Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Angel's Game

This is a prequel to The Shadow of the Wind (and you thought only movies have all these prequel/sequel stuff eh? :P). Prequel in the sense that for those who have read TSTW, we met with several familiar characters earlier in their life and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books made an appearance again. I have to admit though I can only remember bits and pieces from TSTW and can't remember whether the characters in here made an appearance in TSTW.

The story is about David Martin, a talented young novelist who had suffered a setback in his work and love life. When his life seemed so bleak and about to end, he was offered a deal by a publisher - 100,000 franc to write a novel as per the publisher's specification.

The Angel's Game started off slow and only picked up pace during the second half of the book as Martin started to question whether his boss had a sinister motive and what happened to the previous occupier of his house. Martin believed the mysterious death of the previous occupier might be related to his current publisher and the task he was requested to do.

As far as characters go, I hold no love for Martin as I think he's a bit pathetic. I like Isabella, the witty and fiery aspiring novelist who worked as Martin's assistant/maid. In fact, I would've preferred to read more about Isabella than Cristina, Martin's love interest who seemed so insipid and weak.

While TSTW was more grounded in reality, TAG has a more mystical element. Kind of like 'oops... I think I made a deal with the devil', complete with debates on religion between Martin and his publisher. I don't particularly like reading the debates as it's quite long-winded.


I was in Langkawi for a five-day course on Islamic Finance. Definitely an informative course and very useful for those of us with no background in IF as the essential contracts underlying all transactions in IF were explained.

What I want to comment on was not the course itself, but the Oriental Village in Langkawi. I think it was supposed to be modelled after the outlet villages in Europe, like Cheshire Oaks in the UK or the one near Disneyland Paris. The quaint blocks of shops with metal signs were really similar. I remember there wasn't that much choice of brands while I was there during its early years. Now, the outlet shops have been replaced by tacky souvenir shops competing with each other for customers. I think 90% of the shops were selling the same things. I guess the shopping outlet model failed and was replaced with the much more popular tourists' favourites.

But really, who's to blame? Because I don't think people go to Langkawi to shop (except for chocolates and dining wares haha). Won't it be better to build a shopping outlet somewhere near a big city, where the urban population can easily reach it? I mean, Cheshire Oaks was within easy reach of Manchester and Liverpool, while Langkawi only has what? Alor Setar? Kangar? Both cities/towns with populations much smaller than the Klang Valley. How I wish one was built near Klang Valley. I guess we have to be content with the myriad of warehouse sales poppping up like mushrooms nowadays eh?


Of course, obligatory mentions of World Cup is a must since it started a couple of days ago. My favourites? Spain and Holland. Hahah I remember watching Spain play in Euro '08 during the exam period. Watched the matches on my laptop with notes strewn all over my bed/desk. Such was the life of a busy student :p

No comments: