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Blue Lion's Lair

Hunting for Answers and Devouring the Issues

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Tag: fantasy

Good day all! We’re getting to the end of the book reviews. We are now up to my Top 4 Books That Everyone Should Read.  And off to the countdown.


In 4th place we have a book that will change your concept of money, how to earn it, and how to invest it.  However, in researching this book for this list I saw a critique that gives me reservations about recommending this book.  After much soul searching (which delayed this post), I’ve decided to still recommend this book, but with a caveat.  The book I still believe you should read is Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.  Why the caveat?  Well, after you read the book you need to read the critique of the book by John T. Reed at this link.  However, I’m going to still recommend the book for two reasons.  Kiyosaki’s treatment of Investments and Expenses is exceptional and most people will benefit by understanding it.  Also, his “Cash Flow Quadrant” is something everyone needs to understand as well.  Kiyosaki explains why it is much better to be earning your living via “passive” income instead of  “active” income, both from a lifestyle and a tax consequences standpoint.  The book is engaging and entertaining.  You’ll feel you learned something after reading it.  However, balance what you read by looking at the Reed critique and make your own decisions on how much to believe.


My 3rd place book was written in the 1930’s by Ayn Rand.  If reading this book doesn’t remind you of the present leaders of our country and scare the fecal matter out of you, go back and read it again.  I’m talking about Atlas Shrugged.  It’s a fictional story about an alternate 1930s scenario.  In this scenario, liberal thinking people have gained control of the Government and are making rules that unfairly treat successful businesses in favor of business owners who are friends with the Government leaders.  As things go south, a man named John Galt is trying to change things, or at least rescue those who think like he does from the ensuing destruction.  There is much to like about Shrugged.  The story is interesting and the characters are, for the most part, well drawn.  I won’t lie to you.  It is a very long book that will take a while to read.  It’s also not the easiest reading at times.  John Galt’s climactic 30 page rant about the evils of liberalism and religion and the benefits of objectivism is fairly unbearable.   There are also some things that are quite out dated, like a positive fixation on smoking and descriptions of smoke stacks spewing pollutants as being “beautiful”.  However, when the book was written, the dangers of these things were not known.

But the concepts of objectivism spelled out in this book should be required reading by everyone over the age of 18 in this country.  While, as I’ve stated before, I have a problem with the objectivists total lack of wondering “why we are here”, I believe the way we need to live our lives is almost exactly the way objectivists do.  I guess you could call me a spiritual objectivist.  I live my life in a rational manner, but I also spend some of my mental energy wondering about the bigger questions of God and our reason for being here.  When I read this book, many of the concepts I had about life and how to live it were crystalized in my mind.  I hope it can do so for you as well.


All Covers From The Sword Of Truth

All Covers From The Sword Of Truth

For our second place book I’m going to cheat again.  This is actually a collection of 11 books.  They are the Sword of Truth series of fantasy novels written by Terry Goodkind.  This series is, bar none, the best work of fantasy I’ve ever read.  Mr. Goodkind has taken a genre that is often written for younger audiences and turned it into a truly adult medium.  I don’t mean in any way that this series is “adult entertainment” (ie. pornographic).  What I mean is that the concepts discussed and the, sometimes brutal, events experienced by the protagonists are only going to be truly understood and appreciated by a mature audience.  The characters are completely realized and incredibly deep.  Characters don’t always end up to be who you think they are.  Redemption is possible, but certainly not easy or frequent.

This series covers much of the same ground as Atlas Shrugged, but in a much more fulfilling manner.  I can’t think of a single weakness these books have as a work of art.  They are emotionally deep, humorous, philosophical, exciting, and inspiring.  While the concepts of objectivism are fully explained here as well, the relationships between the characters are much more realistic and fulfilling.  The hero, Richard Rahl, is someone I wish existed in this world to learn from and support.

One of my favorite parts of this series are the “Wizard’s Rules” that are presented in each book.  The first book is, coincidentally enough entitled Wizard’s First Rule.  The first rule is “People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it’s true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.”  (—Chapter 36, p.397, U.S. hardcover edition) Goodkind follows this up with the second rule “The greatest harm can result from the best intentions”  otherwise known as the Law of Unintended Consequences.  Anyone who can present these two “Rules” to start his series is a genius in my book.  I’ve got a post planned in the near future discussing all 11 Wizards Rules and seeing how they apply in our world.  This series is for anyone who has become bored by fantasy or believes fantasy is childish only for younger people.  For all of the above reasons, it is easily my second highest recommendation.  For pure enjoyment and entertainment, it is my first pick.  In fact I’m currently rereading the entire series.

We’re almost there.  Next post is my number one book that everone should read!!

Thank you to all the readers following up to now.  I now bring you, drum roll please, Blue Lion’s Top Ten Books That Everybody Should Read!  For this installment we will be revealing books 10 through 6.  So, without further ado, let’s get to the countdown.


In tenth place we have The World’s Religions by Huston Smith.  The Blue Lion has always been interested….OK, maybe always is too long.  The Blue Lion has, for as long as he can remember, been interested in religions and the beliefs of others.  This book was a natural for me to pick up and read.  Mr. Smith does a superb job providing not just the tenets of the world’s major and even some not so major religions, but traces their histories as well.  In some ways, this book is also a history of humanity.  Reading through the histories, teachings of the various religions’ founders, and their modern beliefs, one thing became clear to me.  Every major religion of man has been “corrupted” from the original teachings of their founders.  I don’t mean that every religion is run by corrupt people, although that can be an issue.  What I mean is that the simple and pure ideas each religion started with have been added to and embellished, many times so much so that the original founders wouldn’t recognize them.

Since I’ve been raised as a Catholic, I’ll give Christianity as the perfect example.  Jesus Christ, and we’ll assume he existed and said and did much of what was attributed to him, had a very simple message.  Basically, he told us we were all brothers and sisters.  He included himself in that mix.  He told us to love one another as we loved ourselves and to love God with your whole heart.  With one stroke he superseded the Ten Commandments with one.  This was the essence of the “Good News”.  If we followed this one commandment, we would be “saved”.  All of us sinners could be saved.  Pretty much everything else Christ did or said was an extension of this.

Well, apparently, people couldn’t leave well enough alone.  Somehow, this simple concept has turned into reams of dogma and rules that people had to follow. If they didn’t, they would be damned to hell for all eternity.  Then people disagreed on the rules and broke the religions up into countless demi-religions.  The Churches were established, whose leaders had great power, both secular and spritual.  At one point, the Catholic Church had three people declaring that they were the one and true Pope.  Crazy.

Any way, this book is one of the many that has informed by spiritual thinking of the years.  It started me down the path of realizing that although most religions had some truth to them, there was not a single organized religion that had the entire story.  Also, no religion was entirely true as well.  This book in many ways spurred my search for answers.  Even if you don’t find the answers I did in it, it is always beneficial to understand one’s fellow man and I cannot recommend a better way in which to start than by reading The World’s Religions.


In ninth place we have one of the most purely entertaining series ever written.  I’m talking about J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series.  Ms. Rowling has written one of the best fantasy series of all time, probably one of the best works of fiction as well.  This series starts out with The Sorcerer’s Stone, a wonderful story focused on youths that adults can enjoy as well.  With each progressive book, the main characters in the story grow up and the depth, complexity, and consequences of each story grow right along with them.  By the time of the 4th book, The Goblet of Fire, comes along, the writing and story is as good as almost any adult fiction I’ve read.  The exceptions are further along in this countdown.  The final three books are superb works of fiction.  Ms. Rowling deserves every penny she has earned with this series.  She found the perfect sweet spot in writing.  She wrote something that can be enjoyed by ANYONE above the age of 12.  This is something few authors have accomplished.  Tolkien did it to an extent, but the Potter series is initially more accessible to the younger readers.  I can only imaging what reading this series in step with your current age must have been like.  Since each book came out about once a year, someone who was 11 or 12 when the series started would have been able to read about kids their own age in each book.  I only had the privilege of reading this series as an adult and being able to remember what it was like to be the ages of the protagonists.

As with most stories about great struggles, the people in the Harry Potter series are fighting against tyranny and for their freedom and liberty.  As the series progresses, the consequences of making mistakes against a powerful foe become more and more profound.  Characters we come to care about get killed.  There are set backs for the good guys.  All through this, the heroes learn they cannot give up.  Ironically, they discover that in order to win the future, they need to understand what happened in the past.  With each installment the picture of what needs to be done and why things are the way they are becomes clearer.  The ending is triumphantly bittersweet.  The right people win, but at a heavy price.

This is a series that even people not generally drawn to fantasy should enjoy.  However, even if you can’t bring yourself to read the books, at least the movies are acceptable alternatives here.  All the movies are well done, with some being better than others.  However, even the best of the movies are mere shadows of the books they represent.  Yes, the seven books in this series are long, but they will not waste your time.  I heartily recommend everyone read this saga.


Next up is our eighth place entry; Leadership by Rudy Guiliani.  As everyone in the US probably knows, Rudy Guiliani was the very successful mayor of New York City who turned the city around from a crime infested hell hole to the great place to visit it is today.  I can hear the chorus of “give me a break, he wasn’t THAT good” now.  OK. I guess you have a point.  Maybe getting rid of the windshield washers at the tunnel exits in Manhattan doesn’t exactly turn NYC from a hell hole to paradise.  However, that one act did start the people of NY City to start changing their self defeating attitude that allowed the city to fall into a state of resigned acceptance that things couldn’t be improved to one that allowed the city to bounce back from the September 11th attacks faster than anyone would have imagined.  Mayor Guiliani provided a steady hand on that dark day that helped keep people from panicking, rioting and looting.  Let’s face it, NYC on 9/11 didn’t look anything like LA after the OJ Trial or the Rodney King trial or heck, even the Lakers winning the NBA Championship.

However, this book is not really about Rudy’s success as mayor.  It’s really about his leadership style.  For people who lead other people in any way this is a facinating and instructive book.  The main message I took from it was that you must always treat people with respect.  You don’t always have to agree with them, but you need to be able to discuss controversial or sensitive subjects in a way that makes others feel like they were at least not dismissed out of hand.  It’s the leader’s job to stand in front of the group and point in the direction you want everyone to move.  You need to make sure everyone knows the goals you are trying to accomplish and that the goals are worth while.  While you need to understand what actions are being taken to accomplish those goals, you can’t dictate what everyone is doing.  Everyone needs to be impowered to make decisions and make a difference.  YOu need to care about the people you are leading and be willing to be part teacher, part coach, part councillor and part friend.  While there are concepts that can help you do these things, leadership is an art and not a science.  Rudy Guiliani addresses all of these topics, giving examples of how he applied them, making this book an interesting read.

Now, since these mini reviews are getting longer than I thought they would be, I’m going to change my plans and only do three books each post.  So, next up well have books 7-5.  Until then, good hunting and good reading.