archivists" [Kindle Loc. 208.], not young, brash and muscled young men out to save the world. As author Robert M. Edsel explains, most of these men were married and had families they left behind, as well as lucrative and accomplished careers. They were to a man, all volunteers.

from a museum at Karlsrühe. Author Robert M. Edsel stated
that no one seemed interested that the 19-year old soldier
(Ettlinger) was "...a German Jew who had grown up three
blocks from that museum, and by chance had descended
seven hundred feet into a mine to behold, for the first time,
a painting he had always heard about, but never had the 
right to see." [Kindle Ed. Loc. 6249 of 7152]

    Robert M. Edsel relates many exciting stories about the events of those war years. He tells the story of Monuments Man Harry Ettlinger, a German Jew who fled his home town of Karlsrühe, Germany with his parents in 1938 and who settled in Newark, New Jersey. After high school, and once in the army, he found his way to the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section (MFAA) in 1945. When Ettlinger finally returned to Karlsrühe it was as a Monuments Man in search of . . ."his grand- father's beloved art collection." [Kindle Loc. 319]
Harry Ettlinger

    Stories abound throughout Edsel's book, everything from George Stout's struggles to get the unit created, near misses in preventing a theft or destruction of art, stories about Rose Valland and the French Resistance, Hitler's wanton destruction of "degenerate" (Jewish and modern) art and books, Hitler's "...pillaging of personal property; the arrest, detention, and systematic annihilation of millions of human beings; to the willful and vengeful destruction of great cities."
The Bruges Madonna by

The Bruges Madonna 
by Michelangelo, recovered.

     Edsel also tells the stories about how many of the looters were apprehended, how numerous works of art recovered, and sadly, how some of the art was lost forever. Edsel relates heart-rending stories of the liberation of the death and work camps, and Hitler's attempts to keep the allied troops from reclaiming the art. Edsel shows the courage and dedication of the Monuments Men in their attempt to recover the art and the danger they faced when they went into the art repositories only to find bombs, nitro glycerin and dynamite staged to go off...putting at risk the art they sought to recover and the very lives of the men themselves.
Soldiers with Jan Vermeer's,
The Astronomer at the
Altaussee salt mine
in Austria (1945).

A SHORT LIST OF SOME CULTURAL OBJECTS LOOTEDThe Bruges Madonna by Michelangelo, the Bayeux Tapestry, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (the Ghent Alterpiece), Jan Vermeer's The Astronomer, Beethoven's original manuscript of the Sixth Symphony, the mortal remains of Frederick the Great and Fieldmarschall von Hindenburg, da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine, Rembrandt's Landscape with the Good Samaritan, Raphael's Portrait of a Young Man, Albrecht Durer's original woodcuts of the Apocalypse series of 1498, books and photographs from the library of Fredrick the Great, The Hungarian Crown Jewels, and more.

Ghent Alterpiece : Monument's Man, Daniel J. Kern and art
restorer, Karl Sieber, examine panels of Jan van Eyck's
Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. (1945)
See the full Ghent Alterpiece below in color.

    In one town alone the destruction of cultural artifacts was staggering: Saint-Lo's ancient architecture was destroyed along with " astonishing collection of ceramics, numerous private art collections" and priceless illuminated manuscripts that had been brought to Saint-Lo for safekeeping.


This painting by Matisse was recovered along with the other 1,500 paintings and works of art. Other artists in the group include Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee and Marc Chagall.
This video is courtesy of YouTube:


     Although the sheer number of facts Robert Edsel relates in this book are staggering, he brings a poignant and personal element to each story. He relates the everyday courage and dedication of the men and women who worked to save the

The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, also called The Ghent Alterpiece. 
George Stout: Lt. Commander
George Leslie Stout received
the Bronze Star Medal and the
Army Commendation Medal for
his service as a Monuments
Man, especially for work in re-
covering art from Altaussee
salt mine.

culture of many countries, and in doing so, The Monuments Men and other unsung heroes of World War II get a little of the credit they deserved so many years ago.

    The book is thought-provoking and even now, as I am drafting this post for my blog, I want to go back and read the story again, to look at the book anew, from a fresh perspective and absorb the wonderment of the stories all over again. These men were truly amazing and my hat's off to Robert Edsel for bringing us this wonderful story. My verdict? Buy the book and read it.

     As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, this book is coming to the big screen. The title is the same as the book, The Monuments Men. George Clooney, just having completed a huge success with his new movie, Gravity, starring himself and Sandra Bullock, is not only a star in this picture, but the director as well.

The Monuments Men feature film, a Smokehouse Production,
will be Directed by (and starring) George Clooney; other cast
members will include Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett,
Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, and Hugh Bonneville.
     I've located a trailer for you to enjoy, below. I hope you like watching it as much as I have. Apparently, Cate Blanchett has been cast in the role of Rose Valland, Matt Damon as James Rorimer and John Goodman as Garfield; George Clooney, of course will  claim the roll of George Stout. The feature film is set for domestic release on February 7, 2014. I for one, am planning on going to see it.

My rating for this book.
Other reviews:
3.87 out of 5 Stars: Barnes & Noble (70 Reviewers)
3.83 out of 5 Stars: Goodreads (2,821 Reviewers)
4.3 out of 5 Stars: Amazon (171 Reviewers)

White Rose.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel. If you did, please comment and share. My best to you, until my next posting.

Until next time...

...many happy pages of reading!

_____________________________________________ - The Monument's Men by Robert M. Edsel, hardcover edition; -  The Monument's Men by Robert M. Edsel, Kindle Ed.; - The Monument's Men by Robert M. Edsel, paperback ed.;  - The Monument's Men by Robert M. Edsel, abridged audiobook CD; - The Monuments Men Feature Film (Article); - Harry Ettlinger with Rembrandt; - The Bruges Madonna by Michaelangelo; - The Bruges Madonna, recovered; - NBC News; - The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (The Ghent Altarpiece); - Chartres Cathedral; - Soldiers with Jan Vermeer's, The Astronomer at Alt Aussee Saltmine, Austria (1945); - George Stout; - Monuments Men Dale V. Ford and Harry Etlinger with the looted Rembrandt's Self Portrait from a museum in Karlsruhe; - My rating for this book: 4 stars; - Barnes & Noble Ratings;